Happy Birthday, GOP!

On this date in 1854, the Republican Party was originally formed in, of all places, Ripon, Wisc. The Republican Party emerged in 1854, growing out of a coalition of former Whigs (who favored the power of Congress over the power of the President) and Free Soil Democrats, a short-lived political party whose main purpose was opposing the expansion of slavery into the western territories, arguing that free men on free soil comprised a morally and economically superior system to slavery. They opposed slavery in the new territories and sometimes worked to remove existing laws that discriminated against freed African Americans in states such as Ohio. who mobilized in opposition to the possibility of slavery extending into the new western territories.

The new party put forward a vision of modernizing the United States—emphasizing free homesteads to farmers (“free soil”), banking, railroads, and industry. They vigorously argued that free-market labor was superior to slavery and the very foundation of civic virtue and true republicanism— their ideology was “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men” ideology. The Republicans absorbed the previous traditions of its members, most of whom had been Whigs; others had been Democrats or members of third parties (especially the Free Soil Party and the American Party or Know Nothings).

The party organized in a little white schoolhouse in Ripon. John C. Frémont ran as the first Republican nominee for President in 1856, using the political slogan: “Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Frémont.” Although his bid was unsuccessful, the party showed a strong base. It dominated in New England, New York and the northern Midwest, and had a strong presence in the rest of the North. It had almost no support in the South, where it was roundly denounced in 1856-60 as a divisive force that threatened civil war.

The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 ended the domination of the fragile coalition of pro-slavery southern Democrats and conciliatory northern Democrats which had existed since the days of Andrew Jackson. Instead, a new era of Republican dominance based in the industrial and agricultural north ensued. Republicans sometimes refer to their party as the “party of Lincoln” in honor of the first Republican President.

With the election of Ulysses S. Grant in 1868, the Radicals had control of Congress, the party and the Army, and attempted to build a solid Republican base in the South using the votes of Freedmen, Scalawags and Carpetbaggers,[7] supported directly by U.S. Army detachments. Republicans all across the South formed local clubs called Union Leagues that effectively mobilized the voters, discussed issues, and when necessary fought off Ku Klux Klan (KKK) attacks. Thousands died on both sides.

The Republicans lost much of its strength when Herbert Hoover lost to FDR in 1932. With Hoover, many Republican Congressmen and Senators were defeated. FDR’s socialist policies were quickly passed by Congress, though many of his appointments to the Supreme Court were radical even by Democrat standards.

The Republicans saw a hoped-for resurgence with Barry Goldwater’s conservative candidacy in 1964. But Kennedy’s assassination and liberal activism put an end to their hopes. Richard Nixon’s near-impeachment and resignation in 1974 was seen as the doom of the Republican Party. But a short six years later, Ronald Reagan, charismatic and confident, turned the tables on the Democrats. His presidency was dubbed “The Reagan Revolution,” inspiring generations of Conservatives.

We ask who is the next George Washington? We should also ask who will be the next Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan. The class of 2006, responding to the Democrats’ disingenuous plea of “Can’t we all just get along?”, succumbed to every vice and corrupt practice in the book, handing the Democrats both houses of Congress.

Their victory wasn’t long-lived, though, thanks to the Tea Parties. Not all Republicans got the message and are still touting a left-of-middle message, which in political parlance is a central message. However, some daring Republicans are promoting the Conservative values message that made the GOP the party of Lincoln and Reagan, rather than Wilson and Nixon.

So, many happy returns, Grand Old Party!

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Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 6:57 am  Leave a Comment  

In the Eye of the Beholder

The ladies of Queens, New York, Congressman (D) Anthony Weiner, and City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D) are all agog over a statue in a park near Queens Borough Hall that they consider “indecent.”

“The Triumph of Civic Virtue” by famed Beaux Arts sculptor Frederick William MacMonnies depicts Civic Virtue, a nearly nude man, triumphing over the twin evils of vice and corruption. These figures are represented by women transformed into snakes. Located on the corner of Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike, near Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, with the Queens Family Justice Center just down the block, Weiner decided, like Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia in 1941, that he’d had enough of being “mooned” by the statue’s back end.

Weiner and Ferreras are asking the city to dismantle it and sell it on Craigslist. The 20-foot (two story) tall marble fountain was commissioned in the early 20th Century and stood in front of City Hall for 19 years until LaGuardia banished it in 1941.

“Mayor LaGuardia had it right when he banished this offensive statue from City Hall Park,” Weiner said. “Queens residents don’t want this sitting in our backyard any longer. This statue is neither civil nor virtuous — and it’s time for it to go.”

This is not the sculptor’s first statue to get into trouble for indecency. His second best known sculpture, Bacchante and Infant Faun, a life-size nude, was offered as a gift to the Boston Public Library by the building’s architect Charles Follen McKim in 1896, to be placed in the garden court of the library. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union caused such a public outcry citing its “drunken indecency” that the library had to refuse the gift, and McKim gave the statue to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The Brooklyn-born MacMonnies is also known for less controversial sculptures such as Nathan Hale. The life-size Hale was the first major commission gained by MacMonnies. Erected in 1890 in City Hall Park, New York, it stands near where the actual Nathan Hale was thought to have been executed. Copies are scattered in museums across the United States, since MacMonnies was one of the earliest American sculptors to supplement his fees from major commissions by selling reduced-size reproductions to the public. The Metropolitan Museum has a copy, as does the Art Museum at Princeton University, the National Gallery of Art, and the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College.

In 1891, he was awarded the commission for the centerpiece of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago: the sculpture of Columbia in her Grand Barge of State, in the vast central fountain of the Court of Honor, was truly the iconic figure at the heart of the American Beaux-Arts movement. This large decorative fountain piece became the focal point at the Exposition and established MacMonnies as one of the important sculptors of the time.

In 1894, Stanford White brought another prestigious and highly visible commission, for three bronze groups for the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza. The complicated figural groups occupied him for the next eight years.

In late 1917, two years before “Civic Virtue”, MacMonnies was commissioned by a group of influential citizens of New York City, to work on a sculpture in honor of those that died in the Battle of the Marne as a gift to the French people in exchange for the Statue of Liberty. The statue, located in Meaux, France was over seven stories tall, and while work started on the statue in 1924 it was not finished until 1932 and at that time of its dedication was the world’s largest stone monument.

West Point has MacMonnies’ “Fame,” a woman in billowing drapery, built in 1895. She balances on a 46-foot-tall column atop the Battle Monument, which honors soldiers of the regular army who died during the Civil War. Her triumphant pose and her very name – “Fame” or “Victory” – celebrate the fact that those soldiers died fighting for a worthwhile cause. The names of the officers honored are on the column; the names of the enlisted men are on supports around the base.

In 1911, MacMonnies also sculpted a bronze statue of Kit Carson on Horseback as part of the Pioneer Monument Fountain and Smoky Hill Trail Monument in the Civic Center in downtown Denver. Originally the statue was a heroic Native American figure but the public sentiment of the time forced him to replace it with a depiction of Kit Carson

In 1884 MacMonnies left for Paris to study sculpture at the École des Beaux-Arts, twice winning the highest award given to foreign students. In 1888 MacMonnies opened a studio in Paris and began to create some of his most famous sculptures, which he submitted annually to the Paris Salon. In his atelier he mentored such notable artists as Janet Scudder and Mary Foote. He married a fellow artist, Mary Louise Fairchild. They were divorced in 1908, and he married his former student Alice Jones in 1910.

On a visit to the Museum of Art in New York City, my mother looked up the statue of David and sniffed huffily, “Pornography!” I had to admit, I blushed looking at the Statue of David (although it seemed to me the offending part of the sculpture was Sincpretty small in comparison to the rest of the statue). The ancient Greeks’ morals were the stuff of notorious legend and the Romans copied the Greek statues – and their morals.

I can’t blame the residents of Queens for objecting to a nude statue in a public park, where children are playing and it can’t very well be avoided. However, if it bothers Queens so much, why don’t they hire a sculptor to give Civic Virtue a loin cloth. How hard could it be? As for the politicians who object to the portion of this statue facing their city hall, the same way it faced in Manhattan in 1919, why don’t they just turn the statue the other way (and give it a bronze loincloth)?

The politicians might want to ask themselves just why the sculptor positioned his statue the way he did. Most statues will face a building or a thoroughfare, not turn its back on the majority of viewers. Could it be MacMonnies was trying to tell the politicians and bureaucrats something? They’ve proven themselves, throughout history, as the very models of vice and corruption. Since they do a lot of posterior-kissing (Democrats are particularly fond of union posteriors), they shouldn’t be surprised to find a statue dedicated to the art of posterior worship right on their doorstep.

MacMonnies is well known for sculptures dedicated to heroes such as Nathan Hale and George Washington, so it’s rather suspicious that he would also dedicate statues to pornography. Perhaps he was sending a message to the ladies of Boston on the issue of temperance and book-banning, and another to the hypocritical heirs of Tammany Hall.

Tammany Hall, also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, was a New York political organization founded in 1786 and incorporated on May 12, 1789 as the Tammany Society. It was the Democratic Party political machine that played a major role in controlling New York City politics and helping immigrants, most notably the Irish, rise up in American politics from the 1790s to the 1960s. It controlled Democratic Party nominations and patronage in Manhattan from the mayoral victory of Fernando Wood in 1854 through the election of John P. O’Brien in 1932.

Tammany Hall was permanently weakened by the election of Fiorello La Guardia on a “fusion” ticket of Republicans, reform-minded Democrats, and independents in 1934, and, despite a brief resurgence in the 1950s, it ceased to exist in the 1960s. It was Mayor LaGuardia who banished Civic Virtue to Queens.

The Tammany Society was named for Tamanend, a Native American leader of the Lenape, Tamanend or Tammany or Tammamend, the “affable”, (c. 1628–1698) was a chief of one of the clans that made up the Lenni-Lenape nation in the Delaware Valley at the time Philadelphia was established. Tamanend is best known as a lover of peace and friendship who played a prominent role in the establishment of peaceful relations among the Native American tribes and the English settlers who established Pennsylvania, led by William Penn.

Tamanend reputedly took part in a meeting between the leaders of the Lenni-Lenape nation, and the leaders of the Pennsylvania colony held under a large elm tree at Shakamaxon in the early 1680s. There, Tamanend is reported to have announced that the Lenni-Lenape and the English colonists would “live in peace as long as the waters run in the rivers and creeks and as long as the stars and moon endure.” These words have been memorialized on the statue of Tamanend that stands in Philadelphia today.

Politicians own the disgrace of Tammany Hall, corrupting a society originally dedicated to a good man and blemishing his name. They shouldn’t be surprised to find a statue consecrated to their lack of virtues on their very doorsteps. The statue should be dismantled and moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, facing the National Mall as message to the present occupant of the White House.

Published in: on February 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Protesting Too Much

As I sat in our building atrium yesterday, on the top floor, eating my lunch and finishing up on the abridged version of John Marshall’s The Life of Washington, I listened with satisfaction as a hard and heavy rain beat on the windowed ceiling of The Atrium. It was noon and the union protesters were at the New Jersey State Capitol in Trenton getting soaked.

Tea Partiers, led by Americans for Prosperity, were gathering themselves up to go down to counter-protest. Initially, I wanted to go. But I wanted to remain in my present employment as long as it is possible for me to do so (it will be a long summer but when fall arrives, it appears I will be at my leisure to join the Tea Party protesters).

I snuggled into my seat with the warmest satisfaction knowing that the union goons were getting soaked to the skin. I was equally satisfied that certain parties who complained at an April 2009 Tea Party rally when I spoke of education reform and the heavy price New Jersey residents were paying for the privilege of having their children taught that America is a terrible place were also being soaked to the skin.

Then this morning, I woke up to the The Record’s banner head line of “Cries of Middle Class ‘War’!” Are they kidding? According to NAACP of N.J. James Harris, “If it wasn’t for the unions, there wouldn’t be a middle class.” This is the state of education in New Jersey: that seemingly educated people don’t understand that the unions are mob-ruled (literally) and communist-inspired. The communists despise the middle class, the proletariat, and are seeking to create a “class-less” society. The chief means of doing this is by destroying the economic system that makes it possible for individuals to succeed in life: capitalism.

Individualism is another concept communists despise. Naturally, they’re upset at the notion of states giving individuals the choice of joining a union – or not. They’d lose an enormous of amount of revenue in terms of union dues. Their power would also be diminished. Good teachers don’t need a union to bargain with administrators for a raise; they can obtain a raise by their own talent and hard work. Students would go on learning, crooks would be caught, fires would be put out, patients would get the care they need, and commuters could get to their jobs on-time – and within budget – to pay the taxes for the bus driver’s salary.

What’s more, public sector employees would be working at roughly the same wages, with the same benefits, and under the same scrutiny to perform well, as the rest of the middle class of which they claim to be members. You can be a member of a union or you can be a member of the middle class; you can’t be both. Just read up on Karl Marx.

When I spoke of educational reform – meaning, that taxpayers were being soaked by teachers’ unions and teachers who got better benefits than we did and got to retire at age 55 – it was really quite a mild rebuke, in retrospect – the organizers had a fit and put an end to my speech. The crowd really wasn’t all that big by that time, but they got the message and spread it.

Only that wasn’t the message this particular Tea Party wanted spread. They wanted to focus on fiscal responsibility. What falls under the heading of fiscal responsibility more than communities reining in teachers’ union excesses? That the salaries we, the taxpayers providing them, were transferred into union dues to support political parties that support their unions?

I thought there was something very wrong with all that and that it should be an issue and did speak to fiscal, not to mention political, responsibility. What they’re teaching is crucial too, and of interest to parents and education-minded but childless citizens like myself. We’re paying good money for outrageous schoolbooks that promote false science, anti-Capitalism, and the “evils” of liberty and freedom.

Nearly two years later, they finally figured it out. Still, I would have gone if I could have. Since I could not, but did my part two years ago (for all the thanks I got), I sat eating my lunch in the Atrium with great equanimity. Warm, dry, and completely free of a guilty conscience, I meditated for a few minutes while listening to the rain, on the victory in the Wisconsin Assembly.

The fight isn’t over yet, according to the Media. The Wisconsin Republicans approved the Budget Repair bill, which ends collective bargaining rights for nearly all public workers and forces them pay a higher premium on their benefits, with a vote of 51 to 17. As they voted for the bill, the sleepy Assembly Democrats jeered them as they walked out of the Assembly, yelling “Shame! Shame! Shame!”

According to a report in The New American: “The vote now moves to the Wisconsin Senate, but the Senate Democrats have fled to Illinois in order to prevent a vote on the bill (their absence denies a quorum). Senate Republicans went so far as to send out state troopers in search of the Democrats at their homes for the purpose of bringing them to the Senate chamber, but to no avail.”

Shame, shame, shame!

Published in: on February 26, 2011 at 9:13 am  Leave a Comment  

The Next George Washington?

“Khadafy Duck” was one of the nicknames Conservative pundits had for Moammar Khadafy – at least that’s one of the ways his name is spelled these days. The Arabs use a phonetic spelling system; there written language is rather like short-hand, spelling out the sound, rather than following an alphabet.

Someone made the mistake of giving this guy a microphone and it’s not going to be easy getting him to relinquish it again. He and the other Arab leaders have certainly overstayed their welcome. Given the climate of the Middle East, there extended reigns were probably a necessary evil. Khadafy had better watch out, or they’ll revoke his membership in the Society of the Cincinnati.

The Society was a Revolutionary War version of the VFW or the American Legion, though the battles were all fought here in North America. Gen. George Washington and his officers had been through a horrible war against a superior enemy, fighting not only the weather, but poorly trained, clothed, armed, and fed militia. The discipline was very poor and the morale worse. They endured harsh winters and searing heat (the Battle of Monmouth, where Molly Pitcher proved what women are really made of, was fought in 100 degree heat. Soldiers were as likely to succumb to the heat as to gunfire).

When peace was finally achieved, and the soldiers and officers were decommissioned and allowed to return home, they vowed eternal friendship to one another. Washington, not wanting those ties to be broken, proposed a formal society for his officers called The Society of the Cincinnati. The Society still exists today.

Founded in 1783, with branches in the United States and France, the Society was founded in 1783 to preserve the ideals and fellowship of the Revolutionary War officers and to pressure the government to honor pledges it had made to officers who fought for American independence.

The concept of the Society of the Cincinnati was originated from Major General Henry Knox. The first meeting of the Society was held in May 1783 in Fishkill, N.Y., before the British evacuation from New York City. The meeting was chaired by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton, and the participants agreed to stay in contact with each other after the war. Membership was generally limited to officers who had served at least three years in the Continental Army or Navy but included officers of the French Army and Navy above certain ranks.

Later, membership was passed down to the eldest son after the death of the original member. Present-day hereditary members generally must be descended from an officer who served in the Continental Army or Navy for at least three years, from an officer who died or was killed in service, or from an officer serving at the close of the Revolution. Each officer may be represented by only one descendant at any given time, following the rules of primogeniture. (The rules of eligibility and admission are controlled by each of the 14 Constituent Societies to which members are admitted. They differ slightly in each society and some allow more than one representative of an eligible officer.)

At the time, America had just freed herself from the hereditary monarchy of England and the formation of this society was considered quite controversial. Washington, upon hearing of its unpopularity just when he was trying to unite the states under a centralized, government, counseled withdrawing that requirement for membership, but today the Society still exists, and membership is, in fact, hereditary (what else could it be, since it was formed for the purposes of officers of the American Revolution?).

The inspiration for the society was an ancient Roman senator named Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus. He left his farm to accept a term as Roman Consul and then served twice as Magister Populi (with temporary powers similar to that of a modern era dictator), thereby assuming lawful dictatorial control of Rome to meet a war emergency. When the battle was won, he returned power to the Senate and went back to plowing his fields. The Society’s motto reflects that ethic of selfless service: Omnia relinquit servare republicam (“He relinquished everything to save the Republic”).

The Society of the Cincinnati has from the beginning had three objectives, referred to as the “Immutable Principles”: “To preserve the rights so dearly won; to promote the continuing union of the states; and to assist members in need, their widows, and their orphans.”

Washington saw himself as a philosophical descent of Cincinnatus. Like the ancient, Washington was a farmer, a warrior, and a presiding officer, who longed to return to the peace of his farm on the James River. If you’ve ever been to his beautiful estate, Mount Vernon, you know why he was homesick. If you haven’t been there, put Mount Vernon on your list of places to see.

He was no politician, playing to the cameras; it was what he felt and what he believed.

Moammar Khadafy, on the other hand, can’t be persuaded to go home to his estate, wherever that is. He loves the camera, and always has some new entertainment for us. The latest news from Khadafy is that Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the riots in Tahrir Square.

How that is possible, only Khadafy knows, since U.S. Intelligence informs us that Bin Laden stopped using modern technology years ago because he knew he could be tracked. Intelligence also tells us that Bin Laden has lost credit in the Arab world and packed it in. The Muslims will always protect him, but evidently, they’ve “moved on.”

Earlier this month, secret documents exposed by WikiLeaks revealed that the FBI is hunting for four additional suspected terrorists connected with 9/11. According to a February 2010 memo for the American Embassy in Qatar, four previously unnamed men may have been involved in the 9/11 attacks.

The four carried out surveillance on the World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, the White House, and the Pentagon three weeks before the attacks. Three of them were booked on a flight from L.A. to D.C. on Sept. 10th, but never boarded. Instead, on Sept. 11th itself, they flew to London and then on to Qatar. Mohamed Al Mansoori is suspected of being their American contact; his whereabouts are unknown.

The cleaning staff of the Los Angeles hotel at which they were staying grew suspicious when the found airline pilot uniforms, laptops, and boxes addressed to the Middle East. When they left the United States, they left behind a mystery for the FBI and Homeland Security. As Fox News’ Shep Smith noted in a conversation with Katherine Herridge, “Something went wrong.”

Whatever went wrong, these three carried the tale back with them to the Middle East. In the ensuing years, U.S. Intelligence began to speculate that Osama had fallen from grace and was no longer a major player. Let’s hope their right and that he doesn’t try to prove them wrong.

As for what went wrong, the only one who can say now what went awry is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and according to officials, he isn’t talking. The last thing we heard from him was his 25-page long rant about George Washington, the American hero. Has Osama decided, in fact, that he’s the American George Washington, and having done his duty, retired from public life?

Like Washington, though, Muslim schoolchildren are being taught to revere him because of the successful attack on Sept. 11, 2001. Just yesterday, the authorities arrested a Saudi Arabian student studying chemical engineering at South Plains College in Texas on a student visa for plotting to murder former President Bush and blow up the New York Stock Exchange and the Statue of Liberty. He said he was inspired by the incendiary speeches of Osama Bin Laden.

This student was about 10 years old on September 11th. But he never forgot the Islamic victory in New York and Washington, D.C., the city named after America’s first president. Osama Bin Laden? General, revolutionary leader able to make tough decisions, statesman, hero, who, like Washington, even made “strategical” retreats? Do they think he’s the 12th Imam?

Or is he the Muslim version of the “next George Washington.”

Published in: on February 25, 2011 at 6:59 am  Comments (1)  

Community Anarchists

Judging by yesterday’s photo from the riots in Greece, Glenn Beck gave his news source website the correct name: “The Blaze.” Although it’s certainly not what he meant when he first introduced the site, that is certainly what is happening in the world today and no better photo illustrates these events.

These rioters, these communists, these socialists, along with the Islamic terrorists. These are the people who are going to bring peace and justice to the world, are they? The union hooligans using their students as human shields in Madison? The mobs in Tahrir Square, sexually assaulting CBS Reporter Lara Logan? The throngs in the streets of Tripoli setting fire to cars and buildings? This is the hope of the world, is it? This is the way they intend to “change” things, to transform the world,” by reducing it to ashes?

They’ve said so, time and again, in books like “The Coming Insurrection.” They’ve been planning this agony for many years. Glenn titled a segment called “Party Like It’s 1968,” which I didn’t have the opportunity to see. However, I saw the black and white photo on The Blaze.

The only thing missing was the pot smoke. A friend of mine was inveigled to attend one of these “parties” in Greenwich Village in the late Sixties. He said the pot smoke was so thick that you practically choked on it. Some anarchist leader was ranting – he doesn’t remember who and probably couldn’t see him – but it was some Abbie Hoffman-type leader. When you talk about Bill Ayers, don’t forget Hoffman.

Abbot Howard “Abbie” Hoffman died in April 1989, so he hasn’t been at the forefront of the movement. But he’s certainly at the back of their minds. He’s portrayed in the movie, Forrest Gump, in the anti-war protest on The Mall in Washington, D.C., the one at the microphone who uses the “F-Word” – a lot. He was an American social and political activist who co-founded the Youth International Party (The “Yippies”). Hoffman was arrested and tried for conspiracy and inciting to riot as a result of his role in protests that led to violent confrontations with police during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, along with Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner and Bobby Seale.

The group was known collectively as the “Chicago Eight.” Seale’s prosecution was separated from the others, so they became known as the “Chicago Seven.” Indicted on charges of intent to incite a riot, the verdicts were overturned on appeal. Hoffman came to prominence in the 1960s, and continued practicing his activism in the 1970s, and has remained a symbol of the youth rebellion and radical activism of that era.

Hoffman was born in Worcester, Mass. to John Hoffman and Florence Schamberg, who were of Jewish descent. Hoffman was raised in a middle class household, and was the oldest of three children. In, 1954, the 17-year-old Hoffman was arrested for the first time, for driving without a license. In his sophomore year, Hoffman was expelled from Classical High School, a now-closed public high school in Worcester, after a disagreement with an English teacher. He attended Worcester Academy, graduating in 1955. He then enrolled in Brandeis University, completing his B.A. in psychology in 1959. At Brandeis, he studied under noted psychologist Abraham Maslow, often considered the father of humanistic psychology. Hoffman later enrolled at University of California, Berkeley to earn a Master’s Degree in psychology, but dropped out to marry his girlfriend, Sheila Karklin, who was pregnant.

Prior to his days as a leading member of the Yippie movement, Hoffman was involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and organized “Liberty House,” which sold items to support the Civil Rights Movement. During the Vietnam War, Hoffman was an anti-war activist, who used theatrical tactics to deliver his message.

In October 1967, David Dellinger of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam asked Jerry Rubin to help mobilize and direct a March on the Pentagon. The protesters gathered at the Lincoln Memorial as Dellinger and Dr. Benjamin Spock gave speeches to the mass of people. From there, the group marched towards the Pentagon. As the protesters neared the Pentagon, they were met by soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division, who formed a human barricade blocking the Pentagon steps.

Not to be dissuaded, Hoffman vowed to levitate the Pentagon claiming he would attempt to use psychic energy to levitate the Pentagon until it would turn orange and begin to vibrate, at which time the war in Vietnam would end. Beat poet Allen Ginsberg led Tibetan chants to assist Hoffman.

Hoffman’s symbolic theatrics were successful at convincing many young people to become more active in the politics of the time. Another one of Hoffman’s well-known protests was on Aug. 24, 1967, when he led members of the movement to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) gallery. The protesters threw fistfuls of dollars down to the traders below, some of whom booed, while scrambled frantically to grab the money.

Accounts of the amount of money that Hoffman and the group tossed was said to be as little as $30 to $300. Hoffman claimed to be pointing out that, metaphorically, that’s what NYSE traders “were already doing.” “We didn’t call the press,” wrote Hoffman, “at that time, we really had no notion of anything called a media event.” All the same, the press was quick to respond and by evening the event was reported around the world. Since that incident, the stock exchange has spent $20,000 to enclose the gallery with bulletproof glass.

In late 1966, Hoffman met with a radical community-action group called The Diggers, a radical community-action group of community activists and improv actors operating from 1966–68, based in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. Founded by Emmett Grogan, actor Peter Coyote, Peter Berg (later director of Planet Drum), and other members of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, a guerilla theater group which included Billy Murcott, Roberto La Morticella, and Butcher Brooks, their politics were described as somewhere between “left-wing” and “community anarchists,” who blended a desire for freedom with a consciousness of the community in which they lived.

The Diggers took their name from the original English Diggers (1649–50) who promulgated a vision of society free from private property and all forms of buying and selling. During the mid- and late 1960s, the San Francisco Diggers opened stores which simply gave away their stock. They provided free food, medical care, transport and temporary housing, and organized free music concerts and works of political art. Some of their “happenings” (that’s what they called their publicity stunts in the Sixties, which found its way into the common lingo) included the Death of Money Parade, Intersection Game, Invisible Circus, and Death of Hippie/Birth of Free.

Among their more “charitable” activities, The Diggers provided a free food service in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park in Haight-Ashbury every day at 4 p.m., generally feeding over 200 people who had no other source of food. They served a stew made from donated and stolen meat and vegetables behind a giant yellow picture frame, called the Free Frame of Reference. They threw free parties with music provided by the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and other bands.

They also staged street theater events, such as driving a truck of semi-naked belly dancers through the Financial District, inviting brokers to climb on board and forget their work. In October 1967, they staged The Death of Hippie, a parade in the Haight-Ashbury, where masked participants carried a coffin with the words “Hippie–Son of Media” on the side. The event was staged in such a way so that any media that simply described it would be transmitting the Digger message that Hippies were a media invention. This was called “creating the condition you describe” and was used skillfully by the Diggers to control the media. Their own publications, notably the Digger Papers, are the origin of such phrases as “Do your own thing” and “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” The Diggers fostered and inspired later groups like the Yippies.

At Hoffman’s 1970 sentencing after the Chicago Seven Trial, he suggested the judge try LSD and offered to set him up with “a dealer he knew in Florida” (the judge was known to be headed to Florida for a post-trial vacation). Each of the five was sentenced to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. However, all convictions were subsequently overturned by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Kerner Commission declared that the incident had been a “police riot.”

During Woodstock, Hoffman interrupted a performance of The Who to protest the imprisonment of poet John Sinclair. Furious at him for violating the “sanctity of the stage,” guitarist Pete Townsend whacked Hoffman over the head with his guitar and defied anyone else to come onto the stage and interrupt their concert. Hoffman later apologized for the incident, declaring that he’d been on a bad LSD trip and didn’t realize what he was doing. Townshend accepted his apology.

In 1971, Hoffman published Steal This Book, which advised readers on how to live basically for free. Many of his readers followed Hoffman’s advice and stole the book, leading many bookstores to refuse to carry it. He was also the author of several other books, including Vote!, co-written with Rubin and Ed Sanders. Hoffman was arrested Aug. 28, 1973 on drug charges for intent to sell and distribute cocaine. He always maintained that undercover police agents entrapped him into a drug deal and planted suitcases of cocaine in his office. Hoffman was the original “conspiracy theorist.” In the spring of 1974, Hoffman skipped bail, underwent cosmetic surgery to alter his appearance, and hid from authorities for several years.

Hoffman committed suicide on April 12, 1989, by swallowing 150 Phenobarbital tablets. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1980. He had recently changed treatment medications and claimed to have been upset about his elderly mother’s cancer diagnosis. Hoffman’s body was found in his apartment in a converted turkey coop on Sugan Road in Solebury Township, near New Hope, Pa. At the time of his death, he was surrounded by about 200 pages of his own handwritten notes, many about his own moods.

Hoffman was one of the many anarchists of those times to scream “Pig!” at police officers trying to restore order and arrest those who threatened order and peace. He’s gone now. But his influence on the communist/progressive movement and on the youth of America should never be forgotten. Or forgiven.

Published in: on February 24, 2011 at 6:57 am  Comments (6)  

Political Storm Warning: Take Shelter Immediately

If you want to know what’s going on in the world, particularly in the Middle East at the moment, there are plenty of media sources, some reliable, some not so, like Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. If you really want to know what’s going on in the Middle East, read the Jerusalem Post or a columnist like Andrew McCarthy. His column is always on target and yesterday’s column was especially good. You can find him on National Review Online. The article is about the fate and second-class status of women in the Islamic world.

If double-talk is what you go for, however, read the U.S. State Department’s Travel Warnings. Lately, they’ve been updating their Middle East travel warnings on a daily basis. Apparently, State doesn’t read or watch the Media at all. These ostriches apparently have their heads buried so deep in the Sahara, they have no idea what’s happening. The riots, to them, are nothing but the rumbling of anonymous feet overhead. They haven’t a clue who the feet belong to, for what cause they throng to and fro, or over whom the feet are trampling, and don’t want to know.

The name of CBS reporter Lara Logan is evidently unknown to them. Tsk, tsk, tsk! She should have participated in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Then maybe they would have known she was being assaulted by an angry mob of over 200 who clearly recognized she was American, and somehow knew she was Jewish as well. Was she wearing a Yellow Star of David that they knew this? Katie Couric nearly suffered the same fate. I hope perky little Katie wasn’t injured, but the look of shock on her face as the crowd of men overwhelmed her told the whole story.

They probably haven’t received word yet, since it’s just broken, that the four Americans kidnapped on their yacht off the Somali coast have been murdered. The Media finally got around to reporting the incident as a “murder” rather than a “killing” as though a tsunami had overtaken their vessel rather than Islamic brigands. We must be careful how we report things, after all. They ‘had it coming,” though, in the eyes of the Muslim world. These cruise-saders were Bible peddlers, “meddlers” interfering with the conversion of the world to an Islamic caliphate. Who did they think they were, anyway, spreading the Word of God? Why, the very nerve.

It’s lucky they’d sailed out of Oman instead of say, Egypt, where State warns American travelers that their ability to render assistance is “limited,” although the two couples were murdered during a rescue attempt by the U.S. Navy. The embassies in most of the besieged countries have sent their non-essential personnel home and are closed for only but the most extreme emergencies. For now, the Libyan Embassy is still open. That could change by tomorrow, however. State warns Americans not to travel to these countries. If you’re already there, get out of town quick, and if you can’t evacuate, prepare to hole up, as the embassies have. Or as they diplomatically put it, “Make preparations to shelter in place.”

Still, they add, ‘but Americans and Westerners are in no danger. They’re not the targets of any potential violence.’ Just make sure you’re not around if any civil unrest breaks out and if you are, get the hell out of there. And leave your Bibles at home. Saudi Arabia forbids foreigners to bring any religious books or artifacts with them.

This was the State Department’s Feb. 21st Travel Warning for Libya:

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the potential for ongoing unrest in Libya. Violent clashes between protesters and security forces continue throughout Libya, including in Tripoli. Spontaneous demonstrations, violence, and looting are possible throughout the next several days. The Department of State has ordered all Embassy family members and non-emergency personnel to depart Libya.

U.S. citizens outside of Libya are urged to defer all travel to Libya. U.S. citizens in Libya should minimize overall travel in-country, exercise extreme caution when traveling, and limit all travel after dark. U.S. citizens not departing Libya should make preparations to shelter in place. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated Feb. 20, 2011. U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution, avoid areas where demonstrations are likely to occur such as government offices and public squares, and leave an area immediately if a demonstration begins. Demonstrations have degenerated on several occasions into violent clashes between security forces and protesters, resulting in injuries and deaths. T

The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations, as even peaceful ones can quickly become unruly and a foreigner could become a target of harassment, or worse. While demonstrations have not been directed toward Westerners, U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security. U.S. citizens should take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. Again, there is no indication that Westerners are being threatened or targeted at this time. Unannounced security checkpoints and road and airport closures may occur throughout Libya, changing traffic patterns and flight availability without notice.

Due to ongoing internet and telephone service interruptions in Libya, U.S. citizens who require assistance in departing Libya should contact the U.S. State Department at the phone numbers below or via email at LibyaEmergencyUSC@state.gov. The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli can be reached at +218 (0)21-337-3250 during business hours; the after hours emergency number for emergencies involving U.S. citizens is 091-220-5207. The Embassy’s website is at http://libya.usembassy.gov. Security updates can be found at http://libya.usembassy.gov/service/information-for-travelers/warden-messages.html.

The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located in the Ben Ashour neighborhood on Jeraba Street behind the former Libyan-Swiss Clinic. All U.S. citizens in Libya are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at the following website: https://travelregistration.state.gov. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. For the latest security information on travel and security in Libya, U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, Travel Warnings, and health-information resources can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or, for callers in other areas by calling a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The world is shrinking for Westerners. Pretty soon, we won’t even be safe in our own country. Bahrain, the Media failed to inform us, is the home of the Navy’s 5th Fleet. Libya supplies much of Europe’s oil; its main trading partners are Italy, Germany, and France. Consequently, the price of oil skyrocketed today, as the Dow Jones plunged.

With China and India rising as the energy-consuming super-powers, the Middle East isn’t as dependent on our dependency on their oil as they once were, and can now afford to overthrow their Western-style democracies. Dictators both friendly and unfriendly are being booted out, even iron-chewing America-haters such as Moammar Qadaffi are on notice.

We’re not much better off back home here, with communist and mob-funded public employee unions shaking their baseball bats at us for daring to change union states over to right-to-work states. In the Middle East, the caliphatists, in league with communists, are breaking down the walls of political society to prepare the way for a one-world government. Individual leaders are a threat to that plan. Unsavory as we might find Qadaffi, someone worse is lurking behind the curtain.

But that’s a warning the State Department will never issue.

Published in: on February 23, 2011 at 7:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Washington’s Birthday

Political correctness being what it is we haven’t, for many years, celebrated individual president’s birthdays. Only two presidents were ever considered worthy of having their birthdays celebrated nationally – Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is Feb. 12th and George Washington, who was born Feb. 22, 1732, on a farm in Westmoreland County, Virginia.

In the 1960s, the socialists melded all the presidents – worthy or not – into one collective, mass birthday and made it a Monday holiday. Washington was derided in schools as a slave-holding, incompetent leader whose sexual proclivities led to his death.  All lies or half-truths.  In so doing, individual merit was forced to take another step down off its pedestal.

Washington was much beloved in his time and by school children for centuries afterwards. He is scorned by modern historians for being a slaveholder and for losing nearly every battle he fought except the last one. These scholars do little research – or at least provide scant evidence – to understand Washington’s military strategies.

They do not consider the times and the environment under which Gen. Washington had to lead his campaigns, or the political and social obstacles he faced. His armies often went naked, with no shoes, no clothes, and only want food they could forage from the land or appropriate from the local natives.

We blame Congress for failing to provide for the needs of the army – including ammunition – but the states bore a great responsibility for this failure as well. Under the Articles of Confederation, the federal government could not force them to make contributions and the states were very slow to do so voluntarily, particularly New Jersey, where the main portion of the army was stationed, on the crossroads between the vital cities of New York and Philadelphia.

By the winter of 1781, the Continental Army regulars were ragged indeed, and unpaid. The militias, untrained and inexperienced in combat, tended to flee shamefully whenever fighting was heavy. America was waiting upon the assistance of France, the only country with a Navy that could match England’s.

Unable to endure their suffering any further, the army at Morristown mutinied. They assembled 1,300 men, and prepared to march towards Princeton for a redress of their grievances. In attempting to suppress the mutiny several were wounded on both sides. But the mutineers proceeded and succeeded in achieving negotiations to either be paid or released.

Another group of mutineers stationed at the camp in Pompton were not so fortunate. Attempting to do the same thing, they got no farther than Chatham when they were stopped and returned to the camp in Pompton. Washington couldn’t afford many more such displays. But this time, the army who caught them didn’t scuffle with the mutineers; they ordered the three leaders to be bound and executed by their own men.

Two were shot, reluctantly, and the third, begging for mercy, received a stay of execution. The site is along a rather barren, narrow stretch of busy road, marked by a road sign hard up against a steep hill. On the other side of the front is a field that must have been the site of the actual encampment.  What would today’s media have made of such an execution, which was a difficult decision for Washington? Would there be Cairo-style or Madison-style protests, camp-ins, calling for his resignation?

Washington never wanted to serve as president. After the war, he longed to go home to Mount Vernon and resume his life. But he knew it was his duty to heed the desires of the people. He even served a second term. Some even suggested that the office be made a lifetime position. To this, he absolutely disagreed and retired from public office.

Under the auspices of “emergency powers,” the Middle East’s dictators have overstayed their welcome, supported by a West that fears Islamic mob rule more than it does military tyrants. They are harsh; Muslim theocracy is even harsher. Sharia law is savage and demands cruel punishments that fit the definition of an eye-for-an-eye justice; the hand of a thief, the nose of a teenage girl who defies her father, the life of an adulterer or homosexual.

The demands of the protesters go far beyond the deposition of superannuated dictators, whose corruption hardly makes them sympathetic figures. This is about the destruction of the individual itself, whom the Muslims consider untrustworthy and sinful. The Communists certainly cheer them on and abet them in this attitude.

Under no circumstances, in this country, is the individual to be celebrated. The masses, the collective are all. This is the hour of the common man, who has no power by which he can be corrupted, but has as little in the way of accomplishment or greatness to recommend him to history. The leaders of the Middle East revolutions keep cannily in the background, letting the laurels fall upon the heads of those they lead, while quietly collecting up the fragments of power from the gutter for themselves and piecing them back together in a design which will yield the people even less power than they had before.

One man, one vote, not collective bargaining – that was the vision of a just society, according to the Founding Fathers. If an elected official failed, he could be voted out. Again and again, if necessary. Clearly, the Mubaraks and Khadafis obstructed that electoral process, which in America favored a republican rather than a democratic form of government.

Self-government takes educated, attentive citizens. In America, we have a system of checks and balances. Our president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, but it takes an act of Congress to declare war. We have a Constitution that prevents our armed forces from firing upon peaceful protesters, and allows local law enforcement to arrest those who disturb the peace and destroy property.

In Cairo, the police would have arrested and detained the protesters. Only a plea from our own president prevented them from establishing order. Instead, riots and looting and sexual assaults ruled Tahrir Square, not democracy. A complicit media tried to hide these things, but in the age of technological advances, the world learned of the violence anyway.

The Conservative West was repulsed; the East was inspired and now the flames of unrest have spread across the deserts of the Middle East from Morocco to Yemen and even to Beijing, China. Individual leaders are in peril everywhere, whether they deserve it or not.

George Soros has had the nerve to excoriate the Tea Parties. We rallied peacefully, though. We threatened no one, caused no destruction, obstructed no traffic or businesses, and certainly never called for any physical harm to anyone. The Tea Partiers marched on the Capitol and held up signs – and then went home, cleaning up after themselves when it was over.

We give tyrants no reason to exert a heavy hand upon us. We don’t need to and won’t need to, unless they threaten our freedoms. Initially, Washington wasn’t in favor of independence from Great Britain, until its repressive measures against the Colonies made rebellion inevitable.  Washington believed in a federal government that would unite the individual states. His experiences during the war taught him that left to themselves, they would not support national unity, without which the country would be defenseless against its enemies.

In 1787, Washington became chairman of the Constitutional Convention, ensuring that the Constitution – the laws that would serve as our country’s legal foundation – was ratified. He was elected unanimously by the Electoral College and hailed as a hero by nearly all Americans for leading a ragtag, untrained, poorly supplied army against a superior adversary to victory and freedom. Resource, disciplined, and dependable he was responsible for the uniting of the states of America.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

Published in: on February 22, 2011 at 7:12 am  Comments (1)  

On, Wisconsin!

On Wisconsin,

On Wisconsin,

Victory’s now in sight!

The state of Wisconsin, taking its cue from New Jersey, has not only taken on the teachers’ unions, but the very right to work; the right to say, “No, I don’t want to belong to a union, but I do want to work here.”

The unions have agreed to contributing more to their pensions and health care, but they’re still agitating about the loss of some of their collective bargaining rights.  The Democrat legislatures, in order not to have risk either the ire of the union members or the tax-payers, have done a disappearing act.

Years ago, when my mother first began driving school buses in order to bolster the family income, the drivers at the company decided they were going to form a union. They held a meeting with the company owner. My mother attended that first meeting and was so disgusted by the drivers’ behavior, using the foulest, coarsest and unnecessary language, that she walked out.

She refused to sign up for the union. Her friend and leader of the union movement asked her why she hadn’t attended the union meetings. My mother told her she thought it was wrong and useless.

“If you don’t join the union, we’ll have the owner fire you,” the union organizer threatened.

“Oh you will, will you?” Mom retorted.

Mom sided with management. Thanks to understanding parents, and a number of drivers who refused to strike, the company was able to meet its obligations. Strikers not only harassed drivers at the bus yard, but along the routes, and at the schools.

One afternoon, as my mother was getting ready to leave the yard on her run, a striker stood in the way of the bus. Revving the engine loudly, Mom called out that she would count to three and then the striker had better get out of her way, or she’d run her down.

With each count, Mom revved the engine louder. On three, the horrified striker gave a shriek and jumped out of the way.

In another incident – and my favorite – Mom was just coming into the yard. You had to cross a bridge over a brook to enter the yard. On the bridge, stood a striker, blocking the way. She came up and kicked Mom’s Dodge van. Furious, Mom stopped and jumped out.

“Get out of my way!” she yelled. The striker stood defiantly. She was a short little woman. Mom was taller, and thinner, but stronger. My mother glanced at the side of the bridge. ‘I can take her!’ Mom calculated. ‘If she doesn’t get out of my way, I’ll send right over the side of this bridge!’

“Come on!” Mom yelled. “You wanna fight? I’ll give you a fight!”

The woman took up the challenge, but her sister saw what was going to happen, and grappled her smaller sister from behind and dragged her off, arms and legs failing, and lungs bellowing. My mother got back into her van, drove across the bridge, then got into her bus to do her school run.

My mother called the state Right to Work association for advice. They were ready to take up arms and lawsuits. But my mother told them, ‘Never mind. I can handle this myself. I know what to do.’

She went to the local police station and registered a complaint that she was being denied her right to work. During the picket protests, bus drivers were being threatened, assaulted, and prevented from doing their runs, blocking the buses from crossing the bridge.

“They’re supposed to keep walking,” my mother told the police officer. “They’re not supposed to stop us from driving in and out, and you’re not doing anything to prevent them from harassing us.”

“Well you know,” the officer drawled, “we’re union, too, and we really don’t want to get involved.”

My mother pointed out the window of the station to the American flag waving outside.

“Do you see that flag out there?” she asked. “That’s the American flag. I’m an American and your job is to protect me if I want to go to work. When the union flag is raised in its place, then you can pick and choose who you decide to protect.”

The next day, four police cars were at the bus yard. Appreciative parents wrote to the bus company, thanking the drivers in particular for putting their children’s education above financial ambitions. The strike was unsuccessful; the drivers were unable to form their union. Eventually, my mother went to work for the competition because that company also had charter buses which meant longer hours and more money.

That’s the American way of improving your lot in life, doing more for your employer, not intimidating them and anyone else who works for them.

Published in: on February 21, 2011 at 6:39 am  Leave a Comment  

“The Troubles”, Egyptian-Style

There was the news we’d been expecting, stashed away on page 12 of the Sunday Bergen Record: “Egypt recognizes moderate Islamic party.” Don’t pay attention to this story. Look over there at the union protests in Wisconsin. N.J. Gov. Christie is about to propose his budget cuts – New Jersey may soon have its own “Egyptian-style” protests. Oh – do they plan to loot, riot, set fire to vehicles, burn down government buildings, and beat up journalists, too?

The report in the Bergen Record comes from the Associated Press by an Arab reporter. The AP would, like Joe Biden, have us believe that there’s nothing to worry about. The Muslim Brotherhood is a peaceful organization, started in 1928 and outlawed, beginning in 1948, no less than three times, not just in the last 15 years, whose goal was to build hospitals and feed the poor. Its slogan was: “Islam is the solution.”

The Middle East is not the only area of the world divided by intra-religious strife (the Sunnis versus the Shia). “The Troubles” have plagued Northern Ireland for at least two hundred years. They date back at least to 1613 when Protestant Scottish immigrants colonized the previously Catholic city of Derry. The immigrants built a wall around the town and renamed it “Londonderry.” In 1689, James II set out from France to recapture the city and regain the English thrown. But in the Battle of Boyne in 1690 King William III defeated James II. Since 1714, a Loyalist group called “The Apprentice Boys”, (named after the young apprentices who shut the gates and pulled up the drawbridges before James’ forces arrived) have celebrated the siege with a procession on the ramparts. The victory gave Britain rule over all of Ireland until the uprisings of 1916. The 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty allowed the formation of the Irish Free State out of Ireland’s 26 southern counties, leaving the six northern counties to the Protestants, who constituted the majority of the population.

Under the Act of Union 1800, the separate Kingdoms of Ireland and Great Britain were merged on Jan. 1, 1801 to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Throughout the 19th century, Irish opposition to the Union was strong, occasionally erupting in violent insurrection. In the 1830s and 1840s, attempts had been made under the leadership of Daniel O’Connell to repeal the Act of Union and restore the Kingdom of Ireland, without breaking the connection with Great Britain. These attempts to achieve what was simply called repeal failed.

The Irish Home Rule Movement articulated a longstanding Irish desire for the repeal of the Act of Union of 1800 by a demand for self-government within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The movement drew upon a legacy of patriotic thought that dated back at least to the late 17th century.

Home Rule held out the promise of a new constitutional order and harnessed the energies of a more recent militant tradition, providing an alternative to nationalist militancy. For almost half a century – from the early 1870s to the end of the Great War – Home Rule was both the single most dominant feature of Irish political life and a major influence within British politics. It united over a period the Irish past with the present, bound militants with constitutionalists, Irish with British politicians. For the British father of Home Rule, William Ewart Gladstone, Home Rule was about the reconciliation of Irish nationalism to the British state. For other politicians, the Conservatives and Ulster Unionists Home Rule presented a fearful spectacle, their opposition to it so complete that a civil war seemed to offer the only path towards a resolution.

Until the 1870s, most Irish voters elected as their Members of Parliament (MPs) Liberals and Conservatives who belonged to the main British political parties. These representatives were British landowners with property in Ireland. They would appoint stewards to run the land so they could remain in England to assure their seats in Parliament. The Conservatives, for example, won a majority in the 1859 general election in Ireland. A significant minority also voted for Unionists, who fiercely resisted any dilution of the Act of Union.

The modern violence began with Catholic Irish Nationalists called for unification with the Irish Republic in the South. The conflict began in Derry in 1968-1969, with confrontations between nationalist demonstrators and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The RUC broke up several illegal marches of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, who were demonstrating against discrimination against Catholics in electoral boundaries, voting rights and allocation of public housing.

The rioting escalated beyond the control of the RUC in August 1969, in the Battle of the Bogside. This was a huge riot in which, after disturbances broke after an Apprentice Boys march, the residents of the nationalist Bogside, erected barricades around the area to resist police incursions. After three days of rioting, when the RUC had proved unable to restore order, the government of Northern Ireland requested the deployment of the British Army. Initially they were welcomed by the Catholics as a neutral force compared to the RUC.

“Bloody Sunday” refers to the Jan. 30, 1972 riot in which British paratroopers fired on protesters demonstrating against the imprisonment of paramilitary suspects without trial. Fourteen protesters were killed.

More than 3,500 people were killed in the conflicts and the towns of Derry and Belfast were divided by a wall. The city of Derry was called “Londonderry” by the Anglican Protestants and “Derry” by the Catholics. Loyalist and IRA paramilitary groups formed. The IRA disavowed these violent groups as “breakaway” groups that allegedly had nothing to do with the IRA’s political aspirations, led by Sinn Fein.

Finally, in a 1999 deal brokered by Pres. Bill Clinton, Sen. George Mitchell, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, a compromise called “The Good Friday Agreement” was signed. The agreement formed a semiautonomous government body consisting of Catholics and Protestants, called for the disbanding of paramilitary groups, the release of political prisoners, and the reorganization of the police force to include more Catholics.

Northern Ireland would also remain a part of Great Britain until a majority of its citizens voted to the contrary. The leaders of the two sides shook hands and everyone assumed that peace had prevailed. But former DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) leader Jim Allister, refused to acknowledge the agreement stating that it rewarded 30 years of terrorism.

Despite the outbreak of peace, “peace walls” still divide the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. One Catholic priest noted, in an interview with Smithsonian, that the only ones who can declare peace are the violent.

Factions in the Middle East took note of “The Troubles” in Ireland and studied the IRA’s bomb-making methods and public relations strategies. However, it seems the peace process in Ireland failed. Both sides have their representatives in government. But the religious factions still hate one another. Businesses in Ireland have tried to observe political correctness by hiring equal numbers of employees from both beliefs, only to have fights break out in their stores aisles between employees and customers.

We can hardly expect any better behavior from the Middle Eastern Arabs whose notion of civilization remains steadfastly implanted in the seventh century. But we in America have “Troubles” of our own, which the Media wants us to pay more attention to than the passing of two military ships through the Suez Cana on page 12.

Published in: on February 20, 2011 at 12:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ships That Pass in the Night

After much dilly-dallying, the transitional Egyptian government, led by the U.S.-favored military, who trained the Egyptians, has allowed to Iranian warships to cross through the Suez Canal.

Egyptian state media, according to CNN, “reported that the post-Hosni Mubarak ‘caretaker’ government gave the green light to the Iranian warships Friday. They are expected to be the first Iranian warships to sail through the Canal since the Islamic republic’s 1979 revolution.”

Egypt has sovereignty over the 103-mile long Suez, since it is (now) an internal body of water. Egypt is bound by the 1978 Camp David Accords (for the signing of which Egyptian president Anwar Sadat was assassinated three years later). The Camp David Accords guarantee the right of free passage by ships belonging to Israel and all other nations on the basis of the Constantinople Convention of 1888.

Prior to the Accords, Egypt did not allow Israeli ships to sail through the canal, which they nationalized in 1956. Last week, Egypt’s newly empowered military government said it would honor all its international treaties. That would include Camp David. In October of 1956, after Egyptian guerrillas raided Israel’s borders, Israel invaded the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt rejected cease-fire demands from Britain and France. Both countries accepted a U.N. ceasefire agreement in early November. A U.N, Emergency Force guarded the border.

But full-scale war broke out again and by June 1957, Israel had captured Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula and taken control of the East Bank of the Suez Canal. In 1973, Egyptian forces crossed the Suez into the Sinai at the same time Syria attacked Israel’s northern border. The USSR assisted Egypt while the U.S. responded with an airlift to Israel. Israel successfully captured the West Bank, but under a U.N. treaty in 1974, they withdraw and a limited number of Egyptian forces were permitted to occupy a strip on the left bank. In a second accord, Israel yielded the Sinai oil fields.

After Anwar Sadat’s assassination by Muslim extremists within the Egyptian army (Sadat had paid a surprise visit to Jerusalem in November 1977), Israel surrendered control of the Sinai to Egypt. The 1990s saw a growing tide of Islamic extremism, including numerous assassination attempts upon Hosni Mubarak, the downing of an EgyptAir jetliner en route from New York to Cairo just off Nantucket by its suicide-bent Islamic captain killing 217, the murder by extremists of 58 foreign tourists and 4 Egyptians at a tourist site near Luxor, Egypt, and the crashing of an Egyptian charter plan into the Red Sea, killing 133 French tourists and 15 others.

In 2004, Muslim terrorists set off a bomb near Taba, a Sinai tourist spot frequented by Israelis killing 35, another at Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea in July 2005, killing 88, and another suicide bombing in April 2004 in the Sinair resort ccity of Dahab, killing 18 and wounding 88.

Hosni Mubarak was pressured by the U.S. in 2005 to allow opostion candidates in the upcoming presidential election. He won 88 percent of the vote, with only a 23 percent turnout. That same year, constitutional amendments were enacted expanding presidential powers and barring religiously-based opposition parties from running candidates for election. Opposition groups and human rights activists denounced this amendment as fraudulent.

The Iranians asked for a frigate (the second largest ship in a navy after a ship of the line) — the Alvand — and a military supply ship — the Kharg — to cross into the Mediterranean. Both are armed with missiles, David Schenker, director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy told CNN, adding that their passage would create more uncertainty in the region.

“This is typical of Syrian-Iranian opportunism,” he noted.

Egypt’s decision, analysts said, could show the direction that the military caretakers intend to take the Arab world’s most populous nation. According to CNN, “Iran said earlier that the flotilla was on a yearlong intelligence-gathering and training mission to prepare cadets to defend Iran’s cargo ships and oil tankers from the threat of attack by Somali pirates, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.”

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Friday, “My initial response to that would be we’re highly skeptical of that. It’s not really about the ships. It’s what the ships are carrying, what’s their destination, what’s the cargo on board, where is it going, to whom, for what benefit.”

“Those concerns were shared by the White House, where Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One, ‘We’re monitoring that, obviously, but we also would say that Iran does not have a great track record for responsible behavior in the region, which is always a concern for us.’”

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel’s allies should pay close attention to the situation. The Israeli Defense Ministry said it was monitoring the movement of the Iranian ships and alerted its allies.

CNN noted that “The Suez Canal is a key waterway for international trade. It connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, allowing ships to navigate between Europe and Asia without having to go around Africa. Millions of barrels of oil move through the Suez every day en route to Europe and North America.”

Do tell. Israel says that it has alerted its allies. The question is, what allies? We were told we could depend upon the Egyptian military to not break the Camp David Accord, but they just let an Iranian warship and her convoy ship through the Suez Canal where the ship will dock in Syria “for a year” according to the Iranians, in order to protect their oil tankers. Yet the Iranians are notorious for attacking foreign oil tankers from the Strait of Hormuz. Who’s kidding whom, here? Our government, headed by Obama the admitted Socialist and suspected Islamicist, has silently aided and abetted the movement, urging the Egyptian protesters, none of whose alliances we know for certain being just a faceless mob of people, to a violent demand for the overthrow of Mubarak in the name of “democracy.” Where has any administration’s – and just Obama’s – denunciation of attacks on foreign oil tankers – been these many decades that they’ve been happening?

Certainly, the Media has not reported these frequent attacks. I only know of them because I worked for a major oil company, as a clerk in its international trade department. I heard first-hand from the tanker captains what was happening, and that was back in the 1980s. At the time, that company simply accepted the attacks as a cost of doing business in an unstable region. Ex-patriate employees were given training in avoiding and/or surviving terrorist kidnappings and attacks.

Yet when the tanker the Valdez ran aground in Alaska, we heard all about it from the Mainstream Media.

Since the Egyptian protests, international companies have been frantically evacuating their ex-pat employees from the region. Tourists are shunning Egypt like the plague, if you’ll excuse the pun-ish expression. The Egyptian economy is suffering for it, but depend upon it: the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t care. The fact is, they don’t want foreign tourists coming to Egypt at all.

The West and the Muslim East are like ships that pass in the night, to use yet another cliché. The East, however, not only doesn’t want the Western shipping passing it, but will fire upon her, stealing her cargo and beheading her passengers, before finally sinking her. The commandeering of the Suez Canal is but the first shot over the West’s bow.

Published in: on February 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm  Leave a Comment