Trump + Russia = bigger than Watergate. (Show America your tax returns, Donald!) – R.T.
By Steven R. Maher
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” – President Dwight Eisenhower
President Donald J. Trump has called for a $54 billion increase in the United States military budget. The Associated Press reported on March 3, 2017, that this would be a 10% increase in the Defense Department budget.
The Wall Street Journal reported on February 28, 2017, that the U.S. in 2015 accounted for 34% of the world’s military spending. The newspaper, citing the U.S. Defense Department for the U.S. figures and the Stockholm International Peace Institute for those of other countries, put the spending as follows:
• The U.S. spent $595 billion on defense.
• China spent $214 billion on its armed forces.
• Russia spent $91 billion.
• Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, spent $85 billion.
• France, the U.S.’s oldest ally, spent $61 billion on defense.
• Britain, the U.S.’s closest ally, spent $60 billion.
• India, the world’s largest democracy, spent $51 billion on defense.
• Germany, another U.S. ally, spent $47 billion.
• Japan, another U.S. ally, spent $46 billion.
• South Korea, a flashpoint because of North Korea’s erratic dictator, spends $39 billion.
• Brazil spends $32 billion.
The 10 countries above, less the U.S., account for 42% of the world’s military spending. Counting the U.S., the figure rises to 76%. The rest of the world makes up the remaining 24%, or $412 billion.
While the most likely country the U.S. would go to war with remains North Korea, its military spending did not make the top ranks of military spenders. That leaves China and Russia to consider.
The U.S. and its formal NATO allies (France, Britain and Germany) and allies through other treaties (Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea) spend $933 billion on defense. China and Russia are spending $305 billion.
The U.S. and its allies are spending three dollars for every dollar spent by its potential wartime enemies.
This is before the increases Trump is calling for.
Where spending is needed
According to various media outlets, there are two areas the U.S. does need to spend more money on: First, there have been reports that some U.S. military units are running low on ammunition. Second, there have been reports that some military equipment, particularly aircraft, have been “cannibalized”, i.e., spare parts have been taken from working machines to repair other equipment, and not replaced.
There is no argument that such spending is required. But buying enough ammunition and filling up the backlog of spare parts won’t cost anywhere near $54 billion.
What does Trump want to spend the extra money on?
Trump wants to expand the U.S. Navy from 272 ships to 350 ships, reports the Associated Press. The navy itself wants to expand it to 308 ships after 2020, says the same report.
Trump wants to expand the Fleet to a size even beyond what the U.S. Navy says is needed. Trump recently visited the newest naval aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, which cost $12.9 billion. The amounts Trump would spend to get the 350 ships the Navy says it doesn’t need, could be extraordinary. This would be to face two potential enemies, China and Russia. The U.S. and its allies are already outspending three to one on their militaries.
Trump appears to be falling into a trap frequently encountered among political leaders: he is preparing to refight the last conventional war. But the future threats are more likely to be in the areas of terrorism and cyber-warfare. These are the areas Trump should concentrate on, not buying ships the Navy doesn’t say it needs.
It will be interesting to see how the 30 Tea Party Congressmen – the so-called freedom lobby – vote on Trump’s wasteful military spending plans. These are the people who have spent the last eight years denouncing Barrack Obama’s budget deficits. Let’s see if they’re willing to put the taxpayers’ money where their big Tea Party mouths have been and vote down Trump’s fiscally irresponsible military buildup.
March 16 at Clark University: regional transgender author to discuss new memoir, ‘BALLS: It Takes Some To Get Some’
Boston-area author and transgender advocate Chris Edwards will talk about his life-changing journey and read from his memoir, “BALLS: It Takes Some to Get Some,” at Clark University at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 16, in the Higgins Lounge, Dana Commons, 2nd Floor.
The event is part of the Higgins School of Humanities’ spring dialogue symposium, “What’s so funny?” which includes lectures, community conversations and exhibits on humor.
Edwards grew up in the Boston suburbs and started the process of transitioning from female to male at the age of 26 when he was a copywriter at a high profile ad agency in Boston.
Edwards, who came out at a company board meeting before his white, middle-aged colleagues, endured 28 painful and extensive surgeries to become the man he is today.
He’ll reveal how humor helped him negotiate his gender transition and gain acceptance from his family, friends, and colleagues at a time when the word “transgender” was almost non-existent.
Edwards has been interviewed by O Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Refinery29, Vice.com, the Improper Bostonian, New York Post and NECN about his book, and about being young and transgender in the workplace. He was recently interviewed by The Boston Globe about his decision to attend his 10-year high school reunion while transitioning from Kristin to Chris.
“That’s when it hit me … everyone was going to assume I didn’t show up because I didn’t have the, well, balls,” Edwards told the Boston Globe. “And while technically that might have been true (that surgery was years away), after publicly transitioning in front of 500 coworkers I’d developed quite a set of cojones. I was not about to let my former classmates think I was ashamed. I was going.”
Books will be on sale and a signing will follow Edwards’ talk. This free, public event is sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.
March 16 at Clark University: historian to give talk, ‘Controlling Guns, Then and Now’
Historian Lois Schwoerer will present, “Controlling Guns, Then and Now,” at Clark University at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, March 16, in the Higgins Lounge, Dana Commons, 2nd Floor.
This lecture offered as part of the Roots of Everything Series.
Currently in the U.S. much of the debate around gun control focuses on the second amendment, however, struggles between government effects to regulate gun ownership and public gun culture date back to the 16th and 17th century England. When the English government tried to limit possession and use of gun to wealthy subjects, the policy was met with outrage and willful disobedience.
In this timely talk, Professor Schwoerer will examine the impact of gun ownership and regulation on both the government and private subjects of early modern England. Mark Miller, professor of political science and director of Clark’s Law and Society concentration, will offer commentary.
Schwoerer is Elmer Louis Kayser Professor Emerita of History at George Washington University and Scholar in Residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library; she was a member of GWU’s History Department for 32 years. Professor Schwoerer’s recent book “Gun Culture in Early Modern England” identifies and analyzes England’s domestic gun culture from 1500 to 1740, uncovering how guns became available, what effects they had on society, and how different sectors of the population contributed to gun culture.
The Roots of Everything is a lecture series sponsored by the Early Modernists Unite (EMU) — a faculty collaborative bringing together scholars of medieval and early modern Europe and America—in conjunction with the Higgins School of Humanities. The series highlights various aspects of modern existence originating in the early modern world and teases out connections between past and present.
This free, public event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, the Early Modernists Unite, and the Department of History.
Purchase these NOT-TESTED-ON-BUNNIES cosmetics and personal care products at Walgreens, CVS, Target and your local super-market. Go cruelty-free!!
Rose’s fave saint – ST. FRANCIS XAVIER – Patron Saint of Animals. This little St. Francis sits by Rose’s back door, blessing Lilac and Jett as they enter and leave the apartment. pic: R.T.
St. John’s Church
Temple Street, Worcester
ST. FRANCIS NOVENA
THE 94th ANNUAL NOVENA OF GRACE IN HONOR OF ST. FRANCIS XAVIER will begin Saturday, March 4 and run through Sunday, March 12.
Mass and Novena prayers will be held on the weekdays at 9:15 AM, 12:15 and 6:15 PM and on the regular weekend schedule (Saturday 4:15 and 7:15 PM, Sunday 8 and 10:15 AM, 12:15 and 7:15 PM).
Benediction and Novena prayers will be celebrated at 2:15 PM on March 4th and March 11th.
This year’s theme is “The Love of Christ Impels.”
All are welcome and encouraged to participate in this great Lenten tradition!
By Danny Orbach, (2016, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 406 Pages)
Reviewed by Steven R. Maher
In The Plots Against Hitler Danny Orbach, a former intelligence operative in the Israeli army, revisits attempts by Germans to kill Adolf Hitler. For the most part, the book concentrates on the well-known assassination attempt on Hitler organized by Claus von Stauffenberg on July 20, 1944, the event inspiring the film “Valkyrie” with Tom Cruise playing Stauffenberg.
If you’re not a history buff or haven’t seen the movie “Valkyrie,” Stauffenberg was a Colonel in charge of Hitler’s “Home Army,” a fighting force composed mainly of old men or children large enough to carry a rifle. Stauffenberg placed a bomb next to Hitler during a military conference, quietly left the bunker, and took off to Berlin to organize a coup. The bomb exploded, but failed to kill Hitler. Stauffenberg’s coup attempt fell apart after Hitler did a radio broadcast announcing he had survived the assassination effort. Stauffenberg and other heroic members of the conspiracy were afterwards rounded up and shot, or on Hitler’s direct order, strung up from meat hooks with piano wire, their agony filmed for the Fuhrer’s viewing delight.
That’s how most Germans would like to remember Stauffenberg and his compatriots. This was the first historical depiction of the episode after World War II. This was for many Germans a comfortable offset to the historical guilt for the Nazi period, proof that not all Germans were evildoers, mass-murderers, or anti-Semites.
In recent decades, historians of both the left and the right have challenged this rosy scenario. Some argued that many of the conspirators only turned against Hitler after Stalingrad and after the tide had turned against the Third Reich. Others argued that some of Stauffenberg’s followers were far from the heroic figures depicted by history, and that some had committed terrible atrocities. Still others argue that the conspirators were motivated by a cowardly desire to escape historical condemnation – and allied retribution – for Nazi war crimes.
No one better symbolizes this better than Arthur Nebe. From June to November 1941 Nebe oversaw SS Einsatzgruppen B, set up to massacre Jews after the invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.
Explains the U.S. Holocaust Memorial website: “The Einsatzgruppen, often drawing on local civilian and police support, carried out mass-murder operations. In contrast to the methods later instituted of deporting Jews from their own towns and cities or from ghetto settings to killing centers, Einsatzgruppen came directly to the home communities of Jews and massacred them.”
Another website puts the Einsatzgruppen B death toll at 134,000.
Yet Nebe joined the anti-Hitler conspiracy in 1938, remained a co-conspirator until after the July 20, 1944, attempt, and was hanged for his complicity in the plot. Should Nebe be remembered for his heroism in trying to kill Hitler or vilified for his successful slaughter of Russian Jews? As Orbach points out, if Nebe was interested in his own self-preservation, joining a plot to kill Hitler in Nazi Germany was the last thing he would do.
Afflicted by Bad Luck
Hitler credited his survival to the protection of God. Orbach attributes Hitler’s survival to luck. Bombs failed to go off; other Nazis the conspirators wanted to kill, such as Himmler and Goering, were not present to be killed with Hitler; an adjutant who would shoot Hitler couldn’t get into a meeting because the event organizer banned adjutants due to a lack of space; personnel prepared to suicide bomb Hitler were unavailable at the last minute.
Most of the book deals with the metamorphosis of the July 20, 1944, group. This entity was comprised of upper-class, intermarried Germans who, through strong bonds of family solidarity and social caste, blocked Gestapo infiltration of their organization. The group’s small size was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because the group’s inbred insularity kept Hitler’s secret police from penetrating the organization. (Indeed, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, chief of Germany’s military intelligence, was a part of the group, and Orbach details episodes of Canaris using his position to assist Jews in escaping the Holocaust.) A curse, because the group lacked sufficient breadth to put assets in the right place at the right time to assassinate Hitler.
This group first coalesced in the late 1930s during Hitler’s bloodless conquests of the Rhineland, Austria and Czechoslovakia. The resistance wanted to depose Hitler in September 1938 during the Munich crisis and were only waiting for the west to confront Hitler before acting. When Chamberlain appeased Hitler instead, the plan to depose Hitler collapsed. When Hitler won a series of stunning military victories, culminating in the capture of Paris in June 1940, the group went into stasis until Hitler’s defeats in the Soviet Union solidified their resolve to act.
Bad luck afflicted the July 20, 1944, group to the end. They were delighted when Hitler’s most famous general, Irwin Rommel, joined their group; Rommel’s enormous prestige could prevent civil war from breaking out once Hitler was dead. Three days before the bomb planned to kill Hitler went off, Rommel was grievously wounded when allied airplanes strafed Rommel’s car. Afterwards, Hitler gave Rommel a choice: kill himself with painless poison or be court martialed and his family sent to concentration camps.
On the day of the assassination itself, Stauffenberg was in the men’s room starting the delay fuses on the two bombs when one of Hitler’s aides came and urged them to hurry, Hitler was about ready for Stauffenberg’s report. Panic-stricken, Stauffenberg told his adjutant to take the second bomb back to the car with him. The second bomb would have been detonated by the first bomb’s explosion if it had been put into the briefcase; and everyone in the bunker, including Hitler, would have been killed.
Afterwards, the plan foundered because there had been no Plan B to act upon if Hitler survived the bomb. All assumed that if a bomb of this magnitude went off in a closed bunker, everyone would be killed. Flummoxed by the Fuhrer’s survival, the conspirators were paralyzed into inaction when they should have acted decisively to seize power.
The most impressive thing about this book is the author’s objectivity. He paints a very careful picture of the flawed human beings who tried to kill history’s worst despot. He does so in a manner that leaves the reader pondering the character of those Germans who tried to save their country, too few realizing too late that their nation had been captured by a Satanic dictatorship.
Anyone who followed the tragic life of Tilikum, the orca at SeaWorld who recently died, should be wondering why SeaWorld is refusing to provide specific details about what led to his death.
The corporation did tell federal officials — it is legally required to do so — that Tilikum’s cause of death was bacterial pneumonia, but all other details remain a mystery.
Necropsies, or animal autopsies, provide important information about the state of an animal’s health prior to and at the time of death. After years of reassurances by SeaWorld that Tilikum was generally in good health, at least until the last year of his life, the public deserves to know what, if any, issues contributed to the development of the pneumonia that reportedly killed him.
Did he have any other infections or any injuries?
What was the state of his heart and other internal organs?
Did Tilikum’s ground-down teeth play a role in his illness and death?
Once upon a time, the public actually did have the right to know the contents of a captive marine mammal’s necropsy report. Public display permits issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) routinely required that these reports be submitted.
But thanks to the lobbying of the captive-animal industry, including SeaWorld, in 1994, Congress took away the NMFS’ authority to include any permit requirement for captive animal care and maintenance, including necropsy reports.
Since then, only the aquariums, zoos and marine theme parks holding whales and dolphins have been privy to the details of the causes of animals’ deaths. Information with enormous scientific value on species that are federally protected and held in trust for the American people by the captive-animal industry has become proprietary.
Tilikum’s situation is different, however. His import permit — issued prior to the 1994 MMPA amendments — requires that a necropsy and clinical history be submitted to the government within 30 days of his death. This is because he came to the U.S. as a killer killer whale — the NMFS wanted to learn what, if anything, a necropsy might reveal when this whale, who had drowned a trainer in Canada before being imported, finally died. Given that he subsequently killed two more people, this requirement now seems highly prescient. Yet SeaWorld has not submitted the report, claiming that the amendments, which passed after the permit was issued, effectively voided that reporting requirement.
The federal government must not allow SeaWorld’s self-serving assertion to go unchallenged.
It was about a year ago when SeaWorld first announced that Tilikum was in failing health, and at 37, he is the first captive male orca who can genuinely be said to have died at an old age. This makes his necropsy report even more valuable. Bacterial pneumonia is a leading cause of death in captive orcas and is also frequently seen in stranded whales and dolphins in the wild. It is often unknown, however, whether pneumonia in wild whales is the primary cause of death or the result of debilitation from another disease process. Coupled with his detailed life history, which is typically absent for stranded animals, Tilikum’s necropsy and pathology reports could contain information that would be applicable to wild whales. Releasing these reports to the greater scientific community and to the public is simply sound science and good policy.
If any good whatsoever can come from Tilikum’s tortured existence, it’s that learning more about what killed him could prevent the same thing from happening to other orcas, both in captivity and in the wild.
SeaWorld should disclose Tilikum’s health records. If it does not, the NMFS should enforce the requirements of Tilikum’s permit, compel SeaWorld to submit the reports and make them available to the public.
Unholy Alliance: The Agenda Iran, Russia and Jihadists Share for Conquering the World
By Jay Sekulow, (2016, First Howard Books, 310 Pages)
Reviewed by Steven R. Maher
If you dislike Muslims, you’ll love this book. If you were looking for an even-handed description of the Middle East turmoil, reading Unholy Alliance: The Agenda Iran, Russia and Jihadists Share for Conquering the World, will be a severe disappointment. That was this writer’s opinion after reading Jay Sekulow’s Unholy Alliance. In this book, Sekulow postulates the unlikely theory that “Muslim jihadists” such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS are conspiring with Iran and Vladimir Putin’s Russia to take over the world.
Sekulow wants the reader to believe that Sunni terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS are, or could be, allied with Iranian Shiites to seize the planet. That the Sunnis and Shiites have been fighting each other for 1,400 years argues against this.As support for his belief in a pan-Muslim terrorist conspiracy, Sekulow says Shiite Iran is the major backer of the Sunni Hamas movement in the West Bank. That is an exceptional case, as Hamas is in the belly of Israel, and Israel is a major target of Islamic extremists today.
Sekulow ardmits that Iran is fighting Al-Qaeda in Syria, and asserts later that Al-Qaeda directs its overseas operations from Iranian sanctuaries. The idea that Iran is knowingly allowing Al-Qaeda to direct its Syrian followers from Iranian territory to kill Iranian Revolutionary Guards supporting Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, is absurd.
Chief Counsel of ACLJ
Sekulow is the Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, the conservative version of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The ACLJ was founded in 1990 by law school graduate and evangelical minister Pat Robertson to protect constitutional and human rights worldwide,” says Wikipedia. “ACLJ generally pursues constitutional issues and conservative Christian ideals in courts of law.”
This book reads like a law review article. Sekulow sources his book with Teutonic thoroughness, citing 1,460 endnotes in the186 pages in the body of the book. There are 119 pages – or 38% of the total – devoted to acknowledgments, notes, appendixes, and the index.
“Unholy Alliance” is like another tome reviewed here, “Trouble in the Tribe”. (See http://incitytimesworcester.org/steve-parked-%F0%9F%9A%99-in-roses-space-incity-times-book-review/.) In “Trouble in the Tribe”, we noted how the author dumped a great deal of specific information into endnotes, “which should have been better served in the main text, or attached as footnotes on the pages where they are cited.” In Unholy Alliance, there is a whole page for one endnote, and a large mass in commentary in the others that would better serve the reader being attached as footnotes. Unlike “Trouble in the Tribe”, “Unholy Alliance” makes little pretense at being an evenhanded analysis.
Sekulow analyzes the Muslim faith. He provides examples of how British Islamic groups prefer Islamic tribunals using Sharia law to British courts, and the terrible injustices which take place in those tribunals, particularly against women. He implies that America’s Muslim population has the same plan for the U.S. This book was published in September 2016, before Donald Trump’s surprising upset. Trump’s election makes the possibility of American courts adopting Sharia law remote.
He quotes sections of the Koran which, taken out of context and the times in which they were written, make the Muslim faith look absurd and blood thirsty. Sekulow acknowledges that critics of Judaism have done the same type of misrepresentation of the Jewish bible. He excuses this by saying essentially that the Koran was intended as a “universal and timeless” document, while the Jewish bible is a history book.
Some of the sources cited by Sekulow are at best dubious. This is another reason the author may have avoided footnotes. To find who the references are for some of these, you must turn several hundred pages forward to look up the endnote. On the other hand, if there were footnotes naming these sources, the questionable nature of some of Sekulow’s sources would become immediately known to the reader.
To illustrate this, we did a computer analysis of Chapter Nine “Iran and Al Qaeda”. The last time America launched a preemptive invasion in the Middle East, George W. Bush and the neocons linked Al-Qaeda to Iraq.
We plugged into an Excel spreadsheet the 141 sources cited by the author in 132 endnotes in Chapter 9. We then sorted the data by two sequences: by the source cited in the endnote; and by the year in which the source originated. We found:
• 51% of the sources were dated 2009 or prior. For some reason, Sekulow relied on older historical information. There were only four sources from 2012, two cites from one source dated 2014, and three from 2016.
• One out of five endnotes (28 in total) cited Ronen Bergman’s book “The Secret War with Iran.” One PBS broadcast was cited seven times. The 2004 9/11 Commission Report was cited 17 times. The 13 sources dated 2013 included four marked “opinion” in its web locations, and seven endnotes were from three sources.
• Most disturbing of all was Sekulow’s frequent cites to the Weekly Standard, the neoconservative magazine that clamored for the disastrous 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. One such article, cited in five endnotes, was co-authored by William Kristol, America’s foremost neoconservative. There were 23 sources dated 2015; sixteen of these, or 70%, derived from the Weekly Standard. The same people who bought us the war in Iraq are now ginning up for a war in Iran.
As we said at the beginning of this book review, if you dislike Muslims, you’ll like this book. If you were looking for an even-handed description of the Middle East turmoil, reading “Unholy Alliance” will be a severe disappointment.
George Washington’s birthday?🎁February 22, 1732.🇺🇸🇺🇸 pic: R.T.
By Steven R. Maher
This coming Monday (February 20, 2017) Americans will celebrate Presidents’ Day. This writer thinks that the holiday should revert to the celebration of the United States’ two greatest Presidents, George Washington (born February 22, 1732) and Abraham Lincoln (born February 12, 1809).
My reasons for advocating this is that there are some Presidencies I don’t want to celebrate. Most Americans probably feel the same way. For example, if you’re a Republican, do you want to celebrate the Presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama? Chances are, probably not. If you’re a Democrat, do you want to celebrate the Presidencies of Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush and Donald Trump? Chances are, probably not.
I think you see the point.
1971 Change in Law
In 1879 Congress passed a statute declaring Washington’s birthday a federal holiday for government offices in Washington DC. This was expanded in 1885 to include all federal offices. “As the first federal holiday to honor an American president, the holiday was celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, February 22,” according to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
In 1971 Congress enacted the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act,” the name of which explains why the holiday schedules were changed. Washington’s Birthday is now celebrated the third Monday in February. But “Washington’s Birthday” remains the official name of the federal holiday. Wikipedia noted: “Various theories exist for this, when reviewing the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill debate of 1968 in the Congressional Record, one notes that supporters of the bill were intent on moving federal holidays to Mondays to promote business.” Alexander Hamilton would have undoubtedly approved.
Historians’ Rankings of our Presidents
Presidential rankings have been a small American cottage industry since Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. conducted a poll of historians ranking U.S. Presidents in 1948. Wikipedia has summarized many of these studies, and it seems that three Presidents are perennial favorites for greatest President: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, listed in this paragraph in chronological order. Usually, historians pick Lincoln as the greatest President, Washington as the second greatest and Roosevelt as third. My expectation is that Reagan will likely enter this top tier as our fourth greatest President. Reagan shifted the “correlation of forces” and momentum in the Cold War to favor the U.S., and the Soviet Union collapsed not long after Reagan left office.
The worst President, by consensus, was James Buchanan, who left office as southern states were abandoning the union because of Lincoln’s election. As Wikipedia puts it: “The C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leadership consists of rankings from a group of presidential historians and ‘professional observers of the presidency’ who ranked presidents in a number of categories initially in 2000 and more recently in 2009. With some minor variation, both surveys found that historians consider Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt the three best presidents by a wide margin and William Henry Harrison (to a lesser extent), Warren G. Harding, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, George W. Bush and James Buchanan the worst.”
Bill Clinton once famously said a statement of his could be interpreted differently depending on how one defined the word “is.” To a large extent, the same can be said of Presidential “greatness.” One conservative Presidential historian ranked Presidents based on “whether their policies promoted prosperity, liberty and non-intervention, as well as modest executive roles for themselves.” As Wikipedia put it, “his final rankings varied significantly from those of most scholars.” If one ranked post World War II Presidents based on prosperity, balanced budgets and keeping the country out of war, Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton would be ranked at the top.
The states do not have to blindly follow the federal government in naming holidays. Massachusetts joins eight other states in celebrating “Presidents’ Day.” Five states celebrate Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays: Montana, Colorado, Ohio, Utah and Minnesota. Ohio and Colorado celebrate “Washington-Lincoln Day.”
Massachusetts should join in with the latter two in celebrating Washington and Lincoln – and not non-entities like Chester Arthur and Millard Fillmore on a generic “Presidents Day.”
editor’s note: In honor of Black History Month, we re-post one of Parlee’s Black History Month ICT columns.
But first, here’s MLK Jr:
… and President Obama, a leader we miss so intensely these days it hurts!! A mountain of a man (and orator) compared to the nefarious sack of Trump shit who usurped the Oval Office in November 2016 (my heart is broken!💔)
– R. Tirella
By Parlee Jones
There has been a lot of discussion lately as to the relevance of Black History Month. Is it still needed? Why should there be a Black History Month. For me, I feel that it is still relevant. Not only for Black people, but for all people. We celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King at the library this past January. When I ordered the cake, the woman who took my order, did not know who Dr. King was. Hmm. Yes, she was from another country. Welcome. Yes, she was enjoying the freedoms that were won through the Civil Rights movement. No, she didn’t know who he was. There are a lot of people enjoying the freedoms that were wrought from the Civil Rights movement who don’t know the history.
What hurts more is the fact that our young Black people don’t know who Fred Hampton, Medgar Evers or Emmet Till were. Yes, I concede that there have been improvements in regards to acknowledging the accomplishments of Blacks here in America, but there is still a lot of denial, resentment and straight out disdain for Americans of a darker hue. Just the blatant disrespect shown towards our President and the First Lady shows that America still has issues with Black people in power positions.
Knowledge of self to better yourself! Every people has a history. And, every people should know some of that history.
Black History Month had its origins in 1915 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. This organization is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (“ASALH”). Through this organization Dr. Woodson initiated the first Negro History Week in February 1926. In 1976 this commemoration of Black history in the United States was expanded by ASALH to Black History Month, also known as African American History Month. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.
Fred Hampton (August 30, 1948 – December 4, 1969) was an African-American activist and deputy chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP). He was killed in his apartment during a raid by a tactical unit of the Cook County, Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO), in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Hampton’s death was chronicled in the 1971 documentary film The Murder of Fred Hampton, as well as an episode of the critically acclaimed documentary series Eyes on the Prize. He was shot twice in the head at close range.
Medgar Wiley Evers (July 2, 1925 – June 12, 1963) was an African American civil rights activist from Mississippi involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi. He became active in the civil rights movement after returning from overseas service in World War II and completing secondary education; he became a field secretary for the NAACP. Evers was assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens’ Council. As a veteran, Evers was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. His murder and the resulting trials inspired civil rights protests, as well as numerous works of art, music, and film.
Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was an African-American boy who was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman. Till was from Chicago, Illinois visiting his relatives in the Mississippi Delta region when he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married proprietor of a small grocery store. Several nights later, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam, arrived at Till’s great-uncle’s house where they took Till, transported him to a barn, beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, before shooting him through the head and disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River, weighting it with a 70-pound (32 kg) cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. His body was discovered and retrieved from the river three days later. Till was returned to Chicago and his mother, who had raised him mostly by herself, insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1950’s America, the equality of man envisioned by the Declaration of Independence was far from a reality. People of color — blacks, Hispanics, Asians — were discriminated against in many ways, both overt and covert. The 1950’s were a turbulent time in America, when racial barriers began to come down due to Supreme Court decisions, like Brown v. Board of Education; and due to an increase in the activism of blacks, fighting for equal rights.
Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, was a driving force in the push for racial equality in the 1950’s and the 1960’s. In 1963, King and his staff focused on Birmingham, Alabama. They marched and protested non-violently, raising the ire of local officials who sicced water cannon and police dogs on the marchers, whose ranks included teenagers and children. The bad publicity and break-down of business forced the white leaders of Birmingham to concede to some anti-segregation demands.
Thrust into the national spotlight in Birmingham, where he was arrested and jailed, King helped organize a massive march on Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. His partners in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom included other religious leaders, labor leaders, and black organizers. The assembled masses marched down the Washington Mall from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, heard songs from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and heard speeches by actor Charlton Heston, NAACP president Roy Wilkins, and future U.S. Representative from Georgia John Lewis.
King’s appearance was the last of the event; the closing speech was carried live on major television networks. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King evoked the name of Lincoln in his “I Have a Dream” speech, which is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The next year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Towards the end of his life, MLK Jr. was passionate about economic equality – for everyone. Poverty – as well as peace – were the two issues he was now speaking about. Then he was gunned down … . Here he is on economic equality:
“Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively…the American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada.
“Did you know that? That’s power right there, if we know how to pool it. We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles. We don’t need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, “God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.”
Toward the end of the speech, King refers to threats against his life and uses language that seems to foreshadow his impending death:
“And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t really matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.
“So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything.
“I’m not fearing any man.
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
Of course, people say they are tired of hearing these stories, but, until there is equality for all, these stories will need to be told! In the spirit of Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Nat Turner and all our ancestors who survived middle passage and helped to build this country, I salute you and will keep your memories alive ~ not only in the month of February, but 365 days a year!