WITNESSING HISTORY

The odds favor that, if you life a full life, you will witness some event that’s historically important. Depending on your definition of “witness,” you’ll inevitably witness a lot of history. You can’t avoid it. Some is more dramatic and makes better stories. Even if your witnessing was accomplished via television and news reports, you are no less a witness.

My favorite “witness” experience was being in Israel when the Camp David Accords were signed. I had only arrived there a few weeks before. I was still trying to figure out what this place was about. It definitely wasn’t the romanticized venue in the novels I’d read … or even the idealized “homeland” my mother always imagined.

It was far more complicated, textured, and nuanced … which should not have been a surprise, yet sort of was surprising.

I bought a car shortly after I arrived. A Ford Escort. Ford had a little factory in Israel and Escorts were Everyman’s car. Small, and by American standards, under-powered, they were a “best buy” on Israel’s new car market.

The Ford dealership was directly across from the King David. And the King David was where Begin, Sadat, and Carter were meeting and deal-making. As fate would have it, it was also the day on which I was supposed to pick up my car. When I got there, it was obvious bigger events were taking place and my car would wait.

There were armed men everywhere. On the streets, the rooftops, and everywhere else you could look and probably thousands of places you couldn’t easily see. No one was getting assassinated on Israel’s watch. At least, not that day.

Around midday, to the enthusiastic cheering of the crowd, the official limousines swung past, each sporting the flags of its nation It was a sight to see.

There was much celebration and joy. It was one of the happiest, most optimistic times in Israel’s short modern history. Hope that finally, there might be a real peace. Hope that somehow, out of all the bloodshed and wars, this was a meaningful step forward.

Not long thereafter, back in Egypt, Sadat would be assassinated. Ten days later, Moshe Dayan who had crafted the accords, would die too. He had been sick with both cancer and heart disease for a long time, but, personally, I think he died of disappointment.

After that,the optimism faded. The joy was damped down and it was business as usual.

I was there for that brief, bright moment. A witness to one great moment when joy exploded in the streets of Jerusalem. No matter what anyone says nowadays about Israel’s intentions in the region, if you were there that day, you could not fail to see the foundation of everyone’s hopes, was peace.

WITNESS | THE DAILY POST

WHEN THE SYSTEM WORKS

A couple of nights ago, Garry and I watched an episode of “The American Experience.” It was part two of two and it focused on Lyndon Baines Johnson, Selma, Alabama … and the passage of the Civil and Voting Rights acts.

This is American history, but it’s also part of our personal histories. Those were titanic times. Garry was already a working reporter. I was finished with college and out in the real world.

We remember. It was a very big deal. It was a massive shift in our culture and the reality in which we lived. It was the consummation of centuries of racism and oppression plus decades of the ongoing battle for equal rights — still a work in progress. Of wondering, doubting, if change was even possible.

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Selma, Alabama, March 1965

After John Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson, a traditional Southern politician who had never shown any special liberal or progressive leanings, came forward and decided enough was enough. Of all the presidents I would never have expected to be the one who would make it happen, LBJ did it. He decided it was time, that this unfairness had gone on long enough.

Against all odds and current political wisdom, he succeeded. Not because he was the most honest politician. Not because he was the most popular guy on Capitol Hill. Possibly the reason he could get it done was because he was a practical, pragmatic, politician who did whatever he needed to do to get an enormously important task accomplished. A freshman senator or any of those idealistic pie-in-the-sky guys couldn’t have done it. A newbie wouldn’t even know where to start.

Later, after he’d gotten mired in Vietnam — huge mistake — he knew that his running again would blow up the party, so he did the unthinkable. He stepped aside.

Who in the modern political pantheon would do that? Is there anyone concerned more with America than with his or her own career? Do I hear any names?

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We don’t just theorize the possibility that it could work. We know it can. We’ve seen change happen. We’ve been part of that change.

We know politicians don’t have to be the most honest or idealistic to do great things. In fact, often the most effective people are the ones who’ve been around a long time — and know where the bodies are buried.

The system can work. It does work. It has worked. We’ve seen it at its best. Right now, I think we are seeing it at its worst.

That things are ugly is not a reason to give up. Exactly the opposite. Now is the when we need to put shoulders to the wheel and exert some effort to make things better. To elect responsible, intelligent, sensible, practical people who know how to get stuff done and have a grasp of what the issues are. And who believe their first loyalty is to the country and its people.

It’s not “outsiders” who accomplish great things. It’s insiders who care enough to do it.

WAR

As long as I can remember, there has been a war going on somewhere. I know because I’ve watched them all on television. It was the Korean war while I was very young, but after that … just a few years really … it was Vietnam and that was a big one and more personal. Many of the guys I knew in lived in fear of the draft. Nearly all were, in the end, drafted. Off they went to war.

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Most of my friends came back, but many came back different. They remained different for all of their lives.

Since our war in Vietnam ended, there have been continuous wars. Rebellions. Genocide. Tribal slaughter. In Africa, Asia, Europe. With spillover elsewhere. Have I missed a continent? I’m pretty sure there haven’t been any wars at the poles. I think Australia and New Zealand skipped most of it, though they may have participated as allies of some other nation. You need a score card to keep track of who is fighting on which side.

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My question is why? What’s the point? Assuming you “win,” what does that mean?

We were watching the latest out of Syria. I have no special love for Syria, but it’s hard to not be appalled by the devastation. Death, mutilation, destruction. To what end? What is left to win? Assuming victory is possible, by the time a victor emerges, there will be nothing remaining. Aleppo is scorched earth. Earth’s oldest city is rubble.

Why are they fighting? Because one group of people hates another group of people? Because one group is whiter or browner? A different tribe or religion? Or because they are the same religion, but one group doesn’t practice it fervently enough or practices too fervently — or just differently? All built on hatreds so old no one remembers when, why, or how they began. All we know is that they seem unlikely to ever end.

Each side points the finger at the other and they are right because everyone is guilty. Over the centuries and millennia, slaughters have been perpetrated by every player in the never-ending cycle of killing.

72-Uxbridge-GA-Downtown_040We watched a mini series for the past couple of nights. It was about the Spanish-American War, which my mother always referred to as “William Randolph Hearst’s war.” I’m pretty sure no one remembers what the war was about, if  it was about anything except corporate greed and land grabbing. Yet, we celebrate it anyhow.

Even World War II — arguably a “just war” — was born of the hatred, resentment, and grudges created by the first World War, which itself was born of the ancient hatreds between European nations.

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There will never be an end to it. We’ll just keep killing each other, handing out medals, extolling our heroes, and vilifying our enemies. There has to be another way.

I don’t expect to live to see it.

DARK AGES ROYAL PALACE DISCOVERED IN CORNWALL – LINKED TO KING ARTHUR LEGEND

Once upon a time, I wanted to be an archeologist.

I love still love archaeology and history, though I never did get to make a great discovery. I also love myths and legends, especially anything connected with King Arthur. When I saw this on Sue Vincent‘s site, I was absolutely thrilled. I have re-blogged it for you here, with (of course) a link to the full story on it’s originating site,

TheBreakAway – Seeking Ideas Beyond Conventional Thought


Dark Ages Royal Palace Discovered In Cornwall

In Area Closely Linked To The Legend Of King Arthur


Source: Independent.co.uk
David Keys
August 5, 2016

The mysterious origins of the British archaeological site most often associated with the legend of King Arthur have just become even more mysterious.

Archaeologists have discovered the impressive remains of a probable Dark Age royal palace at Tintagel in Cornwall. It is likely that the one-metre thick walls being unearthed are those of the main residence of the 6th century rulers of an ancient south-west British kingdom, known as Dumnonia.

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Scholars have long argued about whether King Arthur actually existed or whether he was in reality a legendary character formed through the conflation of a series of separate historical and mythological figures.

But the discovery by English Heritage-funded archaeologists of a probable Dark Age palace at Tintagel will certainly trigger debate in Arthurian studies circles – because, in medieval tradition, Arthur was said to have been conceived at Tintagel as a result of an illicit union between a British King and the beautiful wife of a local ruler.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE: Dark Ages Royal Palace Discovered In Cornwall – In Area Closely Linked To The Legend Of King Arthur

CLINTON V TRUMP, ANYTHING BUT CONVENTIONAL by LARRY JOSEPHSON

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INTRODUCTION by Marilyn Armstrong

Let me begin by saying I am not the author of this article, but it’s a good one and I’m happy to publish it. Not only is it unusual for me to publish an article by someone who isn’t “on the staff” so to speak of Serendipity, I’ve actually never done it before.

This election has me worried at a deep level. Donald Trump is a dangerous demagogue with all the symptoms of a nascent Adolf Hitler. There. I’ve said it. What so many people I know are thinking, but we don’t want to say it out loud lest we somehow jinx ourselves.

Our silence is a jinx. All by itself. Our lack of involvement has consequences.

For those who still believe their vote does not count, you’re wrong. It counts. Bush got to be president in 2000 by a “margin” (arguably, he actually lost the election) of 547 votes out of millions. If 700 Democrats who didn’t bother to vote had instead gone to the polls in Florida, history would be different.

Do not sit this one out.

These racists and haters — even while they are spouting words that may ring sort of true in an angular way — are wrong. The problems of this country are not because of the non-white or immigrant population, nor because everyone isn’t a white Christian. These people feel disenfranchised because they cannot believe that merely being white and Christian isn’t enough to make them superior and powerful. They are racists, bigots, and a lot of them are, to put it in very simple terms, incredibly stupid.

Don’t be one of them. You can read the full article at by clicking this LINK. Following this section, there’s jump link to the second part of the article on the actual odds of who is going to win what in the upcoming general election. These numbers scare the pants off me and if you aren’t scared, maybe you haven’t given it enough thought.


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CLINTON V TRUMP, ANYTHING BUT CONVENTIONAL – BY ERIN C. YOUNG


It’s a shotgun marriage, this odd relationship between Donald Trump and the Republican Party that he now calls his own. Can it hold together for another four months, long enough to reach the November finish line and accomplish the only real goal that the party has, namely, defeat Hillary Clinton?

Trump’s new significant others (Republicans) have signed on, and they don’t really seem all that interested in exactly what Trump would do as president, or how he would do it. Details, they have been told, are for losers. Policy, in some form or another, will come later, as soon as the Evil Beast has been vanquished. No one wants to talk about the nuts and bolts of raising the minimum wage, how to grow the economy, pay down the debt, or even be told how ISIS would be defeated. They already know that Donald Trump will do the right thing, because — well, because Hillary Clinton would do the wrong thing.

Besides, when Trump does talk specifics, he doesn’t feel the need to hold his line.

  • He won primaries by promising to keep Muslims out of the country, but has modified that stance three times since then.
  • He said he would force the military to torture and kill the families of suspected terrorists, then changed his mind less than 24 hours later.
  • He said he would self-fund his campaign, but has accepted donations via his website and, in an apparent violation of U.S. law, has solicited help from government officials abroad.
  • He has had four different positions on whether the federal minimum wage should be raised and changed his mind three times in the same day when asked about abortion.

Yet Trump still has a puncher’s chance at becoming the next president of the United States and leader of the free world. After all, much of what he’s doing is an embodiment of Richard Nixon’s famous advice to Republicans: run hard to the right in the primaries, then steer back to the center for the general election.

Bush 41 and Bush 43 both took the advice to heart and won. However, Mitt Romney twisted himself into a pretzel doing it, and was soundly defeated. Now it’s Trump’s turn to explain to the American public why he might not do the ultra-conservative things he’s heretofore promised.

“Everything is negotiable,” Trump recently said in an interview with the New York Times. That explanation will be good enough for people already leaning to the right, but what about the truly undecided?

For independents, this general election is a nightmare, forced to decide between the caricature that is Donald Trump and the seemingly robotic duplicity of Hillary Clinton. But it’s a choice that must be made. After all, it’s a two-party system, right? No third-party candidate could garner enough votes to impact the outcome.

Or could they?

As the Republican National Convention draws to a close and the Democrats get ready for their quadrennial coronation, I look at the odds for all the meaty questions leading up to the general election.
Let’s start with the big one …

Presidential Election Odds (and more)

ABOUT THAT SUPREME COURT APPOINTMENT …

People have been joking about it, as if it couldn’t happen. Appointing Barack Obama to the Supreme Court when he’s no longer president. What most of the people who say this don’t know is that it wouldn’t be the first time. Not only could it happen, it already has happened.

William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States, was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court following his term as President. He is the only U.S. President to have served on the Supreme Court.  I have quite a fondness for Mr. Taft as he was a local kid, from … you guessed it … little Uxbridge, Massachusetts.

william howard Taft

It’s true. The Taft family is our primary claim to fame, if indeed Uxbridge has a claim to fame. But I digress.

There is no reason why a former president cannot be a judge, Supreme Court or otherwise. Or for that matter, anything else he might choose. Most presidents are well beyond retirement age at the conclusion of their terms in office. Many former presidents are happy to spend their remaining years writing their memoirs and donating time and energies to worthy causes. Those that are young and healthy enough to do more, often go into private corporate work to make some of the big bucks they don’t make as president.

POTUS earns $400,000 per year while in office. Compared to the CEO of any major company, this is chicken feed — even though it sounds like a lot of money to you and me. It represent slightly less than half his annual income. Obama, like most American presidents, has other sources of income, including investments and book royalties. He is not one of the wealthier presidents we’ve had through the years, but he’s doing okay — especially compared to the average working stiff.

That being said, there isn’t enough money in the treasury to make me want that job. There’s a reason why presidents go into office looking young and vibrant … and leave office looking old. Not older. Really old. You couldn’t pay me enough.

The First Lady gets a measly $10,000, which isn’t sufficient to cover a couple of nice gowns, much less shoes to match.

So if POTUS and FLOTUS were not rich when they took office, they may want to make up for lost income in subsequent working years.

William Howard Taft’s heart belonged to the law. He was an unhappy, unpopular president following the larger-than-life footsteps of Theodore Roosevelt. Getting appointed to the Supreme Court made up for much of what had gone wrong in his life. He served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1921 to 1930.

Official portrait of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Official portrait of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

So … for all those who’ve thought the idea was humorous that Mr. Obama might yet play a major role in American history, it may be humorous. It would certainly for many people be ironic as well. It’s also a good idea. Assuming Barack Obama would accept the job.

Regardless, I doubt he’ll have a hard time finding work. He looks pretty employable to me.

INDEPENDENCE, CONCISELY

Today is America’s Independence Day. It celebrates the announcement of the Declaration of Independence, our formal statement to King George and Great Britain that we no longer were willing to retain our status as colonies.

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There’s more than a little confusion about which event happened when regarding the Declaration of Independence, so here’s an historical timeline. Not everyone agrees on this exact timeline, but it’s close for most purposes.

JULY 2, 1776: John Adams, a leader for independence, gets the delegates to the first Continental Congress to unanimously ratify the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote the draft document because in a rare moment of general consensus, the delegates agreed that Jefferson was the best writer.

JULY 4, 1776: The Declaration of Independence is signed. July 4th becomes the U.S.’s official independence day, although John Adams argued it should be July 2nd, the day the document was ratified rather than the 4th on which it was signed. But that was Adams — arguing about everything.

JULY 4, 1776 through August 2, 1776: Following its signing on July 4th, the Continental Congress announced the Declaration of Independence. It is distributed and read across the colonies. The process of reading the Declaration — getting the official word out — took about a month.

By August, a more attractive document displaying all the delegates’ signatures had been produced. In any case, whether or not the colonists had read or heard the document officially read, everyone knew about it. The “official word” took a month to distribute, but men on horseback going from town to town told their friends and family and the word was quickly spread. People talked in pubs like and over the pasture fence, as they do today. But without Twitter or cell phones.

JANUARY 1777: The first printed versions of the Declaration of Independence are distributed to the general public. The colonies are fully engaged in rebellion against England.


Jefferson’s original draft, with changes by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, as well as Jefferson’s notes of the changes made by Congress, can be viewed at the Library of Congress.

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You can see the most famous version of the Declaration, the hand-written signed document, at the National Archives in Washington DC.