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[VIDEO] A Discussion of ‘Alexander Hamilton: The Illustrated Biography’

The life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton

Richard Sylla’s new book, “Alexander Hamilton: The Illustrated Biography (Sterling, 2016), tells the story of how Alexander Hamilton played a crucial part in the political, legal, and economic development of the United States.

[Order Richard Sylla’s new book “Alexander Hamilton: The Illustrated Biography” from Amazon.com]

An immigrant born on the island of Nevis in the West Indies, he was George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolution and wrote many of the Federalist Papers, which helped to establish the Constitution. He also modernized the country’s fledgling finances and was an early abolitionist.

Join AEI as Richard Sylla, a recognized Hamilton scholar, recounts the incredible story of an American Founding Father — a story that has become the toast of Broadway.

Source: AEI

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Royal Navy Unveils Robot Spy Speedboat 

The 34ft boat can skim across the waves at more than 50kts to track high speed targets, while navigating and dodging other ships without the control of a human.

Naval commanders believe the Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed (MAST) could herald a robot fleet of high-speed craft packed with sensors to carry out spy and scouting missions.

The unarmed test craft is one of 40 prototypes to be tested by the Royal Navy in a major robot war game off the coast of northern Scotland in October.

The dawn of unmanned vehicles is likely to have the same revolutionary effect on naval warfare as the birth of flight and aircraft carriers, according to the navy’s Fleet Robotics Officer.

Cdr Peter Pipkin said: “This is a chance to take a great leap forward in maritime systems – not to take people out of the loop but to enhance everything they do, to extend our reach, our look, our timescales, our efficiency using intelligent and manageable robotics at sea.”

MAST has been built for the MoD’s defence laboratories and is based on an existing Bladerunner speedboat, but fitted with sensors and robotic technology that is still largely classified.

The boat has a sophisticated anti-collision system to avoid hazards and other craft, but current laws meant that when it was unveiled on the Thames, it had to have a human coxswain on board.

While the MAST is only a test platform for new technology and will not enter service as it stands, sources said it could it pave the way for future robots vessels that can track, shadow or spy on other craft as well as loitering off coastlines.

Elizabeth Quintana, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, said the Navy was looking at unmanned vehicles to take on “dull, dirty, and dangerous” jobs.  Read the rest of this entry »


Cuban-Born American Warns: The U.S. Is Morphing Into Communist Country

Be Like Barack The Pros and Cons of a Career in Community Organizing

Agustin Blazquez: America Is Turning Into Communist State

Filmmaker and American citizen Agustin Blazquez never thought his native Cuba would
become a communist country, but now he sees the same radical shift happening in America.

In this exclusive video interview for The Daily Caller News Foundation, he says the left has been clever by Marx-TVusing “very non-threatening words,” like liberal, progressive and concerned citizens, for advancing government control of American lives

“Watching President Barack Obama travel to Cuba, he says, made him ‘want to throw up.’ This was a ‘betrayal to victims of communism.'”

The truth about Cuban politics is hard to find because of media spin and propaganda dominating American discourse.

For Blazquez, watching American youth embrace avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders for president, strikes him as “absurd.” It is the end result, he says, of the cultural marxist education and media propaganda that has anesthetized too many Americans who do not defend the values that made America exceptional.

Watching President Barack Obama travel to Cuba, he says, made him “want to throw up.” This was a “betrayal to victims of communism,” the filmmaker of “Covering Cuba” says. Blazquez adds there are “so many [Nelson] Mandelas” in Cuban prisons, who are tortured, denied medical attention and abused.

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Yet, prominent black elites from America, including most incredibly to him, the Congressional Black Caucus, are wined and dined by the political elites but are blind to their “betrayal of blacks in Cuba.” Read the rest of this entry »


Excerpt from Arguably, ‘Benjamin Franklin: Free and Easy’, by Christopher Hitchens

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A re-post from The Sheila Variations for Benjamin Franklin’s birthday, born in Massachusetts on this day in 1706. Read the rest here

On the essays shelf:

Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens

My grandmother had a big illustrated copy of Poor Richard’s Almanac, which I had practically memorized by the time I was 6 years old. The illustrations were goofy and elaborate, and I somehow “got the joke” that so Arguably-Hitchens
much of it was a joke, a satire on the do-good-ish bromides of self-serious Puritans who worry about their neighbor’s morality. Obviously I wouldn’t have put it that way at age 6, but I understood that the book in my hands, the huge book, was not serious at all.

[Order Hitchen’s bookArguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens” from Amazon.com]

Clearly, many others did not get the joke. Benjamin Franklin, throughout his life, was a master at parody and satire, as well as such a master that he is still fooling people! He was his very own The Onion! He presented ridiculous arguments and opinions in a way where people nodded their heads in agreement, and then afterwards wondered uneasily if they were being made fun of. Their uneasiness was warranted. Yes, Benjamin Franklin was making fun of them.

[Read the full story here, at The Sheila Variations]

Franklin played such a huge role not only in creating bonding-mechanisms between the colonies – with newspapers, his printing service, the Almanac – but in science and community service (he started the first fire-brigade in Philadelphia on the British model. He opened the first public lending library in the colonies), as well as his writing. He was an Elder Statesman of the relatively young men who made up the Revolution. There were so many of “those guys” who played a hand in the Revolution, but perhaps Benjamin Franklin played the most crucial role in his time as a diplomatic presence in France, where he became so beloved a figure that the French fell in love with him, commemorated him in songs and portraits, putting his mug on plates and cups and platters and buttons – so that in a time when nobody knew really what anybody looked like, Benjamin Franklin was instantly recognizable the world over. Read the rest of this entry »


President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Ike

“We must be ready to dare all for our country. For history does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. We must acquire proficiency in defense and display stamina in purpose. We must be willing, individually and as a Nation, to accept whatever sacrifices may be required of us. A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” 


Gene Healy: ‘Early American Political Culture Held that Anyone who Seemed to Relish the Idea of Wielding Power Couldn’t Be Trusted with it. No Longer’

George W. Bush Library Dedication

It Doesn’t Matter If Campaigning For President Is Fun

healyGene Healy writes:

….There was a time, however, when we approached presidential selection with the sobriety a serious choice demands. In a penetrating 2003 article, The Joy of Power: Changing Conceptions of the Presidential Office, political scientist Richard J. Ellis explains that Americans used to look for a very different demeanor when assessing potential presidents.

“You’d never catch that guy grinning, nor, prior to the twentieth century, any of the others.”

‘My God: what is there in this office that any man should want to get into it?’

“In the beginning,” Ellis writes, “the presidency was envisioned not as an office to be enjoyed, but as a place of stern duty.” In fact, “one would be hard-pressed to find a single president between George Washington and Grover Cleveland of whom it could be said that he appeared to have fun in the exercise of presidential power.”

[Read the full text here, at thefederalist.com]

Early American political culture took it as self-evident that anyone who seemed to relish the idea of wielding power over others couldn’t be trusted with it. Our first president set the standard for presidential bearing: “dutiful and reluctant.”

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“Over the course of the twentieth century, thanks in part to the two Roosevelts, cultural norms shifted, even as the executive branch grew radically in size and power.”

As Washington put it: “I can truly say I had rather be at Mount Vernon with a friend or two about me than to be attended at the Seat of Government by the Officers of State and the Representatives of every Power in Europe.” Or, as Cleveland once moaned, “My God: what is there in this office that any man should want to get into it?”

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“Presidents today are supposed to take pleasure in the job. Those who dislike or at least complain about it are assumed to be psychologically suspect.”

— political scientist Richard J. Ellis

Throughout the nineteenth century, the public norms surrounding political power mandated a “low-energy” campaign, in which the candidates “stayed home in dignified silence, ready to serve if called by the people.” Even Andrew Jackson, the first candidate to style 51BZC+zfo3L._SL250_himself the champion of the popular will, refused to hit the hustings: “I meddle not with elections; I leave the people to make their own president,” he said.

[Order Gene Healy’s book “The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power” from Amazon.com]

You’d never catch that guy grinning, nor, prior to the twentieth century, any of the others. In the popular images of nineteenth-century presidents, Ellis writes, “it is difficult if not impossible to find an exuberant or smiling president.”

Enter the Self-Styled Larger than Life

Over the course of the twentieth century, thanks in part to the two Roosevelts, cultural norms shifted, even as the executive branch grew radically in size and power. “Presidents today are supposed to take pleasure in the job,” Ellis writes, and be happy warriors on the campaign trail. “Those who dislike or at least complain about it are assumed to be psychologically suspect.”

Read the rest of this entry »


UNBRIDLED GREED: Government Workers Make 78 Percent More Than Private Sector

money-bags

 reports: Employees for the federal government earn far more than their counterparts in the private sector, according to a new study by the Cato Institute.

“Since the 1990s, federal workers have enjoyed faster compensation growth than private-sector workers…The federal government has become an elite island of secure and high-paid employment, separated from the ocean of average Americans competing in the economy.”

Federal workers’ pay and benefits were 78 percent higher than private employees, who earned an average of $52,688 less than public sector workers last year.

The study found that federal government workers earned an average of $84,153 in 2014, compared to the private sector’s average of $56,350. Cato based its findings on figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

Ask AP

But when adding in benefits pay for federal workers, the difference becomes more dramatic. Federal employees made $119,934 in total compensation last year, while private sector workers earned $67,246, a difference of over $52,000, or 78 percent.

[Read the full story here, at Washington Free Beacon]

“Since the 1990s, federal workers have enjoyed faster compensation growth than private-sector workers,” according to the study, written by Chris Edwards, the director of tax policy studies at Cato. “In 2014 federal workers earned 78 percent more, on average, than private-sector workers. Federal workers earned 43 percent more, on average, than state and local government workers. Read the rest of this entry »


The Anniversary of the First U.S. Patent Issued

invent

Calling all inventors! On this date in 1790, the first U.S. patent was granted. The patent was  signed by George Washington and granted to Samuel Hopkins for the process of making potash, an element used for making fertilizer.

Since 1790 many, many, many more patents have been granted, and some say that patents are being abused.

Should we reform the U.S. patent system? Check out Cato research on the topic and decide for yourself:


Is American Government in Decay?

LEONARDO DiCAPRIO as Cobb and ELLEN PAGE as Ariadne in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ sci-fi action film “INCEPTION,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Francis Fukuyama and other critics misinterpret democratic messiness as existential crisis.

Adam White writes: The ink was barely dry on the new Constitution, and Benjamin Franklin had just left his fellow Framers behind in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, when a woman accosted him on the street and asked, “What type of government have you delegates given us?”

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“A republic, madam,” Franklin purportedly answered, “if you can keep it.”

This familiar tale makes a simple point: Franklin and his collaborators had succeeded in framing the new republic. To the extent that their creation might someday prove unsuccessful, it would be not their fault but rather the fault of the people. But does this story give Franklin and his fellow Framers too much
Fukuamacredit—and the people too little? Francis Fukuyama thinks so. That’s the ultimate warning of his recent book, Political Order and Political Decay, the second volume of his landmark two-part examination of political order.

The first part, The Origins of Political Order (2011), traced the history of political development from its pre-political origins in the state of nature—not Hobbes’s or Locke’s theoretical constructs but, quite literally, chimpanzees—to the late-eighteenth century’s American and French Revolutions. (See “The Dawn of Politics,” Spring 2011.) Looking not only to familiar Western sources of republican government but also to Chinese bureaucracy and Egypt’s Mamluk warrior class, among other Eastern contributions to modern state-building, Fukuyama examined three fundamental political institutions—the state, the rule of law, and notions of accountability—and how societies develop them over time.

But now, in Political Order and Political Decay, Fukuyama meditates on how things fall apart. Though “the American Revolution institutionalized democracy and the principle of democracy,” the American state two centuries later “is not working well, and its problems may be related to the fact that it is too institutionalized.” Decay’s closing chapters argue that the structure of American government, its checks and balances, has become a “vetocracy,” providing too many opportunities for special interests to prevent the government from enacting necessary and popular reforms.

[Read the full text here, at City Journal]

“Institutions are created to meet certain needs of society, such as making war, dealing with economic conflicts, and regulating social behavior,” Fukuyama writes. “But as recurring patterns of behavior, they can also grow rigid and fail to adapt when the circumstances that brought them into being in the first place
themselves change.” Worse still, such rigidity can be exacerbated by the elite classes’ misappropriation of state power for their own primary benefit. Those two
519rPZtYvuL._SL250_ dreaded forces—rigidity and elite self-dealing—are the sources of political “decay,” Fukuyama’s ultimate focus.

[Check out Francis Fukuyama‘s book “The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution” at Amazon.com]

His criticisms are harsh and substantive. Yet three significant problems underlie his analysis, weakening its force. While he calls for greater “autonomy” in federal agencies, his notions of “autonomy” and “expertise” seem flatly at odds with nearly a century’s worth of experience with the structure of federal agencies. More fundamentally, his narrow view of the Founding Fathers’ objectives prevents him from grappling seriously with the actual constitutional mechanisms that they created into law. And his disparagement of modern political stalemates manages to oversimplify, to the point of caricature, the policy debates that he cites as evidence of governmental decay. Read the rest of this entry »


American Revolution a ‘Monumental Mistake’

George-Washington

‘Blame America First’ Journalism Hits New Lows

“The very definition of Blame America First liberalism in the guise of ‘explanatory journalism.’ The U.S. never should have been created so it would be easier, 230 years or so later, for liberals to pass a carbon tax. How petty.”

Paul Bedard writes:

…written by Vox‘s Dylan Matthews and headlined: “3 reasons the American Revolution was a mistake.” …Matthews argues that had the colonies remained under British control, slavery would have been abolished earlier, government would be more proactive, and calls for a carbon tax would have passed with ease…

 “Save Harvard University the embarrassment and never again allow their graduates into journalism.”

— Media Research Center Vice President of Research Brent Baker

An excerpt:

American independence in 1776 was a monumental mistake. We should be mourning the fact that we left the United Kingdom, not cheering it…

Traveling throughout the United States of the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville pondered the question of just how funny Americans were before deeming us decidedly unfunny.

Alexis de Tocqueville

I’m reasonably confident a world in which the revolution never happened would be better than the one we live in now, for three main reasons: Slavery would’ve been abolished earlier, American Indians would’ve faced rampant persecution but not the outright ethnic cleansing Andrew Jackson and other American leaders perpetrated, and America would have a parliamentary system of government that makes policymaking easier….

millen-anguish

In the US, activists wanting to put a price on carbon emissions spent years trying to put together a coalition to make it happen, mobilizing sympathetic businesses and philanthropists and attempting to make bipartisan coalition — and they still failed to pass cap and trade, after millions of dollars and man hours. In the UK, the Conservative government decided it wanted a carbon tax.
Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Vintage School House Rock: ‘Shot Heard Round the World’

Schoolhouse rock sings about the Revolutionary War! No more monarchy. Paul Revere announces the British are Coming!


Slighting Alexander Hamilton: A Democratic Party Tradition

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Stephen F. Knott Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew announced Thursday that Alexander Hamilton would be joined on the ten-dollar-bill by a woman to be named later, or perhaps relegated to appearing on some bills but not on others. Lew cited bureaucratic imperatives in choosing to ignore calls to remove the anti-51PA1F97HWL._SL250_paper money, bank-hating, Indian-killer Andrew Jackson from the twenty-dollar-bill, while adding that symbols on currency are a “way for us to honor our past and express our values.”

[Check out Stephen F. Knott’s book Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth” at Amazon.com]

By downgrading the founder of his own cabinet department, Lew, perhaps with the best of intentions, continued a tradition that has deep roots in his own political party. From the moment Hamilton was mortally wounded by Vice President Aaron Burr, the Democratic Party has done its best to relegate Hamilton to the ash heap of history. Jackson warmly welcomed Burr to his home as Hamilton’s killer escaped to the west, while Thomas Jefferson’s lieutenants scurried to contain the emotional impact of Hamilton’s death from damaging their party’s political prospects. Jefferson spent considerable time portraying Hamilton as an un-American, pro-British agent intent on importing monarchy and corruption.

[Read the full text here, at  TheHill]

Part of the Jeffersonian-Jacksonian contempt for Hamilton stemmed from the fact that Hamilton was an immigrant from the Caribbean, and thus his “Americanism” was constantly questioned. This sense that Hamilton was not “one of us” animates the writings of Jeffersonians and of Jefferson himself, who was 51WhWm6YhyL._SL250_appalled that Hamilton did not see eye to eye with him despite having been “received” by Americans and “given . . . bread” and having honors “heaped . . . on his head.”

[Also see the book Knott co-authored with Tony Williams – “Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance That Forged America at Amazon.com]

In the twentieth century, Franklin D. Roosevelt led the effort to elevate Jefferson into the American Pantheon and downgrade Hamilton’s status. Roosevelt saw himself as a Jefferson for the new century, battling forces similar to those that confronted the Sage of Monticello over a century earlier. Roosevelt led the drive for a Jefferson Memorial in Washington and selected the truncated quotes that adorn its walls. Hamilton’s “monument” in Washington consisted of an undersized statue on the back side of the Treasury building in Washington, and to make matters worse, that statue had been erected during the corrupt Harding administration by its privileged Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon. Read the rest of this entry »


Sarah Laskow: Libraries And Cities Are Terrible At Keeping Track of Art

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The inside of a library’s catalog.(Image: Texas State Library/Flickr)

Sarah Laskow writes: Late in May, when the Boston Public Library was still missing a Rembrandt etching worth $30,000 and a 16th century Dürer print worth $600,000, the situation looked bad. More than a dozen staff members were searching through tens of thousands of prints and drawings, without any luck, and the local press was reporting on a recent audit that had scorched the library for its less-than-stellar inventory management. “It is critical that the BPL have an inventory report that should list each item it owns,” the auditors wrote. “This consolidated inventory list does not exist.”

“These collections are vast. If you’re talking about a couple hundred items, it’s easy to go through once a year and make sure everything’s there. But when you’re talking about millions of items…if it took you 2 minutes to inventory each time, a full inventory can take years.”

— Kara M. McClurken, who heads preservation services at University of Virginia Library.

Then, last week, just one day after the library’s president announced her resignation, the two prints turned up—just 80 feet from where they were supposed to be.

In Boston, the value of the prints that went missing was high, and as a result, the reaction—press coverage, police involvement—and the consequences were severe. But the problems identified in Boston are far from unique to this one library.

The British Library (Photo: Luke McKernan/Flickr)

The British Library (Photo: Luke McKernan/Flickr)

Across the country, in city art collections and special collections of public libraries, one-of-a-kind items are routinely misfiled, misplaced, lost or stolen. And sometimes, routine mistakes and slipshod documentation grow into a much more intractable problem, with large portions of public collections being managed by institutions who have no idea what’s in them and no full inventory of their holdings.

 “Librarians are trained to catalogue books and CDs. Art is an outlier. “With cutbacks, librarians are asked to do more with less, and artwork gets put on the back burner.”

— Camille Ann Brewer, the executive director of University of Chicago’ Black Metropolis Research Consortium

For instance, a library in Paterson, New Jersey, lost 20 pieces of antique furniture and bronzes and waited six years to report the loss to police. An Indiana library couldn’t find four paintings by the German artist Julius Moessel and never even tried to collect the insurance. An audit in Long Beach, California, found that about an eighth of the city-owned art collection could not be accounted for. The New York Public Library is missing a handful of maps dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries—and didn’t even notice it had lost one of Ben Franklin’s workbooks, until the person who inherited it offered to sell it back to the library. (The NYPL is currently suing for possession.) The Chicago Public Library has lost the vast majority of the 8,000 books, some of them now rare and valuable, that were donated to the city in 1871 and made up the library’s original collection. In 2011, the San Francisco Civic Art Collection wasn’t even sure how many pieces were in its collection. How did this problem first come to light? Well,  some of its valuable pieces were found basically just lying around in a dank, watery hospital basement.

The British Library (Photo: Luke McKernan/Flickr)

The British Library (Photo: Luke McKernan/Flickr)

These problems aren’t restricted to a city level, either. At the Library of Congress, the inspector general noted in a recent report that “there is no comprehensive inventory or condition statement which covers the Library’s collections.” An examination of six presidential libraries found that the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library had inventory information for only 20,000 of its 100,000 items. Read the rest of this entry »


Glenn Reynolds: For Next Attorney General, Reach Across Aisle

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Eric Holder has announced that he will be stepping down as attorney general as soon as a replacement can be named. And already, National Journal notes that with Holder’s departure, President Obama will be losing one of his few friends in new-schoolWashington.

“…Holder’s role has been not so much law enforcement as ‘scandal-goalie,’ ensuring that whatever comes out in the news or in congressional investigations, no one in the government will go to jail…”

[Glenn Reynolds‘ book The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself is available at Amazon]

As the article by George Condon notes, in choosing a friend, Obama was following in the footsteps of presidents going all the way back to George Washington, who named Revolutionary War comrades-in-arms to the slot.

“Writing in Above The Law, Tamara Tabo notes that Holder’s stonewalling, which led him to be the first attorney general ever found in contempt of Congress, has poisoned relations between the Justice Department and legislators, ensuring a rocky reception for whoever Obama names next.”

John F. Kennedy named his brother Robert to be attorney general, and Richard Nixon named his law partner, John Mitchell. In many ways, this makes sense: The attorney general of the United States is at the top of the law enforcement apparatus, and in that position, you want someone you can trust.

Read the rest of this entry »


Jonathan Turley: Obama Will ‘Start to Lose Democrats’ with Power Grab

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View the clip on Brietbart TV

George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley, who self-identifies as a liberal and has supported President Barack Obama on numerous issues, argued that that the president’s attempts to expand the power of the executive branch will “cause serious problems,” and will “start to lose Democrats.” …(read more) Breitbart.com


America’s New Security State

copsatdoor

Salus populi suprema lex: In the name of the people’s safety, the dictator’s will is law.

This essay is an excerpt from Angelo Codevillo’s new book (Hoover Press).

Angelo M. Codevilla writes: The loss of peace abroad has upset the balance between the various elements of life in America, fed domestic strife, and resulted in the loss of peace at home. The need for protection against foreign jihadists and their American imitators occasioned the empowerment of a vast apparatus of “homeland security” that treats all Americans as potential enemies—with only a pretense of even-handedness. In fact, the sense that enemies among us must be dealt with reinforced our bipartisan ruling class’s tendency to regard its own domestic political opponents as another set of persons whose backward ways must be guarded against and reformed. A spiral of strife among Americans resulted. In the light of history and of reason, any other outcome would have been surprising.51lKW4N7eLL._SL110_

[Angelo M. Codevilla‘s book: To Make and Keep Peace Among Ourselves and with All Nations is available at Amazon.com]

After 9/11 our ruling class came together on the proposition that, at home as well as abroad, America is at war against enemies so evil that there must be no limit to fighting them, whose identity we must always seek but can never know; that to focus on, to “profile,” the kinds of persons who have committed terrorist acts, is racist and provocative; that any American is as likely as any other to be a terrorist, and hence that all must submit to being sifted, screened, restricted—forever. Childhood in the “land of the free, the home of the brave” must now include learning to spread-eagle and be still as government employees run their hands over you. Patriotism is now supposed to mean obeisance to the security establishment, accepting that the authorities may impose martial law on whole cities, keep track of all phone calls, or take whatever action they choose against any person for the sake of “homeland security,” and that theirs alone is the choice whether to disclose the basis for whatever they do. Read the rest of this entry »


TV: Tim Cavanaugh Reviews AMC’s “Turn”

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The birth of American espionage gets AMC’s prestige spot

Tim Cavanaugh has a review (or is it a preview?) of AMC‘s “Turn”, here’s a preview of his review. Read the full item here.

For NROTim Cavanaugh writes: Like Archie Andrews and many other American men who will follow him, Abraham Woodhull has great regard for the blonde, but he lusts for the brunette. Married to porcelain Mary, Abraham nevertheless manages to spend ample time in the presence of smoldering Anna, a childhood friend for whom he still carries a torch. Heroic circumstance, on British-occupied Long Island in the fall of 1776, will put Abraham into close contact with Anna. Anna’s husband in turn languishes in Redcoat custody, leaving her with little choice but to welcome any male support against the masher who has occupied her house, a Malfoyesque English captain.

[The source book, Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring is available at Amazon]

We know about these folks, who will form part of the Revolution’s Culper spy ring in AMC’s new Sunday show Turn, in large part thanks to the 2007 book  Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring by National Review alumnus Alexander Rose. In the show’s press materials, Rose praises Turn’s creators for exploring “these very human factors lying at the heart of that titanic clash of nations and ideologies” and for their “creation of an alien and often startling world.”

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Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] George Washington’s Whiskey: From the History Books, to That Glass in Your Hand

Since President George Washington’s legacy whiskey is only available locally, we’re counting on Mary Katherine Ham to keep her promise, drink some, and report first-hand.

drunk

In the meantime, here’s the scoop, with a video from Reason TV, a 2013 edition of The Washington Post, for more, see M.K.Ham’s notes:

Reason TV visited Mt. Vernon to sit in on a demonstration of Washington’s Whiskey operation

The Washington Post covered their progress in 2013:

foundingspiritsbookIn the fall of 1799, George Washington wrote to his nephew: “Two hundred gallons of Whiskey will be ready this day for your call, and the sooner it is taken the better, as the demand for this article (in these parts) is brisk.”

[Order the book Founding Spirits: George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry from Amazon]

The whiskey Washington spoke of was produced in his own distillery, at Mount Vernon, and the popularity of the spirit (in these parts) remains. Mount Vernon historians-turned-distillers have been busy making Washington’s unaged rye whiskey, following his recipe and manual methods, since early this month and will put 1,100 bottles up for sale in April.

[TEN FACTS ABOUT WASHINGTON’S DISTILLERY]

The team, led by former Maker’s Mark master distiller Dave Pickerell, has perfected the craft since they began distilling at the old mill twice a year beginning in 2009. (A $2.1 million grant from the distilled spirits industry helped fund the project.) And the demand for their product has grown: The waiting list is more than 4,000 for this year’s batch.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Hammer: Health-Care Myths We Live By

TheHammerCharles Krauthammer  writes:  Swedish researchers report that antioxidants make cancers worse in mice. It’s already known that the antioxidant beta-carotene exacerbates lung cancers in humans. Not exactly what you’d expect given the extravagant — and incessant — claims you hear made about the miraculous effects of antioxidants.

John Shinkle/POLITICO

John Shinkle/POLITICO

In fact, they are either useless or harmful, conclude the editors of the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine: “Beta-carotene, vitamin E and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements are harmful.” Moreover, “other antioxidants, folic acid and B vitamins, and multivitamin and mineral supplements are ineffective for preventing mortality or morbidity due to major chronic diseases.” So useless are the supplements, write the editors, that we should stop wasting time even studying them: “Further large prevention trials are no longer justified.”

[Charles’ bestselling book: Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics at Amazon]

Such revisionism is a constant in medicine. When I was a child, tonsillectomieswere routine. We now know that, except for certain indications, this is grossly unnecessary surgery. Not quite as harmful as that once-venerable staple, bloodletting (which probably killed George Washington), but equally mindless. Read the rest of this entry »


Anti-Apartheid Revolutionary

Nelson

Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid revolutionary who became the first black South African president after 27 years in prison, died Thursday at the age of 95.

Mandela died in Johannesburg, current President Jacob Zuma announced there just before midnight on Friday.

“What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves. And in him, we saw so much of ourselves,” Zuma said.

“He is now resting. He is now at peace,” Zuma continued. “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”

Mandela has suffered from poor health for a year, with reports that he was near death circulating last Christmas.

But the African leader known worldwide as a symbol against oppression had repeatedly battled back from illness.

Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s president in May 1994. He served one term, and stepped down in 1999.

Mandela twice spoke to joint sessions of Congress, months after his release from prison in 1990 and four years later, after he had been elected president.

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CONFIDENCE? Chinese Overlords Downgrade U.S. Credit Rating

A teller counts US dollars and Chinese 100-yuan notes at a bank in Hefei, east China's Anhui province on January 16, 2011

A teller counts US dollars and Chinese 100-yuan notes at a bank in Hefei, east China

AFP – A Chinese ratings agency downgraded its US sovereign credit rating Thursday despite Washington’s resolution of the debt ceiling deadlock, warning that fundamentals for a potential default remained “unchanged”.

Dagong lowered its ratings for US local and foreign currency credit from A to A-, maintaining a negative outlook, the agency said in a statement.

The announcement came after the US Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed a bill that extends the nation’s borrowing authority and ends a two-week government shutdown.

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