Monthly Archives: February 2016

Feb. 29 – Leap Day. Betch’a Didn’t Know???

It was invented in 45 BC when Julius Caesar replaced the many calendars used throughout the Roman Empire based on the moon’s lunar cycles with one unified calendar based on the sun, having 365 days and a “leap” day every 4th year.

This was called the “Julian Calendar.”

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Caesar also made the beginning of the year January 1st.

Previously, the first month of the year was March.

Remnants of March being the first month can be seen in the Latin names of months September, October, November and December:

“Sept” is Latin for seven;
“Oct” is Latin for eight (ie. octogon=eight sided);
“Nov” is Latin for nine; and
“Dec” is Latin for ten (ie. decimal=divisible by ten).

The old fifth month, Quintilis, was renamed after Julius Casear, being called “July.”

As it only had 30 days, Julius Caesar took a day from the old end of the year, February, and added it to July, giving the month 31 days.

The next emperor, Augustus Caesar, renamed the old sixth month, Sextilis, after himself, calling it “August.”

A day from the old end of the year, February, was added to August, giving that month 31 days, and leaving February with only 28 days.

After three centuries and ten major persecutions, the Roman Emperor Constantine recognized the Christian religion.

The most important event in the Christian calendar was Christ’s crucifixion as the Passover Lamb on the Jewish Feast of Passover, His being in the grave on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and his Resurrection of the Feast of First Fruits, or as it was later called, Easter.

The Apostle Paul wrote in First Corinthians 5:7 “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.”

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As Julius Caesar unified the Roman Empire with the Julian Calendar, Constantine, at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, decided to have a unified date to celebrate Easter throughout the Roman Empire.

His insistence that it be on a Sunday resulted in Christianity cutting ties from the Jewish method of determining the date of Passover based on the lunar calendar, which traditionally began the evening of 14th day of Nissan.

Constantine set the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon falling on or after the Spring Equinox. Tables were compiled with the future dates of Easter, but over time a slight discrepancy became evident.

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“Equinox” is a solar calendar term: “equi” = “equal” and “nox” = “night” meaning daytime and night are of equal duration, occurring once in the Spring and once in the Autumn.

In the year 325 AD, Easter was on March 21.

In 567 AD, the Council of Tours returned the beginning of the year back to the ancient beginning of March, as January 1st was associated with pagan Rome.

By 1582, it became clear that the Julian Calendar was inaccurate by about 11 minutes per year, resulting in the calculated tables having the date of Easter ten days ahead of the Spring Equinox and thus further from its origins in the Jewish Passover.

Pope Gregory XIII decided to revise the calendar by eliminating ten days.

He set a leap year for every year divisible by 4, except for years divisible by 100, unless that year is also divisible by 400.

It sounds complicated, but it is so accurate that it is the most internationally used calendar today.

Called the “Gregorian Calendar,” it also returned the beginning of the year back to January 1st.

Protestant Europe did not adopt the Catholic Gregorian Calendar for nearly two centuries.

This gave rise to some interesting record keeping.

For example: a ship would leave Protestant England on one date according to the Julian Calendar and arrive in Catholic Europe at an earlier date, as Europe was using the Gregorian Calendar.

Another example is April 23, 1616, the day William Shakespeare died in England.

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Miguel de Cervantes, author of Man of La Mancha, died the same date in Spain, but when the differences between England’s Julian and Spain’s Gregorian Calendars are removed, Cervantes actually died ten days before Shakespeare.

England and its colonies waited till 1752 to adopt the Gregorian Calendar, but by that time there was an 11 day discrepancy.

When America finally adjusted its calendar, the day after September 2, 1752 (Old Style), became September 14, 1752 (New Style).

There were reportedly accounts of rioting.

Another interesting event occurred on this day during Christopher Columbus’ last voyage.

Driven by storms around the Caribbean Sea, two of Columbus’ ships were abandoned and the remaining two were worm-eaten and sinking.

Columbus was shipwrecked on Jamaica.

Indians brought food for a while, but then threatened to become hostile.

Columbus, using his skill as a navigator, predicted that a lunar eclipse would take place on FEBRUARY 29, 1504.

He called the Indian Chiefs to his marooned ship and told them if they did not stay on good terms, he would pray that God would blot out the moon.

When the eclipse began, the Indians shrieked and quickly made peace with Columbus.

Columbus later wrote:

“My hope in the One who created us all sustains me: He is an ever-present help in trouble.”

h/t William Federer

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Today in History – February 29

1288 – Scotland established this day as one when a woman could propose marriage to a man. In the event that he refused the proposal he was required to pay a fine.

1860 – The first electric tabulating machine was invented by Herman Hollerith.

1904 – In Washington, DC, a seven-man commission was created to hasten the construction of the Panama Canal.

1940 – Hattie McDaniel became the first black person to win an Oscar. She won Best Supporting Actress award for her role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind.”

1944 – The invasion of the Admiralty Islands began with “Operation Brewer.” U.S. General Douglas MacArthur led his forces onto Los Negros.

1944 – Dorothy McElroy Vredenburgh of Alabama became the first woman to be appointed secretary of a national political party. She was appointed to the Democratic National Committee.

1944 – The Office of Defense Transportation, for the second year in a row, restricted attendance at the Kentucky Derby to residents of the Louisville area. This was an effort to prevent a railroad traffic burden during wartime.

1964 – Dawn Fraser got her 36th world record. The Australian swimmer was timed at 58.9 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle in Sydney, Australia.

1972 – Jack Anderson revealed a memo written by ITT’s Washington lobbyist, Dita Beard, that connected ITT’s funding of part of the Republican National Convention.

1988 – “Day by Day” premiered on NBC-TV.

2010 – In Japan, the Tokyo Skytree tower was completed as the tallest tower in the world.


Today in History – February 28

1827 – The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad became the first railroad incorporated for commercial transportation of people and freight.

1844 – Several people were killed aboard the USS Princeton when a 12-inch gun exploded.

1849 – Regular steamboat service to California via Cape Horn arrived in San Francisco for the first time. The SS California had left New York Harbor on October 6, 1848. The trip took 4 months and 21 days.

1854 – The Republican Party was organized in Ripon, WI. About 50 slavery opponents began the new political group.

1861 – The U.S. territory of Colorado was organized.

1881 – Thomas Edison hired Samuel Insull as his private secretary.

1883 – The first vaudeville theater opened.

1885 – AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph) was incorporated. The company was capitalized on only $100,000 and provided long distance service for American Bell.

1893 – Edward G. Acheson showed his patent for Carborundum.

1900 – In South Africa, British troops relieved Ladysmith, which had been under siege since November 2, 1899.

1911 – Thomas A. Edison, Inc. was organized.

1940 – The first televised basketball game was shown. The game featured Fordham University and the University of Pittsburgh from Madison Square Gardens in New York.

1948 – Bud Gartiser set a world record when he cleared the 50-yard low hurdles in 6.8 seconds.

1951 – A Senate committee issued a report that stated that there were at least two major crime syndicates in the U.S.

1953 – In a Cambridge University laboratory, scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick discovered the double-helix structure of DNA.

1954 – In San Francisco “Birth of a Planet” was aired. It was the first American phase-contrast cinemicrography film to be presented on television.

1956 – A patent was issued to Forrester for a computer memory core.

1962 – The John Glenn for President club was formed by a group of Las Vegas republicans.

1974 – The U.S. and Egypt re-established diplomatic relations after a break of seven years.

1979 – Mr. Ed, the talking horse from the TV show “Mr. Ed”, died.

1983 – “M*A*S*H” became the most watched television program in history when the final episode aired.

1986 – Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated in Stockholm.

1993 – U.S. Federal agents raided the compound of an armed religious cult in Waco, TX. The ATF had planned to arrest the leader of the Branch Davidians, David Koresh, on federal firearms charges. Four agents and six Davidians were killed and a 51-day standoff followed.

1994 – NATO made its first military strike when U.S. F-16 fighters shot down four Bosnian Serb warplanes in violation of a no-fly zone over central Bosnia.

1995 – The Denver International Airport opened after a 16-month delay.

1998 – Serbian police began a campaign to wipe out “terrorist gangs” in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

2001 – The Northwest region of the U.S., including the state of Washington, was hit by an earthquake that measured 6.9 on the Richter Scale. There were no deaths reported.

2002 – In Ahmadabad, India, Hindus set fire to homes in a Muslim neighborhood. At least 55 people were killed in the attack.

2002 – Sotheby’s auction house announced that it had identified Peter Paul Reubens as the creator of the painting “The Massacre of the Innocents.” The painting was previously thought to be by Jan van den Hoecke.

2002 – It was announced that John Madden would be replacing Dennis Miller on “Monday Night Football.” Madden signed a four-year $20 million deal with ABC Sports.

2007 – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made a gravitational slingshot against Jupiter to change the planned trajectory towards Pluto.

2013 – Benedict XVI resigned as pope. He was the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415 and the first to resign voluntarily since Celestine V in 1294.


This is the Most Conservative We’ll Ever See Trump

Posits Ace of Spades:

My problem with Trump is that he is a dealmaker trying to make a sale. Right now he’s trying to make a deal with conservatives — so this is the very most conservative we’ll ever see him.

If he gets the nomination, he now starts working on making the second part of the deal with the other party in the negotiations, the general public.

So this is the most conservative we’ll ever see Trump — this is the absolute most conservative he’ll ever be — and he’s not conservative at all, except, possibly, on immigration. He combines liberal policy impulses with frankly authoritarian or even fascist ones, which he thinks are “what conservatives want,” because, frankly, he conceives of us as ugly-minded, stupid dummies who get off on this shit.

That’s why he didn’t put the “Ban Muslims” line in a more palatable, persuasive form, like “Reduce immigration from Muslim-majority countries or countries with a terrorism problem to a level where we can vet each individual applicant.”

No, he put it in the most bigoted, ugly way he could think of, because that’s about his level, and because, also, that’s what he thinks “conservatives” are.

Even on issues like that, where I would like him to move the Overton Window so we can begin discussing a rational reduction of such immigration until this Jihadist Madness passes from history, I find he doesn’t move it at all, because he makes the issue much more toxic and alienating than it needs to be.

What does Trump actually know about conservatives? He seems to only know five things, which he repeats in such crude ways it’s preposterously insulting.

Plus a vivid contrast of Trump’s flailing tone and debating style with the rigor of Ronald Reagan besting Robert Kennedy in a mid-1960s television debate, during the immediate post-Goldwater-era when conservatism was really in the cultural wilderness, before Ace concludes, “Down With Trump, But Vive Le Trumpism.” Read the whole thing.


Today in History – February 27

1700 – The Pacific Island of New Britain was discovered.

1801 – The city of Washington, DC, was placed under congressional jurisdiction.

1827 – New Orleans held its first Mardi Gras celebration.

1861 – In Warsaw, Russian troops fired on a crowd protesting Russian rule over Poland. Five protesting marchers were killed in the incident.

1867 – Dr. William G. Bonwill invented the dental mallet.

1883 – Oscar Hammerstein patented the first cigar-rolling machine.

1896 – The “Charlotte Observer” published a picture of an X-ray photograph made by Dr. H.L. Smith. The photograph showed a perfect picture of all the bones of a hand and a bullet that Smith had placed between the third and fourth fingers in the palm.

1900 – In South Africa, the British received an unconditional surrender from Boer Gen. Piet Cronje at Paardeberg.

1922 – The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 19th Amendment that guaranteed women the right to vote.

1933 – The Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building in Berlin, was set afire. The Nazis accused Communist for the fire.

1939 – The U.S. Supreme Court outlawed sit-down strikes.

1949 – Chaim Weizmann became the first Israeli president.

1951 – The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, limiting U.S. Presidents to two terms.

1972 – The Shanghai Communique was issued by U.S. President Nixon and Chinese Premier Chou En-lai.

1973 – The American Indian Movement occupied Wouned Knee in South Dakota.

1974 – “People” magazine was first issued by Time-Life (later known as Time-Warner).

1981 – Chrysler Corporation was granted an additional $400 million in federal loan guarantees. Chrysler had posted a loss of $1.7 billion in 1980.

1982 – Wayne B. Williams was convicted of murdering two of the 28 black children and young adults whose bodies were found in Atlanta, GA, over a two-year period.

1986 – The U.S. Senate approved the telecast of its debates on a trial basis.

1990 – The Exxon Corporation and Exxon Shipping were indicted on five criminal counts in reference to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

1991 – U.S. President George H.W. Bush announced live on television that “Kuwait is liberated.”

1997 – In Ireland, divorce became legal.

1997 – Don Cornelius received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1998 – Britain’s House of Lords agreed to give a monarch’s first-born daughter the same claim to the throne as any first-born son. This was the end to 1,000 years of male preference.

1999 – Colin Prescot and Andy Elson set a new hot air balloon endurance record when they had been aloft for 233 hours and 55 minutes. The two were in the process of trying to circumnavigate the Earth.

1999 – Nigeria returned to civilian rule when Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo became the country’s first elected president since August of 1983.

2002 – In Boston, twenty people working at Logan International Airport were charged with lying to get their jobs or security badges.


Iraq: The Real Story

Donald Trump’s account of the Iraq War is all wrong. Why aren’t his Republican opponents saying so?
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Donald Trump constantly brings up Iraq to remind voters that Jeb Bush supported his brother’s war, while Trump, alone of the Republican candidates, supposedly opposed it well before it started.

That is a flat-out lie. There is no evidence that Trump opposed the war before the March 20, 2003 invasion. Like most Americans, he supported the invasion and said just that very clearly in interviews. And like most Americans, Trump quickly turned on a once popular intervention — but only when the postwar occupation was beginning to cost too much in blood and treasure. Trump’s serial invocations of the war are good reminders of just how mythical Iraq has now become.

We need to recall a few facts. Bill Clinton bombed Iraq (Operation Desert Fox) on December 16 to 19, 1998, without prior congressional or U.N. approval. As Clinton put it at the time, our armed forces wanted “to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors. Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world. Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas, or biological weapons.” At the time of Clinton’s warning about Iraq’s WMD capability, George W. Bush was a relatively obscure Texas governor.

Just weeks earlier, Clinton had signed the Iraq Liberation Act into law, after the legislation passed Congress on a House vote of 360 to 38 and the Senate unanimously. The act formally called for the removal of Saddam Hussein, a transition to democracy for Iraq, and a forced end to Saddam’s WMD program. As President Clinton had also warned when signing the act — long before the left-wing construction of neo-con bogeymen and “Bush lied, thousands died” sloganeering — without such an act, Saddam Hussein “will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And some day, some way, I guarantee you he’ll use the arsenal.” Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, often voiced warnings about Saddam’s aggression and his possession of deadly stocks of WMD (e.g., “Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face”). Indeed, most felt that the U.S. had been too lax in allowing Saddam to gas the Kurds when it might have prevented such mass murdering.

In October 2002, President Bush asked for the consent of Congress — unlike the Clinton resort to force in the Balkans and the later Obama bombing in Libya, both by executive action — before using arms to reify existing American policy. Both the Senate (with a majority of Democrats voting in favor) and the House overwhelmingly approved 23 writs calling for Saddam’s forced removal. The causes of action included Iraq’s violation of well over a dozen U.N. resolutions, Saddam’s harboring of international terrorists (including those who had tried and failed to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993), his plot to murder former president George H. W. Bush, his violations of no-fly zones, his bounties to suicide bombers on the West Bank, his genocidal policies against the Kurds and Marsh Arabs, and a host of other transgressions. Only a few of the causes of action were directly related to weapons of mass destruction.

Go back and review speeches on the floor of Congress in support of the Bush administration’s using force. Some of the most muscular were the arguments of Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Harry Reid, and Chuck Schumer. Pundits as diverse as Al Franken, Thomas Friedman, Nicholas Kristof, David Remnick, Andrew Sullivan, Matthew Yglesias, and Fareed Zakaria all wrote or spoke passionately about the need to remove the genocidal Saddam Hussein. All voiced their humanitarian concerns about finally stopping Saddam’s genocidal wars against the helpless. The New York Times estimated that 1 million had died violently because of Saddam’s governance. And all would soon damn those with whom they once agreed.

No liberal supporters of the war ever alleged that the Bush administration had concocted WMD evidence ex nihilo in Iraq — and for four understandable reasons: one, the Clinton administration and the United Nations had already made the case about Saddam Hussein’s dangerous possession of WMD stockpiles; two, the CIA had briefed congressional leaders in September and October 2002 on WMD independently and autonomously from its White House briefings (a “slam-dunk case”), as CIA Director George Tenet, a Clinton appointee, later reiterated; three, WMD were only a small concern, at least in the congressional authorization for war, which for the most part dealt with Iraq’s support for terrorism in the post–9/11 climate, violation of the U.N. mandates, and serial genocidal violence directed at Iraq’s own people and neighboring countries; and, four, the invasion was initially successful and its results seemed to have justified it.

The WMD issue was largely a postbellum mechanism of blaming conspiracies rather than anyone’s own judgment when violence flared. Did the disappearance of WMD stocks really nullify all 23 congressional writs?

Support for the invasion reached its apex not before the war but directly at its conclusion, when polls in April 2003 revealed approval ratings between 70 and 90 percent, owing to Saddam’s sudden downfall, the relatively rapid end to the fighting, and the avoidance of catastrophic American casualties.

In late April 2003, initial worry about the absence of WMD stockpiles was soon noted — after all, the 2004 presidential primaries were less than a year away — but largely dismissed, given that Congress had sanctioned the war on a variety of grounds that had nothing to do with WMD, and it was not clear where or how known stockpiles had mysteriously disappeared, after their prior demonstrable use by Saddam. (Did Clinton get them all in his 1998 Desert Fox campaign? Did Saddam himself stealthily destroy them? Did he send out false intelligence about them to create deterrence? Or were they moved to Syria — where WMD turned up later during the Obama “red-line” controversy?)

Only as the postwar violence spiked in June and July 2003 did the fallback position arise of having been cajoled by “bogus” intelligence and thus having been “misled” into going along with the “Bush and Cheney” agenda. Had the occupation gone as well as the initial war, missing WMD would have been noted in the context of there having been roughly 20 other writs for going into Iraq.

A veritable circus of opportunistic protestations followed as violence continued. Barack Obama — who had opposed the war in 2003 but, as an Illinois state senator, was not in a position to vote against it — predicated his 2008 presidential candidacy on pulling out all troops. As a senator in 2007, he opposed the surge. He predicted that it would not only fail, but also make things worse.

When the surge made things far better, Obama dropped most mentions of Iraq from his campaign website. He certainly never referred to his confessions during his Senate campaign of 2004 that he then had had no major disagreements with Bush’s policies during the postwar occupation (e.g., “There’s not much of a difference between my position on Iraq and George Bush’s position at this stage”). Nor did he recall that, also in 2004, he confessed to having no idea whether he would have voted for the war. (“I’m not privy to Senate intelligence reports. What would I have done? I don’t know.”) Obama seemed to suggest that the Senate had its own intelligence avenues apparently separate from the Bush–Chaney nexus.

The surge engineered by General David Petraeus worked so well that Iraq was not much of an issue in the 2008 general election. President-elect Barack Obama entered office with a quiet Iraq. For example, about 60 American soldiers died in 2010 in combat-related operations in Iraq — or roughly 4 percent of all U.S. military deaths that year (1,485), the vast majority of these due to non-combat causes (motor-vehicle and training accidents, non-combat violence, suicide, drugs, illness, etc.). Although Obama had once stated that Iraq was the unwise war (in comparison to the wise Afghan war that he supported during the 2008 campaign), the relative post-surge quiet had changed somewhat, for a third time, popular attitudes about the war. Indeed, Afghanistan by 2010 was the problematic conflict, Iraq the apparently successful occupation.

No wonder, then, that Vice President Joe Biden in February 2010 claimed that Iraq was so successful that it might well become one of the administration’s “greatest achievements.” Obama himself was eager, given the apparent calm, to pull out all U.S. peacekeepers before the 2012 election. A mostly quiet Iraq, contrasted with the escalating violence in Afghanistan and the turmoil of the Arab Spring, apparently made that withdrawal possible — so much so that Obama declared: “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.”

Suddenly the Iraq War was no longer “Bush’s war.” Instead, it was referred to in terms of “we” — and was seen as a far preferable scenario to the violence in either Afghanistan or the newly bombed Libya.

Predictably, the departure of several thousand U.S. peacekeepers from Iraq allowed the Shiite partisan Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to renege on his promises of equitable treatment for all Iraqi factions. Iran sensed the void and sent in Shiite operatives. The extremism of the Arab Spring finally reached Iraq. ISIS was the new Islamic terrorist hydra head that replaced the al-Qaeda head, which had been lopped off in Iraq during the surge.

Iraq went from “self-reliant” to being the nexus of Middle East unrest. All President Obama’s euphemisms for ISIS violence did not mask the reality of the disintegration of Iraq. WMD mysteriously reappeared as a national-security issue, but now in Assad’s Syria — and to such a degree that an anguished President Obama (“We have been very clear to the Assad regime . . . that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”) himself threatened to bomb Assad if he dared re-employ WMD (Assad did, and we did not bomb him). No one asked how or where Assad had gained access to such plentiful chemical-weapon stocks — other than the administration’s later insistence that Syria’s use of chlorine gas did not really constitute WMD usage.

The truth is that, before Bush entered office, most Americans had been convinced by the Clinton administration and the Congress that Saddam Hussein was a danger that had to be addressed. Bush sent in troops because Clinton’s prior bombing, Saddam’s violations of U.N. resolutions, and over a decade of porous no-fly zones had left Americans fearing that Saddam was uncontainable. The invasion was brilliantly conducted, and polls and politics both revealed consensus on that point. Yet securing Iraq was poorly managed from summer 2003 until autumn 2007. And polls, two elections, and political reinventions certainly illustrated that fact as well.

It is legitimate to change opinions about a war or to rue a flawed occupation. But it is not ethical to deny prior positions or invent reasons why what once seemed prudent later seemed reckless.

Finally, Korea offers some bases for comparison and elucidation. Harry Truman sent in U.S. troop reinforcements in August 1950, in an optional war to stop Communist aggression and recreate deterrence in the region. He acted with the approval of the American public (near 80 percent approval), with U.N. sanction, and, at least in budgetary terms, with agreement from the U.S. Congress.

However, poor planning, ill-preparedness due to the rapid disarmament after World War II, the megalomania of General Douglas MacArthur, the November invasion by the Chinese Red Army, nuclear saber-rattling by the Soviet Union, and soaring U.S. casualties (by summer 1953 reaching over 36,000 deaths and over 130,000 wounded and missing) made the war a bloody quagmire and roundly detested — with over 50 percent disapproval. Even the genius of General Matthew Ridgway, who saved South Korea from ruin in a brilliant 100-day campaign in late 1950 and early 1951, could not regain solid public support for the intervention.

The Korean War may have saved millions of Koreans from a Stalinist nightmare, but it ruined the Truman administration (Truman left office in January 1953 with a 23 percent approval rating, far worse than George W. Bush’s departing 33 percent). Popular anger ensured the election of Republican Dwight David Eisenhower.

But despite all the opportunistic campaign rhetoric, the newly elected President Eisenhower more or less followed Truman’s policies. By July 1953 he had achieved an armistice. And by keeping sizable U.S. deployments of peacekeepers in place, he also ensured what would become a long evolution to democracy in South Korea and the country’s current dynamic economy. Had Eisenhower, in Obama-like worry over his 1956 reelection bid, yanked out all U.S. peacekeepers in December 1955, and blamed the resulting debacle on his Democratic predecessor (“Truman’s War”), while writing off the North Korean aggressors as jayvees, we can imagine a quick North Korean absorption of the South, with the sort of death and chaos we are now seeing in Iraq.

Korea today would be unified under the unhinged Kim Jong-un regime, with twice its present resources. Samsung and Kia would be pipedreams, and we would still be arguing over Truman’s folly, the futility of nation-building, the loss of Korea, and the needless sacrifice of 36,000 American lives. No one knows what effects a rapid U.S. flight in 1954 or 1955, the implosion of South Korea, and a Chinese–North Korean victory would have had on the larger course of the ongoing Cold War in Asia, especially in relationship to neighboring Japan and Taiwan. But we can imagine that the South China Sea in 1956 might have resembled something akin to the mess of the current Eastern Mediterranean.

We can surely argue about Iraq, but we must not airbrush away facts. The mystery of the current Iraq fantasy is not that a prevaricating Donald Trump misrepresents the war in the fashion of Democratic senators and liberal pundits who once eagerly supported it, but that his Republican opponents so easily let him do it.


Today in History – February 25

1570 – England’s Queen Elizabeth I was excommunicated by Pope Pius V.

1751 – Edward Willet displayed the first trained monkey act in the U.S.

1791 – First Bank of the United States (The President, Directors and Company, of the Bank of the United States) was chartered by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Washington.

1793 – The department heads of the U.S. government met with U.S. President Washington for the first Cabinet meeting on U.S. record.

1836 – Samuel Colt received U.S. Patent No. 138 (later 9430X) for a “revolving-cylinder pistol.” It was his first patent.

1901 – The United States Steel Corp. was incorporated by J.P. Morgan.

1913 – The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. It authorized a graduated income tax.

1919 – The state of Oregon became the first state to place a tax on gasoline. The tax was 1 cent per gallon.

1928 – The Federal Radio Commission issued the first U.S. television license to Charles Jenkins Laboratories in Washington, DC.

1930 – The bank check photographing device was patented.

1933 – The aircraft carrier Ranger was launched. It was the first ship in the U.S. Navy to be designed and built from the keel up as an aircraft carrier.

1837 – Thomas Davenport patented the first commercial electrical motor. There was no practical electical distribution system available and Davenport went bankrupt.

1940 – The New York Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens played in the first hockey game to be televised in the U.S. The game was aired on W2WBS in New York with one camera in a fixed position. The Rangers beat the Canadiens 6-2.

1948 – Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia.

1950 – “Your Show of Shows” debuted on NBC.

1956 – Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev criticized the late Josef Stalin in a speech before a Communist Party congress in Moscow.

1972 – Germany gave a $5 million ransom to Arab terrorist who had hijacked a jumbo jet.

1986 – Filippino President Ferdinand E. Marcos fled the Philippines after 20 years of rule after a tainted election.

1999 – William King was sentenced to death for the racial murder of James Byrd Jr in Jasper, TX. Two other men charged were later convicted for their involvement.

1999 – In Moscow, China’s Prime Minister Zhu Rongji and Russia’s President Boris Yeltsin discussed trade and other issues.

2000 – In Albany, NY, a jury acquitted four New York City police officers of second-degree murder and lesser charges in the February 1999 shooting death of Amadou Diallo.

2005 – Dennis Rader was arrested for the BTK serial killings in Wichita, KS. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 life prison terms.