Category Archives: News

On Pardons

So-called  “legal scholars”  are telling Donald Trump he can pardon himself… at best a provocative move, at worst an impeachable offense.


The President began wielding his pardon power like a child with power tools… it is clear that neither Trump or his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani consulted the Federalist papers for counsel on this delicate Constitutional issue.

I offer more than catchy tunes

Hamilton stated in  Federalist 74:

“Humanity and good policy conspire to dictate, that the benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed….The reflection that the fate of a fellow-creature depended on his sole fiat, would naturally inspire scrupulousness and caution.”

I can’t define sedition, but I know it when I hear it…

A President pardoning himself in the face of Federal charges… is not benign, and history shows it to be anything but scrupulous and cautious.


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Weekly History News Roundup

RFK conspiracy lingers on… two of his children call for new investigation


Remains of Pompeii man discovered man was crushed by flying volcanic rock


Trump pardons boxer Jack Johnsonfirst black heavyweight champion was convicted of violating Mann Act


Washington and Lee college will keep name… special panel recommends other changes to observe diversity


Memorial Day brings mixed results to the Presidenthis twitter habit belies the holiday


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Facts in Five

Memorial Day by the numbers:

  • The roots of Memorial Day can be traced to Athens and the Funeral Oration of Pericles–  honor those who have fallen, follow their example of citizenship
  • The commemoration was originally made by the Grand Army of the Republic as Decoration Day-  flags were to be placed on all the graves of fallen Union soldiers
  • The first Decoration Day was celebrated by 27 states in 1868
  • By 1890, every state in the Union observed the holiday in some way… it was not a Federal holiday until 1971
  • The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1922. 


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Owning your Words

Trump’s public admonishment of pilots held as prisoners of war… in North Vietnam is described by his campaign as “misunderstood” or “taken out of context.”   The blowhard with no military experience said this- “He’s a war hero because he was captured, I like people who weren’t captured.”  Far from an endorsement, this was a sneer at a political opponent with far more credibility on defense and foreign policy issues.  


John McCain and his comrades were heroes for their sacrifice… enduring torture at the hands of their captors- never betraying their duty to country under the most arduous circumstances.  Trump has no concept of this kind of heroism, the selfless kind.  In Trump’s world, heroes play sports or close deals for personal gain.  He sees the medals and ribbons awarded in the military, but the motives of the recipients utterly eludes him. 


Trump would consider Jeremiah Denton a coward too… Denton was put on display in a North Vietnamese propaganda film produced for the International Red Cross.  Forced to recite a script, Denton was able to blink the word T-O-R-T-U-R-E  in Morse code to get the true message to the world.  Captain Denton had been in prison so long, his own son had grown up, served in Vietnam, and come home.  Denton was the first POW off the plane in 1973, and his words ring true to this day:

“We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our Commander-in-Chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America.”

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Poor Man’s Fight

Donald Trump dodged the draft during the Vietnam war... but this will have little effect on the millions who support him.  In Trump’s world, bluster passes for merit, talk is substitute for service.  Yes, student deferments were draft dodging- especially when exercised by upper-class children of privilege.

A clear difference

A clear difference

Medical exemptions were every bit as dishonest… and Trump used one when his stint in graduate school came to an end.  In July 1968 he was physically fit- three months later(as his deferment ended) he was suddenly afflicted with “heel spurs.”   Rich kids from coast to coast found sympathetic doctors to conjure up various maladies.  Poor kids and men of conscience went to war.


Only in Trump’s world is he a hero… and John McCain a coward.  Obviously overcompensating for his cowardice, Trump disparages the real article while selling his fraudulent goods to unwitting followers.  Bill Clinton was mercilessly attacked by Conservatives for his activities during the Vietnam war….where are they now?

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Extra Credit Denied

Many thanks to Pittsburgh Mayor, Bill Peduto (@billpeduto  #billpeduto)  for the added traffic to this blog.  A few points of contention which need clarifying:

  • Nothing in my posting entitled “Pittsburgh Fails History”  was historically inaccurate.  In fact, my source was from the University of Pittsburgh’s own website.
  • I never mentioned the Commission you so vehemently defended.
  • I questioned the historical motivations behind removing Stephen Foster’s monument.
  • I considered the removal a mistake; a decision based upon politics, not the historical record. 
  • You attacked the integrity of my blog… a most political tactic.
  • Not one negative comment was left about the post. I declare victory, Mr. Mayor. 

Nice try, but still a mistake.

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Pittsburgh Fails History

Pittsburgh removed a monument to one of America’s great composers because its leaders either refused to consult, or are utterly ignorant of history. 

Stephen Foster was not a racist and did not write songs denigrating African/Americans.

Among the most widely repeated imaginary and false stories are these:

  • Foster was a Southerner
  • Foster wrote about the “Swanee” River and the old Kentucky home after (or while) visiting those sites
  • Foster was an idle dreamer, an untrained musical genius whose songs were flashes of inspiration
  • Foster was incapable of any kind of work, and did not have to labor at writing music
  • Foster got many of his musical ideas by listening to slaves or attending black church services and then simply writing down what he heard
  • Foster was a racist who glorified slavery and the happy life for slaves on the plantation, and who regretted the abolition of slavery

The City gets an ‘F’

History Tells Us–

  • Foster was influenced by Negro spirituals and was the first white composer to integrate that style into his music
  • Foster visited the South once…. on a riverboat
  • Foster was a lifelong friend of Pittsburgh abolitionist Charles Shiras. The two composed songs together 
  • Sculptor Giuseppe Moretti depicts Foster and a slave composing the song, “Uncle Ned,” one of the first popular Anti-Slavery songs 

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