A Student of History

June 11, 2008

Historian Sean Wilentz & the Clinton campaign

Filed under: The Academy,The world today — John Maass @ 8:29 am

Is Princeton historian Sean Wilentz a whore for the Clinton campaign?  Kevin Mattson sure thinks so, as noted in a lively exchange on HNN.  I think Wilentz’s response makes himself look worse than Mattson’s initial summary.  And see his Hillary puff piece at Salon.com.

My question is: how are we to take the “gratuitously patronizing” Wilentz’s new book on the Reagan years seriously as a piece of balanced, objective scholarship when his extreme partisanship is so well known now?  This is the guy, you should recall, who argues that W may be the “worst president in all of American history.” 

According to the Princeton University website, “Sean Wilentz studies U.S. social and political history, specializing in the early nation and Jacksonian democracy. He received his Ph.D. in history from Yale University (1980) after earning bachelor’s degrees from Columbia University (1972) and Balliol College, Oxford University (1974). Chants Democratic (1984), which won several national prizes, including the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association, shows how the working class emerged in New York City and examines the changes in politics and political thought that came with it. It has recently been republished with a new preface in a 20th-anniversary edition. In The Kingdom of Matthias (1994), Wilentz and coauthor Paul Johnson tell the story of a bizarre religious cult that sprang up in New York City in the 1830s, exploring in the process the darker corners of the 19th-century religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening. Professor Wilentz is also the coauthor and coeditor of The Key of Liberty (1993) and the editor of several other books, including Major Problems in the Early Republic (1992) and The Rose and the Briar (2004, Greil Marcus coeditor), a collection of historical essays and artistic creations inspired by American ballads. His most recent book is The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (2005). A contributing editor to the New Republic, Professor Wilentz lectures frequently and has written some two hundred articles, reviews, and op-ed pieces for publications such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, the American Scholar, the Nation, Le Monde, and Salon. He is the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History and the director of the Program in American Studies.”

June 6, 2008

Could they not see the irony?

Filed under: Simple Living,The world today — John Maass @ 8:00 am

As world leaders met recently to discuss hunger around the globe, they sure did not miss many calories as they dined on a sumptuous feast.  Could they not see the irony?

Hat tip to Christina Dunigan.

Menus at food summit feature Italian specialties

The luncheon menus for the U.N. Food and Agriculture summit in Rome feature Italian specialties:



• Vol-au-vent (pastry puffs) with corn and mozzarella

• Pasta with a sauce of pumpkin and shrimp in cream

• Veal rolls with cherry tomatoes and basil

• Spinach Roman-style

• Fruit salad with vanilla ice cream

• White wine from Orvieto



• Cheese mousse

• Pasta with vegetables and cherry tomatoes

• Chopped beef

• Butter beans

• Pineapple with ice cream

• Cabernet



• Zucchini pie

• Parmesan Risotto

• Ragout of veal with legumes

• Sauteed potatoes

• Lemon mousse with raspberry sauce.

• Pinot Grigio

Source: Associated Press

When abortion doesn’t kill

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 5:40 am

This story has a happy ending, but really does illustrate the horrors of abortion, and should give the pro-abortion supporters something to mull over, if they are honest.

An English woman and her fiancee made the decision to abort her baby (see photo below) when she was eight weeks pregnant due to fears he would be born with a dangerous kidney condition, the same one that had caused her 1st son to die earlier. 

She had what she thought was an abortion, but then: 

A short time after the abortion, Percival [the mom] felt a fluttering in her stomach. She went to the doctor for a scan and discovered she was 19 weeks pregnant.  “I couldn’t believe it,’ Percival said. “This was the baby I thought I’d terminated. At first I was angry that this was happening to us, that the procedure had failed. I wrote to the hospital, I couldn’t believe that they had let me down like this.”

Terminated??  What she really means is, she thought she had gotten rid of her child by killing the fetus.  The language “terminated” is a euphemism for destroying the life of an innocent baby.  And notice too that the hospital, she thinks, let her down because they botched the killing.

The Fox News story goes on to quote Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing health editor for FOXNews.com:

“Women that have early terminations in weeks six, seven and eight, many times the pregnancy is so small that doctors miss removing the baby,” Alvarez said.

Again with the language!  “Removing the baby” means killing it.  And then this:

“Another scan a week later confirmed the baby also had kidney problems, but doctors told the couple the baby was likely to survive, so they decided he deserved another chance at life.”

Interesting that the parents get to decide that the baby was deserving of life.  How did they decide?  Why wasn’t the baby deserving before they tried to kill it?  Is he deserving because he missed being sucked out of the womb–by orders of the very parents who now judge him worthy? 

The clincher:  “In November, Finley was born three weeks premature. He had minor kidney damage but is expected to lead a normal life.”  Yes, no thanks to mommy and daddy, he’s alive and, dare we say it, “normal.”  Good thing he was deserving…

Jodie Percival and baby Finlay

June 4, 2008

Inland Whale in N.C.

Filed under: NC History,The world today — John Maass @ 7:11 am

Here is an interesting recent article on archeologists and a paleontologist digging up the bones of a 1,000,000 year old whale in Lake Waccamaw, N.C., in Columbus County.

P.S.  In case you were wondering how old the earth is, check out this tedious and lengthy website which “explains” how to calculate it based on the Bible, but never comes up with a clear answer at the end!  Looks like they think it is about 13000 years old. 


Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 5:39 am

Obama claims victory, makes history

Last time we had an inexperienced Democrat come out of nowhere to win that party’s presidential nomination, his name was Jimmy Carter.


May 29, 2008

Foreign chocolate bars

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 6:06 am

This should be filed in the “ungrateful swine” category, if I had one:

Myanmar’s junta lashed out at offers of foreign aid on Thursday, criticizing donors’ demands for access to the Irrawaddy delta and saying Cyclone Nargis’ 2.4 million victims could “stand by themselves.”

“The people from Irrawaddy can survive on self-reliance without chocolate bars donated by foreign countries,” the Kyemon newspaper said in a Burmese-language editorial.

As with all media in the former Burma, it is tightly controlled by the army and is believed to reflect the thinking of the top generals, who until now have shown signs of growing, albeit grudging, acceptance of outside cyclone assistance.  The editorial also accused the international community of being stingy…


May 22, 2008

What kind of aid does Burma really need?

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 5:17 am

This is why the UN is seen as idiotic.

May 13, 2008

What do white people like?

Filed under: PC,The world today — John Maass @ 11:49 am

If you have not already seen this blog, please check out Stuff White People Like.  It is very amusing, and right on the money.  Bobo’s are the target, so lefties be prepared to get slightly ruffled.  Kind of reminds me of the style of the old Preppie Handbook from the early 1980s.

Disturbing sign of the times

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 5:54 am

Auctioneers across the United States are conducting sales at self-storage facilities, selling off the contents of units belonging to people who have fallen behind with their payments.

Thousands of Americans have lost their homes in the sub-prime mortgage meltdown and many have turned to putting their belongings in storage ready for a day when they could buy another home.


May 9, 2008

OPEC thugs

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 10:56 am

What an interesting combination of news items today, both related to international relations and the contrast between the Western tradition and that of other parts of the globe that, well, don’t seem to get it. 

First, in reaction to the horrible devastation of the cyclone in Burma, many western nations (including the USA) have donated aid.  The oppressive regime’s reaction?  Stalling.  This group of military thugs is delaying help to their own people, and as we learn from reports, confiscating the aid.  “All of the food aid and equipment that we managed to get in has been confiscated,” U.N. World Food Program spokesman Paul Risley said. “For the time being, we have no choice but to end further efforts to bring critical needed food aid into Myanmar at this time.” 

At the same time, Fox News reports that the OPEC nations bent on getting as much for oil as they possibly can and thus contributing to the world food crisis donates almost nothing to the World Food Program (WFP), the U.N.’s food-giving arm, which is charged with alleviating the food crisis.  Who leads the world in donations?  The “evil” USA! 

The overwhelming bulk of the burden in feeding the world’s starving poor remains with the United States and a small group of other predominately Western nations, a situation that the WFP has done little so far to change, even as it has asked for another $775 million in donations to ease the crisis.

the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the international oil cartel, tossed in a grand total of $1.5 million in addition to the $50,000 it had previously donated.

The OPEC total amounts to roughly one minute and 10 seconds worth of the organization’s estimated $674 billion in annual oil revenues in 2007 — revenues that will be vastly exceeded in 2008 with the continuing spiral in world oil prices.

The only other major oil exporter who made the WFP list of 2008 donors was the United Arab Emirates, which kicked in $50,000. UAE oil revenues in 2007 were $63 billion.

By contrast, the poverty-stricken African republic of Burkina Faso is listed as donating more than $600,000, and Bangladesh, perennial home of many of the world’s hungriest people, is listed as donating nearly $5.8 million.

Why are we allies with the Arabs? 

April 11, 2008

Vulgar Corporate Pay

Filed under: Simple Living,The world today — John Maass @ 6:12 pm

In the category of “give credit where credit is due,” I give credit to Barrak Obama (who for many reasons I regard as comically unprepared and unqualified to lead this country) for his thoughts on the vulgarity that is part of America today:

From Yahoo!:

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama denounced huge pay packages for U.S. corporate chiefs on Friday in a drive to convert middle-class anger about the U.S. economy into votes.  “Some CEOs make more in one day than their workers make in one year,” Obama said. 

“We’ve seen what happens when CEOs are paid for doing a job no matter how bad a job they’re doing,” Obama said. “We can’t afford to postpone reform any longer.”

The first-term Illinois senator has introduced “say-on-pay” legislation that would give investors more of a voice in setting executive compensation packages.


April 3, 2008

3 Lessons from Disney World

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 7:41 am

From Slate, an engaging and humorous piece on Mauschwitz:

Disney World teaches kids three things:

1) a meaningless, bubble-headed utopianism

2) a grasping, whining consumerism

3) a preference for soulless facsimiles of culture and architecture instead of for the real thing.

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