Daily Archives: June 21, 2012

The Bicentennial of the War of 1812

June 18, 2012: 200 years ago, Congress declared war on the British Empire. Our history books call it the War of 1812, even though it lasted into 1815. Here are three of the fascinating stories from this time.

August 19, 1814: British warships anchored at Benedict, Maryland and dispatched more than 4,500 British soldiers. Their mission: To capture Washington and seek revenge for the burning of the British capitol building in Canada.

A force of 7,000 untrained American volunteers hastily assembled to defend Washington, but the more disciplined and experienced British troops made quick work of them. The soldiers, government officials and city residents fled, allowing the British to walk right into our nation’s capital

VIDEO: How Dolley Madison Saved George Washington [2:41]

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/multimedia/videos/How-Dolley-Madison-Saved-George-Washington.html

August 24, 1814: The British set fire to the White House, the Capitol Building, and many other public buildings and homes. The glow from the conflagration could be seen on the horizon from fifty miles away. Throughout the morning of August 25th, British soldiers continued to set fires; it was reported that the smoke could be seen in Baltimore.

But then an amazing thing happened. A huge storm swept into the city.

At its center was a small tornado that tore directly into the British occupation. The winds were so sudden that many of the soldiers did not have time to take cover, but laid face down in the streets. One British officer on horseback was slammed violently, horse and rider, to the ground. Cannons were tossed into the air. Several soldiers were killed by flying debris.

These sudden, violent winds subsided quickly. They were followed by a torrential, two-hour rain that put out all the fires.

Shaken by the harsh weather, the British decided to return to their warships. The violent storm had knocked trees down across their route back, making the trip difficult. When they arrived, they learned the storm had also damaged their ships, even driven two on to the shore.

Despite the Americans having no army tough enough to defend the capital from them, the British were only able to occupy Washington for 26 hours.

A few weeks later, the British attempted to take Baltimore. For 25 hours, warships pounded Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, firing approximately 1,500 loud and lethal projectiles on the Americans.

A 35-year-old American lawyer named Francis Scott Key watched the barrage from a ship 8 miles away. “It seemed as though mother earth had opened and was vomiting shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone,” he wrote later.

The “rockets’ red glare” came from British rockets called Congreves that exploded in midair. Congreves were the 1814 version of “shock and awe”, inaccurate but intimidating. The kill shots came from the “bombs bursting in air”, which were 200 pound cannonballs that exploded above the target and rained down deadly shrapnel.

September 14, 1814: Given the scale of the attack, Keys was certain the British would win. But then, in the clearing smoke of “the dawn’s early light”, Keys saw the Stars and Stripes flying over the fort, announcing an American victory.  And, despite the massive bombardment by the far superior British force, only four Americans were killed!

America was a young nation, barely finding its feet. The storm that drove the British out of Washington and our amazing victory at Fort McHenry stirred the nation. Keys’ poem was set to a popular tune and quickly became one of the nation’s best-loved patriotic songs.

In the War of 1812, our rag tag military defeated one of the world’s super powers. But we won more important than a military victory. We won our national identity.

Sources:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2010/07/the_thunderstorm_that_saved_wa.html

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-10-Things-You-Didnt-Know-About-the-War-of-1812.html

Note:

The Dolley Madison clip above is part of the documentary on Disk One of “History Channel: War of 1812”, a 2-DVD series that Netflix carries. I’ve still got Disk Two in my queue.

Besides the documentary, Disk One also has a piece that was filmed in the 90s about the Smithsonian’s restoration of the Star Spangled Banner, the original flag that Francis Scott Key wrote about in the poem that became our National Anthem.

There is lots of information about the flag and the restoration at the Smithsonian’s website:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/flag.html

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/star-spangled-banner.html

http://www.si.edu/encyclopedia_si/nmah/starflag.htm

Comments Off on The Bicentennial of the War of 1812

Filed under History

Who ya gonna blame?

A group of Italian seismologists are on trial for manslaughter. Supposedly, they’re responsible for the hundreds of deaths following a big earthquake they didn’t see coming. If convicted, they face up to 12 years in prison.

They’re not being blamed for failing to predict the earthquake. They’re being blamed for thinking the series of small quakes was dispersing seismic energy enough that a large quake was “unlikely” but could not be ruled out.

Supposedly, if they’d been less cautious and more scare-mongery, all those 309 people who died in the unlikely Big One would have sensibly packed up and left town.

Suuure they would. Just like how … knowing they lived in an earthquake prone area, they somehow did not manage to build earthquake-proof houses.

The day after the Big One, Reuters reported “shocked Italians asked how modern buildings — not just historic churches and stone houses — could crumble into pieces in a region known for its high seismic risk.”

Franco Barberi, who heads a committee assessing earthquake risks at Italy’s Civil Protection agency, told reporters there is a “lack of control on the quality of construction” there and that “in California, an earthquake like this one would not have killed a single person.”

Is this the Socialist Grasshopper mindset or what? Don’t prepare for the future, then blame the Ants when the predictable happens.

Source: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2011/06/should-we-blame-scientists-for-not-predicting-earthquakes/

If you like this, you might also enjoy https://polination.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/leftists-blame-us-for-everything-bad/

4 Comments

Filed under Loose Pollen

HIGH COURT DEALS BLOW TO SEIU 7-2

posted by Pistol Pete

Folks,this is huge.The playing field just got a little evener.

Press release from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (AP story below):

Washington, DC (June 21, 2012) – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 today, siding with nonmember California state employees challenging a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) political fee charged to them without notice and opportunity to opt out.

The case concludes a prolonged legal challenge affecting some 36,000 California government employees initiated by eight California civil servants who filed a class-action lawsuit with free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

In 2005, SEIU officials imposed a “special assessment” to raise money from all state employees forced to accept union representation as a job condition for a union political fund, regardless of their membership status. The fund was used to defeat four ballot proposals, including one that would have revoked public employee unions’ special privilege of using forced fees for politics unless an employee consents. Employees who refrained from union membership were given no chance to opt out of paying the SEIU’s political assessment.

Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work, issued the following statement regarding today’s ruling:

“Today, the United States Supreme Court upheld workers’ First Amendment rights and struck down another union boss scheme to confiscate and spend state workers’ hard earned money for politics without their permission.

“Attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation – the nation’s leading advocate for workers who suffer from the abuses of compulsory unionism – argued, and the Court agreed, that the workers should not be forced to subsidize union officials’ political spending, even for a short period of time.

“The Court closed a giant loophole that allowed union bosses to confiscate money from workers’ paychecks for political spending sprees – and sent a message to union officials, once again, that forced political conformity is unconstitutional.”

—–

(AP) Court: Union must give fee increase notice
By JESSE J. HOLLAND
Associated Press
WASHINGTON
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that unions must give nonmembers an immediate chance to object to unexpected fee increases or special assessments that all workers are required to pay in closed-shop situations.

The court ruled for Dianne Knox and other nonmembers of the Service Employees International Union’s Local 1000, who wanted to object and opt out of a $12 million special assessment the union required from its California public sector members for political campaigning. Knox and others said the union did not give them a legally required notice that the increase was coming.

The union, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said the annual notice that the union gives was sufficient. The high court disagreed in a 7-2 judgment written by Justice Samuel Alito.

“When a public-sector union imposes a special assessment or dues increase, the union must provide a fresh … notice and may not exact any funds from nonmembers without their affirmative consent,” Alito said.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg agreed with the judgment but wrote their own opinion. “When a public-sector union imposes a special assessment intended to fund solely political lobbying efforts, the First Amendment requires that the union provide non-members an opportunity to opt out of the contribution of funds,” Sotomayor wrote.

But Sotomayor and Ginsburg said they did not join in the majority opinion that the First Amendment requires an opt-in system for other circumstances like “the levying of a special assessment or dues increase.”

Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan dissented from the opinion. “If the union’s basic administrative system does not violate the Constitution, then how could its special assessment have done so?” Breyer said. But Breyer said he agreed with Sotomayor on the court’s decision to expand the decision beyond special political assessments. “No party has asked that we do so,” he said. “The matter has not been fully argued in this court or in the courts below,” said Breyer, who read his dissent aloud.

Alito said there is “no merit” to Breyer’s and Sotomayor’s complaints.

5 Comments

Filed under Supreme Court, Unions

THE THURSDAY GRUDGE

Posted by Pistol Pete

I usually go to bed early and don’t fire up the univac until I get my route done.It’s not very often I laugh out loud at anything I read,but yesterday’s comments were top-drawer.

First,I ran out of brain bleach,but my coffee sometimes has a slightly elevated alcoholic content.

Chrissy,I did thump my chest and holler ‘feel me’ one time.I was at the food court at the mall.Maybe I should have put some clothes on first.

As far as non-doctors performing abortions, the first thing I thought of was the late and unlamented Ted Kennedy eviscerating Robert Bork,claiming if he were on the Supreme Court women would be forced into back-alley abortions with coat hangers.He lived off the government his whole life,now he’s returning the favor as the worms live off him.

Today may be a red-letter day.The Supremes are likely to rule on the Arizona immigration case and on Obamacare.There is a good chance SCOTUS will rule against Pharobama in both cases.We shouldn’t get too excited,though,because he’s shown time and again he has no regard for laws or court orders.He considers himself intellectually and morally above the law,so such triflings are beneath him.

The ‘net exploded yesterday after contempt of Congress charges were approved strictly along party lines.The Republicans have a majority in the House and will probably approve the charges.That’s where it will end.Reid will not allow a vote in the Senate and the DOJ will not prosecute the boss.Meantime,it gives them something else to run the clock and avoid addressing the economy.Whichever way it goes,there are few opinions that could be swayed.Nearly everybody has already made their minds up.This is just more bread and circuses for the masses.We take the law seriously all the time,they only do when it suits them.It is incumbent on us to get out the vote in fraud-proof numbers.It’s our last chance.

ON WITH THE GRUDGE!!!!!

56 Comments

Filed under Funny Stuff