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It may seem incredible to suggest that the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. is espoused by his son, the President of the United States. That is what I am saying….For Obama, the solutions are simple. He must work to wring the neocolonialism out of America and the West. And here is where our anticolonial understanding of Obama really takes off, because it provides a vital key to explaining not only his major policy actions but also the little details that no other theory can adequately account for.


Gingrich says that D’Souza has made a “stunning insight” into Obama’s behavior — the “most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama.”

“What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asks. “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”

Please account for D’Souza’s beliefs by appeal to his origins in Mumbai. Contenders: many Indians consider bathing in the sewage-filled Ganges to be purifying, and only after realizing this can you see why D’Souza tries to make the national conversation better by taking huge dumps in it; only a man raised on ghee could provide such concentrated, rarified idiocy.

God help you when Ramesh Ponnuru is the sensible one in the room.


I don’t know why I even bother with Thomas Friedman:

Ask yourself: What made our Greatest Generation great? First, the problems they faced were huge, merciless and inescapable: the Depression, Nazism and Soviet Communism. Second, the Greatest Generation’s leaders were never afraid to ask Americans to sacrifice. Third, that generation was ready to sacrifice, and pull together, for the good of the country. And fourth, because they were ready to do hard things, they earned global leadership the only way you can, by saying: “Follow me.”

Let’s solve our problems by comparing them with Imaginary World ™, full of puppies and ponies and elves!

This is why other pundits think that George Will is an intellectual.

The first Medal of Honor awarded to a living soldier since the Vietnam War was announced this week:

Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta will be the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War. On Thursday, President Obama spoke with Giunta, who is assigned to 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, in Vicenza, Italy, to inform him that he will be awarded the nation’s highest valor award, according to the White House.

There had been discussion of whether the Medal of Honor had become only a posthumous award:

The small number awarded and the fact that all were awarded posthumously has raised questions among members of Congress and senior military leaders. When asked by reporters, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in September the issue has been “a source of real concern to me.” He added: The Medal of Honor nomination process is “a very time-intensive, thorough process. But I would say that I’ve been told there are some living potential recipients that have been put forward,” he said during a Sept. 17 news conference.

Prior to Giunta, the last non-posthumous award of the Medal of Honor had been to Michael Edwin Thornton in October 1972.

Table of Contents

1. SB2U Vindicators by Steven Terjeson at World War II History
2. Hmdb Civil War Updates – Week of September 6 by Craig Swain at To the Sound of the Guns
3. Battle Ranges: Columbus-Belmont by Craig Swain at To the Sound of the Guns
4. “We Don’t Want to Kill You All in One Day!” by (dw) at of Battlefields and Bibliophiles
5. Saturday, 7 September 1940 by Brett Holman at Airminded
6. Napoleonic Wars: Bloodbath at Borodino by n/a at Military History
7. Robert Service: ‘Only a Boche’ by (Tim Kendall) at War Poetry
8. Arnold Bennett, Women and the Western Front by George Simmers at Great War Fiction
9. Maj. Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler: the Moment He Enlisted in the Fight for Racial Equality by (Ron Coddington) at Faces of War
10. “Foos” Fighter by (Jimmy Price) at Over There
11. A Painful Discovery by (Jimmy Price) at Over There
12. Exchange of Wounded Pows by Charles McCain at World War II History
13. Flak Towers of the Reich by Charles McCain at World War II History
14. Edward H. Bonekemper: a Victor, Not a Butcher: Ulysses S. Grant’s Overlooked Military Genius by Pritzker Military Library at Pritzker Military Library Podcasts
15. Full Reckoning: Life After Combat: Front &Amp; Center by Pritzker Military Library at Pritzker Military Library Podcasts
16. Book Review: Keith Shimko’s ‘the Iraq Wars and America’s Military Revolution’ by David Ucko at Kings of War
17. Friday, 6 September 1940 by Brett Holman at Airminded
18. New Second World War Galleries Open by Liz Holcombe at Australian War Memorial
19. Thursday, 5 September 1940 by Brett Holman at Airminded
20. World War I: Allies Stand at the Marne by n/a at Military History
21. Wednesday, 4 September 1940 by Brett Holman at Airminded
22. Willie – Installment 3 by (Pte Harry Lamin) at WW1: Experiences of an English Soldier
23. Grunt Padre: the Story of Lieutenant Vincent R. Capodanno, Usnr by NHHC at Naval History Blog
24. Theater Review: Sink the Belgrano! by (Robert Farley) at Other Military History Stuff

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The Paolo Soleri

Paolo Soleri, now 91, was born in Turin and studied architecture there. He came to the US in the 1940s to work with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West. (He recounts amusingly (The Urban Ideal, 23-4) that with the little English he commanded at the time, he found himself on a bus to Tolleson, Arizona before being set right.) After a few years back in Italy, he returned to Arizona, setting up an architectural center of his own, Arcosanti. Much of its income came from handcraft projects, such as cast metal bells; but it has also been a laboratory for his architectural ideas.

He’s a visionary, who has seen certain ecological issues very clearly — notably, that the most sustainable mode of living for billions of humans on this planet of ours is to cluster together in cities, leaving as much as possible of nature to nature. Check out the wide-ranging interview with Jerry Brown (1, 2), from back when Brown was doing his radio program We The People. There’s a paradox in Soleri’s choice of a non-urban site for the project — a spot that began as wilderness but has been swamped by the development of Scottsdale and greater Phoenix. (Brown, introducing Part 2: “a place called Arcosanti, an urban, well it isn’t an urban laboratory, but it is a desert laboratory about a type of urban space and the people are there, what I would say a very elegant, frugal and dense, and complex way of being.”)

Along with his years of advocacy and charismatic projection of green architecture, though, he has built a few very interesting practical projects outside Arcosanti. During the Italian interim, for example, he designed the Solimene ceramic factory at Vietri on the Amalfi coast. Its fluted exterior alternates between glass and columns covered with tiles and plates from the factory’s own production.

And in 1965, at the Santa Fe Indian School, he designed and built an amphitheater, known for decades as “the Paolo Soleri”. By his account, it was conceived for Native American theatrical performance, but it is also well known for graduations, community functions, and music. The school has lately been demolishing a number of its older buildings, including several of real historical interest — check out the murals in the old photo of the dining room. And now they plan to take down the amphitheater as well (the title of my post is from a report by a local TV station).

There’s a petition to urge the head of SFIS to reconsider the demolition. Please sign if you’re interested. Senators Bingaman and Udall have expressed support for the preservation of the amphitheater, if not yet promised funds. And here’s Lyle Lovett speaking on the issue.

(Via Conrad Skinner. Updated after comments.)

A couple days ago I alluded to Henry Morgenthau’s premature departure from Cornell after some study of agriculture. I tried to find information about Morgenthau in The 100 Most Notable Cornellians, but discovered that the authors had instituted stringent criteria: you had to have completed an undergraduate degree. No famous faculty (no Richard Feynman or Vladimir Nabokov), nobody who got only a graduate degree (no William Gass), and no flunkouts. So no notability as a Cornellian for FDR’s Treasury Secretary and the President of the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference. Or for Kurt Vonnegut either.

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Vice Admiral and Mrs. William H.P. Blandy cut a mushroom-cloud cake as Rear Admiral Frank J. Lowry looks on; November 5, 1946 at the Army War College in Washington, DC.

Via io9.

*No, there aren’t. I just couldn’t resist.

There’s a transition between memory and history that happens as events stop being personal experiences and start being records. As the generation that experienced a certain era (World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, 9/11), begins to disappear from the scene, that era becomes “historical” in a way that it wasn’t before. OLYMPIA.jpg
So, too, when the remnants of an era begin to disappear:

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

This process can be fast. My first year students this semester were 10-11 years old when 9/11 happened, and they remember it much less distinctly than I do.

It can be slow. The flagship of Admiral George Dewey’s Asiatic Fleet from the Spanish-American War, the USS Olympia is still open for public viewing on the Philadelphia waterfront. Not for long, though. The Olympia has not been dry-docked since it arrived in Philadelphia in the 1940s and is rotting away in the water:

The waterline is marked with scores of patches, and sections of the mazelike lower hull are so corroded that sunlight shines through. Above deck, water sneaks past the concrete and rubberized surface layers, past the rotting fir deck underneath, and onto the handsomely appointed officers’ quarters below.

The ship is likely to be scrapped in the next year or so, leaving behind only the record of its existence and the history of its achievements.

Both the American and British chief delegates to the Bretton Woods conference were tall bald men, but there the similarity between them came to an end, and even in respect of their height they stood differently. Henry Morgenthau, Jr., hung on his own frame like a picture crookedly strung on a hook, while John Maynard Keynes wore his stature as comfortably as his tailored suits. Although Keynes was the older man, his powerful new ideas made Morgenthau look ever more like a relic. As Secretary of the Treasury since 1934, Morgenthau had helped engineer the New Deal. But as Keynesianism swept the policymaking landscape, Morgenthau became more old-fashioned, insisting that whatever Keynes might claim about deficit spending, the government ought to try a balanced budget—though between the Depression and the Second World War Morgenthau never presided over one. A cruelly witty Cambridge first who indulged his refined tastes in champagne, men, and women, Keynes enjoyed the comforts of the English upper class. Morgenthau was a relative outsider in America: a Jew who attended a state university but failed to graduate and instead became a farmer. It was only because he really took his farm seriously that he enjoyed a rapport with his Dutchess County neighbor, Franklin Roosevelt.

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The relationship between an army and the food it eats is long and tumultuous. Military food needs to be enduring, transportable, and palatable, and the latter is often the first requirement discarded. GIs in World War II frequently complained about their “C” rations and the exotic alternate explanations for the acronym of current USA army rations, the MREs, include such things as “Morsels, Regurgitated, Eviscerated” and “Meals, Rarely Edible.” The actual meaning, “Meal, Ready to Eat” seems commonplace by comparison.

At the same time, however, food is comfort, and long has been. The chance to eat something warm or drink something hot has long been one of the few breaks a soldier might get in the trenches or in combat. A friend, who was a British army officer in the 1990s, recalled patrolling the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic and being pinned down by an IRA sniper. As his unit lay flat under a line of bushes, with rainwater filtering through the leaves, his sergeant tugged at his arm. The NCO had gotten a small portable stove going and was boiling water on it. “Cup of tea, sir?” the sergeant asked.

The New York Times does a nice job of laying this out in America’s current wars, including an explanation of “Combat Espresso”:

“Combat espresso,” on the other hand, is brutal. The creamer, instant coffee and sugar are poured directly into one’s mouth and then washed down with water.

Starbucks, it isn’t, but solace sometimes comes in strange packages.

Table of Contents

1. Tuesday, 3 September 1940 by Brett Holman at Airminded
2. Japanese Surrender in Color by NHHC at Naval History Blog
3. Attempted California to Hawaii Flight: 1 September 1925 by NHHC at Naval History Blog
4. Monday, 2 September 1940 by Brett Holman at Airminded
5. Upcoming Events… by Ross at Thoughts on Military History
6. Sunday, 1 September 1940 by Brett Holman at Airminded
7. Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Established by Congress in 1842 by thomaslsnyder at Of Ships & Surgeons
8. World War II Submarine Appendectomy by NHHC at Naval History Blog
9. Lieutenant Junior Grade George Herbert Walker Bush, USNR and His Rescue by Finback by Ships History at Naval History Blog
10. Manassas Touring Guide by (Drew@CWBA) at Civil War Books and Authors
11. Lt Clark and the Inchon Landing by NHHC at Naval History Blog
12. Curator’s Favorites by Liz Holcombe at Australian War Memorial
13. Civil War: Forces Clash at Chantilly by n/a at Military History
14. When War Memorials Crumble? by n/a at Osprey Publishing Blog
15. Saturday, 31 August 1940 by Brett Holman at Airminded
16. Then and Now by Ethan Rafuse at Civil Warriors
17. New on Navy Tv: USS Aluminaut Recovers Alvin-2 by NavyTV at Naval History Blog
18. Friday, 30 August 1940 by Brett Holman at Airminded
19. Tuesday, 27 August 1940 by Brett Holman at Airminded
20. New Search at Tarawa for Remains of Marines by The Associated Press at Other Military History Stuff

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Updated to include August 2010.


August witnessed the second straight month that fatalities dropped in Afghanistan, since the all-time high in June 2010. In addition, the rate of increase over the same month in the previous year has dropped to near one. The first six months of 2010 averaged double the fatalities of the first six months of 2009. July and August 2010 averaged about 1.07 times July and August of 2009. That’s a substantial drop, and resembles somewhat the January-August 2007 period in Iraq, when the counterinsurgency effort there began to succeed. The resemblance is certainly interesting, but it’s way too early to draw conclusions.

The beautiful and still-operating Coca-Cola bottling plant on Stockton Boulevard in Sacramento.

Latest internet outrage is a video of some girl throwing puppies into a river. Daily Mail. Gawker.

Hilarity: 4chan users on the case, other commenters complaining about how the site is overrun by “justicefags.” (Just the interest of the stronger, no homo.) Bonus hilarity: she’s from Bosnia. There’s something that really bothers me about the outrage being so out of proportion to the wrongness, but no one’s in the mood for a round of the Peter Singer game; just cut-n-paste from the Michael Vick discussions.

This is officially an award-winning blog

HNN, Best group blog: "Witty and insightful, the Edge of the American West puts the group in group blog, with frequent contributions from an irreverent band.... Always entertaining, often enlightening, the blog features snazzy visuals—graphs, photos, videos—and zippy writing...."