Thursday, December 8, 2011


John Lennon's bloodied glasses [above]. Unlike other evidence in the crime [John's bloodied clothes wouldn't be returned to Yoko Ono until after his assassin's trial was completed in August 1981. The clothes were returned in a paper bag. "It's like they were saying, 'Here's your husband in a bag'," Yoko remembered], the glasses were retrieved by Dakota doorman Jay Hastings, and returned to Yoko upon her return from the hospital after John was declared dead on arrival.

On this anniverary of John Lennon's murder (this being the 31st anniversary; to give you an idea of how long ago that was, consider that - in 1980, the year he died - someone celebrating their 31st anniversary would have been married in 1949) - tradition holds that the blog post is about John.

Not that I've tapped that reservoir, but I'm not sure I can outdo these past blogs:

RIP, John

copyright 2009-2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Rest in Peace, Colonel

Harry Morgan

copyright 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


George Harrison
February 25, 1943-November 29, 2001

See Yourself

It's easier to tell a lie than it is to tell the truth
It's easier to kill a fly than it is to turn it loose
It's easier to criticize somebody else
Than to see yourself

It's easier to give a sigh and be like all the rest
Who stand around and crucify you while you do your best
It's easier to see the books upon the shelf
Than to see yourself

It's easier to hurt someone and make them cry
Than it is to dry their eyes
I got tired of fooling 'round with other people's lies
Rather I'd find someone that's true

It's easier to say you won't than it is to feel you can
It's easier to drag your feet than it is to be a man
It's easier to look at someone else's wealth
Than to see yourself

copyright 1976 George Harrison; 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Monday, May 30, 2011

True Son

Harold Becker [bottom] holds the rifle that belonged to his father, Charles Conrad Becker [top], who fought in the Civil War.

I remember in high school I had a teacher with whom I became friendly. In conversation one day, she mentioned that her father had been born in 1870. "1870!?!?" I said, with my sledgehammer tact. Indeed, 1870. It turned out that her father - a German immigrant - fathered her when he was 70 years old, dying shortly thereafter. Later, I'd learn about the founding of the German federation out of a series of city-states - Prussia being the largest - in 1871 and realize that my teacher's father had been older than the nation of Germany itself.

Today, there are a few examples of such primogeniture that even outstrip that of my teacher. One such case is that of 93-year old Harold Becker, a retired chemist from Western Michigan. Becker is a rarity, what is called a "true son": a man whose father fought in the Civil War in the Union Army.

The story is pretty amazing. Becker's father, Charles Conrad Becker, lied about his age in 1864 to enlist at 17. Like in the case of my teacher, Charles Becker was 70 when Harold, his youngest child, was born. Charles lived to be 87, thus leaving his son with plenty of stories and memories about the war.

"I think my dad was always interested in keeping the country together," Becker told the Detroit Free-Press, explaining what motivated his father to fight for the Union. "He'd go to the porch overlooking White Lake and tell me stories about the Civil War."

Today, of course, is Memorial Day. While there is much confusion in popular culture as to the origin of the day - it was a holiday created in 1868 to honor the Civil War dead - we all know it is a day to honor those who have died in our wars over the last 235 years.

Today, Harold Becker remembers seeing his father's blue Union Army uniform hanging in an upstairs closet, the pockets always filled with chocolate for a curious little boy. He remembers the Civil War veterans pension checks -- about $100 a month -- that were used to pay bills. He remembers the short, mustachioed figure, dashing in Grand Army of the Republic regalia, heading off to a meeting at the G.A.R. post.

Becker is among fewer than 50 men nationwide who can say their fathers fought in the Civil War, which began 150 years ago last month. His father died of a heart attack when Harold Becker was in his late teens. This left time for Charles to pass along to Harold numerous stories of the conflict that divided the nation.

Charles Becker was just 17 in 1864, but claimed he was two years older to join Co. H, 128th Indiana Infantry. He saw action at the Battle of Franklin [Tennessee], telling his son of a supply line that stretched for a mile. After the war's end in April 1865, Charles was one of many given the morbid and solemn assignment to disinter the dead from mass graves and bury them individually.

Harold Becker recently visited the historic Tennessee battle site. "The [guide] showed me where my father actually fought," Becker told the Free-Press. Becker also traveled to the storied Gettysburg battlefield, where he even met the son of a Confederate soldier.

Becker said his father had four or five children - he was never clear on the exact number - with his first wife and then married Elizabeth Ofenloch, a woman 30 years his junior, with whom he had four more children. Harold was the youngest of all Becker's children. When he was still a boy, his father, who had owned a grocery store in Chicago, relocated the family to Montague, Michigan. There Charles Becker, who died in 1934, is buried.

Occasionally, Harold Becker said, his father would regale him with stories of Civil War experiences he shared with other grizzled soldiers from the Grand Army of the Republic Lyon Post No. 9 in Chicago, where he was a member and former commander. "I don't think he enjoyed the fighting. I think it went against him," Becker said of his father. "I'm guessing on this. From all the things he told me, he wasn't proud of the fact he could kill someone. He ended up feeling that way. I know he didn't dislike the South or the people, necessarily."

Today, 19 true sons and 21 true daughters of Union soldiers are still alive, according to Bruce Butgereit, a Grand Rapids-based Civil War historian, who has done extensive research on Harold Becker's father [although the Michigan Historical Center counts 16 sons and 23 daughters] . According to the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, about 30 men known as 'real sons' are still living.

"One thing Mr. Becker loves to do is meet and greet the children, and he loves to be able to tell when they shake hands that you just shook the hand of a man who held the hand of a Civil War soldier," said Butgereit, the historian. He has created a card featuring photos and biographies of father and son that Becker autographs.

The star of these appearances enjoys doing them.

"It makes me think about my dad," Becker said. "It just amazes me. We go to Pontiac, and there's thousands of people there and hundreds of people who are redoing some of the work the Army did."

Ironically, Becker the son never served in the U.S. military. A bad left eye kept him out of World War II, which angers him to this day -- after being taught to shoot by a man who learned as a soldier eight decades before.

Instead, Becker studied chemistry in college and went on to work as a chemist and an engineer for a variety of companies throughout the Midwest. He and his wife of 69 years, the former Dorothy Reynolds (a distant relative of Benjamin Franklin), moved to Rockford, Michigan in 1963 and had five children. They now have seven grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.

He's a member of the Grand Rapids-based John A. Logan Camp No. 1, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Unfortunately, a fire years ago robbed Becker of almost all of the mementos of his father's Civil War service. Only a picture of the elder Becker -- a compact, clean-shaven 5-foot-6 man -- and his heavy, military-issue rifle survive.

On this Memorial Day, as he has on so many other special days, Becker will hang out the American flag that his father adored, although with 16 more stars than the banner under which his father served.

"I've always flown it at the right times," Becker said.

Today is the right time.

copyright 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Billboards like this one [above] ended up predicting the truth, as the world ended on Saturday.

In a bit of a shock, the world ended Saturday, fulfilling the prophecy - but "shocking the shit" out - of 89-year old Harold Camping, the former civil-engineer-turned-multi-million-dollar-doomsdayer. "Frankly, I thought it was horseshit," admitted Camping. "You didn't really think I believed any of this?!"

Alas, Camping's prophecy was true after all. The first clue was the sudden death of former wrestler Randy "Macho Man" Savage on Friday. This was foretold in the Bible, when - in the Gospel According to John - the Bible predicted, "And in the day before the coming of the great Apocalypse, a large, macho man with hair plugs will up and dyeth on the floor of his gym."

That news was soon overshadowed by [and, in hindsight, was further confirmation of the end] the Middle East peace between Israel and, "every country that hates her", announced by visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Of course, soon an even bigger story took over the news cycle. "Well, tickle my ass with a feather!" said an irritated Netanyahu when he was informed that the world had ended. "I didn't even get laid [on this trip to Washington]," he said dejectedly.

But Bibi was not the only political figure angered by the end of days. An irritated President Obama said disgustedly, "Naturally! First black man in office and the world ends mid-way through my first term. Typical."

The end of the world also means a number of mysteries will be left unknown - at least unless the Lord comes to His senses and recreates the world. For one, the winner of American Idol will remain a mystery for the remainder of days. The NBA champion, Stanley Cup champion, winner of the Preakness, and the experiment of Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men will all remain unknown. Indeed, even the actual date on which Sheen fatally overdoses will forever remain a mystery.

One person thrilled with the news was former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Thank you, Jesus!" said the smiling former body-builder. Smoking one of his trademark cigars, and with a co-ed on each knee, Arnold smiled as he said, "At least this knocks me off the front page of the paper."

On the positive side, terrorism, pollution, nuclear holocaust and Oprah's new show on her stupid OWN network also got wiped out with the end of the world. Indeed, some theorized that God chose May 21, 2011 to end the world specifically to prevent Oprah from airing her last show. "The first clue to the end of the world, in fact, was the rise of Oprah Winfrey's career," theorized Professor Smedley Lump, who was the chair of the Religious Studies department at Harvard University before the end of the world. "That a large, hideous, ostentatious, self-centered, prima donna could become America's sweetheart should have been our first warning."

While most of us - including the guy who promoted the idea - were shocked that the world really did end, some lunatics were prepared. Some shut themselves inside to pray for mercy. Others met for tearful last lunches with their children, and prepared to leave behind homes and pets as they were swept up to heaven. Naturally, it was heaven. None of these morons contemplated that they might be sent to hell.

And so it was across the globe, as followers of the California preacher's long-publicized message that Judgment Day would arrive Saturday turned to the Bible, the book they believed - accurately, it turns out - predicted Earth's destruction on May 21, 2011. Camping had been promoting his doomsday message far and wide via broadcasts and web sites through his multi-million-dollar 'nonprofit ministry', which was based on his apocalyptic prediction.

And Camping was successful in scaring the shit out of millions, albeit - it turns out - for good reason. After spending months traveling the country to put up Judgment Day billboards and hand out Bible tracts, Camping follower Michael Garcia spent Friday evening with his family at home in Alameda, California, near the Christian media empire's Oakland headquarters.

Prior to the world ending, Garcia hit the nail on the head, saying he believed Camping's prediction that the end would start as it became 6 p.m. in the world's various time zones. "We know the end will begin in New Zealand and will follow the sun and roll on from there," said Garcia, a 39-year-old father of six before the end of days. "That's why God raised up all the technology and the satellites so everyone can see it happen at the same time." As for why it would begin in New Zealand, Garcia echoed Camping's frequent response to the same question, "God hates New Zealand."

Of course, now that the world is over, Camping's radio stations, TV channels, satellite broadcasts and website are irrelevant. Many thought the same thing about Camping himself when, in 1994, his prediction of the world ending did not occur. At the time, he told Larry King that he blamed it on a 'mathematical error,'. "I'm fucking horrible at math," said the then-72-year old lunatic. As for that episode, Camping last month dismissed the possibility of a repeat in 2011. Speaking of the 1994 misfire, Camping said, "I'm not embarrassed about it. It was just the fact that it was premature - like my ejaculations," he told the Associated Press last month. "But, when you're 89-years old, you take [ejaculations] anyway you can get them. Even if you're just sitting in a diner eating soup."

Perhaps the most upset about the end of the world really happening were those who thought it was a joke and guaranteed themselves a one-way ticket to the fiery pits of Hell by mocking the event. They attended 'Rapture'-themed parties to celebrate what they mistakenly expected would be the failure of the world to come to an end. Bars and restaurants from Melbourne, Australia to the Florida Keys advertised bashes. While in Oakland, atheists gathering at a local Masonic temple dealt with the end even-handedly, saying "How much different can Hell be from Oakland, anyway?".


Camping was not entirely right, however, because Camping and his followers believed that 200 million people would survive. There were no survivors left on Earth, however, by the end of the day on May 21st. Still, since Camping preached that those left behind would end up dying in earthquakes, plagues, and other calamities until Earth was consumed by a fireball on October 21, 2011, anyway, the point is kind of moot.

So, as we say goodbye, I'm reminded of that great episode of All in the Family, when Archie is locked in the basement, drunk off a bottle of Polish vodka he's downed. He talks to God and calls out asking Him to save him. Just then, a furnace repairman coming to the house to fix the furnace hears Archie's cries and tells him he's coming. Expecting that he is about to meet the Lord, Archie gets down on his knees and says, "Well, this is it Lord!" He looks up to see a six-foot-five tall black man in overalls. To which Archie - after recovering from the shock - says, "Forgive me Lord!" He then says, "Jeez. The Jeffersons was right."

In this case, the ranting octogenarian was right. Forgive me Lord.

copyright 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cut It Off

John Ensign in June 2009 [above]. The Senate ethics committee said Thursday it found evidence that he had broken the law.

I'm sorry, but I just can't get off John Ensign's case. Yes, I know he resigned from the Senate and it's hardly as much fun to kick a former senator as it is a current senator. Nonetheless, the word that the Senate Ethics Committee ignored Ensign's resignation and completed their investigation - releasing a public report on May 12th - makes it worth revisiting this seedy bastard.

That's because the same bundle of information that led the Ethics Committee to condemn Ensign led the Justice Department to do absolutely nothing. Like the Ethics Committee, Justice Department officials investigating Ensign spent many hours last year in a Las Vegas office interviewing Ensign's ex-aide, Douglas Hampton, as they scrutinized e-mails, handwritten notes and the aide’s detailed recollections about payoffs, secret lobbying and hush money over a disastrous affair.

Unlike the Justice Department, a unanimous Ethics Committee — in a rare public report that corroborated virtually all of Douglas Hampton’s central assertions — said it found compelling evidence that Ensign had not only broken the law, but that he could have been expelled from the Senate had he not made the decision last month to quit first.

Yet the Justice Department has yet to take any action against Ensign nearly two years after allegations of impropriety first surfaced. In fact, they told Ensign's lawyers last December that they were not pursuing criminal charges against him at the time.

In the meantime, Douglas Hampton - the main witness - is now awaiting trial. Not surprisingly, he has filed for bankruptcy, lost his Las Vegas home to foreclosure and is going through a divorce from the woman into whom Senator Ensign fell - Hampton's wife, Cynthia.

The Senate’s harsh report — contrasted with the Justice Department doing absofuckinglutely nothing — provided further evidence for those who complain that the agency has lost its balls when it comes to taking on public officials, a result of the fiasco that resulted from the 2008 corruption case against the late Sen. Ted Stevens [R, Alaska], which was ultimately dropped amid charges of prosecutorial misconduct.

The Senate also took a far tougher stance than the Federal Election Commission [FEC]. Against the recommendation of its lawyer, the FEC also declined to take action against Ensign after it said it could not disprove sworn statements from Ensign and his parents about a $96,000 payment to the Hamptons that they said was a gift. In contrast, the Ethics Committee said the money in fact appeared to be an “unlawful” severance payment and that Ensign made “false and misleading” statements about it to investigators. It also said Ensign appeared to have destroyed e-mails relevant to the investigation.

An FEC official acknowledged to the New York Times that the commission took Ensign at his word, whereas the Senate dug deeper. This official - a complete moron - expressed anger to the Times after learning the true circumstances behind the $96,000 payment. “I hate it when people lie to us,” the official said, adding: “If somebody submits a sworn affidavit, we usually do not go back and question it, unless we have something else to go on. Maybe we should not be so trusting.”

Gee, ya think?

After being totally embarrassed Thursday, the Justice Department scrambled Friday and said it would look at the new allegations. “We take all referrals of potential crimes seriously,” said Laura Sweeney, a department spokeswoman. “We intend to examine thoroughly the information provided, and take any necessary and appropriate steps based on our review.”

Better late than never, I guess.

For our developmentally challenged Justice Department, the Senate Ethics Committee’s 68-page report should provide them with a road map. And who the hell ever thought the Senate Ethics Committee would be the benchmark for the truth?

Their report offers a blistering day-by-day account of the lies and deception, and provides a wonderfully lurid description of the affair and its consequences. It describes efforts by Ensign to keep the affair going even after Cynthia Hampton pleaded to cut it off [presumably, she meant the affair and not the Senator's penis]. Ensign used multiple cellphone accounts and fired Douglas Hampton in part so that he could no longer track Ensign's schedule.

The report also catalogs hysterical efforts by Ensign's friends to keep him away from Cynthia Hampton - much in the same way friends often stage an intervention to keep a friend from way from alcohol. When Ensign was caught in a Nevada hotel room with Cynthia Hampton after he had vowed multiple times to end the affair, he received an angry phone call there from Timothy Coe, a prominent 'Christian fundamentalist' and 'adviser' to Ensign. “I know exactly where you are,” Coe screamed at Ensign. “I know exactly what you are doing. Put your pants on and go home.”

The Ethics Committee report includes repeated references to an investigation in the New York Times in October 2009 about the secret lobbying work that Ensign had obtained for Douglas Hampton — in violation of Senate restrictions — as a way to earn his silence.

The ethics investigation did give us something new: efforts that Ensign made to find income for Douglas Hampton, and it said that the ex-senator on occasion threatened to “cut off” political supporters who refused him. As you can see, there was a fascination with 'cutting off' things.

The Ethics Committee’s findings make it clear what we suspected all along: Ensign destroyed evidence, obstructed justice and misled investigators.

Particularly stupid ones.

copyright 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

SENATOR WONDERFUL, HIMSELF: Sen. John Ensign, [R, Nev.] (above) is shown with his wife, Darlene, announcing on March 7th in Las Vegas that he wouldn't seek re-election. Now the coward has robbed us of even his remaining 20 months in office, announcing yesterday he'll resign effective May 3rd.
Robbing us of 20 more months of blog-fodder, Sen. John Ensign [R. Nev.] announced Thursday that not only is he not running for reelection in 2012, but the cowardly hypocrite is now going to resign his seat, effective May 3, 2011. While Ensign thought he'd solved his problems by announcing his plans earlier this year not to run for reelection - and, indeed, that announcement led to the end of one investigation - Ensign recently found out that now he is facing another ethics investigation over his affair with a former campaign aide, and his shenanigans in trying to cover it up.

The 52-year-old Republican blowhard - a Jesus-freak who no doubt read the Bible while porking his aide - acknowledged in June 2009 that he had an extramarital affair with Cynthia Hampton, a former member of his campaign staff, and that he had helped her husband, Doug Hampton, a member of his congressional staff, obtain lobbying work with a Nevada company.

This latest ethics investigation focuses in part on $96,000 that Ensign's parents gave to the Hamptons, which Ensign's attorney has hilariously characterized as a 'gift'.

In his resignation notice Thursday, Ensign said the appointment of the latest special counsel shook him because he had hoped the investigation would end with his announcement not to run again. "While I stand behind my firm belief that I have not violated any law, rule, or standard of conduct of the Senate, and I have fought to prove this publicly, I will not continue to subject my family, my constituents, or the Senate to any further rounds of investigation, depositions, drawn out proceedings, or especially public hearings," Ensign's statement read. "For my family and me, this continued personal cost is simply too great." Indeed, defense lawyers are expensive.

Meanwhile, Ensign at least gets rid of one ethics investigation, that of the Senate Ethics [oxymoron alert] Committee. With Ensign gone from the Senate, the Ethics Committee will have no jurisdiction in the matter.

Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee, Sen. Barbara Boxer [D, Calif], wasted no time kicking the Nevada dead horse by publicly agreeing with Ensign's decision. It was a bit surprising, though, that Committee Vice Chair Sen. Johnny Isakson [R, Ga.] joined Boxer in issuing a statement Thursday that Ensign "made the appropriate decision" in stepping down. "The Senate Ethics Committee has worked diligently for 22 months on this matter and will complete its work in a timely fashion," the senators self-servingly said.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval [Nev.] will now appoint someone to serve the remainder of Ensign's term. It is believed he will choose U.S. Rep. Dean Heller [R, Nev.] to give his Party the advantage of incumbency in what is expected to be a highly competitive seat that could - in fact - decide which party controls the Senate in 2013.

Ensign's resignation actually improves Republicans' chances, as he had a better chance of being named Pope than he did of winning reelection. Thus, even though he was the third Senate Republican to decide not to seek re-election [joining Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jon Kyl (R, Ariz) Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R, Tx)], it is a welcome relief for the GOP - and most people who believe in an afterlife.

In looking back at the case, the Hamptons were hired by Ensign in 2006 — Doug Hampton as a top aide in the Senate office and Cindy Hampton to work on the Ensign for Senate and his PAC campaign committees. Ensign and Cindy Hampton began their affair in December 2007. Doug Hampton discovered the affair because - in addition to being a philanderer - Ensign is also a moron, sending Cindy text messages found by Doug.

The latest investigation surrounds what happened next: in April 2008, Ensign's parents, Mike and Sharon Ensign, gave the Hampton family $96,000. Ensign characterized the money as given "out of concern for the well-being of longtime family friends during a difficult time."

The Hamptons left Ensign's staff that May, but Doug Hampton began consulting for a firm founded by Ensign's closest adviser and run by former Ensign aides.

Presumably, Ensign figured the $96,000 permitted him to continue boinking Mrs. Hampton, as their affair didn't end until August 2008. That same month, Doug Hampton was hired as an executive of Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air, an airline run by Ensign political contributor Maurice Gallagher.

While Ensign was surprised at the timing of word of the investigation, he had to know he was in trouble when Doug Hampton was indicted March 24th by a federal grand jury in Washington on charges he violated federal criminal conflict of interest laws.

While we won't have Ensign to kick around anymore after May 3rd, hopefully Doug Hampton's upcoming trial will make the whole affair - pun very much intended - the 'gift' that keeps on giving.

copyright 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mail's Here

This letter was mailed from Hyde Park, N.Y., to Gloucester in 1945, but it didn’t arrive for 66 years.

It's a good thing it wasn't someone's military discharge papers. A letter mailed from Hyde Park, New York, 66 years ago finally turned up late last month, years after its' sender died. The episode adds new meaning to the term 'snail mail'. Even a snail, though, would have delivered the letter faster. A local scientist estimated that if someone had placed the letter addressed to a Mrs. S.E. Lawrence of Gloucester, Massachusetts - on the back of a common garden snail, it could have made the 173-mile journey in 6 1/2 years.

While no one knows where in the hell its been since 1945, the letter appeared March 26th when carrier James Patrick picked from the day’s batch of mail and a slightly yellowed envelope with a hand-typed address and four ornate one-cent stamps immediately caught his eye.

Dennis Tarmey, a spokesman for the Greater Boston Postal District, told the Boston Globe that it may have been lost in postal equipment or fallen into a sorting machine — which is often the case with letters that take decades to deliver — but he added that that his theory is pure speculation. Tansey said a postmark on the back of the envelope indicates that it appeared in Seattle this month. "It seems to me that somebody had it for a long time and put it in the mail," he said. "Maybe it ended up in an estate sale. Who knows?"

The envelope is known as a 'First Day Cover' — when a new stamp is issued, collectors celebrate by gathering at the place it is issued and having it postmarked on the first day. In this case, it was a one-cent stamp to commemorate the recently-deceased President Franklin D. Roosevelt, issued from and featuring his Springwood estate. Often, the 'cover' becomes a collectors item years later.

Nancy A. Pope, a historian and curator at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, told the Post that such first-day celebrations were popular at that time, particularly in this case because it honored Roosevelt, who was a stamp collector and inspired many young people to take up the hobby. "The point of the First Day Cover is the outside of the envelope, not the letter inside," Pope said. "The concept is that they are never going to be opened."’

Some theorize that Lawrence — who lived at 123 Leonard Street — was a stamp collector who had a friend mail her the letter, or mailed it to herself from the event.

This particular cover featured a "cachet," an envelope with a design on the left side commemorating the event being celebrated. When the letter was opened, the only thing inside was a notecard featuring the name and address of the person who had done the engraving of Springwood on the outside of the envelope, 'H. Grimsland'.

The final irony is that such cards as the one found in the envelope were enclosed at the time simply to give the letter enough heft so it would not fall through a sorting machine. Yet that may very well be what happened and why the letter - 66 years late - finally arrived.

As for Mrs. Lawrence, she was a housekeeper who was married to a house painter named Sears. While town elders say she died many years ago, no one has yet been able to locate her in a local cemetery.

If she was cremated and her remains were sent through the U.S. Mail, she should be turning up in about 20 years or so.

copyright 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Bustin' Babes vs. The Larrupin' Lou's

A recently discovered video of Babe Ruth [far left] and Lou Gehrig [far right] is the latest example of motion-film images from baseball's pre-digital history.
One of the great thrills I get - that don't involve some form of sexual act - is watching old-time baseball players on film. Those short-films with Ty Cobb [asshole, though he was], Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig et al truly fascinate me. Those films of actual games are even better. About ten or fifteen years ago PBS raised a lot of money with a series called When it Was a Game - images culled together from personal collections of color film that players took of one another before games during the 1930s. It was fabulous.

So, I was excited to hear about the latest discovery of a short film from 1927 capturing Ruth and Gehrig during a moment of rest on one of those baseball barnstorming tours that stars of the day used to do to make some real money.

Something I was surprised to read was that - despite my memory - there really are very few moving images of Babe Ruth. Indeed, even Major League Baseball’s large archive contains less than an hour’s worth. The recent discovery points out that there may - in fact - be a bevy of Ruth footage still buried in basements or stashed in attics across the country.

The discovery of which I write came from a cellar in Illinois. It shows Ruth in his prime and is shot from close range, sitting atop a pony while wearing a child’s cowboy hat and muttering into a home movie camera. It also captures an incredibly young-looking Lou Gehrig - known for his dignified demeanor - holding children and unabashedly smiling like a little boy.

The images were part of eight reels of 16-millimeter film found in excellent condition. It included three-and-a-half minutes of Ruth and Gehrig wearing the uniforms of their barnstorming teams. The film is thought to have been shot with a high-end home movie camera in or around Sioux City, Iowa, on October 18, 1927 — 10 days after the Yankees completed a four-game World Series sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Part of the charm of finding the film is that it occurred immediately in the aftermath of what may be the greatest season a baseball team ever had. The 1927 Yankees finished 110-44. Ruth, 32-years old at the time, hit 60 home runs that year, a record that stood for 34 years. Gehrig, who was 24, hit 47 home runs — more than anyone to that point other than Ruth — and was the American League Most Valuable Player.

Of course, the film finding also brings home the reality that much of baseball’s history predates the digital age. Because of that, some of the sport’s best players and moments were captured only through stories and still photographs. Recently, though, there have been some jewels discovered. In 2009, Major League Baseball received a few seconds of video of Ruth playing right field at Yankee Stadium, something archivists had not seen before. Just last week, the MLB Network unveiled newly received clips thought to be a sort of instructional film from 1924 with Ruth, Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson. And last year, the only known full copy of the television broadcast of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, featuring Bill Mazeroski’s game-winning home run that pushed the Pirates past the Yankees, was found in Bing Crosby’s wine cellar.

Yet, even as thrilling as such discoveries are, most of them tend to be grainy and shot from a distance. On those films, Ruth is often identifiable only by uniform number or his unmistakable barrel shape or his famous swing. This most recent discovery is different. Standing outside a large brick home - or perhaps a public building - in the shade of large trees, Ruth and Gehrig posed and chatted among a dozen or two well-dressed men, women and children. There is a rare close-up of Ruth without his hat, talking to the camera. Behind him, Gehrig held a small boy and gave him a peck on the cheek. Christy Walsh, who managed the tour and was considered the first major sports agent, is seen in a few seconds close up, too. At one point, Ruth recoiled from a backpedaling pony and laughed. He pulled the cowboy hat off a young boy dressed in Tom Mix-era cowboy regalia and mugged for the camera. The portly Ruth climbed aboard the pony, which looked barely sturdy enough to support him.

The film came to light thanks to R. C. Raycraft, who bought the films for an undisclosed amount from an antiques dealer who purchased them as part of an estate sale. Raycraft, whose family runs the 3rd Sunday Market, an antique show in Bloomington, Illinois, told the New York Times he had not decided if he would sell the film. He may donate a copy to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, if the Hall thinks it can be put to good use. Neither the Hall nor Major League Baseball have seen the film, but each is interested.

It is uncertain just how rare or valuable the film is, but a photograph of Ruth’s and Gehrig’s barnstorming teams, the Bustin’ Babes and the Larrupin’ Lou’s, from a game in Des Moines and dated October 17, 1927, sold in December for $33,000. And that was just a photograph.

The 1927 tour began two days after the World Series and consisted of 21 games strung from Providence, Rhode Island to Los Angeles. It was so big that local schools actually closed for the occasion so that the kids could see heroes that they could only otherwise read about or listen to on the radio.

The tours were pure bedlam.

Indeed, thirteen games had to be called early because the mobs disrupted the action. "Every time a fly or grounder went past the infield, there was a race between the outfielder and the spectators on the fringe of the crowd," the New York Times reported from one game. Ruth, who occasionally pitched, had a .616 batting average and hit 20 home runs. Gehrig hit .618 and had 13 homers. The tours were a way for big-name players to cash in on their popularity. While Ruth earned a $70,000 salary from the Yankees in 1927 [the equivalent of $857,388 in 2009 dollars], he matched it on the cross-country tour. Gehrig, too, reportedly doubled his $8,000 [$97,987 in 2009] salary, though he was about to get a new Yankees contract paying him $25,000 [$306,210 in 2009] a year. The men signed thousands of baseballs, tossing them to fans in the stands and occasionally from their train as it rolled through towns across the country.

The Sioux City Journal of October 19, 1927, described a chaotic scene at the previous day’s game. About 5,000 people crammed into the minor league park, and “2,000 youngsters became so unmanageable in their desire to get a close-up that the game was called early in the ninth inning." Indeed, during a rush of fans in the seventh inning, "Lou probably saved the life of a little fellow who was trampled to the ground in the rush by carrying him across the diamond to safety," the Journal reported.

In Nevada last week, Ruth’s grandson Tom Stevens, now 58, watched a portion of the film a few times. Stevens is the only child of 94-year-old Julia Ruth Stevens, one of Babe Ruth’s two daughters (one each from two marriages) and the only one still alive. "My mom is the best living authority on him from a personal standpoint, certainly," Stevens told the Times.

But Stevens is a Ruth encyclopedia, too, and a close guardian of his grandfather’s reputation and myth, as passed from his mother. "That’s really pretty good video of him," Stevens said. "But it’s not remarkable that he’s out and about with people. He commonly did that. That’s part of the reason people felt as affectionately about him as they did." Stevens was born four years after Ruth died in 1948, but enjoyed the portion of the film showing Ruth playing with the children. "I think he was most comfortable and most at home with kids," Stevens said. "They say he was just a kid at heart. And I think that’s true."

And, in this latest video clip, he still is.

copyright 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One Score

The 316th ESC Rifle Team took part in the 21-gun salute at a memorial on February 25, 2011, held to remember those killed in a 1991 SCUD missile attack
Recently, a 20th-anniversary passed that went largely unnoticed by mainstream media. It was a score of years after a seldom-remembered war, one largely overshadowed by the conflagration that followed it 12 years later. For those personally touched by that day 20-years ago, however, the date was noted solemnly and with reverence.

It was February 25, 1991, when 29 soldiers of the Greensburg, Pennsylvania-based 14th Quartermaster Detachment - an Army Reserve water purification team on deployment in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, during the First Gulf War - were killed when an Iraqi Scud missile struck the barracks. In addition to the 29 fatalities, 99 other soldiers were wounded. The attack was the single-largest loss of American lives during the short war.

On February 25, 2011, one of the father's of a fallen soldier - Frank Mayes - was part of a memorial honoring the victims. Mayes' daughter - Christine - enlisted directly from high school, where she spent a three-year tour of Germany. Shortly after her transitioning to the Army Reserves and beginning her college studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Mayes' Army Reserve unit was called to serve in Operation Desert Storm, the First Gulf War. According to her father, Mayes loved being a soldier.

Twenty years later, Mayes - joined by his wife, Darlene, and their two surviving daughters - were among the more than 200 people gathered in a tent outside the Army Reserve Center in Greensburg for a memorial service and wreath-laying ceremony to mark the solemn anniversary.

As typically happens at this event, there was a politician handy to say some self-serving words and pause for a photo-op for his campaign web site. "It's times like this that bring forth vivid memories as if this happened moments ago," said U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy [R, Pa.]. Not exactly the Gettysburg Address, huh?

But the ceremony was not for Murphy's 2012 reelection run. It was for the families who live with the memory of lost loved ones. Paula Boliver Wukovich was a mother of two young children when her husband, vehicle mechanic Spc. John A. Boliver Jr., was killed in the Scud attack. The family had celebrated daughter Melissa's first birthday while visiting John at Fort Lee, Virginia, for deployment training the week before he left. Melissa is now 21. Paula Wukovich says son Matt, now 22, closely resembles John, except he's got red hair. "These were people. These weren't just names and a toll of a bell," Wukovich said after the memorial ceremony. "They had lives and families and people who loved them, and we don't want to forget that."

Kevin Keough was 10 years old when his brother, Spc. Frank S. Keough, deployed with the 14th Quartermaster at age 23. The brothers' birthdays were 13 years and one day apart, and as Kevin Keough gathered with his mother and other siblings at the memorial two weeks ago, he thought of his own children -- a young son, plus twin girls due in late April. "It's a shame because [my children will] never know him, and that part I hate," Keough said. "The circumstances, the things that he did for our country, I love and respect. It just, it hurts because I'll never get him back, you know?"

There was another man in attendance at the 20-year anniversary of the tragedy. Unlike those who were killed, however, he is not American. Cpl. James Newman, of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force, was part of an infantry regiment on a routine perimeter patrol in Dhahran and happened to be driving toward the barracks when the Scud missile hit. Newman's four-man team arrived within minutes and began the difficult process of rescuing bodies, administering first aid and trying to clear remaining ammunition stores. "You're reflecting, [and] all of a sudden, all the pictures come back -- the smells, the sounds -- and it's like it happened yesterday," Newman recalled at the memorial. "You'll never forget that."

Nor should we.

copyright 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Get Your Hands Off My Light Bulb

The only way you'll get this light bulb [above] from me is out of my cold, dead hands.

Just to be clear: I really don't give a damned about my carbon footprint. My forefathers didn't, so why should I? I mean, you're telling me that they got to take advantage of all the great inventions [coal, gasoline, being able to read at night] and I can't? Screw that. Let my kids figure it out - that's why I pay taxes to pay for their public education.

Every time I see something that is 'green' - no trays in the cafeteria, silverware recycled from used toilet paper, etc - I want to vomit. Perhaps nothing sets me off more, though, than those ridiculous-looking so-called 'light bulbs' that look like something you get at Mr. Softy. I hate them. If there was a stronger word in the English language than 'hate', I'd use it. So, 'I fucking hate them' will have to do.

For one thing...well, like I said: they look like ice cream [or whatever they put in Mr. Softy]. For another, you get more illumination from a Charlie Sheen sermon than you do from these monstrosities. At my previous office, they replaced all of my lighting with these things and I ended up lighting candles and setting furniture on fire just to see at night.

Somehow, I missed something in Congress a few ago that may mean every light bulb I ever see is one of these 'green' bulbs. It'll be great for the eyeglass, contact-lens and lasik-surgery industries. Apparently, a 2007 bill - passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bush - will make the old, familiar and loveable [not to mention light-emanating] incandescent bulb subject to strict 'efficiency standards' next year. One of the causalities will be the 100-watt incandescent bulb.


You better start hoarding them now - as, indeed, some are. If you have an Easy-Bake Oven from Hasbro, particularly, you better buy them up. Otherwise, Junior will be cooking in the dark - which is how fires get started, I think.

While the law does not outlaw incandescent bulbs or dictate that consumers must use the ridiculous-looking spiral-shaped compact 'fluorescent' lights, it does intrude into my life by limiting the amount of light allowed to be emitted per watt of power used. Thus the currently effective 100-watt bulbs must become 25% more 'efficient', meaning that its makers are forced to design new bulbs.

I never in a million years thought that I would be on the same side of an argument as one of Congress' preeminent assholes, Rep. Joe Barton [R, Tex.]. Barton is against just about everything except oil companies and making himself filthy rich. Plus, he had the audacity to oppose the 2006 Combating Autism Act and publicly apologized to British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward in 2010 for what he called President Obama's "shakedown" of the oil industry.

So, it's clear the guy is a prick. Still, on this issue, the prick and I are on the same side. Who knew it would take a light bulb to put us there? Barton has sponsored a bill to reverse the new light bulb guidelines. "From the health insurance you’re allowed to have, to the car you can drive, to the light bulbs you can buy, Washington is making too many decisions that are better left to you and your family," Barton said when he introduced his bill in January.

Plus, a convenient fact dismissed by environmentalists is that the supposedly 'green' bulbs are actually health hazards because they contain mercury. So, they're 'green' unless they break. While some tree-huggers try to discount the danger by saying the mercury in a single fluorescent bulb is less than what some power plants throw into the atmosphere while generating the electricity it takes to light one incandescent bulb, I'm reminded of the great Archie Bunker line: when Gloria tells him that 60% of those murdered in the U.S. in the previous year had died of gunshot wounds, Archie says, "Would it make you feel better if they was pushed outta windows?"

I'm now not only on the same side of the issue as a bastard like Barton - I'm on the same side as the lunatic-fringe Tea Partiers! My head is spinning. One of their darlings - Rep. Michele Bachmann [R, Minn,.], introduced a bill to repeal the light bulb law in 2008, and did so again this year. I apparently missed learning about the light bulb law after the President's January State of the Union Adress...then again, I missed the Address, too. Anyway, Bachmann gave the Republican response to President Obama's Address. In her response, one of the things she blasted was the light bulb nonsense.

Another Tea Bagger - Sen. Rand Paul [R, Ky.] - said not only did he resent the light bulb standards but he also blamed the government for poorly working toilets in his house because of the regulations on how much water they should use. Once again: whoever thought I'd be on the same side as a wacko like Paul? I hate those goddamned toilets. You may as well shit on the living room floor for all the good these new toilets do.

Oh, and these light bulb regulations have already affected the American economy. Last fall, General Electric closed its last major United States plant producing the old-style incandescent bulbs, in Winchester, Virginia. I wonder if those out-of-work employees are worried about their carbon footprint. Indeed, nearly all of the compact 'green' fluorescent bulbs are made in Asia. While some United States manufacturers say they will retool former factories to make other energy-efficient bulbs, you'll forgive me if I'm a bit doubtful.

Meanwhile, the clueless Energy Department says the energy savings from these curly-Q bulbs are 'significant'. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy Kathleen Hogan told a Senate committee this week that - by meeting the new lighting standards - consumers could save nearly $6 billion in 2015. I don't even know if I'm going to be alive in 2015, lady. Get your fucking hands off my light bulb.

Hogan later made a statement that makes one wonder where she pulled that $6 billion figure from anyway. Hogan told the same committee that a household that upgrades 15 current incandescent bulbs could save about $50 a year. Wow! A whole $50?!?!? How much would we save if we just went back to lighting candles?

Candles are cheaper than current halogen incandescent bulbs, which now cost about $1.50 each. Another 'green' wonder - the LED bulb - can cost $20 or more each. While it is true that the LED bulb has only recently been introduced [and, thus, one assumes they'll eventually go down in price], and that they supposedly can last ten years or more, the fact is: I like changing a light bulb. Why the hell should I have to wait ten years to do so?

So, now, in addition to the bedroom and my pocket, I want the government's paws out of my light bulbs. Amy Ridenour has the right idea. She is the president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative group, and has already hoarded about 100 old-style incandescent light bulbs in her basement. She hopes to have several hundred by the time the new standards go into effect on January 1, 2012. Her hoarding, she told the New York Times, is primarily driven by concerns about the mercury in the compact fluorescent bulbs. Her middle child, a 10-year-old son, is autistic. "He’s knocked over quite a few lamps," she said, and broken plenty of light bulbs in the process. Since I'm not convinced that mercury doesn't contribute to autism, I'm with her.

That's especially true in that the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] actually issues detailed instructions on how to clean up a broken fluorescent bulb because of the potential for spilling mercury. In fact, because of the mercury, the EPA recommends recycling used fluorescent bulbs rather than disposing of them in household garbage.

You know what? Recycling was cute when it was cans, glass and newspapers. It's just a real pain in the ass now, and the novelty - like the days of the effective light bulb - is over.

copyright 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Kingdom For A Bed

Seattle socialite Cynthia Stroum [above] nearly led to diplomats at the U.S. embassy in Luxembourg War to request Afghanistan or Iraq.

A little-noted diplomatic disaster nearly led to a number of U.S. diplomats descending into the middle of a war zone rather than enjoy safe careers in a country the size of Rhode Island. The reason has to do with the age-old practice of rewarding large contributors to presidential campaigns with plum ambassadorships in countries that are irrelevant. The list of diplomatic incidents that can be traced to this practice is literally endless. It's the latest example that I write of today.

The contributor was Cynthia Stroum, a Seattle-business executive who made significant financial contributions - directly and through fund-raisers - for President Obama and other Democrats during the 2008 campaign. Her reward was the position as U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg - a country as internationally significant as New Jersey.

Her tenure was less than John Quincy Adams-like, however. It ended when she quit in early-February. A day later, the details of her time in Luxembourg came out, reading reads a How to Empty an Embassy manual. With a little The Devil Loves Prada thrown in.

It turns out that Stroum managed through creating personality conflicts, hurling verbal abuse and making unbelievably funny expenditures of U.S. tax dollars that - for a wealthy woman - are a bit seemly. Her running of the embassy was so bad that embassy staff requested transfers to Iraq or Afghanistan. Think about that for a second.

Lest you think that Stroum earned her personal fortune,it was her father's dough. Sam Stroum was a Seattle philanthropist who made a fortune in the auto-parts business and felt bad enough about it to donate money to get his name on buildings through two charitable foundations. He died in 2001.

The latest move by people in trouble is to send e-mail responses to reporters rather than actually speaking with them. This is actually brilliant, as journalists aren't exactly known for getting quotes 100% accurate - unless they're also stenographers. So, in an e-mail response to the Seattle Times, Cynthia Stroum described the circumstances of her departure from Luxembourg as "unfortunate" and said she had filed a rebuttal to the negative report with the State Department. Her service in Luxembourg, she wrote, gave her new respect for the work done by the diplomatic corps and an admiration for the people of Luxembourg and the ruling family there. I don't doubt that: my guess is she'd never heard of either Luxembourg or the State Department before the appointment.

Stroum also wrote, "The initiatives that I chose to focus on were what I believed to be in the best interest of the relationship between Luxembourg and the United States, and I'm proud of the links connected especially with businesses here in my home state of Washington."

Stroum's appointment had been promoted by Sen. Maria Cantwell [D, Wash.], who said at Stroum's confirmation hearing, "I have known Cynthia for many years, and I know that I can say this with experience: She will be an outstanding representative for our country," Cantwell said. Needless to say, Cantwell's had no comment since Stroum's departure.

Others, however, had much to say. In a report by the Inspector General's Office, investigators found that the Luxembourg embassy "has underperformed for the entirety of the current ambassador's tenure. At present, due to internal problems, it plays no significant role in policy advocacy or reporting, though developments in Luxembourg are certainly of interest to Washington clients and other U.S. missions in the NATO and EU communities." Well, that last part is horse shit, but they have to say that.

The IG's report portrays a corrosive atmosphere at the small embassy, with Stroum running roughshod over staff, threatening to read their e-mails and largely spending her time taking advantage of job-related perks. "The bulk of the mission's internal problems are linked to her leadership deficiencies, the most damaging of which is an abusive management style," the report said. "Those who have questioned or challenged some of the ambassador's actions state that they have paid a heavy price in the form of verbal abuse and been threatened with dismissal," it said.

To give you an idea as to how bad the situation was the Inspector General recommended the State Department dispatch medical personnel to Luxembourg to test the stress levels of embassy employees. It said at least four staffers quit or sought transfers to Iraq and Afghanistan - exchanging a posh diplomatic appointment in a country with plumbing to spend time in a barren war zone.

President Obama nominated Stroum in 2009 to the post in Luxembourg - a nation of 500,000 people, about the size of Rhode Island. Aside from her experience as an investor, 'entertainment producer' and 'philanthropist' active in numerous charities, Stroum's only qualification for the post was her generous contributions to Democratic politicians and causes, particularly Obama. Financial reports say Stroum donated the maximum personal amount to Obama's campaign while after having also donated $2,300 to the failed presidential campaign of former then-Sen. John Edwards [D, N.C.]. More importantly, though, as a fundraiser she was responsible for raising at least $500,000 for Obama, putting her among his top money generators. It didn't hurt that Stroum also had been a generous supporter of local Democrats like Cantwell and her fellow Sen. Patty Murray [D, Wash.].

The Inspector General said it had learned in interviews with embassy staffers that Stroum, shortly after her arrival in Luxembourg, discussed with them "the importance she attaches to the perquisites of" being an ambassador. She was particularly concerned about the state of the ambassador's residence, which was being renovated, it said. Renovation time!

Because of that renovation, Stroum ordered an embassy official to spend time - it turned out to be six weeks - seeking out temporary housing for the ambassador. Over those six weeks, the official - using contacts in Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany and France and two officials from the U.S. Embassy in Brussels - screened 200 properties and visited 30-40.

They found only four that met the ambassador's requirements, and she rejected all of them all anyway, before an 'acceptable' residence was found.

Other highlights from the report include the fact that Stroum spent $2,400 to fly with an aide to a Swiss "professional school," whose graduates have gone on to work for Buckingham Palace and similar places, to interview candidates to replace a caretaker and a fired chef. She had the embassy purchase $3,400 in wine and liquor a day before the 2010 budget year ended in an effort to spend the rest of its annual entertainment budget rather than turn it back over to to the government for FYE 2011. This despite the fact that the State Department - like just about every other business - has rules that say embassies are not allowed "to use excess year-end funds" to buy items unless they are used in that year.

Stroum was reimbursed for the purchase of a new bed because she "preferred a queen bed to the king-size bed already provided." So, it wasn't that she needed a bigger bed - she wanted a smaller one. The embassy twice asked the State Department to reimburse the amount but was denied because it was a personal choice. Despite the refusals, the No. 2 official at the embassy signed off on a reimbursement "out of program funds."

Presumably, now that she's back in Seattle, she's in a comfortable bed.

copyright 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A New Hero of the Stupid

WARNING: This photo, on the right, of Rep. Christopher Lee [R, NY] will turn your creep-meter purple. The photo on the left shows Lee with his shirt on. The meter will be slightly less than purple.

Word came yesterday that our old, dear friend, Sen. John Ensign [R, Nev.] is going to rob us of six more years of fodder by not running for reelection in 2012. Ensign's announcement reminded me that I filed away a story I wanted to write about back in early February. Ensign's pending departure is the perfect time to bring out that file.

On February 9th, Rep. Christopher Lee [R, NY] resigned from Congress but accepted the Hero of the Stupid 2011 Award from Evil B. Why did he feel the need to stop dining at the public trough? Well, like many middle-aged guys with blue balls, he went onto Craiglist to try to get laid. Oh, I neglected two things: he's married and he emailed shirtless photos of himself to a potential suitor.

Lee's brilliance made his second term in Congress one of the briefest in the 221-year history of the institution. The scandal broke on Rather than giving us days of brilliant blog fodder, however, the cowardly bastard submitted his letter of resignation to the House Clerk in just a few hours.

At least he left us a statement of contrition to chuckle over: "It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Western New York. I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents. I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness. The challenges we face in Western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue, and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately."

In what must have been a bit of a shock to his sensibilities, Lee was outed by the recipient of the emailed photos. Of course, looking at one of the photos [above], I can see why she felt the need to dime him out: it was probably the greatest service to her nation that she'll ever do. The woman - from Maryland - emailed the photos to Gawker. Lee was responding to a Craiglist ad the woman had placed that asked quaintly: "Will someone prove to me not all CL men look like toads?" No, I have no idea what CL means. I've been wracking my brain and the only thing I can come up with is Centenarian Loser.

Lee responded to the ad with an email claiming to be a 40-year old divorced lobbyist. Lee is actually 46-years old but the good news is he probably will soon be a divorced lobbyist.

The disturbing photos show Lee flexing what would apparently be his muscles. One of the emails described him as a "fit fun classy guy." He also sent them from his own personal Gmail account, making it about as easy to track him down as it would have been if he'd taken the photos from the Speaker's lectern of the House.

It took the woman approximately 30 minutes to match the photos to Lee's official Congressional portrait [on Wikipedia]. It took her slightly less time to email the material to Gawker.

Lee had a completely undistinguished career in two-plus years. He generated many press releases by taking advantage of a tragedy when a plane crashed into a house in Clarence, part of his Buffalo-area district, on February 12, 2009, killing 49 people aboard the plane and the home's owner. Ironically, the pilot of that plane was the winner of the Hero for the Stupid 2009 Award. Lee promised to launch an investigation to get to the bottom of the tragedy. His constituents are still waiting.

Lee's exit triggers a special election, which prickly Gov. Andrew Cuomo [D, NY] must call. Lee was first elected in 2008 with 55% of the vote. Lee was then reelected in 2010 with 74% of the vote.

New York is the state that keeps on giving: Lee's resignation comes almost a year after Rep. Eric Massa [D, NY] resigned his seat in western New York's 29th Congressional District amid an investigation into whether he sexually harassed male staffers.

By the way, we're now accepting applications for the Hero of the Stupid 2012 Award. Tell a friend.

copyright 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

For One Brief Shining Moment...

No male was closer to President Kennedy [right] than his brother, Robert Kennedy [left]. JFK named RFK as his Attorney-General in December 1960 during the presidential transition, which led to much hue and cry about nepotism. RFK's persona as Attorney General was a far cry from the one he maintained during his 1968 presidential campaign.

Today comes news - shocking to no one - that in 1961 during a 'fact-finding' mission for his brother in Chile, Ted Kennedy rented a brothel for an evening for a finding of facts of another kind. While that certainly wouldn't have raised an eyebrow with President Kennedy, 50 years later the news about the then-29-year old younger Kennedy is about as welcome in Camelot as one of JFK's numerous battles with syphilis.

It is a timely story, too, because it is just the latest - albeit unwanted - news item 'celebrating' the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's inauguration. The story also explains why the Kennedys have been reticent to allow access to 54 crates of records from the Kennedy presidency that sit stacked in a vault at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The crates are individually sealed and labeled, and are so closely guarded that even the library director - Thomas J. Putnam - is prohibited from taking a peek.

God only knows what treasure troves await historians in those boxes. They include some of the most important records of Cold War history: diaries, notes, phone logs, messages, trip files, and other documents from Robert F. Kennedy’s service as U.S. Attorney General. They include details about RFK's roles in the Cuban missile crisis and as coordinator of covert efforts to assassinate Fidel Castro.

In this anniversary year, the battle between the library and the Kennedy family has come out in the open. So far, the Kennedys have refused to grant permission for researchers to freely review the crates and their contents.

Not surprisingly, historians - a prickly group of anti-social misfits to begin with - are miffed. "The RFK papers are among the most valuable, untapped archival resources of foreign policy and domestic history left to be excavated," Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst at George Washington University’s National Security Archive, told the Boston Globe last month. Kornbluh has been told to sod off several times in his attempts to gain access to the papers. "This history is immediately relevant to the ongoing debate over U.S. policy toward Cuba," he added. "I look forward to the day — hopefully sooner than later — that access to the RFK papers contributes to advancing that debate."

Don't hold your breath, Pete.

Access to the papers is tightly controlled by Robert Kennedy’s ninth child, Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, a lawyer designated by his mother, Ethel, to take on the responsibility. In a written response to Globe questions via email, Max Kennedy denied that access to the papers is closed, saying he has "selectively granted full access" to prominent biographers, including Evan Thomas and Robert Dallek. While I'm a big fan of Thomas and have read every one of the works of Dallek, both of them have also been accused by other historians of being Kennedyphiles.]

Max Kennedy also wrote, "There are many requests to see them, and frankly, many of those requests come from people with poorly-conceived projects. It is my responsibility, as custodian of the papers, to grant use responsibly." Of course, what the Kennedy family considers 'poorly-conceived projects' may be a bit biased. Kennedy, however, also wrote, "That does not mean that every book must be cloyingly positive; I do not think that for a moment, and I would be doing a disservice to my father if I acted that way. But I do believe that historians and journalists must do their homework, and observe the correct procedures for seeking permission to consult the papers, and explain their projects."

The JFK Library itself would like to make the documents available, director Putnam said, but current law stipulates that it must first get a signed deed from RFK’s heirs before the documents can be made widely available. "We are still in long-term negotiations with [the Kennedy family] to get that deed," said Putnam, who is an employee of the National Archives and Records Administration, which would be responsible for reviewing the records to protect information that could harm national security. "We can’t fully process papers that we don’t own."

Now, let me say here that I happen to revere both JFK and RFK - flaws and all. JFK had the good fortune - as morbid as that sounds - to die long before most of the secrets of his private life and medical maladies were known. And RFK had the good fortune to live long enough to overcome and rise above his image as an angry unscrupulous strong-armed enforcer for his older brother to become a champion of civil rights and social programs, and as a strong opponent of the Vietnam War.

It is that 1968 image that RFK's family seeks to preserve. The RFK of 1968 is not in those boxes, however. Instead, it is the 1961-1963 RFK who abused power and broke laws in an effort to assassinate Castro and project what he deemed to be the interests of President Kennedy - at any cost.

"Obviously this was not the sort of thing [Robert Kennedy] wanted to come out," Sheldon Stern, former director of the Kennedy library’s American History Project, told the Globe. "The Kennedys are especially sensitive about this stuff."

The papers are so closely guarded that they were never fully shared with government investigators after JFK's assassination. They are part of a trove of documents that RFK ordered removed from the White House in the first few hours after his brother's death. Indeed, by the time President Johnson returned to Washington with the body of President Kennedy, the documents were gone. They were shielded from the Warren Commission and subsequent congressional inquiries into Cold War era intelligence activities for the last 50 years.

For those unfamiliar with the history, after John Kennedy was elected President in 1960, he chose his younger brother Robert to be Attorney General. Robert Kennedy had ruthlessly - and successfully - run his brother's presidential campaign and was JFK's most trusted adviser and confidant. As Attorney General, RFK took on an especially prominent role in White House decision-making and foreign policy - not spheres for the nation’s top law enforcement least in the previous 180+ years of the government's history.

The known details of RFK's most controversial activities begin after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 when JFK put him in charge of secret efforts to undermine the communist government in Cuba, including Operation Mongoose, the CIA-led effort to assassinate Castro or topple his government.

"Operation Mongoose was a covert operation to destabilize the Cuban government and [RFK] was the person in charge,’’ Philip Brenner, a professor at American University, told the Globe. "It is very unusual for an Attorney General to be in charge of an international covert operation."

Today, Robert Kennedy’s own Deputy Attorney General, Nicholas D. Katzenbach [who succeeded him as Attorney General in the Johnson Administration], said he believes the records should not be treated any differently than other government documents from the time. "I am with the historians on this. I think all the records should be made available," Katzenbach told the Globe. "People should understand. Historians can get new perspectives if that is what the records show. Bobby might have recorded his phone calls. There would be notes of conversations with the president. He was wrong on Cuba, I think, for the most part, but it seems to me this length of time after the events it is time to make them public."

There are many reasons historian want access to the documents. "The main acts of the Kennedy presidency involved Cuba and we still don’t have the most important records," historian Lamar Waldron told the Globe. "We could flesh out many details about coup plans. We might also learn more about JFK and RFK’s desperate attempts in November 1963 to find a back-channel, peaceful solution to the Cuba issue."

For 50 years historians have speculated as to why John Kennedy handed his Attorney General the anti-Cuba portfolio in the first place. It involved the violation of so many domestic laws you needed the top law enforcement officer to oversee it," American University's Brenner said. The covert operations relied on Cuban operatives in Miami who traveled back and forth for meetings or to ferry explosives and guns. "[The operatives] did not go through customs and that’s violation of the law. Robert Kennedy could make sure the FBI or Immigration and Naturalization Service didn’t interfere."

Precedent regarding the treatment of past Attorneys General records supports making them public. According to the Justice Department, the official files of the nation’s top law enforcement officers are housed "in a variety of locations, including presidential libraries, the Library of Congress, and university libraries."

The fact that the papers will no doubt show RFK in a light far different from his later life is what remains the sticking point. Still, the fact is that most of us are intelligent enough to discern that all humans are complex, even heroes. As Katzenbach said, "I think the things [RFK] said when he came to the Justice Department would be different" when he died. "I don’t see why historians shouldn’t know that."

copyright 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Map

The 1770 map before (left) and after (right) its restoration.

I'm always fascinated when something old and shriveled and long-forgotten is found in some obscure corner of a dark and dusty room - like that time I found my penis in the drawer of a desk we were about to throw out. While it wasn't someone's manhood that was discovered this time, it was nonetheless noteworthy when a delivery truck stopped at the Brooklyn Historical Society's office in May 2010 to drop off some old and yellowed maps and prints to be catalogued.

When Carolyn Hansen - the society's map cataloguer - began the process of unrolling the old documents, she quickly realized that something was different about this latest trove. As she started to unfurl the map - browned with age and dry and crisp as a potato chip - it began to rip. She immediately stopped. She'd unfurled enough, though, to see something that took her breath away. There was something written on the map: 'Ratzer 1770'.

Now, to me [and probably you and the rest of the world], that name would have stirred nothing in our brains; except perhaps the realization that the poor bastard who created the map probably got teased like hell as a kid with such a shitty last name. For Hansen, though, the name was like Babe Ruth or Abraham Lincoln.

She immediately went to find someone when she ran into James Rossman, the chairman of the society who just happened to be in the building at the time. "We have a Ratzer map!" she told Rossman excitedly. To others in the room who heard the reverential tone in Hansen's voice, the discovery registered the same recognition it would have in you or I. To Rossman, though, it was as magical as it sounded when Hansen said it.

That's because the name Ratzer is invoked by scholars and cartographers the way 'John Lennon and Paul McCartney' is by scholars of music. While it is difficult to pick one song for which Lennon/McCartney is most famous, for Bernard Ratzer his masterpiece was Plan of the City of New York in 1770. In her hands, Hansen was holding an early, previously unknown edition Plan of the City of New York. Since at the time there were believed to be only three copies of the exact map still in existence, this discovery would be filed under 'Deal, Big'.

One copy of the known maps belonged to King George III, and remains in the British Library in London, where it is displayed occasionally. The other two — one legible, the other tanned and dark with shellac — are at the New York Historical Society,and remain in storage but for two or three times a year, when they are pulled out for students.

This fourth map - while a breathtaking discovery for Hansen and Rossman - presented a challenge. It was aged beyond its 240 years by its destructive shellac coating. In its current condition it was literally untouchable. The story of how it was transformed from that state to a clearly legible and mounted [behind glass, of course] legendary artifact unveiled at a private party at the society last month is equally amazing as its discovery.

The folks at the Brooklyn Historical Society knew that map had been delivered from the society’s warehouse in Connecticut, but they had no catalog listing the map or when it had been acquired. It had been shellacked and mounted on linen, with a wooden pole attached at the bottom. It had been cut in long strips to allow it to be rolled up for storage. The ripping that Hansen had heard was one of the brittle strips breaking.

As for its creator, Ratzer was a British Army officer in America as well as a surveyor and draftsman. After its publication his map was immediately praised as a step forward from those of his predecessors - although he was dismayed when his name was misspelled on initial versions of his maps and called the "Ratzen plan."

The map included a detailed depiction of New York's slips and shores and streets in Lower Manhattan. To eyes in 2010, the map is a mix of the familiar and the long-forgotten. "Manhattan, at least the part shown here, was mapped as precisely as any spot on the Earth at the time," Robert T. Augustyn, co-author of Manhattan in Maps: 1527-1995, told the New York Times. "There was no more beautiful or revealing a map of New York City ever done."

Ratzer included notable buildings like "The Powder House," "The City Hall," "The Prison," as well as a detailed topography including the hills and woodlands near Kips Bay and Turtle Bay that have long-since disappeared. The Ratzer map is "one of the ways we know about how this place looked before the grid really took hold," Matthew A. Knutzen, geospatial librarian in the New York Public Library’s map division, told the Times.

The bottom of the map contains a striking illustration of the view of Manhattan as seen from Governors Island, with ships, soldiers, waves and smoke. Brooklyn - or "Brookland," as Ratzer called it - appears as a patchwork of farms of different shades, bisected by Flatbush Road. That probably is the first time "farms" and "Brooklyn" have been in the same sentence since the early 19th century.

Ratzer issued another, far more common version of the map - in 1776 - that is nearly identical to the first except for a tiny line of text from the publisher. That is why Hansen became excited when she saw "1770" written on the map [even though, most likely, Ratzer actually completed it in 1769]. The 1770 version, however, is the one that was presented - almost immediately - to King George.

The two 1770 maps at the New York Historical Society were gifts of its founder, John Pintard, on January 4, 1810, according to its catalog. That makes the map Hansen found the first Ratzer discovered in 200 years.

Exactly where this fourth version originated is still unknown, although on the back of the linen that Hansen began unrolling last May she saw the name 'Pierrepont' clearly legible. While the Pierreponts were a prominent Brooklyn family, there is no indication as to how or when it ended up in the Connecticut warehouse.

Fearful of causing more damage, the society called in Jonathan P. Derow, a paper conservationist. "It was in terrible condition," Derow told the Times. "I suggested it not be rerolled. Every time it was handled, more pieces were broken apart, and the damage was increased."

It was too brittle to move to Derow's office, so he made a makeshift plastic tent in the society’s office and inserted a humidifier. The hard paper softened, and Derow carried it away. He washed the map for four days in an alkaline bath [don't try that at home, folks] that removed acid and grime, and he cut away the linen backing. Derow then aligned the pieces, using a strong magnifying glass and tweezers, and let the map dry, only to see tiny gaps appear between strips, the result of the paper’s shrinking. So, he rewet it and started over, but let the pieces overlap slightly. That worked: the map shrank perfectly in place.

White lines were visible where the map had ripped, the brighter inner fabrics of the paper standing out from the stained surface. Derow came up with a simply brilliant idea. He went to a bookstore specializing in old, obscure books and bought a handful. To give you an idea of how obscure the books were, when was the last time you picked up your copy of The Select Dialogues of Lucian, to Which Is Added, a New Literal Translation in Latin, With Notes in English [1804]? The key ingredient was the cloth paper upon which such old books were printed, as opposed to the wood pulp that is used today.

While book-lovers might chastise him, Derow took the books and baked them in his kitchen oven. He then boiled them in water to create a simply delightful stew. Although no doubt tempting, Derow didn't eat the mixture but instead painted the now-liquid cloth onto the white lines, matching them to the rest of the map. He then framed the finished product behind plexiglass.

Derow charged the society $5,000 for the restoration - which apparently is a reduced rate. Still, the work is amazing. From an historical standpoint, the document is now protected for hundreds of years.

copyright 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grade A

President Ronald Reagan's official White House portrait [above], taken early in 1981. His physical appearance changed noticeably after the assassination attempt on March 30th of that year.

When the nation celebrated the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, they put his visage on the penny. The story is interesting: President Theodore Roosevelt, in the final days of his Administration [remember, in 1909 the new President (William Howard Taft) wasn't inaugurated until March 4th], Roosevelt sought to suitably commemorate Lincoln before he turned over the White House to his bloated successor. So, Roosevelt instructed a well-known sculptor named Augustus Saint-Gaudens to redesign the penny [actually, while he was at it, Roosevelt told Saint-Gaudens to start to redesign all the United States coins]. Unfortunately for Saint-Gaudens, he up and died before completing the Lincoln project, leaving Roosevelt to find a new designer.

Victor David Brenner - to my knowledge, no relation to the comedian - had previously sculpted a bronze plaque of Lincoln that Roosevelt admired. Running out of time, Roosevelt chose the Brenner bronze as the new face of the penny. Unfortunately, by the time the new penny design was complete, Roosevelt was off in Africa shooting things. Still, the Lincoln penny was minted and began circulating in August 1909 - still within a time frame to call it in honor of his 100th birthday.

Not quite so with another American icon. Back in 1829, when I was a boy, the country prepared to celebrate the 100th birthday of George Washington three years hence. Seeking a suitable way to honor the 'Father of His Country', a group of citizens in Maine organized a commission to construct a 'Washington monument' somewhere in the nation's capital. The idea was to have the monument up and ready by February 22, 1832 - the actual 100th anniversary of his birth.

Initially, private donations poured in and the effort was taken over by a national commission. While originally the Maine group wanted to have the monument financed entirely by private donations, had they stuck to that the odds are the Washington Monument would be about six feet tall. So, 1832 came and went. Somehow, the commission actually lost money. So, missing the desired date of the unveiling by a cool 22 years, the commission was distraught when the private funds dried up. For once, the Congress of the 1850s did something positive and made a $200,000 donation in 1854.

It looked like the monument was just around the corner. Then Congress slipped back into its' more traditional bone-headed thinking and for some reason invited foreign governments to donate a marble block as part of what was now going to be the Washington Monument with a capital 'M'. They were invited to donate the marble block with their own message of congratulations on what was now being billed as a 125th anniversary celebration of Washington's birth. The reason I say it was bone-headed is that this was smack in the middle of the Nativist movement in the U.S., when anti-Catholicism was the national pastime [soon to be replaced by baseball]. So, when Pope Pius IX made a marble donation on behalf of The Papal States, the Nativist political party known as the Know Nothings [which, incidentally, could be the name of every political party] decided they'd seen enough.

It had been decided that an election would be held to select members of a new Washington Monument Commission [for some reason, Congress didn't trust its $200,000 with the group who blew through the donated money]. So, the Know Nothings relied on that age-old American political tradition and rigged the elections. The result was a commission filled with Know Nothings who proceeded to - literally - remove the papal marble block and throw it into the Potomac River.

Congress thought this was rude and immediately rescinded its appropriation and work on the Monument was halted. The country was too busy tearing itself apart, what with a civil war and all, so work didn't resume until after that conflagration. By the time the Washington Monument was finally dedicated, it was for the 150th anniversary of Washington's birth, in 1882. Oh, and the papal marble block was replaced with a new one in 1982, at the direction of President Ronald Reagan.

A wonderful segue [if I do say so myself] into a post on the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Reagan today. First, in the interest of humanity and dignity, we should consider it a blessing that the poor man is not still with us. Indeed, at one time doctors were telling Nancy Reagan that her husband's physical make-up was such that he could well live past 100, even though he no longer opened his eyes - a period that lasted four years until his death in 2004. For a man as vibrant and sunny as Reagan, his long and drawn out decline into death was hard on the country but much harder - devastating - to his family.

So, today we celebrate not the ill dying Reagan but the 40th President of the United States. There are many, many examples of men who became unlikely Presidents. Indeed, out of the 43 men who have occupied the office, probably a third were perhaps the least likely men to grow up and become President in their city, town or village. Our current President certainly fits that mold.

Does Reagan fit into this category? Yes and no. Actually, it is probably more no than yes. Reagan's detractors would scoff at that and say that Ronald Reagan was the least likely - and least qualified - man to assume the Presidency - ever. Of course, these are folks who are too young to remember Warren Harding's stag parties in the White House, but that's another story.

While it is true that Reagan did not turn to politics until he was well into his middle-age, too often his detractors belittle what he did during that first phase of his life. Those who did not appreciate that period of his life now lie by the political roadside alongside the carcasses of hundreds of others who underestimated Ronald Reagan.

Those putting Reagan in the unlikely/unqualified category point to that early career - first as a radio announcer, and then a Hollywood actor - as proof-positive that he belongs there. His detractors love to call him a 'Grade B actor' - which is horseshit. His movies were 'B' movies, but Reagan's acting was not. Despite the fact that the scripts were dreadful and he was surrounded by true 'B' actors, Reagan's performances are actually quite good. Indeed, even setting aside the fact that you know the man is going to become President 40 years hence, watching these horrible films you find yourself focusing on Reagan's characters simply because they are the only ones who are interesting.

Of course, his detractors also try to have it both ways. They say he was a horrible actor in the 1940s and 1950s but then the greatest 'actor' of all time while President of the United States. This defies logic - which, of course, has never deterred the Left on anything. In fact, I would say that Reagan's acting was not 'B' - ever.

But his supporters also misread him when they try to underplay his acting abilities as President. That is just plain silly. The man played a role of a lifetime from 1981-1989. He used his knowledge of communication, voice inflection, projection and knowing his audience to simple perfection. That's not a slap at Reagan, by the way. In fact, another President I admire - a guy from Arkansas - might have beat out Reagan for an Oscar if they gave one to Presidents' for their acting ability.

So, the whole 'acting' angle is more complicated than people think. Because it is so complicated, in fact, that tends to lead me to believe that it is at the crux of any study of Ronald Reagan. We should study it because one of the traits of the greatest actors - being a brilliant observer of people and taking those observations to project those qualities into a character - helped make Reagan a successful President. He was intelligent, but not brilliant. This led some to say that he had literally no intellectual curiosity. He had a limited attention span for most of his entire life, which often led those who were trying to get their point across to him in a meeting walk away thinking Reagan was a dolt. More likely, the dolt was the guy talking to Reagan. Reagan had gotten whatever he wanted or needed from the person and, with that done, the President had simply 'turned off the TV', so to speak. He listened, he learned, he studied, and then his mind was gone from the discussion.

The one intrinsic part of Reagan's character, though, was understanding and knowing people. That is ironic because Reagan himself was perhaps the least 'known' person ever to occupy the White House. I don't mean he wasn't famous; I mean almost no one 'knew' Reagan. He had no best friend other than his wife, Nancy. Beyond her, of all the hundreds of men and women who would work closely with Reagan over his political career, not one could say they 'knew' Reagan. Perhaps because he could read people so well he refused to allow himself to be read by others. Perhaps it was his childhood experiences with an alcoholic father with a temper [never a good combination...unless you're Charlie Sheen] made him so introverted, so removed. We'll never know.

But that's where Reagan's acting comes in. Because, although Reagan was an introvert with no confidants, he made every single person he encountered in his life feel as if they knew Reagan; that they were his confidant, buddy, pal. His acting skills allowed him to watch people, learn from people, entertain them, make them feel like they were a part of his life while - in reality - shutting them out his true self entirely. And that ability made him the President he became.

So, in my view, rather than dismissing him as a 'B' actor, in fact we should recognize - and not in a derogatory way - the role that Reagan's acting talents played in his successful leadership of the country. His acting career was not something to be passed over in a few pages in a biography: it was a key component of his being.

In the most positive sense - and not as a swipe at him - I say Ronald Reagan was no Grade 'B' actor. In fact, he was Grade 'A'. The only 'B' I'd give him is an academic mark. I believe he was a good [B] - not a great - President.

So, Happy 100th birthday, Mr. President. In this equation, A + B = a man worth honoring on this day.

copyright 2011 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.