RedState’s Water Cooler – May 13, 2018 – Open Thread – “Nothing to Offer”


The RedState Department of History had plenty to choose from today in terms of anniversaries to observe. Most notably, the 1989 Tienanmen Square protest began on this day. But instead, the Department chose an oldie but a goodie from this date in 1940.

You may be able to guess what it is by this time. The Second World War had begun the previous September and just three days prior to this date, the German Army had invaded France and the Low Countries.

The military situation wasn’t good for the Allies, but on this date it wasn’t irretrievable, either. The Germans had yet to reach the Meuse in France and as yet, the great northward movement which would pin the British Expeditionary Force with its backs to the sea had not yet occurred.

Yet events from earlier in 1940 had necessitated a change in government in Great Britain. Most notably, the Allied fiasco in Norway, which saw ski troops landed without straps for their skis and no real plan to stop the German invasion, had resulted in a sort of reverse Stamford Bridge – in 1066, the Vikings had invaded England and returned home in disgrace, and now the British were doing the same thing in 1940.

The government of Neville Chamberlain was in tatters and after the House of Commons debate on the campaign, it was clear that change was needed.

To lead the government, the choice soon devolved to Winston Churchill and Edward Lindley Wood, known as Lord Halifax, who was Foreign Secretary under Chamberlain. King George asked Chamberlain for a recommendation and he met privately with the two men. Key to the discussion was Halifax’s membership in the House of Lords, which had not produced a prime minister in 40 years. Years later, their discussion was recalled by Churchill’s private secretary, J.R. Colville:

“Chamberlain looked at Churchill and said, ‘Tell me, Winston, in this day and age, is there any reason a Prime Minister should not be in House of Lords?’ Churchill thought this was a trap, because if he said no I don’t, Chamberlain could come back to Halifax and say “if the King were to ask my opinion, I could perhaps suggest you.’ But on the other hand, if he said yes I do, there could be no alternative but himself. So Churchill turned around, looked over the Horse Guards Parade, and did not reply to the question.”

That said, the opposition Liberals had made it clear that if there was to be a unity government, they would not serve under Halifax, who in later years was accused of trying to conduct peace negotiations with the Germans while Foreign Secretary.

So Churchill formed a government, and on this date in 1940 made his expectations abundantly clear to the House of Commons. His famous “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat” speech was the first of a remarkable series of orations in 1940 which will surely be known to history as one of the best and most stirring series of speeches ever written.

You can listen to the speech here. Maybe this is the place to leave today’s entry – with the knowledge that there are still things worth fighting for.

Happy Mother’s Day, have a great Sunday and enjoy today’s open thread.

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RedState’s Water Cooler – May 6, 2018 – Open Thread – “I Can Hardly Breathe”


While sitting on vacation in Bermuda last week, the RedState Department of History had a chance to shake away the winter blues and get a little color into its pasty skin. But today it’s back to work, with the acknowledgement of one of history’s most famous disasters.

On this date in 1936, the airship Hindenburg exploded at its mooring mast at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey, killing 36 people and effectively ending the days of lighter-than-air travel.

If you’re a student of history, you know the story – forced to turn back on its first attempt to dock due to a thunderstorm over the station, Captain Max Pruss turned the 804-foot airship over Manhattan Island, which caused quite a stir as residents hurried into the streets for a glimpse of the giant craft.

It was on the second approach where disaster struck. Pruss made a series of tight turns to align with the mooring mast but just before the docking, the ship sank at the stern, resulting in a craft that was out of trim.

At that point, an explosion rocked the ship and resulted in the scene most of us are familiar with – the ship collapsing into a tangled mess of steel and fire, its 7 million cubic feet of hydrogen fully involved, with ground crew running away in terror. Add to this the immortal observations of reporter Herbert Morrison (which were on radio only at the time, and later combined with film footage to create the version at this link), and you have a story that lives to this day.

Morrison’s account is noteworthy not only for its historical value but for its raw emoti0n. His utterance of “Oh, the humanity!” continues in popular language to this day, but later on in his broadcast he exhibits the raw anguish of a man who has just witnessed the deaths of 36 people:

“I can hardly breathe. I… I’m going to step inside, where I cannot see it. Charlie, that’s terrible. Ah, ah… I can’t. Listen, folks; I… I’m gonna have to stop for a minute because I’ve lost my voice. This is the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed.”

Amazingly, the majority of the 91 passengers and crew on board survived the crash, though the majority of survivors were severely burned. One of the survivors was Pruss himself, who rode his burning ship all the way to the ground and then picked through the wreckage searching for survivors until he was forcibly removed from the site due to his own injuries.

No exact cause for the explosion has ever been determined, with a variety of theories abounding. Some crash experts believe they know what happened but with the passage of time, no one can say with absolute certainly exactly what happened. There are, however, two main theories:

Sabotage – This is the theory expounded by Pruss himself, who noted that the ship had been struck by lightning on multiple occasions on the ship’s yearly trip to Rio De Janeiro in days past without significant damage. Various conspiracy theories through time have attempted to blame the disaster on a deliberate act, but no bomb residue was ever found or mentioned in either the German or American investigations.

One theory centered around passenger Joseph Spah, a professional acrobat and contortionist who, it was said, traveled to rarely-used areas of the ship to feed his dog and could have bent himself into position to plant an explosive in the ship’s body. Spah had been reported telling anti-Nazi jokes during the voyage which Captain Pruss, who was a member of the Nazi Party, likely did not appreciate. Spah survived the fire.

Another name mentioned in theories was rigger Erich Spehl, who died in hospital after the fire. In the 1962 book “Who Destroyed the Hindenburg”, author A.A. Hoehling named Spehl, who reportedly was an anti-Nazi along with his girlfriend, as a “potential” suspect for a variety of circumstantial and highly suspect reasons – a theory expanded upon ten years later by author Michael Mooney. Most reputable observers today regard these claims as bordering on the libelous – but Mooney’s book was later turned into the 1975 movie “The Hindenburg“. Crew members adamantly refused to believe that one of their own could have sabotaged the ship.

Static electricity – This is the theory that gets the most attention. It was noted that the Hindenburg was leaking hydrogen at the time it was approaching the mast and somehow that leaking hydrogen found its way into the ventilation shafts. As such:

“As the crew was tethering the ship, they essentially “grounded” the airship, causing the stored static electricity to discharge and ignite the hydrogen that led to the explosion.”

Most experts seem to believe this was the cause, though the exact cause of ignition is not known, and probably never will be.

The disaster at Lakehurst had a profound impact on air travel. The Nazi government of Germany forbade any further research or money spent on airship construction, over the vehement objection of Captain Pruss. He continued to advocate for airship construction until the 1950s.

Other theories included the ignition of inflammable paint on the ship, a puncture inside the ship which resulted in a spark, and a fuel leak, among others.

At the time, however, the advent of commercial air travel and Pan American Airlines was challenging the airship in any event. Pruss himself always noted that “if you want to get there quickly, take an airplane. If you want to get there in comfort, take an airship,” which was likened to an ocean liner in terms of passenger comfort.

Today, there is a memorial on the crash site in New Jersey and Hangar 1, where the Hindenburg was scheduled to dock, remains standing. It is a registered National Historic Landmark.

Happy Sunday and enjoy today’s open thread!

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RedState’s Water Cooler – April 22, 2018 – Open Thread – “Two-Wheeled Wonder”


With more springlike weather finally reaching much of the United States, the RedState Department of History’s thoughts turn to exercise. Thoughts more than action, but then perhaps that’s due to the effects of a long winter that have given it a bit of a paunch.

One man embarked on one of the most remarkable pieces of exercise in history on this date in 1884, and his feat was truly extraordinary.

His name was Thomas Stevens, and he was the first person to ride a bicycle around the world.

Born in 1854 in England, Stevens started his journey across North America on April 22, 1884. 103 days later, taking 20 days off for bad weather, he arrived in Boston after having to walk about one-third of the distance.

His feat was the more remarkable because he rode what was known as a “penny-farthing” bicycle. You’ve seen pictures of them — they’re the bicycles with the huge front wheel and the tiny back wheel. It was a lot different (naturally) from the bicycles of today, or even of the early 20th Century.

It should be noted that Stevens didn’t really go all the way around the world — what with oceans being what they are and all — but what he actually accomplished was amazing enough.

He cycled across England, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slavonia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey on the first leg of his journey, which took him most of 1885. When he arrived in Constantinople, Stevens got himself a better pistol (there were reports of bandits about) and rested up before moving across Anatolia, Armenia, Kurdistan, Iraq and Iran.

He wintered with the Shah in 1885 before starting out in Spring 1886 only to find he would not be allowed to cycle across Siberia (no great loss, that), causing a change in plans.

When attempting to enter Afghanistan, he was turned back by the police, so Stevens took a steamer southward, eventually cycling across Pakistan and India. He took a steamer around most of Southeast Asia to Hong Kong, where he then rode across southeast China, a daunting task since he rode alone and neither spoke nor understood Chinese.

Stevens eventually wound up cycling across Japan, ending his trip in Yokohama on December 17, 1886 with about 13,500 miles passing beneath his wheels since he had left San Francisco.

Much of Stevens’ journey took place on either primitive roads or places where no roads existed at all – a remarkable feat even in the modern age.

Upon completion of his trip, Stevens compiled his notes into a two-volume book called “Around the World on a Bicycle“. It can be found at the Project Gutenberg e-book website as a free download and as an audio book.

As for Stevens’ bicycle – it was kept until World War II, at which time it donated as part of a scrap metal drive.

After his excursion, Stevens was asked by the New York World to lead a search for East African explorer Henry Morton Stanley, who had not been heard from in thirteen months. Accomplishing that feat, Stevens wrote “Scouting for Stanley in East Africa” to recount his trip, during which he also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

Frankly, it’s people like Thomas Stevens who make me realize how little I’ve accomplished! Happy Sunday and enjoy today’s open thread.


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RedState’s Water Cooler – March 25, 2018 – Open Thread – “Free Falling”


This week, the RedState Department of History looks down on everyone else through the story of a remarkable airman who, on this date in 1944, accomplished a truly remarkable feat.

Nicholas Alkemade was born December 10, 1922 and during the Second World War, served as a tail gunner on a Royal Air Force Lancaster heavy bomber.

On the night of March 24-25, 1944, Alkemade’s group was attacking Berlin when, on the trip home, his plane was attacked by a Junkers JU-88 night fighter.

The attacker scored hits and the pilot ordered his crew to bail out. To his horror, Alkemade discovered that his parachute had been destroyed by fire. He had the ultimate choice to make at 18,000 feet:

“I had no doubts at all that this was the end of the line. The question was whether to stay in the plane and fry or jump to my death. I decided to jump and make a quick, clean end of things. I backed out of the turret and somersaulted away.”

Alkemade plummeted toward the ground and gave up hope at that time.

“It was very quiet, the only sound being the drumming of aircraft engines in the distance, and no sensation of falling at all. I felt suspended in space. Regrets at not getting home were my chief thoughts, and I did think once that it didn’t seem very strange to be going to die in a few seconds – none of the parade of my past or anything else like that.”

The real miracle of the event was that not only did Alkemade survive the jump, he was relatively unhurt. Striking a tall pine tree and a series of remarkably soft and fortuitous snow drifts, Alkemade lived through the event.

“Three hours later, Alkemade opened his eyes. He was lying on snowy ground in a small pine wood. Above him the stars were still visible, only this time they were framed by the edges of the hole he had smashed through the tree canopy. Assessing himself, Alkemade found that he was remarkably intact. In addition to the burns and cuts to the head and thigh, all received in the aircraft, he was suffering only bruising and a twisted knee. Not a single bone had been broken or even fractured. Both of his flying boots had disappeared, probably torn from his feet as he unconsciously struck the tree branches. Being of no further use, Alkemade discarded his parachute harness in the snow.”

But as fate would have it, Alkemade chose one of the worst possible nights to bail out over occupied Germany. That same night at nearby Stalag Luft III near Sagan, 76 Allied prisoners of war escaped from the camp in what came to be known as “The Great Escape“.

Alkemade was placed in the same room where the escaped prisoners had started their tunnel — though filled in, of course — about a week after being shot down. The Germans accused him of being a spy because, as his interrogators understandably asked, how could he have survived bailing out of a bomber with no parachute?

Yet, he had. And now he spent the next fifteen months as a kriegie, prisoner language for kriegsgefangener, or ‘prisoner of war’.

As amazing as Alkemade’s story is, he was, incredibly, not the only airman to survive a free fall from such a height. A webpage known as the “Free Fall Research Page” lists at least two other men who beat unbelievable odds:

Lt. I.M. Chisov — a Russian airman who, after being shot down in his Ilyushin IL-4 bomber in 1942, fell nearly 22,000 feet, landing on the edge of a snow-covered ravine. He was badly injured but survived.

Sgt. Alan Magee — thrown from his B-17 before he could put on his parachute during a raid on St. Nazaire, France in 1943, Magee hit the angled skylight of the St. Nazaire train station, rolling to safety on the station’s roof with only an injured arm.

Yet even after the war, Alkemade lived a charmed life. After marrying his wartime sweetheart, he survived three industrial accidents, any one of which might well have taken his life:

“After discharge from the RAF in 1946, Alkemade returned to Loughborough, finding work in a chemical plant. Not long after starting his new job, he again cheated death. While removing chlorine gas-generating liquid from a sump, he received a severe electric shock from the equipment he was using. Reeling away, his gas mask became dislodged and he began breathing in the poisonous gas. An agonising 15 minutes were to pass before his appeals for aid were answered and he was dragged to safety, nearly asphyxiated by the fumes. Not long after, a siphoning pipe burst, spraying Alkemade’s face and arms with industrial sulphuric acid. With astounding presence of mind, he dived head-first into a nearby 40 gallon drum of limewash, thereby neutralising the acid. Alkemade ‘escaped’ with first degree burns. Returning to work, Alkemade was pinned beneath a nine foot long steel door runner that fell from its mountings as he passed by. Somehow only minor bruising resulted.”

Alkemade died — and we’re sure of that — in 1987, after having lived a truly remarkable life. Happy Sunday and enjoy today’s open thread!

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RedState’s Water Cooler – March 4, 2018 – Open Thread – “Stay Cool”


Today, the RedState Department of History notes one of the great occasions in the history of conservatism. On this date in 1925, Calvin Coolidge took the oath of office for a full term as the 30th President of the United States.

Coolidge became President suddenly in 1923 upon the death of Warren G. Harding. A former governor of Massachusetts, Coolidge’s philosophy of low taxes and limited government ushered in what came to be known as the “Roaring Twenties“.

While governor of the Bay State, Coolidge was thrust into the national spotlight by the Boston Police Strike of 1919. In that instance, the city’s policemen were unionized by the American Federation of Labor, and then walked off the job. Coolidge called in the National Guard after a predictable crime wave swept through the streets of the city.

When AFL boss Samuel Gompers protested, Coolidge replied with a telegram which put him on the national stage. He wrote:

“Your assertion that the Commissioner was wrong cannot justify the wrong of leaving the city unguarded. That furnished the opportunity; the criminal element furnished the action. There is no right to strike against the public safety by anyone, anywhere, any time. … I am equally determined to defend the sovereignty of Massachusetts and to maintain the authority and jurisdiction over her public officers where it has been placed by the Constitution and laws of her people.”

Coolidge also issued two famous vetoes as governor. The first was to veto a 50 percent pay raise for legislators; the second was to allow liquor sales in violation of the Eighteenth Amendment. “Opinions and instructions do not outmatch the Constitution,” Coolidge wrote. “Against it, they are void.”

As such, Coolidge was a popular choice to run with Harding in the election of 1920. “Silent Cal“, as he was then known, stayed in the background as vice-president but upon assuming the Presidency, stamped his own mark on government.

Coolidge signed the Revenue Act of 1924, which cut the top tax rate from 58 to 46 percent, and proposed reductions in federal spending which reduced the deficit and allowed the nation to retire one-quarter of the national debt during his term in office. He disdained regulation; one writer called his philosophy on regulation “thin to the point of invisibility.”

Coolidge then cut taxes twice more in 1926 and 1928, to the point where only the wealthiest two percent of Americans paid any income tax at all by the end of his term. In foreign affairs, Coolidge kept the United States out of the League of Nations, correctly noting years ahead of his time that large international bodies did not serve American national interests. He saw the election of 1920 as a national repudiation of Woodrow Wilson’s beliefs on the subject.

But perhaps most importantly, Coolidge understood federalism. Historian Robert Sobel, in his book Coolidge: An American Enigma, said of him:

“As Governor of Massachusetts, Coolidge supported wages and hours legislation, opposed child labor, imposed economic controls during World War I, favored safety measures in factories, and even worker representation on corporate boards. Did he support these measures while president? No, because in the 1920s, such matters were considered the responsibilities of state and local governments.”

Coolidge was also the only American President to be featured on a United States coin during his lifetime, in 1926. He also gave 520 news conferences – meeting with the media more than any American President before or since. Ronald Reagan placed a portrait of Coolidge in the Cabinet Room during his time as President. In his autobiography, Reagan wrote that:

He (Coolidge) wasn’t a man with flamboyant looks or style, but he got things done in a quiet way. He came into office after World War I facing a momentous war debt, but instead of raising taxes, he cut the tax rate and government revenues increased, permitting him to eliminate the wartime debt.”

Coolidge also understood that the power of the nation was based on the self-reliance of the individual. He himself said:

“They criticize me for harping on the obvious; if all the folks in the United States would do the few simple things they know they ought to do, most of our big problems would take care of themselves.”

Sadly, Coolidge did not live long after declining to run for President again in 1928. Just after the term of his successor, Herbert Hoover, had ended, Coolidge died suddenly in 1933.

However, he left behind a solid conservative legacy both of achievement and of philosophy — and established himself as one of the cornerstones of modern conservatism.

Happy Sunday and enjoy today’s open thread!

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RedState’s Water Cooler – February 25, 2018 – Open Thread – “Greenbacks”


Reach into your wallet or purse and pull out the first thing you find. In days not too long ago, the first thing you might find would have been a dollar bill.

Nowadays it might be different. Debit cards, credit cards and the like are taking over the system of how we spend money, but today the RedState Department of History observes a special anniversary — the issuance of the first “greenback”.

The American Civil War brought about seismic changes in our government, our beliefs and indeed to our way of life. But one of the most important changes over time involved the first issuance, in 1862, of legal tender paper notes.

In an effort to help finance the war, President Abraham Lincoln had allowed the issuance of “demand notes”, known more popularly as “greenbacks”, the previous year. As the Civil War progressed, the Confederacy issued its own paper money, though without the printing values associated with the Yankee dollars.

In fact, counterfeiters were occasionally caught in the South because their work was actually better than the mints which printed the real stuff.

The next year, the first $2, $50 and $100 bills were printed, and then the race was on to protect the new paper currency from fraud.

In 1865 the U.S. Secret Service was founded, primarily as a way to combat counterfeiting and protect the value of American paper money. Twelve years later, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing came into being, for the purpose of standardizing production of the new money.

In 1913, the Federal Reserve Act created the system by which the money supply is (or in the eyes of some, is not) regulated today.

Our money wasn’t always the same size, either. In 1914, the size of the $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills was increased, only to be decreased again, along with a lot of the economy, in 1929.

In 1934, the Federal Reserve printed a very few $100,000 gold certificates, bearing the image of Woodrow Wilson. These bills were used only for internal Federal Reserve transactions and were never issued to the public.

Since the 1970s, most of the changes to American money have been to promote security and discourage counterfeiting. In 2010, a new $100 bill was issued with an all-digital design.

That’s the good anniversary today. There’s also one that isn’t quite as good from the point of view of many conservatives. On this date in 1913, the 16th Amendment went into effect. Passed in 1909 and ratified in 1913, the Sixteenth Amemdment gave Congress the power to collect taxes on income without apportioning it to the states.

It provided the legal basis for the income tax — which most of us will agree, takes too many greenbacks out of our pockets!

Happy Sunday and enjoy today’s open thread!

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RedState’s Water Cooler – February 18, 2018 – Open Thread – The REAL “Resistance”


Much has been made of the “#Resistance”, a self-styled moniker for opposition to the party in power in today’s Washington.

Today, the RedState Department of History takes look back at a special anniversary, to when the word Resistance meant not only actual opposition but the very real possibility of getting yourself killed if anyone found out what you were doing.

In 1940, the German Army overran most of Western Europe, including the Netherlands. The history of the Dutch people under German occupation was complicated; segments of the population performed heroic deeds in shielding Jews from persecution and men from forced labor, with those sympathetic to the resistance numbering about one million; but on the other hand, the Netherlands provided at least 60,000 men for the German armed forces during the war, who were stripped of their citizenship and property after it was over.

But vast numbers of ordinary Dutchmen were involved with the resistance – as many as 300,000 by some estimates — and was known to be apolitical, which was remarkable for the time.

There were four main resistance groups, and eventually these groups would want to publish a newspaper. Eventually, there came a man for action.

Dr. Jan Albertus Hendrik Johan Sieuwert Bruins Slot was actively involved with the Dutch Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP) before the war. Unlike in France, where resistance elements were generally progressive if not Communist in nature, the Dutch resistance was primarily led by the same conservative elements which had led the national government prior to 1940.

But they needed to communicate, and on this date in 1943, Bruins Slot published the first edition of Trouw. Meaning “true”, or “loyal” as one might derive from the name, the paper accomplished many noble goals.

First, it served as a voice for the ARP, which like almost all other Dutch political parties had been banned by the Germans. The NSB, or National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands, was the only political party they allowed.

But Bruins Slot was also a Calvinist, and Trouw was founded as a religious paper as much as anything else. It published articles that denounced the Nazi worldview as anti-Christian, gave resistance instructions, carried statements by QBut ueen Wilhelmina who was then in exile, and also reported the D-Day invasion in addition to taking a stand against the Nazis’ anti-Semitic policies.

As such, Bruins Slot and co-editor Jan Schouten were soon wanted men. In 1944, the Germans decided to take a stand against the paper in a unique way – they arrested all its couriers, and held them as hostages. Bruins Slot recounted for Thames Television after the war:

“There were several illegal newspapers in Holland. Once the Germans had taken about 40 of our people prisoner, they had been put in Vught concentration camp. They interrogated one of them and then released him, and sent him to us with this message: if you close down your paper – this was near the end of the war, probably 1944 – if you stop producing your paper, then we won’t shoot these people. We called a meeting, and talked it over very carefully. We reached the conclusion that we had to go on.”

After the war, Trouw continued to be published, and exists as a daily to this day. True to its religious roots, Trouw’s current goal is to “remain a newspaper rooted in a Christian tradition and to be a source of contemplation and inspiration for everyone, churchgoer or not, who feels a need for moral and spiritual orientation.”

Happy Sunday and enjoy today’s open thread!

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RedState’s Water Cooler – February 11, 2018 – Open Thread – “Buster, In More Ways Than One”


Today the RedState Department of History goes to its sports wing to mark the anniversary of one of the greatest upsets in history.

No, it’s not the American hockey team’s shock win over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics, but an upset of nearly equal proportions.

On this date on 1990, James “Buster” Douglas did what many observers thought was impossible to do — he knocked out world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson to claim the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world for himself.

Contrary to popular opinion, Douglas was no palooka. He entered the fight against Tyson with a record of 29-4-1 and had won his previous six bouts. However, in Tyson he was facing a fighter universally regarded as the best of his generation, a man whom no challenger had taken past the fifth round in over three years.

So long were the odds against Douglas that only one Vegas bookmaker — The Mirage — even put up odds for the fight, listing Douglas as a 42-1 underdog. To make matters worse, Douglas’ mother died 23 days before the fight.

But Douglas dominated, using his longer reach to frustrate Tyson. There was a moment of controversy in the eighth round when Tyson knocked down Douglas and the challenger used eight of the allotted ten-count before rising to his feet — but the referee’s count was not aligned with the timekeeper’s, meaning technically Douglas received a “long count”, which is to say, a count past ten. But the official count is kept by the referee, so Douglas remained in the fight.

In the tenth round, though, Douglas saw his superiority begin to tell, sending Tyson crashing to the canvas for a tenth-round KO that sent a shock wave through the sports world.

Douglas lasted only eight months as champion, losing his only title defense to Evander Holyfield in the third round, sending him into retirement for six years.

Douglas came back in 1996 and won eight of his final nine professional fights to finish his career 38-6-1 – and to be remembered as the man who knocked out “Iron” Mike Tyson.


There’s one other noteworthy, and fun, sports anniversary to mention today.

Ask yourself: what’s the rarest score to reach in bowling? Some will tell you that it’s 292, and it’s easy to see why: it requires 11 strikes in a row and then a two-count, which if you’ve ever bowled, you know is very hard to do (the strike part is hard for me!)

Most people who bowl 11 of the 12 consecutive strikes necessary for a perfect score of 300 miss one or two pins on their last ball, leaving a score of 298 or 299.

But on this date in 1905, a man named James Blackstone compiled a score that no one is likely to ever match. Bowling in Seattle, Blackstone bowled 11 straight strikes, needing only the last strike for a 300 game.

But his last ball cracked one of the pins, which broke in half — and the broken half remained standing. After some deliberation, officials decided to award Blackstone a score of 299 1/2 – the only known instance in the history of the sport. It was truly a different kind of “Buster”.

Happy Sunday and enjoy today’s open thread!

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RedState’s Water Cooler – February 4, 2018 – Open Thread – “Republicans”


Happy Birthday to us (or most of us, anyway).

This week the RedState Department of History returns us to days of yore, most accurately this date in 1854, when the Republican Party was, more or less, named by a gentleman named Alvan Bovay.

He was a resident of Ripon, Wisconsin and was a Whig. As the 1840s gave way to the even more turbulent 1850s, Whigs like Bovay were starting to grow increasingly disaffected with their party over the issue of slavery, and the effectiveness of the Whigs in dealing with Democrats who favored the ongoing exercise of what they termed the “peculiar institution.”

As the Whigs collapsed, a new party emerged to tackle the Democrats on the national stage. And it was Bovay who gave himself credit for naming the new group.

Bovay noted that Thomas Jefferson had called his leanings “Republican” in the past, and at a meeting on this date in 1854 the term “Republican” was used for the first time.

Bovay had a powerful ally in the form of Horace Greeley, the powerful editor of the New York Tribune, who helped carry the standard for the party in its early days. Greeley, liking Bovay’s choice of name, used it in print in June 1854:

“We should not care much whether those thus united (against slavery) were designated Whig, Free Democrat or something else; though we think some simple name like “Republican” would more fitly designate those who had united to restore the Union to its true mission of champion and promulgator of Liberty rather than propagandist of slavery.”

In that regard, some things never change between the major parties.

The new party grew like wildfire. In 1854, mass meetings established the Republicans as a regional force, taking Michigan in the elections of 1854 and commanding a majority in the House of Representatives by 1855. The party’s first nominating convention of the national party was held in 1860, with the nomination of “The Pathfinder”, John C. Fremont, as the party’s first candidate for President.

Fremont didn’t win, but the party’s second Presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln, did, and as they say, the rest is history.

And as long as we’re discussion the naming of things, the natural question becomes, “how did the party gain the nickname of GOP?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. Originally, the term “Grand Old Party” was used by southern Democrats, but was co-opted in the late 1880s to describe the Republicans.

At that time, the Chicago Tribune was a loyal Republican newspaper (as was the New York Times), and its editors used the term after the election of Benjamin Harrison to unseat Democrat Grover Cleveland. The paper wrote:

“Let us be thankful that under the rule of the Grand Old Party, these United States will resume the onward and upward march which the election of Grover Cleveland in 1884 partially arrested.”

However, even though Alvin Bovay led the switch of national politics from Whig to Republican, he didn’t finish his life in the Republican Party. After serving in the Civil War and reaching the rank of major, Bovay felt that the ending of slavery in the United States eliminated the need for the Republican Party. He then favored a new national party dedicated to prohibition, and died in 1903 as a member of the Prohibition Party.

Happy Sunday, enjoy the big game if you’re watching it and enjoy today’s open thread!

The post RedState’s Water Cooler – February 4, 2018 – Open Thread – “Republicans” appeared first on RedState.

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RedState’s Water Cooler – January 21, 2018 – Open Thread – “Free at Last”


Today is a special day in the RedState Department of History. Today is the 37th anniversary of the first day of the Reagan Administration, as orchestrated by the best President of my lifetime, Ronald Wilson Reagan.

I was too young to vote for him in 1980 when he demolished Jimmy Carter, but was able to cast my first vote for President for Reagan’s overwhelming landslide re-election over Walter Mondale in 1984.

But if you know your history, you also know that the first day of the Reagan Administration was a special day for 51 Americans held hostage in Iran for the preceding 444 days by Iranian militants.

Within 20 minutes of his swearing-in, Reagan was able to announce that the hostages were headed  home, as Iran’s government gave a final poke in the eye to Carter. Today is the anniversary of their first day of freedom.

Some say the seeds of the crisis were sown in 1953, when the CIA’s Operation Ajax, with British help, deposed Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and installed Reza Pahlavi as Shah of Iran.

But in 1979, Pahlevi was deposed and went to the United States in search of treatment for cancer. Thus enraged, members of the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line took over the embassy on November 4, 1979. To this day, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard maintains the former U.S. Embassy and has used it as a training center.

Originally, 66 Americans had been taken captive, but shortly afterward, the kidnapers released women and African-Americans, bringing the total down to 52. One hostage took ill in the middle of the crisis and was released.

Rhetoric quickly turned violent. The students saw Pahlevi’s trip to the United States as equivalent to American complicity in crimes committed by the Shah’s regime, while the Americans saw the kidnapping, correctly, as a violation of international law.

Carter’s administration took a hard line against the Iranians, issuing Executive Order 12170, which froze Iranian government assets in the United States, and noted that America would not submit to blackmail. However, Carter’s credibility, and his prospects for re-election in 1980, were both gravely damaged by Operation Eagle Claw, an attempt to rescue the hostages on April 24, 1980.

Instead of success, the operation resulted in the deaths of nine people including eight Americans, and the loss of two helicopters.

Meanwhile, by this time Pahlevi had been granted asylum in Egypt, and died of cancer in July 1980. In September of that year, Iran was invaded by Iraq, and it became advantageous for Iran to seek a diplomatic end to the crisis. This was mediated by Algeria, and the announcement was made of a deal to release the hostages on January 20, 1980.

To his credit, Reagan appointed Carter as his special emissary to greet the returning hostages, whose feelings were summed up by Colonel Chuck Scott (USA, ret.):

“And then when we got back to the states — when we entered the United States territory, the pilot announced, and I’ll probably get choked up when I say this. He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve just entered the United States airspace.” There was a roar in there that was a stadium roar. We were all just so tickled. We landed at Stewart Air Force Base. And as we made that 15 mile run to West Point from there, they were lined 10-deep that whole 15 mile run. And we started to get a sense of, hey, maybe this did mean something to the American people. And when you stop and think about it, we were the icons of a crisis. But this whole nation was held hostage. It was like no homecoming you’ve ever been to in your whole life.”

Happy Sunday! If you’re taking in the conference championship games (Skol Vikings!) enjoy the day — or whatever you’re doing on a Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, enjoy today’s open thread!

The post RedState’s Water Cooler – January 21, 2018 – Open Thread – “Free at Last” appeared first on RedState.

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