Book Review: Heirs of the Founders

Heirs of the Founders: The Epic Rivalry of Henry Clay, John Calhoun and Daniel Webster, the Second Generation of American Giants
by H. W. Brands
Doubleday
(c) 2018 by the author

History is not what you thought,” wrote W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman in the “Compulsory Preface” to their classic 1066 and All That. “It is what you can remember.” Those words are as true on this side of the Atlantic as they are in Great Britain, where they were written.

We tend to remember only those things that are memorable. When it comes to history, for most Americans that means wars and crises, the more recent, the more memorable. The decades between the War of 1812 and the Civil War are one big nothing. Depending on where you were raised, you might remember the Missouri Compromise, the Nullification Crisis, or Texas’ War of Independence. But for most of us? Boredom on parade – especially when the presidents of the era generally served only one term (at most) and were mediocre (at best).

Alternate History buffs: What if William Henry Harrison wore a hat and coat at his inauguration, and didn’t catch pneumonia?

In Heirs of the Founders, Brands dives into those decades with a joint political history of three of the greatest Congressmen ever to walk the halls of the Capitol. Kentucky’s Henry Clay, South Carolina’s John Calhoun, and Massachusetts’ Daniel Webster were all widely known and respected for their powers of oratory, and their abilities to get things done.

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Is It Impeachment Time Yet?

As the president shows more of his general unfitness for office on a daily basis, the calls to impeach him are steadily growing more frequent and more strident from those on the farther left. Their frustration is evident, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to brush the matter aside, saying that in effect, they’ll do it when the time is right.

Pelosi is correct, of course. The time is not yet right to begin the proceedings. It’s not that we don’t yet have sufficient evidence; it’s that impeachment – though conducted as if it were a criminal proceeding – is a political process. And the situation isn’t politically ripe to even start holding hearings.

A quick review of the procedure is in order. Continue reading

Visiting Denver – 5

Thanks to my friend, I didn’t have to book any special tours to visit the sights in the area around Denver. There are more than a few places to visit that are within an easy day trip away.

One thing that was made clear to me as we headed west was that we’d be going nowhere near the actual Rocky Mountains – just the foothills, as it were. You could easily tell which mountains were part of the Rockies – they had snow on them. No snow; not the Rockies.

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Visiting Denver – 4

Of course, there’s plenty to see and do in Denver aside from baseball. And football. And hockey. And basketball. Denver’s home to a team in each of the “Big 4” professional sports leagues – And happily enough for sports fans, all four (well, three actually – the Avalanche and Nuggets both play in the Pepsi Center) home fields are all within easy reach of downtown.

Within that roughly two-mile radius are all of Denver’s major cultural and recreational centers.

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Visiting Denver – 3

Naturally, if I’m going to a city that has a major league baseball team, I’m going to plan my visit so that I can take in a game or two. I specifically chose the week of my visit because the Rockies would be at home.

Coors Field is located at the intersection of Blake St. and 20th St. in downtown Denver. This places it in the neighborhood known as “LoDo” (i.e. “Lower Downtown”). Or “The Ballpark”, which had that name before ground was ever broken for the stadium. Or “Union Station North”, since it is a few blocks north of Union Station. Or possibly even “RiNo”, which is short for “River North”.

Let’s just call it “downtown” and let it go at that.

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Visiting Denver – 2

Denver International Airport is an interesting place.

Not for any of the facilities or amenities or stuff like that. Rather, it seems that during construction, there were so many delays and problems and cost overruns that people started looking at the project with a gimlet eye. And as they squinted to see the details, they distorted the appearance of other things. Suddenly, all those underground tunnels took on a sinister appearance. The public art and murals decorating the place contained secret symbolism. And the layout of the runways? Don’t get me started (because if I told you, I’d have to kill you).

Yeah, the place became a hive of conspiracy theories.

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Visiting Denver – 1

I finally went and did it. A friend of mine moved out to Denver over a decade ago, and I’d been saying many times I was going to head out there for a visit.

Well, a nice window opened up in the calendar – early May, right around when there aren’t any holiday weekends where the office is closed anyway, but not when it’s still Winter. And, with me being a baseball fan, the Rockies were at home.

So I booked a flight and a room at a decent downtown hotel, and off I went.

And since I always get a couple of blog posts out of my vacations, you’re going to get to read all about it. Well, almost all about it.

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On Medicare For All

Now that the Green New Deal has been placed on the back burner, so to speak, the Big Issue on the Left is getting Medicare for All (MfA). This would be a complete overhaul of one of the larger sectors of the national economy (health care spending is about 18% of the GDP).

I am in favor of some sort of national health care plan (just as I am in favor of much of the Green New Deal). But as someone who will hopefully be living through the transition period, I’d like to know what I’ll be getting into.

While any sane person has to agree that making sure every American has equal access to health care, regardless of their income or financial situation, the people pushing MfA seem to be letting some serious questions about it slide. Maybe they don’t want to answer them; maybe they haven’t even thought about them enough.

So of course I’m going to ask them.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Tango War

The Tango War
The Struggle for the Hearts, Minds, and Riches of Latin American During World War II
Mary Jo McConahay
St. Martin’s Press
(c) 2018 by the author

I like to think of myself as something of a WWII buff. I’m not one of those people who can argue the finer points of the various tanks used in the European Theater, but I know enough about the war to be embarrassingly wrong about some aspects. However, I do know that it was a truly World War, with battles raging from Spitzbergen to Madagascar, troops being pulled in from all over the world by their colonial masters, and a vast network of military and transport bases linking everything together.

If one is so inclined, one can take out a world map and mark it with all the places that were somehow affected by combat. One might soon spot a large gap on the map, where nothing much seemed to be happening.

What was going on in South and Central America?

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