Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ranking of Secretary of States (US)

Source: http://www.rankopedia.com/ZoneID=3/22713/Step1/4978.htm
(In brackets is the President they served under)

I have some reservations about this list but its worth looking at:

1. William Seward(Lincoln)
2. George Marshall(Truman)
3. Thomas Jefferson(Washington)
4. John Q Adams(Monroe)
5. Henry Kissinger(Nixon,Ford)
6. Colin Powell(George W Bush) - seems too high
7. Condi Rice (George W Bush) - way too high
8. James Madison(Jefferson)
9. James Monroe (Madison)
10. Madelaine Albright(Clinton) - too high
11. Daniel Webster(Harrison,Tyler, Filmore)
12. George Shultz(Reagan) - too low
13. Henry Clay (John Q Adams)
14. James Baker (Bush I)
15. John Hay (T Roosevelt)
16. Dean Rusk(Kennedy)
17. John Foster Dulles(Eisenhower)
18. Dean Acheson(Truman)
19. Cordell Hull(FDR)
20. Hilary Clinton (Obama) - yeah right

Ranking of Britain's Prime Ministers since 1940

According to BBC Newsnight Poll 2008 (27,000 people responded)

1. Winston Churchill
2. Margaret Thatcher
3. Clement Attlee
4. Harold Macmillan
5. Harold Wilson
6. Tony Blair
7. Edward Heath
8. John Major
9. James Callaghan
10. Alec Douglas-Home
11. Anthony Eden
12. Gordon Brown

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Worst Speech of All-Time

by Daniel Dale

There are product failures and there is New Coke. There are bad movies and there is Plan 9 From Outer Space. And there are bad presidential speeches and there is Jimmy Carter's "malaise" speech, the July 15, 1979 address so legendarily horrendous it still elicits disdainful superlatives on the week of its 30-year anniversary.

"This is a speech I consider one of the worst speeches in the history of the presidency," says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. "There are many pedestrian speeches. You can say, `Well, they're just bad speeches.' No, they're pedestrian speeches; they're not bad, they're just ordinary. This speech actually has serious inherent rhetorical failures. Usually speechwriters protect a president from that."

It eloquently illuminated complicated problems, then offered no actual solutions. It directly criticized average folks but only indirectly criticized their flawed president.

It was, many scholars of political rhetoric say, an epic, perhaps unprecedented disaster. Mary Stuckey, professor of political science and communication at Georgia State University, says the only speech she can think of that may rival its dreadfulness is Bill Clinton's lying "I did not have sexual relations" address of 1998. That one, of course, came at a pressure-packed press conference amidst a scandal.

For the rest go to the Toronto Star

The Real Tragedy of Vietnam

by Conrad Black

The death of former U. S. defence secretary Robert S. McNamara has caused a good deal of retrospective comment regarding his influence on American defence and strategic policy in the 1960s, and especially the Vietnam War. In writing on the subject for last Saturday's National Post, I found myself with more material than I could get into a single column. What follows below picks up on Saturday's effort.

The horrible nightmare of Vietnam was a long time coming. Franklin D. Roosevelt, unlike Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, knew that Western colonial empires couldn't last, and was afraid the communists would take over of much of them, exploiting discontent against the colonial occupiers. He proposed a scheme whereby power in these areas would be administered in the name of the United Nations, until the territories met agreed criteria for self-government. Britain, France and the lesser empires would not hear of it. No substitute plan emerged, and there were endless colonial wars in Indochina, Kenya, Algeria, Cyprus, Angola, Mozambique, Rhodesia, Malaya, the Congo and elsewhere --and prolonged disputes over the post-colonial borders, especially in the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent.

Roosevelt's successors, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, were not prepared to fight for the French colonial regime in Indochina. If there was ever a time for the United States to give battle there (and there probably wasn't), it was after France promised independence but was still prepared to fight Indochina's communists. It might have been possible to create a Korea-like coalition and replicate the success of the British and local anti-Communists in Malaya. But neither Eisenhower nor Churchill was prepared to do this in 1954, and Eisenhower was not even prepared to assist the French in escaping the debacle at Dien Bien Phu, which only required a little air transport and close air support to avoid. This, and the gratuitous U. S. response to the Anglo-French Suez shambles two years later, spelled virtually the end of the U. S.-French alliance until the Gulf War of 1991. Alliances are supposed to be reciprocal.

For the rest go to the National Post

Apollo Astronauts Bemoan Space Program

by Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., July 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. investment in the Apollo space program, which landed men on the moon, paid off handsomely, unlike the $100 billion plowed into the International Space Station, Apollo's pioneering astronauts said on Monday.

"We opened the door to future of exploration by touching down on another body," Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon, said at a press conference commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing.

The United States staged six successful missions to the moon between 1969 and 1972, then developed the space shuttles and later, the space station.

NASA is finishing construction of the station, a $100 billion project of 16 nations, and plans to retire the shuttle fleet next year. After that, the United States plans to pay Russia to ferry crews to the outpost, which orbits 225 miles (360 km) above Earth.

"We've spent a lot of money up there for almost nothing. It's almost a white elephant," Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell said. "Until we can really get a return on our investment on that particular project, then it was money wasted."

The United States spent about $25 billion, in 1969 dollars, on the Apollo project. The investment, which consumed about 4 percent of the federal budget, was returned many times over, the astronauts said.

"We now seem to think it's too much to put 0.6 percent into the NASA budget," said Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham. "That is idiotic in my opinion."

"The investment that we made back in the 1960s was paid back. You got the return on the investment for the next 30 years. It was a driver of technology that really helped make us the leading, driving economic force of the world," he said.

"What are we doing today, what investment are we making today that will ensure that we have that kind of return for the next 30 years? I don't see it out there," he added.


For more go to Reuters

20 Greatest Swedes of All-Time

1. Carolus Linnaeus - Taxonomist.
2. Carl Wilhelm Scheele - Chemist (Swedish although born in Germany).
3. Alfred Nobel - Inventor of Dynamite. Began Nobel Prize.
4. Gustavus Adolphus - Swedish King and Military Innovator.
5. August Strindberg - Playwright.
6. Jons Berzellius - Chemist.
7. Svante Arrhenius - Chemist.
8. Axel Oxenstierna - Statesman.
9. Raoul Wallenberg - Diplomat and Humanitarian
10. Queen Christina - Monarch.
11. Emanuel Swedenborg - Philosopher.
12. Torsten Wiesel - Neurobiologist.
13. Theodor Svedberg - Physical Chemist.
14. Dag Hammarskjold - United Nations Secretary General.
15. Arne Tiselius - Biochemist.
16. Karl Branting - Politician And Diplomat.
17.Par Lagerkvist - Author, Poet and Playwright.
18. Nathan Soderblom - Theologian.
19. Gunnar Mydral - Economist.
20. Selma Lagerlof - Author.

South American History Key Events

1. European Invasion and the Subsequent Indian Genocide.
2. Creation of the vast Inca Empire.
3. Creation of Chibcha Empire.
4. Conversion of Indigenous South American population to Catholicism.
5. The Anti-Spanish Rebellions of Bolivar and San Martin.
6. The Granting of Independence to the South American countries in the 1820s and 1830s.
7. Discovery of vast tin and silver deposits in South America.
8. Early Colonization of South America possibly from a Polynesian source.
9. Pope divides South America between the Spanish and the Portuguese.
10. Don Pedro II becomes King of Brazil.
11. Bernardo O'Higgins rebels in Chile against the Spanish.
12. Black Slaves arrive in Brazil to work on the plantations.
13. Chaco War.
14. Beginning of the modern Deforestation of the Amazon.
15. Period of Juan Peron's rule in Argentina.
16. Period of the Vargas dictatorship in Brazil.
17.Splitting off of Panama from Columbia to create the Panama Canal.
18. Discovery of Oil in Venezuela.
19. Formation of the MERCOSUR trading group.
20. Menem introduces Fiscal conservatism into the Argentine economy.
21. British attack Buenos Aires in the 19th century.
22. The Period of the Dirty Wars in Argentina.
23. The Falkland War and the Collapse of the Ruling Junta in Argentina.
24. The Collapse of the Pinochet Regime in Chile in the 1990s.
25. The South American Foreign Debt crisis of the 80s.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

American History in the News

Fulton to celebrate Churchill

FULTON - Jefferson City is known as the Capital City, Columbia is known as the college town, and Fulton is known for -- Winston Churchill.
This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain. The very term "Iron Curtain" was first introduced by Winston Churchill in Fulton. His "Iron Curtain Speech" at Westminster College became famous in 1946.
For the rest go to Fulton

A Tribute to Teddy Roosevelt

It’s impossible to examine the life of Theodore Roosevelt and not feel a certain degree of envy. The man was so prodigious in his pursuits and accomplishments it humbles everyone who comes close. He wrote books seemingly at will, thirty-five in all, some even while he was serving as president. He traveled back and forth across the country and around the world like a modern day jet-setting businessperson—before jets were around, of course. He persevered through a catastrophic loss that could easily have crippled him emotionally for life. He single-handedly remade the biggest and possibly most corrupt police department in the country. He busted monopolies. He fought wars. He served two terms in the White House—then tried to run again. And, oh by the way, he saved 230 million acres of land for future generations. It’s impossible to examine the life of Theodore Roosevelt and not feel a certain degree of envy. The man was so prodigious in his pursuits and accomplishments it humbles everyone who comes close.
For the rest go to Teddy

George Washington on Leadership
Review of Richard Brookhiser`s biography of Washington

Brookhiser draws upon a wealth of historical material to identify and then discuss leadership lessons to be learned from George Washington’s life and career, lessons that remain relevant after more than 200 years. All leaders attract followers but only great leaders sustain the support of their followers. That is certainly true of Washington who was, according to contemporary accounts, an extraordinarily attractive man with a commanding presence whom everyone trusted, even those who strongly disagreed with some of his military decisions and later, with other of his decisions when serving as the first president of the United States.

for the rest go to Washington

Valuable Lincoln document found in Hawaii

A priceless document that was hidden away in the Hawaii State Archives for decades has finally been explained. It is a historical treasure signed by Abraham Lincoln as part of his plan to free slaves during the Civil War. Someone found the document on a shelf in a vault at the archives in 1935. They recognized Lincoln's signature on the lower right corner, but did not know what the document was. It remained a mystery until a historian with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois visited the archives a few months ago.
For the rest go to Lincoln