Monday, February 13, 2017

History: The Year is 1951

I've uploaded year 1951 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Alex Shrugged Meets the Joker -- I talk about my recent trip to the hospital and how I met a man who wished me dead.

Korea and the Creation of a Super-Presidency -- How Truman parlayed the Korean war into expanded war powers for the presidency.

The Rosenbergs and the Red Scare -- As communist spies are rooted out, the public panics.

Notable Births -- See below.

This Year in Film -- See below.

This Year in Music -- See below.

In Other News -- See below.

Alex Shrugged Meets the Joker

I thank Jack and others for filling in for me with the History segment. I had a health problem that put me in the hospital... and it's a story with a moral lesson, so I'll tell it.

Most Wednesdays I take the bus to the local jail to perform chaplain work. If I can, I'll stop by the library along the way as I did this time. As I waited for the doors to open, a man walked up. I'll call him "The Joker". He is the type of man you see on the streets at mid-day. He finds humor in everything and laughs when nothing is funny. He has a girl on his arm who laughs too, but I don't get the joke. Are they dangerous? Not in this setting. I'm OK.

After the library, it's a short walk across the parking lot and across the street to my bus stop. As I'm waiting, my heart begins to flutter. I felt this sensation a few days ago. I stand up and realize that I can't catch my breath. My bus comes by, and I step in.

I gasp, "I need a hospital. Any suggestions?"

"Take the 20," he replies. "That goes to a hospital."

The bus stop for "the 20" is next to the library where I came from. Can I make it? I cross the street and realize... no... I'm not going to make it. I flip out my phone and call my wife.

"Andrea. I can't breathe. I need help."

She calls an ambulance. Help is on the way and as you can see... it arrived in time, but while I'm bent over and sucking air, "The Joker" comes along with his girl, giggling all the way.

He asks me, "Do you know how I can get to the hospital?"

I look up and remember the bus driver's instructions, "Yes. Take the 20. It goes to a hospital."

"The Joker" thanks me and walks away. I notice that he is not walking to the bus stop. He is not going to the hospital. He has taken the trouble to let me know that he realizes that I am in trouble, and that he is leaving me to die. I feel sorry for him. He has made a bad mark on his soul... probably not the first, nor likely the worst. And later, I realize that I have erased a bad mark on my own soul. When "The Joker" had asked for help, I had tried to help. I've changed so much from the man I once was.

The ambulance shows up. A woman in the parking lot flags them down. Good for her. My heart is beating so fast they can't get my blood pressure. The count is 220 beats a minute. They are not sure they can get me to the hospital in time, so the paramedic injects me with... something he has only used twice in the 5 years he's been doing this. He warns me that it is going to feel very uncomfortable. It is always uncomfortable when your heart stops. Two seconds later, my heart pops back into rhythm.

It works. Good thing.

The hospital staff recommends a procedure to fix the problem. They say that the King of Muckity-Muck has flown to their hospital for this procedure. I say, "He's an idiot," and they laugh. They do the procedure.

Apparently, I'm OK now. I have to take it easy for a week or so. No problem. The history segment is not that taxing on my heart... except when there is a World War.

I will probably see "The Joker" again in my travels. He did me no harm. I forgive him his insult. God knows I deserve plenty of insults for my past misdeeds. This just balances the scales.

It's all good.

Korea and the Creation of a Super-Presidency

The Korean War is on. (I mean "United Nations police action.") UN forces led by General MacArthur have pushed the Chinese forces back, so the Chinese use "human wave tactics" meaning that soldiers walk into the line of fire to deplete UN ammunition. (I'm not kidding.) President Truman is fighting a limited war because he worries that the Taiwanese will jump across the Formosa Strait to retake China and spark World War 3. Despite orders that clearly limit MacArthur's options, he chooses to interpret them in the way most advantageous to his goals. He publicly praises the President for committing the USA to the defense of Korea. He also contacts European leaders informing them of his intentions. (FYI, Generals are not supposed to do this.) Legally speaking, MacArthur's authority is derived from the UN rather than the US Congress, so exactly who is controlling him is ambiguous... and he knows it. Politically speaking, he has embarrassed Truman, so the President must prove that he is in control of the military. General MacArthur is relieved of command. [1]
I fired him because he wouldn't respect the authority of the President. I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.
-- President Harry S. Truman, recalling why General MacArthur was relieved of duty. [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The threat of a World War 3 was real in Korea. The previous year, Mao and Stalin had considered nuking the US fleet at sea as it approached Inchon. Truman could have fought a legitimate constitutional war in Korea, but it would have required approval from a Republican Congress. He circumvented the Constitutional requirement by winning a UN mandate. Thus he created a means to start a war without congressional approval. In a sense, he created a super-presidency with a new power and turned the UN into a political tool. Later, the War Powers Act was passed to reign in the President's power to start wars, but President Obama defied the Act, delivering its death blow... and Congress rolled over with barely a whimper. [3] [4] [5] [6]

The Rosenbergs and the Red Scare

A family that spies together, dies together. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are young, and loyal communists... and a dying breed in America. They are getting the electric chair for giving the secrets of the atomic bomb to the Soviets. Did they do it? Yes, they did, but enough doubt has been cast on their case that it seems as if they were framed. Additionally, their sensational trial and execution has led to worry about other communists lurking inside of government or under the bed. Senator Joseph McCarthy fans those flames. BURN THE WITCHES! Oh. Sorry. Actually, the laws in place to root out traitors have already done their work. The worst of the communist infiltrators (AND IT WAS REAL) were in the Treasury Department and at the Manhattan Project. That damage is already done, and the traitors are dead, in prison or sidelined. Next will come an endless parade of foolish followers of a fading communist dream being harassed and pilloried by the House Un-American Activities Committee (not the Senate). At this moment, Stalin is wandering through a dreamworld. His pay envelopes pile up on his desk, unopened. It's getting close to checkout time. I hope he doesn't forget to tip the bellboy on his way out. [7] [8] [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The name "Rosenberg" is a common German name. It means "Red Mountain". It is not particularly a Jewish name, but in the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, it is. As a Jew myself, (that is, Alex Shrugged) I find it embarrassing that the Rosenbergs were Jewish, but many Jews found communism appealing at the time. On its surface communism seems like the biblical promises come true: a way to help the unfortunate and care for the sick. Even today, I see socialism and communism being promoted as a biblical truth. Yet, while I see the Bible exhorting us to help our fellows in need, it is a call for the individual to do so... not the government. Voting to force someone else to do a good deed, does not earn me extra good-guy-points in Heaven, so to speak. Thus while God tells me that I should provide food for the hungry, I don't have to bring it to them unless they are sick. They can come get it, and do some minimal work for it, if only to sift through the chafe and carry away the seed. What government has to do with it, I have no idea... unless government is trying to take the place of God. [11]

Notable Births

  • Rush Limbaugh: Conservative talk radio host who defines talk radio. [12]
  • Jim DeMint: US Senator (R) South Carolina and President of the Heritage Foundation. [12]
  • Al Franken: Saturday Night Live comedian and US Senator (D) Minnesota. [12]
  • Lisa Halaby: American-born Queen Noor of Jordan as wife of the late King Hussein. [12]
  • Sally Ride (died 2012, age 61): Physicist, astronaut and 1st American woman in space. [12]
  • Randy Shilts (died 1994, age 42): Reporter and author of "And the Band Played On", that brought attention to the AIDS epidemic. [12]
  • And in Entertainment...
  • -- Mark Hamill: Star War's Luke Skywalker, and thereafter plays and voice work because he is still LUKE SKYWALKER. [13]
  • -- Kirstie Alley: Star Trek's Lt. Saavik, in the Wrath of Khan, also Look Who's Talking, and TV's Cheers. [12]
  • -- Kurt Russell: Big Trouble in Little China, Overboard, Stargate, and more.... [12]
  • -- Robin Williams (died 2014, age 63): Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Hook, Jumanji and more... [12]

This Year in Film

  • Quo Vadis: Starring Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr. (Emperor Nero's reign ends badly. I don't want to give away the ending, but it's HOT!) [14]
  • Disney's Alice in Wonderland: She falls down a rabbit hole. [14]
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still: Remember the words: "Klaa-tu ba-ra-da nikt-o". Might come in handy some day. [14]

This Year in Music

  • Unforgettable: Nat King Cole. (Years later, his daughter, Natalie Cole, created a duet with her father using this song.) [15] [16]
  • Cry: Johnnie Ray. "Go ahead and... Cry...." [15] [17]
  • Hello Young Lovers: Perry Como, from The King and I. [15] [18]

In Other News

  • The True Believer by Eric Hoffer is published: A longshoreman offers his thoughts on Mass Movements (and he is spot on). [19] [20] [21]
  • British double agents Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean escape to the USSR: They are part of the Cambridge Spy Ring. [22] [23] [7]
  • I Love Lucy makes its debut: Starring Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz. "Lucy! You got some 'splainin to do." [24]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1951, Wikipedia.

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