Tag Archives: Neglected history

PRESIDENTIAL LOSERS: PROS AND CONS

Mascot new lookHappy Presidents Day Weekend! Over the years Balladeer’s Blog’s irreverent, tongue-in-cheek looks at the pros and cons of U.S. Presidents have been among my most visited items.

For a change of pace here’s a look at the pros and cons of the LOSERS who were left in a defeated heap enroute to the Oval Office. In reverse order:

hillary-clinton-haitiHILLARY CLINTON (Lost to President Donald Trump)

Motto: “When the money keeps rolling in (to your fake charity), what’s a girl to do? Skim a little (well, quite a lot, actually) off the top for expenses wouldn’t you?”

Nickname: The Rapist’s Wife/ Crooked Hillary 

Hillary clinton dough nationPro: Her childish refusal to address her own supporters the night Donald Trump utterly humiliated her provided a look at how truly petty, shallow and classless she is. 

Con: She and her fascist followers tried to threaten the members of the Electoral College into casting their votes for her instead of Trump, thereby reaching the absolute lowest and most disgusting level that any American politician has ever sunk to. 

MITT ROMNEY (Lost to Obama)

Motto: “Pushing women back to the Fifties … the EIGHTEEN fifties!”

Nickname: The Mormon Mondale/ Ol’ Sploog Face (tie)

Pro: His even more pathetic running mate Paul Ryan actually made him look good by comparison. 

Con: Was so thoroughly inept he managed to lose to Barack Obama even after voters saw what a disaster he was.

John Mccain cheatingJOHN MCCAIN (Lost to Obama)

Motto: “I didn’t spend years in the pockets of the McCain Foundation’s billionaire donors just to watch a candidate even MORE deeply in their pockets beat me … but once Barack did I was happy to kiss his butt!” Continue reading

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Filed under humor, LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES, Neglected History, opinion

U.S. PRESIDENTS FROM EISENHOWER TO TRUMP

It’s Presidents Day Weekend! Here are some takes on the more recent presidents.  

EisenhowerDWIGHT EISENHOWER

Character Type: Well-meaning but befuddled sitcom grandfather.

Military Service: World War One and World War Two

Motto: “FOOORE!” (Remember,  the traditional cry as you’re teeing off in golf? Oh, never mind!)

Nickname: Uncle Milty

Pro: Knew enough to distrust Richard Nixon long before it became the national pasttime. 

Con: Was the first president to pronounce nuclear as “nucular”.

john f kennedyJOHN F KENNEDY

Character Type: Rich playboy who disdained both Liberals and Conservatives and played by his own rules.

Military Service: World War Two

Motto: “Thank God for television!”

Nickname: FDR  

Pro: The man was shrewd enough to distrust both liberals and conservatives equally. I can’t praise that attitude highly enough given our present circumstances. 

Con: Continue reading

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VALENTINE’S DAY SHOUTOUT TO FORMER PRESIDENT MCKINLEY AND HIS WIFE IDA

MckinleysSince today is Valentine’s Day AND we have Presidents Day coming up here’s a brief shoutout to the often neglected love story about President William McKinley and his wife Ida Saxton McKinley. The McKinley years were far enough away that there is a certain sincerity to their relationship that could never be trusted in these days of endless media overload. 

Years before they were President and First Lady the McKinleys lost both their daughters in tragic circumstances. Ida was never the same and became epileptic plus showed signs of other disorders. As president, William happily restructured the usual social agenda for First Ladies to accommodate Ida’s special circumstances.

Ida was permitted to sit rather than stand for the endless receiving lines that STILL take up too much time in the world of politics. McKinley’s administration had Vice President Hobart’s wife tend to many of the strenuous hostessing activities that First Ladies usually have to endure.

Perhaps most touchingly, President McKinley had Ida sit right next to him at formal meals rather than at the opposite end of the table, as was the usual custom. He did this so that when Ida had one of her epileptic seizures at the table he could place a napkin over her face to prevent guests from noticing. Although personally, I’ve always been convinced that the guests were just pretending not to notice. But that’s just me. 

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SIXTEEN OVERLOOKED SECRETARIES OF STATE

With Presidents Day coming up on the 19th Balladeer’s Blog has been presenting some seasonal posts. A fair amount of our past presidents had served as Secretary of State in earlier administrations so that is the tie-in to the upcoming holiday. 

Timothy Pickering1. TIMOTHY PICKERING (1795-1800)

Served under: Presidents George Washington and John Adams

Noted for: Conspiring with Alexander Hamilton to undermine some of the policies of the Washington and Adams administrations. When Adams discovered this he ordered Pickering to resign, but Pickering refused, forcing Adams to fire him. Pickering remains the only Secretary of State to officially be fired by the President.

2. HENRY CLAY (1825-1829)

Served under: President John Quincy Adams

Noted for: Fighting a duel with Senator John Randolph, one of Clay’s critics who felt he had struck a “corrupt bargain” with Adams to get this prized cabinet position. Also for completing the first commerce treaties between the young United States and the various nations in Scandinavia and Latin America.

3. JOHN FORSYTH (1834-1841)

Served under: Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren

Noted for: Obtaining long-disputed reparations from France for U.S. commercial losses suffered during the Napoleonic Wars. Also for threatening to resign early in Van Buren’s administration before his relationship with the new president improved.

Daniel Webster4. DANIEL WEBSTER (1841-1843 and 1850-1852)

Served under: Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler and Millard Filmore

Noted for: Negotiating a treaty which set the boundaries between Maine and New Brunswick, encouraging a popular uprising in Hungary and for dying in office in 1852. But mostly for his distinguished Senate career and for his fictional role in the story The Devil and Daniel Webster.

5. WILLIAM MARCY (1853-1857) Continue reading

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TOP FIVE FLASHMAN NOVELS: NUMBER FIVE

For Balladeer’s Blog’s Number One Harry Flashman Novel click HERE  . For background info on George MacDonald Fraser’s infamous anti-hero Harry Paget Flashman you can also click that link.

Flashman on the March5. FLASHMAN ON THE MARCH (2005)

Time Period: The 1867-1868 Abyssinian military campaign and rescue mission.

This volume of The Flashman Papers is set right after Harry’s thwarted mission to preserve Emperor Maximilian’s reign in Mexico followed by his unsuccessful attempt to spirit away the fallen Emperor before he could be executed. (Well it wasn’t Flashman’s fault. As history tells us, Maximilian DID refuse to escape with the conspirators who busted in to save his sorry butt.)

Synopsis: After a passionate farewell kiss from (the real-life) Princess Agnes Salm-Salm, Harry Flashman further raises the ire of his Austrian escorts by seducing a young, blonde and buxom Hapsburg aristocrat on the trans-Atlantic voyage with Maximilian’s coffin.

In Trieste, with the Austrians planning to unleash their wrath on Flashy as soon as the ceremony for Maximilian is over, our main character bolts for the British consulate. HMG is happy to have Sir Harry on hand and entrusts him to escort the notorious 100,000 Maria Theresa Thalers being sent to finance General Robert Napier’s upcoming Abyssinian Expedition.   

Flashman on the March 2That expedition is being launched to free British captives being held and tortured by the (historically) unhinged Emperor Theodore II of Abyssinia (Called Ethiopia today). 

Before Flashman knows it he’s caught up in a clash with Muslim slavers on the Red Sea, then breezing right along to the Eritrean port of Zula, embarkation point for the British campaign into Abyssinia.  

The author George MacDonald Fraser’s descriptive talents were in top form in Flashman on the March. As fans well know, Fraser creates scenes in the reader’s mind that surpass the biggest-budgeted cinematic blockbusters.

This particular tale lets him fully unleash his genius for seeming to take his audience to faraway planets while never leaving the Earth. Abyssinia/ Ethiopia feels menacingly alien and its hostile terrain might as well be on an orbiting asteroid as we get dragged into deadly danger with the reluctant Flashman.   

Harry and his Royal Marine escorts eventually catch up with General Napier far inland, and even though our protagonist officially turns over the shipment of Thalers he is still at Napier’s mercy in terms of papers and transit orders home to England. 

With the British forces – complete with 44 war elephants from India – moving more slowly than anticipated, Napier decides to send Flashman on ahead of the main army.

Harry’s orders: a) to rescue the hostages by any means necessary if the opportunity presents itself, if not, then b) to covertly keep tabs on the location of the hostages in case the Emperor decides to take them even further inland and c) to feel out Theodore’s many enemies in the war-torn country and try to recruit ad hoc allies to prevent the Emperor’s army from escaping.   

Kevin Kline good FlashmanFlashman’s guide, translator and fellow warrior will be the beautiful Ethiopian woman Uliba-Wark, half-sister to the country’s Queen. Uliba-Wark has a small domain of her own and is up to her neck in Abyssinia’s countless political and sexual intrigues & rivalries.

A running battle on horseback which leaves Harry and the warlike beauty as the sole survivors enroute to her castle is just a hint of the wild bed and battle action that lays ahead. I still go back and forth about placing Flashman on the March at number 5 or number 4.   Continue reading

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GEORGE WASHINGTON: INDISPENSABLE TO THE REVOLUTION?

George WashingtonPresident’s Day is coming up in 11 days so here’s yet another seasonal post. It’s one of my random takes on one of our Presidents. Or in this case just one aspect of one of our Presidents. More will be coming, some positive and some negative, including my close personal friend Barack Obama.

GEORGE WASHINGTON – My other posts about Washington have bashed him over the slavery issue, but this particular blog post is on a whole different topic. (Point being don’t leave a juvenile, snarky remark about him being a slave-owner. Everybody knows that. You won’t be retroactively freeing a single slave by indulging your ego that way.)

THE INDISPENSABLE MAN – George Washington is often called the Indispensable Man to the success of the American Revolution. I’m generally not a Washington fan but I’ve yielded on this point over the years. Here are three reasons why:

A. Odd as it may sound, reading several books about the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Turks helped convince me of Washington’s value. His name is never mentioned in any of my books about that war but there are parallels to our Revolution.

Scattered Greek guerrilla/ outlaw chiefs often let their petty feuds distract from fighting the common enemy: the Turks. Some chiefs would even refuse to let their men fight anywhere else in Greece, just in their own little fiefdom. Shades of how our various State Militias endlessly squabbled and would often refuse to cross state lines to continue fighting. Continue reading

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VICE PRESIDENTS: JOKES ABOUT THESE ULTIMATE SECOND BANANAS

John Adams

With President’s Day coming up soon here’s the first of many seasonal posts.

John Adams called the Vice Presidency “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived.” A very old joke went “Once there were two brothers. One ran away to sea and the other became Vice President. Neither was ever heard from again.”

In George S Kaufman’s and Morrie Ryskind’s classic stage work Of Thee I Sing one of the characters turns down an offer to be Vice President because he’s ashamed to have his mother know. He’s persuaded to accept the office when it’s pointed out that if he doesn’t tell her about it she’ll never find out.

The office has featured eminently forgettable figures as well as comic relief buffoons like Dan “The Global Village Idiot” Quayle and Joe “Koo Koo For Cocoa Puffs” Biden. In the light-hearted style of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at U.S. Presidents here’s a look at the men who got to hang around and see if the country’s Chief Executive wound up six feet under. I’m omitting VP’s who went on to actually become President, so no John Adams or Thomas Jefferson, etc. 

aaron-burrAARON BURR

Served Under: Jefferson 

Noted for: Shooting dead more Treasury Secretaries and hatching more plots to start his own country than any other Vice President. (So far, anyway.)

Best Burr Quote: “I’m still searching for the real killers of Alexander Hamilton.” 

GEORGE CLINTON

Served Under: Jefferson and Madison

Noted for: P-Funk and Funkadelic Leading American Rebel forces against the British troops of his loyalist cousin Sir Henry Clinton during the Revolutionary War.

Best Clinton Quote: “Do fries go with that shake?”

Elbridge GerryELBRIDGE GERRY

Served Under: Madison

Noted for: Pioneering the method of “Gerrymandering” political districts in a way that the modern day Democrats and Republicans have raised to a mainstay in the world of white collar crime which they inhabit.

Best Gerry Quote: “I’ll be immortalized as the man who invented Elbridge-mandering!”

DANIEL D TOMPKINS

Served Under: Monroe Continue reading

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