August 26, 2004

Rerun: Before McCarthy...

This was originally posted at my old site.

In the extended, a look at the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.

As I mentioned in a previous post about France, America came close to a war with Napoleon in 1800.

War was averted, but anti-French feelings before and after the conflict abounded. The Federalist party capitalized by passing laws designed to reduce or quiet their political enemies.

In 1798, the Alien and Sedition Acts were aimed at these pro-Jeffersonian foes. The first of these oppressive laws was aimed at aliens. Most European immigrants lacked wealth and were therefore scorned by the aristocratic Federalist party. The aliens were welcomed as voters by the less prosperous and more democratic Jeffersonians. The law raised the residence requirements for immigrants wishing to become citizens from five years to fourteen. This drastic new law was meant to discourage and dishearten was also in violation of the traditional American policy of open-door hospitality and speedy assimilation.

Two additional Alien Laws struck heavily at "undesirable" immigrants. The president was empowered to deport dangerous foreigners in time of peace and to deport or detain them in time of hostilities. Though defensible as a war measure, this was an arbitrary grant of power contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. This law was never enforced.

However, one law that was enforced was the Sedition Act. It directly attacked two priceless freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights: freedom of speech and freedom of the press. This law stipulated that anyone who impeded the policies of the government or falsely defamed its officials, including the president, would be subjected to heavy fines and imprisonment.

Many outspoken Jeffersonian editors were indicted under the Sedition Act, and ten were brought to trial. All were convicted. Congressman Matthew Lyon was sentenced to four months in jail for writing about President Adams's "unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice." Another culprit was lucky to get off with a fine of $100 after he expressed the wish that the wad of a cannon fired in honor of Adams had landed in the seat of the president's breeches. The spirit of the Sedition Act was in direct conflict with the Constitution.

The Supreme Court was dominated by Federalists who were of no mind to declare it unconstitutional. This attempt by the Federalists to crush free speech and silence dissenters undoubtedly made many converts for the Jeffersonians.

Even so, the Alien and Sedition Acts commanded widespread popular support. Anti-French hysteria played directly into the hands of witch-hunting conservatives. In the congressional elections of 1798-1799, the Federalists rode a wave of popularity to score the most sweeping victory of their entire history.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2004

Quote of the Day

Found at IMAO...

" belief, as an American, is that if I have to start understanding the metric system, then the terrorists have won."

-Dave Barry

If it weren't for science, we could all comfortably live our lives free from the tyranny of metrics.

Posted by Jennifer at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

Rerun: Tourism

This was originally posted at my old site.

In the extended, some rambling thoughts about the Colorado Rockies--particularly Pike's Peak.

Some of you may know a little ditty called "America the Beautiful."

The lyrics are as follows:

America the Beautiful - 1913 version
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self the country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America ! America ! God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice, for man's avail
Men lavished precious life !
America! America! God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

-Katherine Lee Bates.

Ms. Bates was inspired to write this song after visiting Pikes Peak in Colorado. I was lucky enough to visit Pikes Peak myself a few years ago...and I can understand why Inspiration Point had the effect on her that it did. Being a flatlander, I tend to be impressed by large every chance I get to drive through Colorado, I try to time it for daylight.

I never fail to be awestruck by the beauty of the mountains. I think the most gorgeous view from the interstate is on I-25 north right after you get into Colorado from New Mexico. There is one point where you come over a hill and see miles of mountain peaks spread before you. In the foreground are mountains green with trees and vegetation, but rising behind them majestically are the high peaks covered with snow.

Inexplicably, when I see that view I start craving a Coors Light...but I digress.

Driving through the Colorado Springs area for the first time, I found myself playing the game of "Guess Which Peak is Pikes Peak." Each peak looks taller than the last. But I think when you finally see it, you know. And when you see it, you want to climb up there and have a look around. The day I had my look around, it was a little hazy, but it was still well worth it.

I took the Cog Railway up to the summit, and definitely recommend it to everyone. Not only can you relax and enjoy the scenery, but a guide rides along and relays the history and sights on the way. Once we reached the top (after about 1 hour, 15 minutes) you could see what seemed to be hundreds of mountains for miles around.

It was windy, and trying not to get blown off the mountain greatly added to the sense of adventure. There was one observation area that had railing, but for the most railing. Nowhere to go but down...and down some more. Good time. If you haven't made it to Pikes Peak, try to go this summer or next. Bring your jacket, bring your camera, and I guarantee it will be worth the trip.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

*Politics With My Cereal

I'm not the only one who watches Fairly Oddparents, am I?

I am?

Oh, well.

Anyway, I was watching Fairly Oddparents this morning and Timmy threw a balloon at a bully. It missed and hit a couple of French people, who immediately yelled out, "We surrender!"


Posted by Jennifer at 07:13 AM | Comments (9)

August 24, 2004

Rerun: History in the News

This was originally posted at my old site.

In the extended, a brief look at Truman, MacArthur, and Eisenhower.

This story (Ed. note: link now dead) about President Truman was in the news yesterday.

The employees of the Truman Presidential Library recently discovered his 1947 diary. As you may have noticed, I have a lot of interest in our American Presidents and like to find out little insights about them.

The diary is interesting because it confirms that Truman had discussed having Eisenhower run for president in 1948. The plan was that Truman would be the vice-presidential nominee.

During this time period, there was concern that General Douglas MacArthur would run for president...MacArthur was a World War II hero and Truman was not very popular. MacArthur remained with the military, however, and Truman was re-elected versus Republican Thomas E. Dewey (and the States' Rights candidate...Strom Thurmond).

In 1951, during the Korean War, President Truman and General MacArthur clashed on war strategies...President Truman fired the General on April 11. MacArthur addressed Congress a week later, "I now close my military career and just fade away--an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Goodbye." Eventually, MacArthur did fade away.

Eisenhower became a Republican president with his running mate Richard Nixon in 1953. He was the first Republican to hold the White House since 1928.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

Free Advice for Politicians

It's not enough to make people want to vote against your opponent.

You have to make people want to vote for you.

This means you, John Kerry.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:44 AM | Comments (2)

August 21, 2004

At Least It's For a Good Cause*

Campaign spending tops $1 billion.

Spending by presidential and congressional candidates and the national party committees that support them already tops $1 billion for the 2004 election cycle, with more than two months of campaigning to go.

I'm sure y'all have seen that bumper sticker that says something to the effect of, "It'll be a perfect world when schools have all the money they need and the military needs to hold a bake sale to buy a new jet."

It'll be a better world when military personnel in war zones have all the body armor they need and politicians can only annoy me with their commercials once a week rather than every fifteen minutes.

* Sarcasm in that title.

Posted by Jennifer at 05:37 AM | Comments (6)

August 20, 2004

*WWII History

I was wandering around the internet this morning and found this great story on the life of the man who became Pope John XXIII. A lot of press over the years has been dedicated to the lack of efforts from the Vatican to save the Jews in Europe during the Holocaust. It is refreshing to see one of the positive stories get some airtime. RTWT as they say.

Posted by Pete at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2004

*Quote of the Day

"This is gonna be my time. Time to taste the fruits and let the juices drip down my chin. I proclaim this: The Summer of George!"

-George Costanza

Posted by Jennifer at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

Rerun: Presidential Fun Facts

These were originally posted at my old site. In the extended: Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, and term limits.

James Carter, President 1977-1981.

He's funnier than you thought... On a trip to Egypt, President Carter was informed by a guide that the Great Pyramid of Giza was built in just twenty years. The president replied, "I'm surprised that a government organization could do it that quickly."

Carter could be rough on the press. He began one appearance by saying, "I'm not going to say anything terribly important tonight, so you can all put away your crayons."

Towards the end of his term, Carter's approval ratings were in the basement. Greeted by loud, unusual applause at an event outside Washington, he remarked, "It really is a pleasure to see people waving at me with all five fingers." _______________________________________________________

Richard Nixon, President 1969-1974.

President Nixon attended Whittier College in California, where he was an exceptional student. Graduating second in his class, he received a scholarship to Duke University to study law.

While there, Nixon and a fellow student--worried about their grades--broke into a professor's office to look at the grade sheets. Despite this incident, Nixon did very well and graduated third in his class at Duke. ______________________________________________________

George Washington, President 1789-1797.

The two-term limit that was established by George Washington was never broken until the Roosevelts came along. Theodore Roosevelt unsuccessfully attempted to win a third term after a dispute with President Taft in 1912.

Franklin Roosevelt won four terms, dying shortly after the fourth began. The limit became constitutional law in 1951 with the 22nd amendment.

Washington didn't really want to run for the second term, but he knew his stature provided legitimacy for the new country. He had no opposition in the 1792 election and once again the Electoral College elected him unanimously.

In 1796, he had enough. Disgusted by the partisanship in Congress, he returned home to Mount Vernon in March, 1797. To his disappointment, his retirement didn't last very long. President Adams sought his help with the military a year later.

He commanded the U.S. armed forces without ever leaving Mount Vernon. In December, 1799, he caught pneumonia and died. Retirement was sadly short.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:10 AM | Comments (4)

August 16, 2004

*Female Circumcision, Part One

Female circumcision is one of those cringe-inducing topics most people assume only happens in religious-extremist cultures. The origins of female circumcision are less clear than male circumcision, but there are a few plausible theories.

One theory is that the female genitalia were purposely disfigured to make the girl or woman less attractive to males. This would help her maintain her purity, of course.

Another theory is that the removed tissue was an offering to the fertility god(s) to ensure the woman would give birth to many children. This was the original purpose of male circumcision, after all.

Abraham--whom you may recognize from Christianity, Islam, or Judaism--has ties to the beginnings of female circumcision. As one Muslim legend has it, around 2000 B.C., God commanded Abraham to cut out his wife Sarah's clitoris. After the circumcision, she finally bore Abraham's child, Isaac.

A different legend has it that Sarah herself circumcised Abraham's mistress, Hagar, in a jealous rage. Supposedly this mutilation began the Egyptian practice of female circumcision.

Most historians agree female circumcision simply emulated the tradition of male circumcision. It was a way to mark the female's sexual maturity. In most practicing cultures, the surgery was part of a ritual to prepare the girl for her first sexual intercourse. Often the hymen would be ruptured at the same time the girl was circumcised, and the blood would be collected. The blood and removed skin were both offered up to the fertility god(s).

Of course, surgery was done without the benefit of anesthetic, so it was excruciatingly painful. Sometimes girls would struggle so forcefully that the operation turned fatal. The removal of the clitoris and labia was more invasive than the removal of a male's foreskin, and girls who didn't bleed to death faced a heightened risk of infection, as well.

Cutting the labia minora caused scar tissue to form and tighten the entrance to the vagina. The fact that this heightened males' sexual pleasure did not go unnoticed, and prostitutes took advantage of surgical mutilation for this reason. The smaller vaginal opening became a problem during childbirth, however, and another operation was needed to accommodate this. Often the woman would then undergo yet another surgery to retighten the vagina after giving birth.

Fun for everyone, eh? I'll have a look at modern female circumcision later this week.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:30 PM | Comments (4)

*Quote of the Day

"God said, 'Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours.'"

-Ann Coulter

Posted by Jennifer at 08:15 AM | Comments (2)

Rerun: Vive La France

This entry was originally posted at my old site. It's a brief summary of the entwined histories of France and the U.S.A. with an editorial bent.

This isn't exactly a popular stance to take in America these days, but I have to say what I feel...I don't hate France.

They did us a pretty big favor back in the Revolutionary War days. Frenchmen sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to help us fight the British. One of their primary motivations was to stab Britain in the back, but it worked for us.

The French support of our war almost sent France into bankruptcy. The resulting economic hardship, coupled with American success at overthrowing an oppressive government, set the stage for the French Revolution in 1789.

Throughout the following century America and France had their share of ups and most relationships do. By the time 1800 rolled around, it looked like a war with Napoleon's France was inevitable. However, Napoleon had a change of heart regarding his interests in North America and we peacefully purchased the Louisiana Territory from him for $15 million in 1803.

For the American centennial in 1876, France wanted to do something nice for us. What they came up with was a 151'1" tall statue titled "Liberty Enlightening the World." Our Statue of Liberty arrived in 1885, and has grown from a symbol of the friendship between France and America to a global symbol of freedom.

During our country's formative years, the French were instrumental in helping us gain our independence. In the 20th century we had a chance to repay them. World War I began in the summer of 1914, and the U.S. remained neutral. For several years of fighting, the Germans attempted to take France. France and Great Britain kept the Germans from advancing, but after Germany began sinking unarmed ships America joined the Allies in 1917. The war was over in 1918.

Then came September 1, 1939...World War II began when Hitler's army invaded Poland. America declared its neutrality at once while Canada almost immediately declared war on Germany. By June, 1940 Germany controlled most of Europe. Paris had fallen when the French were pushed back by the German blitzkrieg. Great Britain stood alone against Hitler and within a month Italy joined the Axis. The United States remained neutral while Europe fell to Hitler's powerful military machine.

It wasn't until Pearl Harbor in December, 1941 that America entered the war. On June 6, 1944--four years after Paris fell--the Allies landed at Normandy. In 1945 the bloodiest war in history finally ended. Lots of people have been talking about how France "owes us" for World War II. My opinion is that we're even.

They don't owe us anything. We don't owe them anything.

Posted by Jennifer at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2004

*War Games

The Olympics began in 776 B.C. and were held every four years in tribute to Zeus. The events were similar to warfare--throwing spears or rocks, wrestling, etc.

The Olympics continued until Roman Emperor Theodosius--a Christian convert--put an end to the games in 394 A.D.. The Olympics fell victim to his efforts to end pagan worship in the Roman Empire.

In 1892, Pierre de Coubertin proposed an Olympic revival. He thought the Games would help prepare France for a possible war with Germany, and in 1896 the modern Olympics debuted.

Many of the events are still reminiscent of the warfare games from the ancient Olympics--archery, javelin throwing, shot put, and of course wrestling.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:08 PM | Comments (1)

August 11, 2004

*Googley Fun

Someone found my site while searching for "names of tornadoes in 2004"...which led them to this post.

Tornadoes don't have names. The ones that leave a big enough impression are remembered thusly: "The Plainfield Tornado", etc. If Plainfield had more than one major tornado, it would be "The Plainfield Tornado of 1990".

Hurricanes get names so people can keep track of them as they move over time. Tornadoes form quickly and are short-lived, so naming them isn't terribly useful.

Posted by Jennifer at 02:34 PM | Comments (2)

August 09, 2004

*Breakfast Trivia

What do these two things have to do with one another?

(Turkish flag on top, croissants on bottom.)

The item on top inspired the items below.

In 1683, an army of Turks besieged the city of Vienna, which held off the attackers for months. When the Turks tried to get into the city by tunneling under the walls, bakers overheard the noise and sounded the alarm. The Turks were turned back and eventually defeated.

To celebrate, the Viennese bakers copied the crescent from their enemies' flag. It was called a kipfel, the German word for crescent. The pastry wouldn't become a croissant until the Austrian Princess Marie Antoinette married the King of France.

Posted by Jennifer at 04:47 PM | Comments (3)

August 05, 2004


When I was a teenager, I worked at a nearby amusement park for a few months. I signed up for the rides department, which I figured would be more fun than food service. I was assigned to the river ride, which has big inner tube boats that seat 8 people.

My job was to step onto boats as they came along the belt and make sure people were strapped in properly. When they got off the ride, I made sure they got off safely without falling to the belt below. To do this, I had to stand with one foot on the boat and one foot on the walkway they jumped to. My body was basically a wall to keep them from slipping.

Often the ride operator wasn't paying close attention and I'd end up going for a little ride on the boats while I strapped a child in. I'd get off the boat at the next stop on the belt and go back to my post. I almost actually made it to the river launch once, but managed to get off just in time.

One day the operator set the boats in motion while I was actually making the step from the boat to the walkway. I fell about 6 feet to the belt below and had to climb back out with a sprained ankle. I wasn't seriously injured, but I was pissed off that she wasn't paying any attention.

Shortly after that, I left the boat ride. I'd had enough little injuries to decide it wasn't safe with that particular operator in charge. I got a job somewhere else, but returned to the amusement park one summer after I turned 18. I poured beer that year.

I'm 29 now, so this was 14 years ago. I spent about 3 months at that boat ride. I almost forget that I did that--it was so long ago and such a short time.

I'd probably forget it altogether if the falling down to the belt part wasn't a mildly interesting anecdote when you're standing in line with someone, waiting for a boat ride. It certainly doesn't define who I am today, and I don't put it on my resume.

Now, I don't want to equate working in an amusement park to being in a war zone, but John Kerry and his handlers need to focus on more recent events if they want to win in November. We ALL know you served in Vietnam. If that's the only thing you have on your resume that is worth comparing to Bush, I have a newsflash for you:

Al Gore served in Vietnam.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:38 PM | Comments (4)

August 04, 2004

*Give me a Break

My friends at Blogs For Bush have a post up that proves Bush is a man of the people and Kerry is a poseur.

We have a picture of the President eating a raw piece of corn, and a picture of the Kerrys waving corn.

Personally, I wouldn't eat a raw corncob. And is it field corn or sweet corn?

Cook up some sweet corn, throw some butter on it, and I'll think about eating it. But I am NOT gnawing at some random, raw corncob.

Of course, I'm not running for office anywhere and in need of a photo op, either.

Guess I'm just not a woman of the people that way.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:26 PM | Comments (8)