Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Newt “Hollywood” Gingrich

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m not a trained historian, at least in the sense of one current presidential candidate. I do not hold a PhD or even a Masters in the subject. But I do consider myself something of an amateur historian and do possess some historical training and experience, as a former schoolteacher and museum employee. I read quite a bit on a number of historical topics. One particular interest of mine is the Cold War era. I particularly enjoy viewing this through the contemporary media and pop culture of the period.

In the 1980s there were a number of films that considered the after-effects or on-set of a nuclear exchange between the superpowers. Some were primarily focused on the aftermath: Threads and The Day After are two infamous films that look at the toll on society and individuals that would ensue after such an exchange. These films also looked at the conditions that might lead to such an exchange. They tended to have a largely anti-nuclear, left-leaning message.

One film focused more on the lead-up and did so in a fascinating way. The 1984 Canadian produced Countdown to Looking Glass, which originally aired on HBO on October 14th of that year, considers the scenario of an economic collapse leading to Soviet puppet states springing up in the Middle East, particularly Oman. The U.S. sends troops to Saudi Arabia and Oman responds with a blockcade in the Strait of Hormuz. Soviets deploy submarines in the region as shots are exchanged on a variety of fronts. Things come to a head when the Omanis and the US exchange fire, resulting in the loss of an Omani gunboat. A Soviet sub is tracked under the Nimitz, and eventually nukes are exchanged. We’re left with the President and his closest advisors boarding the Looking Glass, an airborne command center and the very real possibility of an all-out strategic nuclear exchange.

What makes the film so compelling is that the events are portrayed through a mock newscast. The producers purposely added dramatic scenes and used compressed time (i.e. several days of events presented over the 1 hour 26 minutes of the film), but the newscast aspect lends a great deal of authenticity and really captures the paranoia and anxiety of the era. They also used real pundits and politicians, such as Eric Sevareid and Senator Eugene McCarthy. It does a fairly good job of staying somewhat neutral while still capturing the immensity of the potential situation.

Also appearing in the film is a young, telegenic Congressman from the state of Georgia. At the time he was a right-wing back-bench bomb thrower who was quickly making a name for himself. A committed Cold Warrior, he makes numerous references to past history and hails Winston Churchill.

You might know him. It’s former Speaker and current GOP Presidential candidate Newton Leroy Gingrich.

It’s been a while since I viewed the film, but I believe Newt appears twice from what I remember He appears at around 6:20 in this clip from the first third:

And at about 6:42 in this clip from the last third:

Newt isn’t exactly a Hollywood star like, say, former Senator Fred Thompson. But he has appeared in a variety of films, mostly documentaries. But in 1995 he did have a cameo appearance in an episode of Murphy Brown. Check out the former Speaker’s full Hollywood credits here.

As an aside, I strongly suggest you check out Countdown to Looking Glass. It may not have the power it once did, but it still pulls up a whole lot of emotions.


Reagan on Newt, Romney

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

In last night’s CNN debate in South Carolina, Mitt Romney made mention that both Newt Gingrich and George Romney, Mitt’s father, were mentioned in The Reagan Diaries and claimed that Newt was mentioned only once and that Reagan thought he had a bad idea. Welp, I happen to have a copy of the Diaries, so here for you to judge for yourself is both the entry on Newt from 1983:

Monday, January 3rd
[Staff and NSC meetings; calls from congressional leadership.]
A tough budget meeting & how to announce the deficits we’ll have–they are horrendous and yet the Dems. in Cong. are saying there is no room for budgett cuts. Met with a group of young Repub. Congressmen. Newt Gingrich has a proposal for freezing the budget at the 1983 level. It’s a tempting idea except that it would cripple our defense program. And if we make an exception on that every special interest group will be asking for the same.

And actually TWO mentions on George Romney in 1984:

Friday, June 22
In the Rose Garden after lunch I met with representatives of the Internation Youth Year Commission. Then a meeting with Sec. Schultz, mainly on the Soviet situation. No break through but further evidence that they aren’t quite sure which way they want to go. George Romney came by, he is heading up a part of our Pvt. Sector Initiative called “Volunteer.” He’s interested in possibly a special medal for outstanding volunteers. I’m rather inclined to think maybe they should be formally included in the presentation of Medals of Freedom. Did a portrait session with mike Evans & then off to  Camp David. Got there in time for a swim.

And on June 1986, there’s a mention that Reagan attended a luncheon for volunteer action group led by George Romney. Note that I only own the abridged edition edited by Douglas Brinkley–the Reagan Library sells the unabridged edition. There’s likely more on Romney there. In this edition, Ron Paul was not mentioned, nor was Rick Santorum, naturally, as Santorum was not elected to Congress until 1990, after the end of Reagan’s term.

I’m not going to go now and track down everything Ronald Reagan ever said about these four, if anything. Just wanted to clarify the historical record to the best of my ability.

And we’re back in 3, 2…..

November 19, 2009 2 comments


That was pretty intense.

I’m speaking, of course, of campaign 2009. Many of you who read this blog know that my self-imposed exile from blogging over the last six months. The intensity came not just from the campaign itself (a back and forth affair that, thanks to the amazing job of the McDonnell campaign, low Democratic enthusiasm for their nominee, backlash against the Obama administration, a hungry Republican base and a generally poor effort by the Deeds campaign turned into a nearly 20% blowout for the McBolliNelli team), but also my own personal journey. There were many great experiences, but the general pace of the campaign and a major car accident on September 27th led me to re-examine my life (not just in politics, but overall).

I discovered that full-time political work is just not for me. My own personal shortcomings, the constitution of my body and spirit, and my strengths and weaknesses have led me to the conclusion that I’m not meant for a career in the helter-skelter, knock down drag out world of American politics in the 21st Century. However, what I did rediscover is my deep passion for history that I went astray from and my love of teaching others not just about the world around them but themselves. I won’t go into great detail here, but my personal experiences have led me on a new path. One this blog is a crucial part of. Politics remains a very strong interest of mine, but I discovered that teaching, more than anything else, causes my blood to race, my eyes to widen, a smile to return to my face, and my hands to move with my words. I feel, rightly or wrongly, that modern education could use a role model like me, so that’s where I’m headed.

Longtime readers will know that in the past I have taken a deep interest in local politics. This blog will shift away from that, focusing even more on who we (the GOP) are as a party, as well as the major policy and ideological battles facing our nation today. It will also, however, take more focus on my personal passion for American history. Look for posts on historic preservation, visits to historic sites, and general musings on the state of history in our national dialogue. You can also look for postings on the art of music and pop culture in general.

It will also focus on my new work and passion: Education. I have decided to pursue my teaching license, hopefully at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. In the meantime, I’ll be pursuing passions in writing and picking up opportunities working with education, both with high schoolers and adults. I’ve got a project in particular in the arena of high school debate and forensics that will hopefully come to fruition soon, so expect some blogging on that as well.

I don’t know exactly where all this will take me, but I’m very excited for where my life is headed. I hate to make any declarations about my posting schedule, as I’m also seeking part-time employment, but I’ll endeavor to post at least once a day. One thing that will not be returning: the Big O Show. It was a worthy endeavor, but the interest just did not seem to be there for my verbal (and often stream of consciousness) musings on politics and pop culture, and I was never able to expand beyond, well, just me (probably due to, what I’ll admit, was my own aggressive tone and “peculiar” targets). What you can expect more of: video. My little Flip Camera, although not of the best quality, will get quite a workout, as my videos seemed to be very popular on the trail.

So stay tuned, welcome back, and get ready. Your comments, questions, and encouragements are greatly appreciated.


Mail Call: Gilmore’s BACK! (Yet Again)

April 16, 2009 1 comment

As a sometimes donor to conservative political candidates and causes, I usually get at least 5 or 6 fundraising appeals per week; sometimes I’ll get two or three on a single day. At this point, not a whole lot surprises me any more—I’ve seen it all: Sending dollar bills to guilt people into sending them back, outlandish language that makes even me blush (To wit: Jerome Corsi’s letter from yesterday warning me that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be the next Senators from DC), and letters from relatively obscure candidates who probably NEED out of state cash to even have a chance. 

However, today’s offerings did bring one eyebrow raising addition to the ever growing stack in my recycling bin: a letter from Jim Gilmore’s “The Patriot’s Committee.” That’s right, that heretofore believed to be moribund fundraising apparatus that helped fund Gilmore’s equally unsuccessful Presidential and Gubernatorial bids over the last two years. It’s no secret that Jim Gilmore left with extremely low approval ratings. However, even as late as 2003 it appeared that Gilmore might have a chance at a comeback. Gilmore’s national security credentials were coming in handy at the time, and he was an outspoken critic of Warner’s fiscal policies. However, his chances for a viable comeback went up in smoke when Warner browbeat the needed Republicans into supporting a historic tax increase. 

At that point, the narrative became all about the trainwreck Gilmore left for Warner. And let’s be honest–even outspoken fiscal conservatives like Norm Leahy will admit the math didn’t add up (though Gilmore is certainly not the only one to blame in that debacle). Still, Gilmore at that point became lashed to the Car Tax and its failure to be eliminated. I supported Gilmore at the 2008 State Convention, mostly out of respect for his fiscal and national security credentials, plus fear that Bob Marshall would be just too right to have a chance. However, I knew that there was never really a chance for Jim to win. 

So here we are. Jim Gilmore is trying one last shot at political relevance, this time by raising money for his PAC to funnel in to state races. He makes it fairly clear that he has no further political ambitions–why, then, keep this going? I can’t think of any part of the state where an appearance by Jim Gilmore would make a significant electoral difference. Perhaps he has some fundraising prowess that I can’t grasp (doubtful). However, it begs the question: Why is Jim Gilmore hanging around? 

He couldn’t be eyeing a certain vacant party office, could he?

Only In D.C.: Barney Frank and Ron Paul Unite!

April 3, 2009 1 comment

A key liberal figure and a key libertarian figure are joining forces on an issue to help American farmers and the economy as a whole. Although I’m not a huge fan of Ron Paul and think Barney Frank deserves all the criticism he’s receiving these days, I’m glad to see them uniting on common-sense legislation that will benefit one of America’s most important industries. From

It is unfortunate that the federal government has stood in the way of American farmers, including many who are struggling to make ends meet, from competing in the global industrial hemp market,” said Representative Ron Paul during his introduction of the bill yesterday before the U.S. House. “Indeed, the founders of our nation, some of whom grew hemp, would surely find that federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited, restrained federal government. Therefore, I urge my colleagues to stand up for American farmers and co-sponsor the Industrial Hemp Farming Act,” concluded Paul.

Eric Steenstra, of Vote Hemp, explains the issue and the opportunities:

“Under the current national drug control policy, industrial hemp can be imported, but it can’t be grown by American farmers,” says Steenstra. “The DEA has taken the Controlled Substances Act’s antiquated definition of marijuana out of context and used it as an excuse to ban industrial hemp farming. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 will return us to more rational times when the government regulated marijuana, but allowed farmers to continue raising industrial hemp just as they always had.”


U.S. companies that manufacture or sell products made with hemp include Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a California company who manufactures the number-one-selling natural soap, and FlexForm Technologies, an Indiana company whose natural fiber materials are used in over two million cars on the road today. Hemp food manufacturers, such as French Meadow Bakery, Hempzels, Living Harvest, Nature’s Path and Nutiva, now make their products from Canadian hemp. Although hemp now grows wild across the U.S., a vestige of centuries of hemp farming here, the hemp for these products must be imported. Hemp clothing is made around the world by well-known brands such as Patagonia, Bono’s Edun and Giorgio Armani.

At a time when not only small American farms are struggling but millions not in the agricultural industry are losing their jobs, it only makes sense to open up the opportunities for hemp production. The over-zealous and mis-directed “War on Drugs,” led by many who have little knowledge of actual drugs, their effects, and their production (which is all for another post, but important to point out here), has blocked for too long an exciting opportunity for America’s agricultural industry. Call you Congressman and Senator and tell them to support this important legislation.

Tea Party Coming to the Shenandoah Valley

If you won’t be able to make it to the one in Washington, DC or to the one in Richmond, join your fellow concerned citizens on April 15th at Noon in front of the Old Courthouse in downtown Winchester. Check here in the coming weeks for updates as they become available, as well as this very blog. Organizers are attempting to have Jill Holtzman Vogel headline the event. I can not think of  a more fitting scene for protesting the recent over-reach of government power and responsibility than a courthouse built on the remains of the original built in 1740, when the area was America’s first frontier and self-determination drove the survival of settlers and when this area represented freedom at its purest. Also of note: the building now contains a museum pertaining to the Civil War, which was the cause for the nation’s first income tax. 

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it or not, but if I do expect photos and video.

Wherein I make my fellow Goldwater fans uber-jealous

March 31, 2009 1 comment

The newest addition to my over 400 piece collection of political items.