Author Archives: David Noon

March 24, 2010, 1:45 pm

Lying Liberal Liars and their Loathsome Lies

Kevin Levin has been having some fun with Larry Schweikart’s recently published — and oddly titled — 48 Liberal Lies About American History. (I mean, only 48? Seriously? He couldn’t find two more? Clearly, he hasn’t reviewed the latest scholarship on George Washington’s ursine sex fetishes and contributions to the early cocaine trade, to say nothing of his extra testicles and his callous disregard for the British children.)

Anyhow, Schweikart — last seen writing a book that should have embarrassed his mother — has discovered some remarkable untruths that are, he claims, standard leftist issue in US History texts.  Among them:

  • “John F. Kennedy was Killed by LBJ and a Secret Team to Prevent Him from Getting Us Out of Vietnam”
  • “Ronald Reagan Knew ‘Star Wars’ Wouldn’t Work but Wanted to Provoke a War with the USSR.”
  • “September 11 Was Not the Work of Terrorists.  It Was a…

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February 12, 2010, 12:27 pm

“Look – I couldn’t eat another thing. I’m absolutely stuffed. Bugger off.”

Today we remember the hapless epicure Adolf Frederick I, a twig from the Holstein family tree who reigned as King of Sweden from 1751 until his death in on this date in 1771. His two decades on the throne were significant only to the extent that he presided helplessly over the decline of the Swedish kingdom.

As sovereign, Frederick I was almost completely powerless and functioned more or less as an ornament while the riksdag managed the affairs of state, which included Sweden’s commitment to the Seven Years’ War — the first truly global war in human history, provoked by a poisonous mixture of European internal politics and colonialism.  Sweden’s contribution to the struggle consisted mainly of throwing a series of tiny, scrofulous armies into the field against Frederick II of Prussia.  The Prussian ruler was so unimpressed with the Swedish effort that when hostilities ended in …

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January 27, 2010, 11:29 pm

Shameful, self-promotional Howard Zinn death tie-in

Whatever we might offer on the merits of Zinn’s signature work, I think we can all unite around the knowledge that it beats A Patriot’s History of the United States like a rented, red-headed step-mule. I don’t ordinarily have favorite paragraphs in anything I write — preferring instead to focus on paragraphs I hate slightly less than all the rest — this one was a lot of fun to produce:

Worse, in their chapters on recent U.S. history, the authors make claims that are not even remotely endorsed by the footnoted sources. In excoriating the Great Society, for instance, Schweikart and Allen observe that one “malignant result of AFDC’s no-father policy was that it left inner-city black boys with no male role models” (p. 689). In support of this Gingrichian pronouncement, the authors cite a single 1989 study from Social Forces— an article that makes no mention of AFDC, inner-city black…

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January 9, 2010, 8:12 am

The Lonely Death of Anson Jones

Of all places, however, the Republic of Texas (1836-1845) was the undisputed champion of political suicide during the 19th century. No other state witnessed the self-murder of so many of its early leaders, with no fewer than five prominent Texans taking their own lives between independence and the end of the US Civil War. George Childress, for instance, one of the republic’s founders, gutted himself with a Bowie knife in 1841 after three attempts at establishing a law practice came to naught. Two other founders, Thomas Jefferson Rusk and Royal Tyler Wheeler, shot themselves in 1857 and 1864, respectively.

In mid-July 1838, the republic’s presidential campaign — a contest to succeed Sam Houston — was thrown into chaos when two of the major contenders committed suicide within a span of 48 hours. On July 8, Peter Wagner Grayson — Houston’s attorney general and heir apparent…

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January 8, 2010, 3:22 pm

Well, that’s somewhat of a relief…

As the only US historian at my tiny university, I’m obligated to teach both halves of the survey as well as all sorts of courses that take me outside my areas of expertise. And lacking many of those, I spend much of my time in the classroom wondering if I’m not selling expired merchandise, interpretations or approaches that more accomplished professionals with better time management skills might have dismissed years if not decades ago.

That said, I’m relieved to report that at least where my treatment of the Revolutionary War is concerned, I manage to avoid these seven myths, described and debunked in nice detail by John Ferling. I come somewhat close to repeating two of the items on the list — I probably understate the possibility that Britain might have wom the war after 1778, and I probably overstate the turning-pointedness of Saratoga — but I think a jury of Ferlings would…

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December 9, 2009, 2:05 pm

Brother West Follow-Up

Scott McLemee responds to some of his sublime and funky demonstrably insane critics. It’s well worth the read, for this paragraph among many other reasons:

In any case, I want to make clear that there is no way I would ever send Cornel West a box of fried chicken. If we’re going to indulge in identity politics, let me just mention that I come from a Southern working-class family. If I had a box of fried chicken, I would eat it myself. Cornel West earns more in a weekend of public speaking than I do from a year of writing. Let him buy his own food.

December 3, 2009, 11:40 am

Like Foreigner, Cornel West wants to know what love is

(Via Ben Alpers)

It’s probably not the case that Cornel West’s new memoir approaches the low standard recently established by my former governor, but this passage is truly cause for wonder:

The basic problem with my love relationships with women is that my standards are so high — and they apply equally to both of us. I seek full-blast mutual intensity, fully fledged mutual acceptance, full-blown mutual flourishing, and fully felt peace and joy with each other. This requires a level of physical attraction, personal adoration, and moral admiration that is hard to find. And it shares a depth of trust and openness for a genuine soul-sharing with a mutual respect for a calling to each other and to others. Does such a woman exist for me? Only God knows and I eagerly await this divine unfolding. Like Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship in Emily Bronte’s remarkable novel Wuthering…

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November 18, 2009, 12:27 pm

Palin’s Folly

So I’m currently suffering my way through Sarah Palin’s book, in a style not altogether dissimilar to Jesus’ ordeal in the hands of the Roman Empire. I won’t pollute the air around here with too many details from the book, but I was amused to see that my former governor repeats the cherished myth that Americans mocked 19th century maverick William Seward for writing a Facebook note about “death panels” arranging the purchase of Alaska in 1867.

Critics ridiculed Seward for spending so much on a remote chunk of earth that some thought of as just a frozen, inhospitable wilderness that was dark half the year. The $7.2 million purchas became known as “Seward’s Folly” or “Seward’ Icebox.” Seward withstood the mocking and disdain because of his vision for Alaska. He knew her potential to help secure the nation with her resources and strategic position on the globe. . . . [D]ecades later,…

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November 9, 2009, 5:11 pm

What FDR wanted

Steve Benen, in the course of making an argument that most of his commenters don’t want to hear, overstates FDR’s intentions with the Social Security Act.

Roosevelt, the towering political figure of the 20th century, with an electoral mandate, a Democratic Congress, and the stench of a failed Republican president fresh on the nation’s mind, had to take what he could get on Social Security, which was far less than what he wanted.

Now, in a perfect world, a unicorn or magic pony of some kind would have written a history of the Great Depression and the New Deal that corrected this gentle myth in a short, introductory fash–OMIGOD! LOOKEE HERE!

The report [Committee on Economic Security] sent to Roosevelt called for universal coverage of the American elderly by pensions paid for partly by their own contributions and increasingly, over time, out of the general revenues of the U.S. Treasury….

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October 27, 2009, 11:01 am

Worst. Marketing. Ever.


October 6, 2009, 3:02 pm

Whiteboard Madness: The Great Crash of 1929

If future civilizations needed to reverse-engineer my Pollocky whiteboard splatter to learn something about the state of historical knowledge in 2009, I honestly can’t imagine what sense they’d make of it all.

That wheel-like thing there in the second picture?  That’s the US banking system in 1929.  The thing is, it really looked like that! But someone, someday, will probably see that as a really terrible visual metaphor for . . . something or other.  On the other hand, I’m particularly proud of the stick figure buying $100 worth of stock on margin.  I think I did a nice job of capturing the “I’m Really Getting Screwed Here, But I don’t Yet Know It” look.

September 3, 2009, 12:23 am

“the peace and tranquility of this state”

In the wake of George Wallace’s June 1963 “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” — when the recalcitrant governor made good on his campaign pledge to “Stand Up for Alabama” by attempting to block two black students from enrolling at the state’s flagship university — Wallace began entertaining dreams of greater glory. Unlike certain young, recently-elected, revanchist governors in our own historical moment, George Wallace believed he would be better positioned for a run at the presidency if he were actually sitting in office at the time of the campaign; with 1968 in mind, he asked the Alabama legislature to amend the state constitution so that he might win a second term in 1966. While he waited — fruitlessly, as it would happen — Wallace began considering an intra-party challenge to John Kennedy. (He would eventually announce his intentions in Dallas in November 1963, not far …

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August 23, 2009, 3:56 pm

Justice too long delayed is justice denied

In the course of arguing that Congress should really do virtually nothing about health care, Joe Lieberman approvingly cites the Civil Rights movement as a model of incremental change. Why he believes it was a good thing that nearly a century passed before the federal government outlawed racial discrimination and provided meaningful substance to the Reconstruction Amendments, I won’t bother to speculate, but one would have to be a complete tool not to recognize that if a society is morally obligated to dismantle an exploitative and violent caste system, there’s no especially good reason to advocate that such change should take place “in steps.”

It’s another thing entirely to recognize that such changes did take place incrementally, though it’s worth pointing out that the legislation of 1964 and 1965 were dramatic and comprehensive by comparison with anything the previous ten decades…

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June 5, 2009, 4:59 pm

“this tipping automatically — it’s for the birds”

June 4, 2009, 11:41 pm

Warren Harding: Waffle Man

Oh, the things you’ll learn from Google Books:

Text not available
The Stag Cook Book Written for Men by Men. By Carroll Mac Sheridan, Robert H. Davis [1922]

You know, for a man who apprently knew his way around a kitchen — having once been discovered making sweet, sweet love to Carrie Fulton Phillips on the kitchen table of his Marion, Ohio home — Warren Harding had some pretty unadventurous taste in waffles.  Though I suppose we can grant him some courage (albeit anachronistically) for admitting he liked waffles in the first place.  He’d never hear the end of it if he made the same mistake today.

…Also, Smoot!

…and a recipe for corn bread, from the last bearded man to run for US President on a major party ticket.

Clearly, this is the most excellent cookbook ever.