Friday, July 21, 2017

Documentary Review: 30 for 30 June 17th, 1994

Directory Brett Morgan; ESPN Documentary on the arrest of O.J. Simpson for the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman.  This documentary using only footage from news sources, and covers the hysteria over O.J. Simpson.  It deals with other sports events happening at the same time; the retirement of Arnold Palmer, the New York Rangers winning the Stanley Cup, and the New York Knicks winning game five of the NBA Finals.  But the big news was O.J. Simpson in his Bronco being chased by more and more policemen and 20 media helicopters.  People lined the freeway to wave to Simpson.  He reportedly had a gun to his head.  After he stopped it took a long time for police to convince him to throw the gun away.  Crazy good job of editing and putting this together.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

What Did Reagan Know of Iran-Contra

Unsolved Mysteries of American History, by Paul Aron, Barnes and Noble, New York, 1997.

What Did Reagan Know of Iran-Contra.  The bottom line is President Reagan was blamed for setting an atmosphere where Iran-Contra took place, but not with actually knowing about any specific plans.  Congress had passed laws forbidding the financing of the Contra Rebels in Nicaragua.  Reagan looked to them as fighters against Communism.  He wanted funding to continue, but did not give any specifics, and his hands were tied by congress.  Lawrence Walsh was appointed the independent counsel.  The resulted in criminal charges against fourteen people.  These were crimes like taking an illegal gratuity, withholding evidence etc.  By the end, Wash’s investigation looked much like a witch hunt, as he tried to go after the Secretaries of Defense and State, Casper Weinberger and George Schultz.  President Reagan said he simply could not remember much about the negotiations with Iran to sell arms, to fund the Contras.  Perhaps this was the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

What Caused the Salem Witch-Hunt?

Unsolved Mysteries of American History, by Paul Aron, Barnes and Noble, New York, 1997.
The Salem Witch Trials as they are known, resulted in twenty executions, fourteen woman.  Also five people died while imprisoned, including two children.  What Caused the Salem Witch-Hunt?  This is a question with many answers.  What is known for sure is that an area was effected with mass hysteria.  Some made accusations to free themselves.  It started when two girls had attacks which were not contributed to epilepsy.  Their Black servant who dabbled in voo-doo provided an excellent excuse, which then resulted in more and more accusations.  Upwards of fifty persons spent time in prison.  There was a preexisting feud going on between the Putnams and the Porters.  The Putnams being the second wife, and her son, who inherited a very large estate, which the descendants of the first wife thought should belong to them.  Joseph Putnam, of the second wife, married a bride of considerable wealth, a Porter.  The Putnams were among the accusers.  The daughter of Thomas Putnam was one of those who had fits blamed on witchcraft.  The Porters and their friends were often named as witches.  However the Porter side of the family remained rich, while the Putnam side remained poor, and most of them moved away.  In addition to the feud, there were other motives.  The magistrate who carried out the arrests benefited greatly.  One of the priest, who wasn’t fully drawn to the idea, prospered when a rival priest was accused.  The judges also may have been in on the profiteering.   

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The German Blunder at Dunkirk



The German invasion of Western Europe was militarily stupendous.  they scored a significant success.  First Poland was forced to surrender.  the British and French supported Poland, but only from a distance.  they were not prepared for an offensive campaign.  Hitler wanted to attack France and Britain, but was convinced to wait, and develop a new plan for invasion.  This would include invasion of Holland and Denmark.  Another group would keep the Allies occupied at the Maginot Line, while a third group, with most of the armor would attack to the north.  This group attacked through the forest and hills of Ardennes.  This area was such an unlikely place to attack, it was not well defended.  This group flanked the Allied forces, and cut them off.  They then turned north to confront them directly.  The Allied forces were now surrounded on three sides, and trapped in a pocket around Dunkirk.  The Belgians indicated they were close to surrender.  The British commander called for an evacuation by sea.  The Panzers stopped outside Dunkirk to regroup for the final battle.  However Hitler gave the job of finishing off the British to the Luftwaffe.  Hermann Gohring had requested this honor to prove the might of German air power.  The evacuation rescued hundreds of thousands.  The final blow could not be administered from the air.  The British did suffer heavy losses, but not near as disastrous as it could have been.  Many ships were sunk, including private ships and merchant ships which were pushed into action.  Eventually the rescue was limited to night time action.  The Royal Air Force extracted a toll form the Luftwaffe.  The Allied losses included over 170 aircraft and over 200 ships.  Also 50,000 prisoners.  Total in men killed included almost 70,000 British, and over 300,000 total casualties.  338,000 men were evacuated, including 140,000 non British.
By the numbers, this was  a tremendous German victory.  However the British army lived on to fight another day.  Had Hitler deployed the Panzers, the result would have been even more lopsided.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Native American Art and Artifacts at San Juan Bautista

Intricate basket for fishing or for storage
arrow head
basketry
grinding rock mortar and pestle
tools
tule boat
mortar

duck decoy
dream catcher (this was in the store rather than the museum

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Documentary: Oklahoma City (2017)

This is a PBS documentary, which covers the theme of how conservative thought lead to the Oklahoma City bombing, or at least it seems like that is the intent of the film.  In this aspect, I think it failed to a degree.  It says the attitude prompted Timothy McVeigh to act, although he was not an actual member of any of the groups, such as paramilitary, or NeoNazi.  It does make a case that he was angry about how things were going.  He had actually been present at WACO.  However casting blame unto those who never even knew McVeigh would be a stretch.
What this documentary does well is tell the stories of those who were victims of the bombing.  these are innocent people, and in many cases children, because the day care in the Alfred P. Murrah building was destroyed by the bomb which McVeigh detonated April 19, 1995.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Documentary: Prelude to War

As Frank Capra looked for a way to make a war related movie about "Why we Fight" he came upon the idea of using Nazi propaganda pieces and turn them around.  The Germans had made many propaganda pieces using speeches by Adolf Hitler.  There were also Benito Mussolini speeches available as well as Emperor Yamamoto.  Capra showed the beginning of the war being 1941 when Japan invaded Manchuria.  He explained how the powers hoped to eventually claim the entire world.  He did this using maps with the flag of different groups overlaid.  With that as the basis for this film, Capra was able to make a fantastic propaganda piece, "Prelude to War" which explained to the American people why we were fighting the war.  The attitude of the American people quickly changed, from avoiding the war, to being fully engaged.
Capra won an Academy Award for this film.  It was used as a training film for new recruits.  It was released in 1942,