Category: History

The first Olympic broadcast on U.S. television lasted only 28 minutes

AUTHOR’S NOTE #1: This blog post contains a video that is in the public domain due to said video being an official work of the United States federal government.

AUTHOR’S NOTE #2: For the purposes of this blog post, “Games of the Olympiad” refer to the Summer Olympics.


Starting Wednesday, August 3 at 9:30 A.M. CDT (10:30 A.M. EDT), NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will air a round-robin stage women’s soccer match between Sweden and South Africa in the women’s soccer tournament at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. NBCSN’s broadcast of the first event of this year’s Olympics kicks off a whopping 6,755 hours of combined television and internet livestream coverage (schedule here) across several broadcast and cable/satellite networks that are part of the Comcast-owned NBCUniversal media conglomerate and the NBC Olympics website. Since Rio is only two hours ahead of U.S. Central Daylight Time during the month of August (due to Rio being south of the equator, Rio observes daylight savings time from mid-October to mid-February, not in August), much, but not all, of NBC’s Olympic coverage in 2016 will air live. NBC Olympic television coverage will air in English on NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, MSNBC, USA, Bravo, Golf Channel, NBC Olympic 4K, NBC Olympic Soccer Channel, and NBC Olympic Basketball Channel, and in Spanish on Univision and NBC Universo.

However, NBCUniversal’s extensive coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics pales in comparison to the minimal U.S. television coverage that the 1952 Summer Olympics received. However, what little television coverage that American viewers saw of the Helsinki Olympics of 1952 was, to my knowledge, the very first time the Olympics was broadcast on American television in any form.

The first time the Olympic Games were broadcast on American television was a 28 minute broadcast (not counting any commercials that may have aired on the television broadcast) of a documentary about the Games of the XV Olympiad in Helsinki, Finland in 1952, which officially opened on July 19, 1952 and officially closed on August 3 of the same year. Back then, there was no high-definition coverage, there was no digital television coverage, there was no color television coverage, there was no live coverage of the Games, there was no Spanish-language coverage, there was no coverage of Olympic events during the Games, and there wasn’t even television coverage of the Games during the year in which they were held! Instead, American television viewers saw a documentary, produced by the U.S. Army as part of the television documentary series The Big Picture, circa early 1954 (exact air date is lost to time, although the episode in question was the fifth episode following a Christmas-themed episode dated 1953), approximately one and a half years after the closing ceremony of the Helsinki Olympics! The production was a black-and-white documentary, with English-language narration provided by members of the U.S. Army Signal Corps (USASC), of highlights of the Helsinki Olympics. The highlights focused mainly on members of the U.S. Armed Forces who were competing for Team USA in the Helsinki Olympics.

According to Central Illinois television historian and WCCU-TV weather anchor Doug Quick, The Big Picture was aired across the ABC network, although some broadcast stations that either were affiliated with other networks or were independent broadcast stations aired the program as a syndicated program as well. It’s not clear which stations, or even how many stations, aired episode TV-250 of The Big Picture, which is the episode containing the documentary about the Helsinki Olympics.

You can watch the full documentary of the Games of the XV Olympiad here:

Ben Carson apparently thinks that abolitionists are only worth one-tenth of a person

For the first time in a century and a quarter, a woman will be on the face of U.S. paper currency. For the first time ever, the woman on the face of U.S. paper currency will be a woman of color.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has announced that Harriet Tubman, a slave, abolitionist, and pro-women’s suffrage activist who is best known for her roles in the Harper’s Ferry raid and the Underground Railroad, will replace Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the United States whose legacy includes the Trail of Tears forced removal of Native Americans from the South, on the front the $20 bill. $20 bills currently in circulation with Jackson on the front will still be legal tender, however.

While both Democratic presidential candidates have praised the Treasury Department’s decision to place Tubman on the most widely circulated form of U.S. paper currency, failed former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, now a Donald Trump supporter, went on FOX Business Network and said that he thinks that the Treasury Department should have put Tubman on the rarely-circulated $2 bill instead:

…During a Fox Business Network interview Wednesday, the failed presidential candidate turned Trump surrogate lamented to Neil Cavuto that Jackson was “a tremendous president” and “in honor of that we kick him off the money.” Asked whether he is, by extension, anti-Tubman, the retired neurosurgeon replied: “No. I love Harriet Tubman, I love what she did. We can find another way to honor her. Maybe a $2 bill?”…

Many Americans don’t realize this, but the $2 bill, which currently features Thomas Jefferson on the front of the bill, is actually legal tender in the United States. However, the $2 bill is rarely circulated (in fact, I’ve not seen a $2 bill in many years).

Now, back to the main point of this blog post…right-wingers have officially gone from believing that people of color are three-fifths of a person to believing that people of color are one-tenth of a person. Personally, while Tubman wasn’t my first choice for the new $20 bill (Sacajawea was my first preference), I don’t think that there’s a better way to honor Tubman, who is one of the greatest Americans to have ever lived, than to put her on the front of the most circulated form of U.S. paper currency. Oh, and I believe that people of color are full people.

Ted Cruz gets his history wrong about the Smoot-Hawley Tariff

In tonight’s Republican presidential debate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), one of four Republicans seeking the GOP’s presidential nomination, claimed that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff led to the Great Depression.

This is yet another right-wing lie from Cruz.

The truth of the matter is that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff was enacted in response to the Great Depression, not before the Great Depression. Although economic problems that led to the Great Depression had been building up for years prior to the 1929 stock market crash (most notably rampant income inequality), the crash is seen as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and is viewed by many historians as the beginning of the Great Depression. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff, named after then-Sen. Reed Smoot (R-UT) and then-Rep. Willis C. Hawley (R-OR), was signed into law by then-President Herbert Hoover in June of 1930, nearly nine months after the Black Tuesday stock market crash of 1929.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff failed to reverse the extreme economic decline for a number of reasons. First, the tariff was completely reactionary and not designed primarily to protect American manufacturing jobs or bring manufacturing jobs that went overseas back to America. Second, there wasn’t much in the way of social safety net programs or public works programs that any revenue generated by the tariff could be used to pay for back in 1930, as many of them still in place nowadays were enacted either as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal or as part of other policies enacted by subsequent presidents.

Ted Cruz, as well as many of the people he associates himself with, has a habit of lying through his teeth, and he’s proven that yet again. If you’re looking for a presidential candidate who will rebuild America and take on Wall Street greed, he’s not on stage tonight…he’s Bernie Sanders, and he’s seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

Hillary admires war hawks like Henry Kissinger and anti-LGBT bigots like Paul Wellstone

At the most recent Democratic presidential debate in Milwaukee, Hillary Clinton praised one of the most dangerous people in American history, Henry Kissinger, who was Richard Nixon’s right-hand man on foreign policy (Operation Menu was a U.S. carpet-bombing operation in Cambodia that Kissinger played a key role in). Nowadays, a carpet-bombing operation of any kind would be considered a war crime under international law. For someone like Hillary to praise someone like Kissinger is, in and of itself, proof that Hillary does not stand for the progressive values that the Democratic Party should stand for.

In recent days and weeks, Hillary has also praised the late Paul Wellstone, who represented Minnesota in the U.S. Senate for nearly two terms before his tragic death in a 2002 plane crash, was nearly a polar opposite of someone like Kissinger. In fact, Wellstone is someone that I admire, as he was progressive on nearly every political issue. However, he committed an unforgivable sin in 1996, when he voted for Bill Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act, a bill designed to discriminate against LGBT  couples by denying federal recognition of same-sex marriages. For Hillary to praise someone like Wellstone and use Wellstone to attack Bernie Sanders for standing up to progressive values amounts to effectively defending Wellstone’s bigotry towards the LGBT community.

Hillary Clinton is running the most right-wing campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination since George Wallace in 1972.

CAUGHT ON TAPE: Hillary’s “47%” moment

Remember when Republican Mitt Romney sunk his 2012 presidential campaign by attacking “47%” of Americans by trying to smear them as freeloaders?

Well, Hillary Clinton just pulled a Romney, ladies and gentlemen. That’s because Hillary, while at a political fundraiser in White Plains, New York, bragged about how she was taking “a little breather” from campaigning in Iowa:

Please note that I did NOT record the video.

It’s pretty clear to me that Hillary doesn’t like Iowa or the people who call Iowa home, and she’s willing to bash Iowa while in a friendly environment to her, such as a political fundraiser in the New York City suburbs.

For those of you who are Iowa Democrats, if there’s one thing that you’ll ever do that’s worthwhile in your entire life, caucus for Bernie Sanders!

Lambeau Field: The NFL stadium that is literally in its own time zone

In just a few hours, the Green Bay Packers will host the Minnesota Vikings in the final regular-season game of the 2015 NFL season. The winner of the game will win the NFC North division title and host a playoff game in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs next week. The loser of the game will take a wild card spot in the playoffs and play a road game in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

The Green Bay Packers play their home games at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. One interesting thing about Lambeau Field is that it’s literally in its own time zone.

While the Packers website lists game start times in Central Time, which every part of Wisconsin that has a permanent population officially observes, Lambeau Field itself, which has no permanent population but seats 81,435 people during Packers games, is actually on Lombardi Time, set 15 minutes ahead of Central Time. This is because an outdoor clock on the north outer wall of the stadium is deliberately set 15 minutes fast, compared to Central Time. As a result, Lambeau Field is in what I like to call the Lombardi Time Zone, which has an offset of UTC-5:45 during standard time and UTC-4:45 during daylight savings time (the Universal Time Code offsets for Central Time are UTC-6 for standard time and UTC-5 for daylight savings time). No other part of the world is located in this time zone. The Lombardi Time Zone is an unofficial time zone, in that, to my knowledge, neither international law, the U.S. federal government, nor the State of Wisconsin officially recognize Lombardi Time as an official time zone.

Lombardi Time gets its name from Vince Lombardi, the legendary Packers head coach who led the Packers to wins in the iconic “Ice Bowl” game on New Year’s Eve in 1967 and the first two Super Bowls ever held. When Lombardi coached the Packers from 1959-1967, he was known for expecting Packers players and staff to be 15 minutes early to practices and team meetings.

Donald Trump doesn’t believe in America

Make no mistake about it, Donald Trump’s virulent racism and fearmongering about immigrants is downright unpatriotic.

One of America’s most recognizable symbols is the Statue of Liberty, which sits on a small island at the mouth of the Hudson River in New York City. The Statue of Liberty symbolizes America’s history as a nation of immigrants. In fact, just upstream at Ellis Island, millions of immigrants began their lives as residents of this great country by being processed by immigration officials on Ellis Island.

I live in a much lesser-known symbol of America’s history as a nation of immigrants: the village of Westville, Illinois, located in the east-central part of the state. In the early 20th century, immigrants, mostly from Eastern Europe, came to work in the coal mines that once surrounded Westville. At one time, Westville could boast of having people of over three dozen nationalities living in its immediate area. Throughout America’s history, immigrants built cities and communities across this country.

Donald Trump is running one of the most anti-American presidential campaigns in American history.

Donald Trump erected a phony Civil War monument at his golf club in Virginia

Donald Trump erected a phony Civil War monument at his golf club in Virginia

While I’d never support an overt racist like Donald Trump for president or any other public office, one thing that I have in common with Trump is that I like the sport of golf. Although I’ve never played on a regular golf course (I’ve played miniature golf a couple of times, and I’m absolutely terrible at it), I’ve come to like the sport of golf enough that I’ve started watching the four major men’s golf tournaments (The Masters, U.S. Open, The (British) Open Championship, and PGA Championship) on television each year.

However, unlike me, who has never owned, built, or designed a golf course, Trump owns many golf courses, two of which are located at Trump National Golf Club in northeastern Loudoun County, Virginia (TNGC DC).

There are three phony claims made by Trump, both of which involve TNGC DC.

You only need to bring up TNGC DC’s website to find the first phony Trump claim involving TNGC DC: the golf club is not actually located in Washington, D.C., as Trump himself claims on TNGC DC’s website in a signed statement on the front page. However, the course is located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, as Loudon County, Virginia is part of the DC metro area.

For the other two phony claims from Trump, you’ll need to actually play one of the courses at TNGC DC, although this article from The New York Times gives a partial description of the location where the second and third phony claims can be found. Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the two courses at TNGC DC (the NYT article did not specify which course), there is a monument that commemorates a Civil War battle that didn’t happen:

Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the club’s two courses, Mr. Trump installed a flagpole on a stone pedestal overlooking the Potomac, to which he affixed a plaque purportedly designating “The River of Blood.”

“Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot,” the inscription reads. “The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as ‘The River of Blood.’ ”

The inscription, beneath his family crest and above Mr. Trump’s full name, concludes: “It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River!”

There’s actually two phony claims made by Trump on that monument. The first phony claim is Trump’s claim that he preserved the section of the Potomac River that runs next to TNGC DC, which is false, since Trump had hundreds of trees chopped down as part of the renovation of TNGC DC, which Trump purchased in 2009. The second phony claim is the claim by Trump that a large number of casualties occurred at the location where the monument is located. As historians who are experts on Civil War battles in Northern Virginia will tell you, this is a false claim:

The club does indeed lie a stone’s throw from Rowser’s Ford, where, as an official historical marker notes, Gen. J.E.B. Stuart led 5,000 Confederate troops including cavalry across the Potomac en route to the Battle of Gettysburg.

But no one died in that crossing, historians said, or in any other notable Civil War engagement on the spot.

Donald Trump has a habit of telling tales that are taller than the trees that he had cut down when he renovated TNGC DC. Even his monument on one of his golf courses at TNGC DC includes inaccurate claims!

47 House Dems side with ISIS and Nazi-like bigotry from the GOP

47 House Dems side with ISIS and Nazi-like bigotry from the GOP

A total of 47 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted for anti-Syrian refugee legislation straight out of a Nazi Germany mindset. Here are the House Democrats who voted for the legislation:

Pete Aguilar California 31st
Brad Ashford Nebraska 2nd
Ami Bera California 7th
Sanford Bishop, Jr. Georgia 2nd
Julia Brownley California 26th
Cheri Bustos Illinois 17th
John Carney Delaware At-large
Gerry Connolly Virginia 11th
Jim Cooper Tennessee 5th
Jim Costa California 16th
Joe Courtney Connecticut 2nd
Henry Cuellar Texas 28th
John Delaney Maryland 6th
Lloyd Doggett Texas 35th
Tulsi Gabbard Hawaii 2nd
John Garamendi California 3rd
Gwen Graham Florida 2nd
Gene Green Texas 29th
Janice Hahn California 44th
Jim Himes Connecticut 4th
Steve Israel New York 3rd
Marcy Kaptur Ohio 9th
Bill Keating Massachusetts 9th
Ron Kind Wisconsin 3rd
Ann McLane Kuster New Hampshire 2nd
Jim Langevin Rhode Island 2nd
Dan Lipinski Illinois 3rd
Dave Loebsack Iowa 2nd
Stephen Lynch Massachusetts 8th
Sean Patrick Maloney New York 18th
Patrick Murphy Florida 18th
Rick Nolan Minnesota 8th
Donald Norcross New Jersey 1st
Scott Peters California 52nd
Collin Peterson Minnesota 7th
Jared Polis Colorado 2nd
Kathleen Rice New York 4th
Raul Ruiz California 36th
Tim Ryan Ohio 13th
Kurt Schrader Oregon 5th
David Scott Georgia 13th
Terri Sewell Alabama 7th
Kyrsten Sinema Arizona 9th
Louise Slaughter New York 25th
Marc Veasey Texas 33rd
Filemon Vela Texas 34th
Tim Walz Minnesota 1st

When I say that these 47 Democratic traitors sided with ISIS, I mean that they are effectively fueling ISIS propaganda by refusing to take in the very people who have been oppressed by ISIS and the Syrian dictatorship of Bashir al-Assad. When I say that this legislation is straight out of a Nazi Germany mindset, I’m referring to public opposition here in the U.S. to accepting Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust and the Nazi Germany regime of Adolf Hitler in the late 1930’s.

It’s not just moderate and conservative “Democrats” who are effectively siding with ISIS and repeating the history of the Nazis by opposing Syrian refugees. Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson have used racist, Nazi-like language to stir up fear of Syrian refugees among white racist Americans.

Here’s what Trump recently said, courtesy of Yahoo! News:

“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.

“We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said when presented with the idea. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

Here’s what Carson recently said, courtesy of NBC News:

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Thursday suggested that concerns about Syrian refugees in the United States are akin to a parent’s concerns about “mad dogs.”

“If there’s a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you’re probably going to put your children out of the way,” he said during remarks in Mobile, Alabama. “[It] doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs, by any stretch of the imagination, but you’re putting your intellect into motion and you’re thinking ‘How do I protect my children? At the same time, I love dogs and I’m gonna call the humane society and hopefully they can come take this dog away and create a safe environment once again.'”

Any Democrat who voted for the anti-Syrian refugee legislation has effectively sided with right-wing racists like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who are using Nazi Germany-like language in opposition to allowing Syrian refugees to enter the United States. Supporting requiring that Muslims have special identification is eerily reminiscent of the Nazis forcibly tattooing identification numbers onto Jewish people in concentration camps, and comparing Syrian refugees fleeing war and terrorism to mad dogs is eerily reminiscent of Nazi propaganda comparing Jewish people to rats (in fact, at least one British newspaper, the Daily Mail, actually compared Syrian refugees to rats). Normally, I’m not a fan of Nazi comparisons, but, if there’s actual historical context behind a Nazi comparison, then I’m all for it.

One last thing, I find it ironic that the number of House Democrats who voted for the anti-Syrian refugee bill (47) equals the number of Senate Republicans who signed a letter to Iranian leaders in an attempt to undermine diplomacy in efforts to stop a nuclear deal designed to keep Iran from producing nuclear weapons (47), as well as the percentage of Americans that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney claimed were dependent on the government (47).

Hillary Clinton’s claim on the rationale behind Bill Clinton’s support for DoMA is total bull

In case you missed it, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was caught red-handed trying to rewrite history. Specifically, Hillary tried to claim that the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA), signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996, was a defensive measure designed to appease religious conservatives, who were pushing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have banned same-sex couples from getting married anywhere in the country.

A 1996 memo, written by Clinton Administration officials Jack Quinn, George Stephanopoulos, and Marsha Scott, gives some insight as to the rationale behind what prompted Bill Clinton to sign DoMA, which was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress with all but one Republican and many Democrats voting for it, into law. While the memo mentioned efforts to enact marriage equality at the state level in Hawaii in the mid-1990’s, nowhere in the memo does it reference any kind of movement to enact a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In fact, the memo clearly referenced the fact that Bill opposed marriage equality in 1996.

Chris Geidner has done a ton of research on Bill Clinton’s role in regards to DoMA, and he has found zero evidence to back up Hillary’s claim that Bill supported DoMA as any kind of defensive measure to prevent religious conservatives from enacting a federal constitutional amendment enshrining anti-LGBT bigotry in the U.S. Constitution. To put that another way, Hillary’s claim on Bill’s rationale for supporting discriminatory legislation that was struck down by a conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court long after Bill was out of office is a bunch of bull.

I’m from an area of Illinois that is full of Religious Right extremists, and I’m very familiar with the Religious Right’s political modus operandi. If they had enough support to amend the U.S. Constitution to enshrine their bigotry in the Constitution at any point in modern American history, they would have done so as quickly as possible. Their whole political modus operandi is to do everything possible to shove their religious beliefs down everybody else’s throats. For the Clintons to try to rewrite history by claiming that DoMA was some kind of defensive measure designed to ward off the Religious Right’s attempt to enshrine their bigotry in the Constitution is flatly absurd.