Monday, June 28, 2010

Questions for the President

If you could ask current President Barack Obama three questions, what would they be? I'm not talking if you wrote him a letter, I'm talking you got to have a private meeting with him and have the chance to ask him three questions. I'm well aware that not everyone likes the current president, but I could give the same scenario with any president. If you don't want to pose your questions to the current president, than choose another president.

Here are my three questions:

What past president would you compare yourself to and why?

What are some ways you feel you can effectively reach across the aisle?

What are some ways you think we can get out of this economic crisis? What plans do you have to curve it?

It doesn't matter what president I talked to, it would just be nice to have a conversation with the leader of the free world.

Why I love Theodore Roosevelt

Anybody that knows me, knows that I love Theodore Roosevelt. In my opinion, he is up there with Lincoln, Washington, and the other Roosevelt as greatest President. Why so much love for this guy? Because Theodore Roosevelt knew how to live. He lived everyday like an adventure. He overcame huge obstacles in his life and achieved more than most presidents. Here is a short bio of Roosevelt.

Born in 1858 to a wealthy family, Roosevelt was a very sickly child suffering from severe asthma who could not leave the house often. He spent his early childhood reading about natural history. After being told by his father that if he (Theodore) didn't do something, he would be this way forever. Theodore then started living a strenuous life. He worked out and built his body up until he ultimately was rid of his asthma. He took up boxing and other forms of fighting to keep his active life going. One of his first playmates as a child was a girl named Edith Carow. They had a long friendship that later blossomed into a relationship that unfortunately didn't last long for unknown reasons. Attending Harvard, he became an avid historian, writing a book on the naval history in the War of 1812, that is still used as a textbook today in naval academies. While in college he met Alice Lee whom he was instantly smitten with and the two were shortly married thereafter. The two were married for four years until her death two days after their daughter Alice was born, and on the day of their fourth wedding anniversary from Brights disease. Hours earlier, Roosevelt's mother had passed away from Typhoid fever.

Roosevelt gave his new daughter to his sister and traveled to the Dakotas to deal with his immense grief. In his time on the western frontier, Roosevelt became a deputy sheriff and basically learned how to be a cowboy. Roosevelt would later track down and apprehend a whole gang of thieves and bring them back to justice.

After a severe winter wiped out all his cattle and his 60,000 dollars of investment, he decided to go back home to New York. There he met his old childhood friend Edith Carow, whom he had still had feelings for. After courting her for some time, they were married. They would eventually having five children, one being named Kermit, which by the way is awesome. Roosevelt then became active in politics. He would campaign for New York city mayor, but came in third place. Roosevelt became New York City Police Commissioner where he got rid of the infamous amount of corruption in the city police force. Roosevelt also campaigned for Benjamin Harrison and fought the spoils system. Roosevelt later became Assistant Secretary of the Navy, one of his dreams since he had a strong love for Naval history. Roosevelt left the post when the Spanish-American War broke out and he got together a band of "rough riders." They consisted of cowboys he had known from the Dakotas and various riff-raff. Though Roosevelt did not charge up San Juan Hill, but the hill next to it, he became famous for the supposed exploits of his rough riders. In truth, they had to leave their horses in the U.S., so they weren't really rough riders anymore.

Roosevelt rode the fame to become Governor of New York. Roosevelt was a thorn in many politicians sides since he was seen as an outsider that fought corruption. To get him out of that area of power, the politicians pushed him into the vice-presidency, which they and Roosevelt saw as a dead end job. Only one man realized what could happen when he commented that there was only one bullet between that madman and the presidency. He proved to be right when an anarchist shot then president McKinley.

Theodore Roosevelt was now president. His two terms were marked by reforms in the meat packing industry due to Roosevelt's reading of "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair, and the creation of the FDA. Roosevelt was known as a trust buster during his terms for his role in breaking up companies that held monopolies that he felt were damaging to the U.S. Roosevelt teamed with naturalist John Muir to set aside more land for national parks. Roosevelt was also a deeply religious man who wanted to get rid of "In God We Trust" on money. Doesn't sound right does it? Well, the reason he didn't want the phrase on there was because he felt that they shouldn't put the Lord's name on something as filthy as money. Roosevelt was the first president to invite an African American into the White House, namely Booker T. Washington. Roosevelt though would be considered, like most people at that time, a racist. He felt that white men were superior than minorities. Also controversial about Roosevelt were his views on imperialism. This actually goes hand in hand with the white supremacy thing. America, being the superior power, should be the kind of police of the frailer countries. This is shown in the Roosevelt Corollary, where Roosevelt told Europe not to bug Latin America about repaying debts. Speaking of Latin America, Roosevelt also had the Panama Canal built. He had to make Panama a country to do it, but he did do it. Roosevelt would be the first president to leave the U.S. after visiting the canal.

Roosevelt, though appearing imperialistic and extremely jingoist, presided over America in the most peaceful time in it's existence. Roosevelt also helped create a treaty between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War and became the first President to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Roosevelt was eccentric to say the least. He climbed mountains, traveled through jungles, and fought people. One famous incident was when Roosevelt lost the sight in his left eye after a boxing match. Foreign dignitaries were often confused and left speechless after Roosevelt's tours of the White House and surrounding area led them through lakes and climbing over walls. Roosevelt would walk in a straight line and go over or through anything in the way.

He left the presidency in the hands of Howard Taft. After leaving the presidency, Roosevelt went to Africa and killed a large amount of animals for the Smithsonian. Having found when he got back that Taft had not done things the exact way Roosevelt wanted, Roosevelt tried to get back into the presidency. Taft won the Republican primary after some back door dealings by Republicans to keep the controversial figure out of the White House. Roosevelt decided to start his own party. The Progressive Party, or nicknamed the Bull Moose Party, he ran against Taft and democrat Woodrow Wilson.

In a scenario that speaks of Roosevelt's toughness, Roosevelt was campaigning for the 1912 election when someone pushed through the crowd and shot him in the chest. Seeing that someone had shot the universally loved Theodore Roosevelt, the crowd preceded to tear the man limb from limb before the police interjected. Roosevelt noticed that he was not coughing up blood, so the bullet did not pierce his lungs. Had it not been for the bullet hitting his steel eyeglass case and his 50 page speech in his pocket, he might of died right there. But, he refused to be taken to the hospital and decided to deliver his speech. He got through it, then collapsed and was taken to the hospital. Now that's tough.

Due to the split in the Republican ticket, Wilson won the election. Roosevelt and his third party came in second, being the only time a third party trounced one of the two candidates. Roosevelt later traveled to South America to the River of Doubt, where he almost died from malaria and an infection on his leg. Physically worn from the trip and as a result of his huge and unhealthy appetite, Roosevelt died in 1919 while sleeping of most likely a heart attack.

Was Roosevelt perfect? No. But no president has been. They all have had their odd views and questionable orders. Roosevelt embodied strength, determination, and love for his country and people. He, like Lincoln and Jackson, was a president for the people, someone who had the common people's opinion at heart. I think what we need right now is another Theodore Roosevelt.

What does it have to do with me?

One question I hear a lot from the younger generation and even people from my own generation is what does history have to do with me? Why is it important to what I'm doing now? It's not exactly easy to answer without going into a huge explanation. The simple answer is "If we don't learn from history, we're doomed to repeat it." That is true, and I will point out those times in a later blog. We as a people cannot seem to learn from some of our mistakes. Another reason people say is that history tells us why we are where we are today. Wow, that was a mouthful. Anyway, I find both to be apt, but I will talk about the second.

We are shaped by our environment. Part of who we are comes from where we grew up and the people and situations around us. My experience is different from yours, as it is also different from someone who grew up in Russia or anywhere else around the world. If the U.S. were to have been in a constant depression instead of going up and down throughout my life, then my life might have been a little different. The best example I can give of how history has made the United States and the world what it is today is a look at a disagreement between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. I could go further, but this event really made things take off.

Austria-Hungary and Serbia didn't exactly get along during the late 1800's and early 1900's. Serbia became outraged that Austria-Hungary annexed the country of Bosnia, therefore cutting off Serbia from the Adriatic Sea. Serbia began getting into wars with parts of the Ottoman empire and conquered Kosovo and Macedonia. These military victories and anger over the annexation of Bosnia caused something drastic to happen in Serbia.

Mind you, at this time, all of these countries, including Russia and Germany were feeling extremely nationalistic. There was a lot of pride going around, but also some teaming up with other countries.

In the summer of 1914, the terrorist group called "The Black Hand" from Serbia got together to try and pick someone from the Austria-Hungary rulers to assassinate. When other choices didn't work out, they decided to go after presumptive heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were visiting Sarajevo in Bosnia to look at military maneuvers. The plan was to throw a percussion bomb at the couple's motorcade as they passed by. Two of the six members chickened out and didn't throw their bombs. The third did though, missed and blew up the car directly behind Ferdinand's. The would be assassin tried to take a cyanide pill but it it just made him throw up. The reaction from the crowd was typical with attempted or successful assassinations, they proceeded to try and beat the man to death before the police could intervene.

Ferdinand still gave his planned speech and then left with his motorcade. Having heard that the assassination failed, Gavrilo Princip, another member of the terrorist group, decided to get a sandwich like any terrorist would after a failed assassination. Upon leaving the deli, he saw something he probably didn't believe at first. It was the archduke and his wife going in reverse in front of the deli. Princip, not believing his luck, quickly pulled out his pistol and fired two shots into the car. The first went through Sophie's abdomen, and the second through the Archduke's jugular vein. Princip was quickly arrested. Both died within a short time.

So it's just another assassination, so what!? Well, in my opinion, it's one of the most world changing events in history. Here's why:

Since 1912, Austria-Hungary wanted any reason to destroy Serbia, and now they had it. They delivered a ultimatum that pretty much said that Serbia had to bow down to them and apologize for everything. If not, Austria-Hungary would declare war on them. Remember how I said that there was a lot of pride going around? Well, Serbia was a little too proud of that and told Austria-Hungary to bring it on. This is where all the dominoes start to fall. The two countries start to get all their friends in on it. Serbia gets their big brother Russia to back them up, who then got England, France, and Belgium among others. Austria-Hungary went and got it's big brother Germany to help them, who then got the Ottoman Empire. And just like that you have the first world war. America joined later on the side of Serbia. That sounds a little weird that the U.S. sided with the country that assassinated another countries future ruler, but OK.

Fast forward to the end. A lot of blame went on Germany and France and England wanted to punish them. Wilson and the U.S. didn't really want to do that, but Wilson's Fourteen Points were largely ignored. The Treaty of Versailles made Germany say that it caused the war, and that it had to give up land, most of it's military and pay reparations to the winners. This caused extreme bitterness in Germany as you can imagine and paved the way for a political party to lead them back to greatness. Or at least that's what the party said. The party I'm talking about is of course the Nazi's lead by Adolf Hitler. The Nazi's promised the German people that they would get revenge for what these other countries had done to them. This rise of the Nazi party eventually led to World War II.

Both wars shaped new countries in Asia and the Middle East. They may not have been created had it not have been for these wars. World War II lead to a sour relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, otherwise known as the Cold War. Our alliances in WWII and ambition to stomp out communism led us to Korea and Vietnam. The Cold War and the power struggles caused by our help and our enemies help caused massive unrest in Latin America and the Middle East.

My point is this: America and the rest of the world is where it is today because of one tiny event. Again, people will argue with me and say that any event would of caused Austria-Hungary and Serbia to go to war, or any other country to declare war, but I believe that it had to happen just like it did. Perhaps if it had happened any other way, we might not have the same technology we have today. The wars we have been in have caused great leaps in technology and a terrible toll on our people. America was still considered an isolated country before WWI. It even tried to get back to being that way afterward. But, ever since WWII, we haven't been able to keep ourselves out of another countries business.

So what does this have to do with me? What does this have to do with anybody? The answer is, quite frankly, is a lot. We are where we are today because of what happened that day. We are where we are today because of those two shots. We are where we are today because of the battle of Gettysburg. We are where we are today because of the siege at Yorktown during the Revolution. We, as people, and as a country have been shaped by our extensive and rich history. So, whether we like it or not, history does have a deep importance in our lives and shouldn't just be forgotten.

I know I rambled, but I love that story. It's all thanks to a sandwich you could say.


Welcome to my blog! I'm very new to this whole thing so bear with me. This blog will mainly deal with our history (American), and our many neighbor's history. I like a good story and a good discussion, which is one of the reasons I decided to start this blog. Besides delving into history, I will also talk about political science and the issues that we face in the present day. I am moderately political so every once in a while I will express my opinion on how things are going or how they have been dealt with in the past.

I'm doing this because...well...I have a lot of free time apparently, and because I love history. There are a lot of untold stories out there. I'm hoping I may be able to shed some some light on a few of them. Hope you enjoy my ramblings!