October 11

Blog #102 – FDR’s 2nd Bill of Rights

As part of his State of the Union address on January 11, 1944, President Roosevelt presented the nation with a 2nd Bill of Rights – economic rights that the government would have to guarantee for all Americans once the laws were passed.  Take a look at the following video:

Some of the key passages are as follows:
“It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence…People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
1. The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation (since only 2-3% of the nation are farmers and less than 20% are in industry, this would have to change if this BoR / laws were implemented);
 
2. The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
 
3. The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living (since so few of us are farmers now, this might change);
 
4. The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
 
5. The right of every family to a decent home;
 
6. The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health (did we just achieve this in 2010 with the passage of ObamaCare?);
 
7. The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
 
8. The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.  For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”
Image result for fdr 2nd bill of rights

He listed 8 things that would bring economic security to our nation and hopefully, by extension, to the rest of the world.  At the point that he gave this address in history, America was NOT planning on a Cold War with the Soviet Union or stockpiling tens of thousands of nuclear missiles or spending billions on a military budget every year.  None of the 46 years of futility vs. the Soviet Union was set in stone, nor the explosion and entrenchment of the military-industrial complex in our national economy like it is today.

However, America was coming out of the war w/ its biggest national debt in its history (having borrowed $200 billion from the American people in war bonds – $170 billion held by U.S. taxpayers – and from American banks + $100 billion in income taxes).  Congressmen were wary of spending huge amounts of money on peace time programs, especially for FDR, because his New Deal programs had had such a mixed track record of success and failure.

The reason I bring this issue up is b/c I think that the country has spent the next 73 years (and may continue) to try to achieve his goals.  As we progress through the school year, we’ll return to these eight core principles and examine how we have failed and / or succeeded.

Your questions to answer: 
1. Out of the 8 new rights listed above, which of them do you believe have been addressed in some way or another since 1944?  Try to pick at least 2 and explain our country has tried to address them (if you choose #6, please try to do some research and not repeat misinformation that you might have heard on talk shows, i.e., it’s going to save billions, death panels, it forces everyone to buy insurance, etc.)

2. Which of these 8 rights should be the one that is immediately addressed or fixed by our Congress and President?  Why?

3. Which one of these seems the least likely to be enforceable / possible to make an economic right (please don’t pick the farming right – it doesn’t affect too many people)?  Why?

350 words minimum total for all three answers.  Due Monday, October 16th by class.    

Here’s Glenn Beck’s take on FDR’s 2nd Bill of Rights.  Here.

Further reading:
To read a book review entitled: “FDR’s 2nd Bill of Rights: A New New Deal” click here.
A response to this book from Forbes magazine who say that only one Bill of Rights is quite enough. click here.
Here’s an analysis of how the 2nd Bill is going so far: Click here.
An article about how the 2nd BoR violates the Constitution, click here.

September 27

Blog #101 – Using atomic bombs on Japan

So, we talked about the use of the atomic bombs on Japan to end the war.  In the notes on Okinawa’s influence on the decision to use the bomb taken from the book, Ripples of Battle by Victor David Hanson, he listed several reasons why he thought the bombs should have been used.  One of the most persuasive points that he stated was the “Manchurian bloodbath” that could have been expected between the 1.6 million Soviet troops vs. 1 million Japanese troops if Japan did not surrender.

However, a lot of second guessing has gone into America’s use of atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945, even starting with former general and future president Dwight Eisenhower in 1948 who did not want America to be the first to use nuclear weapons.

According to the article in Portrait of America“The Biggest Decision: Why We Had to Drop the Atomic Bomb” by Robert J. Maddox, the author worked on dispelling some of the myths that have popped up since 1945.  The generals may have overestimated the Allied casualties, but the June 8 meeting with Truman stated that General George Marshall estimated that only 31,000 casualties would be inflicted during the invasion of Kyushu (Operation Olympic).  What intelligence sources had discovered in the days before Hiroshima, the Japanese Imperial Command had correctly guessed what the Allies were planning and had reinforced Kyushu with over 500,000 (actually over 900,000 but the Allies didn’t know that at the time).

So, logic follows that Truman made the decision to drop the bomb in order to spare more lives, mainly American lives, from a costly invasion.

But did Truman drop the bombs to intimidate the Soviets?  The war in Europe was over, and critics have claimed that the U.S. was trying to get the Soviets to either withdraw from Eastern Europe or at least be more open to agreeing with U.S. demands.  However, Stalin was given the info about the success of the Trinity test (from spies) and therefore knew about the atomic bomb while at the Potsdam Conference in July 1945.   Whether or not he felt intimidated was not recorded, therefore is not known.

Another sticking point was whether Japan was ready to surrender.  According to the Maddox article, Japan had sent peace feelers out through the Soviets but some members of the Japanese government (those with the power) wanted to continue fighting to protect Emperor Hirohito from prosecution of war crimes (because German leaders were going to be tried for the Holocaust).  What role Hirohito played has been (and still is) debated, but the military could see the writing on the wall with the prosecutions beginning in Germany after the discovery of the concentration camps.  Would the emperor be retained as part of the Allies sticking to unconditional surrender terms?  Or, as Truman had mentioned, would they soften on this one sticking point in order to end the war earlier to save hundreds of thousands of lives?   The problem with interpreting the signals sent by the Japanese government at this time is that it sent mixed signals depending upon who was being asked.  If it was a military officer, he was willing to fight to the end.  If it was a politician, some kind of compromise was possible by the summer of 1945.

Furthermore, what would have happened to the Allied prisoners of war captured by the Japanese scattered throughout Asia if the Allies had invaded Japan in November 1945?  Chances are, they might have been killed or tortured so they wouldn’t be of any use to an invading Allied army.

Is it possible to judge an historical era from 70 yrs later, especially one so fraught with controversy since the 1994 Smithsonian exhibit?   See links below:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-mitchell/for-64th-anniversary-the_b_252752.html

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/08/30/us/smithsonian-alters-plans-for-its-exhibit-on-hiroshima-bomb.html

Your job: examine at least 2 of the issues discussed in the blog (things Truman probably had on his mind when weighing the decision to drop the bomb), and use/reference at least two of the documents (the notes on Okinawa, “The Final Act” article, and the Portrait).

What would you have advised President Truman do under these circumstances especially if you didn’t know what the outcome would be?  Why?  (You can pretend you don’t know the results of the bombing or not – I leave it up to you).

350 words minimum answer. 

Due Monday, October 2 by class.  

September 26

World War 2 Google Docs

1st Hour – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_Jw3J2yy4SQbhWSZgEtkv8QW21VnqOoAGj9Fa8lxFcU/edit?usp=sharing

2nd Hour – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Z9ScFqg1xrFqme2vcFsetz-Do_mxS6_4UG9XTS1bVMo/edit?usp=sharing

4th Hour – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VRlL_XgzL9wLdnG69-z3u-mu8CnH1QRUQjjv1V750To/edit?usp=sharing

Due Thursday night, Sept. 28, by 10pm.

Image result for world war 2 propaganda   Image result for world war 2 propaganda     Image result for world war 2 propaganda

 

June 3

Blog 87- Obama + Hiroshima = Apology?

“I will never apologize for the United States – I don’t care what the facts are.”
George H.W. Bush

President Obama went to Hiroshima recently and some people were clamoring for an apology to the city or the Japanese people for the dropping of the atomic bomb(s) in August 1945. An individual quoted in the New York Times was quoted as saying that “an apology by the president ‘would set the tone of reconciliation that all nations can respond to.'”

In the same article, another person said that Obama could “lament the damage caused by the atomic bombs without apologizing for their use.” A third person said that the president shouldn’t apologize for the bombs because the bombs “saved lives by avoiding a [total war] military invasion of Japan.”

A fourth opinion suggested that Obama use his speech to get the Japanese to confront their troubled legacy from World War 2 and their atrocities in Korea and China. A fifth person suggested that since Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for advocating the reduction of nuclear weapons, he should announce his veto of a previously approved plan to spend $1 trillion on improving our nuclear arsenal.

When Obama gave his speech at Hiroshima, he said about the victims:

“Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become… How often does material advancement or social innovation blind us to the [truth that science allows us to bend nature to our will]? How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause… Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well… Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering [as at Hiroshima]. But we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.”

Please read the whole speech here:  Click here. 

Some things to think about:
– Does America have a moral obligation to lead the way with nuclear weapons since we were the only country to use them on a population?
– Would an apology open up the door to Japan asking for reparations for the bombing?
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for his country’s treatment of Native Canadians in the past. An apology “doesn’t cost anything… Has no effect on policy. It was just the nice thing to do.”
– America has apologized to Japanese Americans for their internment, to Rwanda for not getting involved in their genocide. But there are many, many things that America (the president, Congress) has NOT apologized for.
– Americans have been worshipping our war heroes, but the nuclear bombs makes it seem like they might have done something wrong.
– Japan hasn’t apologized for Pearl Harbor, but are the two acts comparable?
– It seems that liberals want to be transparent, self-critical, and ask “are we living up to our values?” Conservatives stress national strength and unity, they want to instill pride, and remember the great things that we have done as a country.

My questions:
1. Read over Obama’s speech. Do you think he apologized for the atomic bombings? Why or why not?
2. Using the “things to think about” section, which of these comments resonates with you the most? Explain.
3. Which of the five opinions from the New York Times article fits best with your own views on this issue? Why?

300 words minimum. Due by Thursday, June 9 by class.

April 8

Pearl Harbor Interactive Map and more

http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/multimedia/interactive/pearl-harbor/?ar_a=1

Check it out.

Also, a link to the wesbite for the film on the Zoot Suit Riots.  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/zoot/index.html 

A link about the Detroit riot in 1943 – http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/general-article/eleanor-riots/ 

Articles on Japanese internment – http://www.pbs.org/childofcamp/history/

 http://www.ushistory.org/us/51e.asp

A few pages about working women during WW2 – http://www.nps.gov/pwro/collection/website/rosie.htm

        

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May 11

Blog #18 – Rethinking the Atomic Bombs

A lot of second guessing has gone into America’s use of atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945, even starting with former general and future president Dwight Eisenhower in 1948 who did not want America to be the first to use nuclear weapons.

According to the previous article in Portrait of America, “The Biggest Decision: Why We Had to Drop the Atomic Bomb” by Robert J. Maddox, the author worked on disspelling some of the myths that have popped up since 1945.  The generals may have overestimated the Allied casualties, but the June 8 meeting with Truman stated that General George Marshall estimated that only 31,000 casualties would be inflicted during the invasion of Kyushu (Operation Olympic).  What intelligence sources had discovered in the days before Hiroshima, the Japanese Imperial Command had correctly guessed what the Allies were planning and had reinforced Kyushu with over 500,000 (actually over 900,000 but the Allies didn’t know that at the time). 

So, logic follows that Truman made the decision to drop the bomb in order to spare more lives, mainly American lives, from a costly invasion. 

But did Truman drop the bombs to intimidate the Soviets?  The war in Europe was over, and critics have claimed that the U.S. was trying to get the Soviets to either withdraw from Eastern Europe or at least be more open to agreeing with U.S. demands.  However, Stalin was given the info about the success of the Trinity test (from spies) and therefore knew about the atomic bomb.   Whether or not he felt intimidated was not recorded. 

Another sticking point was whether Japan was ready to surrender.  According to the Maddox article, Japan had sent peace feelers out through the Soviets but some members of the Japanese government (those with the power) wanted to continue fighting to protect Emperor Hirohito from prosecution of war crimes.  What role he played has been (and still is) debated, but the military could see the writing on the wall with the prosecutions beginning in Germany after the discovery of the concentration camps.  Would the emperor be retained as part of the Allies sticking to unconditional surrender terms?  Or, as Truman had mentioned, would they soften on this one sticking point in order to end the war earlier to save hundreds of thousands of lives?   The problem with interpreting the signals sent by the Japanese government at this time is that it sent mixed signals depending upon who was being asked.  If it was a military officer, he was willing to fight to the end.  If it was a politician, some kind of compromise was possible by the summer of 1945. 

Furthermore, what would have happened to the Allied prisoners of war captured by the Japanese scattered throughout Asia if the Allies had invaded Japan in November 1945?  Chances are, they might have been killed or tortured so they wouldn’t be of any use to an invading Allied army. 

Is it possible to judge an historical era from 70 yrs later, especially one so fraught with controversy since the 1994 Smithsonian exhibit?   See links below:

http://www.afa.org/media/enolagay/chrono.asp

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/08/30/us/smithsonian-alters-plans-for-its-exhibit-on-hiroshima-bomb.html

Your job: examine at least 2 of the issues discussed in the blog (things Truman probably had on his mind when weighing the decision to drop the bomb), and use/reference at least two of the documents in the handout I gave you today (Wed. May 11).  What would you have advised President Truman do under these circumstances?  Why? 

Due Thursday, May 12.  250 words.