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Why Is Iowa the First State to Vote?

November 25, 2019 in History

By Brynn Holland

The Hawkeye state’s unusually long nominating process means it needs a head start on the voting calendar.

Since 1972, the Iowa Caucus has been the first—and some argue most important—electoral test on the road to each party’s presidential nomination. But how did it get that way?

It all started with the …read more


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Elections in Colonial America Were Huge, Booze-Fueled Parties

November 25, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

From rum to cakes to rowdy parades, election day was a time for gathering and celebration.

Voters for the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1758 had their choice of candidates. And one of them—a wealthy planter who had made his name in the French and Indian War—gave them their choice of alcohol, too. Candidate George Washington plied potential voters with 47 gallons of beer, 35 gallons of wine, 2 gallons of cider, 3 1/2 pints of brandy and a whopping 70 gallons of rum punch. He carried the election with 310 votes.

The future president wasn’t the only candidate who knew how to grease the wheels of the colonial electorate—and his voters weren’t the only colonists who knew how to party on election day. In the days before the American Revolution, colonial elections were festive, even rowdy occasions. Elections were a chance to weigh in on important business, but they were also an opportunity to let loose and party.

Political Campaigns and Voting All Happened in Person

The first assembly of the House of Burgesses, the first elected legislative assembly in America, in Jamestown, Virginia, 1619.

Colonists didn’t have as much leeway to choose their elected officials as U.S. citizens do today. But those who could vote—wealthy, landholding Protestant men, for the most part—did so in a much more intimate fashion than modern voters. Voting happened in person, and didn’t always involve a ballot. Rather, men would travel from near and far to participate in voice votes affirming candidates for town and city governments, colonial legislatures and, in some colonies, governors.

It was a time before campaign finance as we know it, and campaigns happened in person or by letter. Rich, landed voters might receive individual visits from the rich, landed men who could afford to run for office.

For less wealthy voters, though, the action was on election day itself. “Prospective officeholders were expected to be at the polls on election day and made a point to greet all voters. Failure to appear or to be civil to all could be disastrous,” writes Ed Crews.

Election Day Parties and Parades

This cartoon is one of the earliest American-created pictures of voting. It is attributed to Henry Dawkins, who created satirical images of the contested 1764 Pennsylvania elections.

In New York, for example, candidates and their supporters rented out taverns and held huge, …read more


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Ancient Native Americans Once Thrived in Bustling Urban Centers

November 25, 2019 in History

By Patrick J. Kiger

One settlement in modern-day Illinois hosted a population of around 20,000, while another featured multiple-story buildings.

Long before the arrival of European explorers, soldiers and settlers in North America, the portion of the continent north of Mexico was inhabited by as many as 18 million native people. And contrary to the popular perception of American Indians living a nomadic existence, many of the continent’s aboriginal inhabitants lived in thriving urban centers.

One settlement, Cahokia in modern-day Illinois, had a population of 20,000 at its peak around 1250 A.D. Around that same period in time, New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon was the center of a sophisticated culture that erected what were the most massive buildings on the continent, until the rise of skyscrapers built from steel girders in the late 1800s.

Those urban centers were part of what historians Lisa Krissoff Boehm and Steven Hunt Corey have described as “a landscape rich with its own history—a land shaped by diverse peoples living in varying patterns of settlement.”

Cahokia Sprawled Over Five Square Miles

Long before the arrival or European settlers, many of America’s native inhabitants lived in thriving urban centers. Cahokia in modern-day Illinois, at its peak around 1250 A.D. had a population of 20,000—close in size to medieval London.

View the 8 images of this gallery on the original article

Like cities in other parts of the world, Cahokia, which sprawled over an area of about five square miles, developed in a highly desirable spot. The settlement was situated along a flood plain that provided fertile soil for agriculture, with nearby hickory forests to provide wood and other raw materials as well as wildlife to hunt, according to Lori Belknap, site manager for the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.

Cahokia also had convenient access to the nearby Mississippi River, which its residents—a people known as the Mississippian culture—navigated in large dugout canoes. “It likely was a trading center,” Belknap says.

Like a modern city with suburbs, Cahokia’s outer edge was a residential area, consisting of houses made from sapling frames lined with clay walls and covered by prairie grass roofs. Further inside was a log palisade wall and guard towers, which protected a central area filled with 120 earthen mounds. Some served as bases for what probably were important community buildings, while other cone-shaped mounds functioned as burial sites. Still others apparently were markers that delineated the city’s …read more


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Trump’s Conspiracy Theory About ‘The Server’ Threatens Election Security

November 25, 2019 in Economics

By Julian Sanchez

Julian Sanchez

Donald Trump is still searching for “The Server.” On Friday morning, the president phoned in to his favorite cable news program, “Fox & Friends,” to make a series of false claims about the cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems perpetrated by Russian hackers, as part of their elaborate efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. After the attack, claimed Trump, the DNC “gave the server to CrowdStrike, which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian. I still want to see that server. The FBI has never gotten that server. That’s a big part of this whole thing.”


Every part of what Trump said was false — including the claim that the California-based cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, hired by the DNC when it discovered the infiltration of its systems, is owned by a “wealthy Ukrainian.” But “the server” has been a long-running obsession of the president’s. He has referenced it repeatedly on Twitter, in media interviews, while standing onstage next to Russian President Vladimir Putin and, more recently, in his July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

That refrain is troubling, most of all because it shows that Trump is fixated on a conspiracy theory that his own national security advisers have denounced as “completely debunked.” These theories allege that there is a server that the DNC refused to turn over to the FBI, purportedly to conceal evidence that would disprove the intelligence community’s consensus that Russia was responsible for the hack. According to some versions of the theory, another country (perhaps Ukraine) was the true culprit; in others, the theft of thousands of DNC emails later published by WikiLeaks was an “inside job.” The unifying theme, however, is a desire to exonerate Russia of the crime.

Trump’s obsession with the server suggests either that he is unwilling to seek reliable information from the government’s own intelligence and law enforcement agencies or that he disbelieves what they tell him, even on questions where there is no ambiguity or doubt. This goes well beyond healthy skepticism and into the realm of dangerous dysfunction: A president who refuses to accept intelligence assessments he prefers not to believe cannot make sound decisions, and over time this creates pressure to politicize intelligence — with agencies flattering the president’s preconceptions to remain …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Queen Elizabeth II: The Real Stories Behind the Tumultuous 1960s and '70s

November 25, 2019 in History

By Jessica Pearce Rotondi

The British royal family faced significant milestones and challenges during the two decades.

The crown can be a heavy burden to bear, and the 1960s and 70s were challenging decades for Queen Elizabeth. From tabloid coverage of Princess Margaret’s affair to Prince Charles’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, the royal family entered the spotlight like never before. When disaster struck in Aberfan and a miner’s strike plunged London into darkness, Queen Elizabeth was tasked with restoring calm and order to a changing nation. Here are seven of the biggest moments in Queen Elizabeth’s reign in the 1960s and 1970s.

1. Princess Margaret’s Controversial U.S. Tour

Lord Snowdon, first lady Mrs. Johnson, Princess Margaret and President Lyndon Johnson pose for photographers in the Queen’s room at the White House on November 17, 1965, prior to a dinner-dance in honor of the royal visit.

By 1965, Queen Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret, had established her reputation as the royal most likely to court controversy. So Elizabeth II was playing with fire when she sent “The Royal Lightning Rod” on a three-week tour of the United States.

The trip came at a tense time in U.S.-U.K. Relations. Prime Minister Harold Wilson and President Lyndon B. Johnson were at loggerheads, the UK was in debt and in need of American approval for a loan and America was embroiled in the Vietnam War just as Britain was shedding its colonial holdings.

The trip began well enough. Margaret and her husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon, rode the trolley in San Francisco, rubbed elbows with celebrities like Judy Garland and Alfred Hitchcock in Los Angeles, rode horses in Arizona and danced with and Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson in the White House at a spectacular dinner that roared on until 1:40 a.m. But other late night hijinks on the trip raised eyebrows— as did its astronomical cost of £30,000. The princess was banned from making future official U.S. visits.

Read more here.

2. Aberfan Disaster

On October 21, 1966, nearly 140,000 cubic yards of coal waste had slid down a rain-saturated manmade mountainside in in Aberfan, Wales.

View the 10 images of this gallery on the original article

On October 21, 1966 a tsunami of black sludge rushed from the hill above the Welsh mining town of Aberfan, engulfing entire buildings and destroying everything in its …read more


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No, Medicare for All Won’t Save Money

November 25, 2019 in Economics

By Charles Silver, David A. Hyman

Charles Silver and David A. Hyman

When the massive new health program known as Medicare was created in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson got health care providers on board by buying their support: He promised that the government would let them decide how much to charge and which services to deliver. In many countries with single-payer health systems, governments decide how much they will pay; when adopting Medicare, the U.S. let providers make that decision. It gave doctors and hospitals the keys to the U.S. Treasury and guaranteed their profits.


Spending went through the roof as “ unrestricted cost reimbursement became the modus operandi for financing American medical care.” The costs wildly exceeded the government’s expectations at the time: A 1967 estimate by the House Ways and Means Committee predicted that, in 1990, Medicare’s total cost would be $12 billion. The actual cost was $98 billion—eight times as much.

Half a century later, we are still living with the consequences of the decision to put providers in charge of the payment system. A recent study by scholars at Johns Hopkins University estimated that in 2018, fully “48 percent of the entire U.S. federal budget” was spent on health care. That isn’t a typo, and it’s not an accident either: Industry groups lobby the government around the clock to maximize the number of taxpayers’ dollars they receive.

Medicare for All’s supporter promise that this time will be different. Once a single-payer program is implemented, they argue, the government will save billions of dollars by slashing payments to drug-makersdoctors, and hospitals.

Although cuts of that magnitude would severely affect patient care, there’s no need to worry. If past is prologue, they will never occur. Time after time, providers have blunted initiatives designed to economize at their expense. There’s no reason to think this Congress will succeed when virtually every past Congress has failed to reduce the flow of Medicare dollars.

Consider how, in recent years, a few attempts to save money fared:

  • In 1997, Congress tried to rein in spending increases by tying Medicare spending on physicians’ services to something called the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. Whenever payments to doctors grew faster than GDP, the SGR was supposed to reduce them automatically. The formula triggered payment cuts in 2003 and every subsequent year—but the cuts …read more

    Source: OP-EDS