Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Woodrow Wilson's Remarkably Racist Legacy

Thomas Woodrow Wilson, Twenty-eighth President (1913-1921)

Photo courtesy of Cliff's Flickr page -  Thomas Woodrow Wilson, Twenty-eighth President (1913-1921: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/2872022732
Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

So, all of this talk about the South, symbols of the Confederacy, and the legacy of slavery and racism in this country got me thinking a bit. I decided to explore the racial attitudes of one of the traditionally most admired American leaders of the 20th century, Woodrow Wilson.

Wilson is best known as a lover of peace, who tried to keep the United States out of World War I, and then set up the League of Nations afterward in hopes of establishing a more permanent peace.

However, that rather impressive achievement by Wilson is tempered by his racist legacy, which is far more considerable than I ever knew prior to exploring this subject on my own for this blog entry. Turns out, he as a strict segregationist and white supremacist, who hailed the Ku Klux Klan and pushed forward a segregationist agenda. Segregation was introduced to the Executive Branch of government by Woodrow Wilson.

Here are some quotes from a particularly illuminating article written by Professor William R. Keylor of Boston University, which I hope you read for yourself (you can click on the link below, at the bottom of this blog entry):

"Born in Virginia and raised in Georgia and South Carolina, Wilson was a loyal son of the old South who regretted the outcome of the Civil War.  He used his high office to reverse some of its consequences.  When he entered the White House a hundred years ago today, Washington was a rigidly segregated town — except for federal government agencies.  They had been integrated during the post-war Reconstruction period, enabling African-Americans to obtain federal jobs and work side by side with whites in government agencies.  Wilson promptly authorized members of his cabinet to reverse this long-standing policy of racial integration in the federal civil service.

"Cabinet heads — such as his son-in-law, Secretary of the Treasury William McAdoo of Tennessee – re-segregated facilities such as restrooms and cafeterias in their buildings.  In some federal offices, screens were set up to separate white and black workers.  African-Americans found it difficult to secure high-level civil service positions, which some had held under previous Republican administrations.

"A delegation of black professionals led by Monroe Trotter, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard and Boston newspaper editor, appeared at the White House to protest the new policies.  But Wilson treated them rudely and declared that “segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.”

Here is what he said about the movie "Birth of a Nation" and Wilson's role in that:

Birth of a Nation

With quotations from Wilson’s scholarly writings in its subtitles, the silent film denounced the Reconstruction period in the South when blacks briefly held elective office in several states.  It hailed the rise of the Ku Klux Klan as a sign of southern white society’s recovery from the humiliation and suffering to which the federal government and the northern “carpetbaggers” had subjected it after its defeat in the Civil War.  The film depicted African-Americans (most played by white actors in blackface) as uncouth, uncivilized rabble.

The following are some quotes by Woodrow Wilson:

“The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation—until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.”

“If the colored people made a mistake in voting for me, they ought to correct it.”

“The domestic slaves, at any rate, and almost all who were much under the master’s eye, were happy and well cared for.”

“[Reconstruction government was detested] not because the Republican Party was dreaded but because the dominance of an ignorant and inferior race was justly dreaded.”

“Off by themselves with only a white supervisor, blacks would not be forced out of their jobs by energetic white employees.”

“The whole temper and tradition of the place [Princeton] are such that no Negro has ever applied for admission, and it seems unlikely that the question will ever assume practical form.”

“Any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready.”

“In the matter of Chinese and Japanese coolie immigration, I stand for the national policy of exclusion. We cannot make a homogenous population out of people who do not blend with the Caucasian race…Oriental Coolieism will give us another race problem to solve and surely we have had our lesson.”

“Now came multitudes of men of the lowest class from the south of Italy, and men of the meaner sort out of Hungary and Poland, men out of the ranks, where there was neither skill nor energy nor any initiative of  quick intelligence, and they came in numbers which increased from year to year, as if the countries of the south of Europe were disburdening themselves of the more sordid and hapless elements of their population.”  


The long-forgotten racial attitudes and policies of Woodrow Wilson by Professor William R. Keylor of Boston University, March 4th, 2013

Top 10 Most Racist Quotes from Progressive Hero Woodrow Wilson by Josh Guckert:

Two Southern Bands Discuss the Confederate Flag’s Meaning

This was a truly fascinating article that delves into the history of the Confederate flag, particularly the history of the battle flag, and why and how it symbolizes a certain racist mentality.

It was informative, and I added some of the quotes here from this article that I thought were the most pertinent and informative. Still, I recommend opening this link and taking a look for yourself. Again, it was very informative and illuminating.

This article is about two Southern bands and what they feel about the Confederate battle flag, although these sections focus on the members of Dirve-By Truckers. Here is some of what the article reveals about what they have to say:

Patterson Hood is a member of says that no matter what heritage or history debate exists, the Confederate flag was always about racism.

“It’s like the swastika,” he says, “which has been around for thousands of years, but it will forever, for all eternity, be considered part of the Holocaust, one of the most terrible things humanity has ever done to itself. The Confederate flag is like that; and the events of last week added a new dimension to it.”

“The flag was put there to antagonize and intimidate,” he says, about its initial erection over the Capital. “During the Civil Rights era, Southern states started flying those flags and putting the logo on their state flags to remind black people what they thought their place was. It was just that simple.”

“I’m from Alabama,” says Patterson Hood, “I lived in the South my entire life. I have ancestors who fought in that ill-begotten war, but it’s way, way past time to move on … That [Civil] War was what, 150 years ago? It’s time to move on. It should have been a moot point years ago. The flag represents an act of war against the United States.”

“When you grow up here,”  MikeCooley explains, “You study the Civil War in school, and all you know is it was the North and the South, and you’re from the South, so that’s your team. You know that black people were slaves at one time, but that’s so hard to get your head around. So you’re learning about this in your class, and you’re kind of rooting for the South to win. Because that’s your team. Some of us grew out of that, most of us didn’t.”

Hood says that this is changing over time. “The people who feel that way are probably going to feel that way until they die. But there are more and more people who live in the South who are a little more enlightened.”

“I live in the reddest district in one of the reddest states in the country,” Cooley says. “And I don’t feel like I’m surrounded by brainwashed a–holes at all. But there’s a meanness in the way that the South expresses itself politically, that is not reflective of what kind of people they are, and most of it is rooted in Civil War resentment.”

He continues: “Those people are a shrinking minority, but we love to point the cameras at the most extreme people. When you see people protesting or organizing for some kind of liberal cause, it’s always the hippies in the drum circles that you see on TV. And when the media is looking at the conservative side, they look at the people who are foaming at the mouth.”

“I guarantee they’re getting pressure from a lot of companies and businesses, as they should, to move on,” Hood says. “Money talks, and that’s the language that the Republicans listen to.”

Quote taken from:

Drive-By Truckers, Lynyrd Skynyrd on the Confederate Flag’s Meaning  By Brian Ives  June 26, 2015

Some Flip Side Thoughts on Recent Big Stories (Including Confederate Flag and Gay Marriage)

Gay Marriage and Churches

Okay, so, now there are news stories coming out about how certain religious figures (particularly in the South) are refusing to have anything to do with gay marriage.

My question is why is this news?

So, they oppose gay marriage. Who cares?

Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and render unto God what is God's. That is paraphrasing a famous Biblical passage, but it applies here, I think. Homosexuality can and should not be used as a source of discrimination by the government, but that does not mean that religious-minded people should somehow be forced to accept it.

To my understanding, the point of the gay civil rights movement, as it is coming to be known, was to eliminate government-sanctioned prejudice. Marriage is an institution that was not open to all citizens, because up until recently, it was only recognized as between a man and a woman. In fact, that was still the case just days ago, before the historical ruling by the Supreme Court last week.

Understandably, members of the LBGT community are celebrating across the country, and rightfully so.

However, this victory, and the other victories for the cause, can only go so far. The truth of the matter is that not everyone is going to be convinced that it is the right thing.

Some churches have outright proclaimed that, while they acknowledge that gay marriage being legalized in all 50 states is now the law of the land, they themselves will never allow a gay couple to be married in their church.

So be it.

Again, the separation of church and state works both ways. The LGBT community got the government to recognize the legality of gay marriage, something that would have been unthinkable even twenty or so years ago. I remember when being gay was considered a very bad and immoral thing among a hell of a lot of people when I was growing up. That has changed over time, and they have now won more equal rights than would have seemed possible not long ago.

That said, such recognition by official government sources does not mean that churches have to be forced to accept these. Indeed, gay marriage goes against the religion of many. You can call them bigots if you wish, but it is their belief, and that is a personal matter. It would be wrong for them to try and impose a ban on gay marriage through the government, but it would also be wrong for the government now to try and impose this recognition or even legitimacy of LGBT rights upon the churches. That would be overstepping boundaries considerably.

If a gay couple wants to get married, they now have the legal right to do so in every state in the country (although there is some resistance presently in the usual suspects of Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana). But that does not mean that they need to go to churches that have traditionally frowned upon gay marriage, and homosexuality in general. They have a right to their belief, and we cannot simply utilize the "separation of church and state" argument when it works for what we agree with or think is enlightened, then simply put it aside when it goes against our thinking.

Let some religious communities remain opposed to gay marriage, and to homosexuality in general. It is their right, so long as they are not harming anyone in the process. Maybe it might hurt some feelings, but at this point, there are a lot of aspects to religions that many people get offended by.

The Confederate Flag

Now, onto another topic at hand, which I also wrote about in a blog entry yesterday: the Confederate Flag controversy.

I saw a post today that surprised me. It was from a friend (more of a Facebook friend than anything these days), who used to live in New Jersey, but has since moved down South.

She shared a post about a museum at Gettysburg that suggested that the museum was not going to remove the Confederate flag simply because it was the politically correct thing to do these days, or because some people would be offended.

Here, again, I have to agree. The fact of the matter is that the flag of the Confederate States of America, as well as the famous battle flag, did exist. They are part of our American history.

Now, I personally believe (and it is just that - a belief) that the Confederate flag, particularly the famous battle flag) indeed does represent racism. A lot of people will argue (and I have heard such arguments) that slaves were really not as bad off as many believed, and that there were some free blacks in the South, and even, supposedly, some black slave owners.

This may or may not be. Truth be told, I am not well-versed enough in the history of that particular era or subject to know the truth, and either validate or refute these claims.

What I will say is that these remind me of what the white government of South Africa used to claim about blacks in that country having the highest quality of life of blacks in Africa, at the time. That is to say, that they were missing the point, as are people who claim these softer portraits of life in the South in the days leading up to the Civil War.

Again, the point that I personally think most relevant is how the ancestors of those slaves feel about it these days. People can claim anything, including that the masses (particularly us northerners) do not really, fully understand the history, which is yet another argument that was often repeated by whites during the days when apartheid was the law of the land in South Africa, that outsiders simply did not understand the history of the country, or that relations were not nearly as bad as everyone seemed to suggest.

When was the last time that you saw a black person waving the Confederate flag? When was the last time that you heard a black person speaking enthusiastically and in support of the Confederate or rebel cause during the Civil War?

The arguments often are about the tyranny of Northern industrialists, who wanted to squeeze out as much profits as possible from Southern resources. That may be the case, but again, Southern plantation owners certainly did not seem to be complaining too loudly about this when they were the ones getting rich.

However, they did complain loudly, and in fact took up arms and seceded, when the North tried to eradicate slavery, once and for all. That was how the Civil War began, and that was the issue that dominated. Slaves fighting for the Union cause were going to automatically pay a much higher price upon capture than Northern whites. Racism was everywhere during the days of the Civil War, and that is the simple reality. I incorporated quotes from official documents and prominent figures of the Confederate States in yesterday's blog entry that showed that racism and slavery were the key issues at play.

Then again, there were other issues, as well. And I have already admitted that, while history was my major, this particular chapter in American history most certainly is not.

That is why we have museums, among other things.

For a museum to censor a flag, like the official flags of the Confederate States of America, or the battle flag, is indeed wrong by my book. You might not like it, but it is a part of American history as a nation.

So, let museums keep the Confederate flag, by all means. But I do believe that, as a sign of respect, both for blacks as well as for the United States (since the Confederate battle flag represents an act of treason on many levels), it is inappropriate for that flag to be flown in front of government buildings and public places.

Supreme Court Makes Another Big Decision

Yes, on Monday, the Supreme Court made news yet again with another major decision. This time, it took aim on another divisive, hot-button issue of this day.

The issue? Gerrymandering.

Yes, in recent decades, there has been an effort by interested parties (particularly the Republican party) to try and draw up artificial maps that would be politically profitable for their specific interests.

Such a case came up in Arizona, where the issue that made it all the way to the Supreme Court was whether or not it should be left to an independent council.

Gerrymandering is the redistricting of certain areas of the map for the political profitability of certain interested parties, and to me, it has no place anywhere that considers itself a democracy. It is a disgusting habit and needs to be stopped. This decision by the Supreme Court is a step in the right direction but, like with Obamacare, it does not go nearly far enough. We need a direct democracy, where the majority elects officials outright, and not some points per district system like we currently have.

Gerrymandering takes a Supreme Court hit AFP By Robert MacPherson, June 29, 2015:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Exciting New Movie Clip Reveals How Filmmakers Feel the Earth is in Deep Trouble

I thought that this was worth sharing, so here it is.

This is a new movie that explores the issues threatening human life on this planet, and why things are reaching the boiling point (noted author of Ishmael, Daniel Quinn, has argued that we already long ago hit the boiling point).

We indeed may be in big trouble already, although it is important, I think, not to simply give in and just call it a day, and go on about our lives as if nothing happened, or feeling a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.

What helps (I believe) is to stay informed, and try to spread the message while it can still have an impact. This movie looks intriguing, and it just might help:

The shocking footage these filmmakers captured reveals why the Earth is in serious trouble. Curator: Matt Orr:

The Confederate Flag Controversy

The national flags for the Confederate States of America: 

Flags of Confederacy1

First national flag for the Confederate States of America: "The Stars and Bars" (1861–1863) (also pictured, the Confederate Battle Flag)

Confederate Flags -- Boonsboro (MD) Civil War Reenactment September 8, 2012

Photo courtesy of Ron Cogswell Flickr page - Confederate Flags -- Boonsboro (MD) Civil War Reenactment September 8, 2012: https://www.flickr.com/photos/22711505@N05/7989597328
Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Second national flag for the Confederate States of America: "The Stainless Banner" (1863–1865)

2011-95-1 Confederate Second National Flag

Photo courtesy of Naval History & Heritage Command's Flickr page -  2011-95-1 Confederate Second National Flag: https://www.flickr.com/photos/navalhistory/5669542154
Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Third national flag for the Confederate States of America: "The Blood-Stained Banner" (1865)

Confederate Flag
Photo courtesy of Bart Everson Flickr page -  Confederate Flag  Shreveport, 2002: https://www.flickr.com/photos/editor/2710861556
Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The controversy surrounding the Confederate Flag flying not just on state buildings, but being flown and reverenced in general, has been heating up tremendously since last week's church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina.

The debate is about what the Confederate flag actually represents. Those who want it to stop being flown and displayed view it as a symbol of some of the most painful crimes in the nation's history, and that it was the banner under which the South went to war to fight to keep the system of slavery legal and later, after it had lost the war, it came to represent the strict official and social Jim Crow racial segregation that lasted right up until the 1960's. Hardly ancient history.

Those who defend the Confederate flag say that it represent Southern heritage, and many Southerners have suggested that the flag does not represent racism.

However, there is an aspect to racism about flying the flag that supporters are disingenuous about when they suggest otherwise. Many racists specifically fly the flag as a de facto sign of white supremacy, a kind of longing for the old Dixiecrat days of Jim Crow segregation. Again, we are not talking about ancient history here.

Think about it: when was the last time that you saw a black person flying that particular banner?

It was not like this was some minor issue in the days leading up to the Civil War, or the days after, leading up to the establishment of the Jim Crow laws. The Confederate battle flag (and that is what is flying, and what most people seem to associate with the Confederate, or Rebel, cause during the Civil War) was a show of support for the preservation of segregation laws and practices.

Since the passing of important Civil Rights legislation in the 1960's, it has traditionally been used by rednecks, longing fondly for the good ol' days when blacks knew their place, and when the white man reigned supreme.

That might sound harsh, but I suspect there is more than just a small grain of truth to that.

Which is why this has become such a hot-button issue today. It is about hearts and minds, and if there is still a relic of the Old South, the South of Jim Crow racism and bigotry that not only existed, but dominated not so long ago, it has representation in that flag in particular.

The fact that this flag is not the actual official flag of the Confederate States of America, but the battle flag, is perhaps even more telling and, frankly, damning, than if it were the real flag.

I recently saw one post by an angry supporter of the flag that suggested that opposition was based on ignorance. He pointed out that what most people assume is the Confederate flag is actually not the flag at all. It was the Confederate Battle flag.

Indeed, that much is true. The original flag looked quite reminiscent of the American flag, and was apparently often confused with it in battle. It had stripes running across, but they were much larger. Two red stripes, with a white stripe running in between. Also like the American flag, the "heart" of the flag in the corner, if you will, had a blue field with white stars imposed on it. That was the first official flag of the Confederate States of America. It was the flag known as the "Stars and Bars."

The second flag had what is often mistaken for the Confederate flag in the corner, replacing the blue field and white stars. This was the red background with the blue X going across with white outlining. The stars shined white through (or perhaps, despite) the blue (which I believed represented the unwanted authority of the Federal government). The rest of the flag was a field of white, which is the reason that it likely was replaced, since it too closely resembled the white flag of surrender. It was known as the "Stainless Banner." It was designed by William T. Thompson, editor of the Savannah Morning News, and he referred to it as the "White Man's Flag."

Here is one thing that he wrote, which reveals just how closely linked the flag representing the Confederacy is to racism:

"As a people, we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the Whiteman over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematic of our cause...Such a flag would take rank among the proudest ensigns of the nations and be hailed by the civilized world as the 'Whiteman's Flag.'" ( —William T. Thompson (April 23, 1863), Daily Morning News) 

Finally, the third and final flag of the Confederate States of America was very similar to the last one, only it had red in the far right end. It was known as the "Blood-Stained Banner."

Now, a lot of supporters of the Confederate flag, or the Battle Flag of the Confederacy, have been arguing lately that it represents their heritage, and has nothing to do with racism.

Nothing to do with racism? The Confederate States of America formed because they were trying to circumvent the strong opposition to slavery up North. So much did they want to keep the system of slavery based on race, that they were willing to secede from the Union and fight a long and bloody war to preserve it. After being defeated, it took only a few years for the Southern states to re-establish white supremacy officially (it would only later officially get the dubious distinction of "Separate but Equal" even though the original designers of these Jim Crow laws hardly disguised their attempt at establishing white supremacy).

I once had an argument with a man (a black man, no less!) who kept insisting that the South fought the Civil War not because of racism, but because it was trying to preserve an economic system.

Yes, but again, it is not a minor point that that economic system was based on a slavery system that was based on an artificially imposed, racial caste system.

Again and again, racism played the most important part of the history of the Civil War, and it simply cannot be discounted as some minor or irrelevant point.

But just in case there are still some lingering doubts left about that, let us hear from yet more prominent figures of the Confederate States of America in their own words:

“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest in the world.”
~ A Declaration of Secession in Mississippi, 1861

“The people of the slave-holding States are bound together by the same necessity and determination to preserve African slavery.”
~ Commissioner of the State of Louisiana George Williamson, 1861

“White men have an equality resulting from a presence of a lower caste, which cannot exist where white men fill the position here occupied by the servile race.” 
~ President of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis, 1858

Finally, this is not the first time that the controversy over this Confederate flag has existed. It has come and gone over time, although it never quite made so many headlines in my own lifetime as since the Charleston shooting. Still, the image of the Battle Flag of the Confederacy was removed from all but one Southern state flag years ago, although it remains on the official flag of only one state these days. That state is Mississippi, although some people in that state are beginning to reconsider just how appropriate it is to still have this there. 


Photo courtesy of GUNNER's Flickr page -  2000px-Flag_of_Mississippi_svg: https://www.flickr.com/photos/97236907@N05/9019118205
Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/


Southern Changes The Journal of the Southern Regional Council, 1978-2003 Flag Waving Down South: Searching History for Solutions By Michael L. Thurmond Vol. 11, No. 1, 1989, pp. 14-15:

10 Facts About The Confederate Flag That Prove Racism Is Worse Than You Think By M Fly Smith on June 19, 2015:

Wikepedia page - Flags of the Confederate States of America:


Some related articles:

Confederate flag debate sweeps South: South Carolina, Mississippi By Jeremy Diamond and Eugene Scott, CNN, June 24, 2015

Confederate Flag Meaning Around The World: Rebels, Racism And Americana By Ethan Lascity | Wed, 2015-06-24

Here’s who is still defending the Confederate flag (and the many reasons they give) Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share via Email More Options   Resize Text Print Article Comments 198 By Janell Ross June 25

A Georgetown law professor just perfectly captured the absurdity of Confederate pride Business Insider By Chris Weller, June 24, 2015:

Meet the South’s biggest idiot: “I feel very much like the Jews must have felt in the very beginning of the Nazi Germany takeover” A pro-Confederate flag rally in Alabama is the worst of the worst ASSOCIATED PRESS, June 28, 2015:

And in the meantime, while the American media has been obsessing over the largely symbolic and inconsequential issue of the Confederate flag, and whether or not it is appropriate to be displayed or flown, here is a top ten list of major stories that the major American media missed in the meantime. I think number 7 was particularly huge (the earth entering the sixth major extinction phase), as is number 10 (the passage of the TPP). Take a look:
10 Stories the Media Missed While Obsessing Over the Confederate Flag by Naji Dahi June 25, 2015:

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Coupe du Monde 1998 World Cup France vs Paraguay 8e de Finale/Round of 16

Like Super Bowl tickets, the tickets for the World Cup semifinal in Saint-Denis (as well as the tickets for the quarterfinal that my brother and I attended at Giants Stadium in 1994) are souvenir tickets, to add to that sense of it having been a really big deal. I absolutely loved them, and kept them both through the years. Even now, admittedly, I take them out every now and then to simply look at them, and appreciate the fact that my brother and I managed to go to such huge events, and in consecutive World Cups, to boot! The two nations that we are citizens of hosted the World Cup tournament back-to-back, which made me feel almost like an experienced aficionado after the semifinal with Croatia!

France wore their blue (home) jerseys for the game against Paraguay along with their traditional white shorts and red socks. Paraguay wore red and white striped jersey, and blue shorts. 

France had blown past the round robin of World Cup play in 1998, winning all three games by a combined score of 9-1. That qualified them to move on to the elimination round, where Paraguay would be their first opponent.

France was strongly favored to win, but Paraguay held strong behind a solid defense and excellent goal-tending. As the game wore on, it became clear that one goal scored by either side would likely prove the difference.

Regulation ended without a score, and it went into overtime. But not just any overtime. For the first time in history, the World Cup incorporated a system of sudden death, where one goal - any goal by either side - would win the match.

As history would prove, France managed to be the first team to win a World Cup game with a so-called "Golden Goal" to win the game, and move on to the next round.

Final score, France 1, Paraguay 0.

Still, I remember watching this particular game live at home, knowing that I was on my way to France in a little over a week from this date, and strongly pulling for France to win the whole tournament, if that was at all possible.

Admittedly, I had my moments of doubt during this game, as Paraguay truly played some inspired ball and looked capable at times of pulling off a huge upset.

In the end, however, France held very tough, too. It might not have been the most dominant performance, and it hardly signaled that France was blazing a trail to their first ever World Cup Final, let alone the championship. Yet, they managed to get through to fight another day. They had just enough and sometimes, maybe, that is enough.

So, here is the video of this game, which I personally remember well. France defeating Paraguay in the round of 16, 17 years ago on this day.

France v. Paraguay
28 juin 1998 - Coupe du Monde -8e de Finale/ Round of Sixteen - Stade Félix-Bollaert (Lens)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

An NFL Team Could Play in Los Angeles

Yes, it seems that the momentum for bringing at least one (and possibly two) NFL football teams to Los Angeles in the near future - the surprisingly near future -is building.

This is starting to look like it will happen.

Of course, you could argue that Los Angeles, the second biggest city in the country, should never have been without an NFL football team to begin with. In the 1994 season, Los Angeles had two teams, and had enjoyed that privileged status for over a decade.

At the start of the 1995 season, Los Angeles had no more teams. That has now been the case for basically two decades now.

There has been a lot of talk about bringing NFL football back to LA, but it never seems to materialize. There was talk of a possible expansion franchise, or bringing back one of the three current NFL franchises that used to play in LA at some point in time in their past history. Those franchises are the Chargers, the Raiders, and the Rams. The Rams specifically had played in LA for many decades before relocating to St. Louis in 1995. In 1999, four years after moving the team from LA to St. Louis, the Rams won the Super Bowl. The very next year, the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl four years after moving from Cleveland, when they had been known as the Browns (a new, expansion Cleveland Browns franchise has since replaced that one, but was granted the rights to the old Browns franchise old records).

If a team will play in Los Angeles in time for the 2016 season, it could play on a temporary basis in either the Los Angeles Coliseum, or at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Below is a video clip of a new piece on this story:

Temporary stadium may be enough to lure NFL team back to Los Angeles by KABC – Los Angeles 2:01 mins

Two HUGE Decisions by Supreme Court This Past Week

There were two very big decisions that the Supreme Court of the United States reached earlier this week, and we know the results for both of them.

Supreme Court Rules on Technicalities of Language in Obamacare

They came on consecutive days, with the first one being a ruling on Obamacare. There was a technicality in the language, and opponents of Obamacare tried to use this in order to effectively render it unconstitutional. In effect, it would have served to repeal Obamacare in a number of states, which would have gotten tens of millions of people to lose their insurance.

But the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Obamacare. Not for the first time, either.

In response to the decision, a pleased President Obama said that his healthcare system, also known as the Affordable Care Act, "is here to stay."

Still, Republicans are promising to fight it, and will continue to make an issue of it for this next election cycle.

What really bothers me about this opposition is that it seems mindless at this point. An automatic reaction, more of a knee jerk reaction than a thoughtful contemplation of what is wrong with the law (God forbid they look at anything that it might have served to improve in the healthcare system) and work on improving those aspects. Only one Republican in the field, Marco Rubio, has even discussed the possibility of an alternative plan. Almost all other Republican opponents of Obamacare simply want to do one thing: repeal it. No official plan to replace it with, just empty rhetoric about letting the free market take over, thus, in their language, giving Americans the "freedom to choose" more options. Which usually translates to giving the corporate health care industry free rein to charge whatever they want, to fleece the American people and literally record record profits from the pain that they themselves are helping to create.

There are a lot of things that I am less than thrilled with regarding Obamacare, including high premiums. However, the healthcare system that was in place before was criminal, and needed to be gotten rid of. For all of its faults, Obamacare is nonetheless a step up from that. We simply cannot be the skunk of the world when it comes to our healthcare system, when tens of millions of people still have no insurance, tens of millions more have inadequate health coverage, and thousands of people have been forced to choose between not getting proper care, or losing their lifestyles, their homes, and so much of what truly matters to them.

It matters little what Republican opponents to the law say at this point, they only oppose it because it is politically profitable to do so (presumably). What they would have, presumably, is a return to the old, unfair, broken system that, very typically, hurt the majority of people, while benefiting the very wealthy and corporations. Since the Republican party never actually proposed any alternative solution or plan of their own, we have to assume that is what they wanted. In my book, that means that they deserve to lose this particular battle. If that it the hill that they hopefully collectively die on in the 2016 election, then so be it.

As one wit in attendance during a debate in a Republican debate in the last presidential election said in regards to healthcare, "Let them die."

Supreme Court Rules on Gay Marriage For All 50 States

Of course, the other decision came the very next day, and it was perhaps even more of a sweeping decision than Obamacare.

The Supreme Court ruled by 5-4 that same-sex marriage has to be legal in all 50 states, and that marriages in other states must be recognized in all 50 states.

The decision was hailed around the country and, indeed, around the world. Celebrations were seen literally across the country, and the LGBT community were in an understandably jovial mood following this historic ruling.

If this is indeed a Gay Civil Rights movement that we are witnessing, than Thursday's ruling is sure to be one of the truly landmark decisions, perhaps equivalent to Brown v. Board of Education for this age.

One preacher in the South promised to set himself on fire in protest should the court render gay marriage legal.

Hey, if he feels that strongly, then let him do so. I know a lot of religious-minded people feel that this is simply further persecution of their religious liberties. But again, we are talking about a government that is, at least officially, separate from the Church. However much they might not like it, the issue was whether or not certain law-abiding citizens are extended the same rights as everyone else, or if they are not, and are essentially discriminated against, due to who they are, and what group they belong to.

Personally, I applaud the decision, and am happy for those friends of mine who are gay, as well as the LGBT community across the country.

This truly was a historic win for them.

And so in conclusion, what a week it was! Particularly for President Obama. A historical week on many levels, and the kind of week that just might restore some people's faith in our system of governance.

Obamacare overcame yet another huge obstacle, and gay marriage was legalized. Also, the Confederate flag seems to finally be recognized for what it is: a symbol of racism and oppression. This is something that I intend to write more about later (hopefully, tomorrow). However, for anyone who might agree with me that the flag represents racism for millions, ask yourself this: when was the last time that you saw a black person, or any non-white person in general, proudly holding up that flag? If you cannot honestly remember, then can you recognize the possibility that it is a symbol that polarizes too many people, and should be done away with?

Also, I should mention that there are a couple of other huge pieces of news involving President Obama this past week, as well. There were two major policy decisions rendered this past week in foreign affairs that will likely have a huge impact, as well. The first is the passage of the Fast Track/TPP trade agreement. You will note my considerably less enthusiastic language for that, since my suspicion is that this is another NAFTA that will hurt, rather than help, most Americans. Hopefully, I am wrong.

Finally, President Obama changed the policy on negotiating with terrorists, and decriminalized the gathering of funds for ransom payments to terrorist organizations among American families. The government will not pay, but it also will not charge family members of captured Americans abroad from paying ransoms. Not sure if this is a good or bad thing, and what the end result will be. Time will tell, presumably.

Overall, however, what a memorable week in politics, and to their credit, what a series of victories for the Obama White House!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bernie Sanders Schools Alan Greenspan on Realities of Economy

In 1997, when I was taking Economics in college, I remember hearing about how the American economy was still the richest economy in the world, and how it had long been the envy of the world, the standard by which all others are judged, and left wanting.

The economics professor in that class also praised the work of Alan Grenspan, saying that he was given the ultimate compliment for his work by remaining as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board from 1987 until 2006. Basically, what the professor insinuated was that Greenspan had presided over so much economic good times, that no president from either party dared remove him from his position as essentially the Kingpin of the American economy.

Think about that. He served as Chairman from the days of the Reagan administration, throughout the days of the first President Bush, then President Clinton, and most of the two terms for the second President Bush.

After all, he had presided over good economic times during the boom years of the 1980's and 1990's, when the stock market soared, and when America produced a lot of wealth.

Yet, during that time, the living standard for Americans declined. Dramatically.

Also, during that time when "deregulation" was considered the magic cure for all ills, Corporations no longer had to strictly play by the rules, and benefits for workers began their long decline under Reagan, and by the time that Reagan first appointed Greenspan, a lot of damage had been done.

Economic boom times might have been enjoyed by corporations and Wall Street elites, but real salaries and benefits for average Americans were on the decline. Greenspan presided over great times for the rich, who were also enjoying huge tax cuts and incentives, much like corporations did.

Let us remember that this is also the time that the national debt and national deficit skyrocketed completely out of control, underscoring the irresponsibility of the so-called leaders. Hawks against big government, such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush saw big government grow during their terms.

When George H. W. Bush was running for the Republican nomination for the White House in 1980, he famously called Reagan's economic proposals "voodoo economics."

Indeed, he was on to something. It created the illusion of wealth, much like his handsome face, nice smile, and flowery wording made Americans feel falsely confident about the state of the country. Reagan assured us that America's best days were still ahead of it.

Maybe. But if that proves to be the case, we certainly cannot thank Reagan and his "voodoo economics" for that.

Fastforward to the 1990's. Clinton, a Democrat who is sometimes referred to as "Republican light" is now in office. His detractors (and there are many) want him out of office no matter what, and some consider him virtually a socialist. In fact, he is quite conservative, and largely continues the same policies of deregulation that has been going on for some time now. The Glass–Steagall Act, he declares, is no longer appropriate.

Clinton presides over good economic times. The biggest economic boom in history, allegedly. Americans feel good about their country. So good, that they feel that they have the luxury of focusing on things that do not matter, such as whether or not Clinton got a blowjob in the Oval Office. Of course, the president not acting nearly as firmly on his promises towards strengthening environmental protection legislation causes hardly a blip on the radar screen. Also, that wages have stagnated, and that most ordinary Americans have not seen much on their end from this supposed economic boom are also stories that are largely ignored.

Enter George W. Bush, who infamously suggested before getting the presidency (note that I did not say winning the election) that we could expect an economic recession. When this happens, may feel that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is the first of many economic hardships that the Bush administration presided over, culminating in the disastrous near collapse of the economy in 2008, largely due to the subprime mortgage scandal which broke just months after Greenspan's departure.Many blame Greenspan's "laissez-faire" economic approach, and deregulation has come back, as many have predicted, to bite working Americans in the butt. Yet, within months of that disaster, many of the same economic practices that got the country, and indeed the world, on the brink of an abyss are once again being practiced.

Suddenly, Americans felt a lot less secure about their country and it's future. After all, it was not just in economic affairs that the Bush administration failed, and miserably at that. For the first time in decades, more Americans felt cynical than hopeful about the country's future at this time. Also, for the first time in well over a century, children not only could not expect to live a better standard of life than their parents, but in fact were expected to not reach the standard of living enjoyed by their parents. And that has come to pass, largely because of the excessive greed of corporations and the ultra-rich. Largely due to deregulation, and the economic practices that have now been in place for decades (since at least the beginning of the Reagan administration, and possibly since the days of Richard Nixon, although it would have been interrupted during the Carter White House years).

And from 1987 until 2006, Greenspan figured very prominently in those economic policies, and the direction that country was heading in.

Frankly, Greenspan did considerable damage to the economy, and of course, he was not alone. The whole economic thinking of our so-called leaders during these times, from Reagan right up through the sitting president right now, all seem to be in favor of catering to the whims of corporations and the wealthiest of Americans. It has been to the detriment of the vast majority of the people of the country.

Yet, nothing happened. He got criticized, true. But that was it. And few people criticized him, at that.

With maybe one notable exception. Bernie Sanders lambasted him, and held him to task for his failure to even take any aspects of the American middle class into consideration.

Below is a video of Sanders putting Greenspan's feet to the fire while Greenspan was still Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Listen to what he says, what he accuses Greenspan of doing. What the economic practices in place at the time were already doing, and how things were going to get worse. Keep in mind that this interview took place in 2003, 12 years ago. If we had more men in positions of power like Sanders, perhaps the country would not be in the sorry state that it is in now.

Also, just a side note, Greenspan admitted to wrong thinking later on, after the near economic collapse, and it is included in this video below.

In 2008, Greenspan acknowledged that his economic ideology was fundamentally flawed. Specifically, he said:

"I don't know how significant or permanent it is, but I've been very distressed by that fact...a flaw in the mode that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak."

Bernie Beats the Ever Living Hell out of Wall Street Dope Alan Greenspan; A Must Watch by Ring of Fire Staff, June 21, 2015:

Terror Attack in France

It has happened again.

Earlier today, a car with two men holding Arabic banners drove up to a power station in Grenoble, France (in the French Alps in the southeastern portion of the country).

There was an explosion, and at least one of the men in question is being held by police for questioning.

No word yet on the extent of the damage or number of casualties, although I just heard that someone was found decapitated just outside of the plant.

This will surely give rise to further anti-Islamic sentiments in Europe, and particularly in France, where the Front Nationale will surely use this to further their agenda.

Further details are still emerging, as this is still just a developing story for the time being.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Gustave Eiffel’s Iconic Ironwork

Eiffel tower
Photo courtesy of Carolina Ödman's Flickr page - Eiffel tower: https://www.flickr.com/photos/carolune/2210662414

Much like with the Guardian Liberty Voice, I had not actually written or gotten an article published for the new Take Off/Set Sail site in over a month. I felt bad about it, but it has been kind of a chaotic and busy time in my life these last few weeks.

However, I wanted to contribute, and finally did earlier this week. This article was published this past Tuesday, on the 25th of June. It focuses on one man's role in the creation of two of the most famous, really even iconic, landmarks in the modern world.

Please click the link below to take a look:

Gustave Eiffel’s Iconic Ironwork

Last week marked the 130th anniversary of the arrival of the Statue of Liberty to American shores. This was a gift from France to the United States, and was meant as a token of friendship between the two countries.

The Statue of Liberty has stood watch at the entrance to New York Harbor for well over a century, and was one of the iconic landmarks that incoming immigrants would see, knowing they had arrived to America, and a chance at a new life. For many decades, it dominated, being the tallest structure around.

That is no longer the case, in this age of towering skyscrapers. However, the statue is actually quite large, and needed some solid interior to support it and keep it standing. Ironically, the man who designed the iron support system inside of the State of Liberty is very famous for another iconic landmark back in the old continent.

Of course, I am referring to the Eiffel Tower, which has stood for almost as long as the Statue of Liberty has, and which was built in the city of Paris, the same city where the Statue of Liberty was first constructed.

I remember the first time that I visited the Eiffel Tower. I was just a little boy from a Franco-American family, and my parents sent my brother and me to France for the summer, where we had lived just a few years before. All I could think about was how cool it was going to be to visit the Eiffel Tower. When we got to France, the day finally came when we visited it, and I was super excited! It felt like the trip was taking forever, but when the Parisian Metro doors opened, I jolted out of my seat and ran up the escalator before anyone else could cut in front of me. I made it outside, turned, and there she was!

The Eiffel Tower, one of the most famous landmarks in all the world, was right in front of me! Yet, it was different than I thought it would be. First of all, it had netting hanging over the sides, because it was receiving a fresh coat of paint, which happens every seven years. Which brings me to the next thing that I found surprising, that it was painted in a strange brown color.

Still, none of this dampened my youthful excitement much. I waited impatiently for my aunt and brother to come up from the Metro stop, and we went up for our visit. Everything seemed so surreal, including the elevator ride, which was so fast. I had an absolute fascination with heights, and the panoramic view of Paris offered at the top was truly breathtaking! I even used what little money a seven-year-old has to buy the biggest model that I could, which I still have to this day. Mostly, however, what has stuck with me over the years and, yes, decades since, was that initial adrenaline rush at finally reaching such a famous landmark.

Since then, I have visited and seen the Eiffel Tower numerous times, and my fascination with it has remained, although I admire different things about it nowadays, including the history. There were no deaths during the construction of the tower, which remained the tallest man-made structure in the world for almost half a century, until the Chrysler Building in New York City overtook it (and the Empire State Building claimed the top spot one year later). Also, the Eiffel Tower was originally meant to be a temporary structure for the 1889 World's Fair in Paris, which honored the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the French Revolution. It may be difficult now for us to imagine the City of Lights without this most iconic landmark, but in fact a lot of people were opposed to it being built in the first place, and quite a few were impatient to see it finally taken down, viewing it as an eyesore. Guy de Maupassant said that his favorite spot to eat in Paris was at the restaurant inside, because it was the only place where he did not actually have to see it! Obviously, popular opinion shifted dramatically in favor of the Eiffel Tower over time, and it has now become such a permanent and critical part of the Paris, that it is almost impossible to imagine the city without it.

Although the height is impressive, particularly considering that this is basically a 1,000 ft. structure built in the 19th century, it is the fascinating history and aesthetic beauty of the tower that has earned my admiration since. The Eiffel Tower was a huge technological achievement in it's day, and yet it was designed in a graceful manner that compliments, rather than detracts, from the beauty of the city around it. It is right next to the Seine River and the Chaillot Palace on one side, and the open green space of the Champ-de-Mars on the other side, which allows you to appreciate both the height and the beauty upon approaching it.

Ultimately, the Eiffel Tower overcame all of those early naysayers who despised it, and won a place not only in the hearts of Parisians, and even French citizens, but of people around the world. Far from being a monstrous misfit for the city, an eyesore that could be seen from everywhere, it has proven to be a perfect addition to the city, and a beautiful backdrop seen from many places in and around Paris. A lot of people agree, as it is the most visited monuments that people have to pay to see, with over seven million visitors each year.

Photo courtesy of Fabrice Terrasson's Flickr page -  paris-ile-des-cygnes-statue-de-la-liberte-tour-eiffel-seine: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fabriceterrasson/61378384
Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Not far from the Eiffel Tower stands one of the original versions of the Statue of Liberty. Much like it's counterpart in New York City, this one too is on it's own island, although it is much more easy to access than the one in New York City is. You can take the steps from the nearby bridge, and visit the tiny island, with the Eiffel Tower looming in the background. 

As impressive as it is that Gustave Eiffel played a role in two of the most famous landmarks in the world, it should be noted that he in fact came close to making it three such landmarks. The United States wanted to host a huge event to honor the 400th anniversary of Columbus coming to the New World, and Chicago was chosen as the city to host it. The World's Columbian Exposition (which is also known as The Chicago World's Fair) was going to be the biggest event of it's kind in history. Chicago wanted to put on a display like no other, and to that end, it built an entire city inside of the city in classical style, complete with domed buildings and pools where people could ride on gondolas. It was known as "The White City" and was made of relatively cheap material which, tragically, burned down just a few years later. Only one building remains, although there is a half-scale replica of the Statue of the Republic that welcomed visitors to the site.

The organizers of the World's Fair wanted a centerpiece, much like the Eiffel Tower had been the easily identifiable centerpiece of the The Exposition Universelle of 1889. One of the ideas that was seriously being considered was a proposed tower designed by Gustave Eiffel. Basically, it would be very similar to the one he built in Paris, only taller. Ultimately, it was rejected, and the centerpiece for this fair was the very first Ferris Wheel. However, it is interesting to speculate on how things might have been different had there been another Eiffel Tower on American shores, in Chicago - a real one, as opposed to the one in Las Vegas. 

Still, it is impressive that Eiffel's work is crucial for two of the most famous landmarks in the world today!

Statue of the Republic
Photo courtesy of vxla's Flickr page - Statue of the Republic  (From the Statue of the Republic Wikipedia page): https://www.flickr.com/photos/vxla/4624655562
Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/


13 Things You Never Knew About The Eiffel Tower  MEGAN WILLETT    MAR. 31, 2014:


19 Facts About the Eiffel Tower:


The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Africa Must Overcome Troubled Past for Brighter Future

Land Potential: Africa's Top Ten

Photo courtesy of Mo Ibrahim Foundation Flickr Page -  Land Potential: Africa's Top Ten: https://www.flickr.com/photos/moibrahimfoundation/6334485810
Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I wrote my first article in well over a month for the Guardian Liberty Voice, and it got published yesterday.

It focuses on Africa, a continent that always seems in turmoil, but which always also seems to have the potential for so much more.

Admittedly, this article was a bit rushed, because I just wanted to get it in and published before time ran out. Still, it is on an important issue, and focuses on some recent organizations designed to establish greater African unity, with an eye towards progress.

Please take a look at the article by clicking on the link below:

Photo courtesy of Arsenie Coseac's Flickr Page - Water (Africa): https://www.flickr.com/photos/sidelife/5485758437
Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Africa Must Overcome Troubled Past for Brighter Future

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Today is Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day/ La fête nationale in Québec

Today, June 24th, is Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, which is celebrated in Canada, particularly among French Canadian. It is the feast day honoring St. John the Baptist. He was the Jewish preacher who baptized Jesus.

It is know as La fête nationale in Québec province, having been given a nationalistic flavor. I was blessed to be in Québec City once for this holiday, and it was very exciting!

To any Quebecois out there, bonne fête nationale!

Stephen King Says That the Opening Line is the Most Important Thing

When the author of over 50 successful novels and 60 books overall discusses writing, you had better listen.

He recently mentioned that the most crucial part of a book is the opening line.

According to King, "an opening line should invite the reader to begin the story... it should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this."

Here is the link:

According to Stephen King, It's All in the Opening Line

Drowning Does Not Look the Way You Might Expect

About a year or so ago, I posted this blog entry about what drowning actually looks like (hint: it is probably not what you expect it to look like).

It is a scary topic. I have a son, and the thought of all of the threats to a child can feel really overwhelming sometimes. There are dangers everywhere, including certainly in a swimming pool, lake, or the ocean. We know about the dangers of sharks, which seem particularly pronounced this year so far. But drowning is always a danger, and it is good to try and stay informed of what it looks like, so that maybe you can spot it. 

At the bottom of this blog, I added a new piece which I encountered recently. There is a video of a drowning child, and the challenge is to see if you could spot the child before the lifeguard does. 

Drowning Does Not Look the Way You Might Expect     May 24, 2014:

Well, it's summer again! And like everyone else, I am making plans for vacations, and looking to try and get in shape for the beach (it's going to be particularly hard this year). This is the time of the year for get togethers and outdoor barbecues with friends, for burgers and hot dogs and watermelon and cold beer, enjoyed in the late afternoon/early evening, when the peak temperatures finally cool a bit.

Although we might not want to think about it, there are also possible hazards to look out for. And I read about one of them earlier this morning, and it was very scary! I watch my son sleeping as I am writing this, and just cannot imagine the thought!

Please take a moment to look at the article below, whether you have kids or not (or even if your kids are all grown up). The fact of the matter is that drowning can happen very quietly, and it does not look at all like it is portrayed on television or in the movies. There are things that you need to look out for, and again, it bears repeating, it just does not bear any resemblance to how drowning people on Baywatch and other programs were portrayed!

And when you do go out to the beach, or some lake, or even a crowded swimming pool (yes, this can happen even when there are plenty of people around, as unlikely as that might seem), please keep the signs of someone drowning in mind, particularly a child. Because nothing is more important, and you never know - you might just save a life!

Specifically, these are the five things to look out for (according to the article):

1. A drowning person very rarely calls out for help, because they don't have enough breath to do so.

2. A drowning person's mouth will keep quickly going above and below the water, and not long enough to really catch their breath.

3. A drowning person will not wave for help. Instincts kick in, and they extend their arms laterally and actually push down on the water.

4. A drowning person cannot control their arm movements, so don't expect them to wave for help.

5. A drowning person will remain upright in the water, and there will be no evidence of supporting kicks. The process before drowning generally will be 20 to 60 seconds.

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning by Mario Vittone


Okay, so, here is the video and link that I mentioned earlier at the top of this blog entry. Here is an actual video of a swimming pool full of kids, and with one child in the process of drowning. You have to try and find the drowning kid, if possible, before the lifeguard does. This gives me new respect for lifeguards, because when I watched it, everything looked remarkably normal and peaceful. If I had not known that the idea is to spot the drowning child before the lifeguard does, then I likely would have assumed this was a simple, if a bit boring, clip of a normal day at the swimming pool, with a bunch of kids (and perhaps some adults, although I cannot see any) enjoying their time in a swimming pool.

Can You Spot The Drowning Kid In This Video Before The Lifeguard Does? by Mustafa Gatollari, June 21, 2015:


Finally, here is another link about drowning:

INVESTIGATORS: Drowning is silent by Trish Van Pilsum, May 21, 2014:

Coupe du Monde 1998 World Cup France 2 - 1 Danemark/Denmark - 1e Tour/1st Round

Like Super Bowl tickets, the tickets for the World Cup semifinal in Saint-Denis (as well as the tickets for the quarterfinal that my brother and I attended at Giants Stadium in 1994) are souvenir tickets, to add to that sense of it having been a really big deal. I absolutely loved them, and kept them both through the years. Even now, admittedly, I take them out every now and then to simply look at them, and appreciate the fact that my brother and I managed to go to such huge events, and in consecutive World Cups, to boot! The two nations that we are citizens of hosted the World Cup tournament back-to-back, which made me feel almost like an experienced aficionado after the semifinal with Croatia!

France wore their blue (home) jerseys for the game against Paraguay along with their traditional white shorts and red socks. Denmark wore their white jerseys and red shorts.

The last two days, I posted blog entries with video coverage of the first two World Cup contests that host and eventual champion France played in 1998.

Now, I have caught up in terms of dates, which is what I intended to do. It was on this day, 17 years ago, that France played in their toughest contest yet in the World Cup. They took on a tough Danish team, and it was a much tighter game than either of the two previous ones, which France won by a combined score of 7-0.

But now, it was getting tougher. Denmark provided the first really tough contest for the l'Equipe de France. The first, but not the last. France would struggle to beat Denmark to secure winning the group, and they then moved on to the elimination round. Once there, they would basically escape with a win against Paraguay, in what turned out to be the first ever "Golden Goal" victory in World Cup history. That meant that "Les Bleus" advanced to the quarterfinal round, where they would fight through a scoreless tie against Italy to go to penalty kicks. France scraped by there, too. Then, the game that my brother and I attended, the semifinal against Croatia, another narrow 2-1 victory.

Four close wins in a row.

Indeed, France would not win in blowout fashion again until, ironically, they managed to defeat the defending world champions Brazil in the Final.

France v. Arabie Saoudite 1e Tour
18 juin 1998 - Coupe du Monde - Stade de Gerland (Lyon)