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John Adams: TV Worth Watching

Ladies and Gents, I am about to head out to the BFF’s house. I have neglected the poor man recently so he is going to cook me dinner tonight. And since he is such a good cook and good company, I cannot resist. I hope he has the TiVO set for the first part of the John Adams miniseries tonight on HBO so we can watch it together. Here is a trailer:

The movie is based on the book by David McCullough. (Highly recommended. I bought it for the BFF for Christmas several years ago but *I* read it first.) John Adams was a motivating force in the separation from England and writing the Declaration of Independence. Oddly enough, he wasn’t heavily involved in writing the constitution, at least, not as involved as James Madison and others. Adams was off in France during much of that period of time, serving as our Secretary of State of sorts. So, much of what the Constitution is based on is the Federalist Papers. It might be a good time to revisit those papers because if I recall my poli sci 101 correctly, the Constitution was written in part to protect the rights of property owners from the effects of mob rule. Yes, our founding fathers were liberals, up to a point.

In any case, we will be discussing some of the outcomes of Federalism and its effects in modern politics in the days ahead. Expect “Federalist” to make a repeat appearance in our posts. But does that word mean what people like Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts think it means? And what does Barack Obama have to do with Federalists?

Stay tuned….

15 Responses

  1. No discussion of the Federalist papers should take place without Alexander Hamilton–the author of the majority of the FP. Hamiltonian political philosophy was very similar to Clintonian philosophy and if he wasn’t killed by Burr, he would have been able to preserve his reputation from being smeared by Jefferson and Madison who turned him into this elitist aristocrat. Hamilton was more a modern day liberal than the “states rights” Jefferson and Madison.

    But I digress. I always enjoy this topic and look forward to the discussion.

  2. agreed…great book. I cant watch miniseries…I need to watch the whole thing all at one time because I never know what my schedule is or where I will be. Please share how you like Stephen Dillane ( I love him!) as Jefferson.


  3. Thanks for the clip. I look forward to watching the series. Did you see that cops are in pursuit of a ‘John Adams’ blogger? The guy is criticizing local gov’t and has caught them trying to find them. Reminds me of the Sedition Acts — brought forth by John Adams. There more about that on my name.

  4. http://www.attacktimeline.com/

    This may have been posted before, and I can’t vouch for its accurracy (will do some checking tomorrow), but here’s a neat site giving dates and attacks from Obama (not sure if others included, but def’ly Obama) on Hillary.

    Looks neat–and the template could be useful for the general–or for tracking good things about a campaign.

    Kinda busy right now, but will check back to see if anyone’s used this or has looked and has some opinions.

    Found from commenter at Taylor Marsh’s place–forgot to note name.

  5. A series like this makes me wish I did have extended cable and HBO–but if it’s really good it’ll be available eventually through the library.

    Also, for contrarian views of the Founding Fathers, Gore Vidal has some wonderful historical novels. I loved the one about Aaron Burr (speaking of Alexander Hamilton, as someone above did).

  6. Just finished watching John Adams. McCulloch’s book is terrific, and I worried that this might be just a costume drama. It’s not, although I wish more time had been spent on the process of writing the Declaration. There was more of a back and forth between Adams and Jefferson than the movie portrays — in fact, the movie makes Jefferson a bit of a cypher, at least in the first segment, while the book did not.

    The portrayal of Adams’ relationship with Abigail is wonderful (aided of course by the fact that Abigail is played by Laura Linney), with the mutual respect and deep love evident despite the restrained words of the times.

    The first installment will be available tomorrow at any time on HBO On Demand, for those of you who have it. I highly recommend it. I can’t wait until next week, and I already know how it turns out!

    Jawbone: I loved Vidal’s Burr. He was a fascinating figure in his own right, not just as the duelist who shot Alexander Hamilton.

    BTW: I am about 2/3s done with Jacob Weisberg’s The Bush Tragedy. It’s a really terrific book, offering insights into not only Bush, but Cheney. Despite its clear judgment that Bush’s presidency has been an abject failure, it manages to show Bush as a complex, albeit deeply flawed, human being.

    It quotes Bill Clinton on his successor: “He doesn’t know much. He doesn’t want to know much. But he’s not dumb.” That sums it up nicely — tand he book tells you why he doesn’t know or want to know much.

  7. jawbone – That timeline is a real good start, but I remember a lot more hits back around the youtube debate in July.

    Is this the fruit of Peter Daou’s blogger challenge? We can play.

  8. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7298533.stm

    Just quick drop by to post link to the BBC article about new information obtained under the FOIA on the investigation into My Lai. back during the war.

    Today is the 40th anniversary of that iconic travesty from the Viet Nam War.

    I remember thinking back in the 70’s, when we left Viet Nam, after learning of all the lies and deviousness of that war–Gulf of Tonkin, Nixons’ invasion of Cambodia, the Pentagon Papers–I thought we would never make that mistake again in my lifetime.

    And then Bush went and did something so similar, but even more mendacious–so bad I almost couldn’t believe it.

    But the dead of Iraq, of our country, of other “coalition” nations, the terribly maimed, the children growing up in the horror of what Bush has wrought in their country, the coming economic dislocation coming to our country…..

    My government again took us to war that was unnecessary. Utterly astonishing. Completely useless.

    So, just a reminder–please let this sort of thing no happen again 30 years from now. I’ll be long gone by then, but, please, let us learn, finally.

  9. John Adams was wonderful..and sad..when i hear the incredible words of Jefferson, i thought sadly how ..little lord pissy pants, who is an utter moron..has destroyed what those brave forefathers did for us..and Pissy pants did it, without a fight on the streets from any of us.


  10. ronkseattle–I did some more looking at the timeline–it’s part of the Clinton campaign, It’s not as easy to use as I would like, but there is a lot there, all with cites.

    I think there were actually some Obama digs/attacks prior to his actual announcement, but I have to dig for that.

  11. Post South Carolina?

    Obama Says Clinton Is ‘Bush-Cheney Lite’

    “One candidate knows it’s irresponsible to send our troops to war without a plan to bring them home” etc.

    Obama told a crowd in New Hampshire: “I am not afraid of losing the PR war to dictators…. I’m not going to hide behind a bunch of rhetoric. I don’t want a continuation with Bush-Cheney. I don’t want Bush-Cheney Lite. I want a fundamental change.”

    Obama also held a conference call with reporters, characterizing Clinton as no different from the Bush administration for foreswearing dialogue. “If that’s not what she means, then she should say so,” he said. “Nobody expects that you would just sit down with them for coffee,” he said, speaking of the preparations he would make for meetings with the leaders of North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and other nations. But he stuck with his answer and said he would not impose preconditions.

  12. I think my comment w/quotes is sitting in moderation, but when it shows up – post-South Carolina would be the YouTube debate, sorry (maybe it was in SC I forget).

  13. So far, the series is great, and a wonderful insight into history.

    For a detailed blow by blow episode guide:


  14. Charles: Nice comment. I learned a lot from that.

  15. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to reading more from you.

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