Month: July 2017

Past Presidents

Past Presidents

Scott Hutchason2016 - 2017
Alexander Garnett2015 - 2016
Robert Smith2014 - 2015
William F. Ball2013 - 2014
Robert Ready*2012 - 2013
John W. Podkowsky2011 - 2012
Kirk Jewett2010 - 2011
Marc E. Thorne2009 - 2010
William M. Winship2008 - 2009
Robert S. Mitchell2007 - 2008
Frank M. Johnson2006 - 2007
William H. Donalds*2005 - 2006
W. Kent Haydock2004 - 2005
William H. Atkinson2003 - 2004
Howard S. Thompson2002 - 2003
Anthony M. Kwedar2001 - 2002
William K. Flanagan Jr.2000 - 2001
Harry W. Earle*1999 - 2000
Duncan Forbes*1998 - 1999
Charles F. Andrew*1997 - 1998
Wesley W. Perine*1996 - 1997
R. Donald Brown1995 - 1996
Kendall Jackson*1994 - 1995
W. Richard Fulljames1993 - 1994
William L Rylander*1992 - 1993
Everett P. Walkley*1991 - 1992
Franklin F. Penn*1990 - 1991
C. Lathrop Herold*1989 - 1990
Russell K. Heilmann*1988 - 1989
Harold H. Rogers*1987 - 1988
Fred W. Farwell*1985 - 1987
Alfred M. Street*1984 - 1985
Lawrence M. (Pete) Horton*1982 - 1984
Luther F. Thompson*1981 - 1982
Robert E. Howe*1979 - 1981
Dallas Pulliam*1979 - 1979
Philip Coulter*1977 - 1979

* deceased

Good Read: Richard Nixon: The Life By John A. Farrell

Thoroughly Researched Biography Tapping Recently Available Sources

Until Donald Trump, no one in American presidential politics had come so far, so fast, and so alone in exploiting the politics of grievance as Richard Nixon.

John Farrell’s biography is very thoroughly researched and has gained notoriety because at the Nixon library Farrell discovered notes from Nixon aide Bob Haldeman, contemporaneous to the 1968 election. Haldeman’s notes substantiated the rumor that, through an intermediary, Nixon reached out to South Vietnamese President Thieu to scuttle South Vietnamese participation in President Johnson’s peace initiative. The message: South Vietnam could get a better deal once he, Nixon, was President. Nixon’s goal was to eliminate any chance that his opponent, Hubert Humphrey, would benefit from the prospect of US withdrawal from Vietnam. More than 20,000 American soldiers died as US combat participation in the war extended from 1968 until Nixon left office in 1974.

Farrell is at his best in describing the events leading to the Checkers speech which dissuaded Eisenhower from dropping Nixon as his running mate in 1952. In his first term of office, according to the author, Ike did not feel that Nixon was growing in terms of perspective (“He lacked the grandness of vision and spirit to unite a great country”) but at the same time Ike cynically used Nixon for tactical offense so that as president he could stay above the fray.

The author reminds us of all the disgusting characters that formed the political culture of the 1950s and 1960s. These included Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohen, George Wallace and the southern power brokers such as Strom Thurmond and Richard Russell. America was roiled by the assassinations of JFK, Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the race riots of the inner cities, and the polarization of opinion regarding the Vietnam War. The dirty tricks of Nixon’s House and Senate campaigns were by no means the exclusive purview of Richard Nixon. Indeed the author notes the vote counts in Chicago and Texas which may have illegally tipped victory to John F. Kennedy in the 1960 election and which likely persuaded Nixon that no one would ever again outdo him in employing dirty tricks to win.

Farrell highlights one difference between the postwar period of Richard Nixon and our current political environment: Victory over Nazi Germany and Japan in World War II showed Nixon’s generation what government could do. With the end of the war, the US population doubled with the baby boom and there was great demand for the expansion of government services. Farrell makes the point that Nixon believed in government, and that he was more progressive than Kennedy on Civil Rights in 1955. The government social safety net was expanded under Nixon’s presidency, including tax reform for low income individuals, increased aid for education, and a 20% hike in Social Security payments. The problem with right-wingers, Nixon said, was that, “they have a totally hard-hearted attitude where human problems and any compassion is concerned.”

Nixon was an excellent student of the mood of the electorate and in 1968 was able to reach out to the conformist middle and working class which had become disillusioned with Democrats who took their traditional supporters for granted. Farrell says that Nixon won the “gut vote” — a precursor of what Trump did in 2016.

Nixon was an introvert in an extroverted profession. As president, he used Bob Haldeman and John Erlichman to wall himself off not only from confrontation, which he hated, but even from one-on-one interactions which made him uncomfortable.

The President was given to angry outbursts and ill-advised orders, which his top advisors (Kissinger, Laird, Haldeman) learned to ignore. “Bomb Damascus” didn’t mean that he intended the order to be carried out.

Unfortunately, as Farrell lays out in a particularly good chapter, “The Road to Watergate”, lower level aides were all too eager to please the President and the Watergate burglary and other dirty tricks went forward with implicit rather than explicit approval. “The way to Presidential favor was to bring a dead mouse to his door,” notes the author.

Will the hubris (or insecurity) that brought down Richard Nixon serve to bring down Donald Trump? Farrell seems to suggest that the answer is no. As the Watergate scandal grew, with damaging testimony from John Dean and others, the public was becoming bored with the “he said, she said” allegations. But then the discovery of the White House tapes changed everything and forced Nixon’s resignation. Whatever emerges from the Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian involvement in the election, it seems unlikely that the special prosecutor will uncover evidence that is so specific, irrefutable, and damning as the Watergate tapes.

This is an excellent biography of the most controversial of presidents, and readers will benefit from John Farrell’s study of primary sources that have only recently become available to Nixon biographers.


Charles G. Salmans

Also, from the NYT’s Book Review: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/books/richard-nixon-biography-john-a-farrell.html?_r=0

Dan Cooney passes away June 24th 2017

Daniel Russell Cooney, 92, of Darien and Waldoboro, Maine, died on June 24.  Born in Brooklyn on Dec. 12, 1924, he was the son of Mae Bossert and Russell S. Cooney.  He grew up in Plandome, Long Island and in Waldoboro, attended Exeter Academy, and served in the U.S. Army in World War II in the European Theater.  After the war, he entered Yale University and graduated in 1950.  He worked as a securities analyst for Lord Abbett & Co. in New York City, and in 1973, he became portfolio manager of the newly established Lord Abbett Developing Growth Fund, one of the earliest funds to focus specifically on the over-the-counter market. After his retirement in 1987, he served as Trustee of Robertson Stephens Emerging Growth Fund.

Mr. Cooney  married the love of his life, Alice Knotts, on July 9, 1949, in Falmouth, Maine, and they spent 67 devoted years together between Darien and Waldoboro, raising two daughters, many Norwich terriers, and daylilies galore. His devotion to Alice, who predeceased him by nine months, was exemplified by the care he gave her over the last 25 years of her life, when she was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. He was supported in her care by a team of women who, in turn, watched over and looked after him.  His daughters are grateful for each of them, they said.

He had an infectious smile and a curious nature that endeared him to all.  A long-standing member of the Noroton Yacht Club, he owned sailboats in numerous classes that included Lightnings, Sonars, and Ideal 18s. He shared his wife’s passion for antiques, but his interest had a nautical focus, embracing everything from marine paintings, decoys, scrimshaw, and early rigging and sailmakers tools that he appreciated as much for their history as for their craftsmanship and beauty.  His interests were vast and ever growing, ranging from planting a collection of rhododendrons and rare pines to showing Norwich Terriers and making wine. But most of all, he was a gentleman of the old school in the truest sense.

Mr. Cooney was predeceased by his three siblings, James S. Cooney, Barbara Cooney, and David C. Cooney.  He is survived by his daughters Rebecca T. Cooney, and her husband Tito Pizarro, of New York City, and Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, and her husband George L. K. Frelinghuysen, also of New York City; and two grandsons, Henry O. H.  Frelinghuysen of Stamford,  and Russell S. C. Frelinghuysen of Asheville, North Carolina.

He will have a private family burial in Waldoboro in August.  A memorial service will be held in his honor on Sept. 7 at 11 a.m. at St. Luke’s Parish, 1864 Post Road, Darien.

Memorial, donations in Daniel’s memory may be made to St. Luke’s Parish, 1864 Post Road, Darien, CT 06820, or to Yale University, Development Office, 157 Church Street, New Haven, CT 06510-2100.

Book Discussion, October 11, 2017
Killers of the Flower Moon : the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

From New Yorker staff writer David Grann, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Lost City of Z, a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history         In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.       Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances.       In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes like Al Spencer, the “Phantom Terror,” roamed—many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll climbed to more than twenty-four, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations and the bureau badly bungled the case. In desperation, the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only American Indian agents in the bureau. The agents infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest techniques of detection.  Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.        In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. Based on years of research and startling new evidence, the book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly compelling, but also emotionally devastating.

Charlie Rose interviews the author:
https://charlierose.com/videos/30603

Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War by Ben Macintyre

The incredible untold story of WWII s greatest secret fighting force, as told by our great modern master of wartime intrigue

Britain’s Special Air Service or SAS was the brainchild of David Stirling, a young, gadabout aristocrat whose aimlessness in early life belied a remarkable strategic mind. Where most of his colleagues looked at a battlefield map of World War II s African theater and saw a protracted struggle with Rommel s desert forces, Stirling saw an opportunity: given a small number of elite, well-trained men, he could parachute behind enemy lines and sabotage their airplanes and war material.

Paired with his constitutional opposite, the disciplined martinet Jock Lewes, Stirling assembled a revolutionary fighting force that would upend not just the balance of the war, but the nature of combat itself. He faced no little resistance from those who found his tactics ungentlemanly or beyond the pale, but in the SAS’s remarkable exploits facing the Nazis in the Africa and then on the Continent can be found the seeds of nearly all special forces units that would follow.

Bringing his keen eye for psychological detail to a riveting wartime narrative, Ben Macintyre uses his unprecedented access to SAS archives to shine a light inside a legendary unit long shrouded in secrecy. The result is not just a tremendous war story, but a fascinating group portrait of men of whom history and country asked the most.

Washington Post, Top 10 Title for 2016
NPR “Best Books of 2016” – Staff Picks and History Lovers selection

Recommended by Jim Phillips