Our inaugural POS Saturday episode is dedicated to one of the biggest pieces of s**t in 20th century American history -- Roy Cohn. Cohn’s influence on American politics and society from the 1950s to the 1980s was almost completely negative. Along with a handful of others, he is responsible for the toxic tone and behavior that has polluted recent American politics. Professor Philip Nash from Penn State explains why Roy Cohn’s our first Buzzkill POS!
We hear this all the time in the US: “George Patton should have been unleashed and taken care of the Soviets in 1945 when we had the chance.” And from the movie, Patton: “We're gonna have to fight them sooner or later anyway. Why not do it now, when we got the army here to do it with?” If we had let Patton have his way, the Soviet Union would have been eliminated, there would have been no Cold War, and no threat of a nuclear WWIII. True? Professor Nash from Penn State explains all! One of our best episodes!
Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted so much more from the US government and US elite, than most people realize. Popular history has airbrushed out far too much about his life and work. Professor Phil Nash reminds us of the importance of King’s work, especially during the forgotten period between his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and his assassination in 1968. Listen and learn.
When announcing the beginning of impeachment proceedings, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, brought up a Ben Franklin “quotation.” Franklin supposedly said this after the Founding Fathers had agreed on the broad nature of the new U.S. government in 1787. But is the quote genuine? We explain it all, and the wider context of Franklin’s political and social world.
We explain the complicated and much-mythologized history of the Pentagon Papers, which is shorthand for the government-funded study of US involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. Once leaked by Daniel Ellsberg and others, American newspapers, led by the New York Times, printed significant extracts from the Papers. This led to a major freedom of the press controversy, and Supreme Court ruling.
You often hear that "the real heroes" of the Nixon Impeachment Crisis were the Republicans in Congress. They put country ahead of party, so the story goes, and facts ahead of friendship, and urged Nixon to resign rather than be impeached and removed from office. But is that what really happened? Were the 70s Republicans heroic? And exactly when did they take their heroic stand? Professor Buzzkill explains all the complexities!
Lots of people take comfort from the quote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” and it’s usually credited to Martin Luther King. He said it, but was it an original MLK thought? The long history of this famous quote is fascinating and uplifting. Listen and learn!
Should old acquaintance be forgot? What? Should we forget old friends? Should we sing about remembering them. What does Auld Lang Syne actually mean? Why do we sing it every New Year’s Eve? Join the Professor as he waxes lyrical and sentimentally about Auld Lang Syne, Scotland, and good auld Robert Burns!
Was there special, secret meaning behind the lyrics in the famous Christmas song, The 12 Days of Christmas? Ten Lords a Leaping and Nine Ladies Dancing sounds like a pretty good party! But why wasn’t Professor Buzzkill invited? We explain it all and wish all you Buzzkillers out there a happy holiday season!
The truce between the trenches in Christmas 1914 is one of the most famous stories from World War I. Was it one big truce across the whole Western Front? Or was it lots of little ceasefires? How did it happen, and what did the soldiers do during the Christmas Truce? Did they become friends for a day? Did they play football? Did they exchange cigarettes and pose for pictures? Professor Theresa Blom Croker explains all!
Professor Phil Nash joins us to explain the myths and misconceptions about the December 7th, 1941, as well as the complexities of the cultural importance of the attack since then. Did FDR know about the attack ahead of time? And who was the attack more devastating for - the United States or Japan? You’ll learn more about an event that you thought you already knew well by listening to us!
Sometimes, Buzzkillers, the stars just seem to align. There's a meteor shower and a rainbow on the same day. And a whole bunch of writers, pundits, journalists, and aphorists come up with roughly the same idea at roughly the same time. Or at least they come up with it over a couple of decades, and, in terms of the history of quotations, that's the story of the aphorism and witticism, "life is just one damn thing after another." But it's easier to attribute such a quotation to Mark Twain, and that's what people have done. Did he ever say it? Listen and learn.
How “clean” was the regular German army (Wehrmacht) during World War II? The Nazis and the SS usually get all the blame for war crimes and for the Holocaust. How much blame can be placed at the feet of “ordinary” German military units? Turns out that the “clean Wehrmacht” story is not only a myth, but it also greatly influenced how post-War Europe was re-built. Professor Nash joins us to examine how deep and wide the war guilt goes.
President Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats” are famous for breaking new ground in how political leaders communicate with their people. But where they really as ground-breaking as we all tend to believe? Did they really help the American people get through the Great Depression and World War II? Was it FDR’s tone and confidence that connected to the people, or was there something more mundane that explains the popularity of the Fireside Chats? Professor Phil Nash enlightens us!
Legendary American football coach, Vince Lombardi, was fond of telling his players “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” He employed it many times to motivate them, as well having it posted all around the locker room. And he’s usually the person who gets credit for the quote. But was he the first person to say it? Find out in this episode of Quote or No Quote!
1919 was one of the most tumultuous years in American history. Economic struggles, labor unrest, the Red Scare, anarchist bombings, and race riots plagued the country. 1919 saw the end of the Progressive Era, the beginning of anti-immigration laws, an attempt to “return to normalcy,” and the approach of the much heralded “Roaring 20s.” But is 1919 so easily defined by the well-worn phrases? Professor Nash joins us to explain all!
The Berlin Wall seemed to define Cold War tension and opposition in stone. From 1961 to 1989 it divided East Berlin from West Berlin, and was the focal point of potential Soviet vs. US confrontation. But the history of why it was built and how the citizens of Berlin lived with it is rife with myth and misunderstanding. Professor Philip Nash joins us to explain it all. Listen and learn!
Harriet Tubman is one of the most famous and important figures in American history. Directly and indirectly responsible for freeing many slaves through the Underground Railroad in the 19th century, she also an armed scout and spy for the Union Army in the Civil War. Whether she ever said, “I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves,” is more uncertain. And we examine the quote in this brief episode. Listen and learn.
Listen, oh Buzzkillers, and you shall hear,
the true story of the Ride of Paul Revere.
Silversmith, patriot, brave man and true,
but he wasn’t the only one to carry the news.
Did Gandhi say “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”? If he didn’t, where did it come from? The Bible? The Canadian House of Commons? Movie script writers? And is there something more significant in how this phrase has come down to us as an essential Gandhi-ism? Listen and learn with your eyes open in this flashback episode, Buzzkillers!
Many things seemed phallic to Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. But did this include the humble cigar? Or did Freud just dismiss overanalysis by saying, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”? What that a genuine Freudian quip? Did Groucho Marx agree? Find out by listening to this brand new Quote or No Quote episode!
Professor Ryan Swanson explains the complex history of the relationship between President Theodore Roosevelt and the modernization of American sports culture. We learn about TR’s “tennis cabinet,” his fitness programs, and his role as the “invigorator in chief.” But we also learn about TR’s dislike of the rising professionalization of sports, and about the proper role of sports in American life.
The Cuban Missile Crisis! Kennedy, Castro, Khrushchev, missiles, submarines, cigars! It was the closest we’ve gotten to World War III and nuclear annihilation. Professor Philip Nash joins us in the Buzzkill Bunker as we sweat the details and the minute by minute tension of the standoff. Wear your diapers, Buzzkillers, it’s intense!
One of the most famous Churchill-isms is “an empty taxi pulled up and Clement Attlee stepped out of it.” It implies, of course, that Attlee was a political non-entity, weak and ineffective. But did Churchill ever say it? And what do skinny French actresses have to do with it? We explain all in this episode of Quote or No Quote!
Is it possible to determine who was the first woman to cast a ballot in a modern, democratic election? Not really. But, in this episode, we’re going to talk about three of the “first” women to vote. 2019-2020 is the centenary of the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. It prohibited states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to American citizens on the basis of gender. During this centenary year, we’re going to look at women’s voting in modern history in a number of pioneering countries, and this is the first of those episodes.