amtrakAmtrak and its lobbyists at the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) recently invited us to commemorate the third annual National Train Day on May 8. Supposedly celebrating “America’s love for trains,” the day could not boast a more ironic host than the railroad nobody rides. Worse, Amtrak’s sponsorship was as shameless as Dracula’s funding a fashion show concentrating on décolletage: The government that owns Amtrak has sabotaged, subsidized, and sucked the life from American railroads since the industry’s inception.

PompeySince the days when Mark Antony’s grandfather patrolled the coasts of the Mediterranean searching for the distinctive gilded-stemmed masts of their lightweight vessels, pirates from Cilicia (modern-day Cukorova, Turkey) had vexed Roman shipping lanes.

Battle of PeleliuStuds Terkel called World War II the “good war.” If any war could be called good, then the Second World War is at least a candidate. However, it should be remembered that until the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, 70-80 percent or more of Americans in poll after poll said they wanted nothing to do with the war that was raging in the Far East or with the one that had erupted in Europe — and for good reason. By the 1930s it seemed that the death of tens of thousands of American boys during the Great War had been for naught. We were determined not to become entangled in yet another war overseas serving the interests of other nations.

Welfare, a.k.a. Social SecurityItem: The New York Times for March 22 reported: “Now that landmark legislation overhauling the health insurance system is about to become law, addressing Social Security’s solvency could well become the next big thing for President Obama and Congressional Democrats.” Social Security, said Jackie Calmes of the Times, “now stands as the likeliest source of the large savings needed to bring projected annual deficits to sustainable levels, many budget analysts agree.”

John BarryWho was the “brilliant child of the wind and waves” who fired the inaugural volley at the Royal Navy’s pride by being the first to engage and capture an armed British warship, the Edward, during our War for Independence? Not sure? Here are a few hints: It was the same captain who fought the last naval skirmish of that long and bitter struggle for freedom, who held the record for the fastest American warship during the Revolution, and who was instrumental in the establishment of a permanent, separate American Navy.