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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Valley Forge, the Sequester and the Oscars

     We all know that Washington wintered the Continental Army at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, for the winder of 1777-1778.  Here is an image taken in the Knox Artillery Park section of what is now a federal park.

     What many don't know is the "secret war" (as historian Thomas Fleming puts it) engaged in by Washington to defeat an attempt to replace him as commander in chief.  What many also don't know is that the winter at Valley Forge was not the worst of the war.  However, the Continental Army did suffer from lack of clothes and food, let alone proper nutritional needs.  A large part of the problem was the manner in which the Continental Congress dealt with (or failed to deal with) the situation.  Among its mistakes was setting prices for purchase of food and supplies, with the predictable economic result that local farmers and merchants often sold to the British to get hard currency and better prices.  I have been reading Fleming's book Washington's Secret War and am struck by the same attitudes of the members of the Continental Congress with many of those today in dealing with government spending and the so-called sequester.  Rhetoric continues to trump reality.  Politics and power are more important than result.  In the meantime, just as the troops starved at Valley Forge, we have a large part of our present population suffering from a malignant economy while the press is dominated and bedazzled with a golfing president and who George Clooney brings to the Oscars.

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