Five by 8 – 7/5/10: The question that stumps 1 in 4 Americans

I know it’s a holiday and few people are working, even fewer still checking in with News Cut today, and nobody actually needs a Monday Morning Rouser. But tradition is tradition.

1) It is, of course, the Independence Day weekend, when we celebrate our independence from…..ummm… ahhh…..err…. the elitists.

So, that’s just a guy on Facebook. And he probably left out all of the people who do know that the colonies declared their independence from whomever they declared their independence from. But a Marist poll — with science and everything — shows that 26% of those surveyed don’t have a clue.

When you look at the numbers, the word shameful comes to mind.


USA Residents
On July 4th we celebrate Independence Day. From which country did the United States win its independence?
Great Britain Unsure Other countries mentioned
Row % Row % Row %
USA Residents 74% 20% 6%
Region Northeast 84% 10% 6%
Midwest 74% 21% 5%
South 68% 26% 6%
West 75% 18% 7%
Household Income Less than $50,000 63% 30% 7%
$50,000 or more 86% 9% 5%
Race White 82% 13% 5%
Non-white 56% 35% 9%
Age 18 to 29 60% 33% 7%
30 to 44 75% 15% 10%
45 to 59 79% 17% 4%
60 or older 76% 19% 4%
Age Under 45 67% 24% 9%
45 or older 78% 18% 4%
Gender Men 81% 12% 7%
Women 67% 28% 5%
July 2010 Marist Poll National Residents "N=1004 MOE +/- 3%" Totals may not add to 100 due to rounding.

Yesterday aboard the USS Constitution — the nation’s oldest commissioned warship — dozens of immigrants became U.S. citizens. Guarantee: 100% of them knew the answer to the question.

2) In the old days, pride in ignorance is the sort of thing that would get people worked up. What gets people worked up now? A hot dog eating contest in which the defending champ tries to crash the party.

3) Depressed yet? The cure is Brendan Marrocco. As the Times reports, “At 22, he was a spry, charming infantryman in the United States Army with a slicing wit and a stubborn streak. Then, on Easter Sunday 2009, a roadside bomb exploded under his vehicle, and he became the first veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to lose all four limbs in combat and survive.”

And a family drifting apart came back together:

He has not done it alone. His brother, Michael, 26, gave up a good-paying job at Citigroup to move into Walter Reed and, as he put it, “hang” with Brendan, shedding his tentative nature along the way. Their long-estranged parents, an engineer and a nurse, learned to communicate again as they kept vigil by Brendan’s bedside in the early months. And his indefatigable physical and occupational therapists take him out for Chinese food or watch ballgames with him on television long after their shifts end.

He’s now preparing for a double arm transplant.

4) It’s a heck of a country when one day you can be the head of the CIA’s unit in charge of finding Osama bin Laden, and then write articles in the middle of a war about how your country lost it; an article that is then picked up by Taliban-sympathetic Mideastern Web sites. On July 4th.

After nine years, it is utterly impossible to restart Western policy in Afghanistan. Too many Afghans are dead; too many Afghans and non-Afghan Muslims have joined the Taliban-led insurgency; too much pro-Taliban money is pouring into Afghanistan from wealthy donors on the Arabian Peninsula and across the Muslim world; too much Western funding has been stolen and sent abroad by Karzai’s cronies; too much popular support for the war in the West has been squandered; too many U.S.-NATO troops are dead or maimed; too much has been done by the West to push Pakistan toward the abyss by demanding its military do Western dirty work; and too much time has been wasted on counterinsurgency theories and policies that avoid killing the enemy and his civilian supporters. The one thing the West ‘can start over completely’ is a revision of the plans for withdrawal that moves up the departure date.

Still, Michael Scheuer’s article — at least on The Diplomat Web site (first link above) — has spawned an unusually good (by Internet standards, I admit) exchange in the comments section that is as good evidence as ever on the value of public dissent in times of war.

5) Is the Internet killing the Boundary Waters? An article from AP (on MPR NewsQ) documents the declining popularity (as measured by reservations) of the BWCA. It’s a trend, however, that’s not limited to the wilderness. Golf rounds in Minnesota — once the nation’s hotbed for golf — have also been declining. Why? In this story, as in previous ones, people are guessing:

She thinks the demands of organized summer sports are keeping kids out of the woods.

“Even elementary-age kids. You’d think they were professional athletes. You can’t miss a practice or you can’t play in the games,” she said.

Seaton has seen the same kinds of demographic changes.

“We definitely see fewer groups of young people coming,” he said. “Our regulars are definitely getting older. We don’t see as many people bringing the whole family as we did 10 years ago or 15 years ago.”

The advent of the Internet also has been a deterrent to wilderness travel, Seaton said.

“People need to be more connected,” he said. “Some people can’t go someplace on vacation where they’re completely disconnected from their work and their friends.”

Bonus: Sandsation has opened in Germany. Suddenly, you, your pail, and your little shovel seem a tad inadequate.

Video: Northfield’s fireworks. Courtesy of Griff Wigley (More here):


Almost 80 years after Congress declared it our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner” remains a controversial choice. What song would you like to see as our national anthem?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: New archeological evidence has revealed more information on what happened during the Battle at the Little Bighorn. Author Nathaniel Philbrick’s latest book details what we now know about how Gen. George Custer died, and why in some ways the battle marked Sitting Bull’s last stand as well.

Second hour: Paleontologist Kristi Curry Rogers talks about her work on a new species of long-necked dinosaur, and how the discovery of the animal’s “brain case” in Madagascar is the key to its identity. She also discusses recent developments in the world of paleontology, including the unearthing of the world’s largest bed of dinosaur fossils in western Canada, new evidence on dinosaur mating rituals, and what today’s ostriches can teach us about how two-legged dinos moved through space.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – Historian Pauline Maier answers questions about the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War and the drafting of the Constitution.

Second hour: Veterinarian Kate An Hunter is in the studio with her champion dog, Ansel, to answer your questions about pets.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Military wives talk about life on the home front.

Second hour: Shopping guru Paco Underhill notes that some retailers don’t quite understand more than half their customers. Underhill explains why no business can afford to ignore the power of women.