Blood Transfusion Idea Was Considered To Bring George Washington Back To Life

From Towleroad comes this link to a story that is one of the stranger pieces of presidential trivia that I suspect we will ever come to know.

The morning after Washington died, his step-granddaughter Elizabeth Law arrived with a family friend, William Thornton. History best remembers Thornton as the architect who created the original design for the Capitol building, but he was also a trained physician, having studied at the University of Edinburgh. Although he did not practice medicine for much of his life, Thornton always had a keen interest in the workings of the human body, and he suggested a novel method for resurrecting the fallen warrior. Thornton told Washington’s wife Martha that he wanted to thaw Washington’s body by the fire and have it rubbed vigorously with blankets. Then he planned to perform a tracheotomy so he could insert a bellows into Washington’s throat and pump his lungs full of air, and finally to give Washington an infusion of lamb’s blood. Friends and family declined Thornton’s mad scientist offer, not because they thought his solution impossible, but because they felt the nation’s first president should rest in peace.

So what gave Thornton the idea to play Dr. Frankenstein? Susan E. Lederer, author of the book Flesh and Blood: Organ Transplantation and Blood Transfusion in Twentieth-Century America, notes that many physicians in the late 18th Century believed that lamb’s blood had special properties, and believes Thornton meant to give Washington’s circulatory system “a spark of vitality” that might jolt him back to life. But Paul Schmidt, in his article “Forgotten transfusion history: John Leacock of Barbados” published in the British Medical Journal, suggests that the University of Edinburgh may have been on the forefront of transfusion research (unless you count all those transfusion experiments in 17th-Century France). Thornton wasn’t the only Edinburgh alum thinking about blood transfusions during that time period. Philip Syng Physick, an earlier Edinburgh grad (who incidentally practiced in Philadelphia, where Thornton himself briefly practiced medicine), is reported to have performed a human blood transfusion as early as 1795. John Leacock, a later graduate, performed successful transfusion experiments, believing an infusion of blood would “excite” the recipient heart. Leacock’s experiments in turn influenced James Blundell, who is credited with introducing the process to the mainstream medical community. Schmidt wonders if the Edinburgh community took particular interest in those early French transfusion experiments, planting the idea in Thornton’s mind.

Mitt Romney Lead Expands In Florida Over Newt Gingrich

The tea leaves are forming a picture for Tuesday’s voting in Florida when Republicans will cast a ballot for their party nominee.

White House hopeful Mitt Romney widened his lead over rival Newt Gingrich to 11 percentage points in Florida, according to Reuters/Ipsos online poll results on Saturday, up from 8 points a day earlier, as he cemented his front-runner status in the Republican nomination race.

With just three days remaining before Florida’s Republican primary, Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, led Gingrich, a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, by 43 percent to 32 percent among likely voters in Florida’s January 31 primary, the online poll said.

Florida lets voters cast their ballots early at polling stations or by mail, and 30 percent of the poll respondents said they had done so, compared with 29 percent on Friday.

Romney held a 12-point lead among those who had already voted, and an 11-point lead among those who had not yet voted.

Video 4 Years Ago: Teddy Kennedy Endorsed Barack Obama

Senator Kennedy still stirs the soul, and lights the way for what is best about the Democratic Party.  As does President Obama.

Congressman Barney Frank To Marry Long-Time Partner Jim Ready

This will be a wedding with a who’s-who list.

Retiring Rep. Barney Frank, a gay pioneer in Congress, said Thursday that he will marry his longtime partner, Jim Ready.

Frank spokesman Harry Gural said the liberal Massachusetts Democrat’s wedding will be in his home state, but that no date had been set.

Ready, 42, lives in Ogunquit, Maine. He has a small business doing custom awnings, carpentry, painting, welding and other general handyman services, Gural said. Ready is also a photographer. The two men have been together since spring 2007.

Does Mitt Romney Owe Back Taxes?


Some have offered comments on this blog that too much interest is paid to a candidates back taxes. Too much has been made, it was said, of what Mitt Romney paid in taxes, and at what rate.

The Wall Street Journal reports today a story which underscores why the nation needs to know the tax information of those who seek to lead from the White House.

The issue is whether the Republican presidential candidate—who left Bain in 1999—continued to provide “services” to his former firm, at least as far as that concept is defined by a 1993 Internal Revenue Service pronouncement.

If he doesn’t qualify under that policy, a remote possibility, tax lawyers say he might not be entitled to the 15% tax rate claimed on a portion of his “carried interest,” which are rights to profits from Bain Capital investments. In the complex accounting of Mr. Romney’s income, that could land him with a bill for back taxes.

The tax assessed on carried-interest compensation has long been the subject of partisan controversy. Democrats, calling it a loophole, for years have tried to kill the provision, which benefits private-equity, real-estate and venture-capital executives by allowing them to pay the capital-gains rate on a big portion of their compensation, significantly less than the 35% maximum rate for wages.

A Romney campaign official acknowledged in an interview that the tax documents used boilerplate language that didn’t apply to the Romneys, and that Mr. Romney hasn’t provided services to Bain since 1999.

Nevertheless, the official said the intent of the documents was valid: Mr. Romney, for tax purposes, could be deemed to have provided services under a 10-year retirement deal he signed in 1999. The official acknowledged the situation looks odd “from a consistency standpoint. Gov. Romney says he left Bain Capital in ’99, but from a tax standpoint he says he’s still providing services. The answer is, you can have it both ways.” Under the tax code, he said, it’s “perfectly logical” to treat new payments as being connected to providing services, even if the services were in the past.

Bob Dole Will ‘Just Love’ What I Think Best Quote In Newspaper

All eyes are on Florida as the GOP presidential primary has ramped into over-drive..

As everyone knows by now a barrage of attacks from establishment Republicans in recent days appears to be taking its toll on Newt Gingrich, whose momentum looks to be slowing ahead of Tuesday’s primary in Florida.

The onslaught hasn’t gone unnoticed by Gingrich supporters. 

Which leads me to the best quote in the newspaper today.

“Gosh dog, I mean they’re rolling out people I didn’t know they were still alive,” said former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts, who served with Mr. Gingrich in Congress and has endorsed him.

Bob Dole must be grimacing.

Wisconsin: Does Barry Alvarez, Bret Bielema, Scott Walker Take Responsibility For Anything?

This morning the front page of the Wisconsin State Journal made me wonder who among the powerful in this state think they have a duty to step up and accept responsibility for the things that go wrong?   Who among those who want to be viewed as leaders in this state actually demonstrate leadership?  How many of those who make headlines every week from their perches of power ever accept responsibility for the mistakes or even crimes that take place in the offices and environs in which they work?

Kind of heavy questions for a Saturday?  True enough.

But ones that deserve some pondering in light of the news from this week.

The front page of the WSJ had the banner tease of University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez claiming “I didn’t know” in relation to the John Chadima mess. 

The report which was released this week detailed how Chadima allegedly supplied alcohol to underage students, using funds for the alcohol from donations to the athletic department.  Then when drunk Chadima made unwanted sexual advances toward a male student employee, and then to top it off threatened to have the student employee fired after being turned down.

The report indicated Alvarez and deputy athletic director Sean Frazier were aware of the specific party that led to the alleged incidents. Alvarez reiterated that was not the case, just as he did in a statement he released earlier in the week.

“I didn’t know this particular party was going on,” Alvarez said. “As a matter of fact, John was supposed to be at dinner with me that night. (Chadima) canceled out just beforehand. I didn’t know anything about this party.”

For someone who is supposed to have a handle on the UW sports department, and knows very well the antics that takes place during a Rose Bowl weekend in California there is a hollowness to the prattle from Alverez over what he did or did not know. 

Last evening on the local news it was reported by WKOW-TV that head football coach Bret Bielema’s heavy January travel schedule prevented him from granting an interview to the special panel as it reviewed the Chadima mess.


I strongly suspect that if the rank and file citizen of this state was wanted for questioning in a probe of this nature there would be no room for evasion.   I bet every drop of water in Lake Monona that we would have our backsides in a chair answering as many questions as was required. 

But Bielema got a pass on answering any touchy questions as “He had a job to do,” Associate Athletics Director Justin Doherty told 27 News. “According to his secretary, he was simply not able to be able to find a time that worked for all of us,” Fiedler said.

What a snake-like approach to one of the biggest messes in memory when it comes to UW athletics.  Apparently this ‘most important’ cog in the wheel to the UW got away without answering anyone.

Finally there was the lead story in the paper this morning about Governor Walker’s dismissal that anything political was going on during work hours when he was Milwaukee County Executive.   This week two more former employees were charged with doing political work on the taxpayer’s time.

Russell, who has already been charged in the John Doe, set up the secret (internet and email) system and kept it hidden from county rank and file workers, according to one of the criminal complaints. Rindfleisch, who succeeded him as deputy chief of staff, was a frequent user of the system, which was housed in her office down the hall from Walker’s office, prosecutors said.

“It is just not believable that this all happened 25 feet away from his office and he didn’t know about it,” Zielinski said.

When asked Friday about the computer system and proximity of staff, Walker cited the ongoing investigation and his campaign’s cooperation, adding that he was “really not in a position to comment in much more detail.”

No one needs to be reminded that even if there was no reason Walker could not speak, there is no way he would take responsibility for the actions that were taking place in his office.  No chance in hell.

More than once I have thought about President Jeb Bartlett on NBC’s drama ‘West Wing’ while reading the morning newspaper. When he offered to be censured by Congress for less than candid answers about his health and MS condition, he told his White House Chief Of Staff that no one takes the blame for anything anymore. Therefore no one is ever held responsible for anything that goes wrong. As such he stepped up to the front of the line and endured the political punches by doing the right thing on the award-winning TV drama.

If only real life at times mimicked television. More often than not when there are serious lapses in judgment in government and sports much finger pointing and commission creating takes place, but little in true accountability ever surfaces. We learn of the mistakes but rarely hear, as Bartlett said, anyone taking any self-blame.

Trivia: Fastest Rise Ever For A Politician?

Henry Clay from Kentucky was elected to Congress in the summer of 1811, and chosen speaker the very day he showed up in the House.

To provide a bit of background Clay was not unknown as he had served two unexpired terms in the Senate–the first when he was barely 30 years old.