Pancho Villa and the Ides of March
March 15, 2010

Doroteo Arango Said, "Et tu, Uncle Sam" On the Ides of March

Caesar's Last Moments with Marlon Brando Looking on March 15, 44 BC

On This Date in History:   It’s March 15.  If it weren’t for William Shakespeare, most people would probably have never heard of the Ides of March.  Of course, the Ides of March is when Julius Caesar was stabbed to death my several members of the Roman Senate.  Even now, most people probably don’t even know that there are ides of other months.  Believe it or not, there have been other significant events of the day.

Doroteo Arango

In 1878, Doroteo Arango was born in Mexico.  Through his early years, he witnessed the ascent of the wealthy in Mexico and the difficulties of the poor.  Conditions have improved since Arango’s early days but, even today, the Mexico class structure is one in which nearly 25% of the population is in poverty with a 2008 per capita income of less than $10,000. (World Bank Data)  However, the unemployment rate in 2008 was just 3 percent.  To make things worse for the Arangos,   the patriarch of the family died when Doroteo was 15 and he became a sharecropper to support his mother and siblings.   In 1894, the 16-year-old Doroteo returned from a day in the fields to find the owner of the hacienda attempting to sexually assault his 12-year-old sister.  So, the teenager grabbed a pistol and shot the wealthy owner.  That sent the teenager on a life of eluding the law.

Villa Spent Much of His Life on A Horse On the Run

He went to the mountains and after a couple of years of difficult survival, he joined up with a group of bandits and he quickly became thier leader.  They stole cattle, robbed various forms of transit carrying money and generally committed crimes against the wealthy.   By giving some of the spoils of their trade to the poor, Arango and his compadres saw themselves as modern day Robin Hoods as did many in the general population.  Authorities, however, viewed them as nothing but hoods and stepped up the attempts to apprehend Arango and the banditos. 

Heroic Image of Pancho Villa

As his imfamy rose, it seemed like a good time to create an alias.  Now, some say that Arango took the name of a fellow bandit he had met along his journey.  Others say that the name Francisco Villa was a derivative of his grandfather’s last name.  But, either way, Doroteo Arango became Francisco Villa.  Since, “Pancho” is a popular nickname for “Francisco,” Franciso Villa quickly became Pancho Villa.  Now, while the authorities were not too enthused at Villa’s propensity for avoiding capture and escaping seemingly impossible odds, one group took an interest.  That would be a political group of revolutionaries who thought that Villa had the skill set to lead guerilla operations.  Porfirio Diaz was the President of Mexico and many of the poor blamed their plight on him.  His political opponent, Francisco Madero, came to the forefront on a promise of change.  He called for big changes to help the poor and, presumably, adversely affect the rich.  That seemed like a good idea to Villa so he agreed to be a leader of Madero’s revolutionary army.

End For Villa Not Pretty or Heroic

He did pretty well for a couple of years but abrutly resigned his position in 1911 following a dispute with another revolutionary commander, Pascual Orozco, Jr.  Madero became Mexican president and, not long after he resigned his position, Villa got married and tried  to settle down to a life of normalcy.  But, that was not to be.  Seems that Orozco was not included in the new president’s governmental plans so, he started his own revolution in 1912.  Villa agreed to join forces with a general in support of Madero but the general accused Villa of stealing his horse and ordered him executed.  While, Villa escaped the gallows with a reprieve, he was left in prison for 6 months until at the end of 1912 when he did what he was good at doing: he escaped.

Villa and Pershing in 1914...Before They Became Enemies

Now, this general, General Victoriano Huerta, switched allegiances and turned against Madero.  On George Washington’s birthday in 1913, Huerta killed Madero and named himself as president.  As part of the pattern, Villa joined up with another person opposed with the president.  This time it was Venustiano Carranza and Villa had a string of victories across much of North Mexico where he redistributed land and tried to stablize the economy.  I dunno…maybe Carranza got jealous or maybe he was afraid of the power his partner was gaining…but for some reason, Villa and Carranza went from friends to enemies and a Civil War between the two factions continued for a couple of years.  Enter Uncle Sam, who decided it was time to support Carranza after initially backing Villa.  Villa responded on March 9, 1916 by crossing the border and attacking Columbus, New Mexico.  Now, that old arbitor of peace and law, President Woodrow Wilson, was not about to let the first attack on American soil since the War of 1812 go unanswered on his watch.  So, on this date in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered the invasion of Mexico by 12,000 US troops led by General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing in an attempt to kill or capture Villa.

Recruiting Poster to Join US Army to Capture Villa

   As part of the American Expedition was a young George S. Patton, Jr.  After a year, the United States Army failed to capture Villa and Carranza was assassinated.  Interim Mexican President Adolfo de la Huerta negotiated a peace that involved Villa retiring to a nice hacienda in Chihuahua.  Villa enjoyed himself until in 1923, he was gunned down while sitting in his car.  They made a movie about the Death of Pancho Villa in 1974

So, you see, in the early 20th century, the United States invaded a sovereign nation to kill or apprehend an individual who had orchestrated and participated in an attack on US soil.  While history really doesn’t repeat itself, the early 20th century and the early 21st century do have some interesting parallels.

NAM calls for clearing at 700 mb by 2pm Monday

Weather Bottom Line:  Everything is pretty much running down the line.  The weekend was as gloomy as I said it was and the temperatures in the 40’s felt a little chillier now than it would have a couple of weeks ago because last week we had highs in the low 70’s.  Now, the low behaved as expected and therefore there is no reason to think that it won’t move off to the northeast with clouds over our area on Monday before things improve.  In general, we should begin to warm up slowly as the week progresses but, there is one fly in the ointment.  Midweek, both the GFS and NAM call for an upper low to drop down, cut off from the main flow, over the Ohio Valley.  Its my guess that we may be a little cooler on St. Patrick’s Day than some forecasts suggest.  Otherwise, we move toward the 60 degree mark by the end of the week.  There is some indication of a trof late next weekend that may keep us in the 30’s on Sunday and some models are trying to throw out snow…though at this point, ground temperatures won’t support much accumulation and I’m not so sure we will get cold enough for it anyway.  But, it’s something to file away.


The Dead Zone & Midwest Flooding; Woody Does Battle In Mexico, again.
June 21, 2008

I TOLD YOU SO!!!! (snow white says this is too long)

This is done just after midnight and there really isn’t much change regarding the SPC forecast for Saturday.  The idea is that a short wave runs along a boundary to the north and storms will erupt along the track but they have the severe risk area this far south due to the potential for guys forming south of the short or the short moving along farther south than the models indicate.  I’ll update this during the day on Saturday. 

The Dead Zone  If you want to look back at a previous post of mine on this subject, look no further than here:  “I Told You So” from June 16, 2007  and “A Real Problem”  from May 14, 2007

What I’m talking about is water pollution.  I’ve talked often about how, in my view, we need to be concentrating our efforts on cleaning up a known death trap…that is the pollution of our waters.  Unlike Global Warming, we know for a fact that we are polluting our waters.  I know it every time we go to scull on Harrod’s Creek.  The other day when we put one of the boats on the water, the always delicate Snow White screeched “It’s feces!!”  And you know what? She was right.  My father-in-law told me it was a sewer and he hasn’t been there for years.  He’s known it for years.  Reports have come in for years about all of the municipalities that pollute directly into the Ohio River all up and down the waterway.  No one does a thing.  But we do give Academy Awards for movies that gets people all worked up over something else that may or may not be happening and may or may not be something of which we can do something about.  But water pollution is something we can do something about and we should do something about.  Water is a basic building block of all life.  Without it, we and everything else dies.  Poison it and we poison ourselves. 

As part of the effort to stave off Global Warming and also reduce energy dependence on foreign oil, Congress mandated ethanol.  Corn prices soared and corn production increased.  More fertilizer has been used.  That fertilizer is known to end up in the rivers through run-off.  The fertilizer, I believe it’s  the nitrogen, helps to decrease the oxygen content and makes for a dead zone.  When Snow White and I went to the Chesapeake Bay last summer, crabbing interests were in a decline because the number of crabs had been depleted due to a dead zone in the bay.  It has also been a well known fact that there is a dead zone near the mouth of the Mississippi River.  The photo above below Colonel Klink is a NASA photo where the red and yellow colors show depleted oxygen levels.  Marine life cannot live in these zones.  Here is a link to the NASA page that explains further.

NASA-Dead Zone

Now comes a report that the rains and Midwest flooding will only increase the dead zone.  More fertilizer for more corn crops so we can inefficiently produced ethanol to raise corn prices and not affect gasoline prices in the least.  More fertilizer then has more rain which puts more runoff into the Mississippi River that then goes into the Gulf of Mexico and then there is more uninhabitable marine areas.  Prior to this time it was 5,800 square miles of dead Gulf of Mexico.  How much more do you want?  Maybe I should make a movie and get people’s attention.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Global Warming is worth studying but water pollution deserves action today…now.  We’re 68% water…our bodies…where do you think that water comes from?  Our planet. Poison the earth’s water and we poison ourselves.  We are in fact poisoning our planet…no question its all around us.  Yet, we do nothing.  Here’s a story that came out today.

Dead Zone In Gulf Larger than Predicted 10,000 Square Miles?

On This Date In History:  Woodrow Wilson went into office with the idea that America wanted change from the Republican days of Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.  Never mind that he never got 50% of the vote.  He wanted to get America back to where he thought the founders intended and that was a non-interventionist foreign policy.  Yet, he invaded Mexico at least twice and took us into World War I.  I won’t debate the merits of World War I and will only mention that the first invasion of Mexico happened in Vera Cruz in 1914 when a handful of sailors were detained briefly by Mexican authorities.  The President sent a bunch of battleships and Marines to the area.  The Mexicans released the sailors and apologized. Not good enough.  Wilson demanded that the Mexicans also raise the American flag to a 21 gun salute.  Wilson wanted to embarrass a President of Mexico that he didn’t like.  The Mexican president refused to fire off 21 cannons while raising the American flag so we invaded briefly.  So much for change.  TR must have chuckled and applauded Wilson’s gunboat diplomacy.

On this date in 1916, General John J. Pershing’s troops were attack by the Mexican army.  Why? Well, maybe it was because he took his 10,000 troops into Mexican territory.  They were after Pancho Villa who had executed several Americans in Mexico and then briefly crossed the US border and burned down a town in New Mexico.  So, Wilson the non-interventionist sent Pershing into a foreign country too find a bandit who had killed some Americans.  The end result was some American soldiers were killed, more Mexican soldiers were killed and after 11 months, Pershing returned to the United States empty handed.  Villa lived several more years before being assassinated…by what most historians suspect was the Mexican government. 

Woodrow Wilson promised change, to be less belligerent with other nations of the world and later to track down a bandit who had killed Americans abroad and on US soil.  Oh…and one of Wilson’s legacies was the Treaty of Versailles which was so flawed that it directly led to the calamity known as World War II.  Change can be dangerous.  History if full of unintended consequences.