Harden Not Their Hearts (or Minds)

 

As states and localities figure out how to proceed on COVID-19, I’ve noticed a framing of the argument that I think is a mistake, at least at this point on this particular issue. The framing I’m seeing is one of liberty vs. tyranny. Stay at home, wear a mask, follow the arrows in the grocery store aisles, and so on. As someone who largely agrees with those who think the benefit of staying home is far outweighed by the economic damage, those skeptical that wearing a mask will do much, and those disdainful of traffic signs for stores, are using framing will harden the hearts and minds of the people on the other side.

Immigration restriction comes to mind. When someone tells me that I hold my positions because of racism, despite my having laid out my actual reasons, then my heart and my mind closes. There is no conversation anymore, there is no compromise, there is only strife. War. Pick your issue — abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control, whatever. When my interlocutor insists that I want to impose racism, control women’s wombs, or see people die, I stop caring what they say because they obviously don’t care what I’m saying. I stop listening to them because they’re obviously not listening to me. When that happens, there is no way we can have any sort of exchange or even come away with a mutually agreeable plan. On the other hand, people can and do change minds when we’re actually talking about the same things and not mischaracterizing others. At least we understand each other and can continue with love and trust.

When we frame the current issues as loss of freedom or as tyranny imposed, I think we harden hearts and minds in the same way. As I talk to people and interact on Facebook, etc., I see it happening. I see people who favor continued temporary emergency restrictions simply tuning out those who insist that favoring such a thing is really about imposing tyranny or is really about being so weak that they’re willing to give up liberty in exchange for false safety. The same way those opposed to restrictions tune out those who insist that they care more about greed than people’s lives.

If we treat others as people much like ourselves, if we accept their arguments on their own terms instead of insisting on some characterization that no one actually shares, if we stick to the actual issues on which we are at odds then I think we can continue to change minds and to improve our understanding of our fellow citizens. Is this still an emergency? What is the goal now? What is the cost of the measures suggested? What is the expected benefit? What is the time frame? Sticking with these, I think, is far more effective and healthy than a framing that they would find baffling at best and outright disingenuous at worst.

F3EAD

 

Ever seen that acronym before?

It’s simple: Find. Fix. Finish. Exploit. Analyze. Disseminate.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s the template used to shut down those that mean the United States ill. It’s the template that spans across military services, all different federal agencies. It’s a template that those sworn to protect these United States have turned into high art.

Americans are safer today because of F3EAD.

Michael Flynn midwifed that template. He coached and nurtured it through its first steps; he taught our forces how to use it as we crawled, then walked then ran through that paradigm in defense of this country.

Every American is safer today because of Michael Flynn. I’ve got no real affection for general officers, but Flynn’s contributions to national security were exceptional.

Hopefully, the DOJ’s recommendation to dismiss the charges against him will be seen as exoneration. I doubt that our garbage media will have the intellectual honesty to proclaim it so.

Kayleigh MacEnany’s highlighting of Flynn to the WH press corps was entirely appropriate.

The main takeaway, though, is that, should you add up the contributions to national security and keeping Americans safe of every individual involved in investigating and prosecuting Flynn, he would far outstrip that aggregate number.

The man is a hero, and they took him down without a moment’s hesitation or a second thought. Something to think on as we go forward.

Group Writing: Wait, Is This Guy Real?

 

The best sorts of parodies and fun are the ones where at first, you think it might be real. As you’re watching for awhile, a few clues start to pop up. I’m thinking about things like the show Fishing with John. Have you never seen Fishing with John? Why not? It’s time you find it and see it. In the first episode where John Lurie goes shark fishing with a friend, it’s a little odd. When I first saw it I thought, well, modern productions by modern musicians, whatever. But with each episode, it got stranger. Tom Waits sticking a live fish in his shorts, well it’s believable. But then Lurie and Willem Dafoe die in the ice fishing wilderness … or so the narrator claims. By that episode, one is already under the impression that the narrator may be unreliable.

So it also was when I first started seeing some of J. P. Sears works. Was this guy for real? Well, no, but he is really funny:

This one hit especially close to home:

I like how it has to have “(Funny)” as part of the title.

Who is your favorite modern (non-musical) parodist or parody show?

Proper Priorities: Press Secretary Briefing May 8

 

Press Secretary McEnany had her priorities straight. She opened the briefing with a tribute to World War II veterans, then recited in detail the great injustice done to a true man of honor, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. After that, she opened the floor to questions (attack sound bites) and commanded the high ground with a smile, finally dismissing the pack of propagandists as tardy to an event with the president.

Notice how the focus by the White House press corps has shifted away from COVID-19. See how they are shifting to other lines of attack. I recently rapidly read The Reagan Diaries and was struck by his repeated entries about the unfairness, the bias, the flat-out fictions, of the press. President Reagan repeatedly expressed the opinion to his daily diary that the press was out to get him, not interested in the truth.

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
Issued on: May 8, 2020
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:38 P.M. EDT

MS. MCENANY:  Good afternoon.  Today marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day, a triumphant milestone in our nation’s history and indeed in world history.  Seventy-five years ago today, our brave American forces defeated fascism in Europe.  And through the selfless devotion of thousands of patriots, they saved the world.

Over 180,000 Americans gave their lives in the European theater during World War Two.  And I want to take just a moment to honor their service and their sacrifice.  Thank you to all of our veterans.  You are truly, truly our heroes.

Now, as I move to my next subject, I want to begin by saying this: Look, our rank-and-file men and women at the FBI are heroes in their own right.  They protect this country from domestic crime, and we thank them for their service.  They work hard.  And once again, we owe them a debt of gratitude.  But that is separate and apart from what I’m about to address right now.

The FBI exists to investigate crimes.  But in the case of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, it appears that they might have existed to manufacture one.  As the motion filed by the Department of Justice yesterday explained, the FBI set out to interview General Michael Flynn, when they had no predigate [sic] — predicate for any investigation of any crime.

Over the past week, we learned, from a handwritten note, the true intent behind the FBI’s investigation of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn.  The very day that then-FBI Director Jim Comey sent agents to the White House to interview Flynn, the FBI discussed what their intent was beforehand.  This is what they said: “What is our goal?  Truth, admission?  Or to get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”  These notes, in addition to other evidence, raise serious questions about the handling of the — of the FBI’s handling of Michael Flynn’s case.

Did the FBI confront Flynn with the intent to get him to lie so that we can prosecute him and fire him?  Did the FBI manufacture a crime against Lieutenant General Michael Flynn?

Federal investigators appear to paint a target on the back of General Michael Flynn.  Kimberley Strassel of The Wall Street Journal laid out, point by point, the very concerning aspects of this case, and I’m going to reiterate them as outlined in her column over the weekend:

In December 2016, Flynn spoke as the incoming national security advisor to the Russian ambassador.  This call, as is customary, was recorded by the United States government.  They record calls with foreigners.  But in a highly irregular move, the intelligence community, under the Obama administration, unmasked the identity of Michael Flynn, a United States citizen, who is entitled to Fourth Amendment rights and to due process.  But Lieutenant General Michael Flynn received none of that.

The intelligence community was hunting for evidence against General Flynn — evidence they did not find.  We learned from newly released transcripts that in stark contrast to what former DNI James Clapper had been saying publicly, and contrary to what he was saying publicly, here’s what he was saying privately with regard to Russian collusion: “I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting [or] conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election.”  Sounds awfully different from what he just said 10 days prior in a public capacity.

Having found no evidence of Russian collusion, the FBI came up with a new absurd theory that Flynn might have violated the Logan Act, a statute from 1799 that, in its 200 years of existence, had never been used to convict an American citizen, but it was resurrected in the case of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn.

Michael Flynn didn’t violate the Logan Act.  Even the FBI did not think that General Flynn’s telephone call provided the predicate for a criminal investigation.  In fact, in January of 2017, an internal FBI document concluded that Flynn was, quote, “no longer a valid viable candidate for investigation.”  Disgraced FBI agent and noted Trump hater, Peter Strzok, disagreed, texting this: “Hey, if you haven’t closed that Flynn case yet, don’t do so yet.” End quote.  So the Flynn case remained active.  This was a good thing for Peter Strzok, but it was a bad thing for justice.  It was a bad thing for the rule of law.

According to yesterday’s motion to dismiss the case against Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, it said this: Mr. Strzok immediately relayed the, quote, “serendipitously good” news to Lisa Page, special counsel at the FBI, remarking, quote, “our utter incompetence actually helps us.”  That’s right.  Their utter incompetence to close the case against Lieutenant General Michael Flynn was something to be serendipitously celebrated.

The scheme to manufacture a case against Michael Flynn continued.  After President Trump entered office, the FBI’s partisan pursuit of General Flynn proceeded under Jim Comey’s FBI.  Despite possessing a transcript of Flynn’s entire conversation, the FBI decided it was somehow necessary to go ask General Flynn what happened on the call, despite having a transcript in their possession.  The only motive would have been to, quote, “get him to lie.”

They advised him he didn’t need a lawyer present.  Imagine that: “You’re an American citizen.  You don’t need a lawyer.  We’re just coming in to have a chat.”  They didn’t inform their superiors at the Department of Justice about their intent to interview Flynn, despite their own attorney at the FBI saying, “If we usually tell the White House, then I think we need to do what we normally do.”  But they ignored the advice of FBI counsel, and they went in to interrogate Michael Flynn.

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, no fan of President Trump, said she was “flabbergasted.”  She was “dumbfounded” by the decision to not inform DOJ officials who, quote, “hit the roof.”  This is all outlined in a legal document that you can find.

Additionally, when the FBI arrived at the White House, they did not even warn lawyer-less Flynn about the consequences for providing an inaccurate response.  The interrogation of Michael Flynn was not an inquiry.  Make no mistake: It was a trap.  Even more troubling was the fact that after the interrogation of Flynn, former Deputy Director of the FBI Andy McCabe concluded that he, quote, “didn’t think Flynn was lying.”  But the case against Flynn continued.

We were pleased to learn yesterday that the Justice Department moved to drop the case against General Michael Flynn.  Though it took several years, it is encouraging to see that justice finally prevailed.  As we move forward as a country, it’s important to take these revelations very seriously in order for Americans to have faith in our justice system.

If the top leadership of the FBI can target a three-star general who served this country for three decades, make no mistake, they can target you.  It’s hard to believe that this happened in the United States of America.

General Michael Flynn’s life was forever changed.  He had to sell his home.  He faced financial ruin.  His family was even threatened with prosecution.  But despite all of that, here’s what Michael Flynn put out yesterday in his first reaction to the motion to dismiss.  If we can play the video, let’s go ahead and play it.

I don’t think we have the video queued, but I encourage you all to go on General Twynn’s [sic] — Flynn’s Twitter feed, and what you’ll see is a really beautiful video of his grandson talking about how much he loves this country and how everyone deserves justice for all.  And how commendable that is for General Flynn, at a time when he was so gravely wronged to say this: I still believe in this country.  I still believe in America.  I still believe in the principles that make this country the greatest on Earth.

And in the words of renowned political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu, “There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.”

I hope the media will take these questions very seriously, will report the facts.  There was heavy interest in the first iteration of Flynn news from many years ago that got four times the coverage that the exoneration of Michael Flynn got today.  That was a report by Media Research Center.  So these facts are important, and thank you very much for those who have taken interest in reporting.

And with that, I’ll take questions.

Q    Thank you.

MS. MCENANY:  Jim, you were so kind on the trip the other day to Honeywell, so you get the first one.

Q    Thank you, Kayleigh.  And congratulations on becoming Press Secretary.

MS. MCENANY:  Thank you.

Q    I wanted to ask you, putting aside the situation with Michael Flynn: Today, the unemployment rate hit the highest point since the Great Depression.  What is the President’s plan to get this country out of this ditch?

MS. MCENANY:  Yeah, you know, this President is the “jobs President.”  This President got us to a place where we had the lowest [un]employment rate in the history of this country, historic lows for black Americans, Hispanic Americans, the disabled veterans.

As the President has noted, and I think this is right: We had to put a stop to the economy.  It was a pause.  This wasn’t some, you know, economic catastrophe that organically happened.  It was decided upon by the President of the United States to stop the United States economy because we had to save 2.2 million lives — perhaps more, somewhere in that range — because American lives, that’s what mattered most.

And so this President, when faced with this very tough decision to put a pause on the hottest economy in modern history, said American lives matter most.  And that’s what he did.

And I can tell you this: The President that got us to the hottest economy in modern history, he’s done it once, and he can do it again.

Q    What’s the plan?

MS. MCENANY:  We’re going to work with Congress.  We’re going to come up with hopefully a phase four.  We encourage the House to maybe reconvene soon.  It’d be helpful if Nancy Pelosi was here.

But thus far, what we’ve done is the PPP, of course — Paycheck Protection Program — that has really kept a lot of employees on the payroll.  Sixty million employees, roughly half of the workforce and private sector in this country, have been kept on payroll thanks to that measure.

But going forward, you know, principles like deregulation, principles like lowering taxes — the President has mentioned a payroll tax pause, which would be a great thing for the American people.  There are a lot of proposals being entertained.  I don’t want to get ahead of the President, but I can tell you —

Q    Isn’t there a problem with — isn’t there a problem though — the President wants people to get back to work; he wants these governors to reopen their states.  But if Americans aren’t comfortable going to restaurants and movie theaters, or the beach or whatever, how do you get this economy moving again?  What’s the plan?

MS. MCENANY:  I can tell you there’s a lot of pent-up demand in this country.  There’s a lot of people who do want to go out to restaurants, who do want to go out to movies, who do want to go back to their jobs.  We see it and we hear about it every day.

I don’t think that that’s a problem.  I think people can trust that we have a President who wants to reopen and reopen safely.  These are data-driven guidelines to reopening.  The President has those in place, so there’s no reason to be concerned because we have a President who always looks at the data, as Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx have repeatedly noted.

Zeke?

Q    Kayleigh, there was a second confirmed case of COVID-19 here at the White House today.  Apparently, a member of the Vice President’s staff.  That’s two in two days in a building where people are being tested now — including the President and the Vice President — every day, and they’ve had their temperature checked for months here.  Why should the average American, whose workplace doesn’t have access to these rapid tests, feel comfortable going to work if the White House isn’t even safe for people?

MS. MCENANY:  Well, look, this individual — there is a member of the Vice President’s team who is positive for coronavirus.  We have put in place the guidelines that our experts have — experts have put forward to keep this building safe, which means contact tracing.  All of the recommended guidelines we have for businesses that have essential workers, we’re now putting in place here in the White House.  So as America reopens safely, the White House is continuing to operate safely.

Yes, Jon.

Q    Kayleigh, the President, of course, we saw him go down to the World War II Memorial with a group of seven American heroes, all in their 90s.  Did he give any consideration to wearing a mask, given that his valet just tested positive and he’s with some of those in the most vulnerable population?  Did he — did he consider wearing a mask while he was with these veterans?

MS. MCENANY:  Well, this President is regularly tested.  This President will make the decision as to whether to wear a mask or not.

I can tell you that those veterans are protected.  They made the choice to come here because they’ve chosen to put their nation first.  They wanted to be with their Commander-in-Chief on this momentous day.  And it was their choice to come here, and I can tell you that the President always puts the safety of our veterans first and of the American people first.

Q    Well, how much time — how much exposure has he had to his — his valet?  Can you give us a sense of —

MS. MCENANY:  I can just tell you that we’ve taken every single precaution to protect the President.  The same guidelines that our experts have put in place: We clean the facility, we social distance, we keep people six feet away from one another.  So we’ve done every single thing that Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci have asked us to do.  And I can assure the American people that their Commander-in-Chief is protected.

Yeah.

Q    Thanks, Kayleigh.  I want to ask you about the Gilead drug, remdesivir.  Which government agency is in charge of distributing that drug?  And is the White House satisfied with how that drug is being distributed around the country?

MS. MCENANY:  Yeah, we’re — I actually just spoke with Dr. Birx about this.  She is going to be working and consulting as to where this drug should go.  She’s the person who’s constantly reviewing the numbers, constantly reviewing the data.  I’m in task force with her every day, and she really has the best grasp as to how that should be distributed.

So she will be one of the chief consultants as to how that drug is distributed, which I would note, 1.5 million vials donated by Gilead.  We’re so thankful for that.  This drug is promising, and we want to get it to the American people and to the areas that need it most.

Yamiche?

Q    Hi.  Thanks so much for — and congratulations on the new gig.

MS. MCENANY:  Thank you.

Q    This is my first time seeing you at the podium.  I have two quick questions.  The first one is about, what’s the possibility of the federal government getting involved in the Ahmaud Arbery case, given that Georgia doesn’t have any hate crime laws?  If it’s proven that these men chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery because he was an African American and they racially profiled him, would the Justice Department consider getting involved?

MS. MCENANY:  Look, I — first, I want to say that my heart goes out to the family of Ahmaud.  I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now.  My heart breaks for this family.  I know the President’s heart breaks.  I’ve spoken to him about that.

And I can tell you we will follow the facts.  Right now, as you know, it’s in the court in Georgia.  It’s a state matter.  But, absolutely, we will be following every detail.  I’d refer you to DOJ.  But as the facts merit, I’m certain that they’ll be following those facts.

And you had a second question?

Q    The second question I have is: In 2015, shortly after
the President said that some Mexican immigrants were rapists and criminals, you said that that language was racist and hateful.  Do you still believe that today?

MS. MCENANY:  Well, I’m actually glad you asked that because for about the first four weeks of the election, I was watching CNN, and I was naively believing some of the headlines that I saw on CNN and —

Q    I think you’re probably going to start reading headlines, but that’s fine.  I just want to know if you also personally still believe that.

MS. MCENANY:  I’m actually not — I’m actually not going to read the headlines.  So I very quickly came around and supported the President.  In fact, CNN hired me.  I was on many eight-on-one panels where I proudly supported this President who I believe is one of the best presidents, if not the best president this country will ever have.

But I would encourage the individual who did that analysis of my past, rather than focusing on me, he really should be focused on some of the very guests CNN chose to have on their network.  He should be focused on — I mean, my — over here, Jim — Jim Clapper who said, you know, 10 days before he privately told investigators there was no evidence of collusion, that Watergate pales in comparison to the Russia probe.  I’d encourage them to look at Samantha Powers who’s privately saying: I’m not in possession of any evidence of collusion.  Ambassador Rice: I don’t recall intelligence or evidence of any collusion.  Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch: I do not recall that being briefed to me.

And for three years — two years — probably more than that — CNN ran with the collusion narrative.  And if the American people are watching right now, you’re probably very confused as to some of the quotes I read, because those individuals were saying much different things publicly than they were saying privately.  And I’m very grateful that those transcripts were released yesterday.  And perhaps the KFile should do an analysis of that.

Yes, Ebony?

Q    Respectfully, are you walking back those comments today at all?

MS. MCENANY:  I support —

Q    Or do you stand by those comments that you made?

MS. MCENANY:  I support this President.  There is no questioning that.  I’m so honored to work for him.

And, Ebony, next question.

Q    Thank you.  On the Michael Flynn case, Kayleigh, documents released yesterday suggest members of the intelligence community tried to keep the case against Michael Flynn ongoing.   I’m wondering if you think there should be an investigation and whether the administration is considering bringing charges against people like James Clapper and Peter Strzok.

MS. MCENANY:  Yeah, I’d refer you to the DOJ on that, but I would say there were some very, very questionable actions that happened in this case, and I took you through a number of them.  And I do think the American people deserve answers, but I leave it to the Justice Department as to how to get those answers.

Yes.

Q    Thank you, Kayleigh.  Has the President spoken to Michael Flynn since this news yesterday?  And do you expect that he will visit the White House?  Is that something that’s being planned?

MS. MCENANY:  I’m not aware of any conversations that have taken place and not aware of any future plans that would regard Michael Flynn.

Q    Could I ask one more?  Larry Kudlow said today that negotiations on the next stimulus are at a lull right now.  Given where the numbers are on unemployment, from your perspective, from the White House perspective, why is it at a lull right now?

MS. MCENANY:  Well, look, I think Nancy Pelosi should explore coming back and having the House come back and having those discussions.  We know the Senate is here.  I think it’s important for us to move and look at a phase four.  The President thinks so too.

So those negotiations will happen.  But a big part of that is, you know, we need the House; we need Nancy Pelosi to come back from California and get to Washington, D.C., and to work for the American people.

Yeah.

Q    Thank you.  And congratulations on your new role.

MS. MCENANY:  Thank you very much.

Q    Yeah.  Following up on Jim’s questions about getting back the economy — getting the economy started again, does the President see the CDC guidelines as an obstacle to getting the company — getting the country back up and running again?  And if it does not see the CDC guidelines as an obstacle, why not release those guidelines to the public and also follow them as we move forward?

MS. MCENANY:  So, I assume you’re talking about the guidelines that were widely reported about yesterday, about daycares —

Q    Yes.

MS. MCENANY:  Yeah, so I would ask you, you know, what’s the definition of CDC guidelines?  Is it something that the CDC director has actually seen?  I would endeavor to say yes.  Is it something that a rogue CDC employee leaks to you guys?  No, those aren’t CDC guidelines; those are guidelines in draft form that a rogue employee has given you for whatever personal reason they’ve decided to do that.  Those guidelines are in the editing process.

We want the American people to get as much information as they can possibly have at this time.  That’s why we have the phased reopening guidelines, the data-driven guidelines.  Those CDC guidelines are going through an editing process.  And when we have those, you guys will be the first to know.

How are we on time, Alyssa?

AIDE:  (Inaudible.)

MS. MCENANY:  Okay.  What — sorry —

AIDE:  Two to one.  Two minutes to one.

MS. MCENANY:  Oh, two minutes to one.  I’m sorry to cut this short, but as you know, you guys were supposed to be, three minutes ago, with the President of the United States.  So I will leave you guys with that.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.  And thanks so much everyone.

Q    Why did you spend the first part of this briefing talking about Mike Flynn —

MS. MCENANY:  Justice matters.

Q    — when both the President and Vice President were exposed to coronavirus and we have historic unemployment?

END

12:58 P.M. EDT

Quote of the Day: Theory and Practice

 

“For real people, if something works in theory, but not in practice, it doesn’t work. For academics, if something works in practice, but not in theory, it doesn’t exist.” — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Have we seen this today, in recent events? I think so. It is not a new phenomenon. In the late 17th and 18th century, scurvy was a menace during long sea voyages. Oddly enough, preventative treatment was known in the late 16th and early 17th centuries: citrus and teas made from spruce needles. However, these cures were rejected as “folk medicine” by the medical academics of the day because it clashed with then-accepted medical theory. Instead, useless but “scientific” remedies, such as vinegar and malt were substituted, the folk remedies forgotten, and generations of sailors suffered scurvy. After all, the science was settled. Not until just after the American Revolution did Dr. James Lind discover (or rather rediscovered) the benefits of citrus, and the scourge was ended.

Similarly, ulcers were attributed to spicy food for generations, until a doctor — after years of scorn and denigration — demonstrated they were caused by bacterial infections. After all, the science was settled.

Sound familiar?

Drudge Report Becomes Sludge Report

 

Matt Drudge’s media links compilation has been one of the sites I’ve checked every morning for the last decade. The Drudge Report always had links to sites with stories I would not see on my trusted sites. I say “had” because I am weaning myself from it due to the dramatic shift in bias I’ve observed, especially in the most recent months.

The Drudge Report has become part of the leftist media cabal slanting coverage to defeat President Trump.

There were dramatic revelations in the plot to get Trump this week–virtually ignored by The Drudge Report.

DOJ dismissed the charges against General Mike Flynn because of clear, unequivocal evidence of the FBI’s plot to entrap him by circumventing normal White House clearance procedures just four days after the inauguration. In his own testimony, James Comey bragged about sandbagging Flynn.

Obama DOJ and Intelligence apparatchiks swore to under oath before Schiff’s secret basement hearings that they had no evidence of “Russia collusion” by Trump’s campaign. Yet they claimed the opposite contemporaneously on national television. Clapper was the worst, calling President Trump a Russian asset controlled by Vladimir Putin.

The Drudge Report ignored or barely reported on these “bombshells.”

However, this morning’s Drudge Report has links to the following stories prominently displayed: 1.”Docs show top WH officials buried CDC report;” 2. “Trump’s 2020 Jobs Bet Unravels;” and 3. “Will he claim election fraud if he loses?”

I’ve read unconfirmed reports that Matt Drudge sold his Drudge Report in 2019, but I could not find any details. No matter. The current content of The Drudge Report is proof enough that someone who hates our President has acquired it.

There Is a Time

 

It feels inappropriate to just post a video, but a friend sent this to me. It’s a poem inspired by Ecclesiastes, and it’s absolutely lovely with a message we all need to hear right now. Please share this with everyone.

The Destruction of Michael Flynn

 

From an article at Issues & Insights:

In the meantime, Flynn should sue the government that let all of this go forward. As California Rep. Devin Nunes, ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, recently told Laura Ingraham on her Fox News show, “Clearly Gen. Flynn is going to have a civil rights case, and I think it’s going to cost the government millions of dollars.”

Why is the taxpayer on the hook for the clearly criminal actions of persons high up in the DOJ? Why aren’t they personally responsible? If they have to personally cough up millions of dollars, it might put a damper on such actions in the future.

Member Post

 

The graph above is startling given the nationwide consequences of governmental policies in response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. So I went to the county death data at the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 website and pulled the raw file. You can do it too. The data is broken up by county and there are a ton of […]

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Group Writing: The Old Master

 

When we speak of parody, there is a very long history, and considering our topic for Group Writing for the month of May is all about such foolishness, I knew I could go to only one source:

The Old Master

The man has been doing this for forty-four years.

What is your favorite?

A Scary Night in My Backyard

 

Nearly a year ago I wrote about two weird days in a row in my front yard.

COVID and whatnot have caused an increase of general overall weirdness. For the first few weeks we were getting overrun by deer; we all assumed that a decrease in car traffic had empowered them into our front gardens, there’s been an increase in foot traffic and masked people helping themselves to avocados in our tree. A midnight knock on the door from police asking for access to our Ring camera. And several cars a night in front of our house enjoying our light show (which I love).

JY and I moved into our back in January when he had a knee replaced. We’re pretty comfortable out there, JY’s office is handy and the TV is 65″. So that’s where we’re hanging out waiting for replacement #2 to be scheduled.

Last night I was up watching TV enjoying the fresh air from the two open french doors; I heard an almighty crash near our south fence, (about 10 feet from where I was sitting) I assumed it was a bear and closed and locked the doors as fast as I could.

This morning my south neighbor sent me the following from his backyard Ring; it wasn’t a bear. It was a mountain lion. Look close and you’ll see it walking north towards our fence.

I’m not sure how much more weirdness I can take.

‘We’re Looking at the Whole Pattern of Conduct’

 

Those words should cause heavy drinking and bad dreams this weekend for a number of punks who perverted justice and violated their oaths of office. The words were uttered by Attorney General William Barr in the middle of an excellent interview by Catherine Herridge, now with CBS News. You can tell how threatening this interview and the Justice Department’s lengthy and damning motion to dismiss the Flynn plea by the hysterical reactions in the usual quarters.

CBS, to their credit, posted the entire Barr interview transcript, unedited. The interview is tough but fair, and gives us real news and insight into Attorney General Barr’s thinking. The forward-looking portions are worth highlighting:

What should Americans take away from your actions in the Flynn case today?

Well, as I said in my confirmation hearing, one of the reasons I came back is because I was concerned that people were feeling there were two standards of justice in this country. And that the political and that the justice, or the law enforcement process was being used to play political games. And I wanted to make sure that we restore confidence in the system. There’s only one standard of justice. And I believe that this case, that justice in this case requires dismissing the charges against General Flynn.

[. . .]

President Trump recently tweeted about the Flynn case. He said, “What happened to General Flynn should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States again.” Were you influenced in any way by the president or his tweets?

No, not at all. And, you know, I made clear during my confirmation hearing that I was gonna look into what happened in 2016 and ’17. I made that crystal clear. I was very concerned about what happened. I was gonna get to the bottom of it. And that included the treatment of General Flynn.

[. . .]

This is one particular episode, but we view it as part of a number of related acts. And we’re looking at the whole pattern of conduct.

The whole pattern of conduct before?

And after.

And after?

Yeah, the election.

[. . .]

You know you’re gonna take a lot of incoming, as they say in the military, for this decision. Are you prepared for that?

Yeah, I’m prepared for that. I also think it’s sad that nowadays these partisan feelings are so strong that people have lost any sense of justice. And the groups that usually worry about civil liberties and making sure that there’s proper procedures followed and standards set seem to be ignoring it and willing to destroy people’s lives and see great injustices done.

[. . .]

Based on the evidence that you have seen, did senior FBI officials conspire to throw out the national security adviser?

Well, as I said, this is a particular episode. And it has some troubling features to it, as we’ve discussed. But I think, you know, that’s a question that really has to wait an analysis of all the different episodes that occurred through the summer of 2016 and the first several months of President Trump’s administration.

What are the consequences for these individuals?

Well, you know, I don’t wanna, you know, we’re in the middle of looking at all of this. John Durham’s investigation, and U.S. Attorney Jensen, I’m gonna ask him to do some more work on different items as well. And I’m gonna wait till all the evidence is, and I get their recommendations as to what they found and how serious it is.

[. . .]

It sounds to me like one of your objectives is to never allow the Justice Department to be used as a political weapon. That’s what you’re saying you think happened here?

I think, yes. I think there was an aspect of that. And I think, for the last several decades, the Department has been used more and more, or the efforts have been made to draw the Department into that. And I think it’s very important that that not happen.

People, you know, we should choose our leaders through the election process. And efforts to use the law enforcement process to change leaders or to disable administrations are incendiary in this country and destroy our republic.

Think on that last answer, and the phrase “for the last several decades.” This is no dodge by Barr to avoid being accused of targeting President Obama. This is a very senior lawyer, with very long experience in government, who does not like what has been done across Democratic and Republican administrations. Recall that the fraudulent prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens was on President George W. Bush’s watch and was timed to interfere in the election, to move a US Senate seat from R to D. That was when Robert Mueller was Director of the FBI, appointed by President G.W. Bush.

Speaking of Mueller, his name came up, and not in a good way:

Newly declassified footnotes in the Horowitz report suggest that the Steele dossier was likely the product of Russian disinformation. And there were multiple warnings to the FBI at that time, yet they continued to use that. How do you explain that?

I think that’s one of the most troubling aspects of this whole thing. And, in fact, I said it in testimony on the Hill, I can’t remember if it was my confirmation, that I said I was very concerned about the possibility that that dossier and Steele’s activities were used as a vector for the Russians to inject disinformation into the political campaign.

I think that is something that Robert Mueller was responsible for looking at under his charter,  which is the potential of Russian influence. But I think it was ignored and there was mounting indications that this could very well have been happening and no one really stopped to look at it.

These are very smart people who were working in the special counsel’s office, and in senior levels of the FBI. So what drove them here?

Well, I think one of the things you have to guard against, both as a prosecutor and I think as an investigator, is that if you get too wedded to a particular outcome and you’re pursuing a particular agenda, you close your eyes to anything that sort of doesn’t fit with your preconception. And I think that’s probably the phenomenon we’re looking at here.

Attorney General Barr is a realist. He knows whatever action he takes is, in the end, subject to being gutted if the American electorate chooses to hand the keys to the Constitution over to the Democrats this November:

In closing, this was a big decision in the Flynn case, to– to say the least. When history looks back on this decision, how do you think it will be written? What will it say about your decision making?

Well, history is written by the winner. So it largely depends on who’s writing the history. But I think a fair history would say that it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law. It helped, it upheld the standards of the Department of Justice, and it undid what was an injustice.

Uh-huh. 

I mean, it’s not gonna be the end of it.

What do you mean, it’s not the end of it?

Well, I said we’re gonna get to the bottom of what happened.

Elections have consequences. Series of elections have consequences. We will get the government, at every level, for which we vote or fail to vote and volunteer (to drive turnout, collect ballots, and protect the process).


I highly recommend Scott Johnson’s “What Gives in the Flynn Case?” series at Power Line.

PC Bosch?

 

One of the (dis)advantages of all the restaurants and bars being closed is that my “social life,” which previously consisted of designated driver services for tipsy friends and standing in bars with my arms crossed keeping an eye on their coats and purses, has largely been reduce to walking down the hall to interrupt Darling Daughter and talk to her about her non-plans for the day. That’s freed up about one evening per week, which means that I’m watching more streaming video.

My favorite police procedural, bar none, is Bosch, which Amazon produces and streams. I enjoy Michael Connelly’s detective fiction, and I think Amazon has done a terrific job of adopting his Bosch novels to the small screen. I identify in some odd way with the aging widower-with-daughter played by Titus Welliver (who is exactly one month younger than me), which makes the series even more appealing. (I also enjoy the surreal paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, though that doesn’t come up often.)

So I’ve been looking forward to season six of the series, which came out recently. The first episode introduces a would-be terrorist villain (tiny little spoiler, hardly anything as it’s revealed quickly) in the form of a “sovereign” militia. I’m always skeptical of shows that feature non-middle eastern terrorists. Yes, of course they exist, but we all kind of know which group does most of the terrorism today, and it isn’t radical common-law separatists in California.

(It’s Islamic extremists, devotees of the teaching and example of the warlord Muhammad as recorded in countless holy texts. Just in case anyone wondered.)

Anyway, the title of the second season six episode is “Good People on Both Sides.”

Come on, man. Seriously?

But I still love the series. I’m just hoping it won’t get preachy.

Member Post

 

From Front Page magazine: Is this the nation whose soldiers braved withering fire wading ashore on Omaha Beach, that produced the Battling Bastards of Bastogne — whose Marines raised the flag over Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima after a month of brutal fighting? Why can’t reporters do a minimum of research?  The flag was raised […]

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Member Post

 

What do I have in common with Tom Holland, James Holland, Roger Moorehouse, Guy Walters, Joshua Levine, Mary Beard, Dan Jones, Dan Snow, Clare Mulley and Catherine Edwards. Until today, the answer would have been not much. But now we all have appeared on the History Hack podcast.  Here’s a general review of it. I […]

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COVID Congratulations!

 

Congratulations should be in order. The public health leadership asked us to give them time, to change our lifestyles to slow the progression of the disease.  At great personal and social cost, we successfully flattened the curve. We bought time for the medical and research professionals to catch up. Outside of the New York City DeBlasio Debacle, we did what everyone was asking of us, and the results are showing it. This should be a time to start relaxing the lockdown, as it has succeeded outside of NYC. Tim Carney speaks for me here.

What’s utterly infuriated to me is that a lot of people are trying to claim this is a failure.

Do they want to ensure that no public health official is ever taken seriously again? This is a disgrace to my profession (yeah, I have a Master’s in Public Health and took courses in epidemiology).  If you place political correctness or political ambitions over your mission, you need to be fired. If you put your desire to get some over your mission, like the British epidemiologist who developed the transmission model before getting caught breaking the lockdown with his pants down, well, I hope he got a sexually transmitted disease in the process.

Outside of the professional realm, the media and politicians have continued to exceed my worst expectations. They seem unable to use any type of persuasion outside of hectoring people, and insulting them when they don’t immediately comply. This lockdown cannot last forever — we need a point where we can declare victory and scale down. Friday is V-E Day. While we still have troops in Germany today, they are not on a war footing, actively in combat. It’s time to have V-WC Day.

Quote of the Day: Jane Bennet vs. Alex Jones

 

“… I have no idea of there being so much design in the world as some persons imagine.”  — Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Those are the words of Jane, the saintly elder sister of Austen’s spunky heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. Jane believed in the goodness of others, until she was given irrefutable evidence of their perfidy. Even then, she was reluctant to condemn.

I fall short of Jane’s example, but I think she’s right here. I’ll go further. There is far less design in the world than most people imagine. Conspiracies just aren’t that common.

I may be in the minority on this. A University of Chicago study, quoted by NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, says that at least 50 percent of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory. Because a particular personality type is drawn to such stories, I imagine the typical conspiracist believes in far more than just one, lone theory.

Some 60 percent of us believe John Kennedy’s assassination was something more complex than the official lone gunman explanation. (I’m happy to know there are as many as 40 percent who believe, with me, it was Oswald, in the Book Depository, with a rifle.)

According to a Rasmussen report, a mere 21 percent of Americans believe Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide. What I considered an Internet joke has been accepted as gospel.

The conspiracist is said to be of a distrustful and pessimistic bent. He may be alienated from society in general, whether literally, e.g., living alone in a trailer, or just living in a cynical bubble, peering at the world through narrowed eyes.

But, surely, that does not describe half of the country. So, maybe just a dollop of pessimism and a healthy skepticism can lead to dark thoughts of plots and strategems, too. This is a real danger, as we come more and more, with reason, to distrust our institutions and our sources of information.

For some reason, most of the articles focus on Americans’ paranoia. (Dr. Hofstadter, call your office.) We are said to be more prone to such obsessions because of our ingrained distrust of government. But that’s just what lefties like Richard Hofstadter would say.

We Americans may be a bit more prone to believe in conspiracies, although I’m skeptical. After all, one of the most successful conspiracy theories in history—Marxism—flourished around the world for a time, but not so much in American soil, the carefully tended gardens of academe excluded.

Caution is advised in entertaining conspiracy theories, and also in rejecting them. Not too long ago, the idea that the SARS-CoV-2 virus escaped from a Wuhan lab was roundly derided as a conspiracy theory. Now it’s being mainstreamed.

And what of Jane Bennet? Honesty requires me to note that, while I agree wholeheartedly with her quote, it turned out that sister Elizabeth, who suspected a plot, turned out to be on the money.

Member Post

 

I am a supporter of the American Society for Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial organization. Every other month I receive their newsletter, Martyrdom and Resistance, which contains numerous stories of Holocaust survivors, and the helpers of Jews in Europe and other places around the world. Today’s story, from the September/October 2018 issue is about […]

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Friday Digging (and Cooking) for Victory Post: V-E Day +75!

 

Ladies and Gentlemen of Ricochet, I bring you across-the-pond greetings from Auntie Pat (97 in July, may she live forever). She wishes you a very happy V-E day, thanks those of you with WWII service members in your families, hopes you are well, and that you have a very nice summer and Fourth of July. She’s currently locked down and holding her own in a facility in Birmingham in the UK.

She doesn’t want you to miss the Queen’s speech, which will take place at 9PM in the UK (4PM Eastern)–exactly 75 years after her father gave his speech in 1945–and reminds me that there are “pods, or whatever they’re called,” on the Internet all day (Westminster Abbey’s is here.) There will be “socially distanced” and virtual street parties all over the country, culminating after the Queen’s speech with a massive sing-a-long accompanying Dame Vera Lynn’s recording of “We’ll Meet Again.” (The lady is still going strong at 103, and has recorded a message for the occasion.) There will be a Spitfire flyover in the South of England, and several flyovers will also take place in the US, so you might want to check and see if there’s one in your area. (I see @cliffordabrown already has this covered, and I look forward to his photos of the one in AZ.)

Moore wearing a blazer sporting his regimental badge, regimental tie and three medalsAn unlikely celebrity of this year’s V-E day celebration is “Captain Tom” Moore, the 100-year old WWII veteran who just raised £33,000,000 (about $40M) for the National Health Serviced by walking 100 laps of his 82-foot garden over the course of 24 days. Captain Tom received a promotion to honorary Colonel on his 100th birthday last week, was feted with his own personal flyover and a message from the Queen, and is the subject of an ITV documentary about his war service that will air on television this evening. (In his spare time, Captain Tom was the featured artist in a charity single cover of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and quickly became the oldest person ever to chart a number-one song in the UK.)

This is a re-post of a three-year-ago effort on my part. Please forgive. Such a special anniversary, and in such difficult times, during which most of the originally planned celebrations across Europe are proscribed. I’ve updated it in several places to reflect current knowledge, and also to incorporate some information from the very valuable comments in the original post. A huge “thank you” to all who’ve served over the years, but especially today, to those who served in the European Theater during WWII and who made our present lives, across all generations since, possible.)

Seventy-five years ago, on May 8, 1945, after six long years, World War II in Europe finally came to a close. Eight days previously, Adolph Hitler had committed suicide, and 24 hours earlier, Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower had accepted Germany’s unconditional surrender. Europe was free, although the full extent of Nazi horrors was still being revealed as Allied troops marched through Central and Eastern Europe.

The Royal Family appeared again and again on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, waving (it must have seemed to them) interminably to the adoring crowds below, crowds among which the young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, were secretly mingling. (The descendants of Ronald Thomas, a now 90-year-old man, say that he often told his family that he “danced with Princess Elizabeth” in Trafalgar Square on V-E day. His family mostly discounted his comments until the 2015 film A Royal Night Out, gave credence to them. After the war, Thomas went on to serve with distinction in the British Territorial Force. More on his story here.)

King George VI’s speech, broadcast on that still relatively new medium, radio, gave thanks to God for “a great deliverance,” and remembered…

those who will not come back: their constancy and courage in battle, their sacrifices and endurance in the face of a merciless enemy; let us remember the men in all the services, and the women in all the services, who have laid down their lives. We have come to the end of our tribulation and they are not with us at the moment of our rejoicing.

Winston Churchill, the man who “mobilized the English language and sent it into battle,” broadcast a stirring address to the nation calling for “a brief period of rejoicing,” acknowledging the great victory, yet warning of…

the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan, with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued. The injury she has inflicted on Great Britain, the United States, and other countries, and her detestable cruelties, call for justice and retribution. We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad. Advance, Britannia! Long live the cause of freedom! God save the King!

And Britain did rejoice. Red, white, and blue bunting was sold by the mile, made available at very low cost without the need of ration books to purchase. The Ministry of Food paid special attention to the supply of beer in London and other major cities, making sure it was adequate to the celebration. Blackouts were lifted, and after-dark parties in the streets were de rigueur again. Church bells were unmuffled, and rang openly once more, calling people to worship and to services of thanksgiving. There was music. And dancing. And Lord only knows what else.

Worldwide, celebrations were equally heartfelt, and equally mindful of the fact that all was not yet over. The USSR celebrated VE Day on May 9, while, here and there, still fighting recalcitrant pockets of German troops refusing to surrender. New Zealand also celebrated “a day late” because of time zone differences and, along with Australia, kept a watchful eye on events not all that far to the North and West. In France, huge crowds gathered in the Champs d’Elysees, as (not quite) 50 million Frenchmen belted out “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.” Half a million people swarmed into Times Square in New York (President Truman dedicated the day to FDR, who had passed away less than a month earlier), many waving newspapers bearing the iconic headline: “IT’S V-E DAY! Remember Pearl Harbor!”

But the most joyous celebrations were in Great Britain, a country that had paid such a heavy price for this war (over 300,000 military men and women dead, and over 50,000 civilian casualties, in a war in which “collateral damage” wasn’t often given a second thought). On V-E day, the nation was united, as one with the single thought, “We won!”

Those of you who’ve been kind enough to read a few of my posts before this one, are probably thinking, by now, something like “nice history lesson and all, @She, but where on earth’s the family? Surely they’re going to make an appearance here somewhere?”

Indeed. Not to worry. Here they are:

Back row, left to right: Auntie Mary, Uncle Arthur, Auntie Issy, Dad, Auntie Pat, and Uncle Maurice. Front row: Grandpa Charles and Granny Louise (for whom I am named). Oh, and sitting on the ground by Granny’s feet? That’s Barney.

My mother’s family was much smaller, and not so accommodating with a photo. Over there, we had just Grandpa Tom, Granny Molly, Uncle John, and Mum.

Usually, when I write about my family, I write about its uniqueness and its eccentricity, because I love both of those things so much. Today, though, I’m writing about something else I love–about how ordinary my wartime family was–and how the people in it were indistinguishable from the other 46 million of their countrymen and women. How they went all-in, no matter their age, no matter their occupation, no matter their sex, no matter their abilities, to win the war. In that respect, they were like just about everybody else in wartime Britain.

Because my mother’s side of the family is much younger than my dad’s there’s a wide age span among my uncles and aunts, from Uncle John, who was eight when war broke out, to Uncle Arthur, who was 32.

Uncle John and my mother, who was two years older, really were schoolchildren during the war. They spent part of it in Birmingham, and part of it evacuated to the country, to “safer” environs. Like every other child, they regularly participated in air-raid drills and they followed the siren songs into the shelters when needed. Like every other child, they learned “waste not, want not,” to eat every scrap on their plates, to save every bit of paper, string, tinfoil, and cardboard, just in case it could be used later or turned into useful bounty for the war effort. And like every other inhabitant of the British Isles, young or old, they never moved an inch without the bulky boxes holding their gas masks. Just in case.

Their parents, Tom and Molly (Granny and Grandpa), were in their 40s in September of 1939. Granny, who’d never driven a vehicle before, suddenly found herself learning to drive Great-Grandpa’s delivery van (he owned a small grocery shop on the outskirts of Birmingham), because the supply of willing and able young men who’d driven it previously had been called up to war (she never took a driving test in her life, being “grandfathered” in with her license after the war ended. Those who drove with her in subsequent decades can attest to this fact). Grandpa, who worked as an accountant at the Birmingham office of a Sheffield steel company, patrolled the streets at night, looking for blackout violations, spotting for German planes (spending hours at a time, no matter the weather, sitting on roofs and in ditches with his little Morse Code transmitter), and putting out small and large fires.

Birmingham, a hub of manufacturing and industry, was a prime target for German bombs, so Granny and Grandpa had a reinforced concrete bunker installed under their living room floor, and the family slept in it night after night, listening to the bombs rain down, and hoping that, in the event of a direct hit, they’d be safe and able to crawl through the escape tunnel into the garden. One day, they emerged into the morning light to find that the house immediately across the road had been flattened, and everyone in it killed.

My father’s side of the family was even more involved. Grandpa Charles managed a butcher’s shop on Broad Street in Birmingham, and during the war large quantities of its output went to the military (nothing new for him, as he’d been been a leader in the management of food rationing in the English Midlands during World War I).

Granny Louise, a stalwart of the Birmingham Horticultural Society, immersed herself in good works, among which was what came to be known as “Ma’s Knitting Bee,” a weekly gathering at the family home with neighborhood women from every walk of life, all knitting diligently for the troops. The “lovely, soft” wool yarn was the best available, and Auntie Pat was regularly dispatched on her bicycle to pick up new product from the supplier to be knit into hats, scarves, gloves and socks.

Mary and Issy, the two older daughters, both had jobs when the war broke out—Mary as a teacher, and Issy as an almoner at the local hospital. Like many with day jobs, (and like Grandpa Tom) they volunteered their evenings as bicycle messengers, as plane and fire spotters, and as checkers that the blackouts were properly maintained in order to confound the German bombers.

Auntie Pat, the youngest daughter (and the source of most of these family memories), was 16 in September of 1939, and had one more year to go in school. She and her classmates were excited to learn that the entire school was to be evacuated, for safety, to Attingham Park, a stately home in Shropshire. Upon arriving, they discovered that the old pile was “drafty,” “freezing cold,” and that “the food was terrible.” When she (gratefully) returned home for her teacher training course, Pat volunteered as a “bicycle boy” for the Home Guard, delivering messages, and doing whatever other odd jobs were required to help out.

Now for the boys. The oldest, my uncle Arthur, 32 when war was declared, was too old to be called up, but volunteered as an ambulance driver, going to his job as an accountant by day, and driving wounded troops, and ill civilians, to and from hospitals by night.

The second son, my uncle Maurice, volunteered as a fireman before he was called up in the middle of the war, and drove a tank transporter (the “lowest form of animal life” as his sister Pat affectionately refers to his role) for the duration. (The Austin factory at Longbridge, just outside Birmingham, was mobilized for ammunition and tank parts production. As with many large manufacturing plants, an invisible “shadow factory” was built in massive underground tunnels beneath it, and the above-ground facility was disguised, complete with barns, haystacks, cows and sheep, to look like a farm from the air.)

Dad, the youngest son, joined the Loyal Regiment before the war started, in 1938, when he was 19. His war was fought variously in Egypt, North Africa, Italy (Anzio and Monte Cassino), and a few other places as well. The day before D-Day, he marched into Rome with the American troops and serendipitously met the Pope, proving once again my long-standing assertion that “things didn’t happen to Dad, Dad happened to things.” It’s just how he was. Thankfully, he survived the war, and I’m here to tell the tale.

While my mother and uncle slept in the aforementioned little concrete bunker, my dad’s family found refuge in the cellar of their enormous house, whose structure had been reinforced with tree trunks propping up the ceiling, (hopefully) to take the weight off the house if it were to be flattened by a bomb. My very industrious granny, who did not believe in idleness of any sort, insisted that each person have some work to do with his or her hands while holed up down there, and thus did Uncle Arthur learn to knit. Although the house itself never sustained a hit, the concussive effects of nearby bombs blew out windows on occasion, and wrought havoc in the garden.

Like most families in the UK during this time, both sides of mine scrimped and saved, conducted metal drives, glass drives, and rounded up whatever was needed, turning it in at the many collection stations, all to be turned into useful items for the war effort. Need some new clothes? Darn your old ones, or look in the wardrobe and see what you can reuse. Unravel an old sweater, and knit a hat and gloves from the yarn (mere civilians were not privy to the quantity or quality of yarn handed out to be used for the troops). Perhaps unpick one of Pa’s old suits and turn it into a dress for a special occasion. Stick a feather in one of his hats, and call it a fashionable chapeau. Need a new blouse? Lucky the girl who has access to a scrap of silk from a no-longer-useful parachute! Keep a few chickens, and perhaps a pig if you’ve the room for one, and consider yourself incredibly fortunate if you know someone with a farm. (Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.  Who said that? Not me, for sure. Hmm.)

Share. Dig for Victory. Live within your means. Recycle and reuse (no, this is not a 21st-century concept). Help your neighbor. Follow the rules. Pull together. (Of course there was a black market, where those with the means could secure ‘extras’ if they wanted to, but this was, for the most part, small potatoes in the great scheme of things. Among the great majority of the public, it was frowned upon as simply not done, and certainly as “not cricket” to buy your way out of the same sort of privation that your fellow citizens, through no fault of their own, were suffering–this probably explains the enduring popularity of the Queen Elizabeth, (the future Queen Mother) who remarked, following the bombing of Buckingham Palace, “I am glad we have been bombed. Now we can look the East End [of London] in the eye.” That, together with her refusal to evacuate herself and her daughters (“the children won’t go without me. I won’t leave without the King. And the King will never leave”), won her an lifelong place in the hearts of her people. Perhaps her addiction to a regular diet of gin and tonics didn’t hurt, either. Just saying).

The very welcome first influx of American troops arrived in England on January 26, 1942, and, naturally, Granny Louise was one of the first to join the Birmingham committee set up to establish good relations by creating “weekends” for the troops to spend with a British family. And while, as many families did, my own enjoyed the generous gifts of chocolate, jam, and a new snack never before seen in England—popcorn—deeper friendships also grew. Thus it is that Auntie Pat still speaks fondly of Mr. Ragland from St. Louis, Terry Anderson from Des Moines, Colonel Hunter from Nebraska, and many others, including the brother of actress Anna May Wong, all of whom spent weekends at the family home. Some came back, bringing their own families with them after the war; some were visited by Auntie Pat when she came to the States in the 1990s. None of them has ever forgotten either their exigent circumstances, or the friends they made because of them.

(I should mention that many families with young and impressionable (girl) children weren’t quite so sure about the good intentions of the young Greek gods G.I.s bearing gifts (especially gifts like nylons, chocolate, and lipstick) from points West. This would include my mother’s side of the family. And girls, including my mother, were duly “warned.” Some even paid heed.)

While the march to victory didn’t progress in an unimpeded straight line from the moment Britain’s allies from across the pond hit the ground, the tide had turned, and it seemed victory in Europe was inevitable. As, indeed, it turned out to be, not quite three-and-a-half long and weary years later.

A few years ago, I spent a delightful hour on the phone with Auntie Pat, my dad’s only surviving sibling. My reward for doing so was three pages of closely-spaced notes and stories, only a few of which I’ve included above.

At the close of our conversation, Pat said perhaps the most interesting thing of all. She said, “of course, afterwards, rationing continued for years. That was even worse than the war.”

I asked her what she meant.

“Well, you see,” she said, “there was no point. After all, we’d already won. Nothing we did helped or make a difference any more. It was just a miserable slog.”

And a little bit of an insight dawned on me, born of a people and a country who’d given their all, in blood, spirit and treasure, in two horrific and costly world wars only twenty years apart, who’d stuck together, who’d gutted it out together, and who’d wondammit–together. Only to find out that their country was broke, and that their daily circumstances didn’t improve all that much, that they were still sometimes hungry, and wearing faded and patched clothes, and scrimping, and saving, and that they no longer even had an overarching and common mission, or goal, or even a feeling of usefulness in the struggle, which would make sticking together through all their continuing discomfort and sacrifice worthwhile.

If the years following the war sometimes frustrated and discouraged such doughty, stalwart and irrepressible members of the ‘greatest generation’ as my unsinkable Auntie Pat, then they must have been a very long and “miserable slog” indeed.*

And it set me to wondering whether the sort of national unity, and sense of purpose and mission, that involved and encompassed the entire population, which characterized not only Britain, but many other countries during the last World War, and which I think is as essential as anything else to lasting victory, is something that will, or even can, ever be recaptured. Or if there is any circumstance, or any threat that would be considered immediate enough, or serious enough, to muster it up. I’m not optimistic.

And for my family, for myself, and for the West, on this anniversary of a great celebration, I feel a lingering sadness.

And (2020 update), in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic, I wonder what you think, and how you feel.

_____________

*Rationing in Great Britain continued in full force for three more years until 1948, after which, starting with flour, it was slowly dismantled. Clothes were de-rationed in March, 1949, canned goods and jams in May of 1950, soap in September of 1950, sugar in 1953, butter in May of 1954, and any remaining meat rationing in July of 1954, a full nine years after the end of the war (and just two months before I was born). No wonder Pat was so glad to see the back of it!

Notes from the comments from the previous post:

Much criticism has been leveled at the UK government for not spending the generous Marshall Plan aid strictly on re-tooling the British economy, and perhaps that’s part of the reason for the lengthy privation suffered by the British people.

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s lovely “Guildhall Address” to the British people (June 12, 1945) can be found here.

It’s also the anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, and the ultimate shift in the War in the Pacific. Details here.

A mention of The Archers (A radio serial, it’s the world’s longest-running soap opera, (since 1950) and was started by the BBC (i.e., government) to encourage and educate farmers into greater productivity after the war, but it was hugely popular nationwide. I used to listen to it with Granny Molly, in the days when Bessie’s milk fever, or the sow’s breech-birth were the most dramatic moments on the show. Nowadays, it’s succumbed to the rather more lurid and bizarre plot lines that are required to maintain the interest of 21st-century listeners. Granny would not be amused.)

Yes, that’s German music in the video at the top of the OP, Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, Pastoral. (The one that comes after the V-for-Victory Fifth.) Full disclosure: This started a bit of a sparring match between @arahant and @percival. I decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and simply removed myself from the field of battle.

Here’s a training film for US troops deployed to Britain.

And Amen to the comments that pointed up the distinction between the “war-weary” British population of 1939-1945 and those in the West who call themselves “war-weary” today. There’s no comparison, other than for those families with loved ones and friends in harm’s way.

Just to bring it full circle, here are some links to V-E Day recipes, courtesy of the BBC. So many of them speak to me of childhood and home. Please try them.

Remember. The Queen. 4PM Eastern time. Auntie Pat will be giving a test later. Don’t miss it. Chop chop.

Modeling: The Most Important Parameter of Them All

 

The recent Ferguson Follies in Great Britain have provided everyone with a moment of clarity. The idiocy of the supposed greatest epidemiological authority in the world makes us realize how badly we have subconsciously accepted our own lack of autonomy. Personal autonomy requires that we believe that we have the ability to chose freely our moral path. If we don’t believe in our own personal autonomy then what is the use of bellyaching about democracy or rights.

It has become so very chic to opine about illiberality or Caesarism. As if these are some external natural phenomena we must defend against. The virus is an external natural phenomenon that we can take measures to mitigate. However, our internal personal autonomy is dependent on our own belief in such. Stop believing that you have autonomy and you don’t.

What were Ferguson and Fauci and Gates and WHO and China up to? Their premise was that human beings don’t have personal moral autonomy so they can’t be told the truth thus allowing them to make their own decisions. This gang unilaterally decided that what the situation required were monstrous lies that would frighten people into behaviors that they thought would help. Of course, the supreme farce resulting from this mentality is that the very behaviors people have been stampeded into are the very behaviors that may have the most lasting ill effects.

What then is the most important parameter of them all? Faith in personal autonomy. In America, we back that faith with a governmental system based on human rights and the consent of the governed. In the last two months, we have watched the stampede artists trample on the average American citizen’s rights. Now that Mr. Ferguson, the supreme expert, has been caught with his pants down, it is time to reassess this whole damn thing.

We must learn to believe in ourselves, not imaginary idealized experts, and then we won’t give our freedoms away next time.

Day 109: COVID-19 Sacramento Protest Report

 

As indicated in my prior post, I went to a third protest at the capitol building in Sacramento. This time my mother-in-law and I were on foot (previously we had participated only in the “drive around the capitol” protest). That’s my mother-in-law in the photo holding the sign I made: “We Need A Sanctuary For Work and Prayer.” California is famously a “sanctuary” state for illegal aliens. So our borders are open but our shops and churches are closed.

I had expected the protest to be scheduled for Saturday along with others in Southern California, but then I saw Wednesday that the group was protesting on Thursday. My mother-in-law insisted on coming along and we walked one circuit of the building and then she sat in the shade on my sign on the grass leaning against a bollard while we listened to speeches for a bit before returning home.

Yesterday’s protest was not as well attended as the May Day protest. That was disappointing and may give undeserved comfort to the forces of civil compliance. Nevertheless, the California Highway Patrol was well prepared and this time had the grounds cordoned off so that the protesters could not gather on the capitol steps as before. In the photo, you can see the line of spaced officers that faced outward. All walkways and any space that did not have a permanent fence had physical barriers erected to prevent entry to the grounds immediately adjacent to the building.

As you can see from the photo, my mother-in-law was wearing a mask, as was I. My protest is for individual decision-making, not for denial of any potential health risk. My mother-in-law is 90 and I am 70. So it makes sense to take easy and reasonable precautions. But no one should have their lives controlled by government unless they have been adjudicated a criminal or incompetent without an available family guardian.

Although the crowd was fairly small, they were passionate about freedom. The protest was publicized by an organization called “We Have Rights” but does not organize the events themselves:

We Have Rights posts events that are organized by many organizations, grassroots groups, and individuals. We encourage all who attend events to stand for your rights without violence. We Have Rights is not responsible for these events and notifies the public that they attend at their own risk.

All people are required to maintain CDC guidelines for prevention, including social distancing of non-family members.

We encourage those considered high risk stay home and protect their health if they deem it necessary.

We REQUIRE the sick to quarantine and not participate.

Please support us by sharing the data on this website.

We DO NOT CONDONE the use of force or violence by anyone.

Anyone committing violent acts is disavowed by WE THE PEOPLE and FULLY OPEN CA NOW Movement. They are plants and/or are acting independently and should be treated as such and not affiliated with this movement.

NOTICE: Wehaverights.com is not the organizer of events listed on the site but rather listing events in those areas put together by grassroots groups and provided to wehaverights.com for posting in order to connect like minded individuals so they may unite. Guidance for participation in rally’s are suggestions to ensure the rally you attend is successful and safe.

The group that showed up yesterday seemed to be primarily evangelical and the theme of freedom to worship dominated. There were about a half dozen “Proud Boys” and one guy was festooned in a costume as a hypodermic needle for vaccination.

The amplified sound system allowed speakers to lead the group in prayer and appeal to the riot-gear bedecked officers to abandon their enforcement of unconstitutional orders. Someone also spoke on behalf of the shuttered shopkeepers pointing out the hypocrisy of our leaders that “rules are for thee, but not for me” — doing the things that they deny to others.

Here are a few screengrabs from a video someone else posted on Facebook about the demonstration:

I hope the Southern California beach crowd shows up in force on Saturday. The people need to remind the politicians here and elsewhere who is in charge.

[Note: Links to all my COVID-19 posts can be found here.]

75th Anniversary: Victory in Europe Day

 

May 8, 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of the formal declaration of victory in Europe. The surviving German military leaders had surrendered in the earliest hours of May 7, with a ceasefire holding through the day until the national leaders of the British Empire, Russia, and the United States could make the formal announcement on the morning of May 8, 1945.

Sadly, this year there will be no great outdoor public ceremonies. Yet, there are other sorts of public commemorations. The British television schedule is filled with commemorative events, culminating in a speech by the Queen, to be broadcast at the same time as her father’s speech 75 years ago. President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump joined a small group of World War II veterans, who flew to Washington D.C. to honor their fallen comrades at the World War II Memorial. In Arizona, the three largest airplanes in the Commemorative Air Force flew in formation around the Valley of the Sun.

President Trump joined World War II veterans, laying a wreath at the WWII Memorial:

The veterans joining Trump include Gregory Melikian, 97, of Phoenix, who sent the coded message to the world that the Germans had unconditionally surrendered.

Participants in the D-Day invasion that turned the tide in the war include Steven Melnikoff, 100, of Cockeysville, Md., Guy Whidden, 97, of Braddock Heights, Md., Harold Angle, 97, of Chambersburg, Pa.; and Frank Devita, 96, of Bridgewater, New Jersey.

Other veterans joining Trump are Donald Halverson, 97, of Minnesota, who fought in some of the war’s fiercest fighting in Italy, John Coates, 96, of Maryland, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and Jack Myers, 97, of Hagerstown, Md., was part of a unit that liberated the Dachau concentration camp.

The British television broadcast schedule includes these events:

VE Day 75: The People’s Celebration, BBC One, 8pm
Presented by Sophie Raworth, this is the big entertainment event of the night, put on by the BBC and the Royal British Legion to show thanks to our veterans. Stars will celebrate the happy events of 1945 with popular songs from the era, culminating in a rousing rendition of We’ll Meet Again at 9pm, which the whole country is encouraged to sing along to. The full line-up for The People’s Celebration will include Katherine Jenkins, Adrian Lester, Anton Du Beke, Beverley Knight, Helen George, Sharon D Clarke, Shane Richie and Emma Barton.

Address by the Queen, BBC One, 9pm
The Queen will have her pre-recorded speech broadcast at the same time her father King George VI gave his radio address on 8th May, 1945.

In Arizona, residents heard the rumble of big radial engines as three war birds flew in a V formation around the Valley of the Sun as the Commemorative Air Force, conducted a VE Day flyover:

Taking off from Falcon Field, the first turn was over the old Mesa Cemetery at 8:30 a.m. Here they come, flying south over downtown Mesa, (3) on the map. They were headed for Gilbert and Chandler, before turning north to pass over Tempe, Phoenix, and the west end of the valley, then completing the circuit of the valley.

C-47 Skytrain cargo aircraft:

B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber:

B-25 Mitchell medium bomber:

On May 8, 1945, the formal surrender of Germany was publicly announced by political leaders of the victorious Allied Powers. President Harry S. Truman, less than a month after assuming the office of the President of the United States, announced to the American people that Germany had surrendered. He spoke to the American people about victory in Europe and all that was left to do in the other half of the world:

May 08, 1945

THIS IS a solemn but a glorious hour. I only wish that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day. General Eisenhower informs me that the forces of Germany have surrendered to the United Nations. The flags of freedom fly over all Europe.

For this victory, we join in offering our thanks to the Providence which has guided and sustained us through the dark days of adversity.

Our rejoicing is sobered and subdued by a supreme consciousness of the terrible price we have paid to rid the world of Hitler and his evil band. Let us not forget, my fellow Americans, the sorrow and the heartache which today abide in the homes of so many of our neighbors-neighbors whose most priceless possession has been rendered as a sacrifice to redeem our liberty.

We can repay the debt which we owe to our God, to our dead and to our children only by work–by ceaseless devotion to the responsibilities which lie ahead of us. If I could give you a single watchword for the coming months, that word is–work, work, and more work.

We must work to finish the war. Our victory is but half-won. The West is free, but the East is still in bondage to the treacherous tyranny of the Japanese. When the last Japanese division has surrendered unconditionally, then only will our fighting job be done.

We must work to bind up the wounds of a suffering world–to build an abiding peace, a peace rooted in justice and in law. We can build such a peace only by hard, toilsome, painstaking work–by understanding and working with our allies in peace as we have in war.

The job ahead is no less important, no less urgent, no less difficult than the task which now happily is done.

I call upon every American to stick to his post until the last battle is won. Until that day, let no man abandon his post or slacken his efforts. And now, I want to read to you my formal proclamation of this occasion:

“A Proclamation–The Allied armies, through sacrifice and devotion and with God’s help, have wrung from Germany a final and unconditional surrender. The western world has been freed of the evil forces which for five years and longer have imprisoned the bodies and broken the lives of millions upon millions of free-born men. They have violated their churches, destroyed their homes, corrupted their children, and murdered their loved ones. Our Armies of Liberation have restored freedom to these suffering peoples, whose spirit and will the oppressors could never enslave.

“Much remains to be done. The victory won in the West must now be won in the East. The whole world must be cleansed of the evil from which half the world has been freed. United, the peace-loving nations have demonstrated in the West that their arms are stronger by far than the might of the dictators or the tyranny of military cliques that once called us soft and weak. The power of our peoples to defend themselves against all enemies will be proved in the Pacific war as it has been proved in Europe.

“For the triumph of spirit and of arms which we have won, and for its promise to the peoples everywhere who join us in the love of freedom, it is fitting that we, as a nation, give thanks to Almighty God, who has strengthened us and given us the victory.

“Now, therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby appoint Sunday, May 13, 1945, to be a day of prayer.

“I call upon the people of the United States, whatever their faith, to unite in offering joyful thanks to God for the victory we have won, and to pray that He will support us to the end of our present struggle and guide us into the ways of peace.

“I also call upon my countrymen to dedicate this day of prayer to the memory of those who have given their lives to make possible our victory.

“In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed.”

Delivered from the Radio Room at the White House at 9 a.m.

Here is what British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said on the end of the war in Europe:

Broadcast, London, and House of Commons

Yesterday morning at 2:41 a.m. at Headquarters, General Jodl, the representative of the German High Command, and Grand Admiral Doenitz, the designated head of the German State, signed the act of unconditional surrender of all German Land, sea, and air forces in Europe to the Allied Expeditionary Force, and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command.

General Bedell Smith, Chief of Staff of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and General Francois Sevez signed the document on behalf of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and General Susloparov signed on behalf of the Russian High Command.

To-day this agreement will be ratified and confirmed at Berlin, where Air Chief Marshal Tedder, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and General de Lattre de Tassigny will sign on behalf of General Eisenhower. Marshal Zhukov will sign on behalf of the Soviet High Command. The German representatives will be Field-Marshal Keitel, Chief of the High Command, and the Commanders-in- Chief of the German Army, Navy, and Air Forces.

Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight to-night (Tuesday, May 8), but in the interests of saving lives the “Cease fire” began yesterday to be sounded all along the front, and our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed to-day.

The Germans are still in places resisting the Russian troops, but should they continue to do so after midnight they will, of course, deprive themselves of the protection of the laws of war, and will be attacked from all quarters by the Allied troops. It is not surprising that on such long fronts and in the existing disorder of the enemy the orders of the German High Command should not in every case be obeyed immediately. This does not, in our opinion, with the best military advice at our disposal, constitute any reason for withholding from the nation the facts communicated to us by General Eisenhower of the unconditional surrender already signed at Rheims, nor should it prevent us from celebrating to-day and to-morrow (Wednesday) as Victory in Europe days.

To-day, perhaps, we shall think mostly of ourselves. To-morrow we shall pay a particular tribute to our Russian comrades, whose prowess in the field has been one of the grand contributions to the general victory.

The German war is therefore at an end. After years of intense preparation, Germany hurled herself on Poland at the beginning of September, 1939; and, in pursuance of our guarantee to Poland and in agreement with the French Republic, Great Britain, the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations, declared war upon this foul aggression. After gallant France had been struck down we, from this Island and from our united Empire, maintained the struggle single-handed for a whole year until we were joined by the military might of Soviet Russia, and later by the overwhelming power and resources of the United States of America.

Finally almost the whole world was combined against the evil-doers, who are now prostrate before us. Our gratitude to our splendid Allies goes forth from all our hearts in this Island and throughout the British Empire.

We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan, with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued. The injury she has inflicted on Great Britain, the United States, and other countries, and her detestable cruelties, call for justice and retribution. We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad. Advance, Britannia! Long live the cause of freedom! God save the King!

[Editor’s Note: After making his broadcast announcement of Germany’s unconditional surrender, Churchill read the same statement to the House of Commons shortly afterwards and added]

That is the message which I have been instructed to deliver to the British Nation and Commonwealth. I have only two or three sentences to add. They will convey to the House my deep gratitude to this House of Commons, which has proved itself the strongest foundation for waging war that has ever been seen in the whole of our long history. We have all of us made our mistakes, but the strength of the Parliamentary institution has been shown to enable it at the same moment to preserve all the title-deeds of democracy while waging war in the most stern and protracted form. I wish to give my hearty thanks to men of all Parties, to everyone in every part of the House where they sit, for the way in which the liveliness of Parliamentary institutions has been maintained under the fire of the enemy, and for the way in which we have been able to persevere-and we could have persevered much longer if need had been-till all the objectives which we set before us for the procuring of the unlimited and unconditional surrender of the enemy had been achieved. I recollect well at the end of the last war, more than a quarter of a century ago, that the House, when it heard the long list of the surrender terms, the armistice terms, which had been imposed upon the Germans, did not feel inclined for debate or business, but desired to offer thanks to Almighty God, to the Great Power which seems to shape and design the fortunes of nations and the destiny of man; and I therefore beg, Sir, with your permission to move:

That this House do now attend at the Church of St. Margaret, Westminster, to give humble and reverent thanks to Almighty God for our deliverance from the threat of German domination.

This is the identical Motion which was moved in former times.

Hear, finally, King George VI deliver a deliberate, clear, determined address, heightened by his battle with a stutter that so often rendered him incapable of public communication.

.

Как дела Мистер Пу?: The Politics of Coronavirus in Russia

 

This should be a weekend of parades and celebrations all over Russia, especially in Moscow and the former Leningrad, as citizens rush to celebrate their nation’s part in the Великая Отечественная война (the generally used Russian term for WWII, which marks the dates 1941-45, and is usually translated into English as The Great Patriotic War, although The Great War for the Fatherland is an equally valid interpretation, closer to the meaning of the adjective). It should especially be a time of celebration for one Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who for the last 20 years has never missed a chance to parade the streets of Petersburg with a framed photo of his veteran father, along with tens of thousands of other Russians. There will be no ceremonies this weekend, and Mr. Putin has fewer and fewer causes to celebrate. 

The situation in Russia has received relatively shallow coverage in the West. Vladimir Putin is a man who built his claim to legitimate authority on his strength, on reasserting the power of Russia in the world as the eyes of most security analysts and Western leaders, which had for the past half-century been focused so heavily on Russia, turned towards the Middle East and Asia as the main centers of coming conflict and rising greatness. Putin, by symbolically rooting out the corruption that has plagued post-Soviet politics (and replacing it with cronies of his own) and making advances into ‘rightfully’ Russian territory in places like Crimea, has attempted to recapture the pride of the Great Patriotic War, which remains one of the few largely uncontroversial focuses of Russian patriotism in the 21st century. But a global pandemic does not have recognizable border divides or command tanks and ground forces, and in a state which has thrown the bulk of its resources behind military expenditure and industry, Vladimir Putin is beginning to struggle. 

Putin’s approval rating has reached an all-time low of 59%, and ordinary Russians are well aware that the statistics that their government presents to the world reflect only a portion of those afflicted by the virus, with a crumbling healthcare infrastructure that is there for all to see. By no means a stupid man, Putin closed the border with China and banned Chinese nationals of any provenance entrance in January, intimately aware of how unprepared Russia’s система здравоохранения was for the onslaught that COVID-19 could prove, but he ultimately ended up only delaying the inevitable. Like the Chinese state, the Russian government has kept up a heavy barrage of internal propaganda blaming the US for the dire situation, but support for constitutional reform, only a few months after Putin’s bold reorganization of the Russian government, is rising rapidly. So, what will happen? 

This will, in large part, be dictated by the course that the virus takes through Russia. At the moment, there are reports that Russian medical students are being threatened with expulsion from their programs if they don’t agree to join the fight in any capacity that is asked of them, even as mortality for healthcare workers rise and complaints about the lack of any effective protection gear and medical supplies for them grow. So far, there have been three cases of doctors diagnosed with the illness and forced to continue treating patients ‘accidentally’ falling from high windows.

Major cities like Moscow and Petersburg also house a large number of migrants, now temporarily or completely without work, from poorer areas of the country, and as they struggle to find food or retain shelter (when much of what they had before was abysmal) the risk both that they will begin to spread the virus through the cities’ homeless populations and deepen the crisis or eventually begin protesting for better treatment or assistance (when many of the older among them have the memory of a cradle to grave welfare system) grows. The disease reached the cabinet days ago, putting Putin at increased personal risk. And if the ordinary Russian people, many of whom have tolerated or supported him because of dreams of renewed economic and political greatness, see the great weakness that his policies have contributed to in healthcare, watch members of their own families die, and are faced with an even more anemic economy than before, then the man who has already lost the support of many of the young and the urban elite in his nation may face a serious challenge. Challengers like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in exile in London, continue to broadcast a firmly anti-regime message which may, as had failed under men like Boris Nemtsov when Putin’s power seemed unbreakable, find a larger and larger audience. 

There is no guarantee, perhaps not even a significant chance, that Vladimir Vladimirovich’s reign will be under major threat because of the crisis. It bears remembering, though, that the former человек КГБ-а gained power precisely at a time of crisis and unprecedented uncertainty, and that the hair of the dog may just be the cure to Мистер Пу.* 

*I thought it was a good time to take a look at the situation in Russia, and spend a little time translating news articles, mostly because I’ve spent the better part of the last month speaking mainly Russian, and listening almost exclusively to Russian news and podcasts. That was due to the oral exam I did yesterday, worth 40% of the grade for my Russian module this year and a huge factor in whether I’ll be able to move onto the next level and complete my degree with a double major. I don’t particularly like speaking English to someone for 20 minutes, nevermind Russian, but I made it out relatively unscathed (although nervousness wreaked a bit of havoc on my declensions) and even managed an answer about why I chose to devote my culture project to the poetry and ideas of Joseph Brodsky that seemed to impress my examiners. Still struggling a bit to transition back to English, so I figured it would be put to good use here as I gear up for the rest of my exams, and try to banish the last of my paralyzing nerves. On to writing about bills of exchange and Mughal-Safavid relations tomorrow.

My Mother’s COVID Check Arrived Today…

 

…even though she passed away in April 2018. However, there’s a big box on the front of the envelope with the words:

IF RECIPIENT DECEASED
Check here and drop in mailbox.

Okay, fine and dandy. The irony is the check inside is made out to “Mama J. Stad DECD” with my name underneath, probably as executor of her estate. It makes me wonder how anyone can think the federal government should be in charge of all health care in this country.

Has anyone else had this kind of experience with COVID checks for deceased relatives?  I’m debating mailing it back vs. letting it go void in one year…