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…

The Plandemic Video, the Wisdom of Confucius, and YouTube Censorship

 

The Plandemic video seemed pretty ridiculous to me. All I could discern was a sea of unjustified and tragically unexplained claims in which were raised a few islands of genuine concerns.

The root problem here is neither new nor especially complicated: Our government, journalists, academics, and other elites have not heeded the wisdom of Confucius highlighted here, and as a result they have lost the trust of the people. (See here on the catastrophe of that loss of trust.)

That the elites have largely earned our distrust, however, does not mean that we can abandon all standards of evidence. For all I know, the people named in the video may be the jerks the good doctor says they are. However, she gave me no evidence for it beyond her own testimony (none that I could understand, anyway).

And that brings us to YouTube and Facebook, which are censoring sources they consider dubious rather than allowing a freedom of speech wherein those sources and their refuters are allowed to converse.

YouTube and Facebook, please stop censoring. You yourselves have, by and large, never thoroughly studied science, logic, philosophy, history, religion, or law. You lack the expertise needed to refute these claims. Let the ignorant speak, and let the informed correct them. You will do the most good by supporting the process of rational conversation.

Most importantly, YouTube and Facebook, you have now joined the elites. When you censor others, you are making yourselves one of the reasons people are inclined to believe in vast conspiracies when they hear of them.

Elections Have Consequences: Texas

 

You have doubtless heard of the hair salon owner who defied the diktats, based in wildly unscientific fear-mongering, of Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. For Texas counties, that is the top elected position. A black-robed minion under him, a trial judge, also let the mask slip on camera, in his entirely unprofessional treatment of Shelley Luther. Now the Texas Supreme Court has sprung Shelley Luther from jail and Governor Abbott’s new executive order has slammed the door on any further tin-pot thugs dragging people off to jail for allegedly violating a COVID-19 emergency executive order. Elections have consequences.

Clay Jenkins is a Democrat, behaving as Democrats will when they become comfortable that their electorate will never throw them out for a Republican. The fear shifts to attacks from the left, covered by moving enough left to keep winning. So, the residents of Dallas County have exactly the government for which they voted or failed to vote plus volunteer to drive turn-out against the Democrats.

The Austin American-Statesman writing about the Texas Supreme Court’s order, helpfully points out that a string of elections have consequences, provided you use them well:

The Texas Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Dallas County officials to free salon owner Shelley Luther from jail while its nine judges, all Republicans, weigh an appeal challenging her incarceration as improper.

Luther was released from the Dallas County Jail around 1:50 p.m., according to a sheriff’s department spokesman.

The emergency order directed county officials to release Luther on a personal bond, with no money required, “pending final disposition of her case.”

County officials also were ordered to file a response to the challenge by 4 p.m. Monday, the same day Luther’s weeklong sentence for contempt of court would have ended.

Elections, over time, can make a huge difference in the behavior of courts. President Trump remains focused on the importance of appointing judges at every level and doing so from a list that suggests they will not substitute personal and elite cultural preferences for written law. A string of conservative Texas Republican governors, with Republican legislatures, has led to the entire bench in the highest court in the state being filled with Republican appointees, and I don’t mean Anthony Kennedy types. Elections have real consequences, highlighted in a time of crisis.

Finally, there is the governor. Governor Abbott has navigated the recent uncertainty and panic about as well as a governor could be expected to do. He tried to give the counties room, since Texas is much bigger than most states, with wildly different realities in different parts of the Lone Star State. When local authorities got really stupid, between the Dallas County judge and the Ector County sheriff‘s A-team big boys, “Our Finest,” with the Army Iraq War surplus armored truck, the governor swiftly slammed the door on such excesses. Elections past and present matter a great deal.

Here, President Trump and Governor Abbott show by doing that elections matter. Do these seem like the kind of leaders you want in a tough spot? “We’re all warriors together.”

From the local executive and judges to the presidency of the United States, all offices matter. People who have long been complacent, accepting of local officials, have had their eyes opened. Those offices and names way down the long ballot are suddenly obviously affecting peoples’ lives. Now, We the People are without excuse this election year and in the off-year elections ahead. Elections have consequences for you and me.

Member Post

 

According to https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/, the US has had 1.292 million covid 19 cases so far. total deaths = 76,938 (I believe this number is inflated).  case fatality rate = 76,938/1,292,850 = 5.9% There is no way CFR is almost 6%. The more likely number is 0.6% which means at least 13 million Americans have been infected, […]

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‘Three Good Leads’ Captures the Essence of Houston, Galveston During Spanish Flu Epidemic

 

It’s September 1918. Donald Brown is a photographer in Houston. His close friend Clara Barnes is a nursing student at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston. “Three Good Leads,” by Richard Cunningham, is their story, which unfolds as World War I is approaching its climax and the Spanish influenza is sweeping the world — and the Texas Gulf Coast.

Orphaned by the 1900 Storm, Donald was adopted by a white family living in Freedman’s Town in Houston’s Fourth Ward. He picked up photography and become a freelance photographer, selling photographs to local newspapers.

In ‘Three Good Leads,” Donald has made a name for himself through photographs he took to accompany a series on the effects of the influenza plague sweeping through Houston written by reporter and mentor Clifford Murray.

Donald awaits induction into the Army, while Clara is a semester away from graduating with her nursing degree from John Sealy. Her ambition is to be a doctor, but women doctors are unusual enough to make that dream seem impossible.

When four volunteers are sought from her classmates to run a temporary overflow ward for “coloreds,” she volunteers. It’s an opportunity to gain hands-on experience and get away from an incompetent and tyrannical instructor who was brought out of retirement because the good doctors are all serving the Army.

“Three Good Leads” follows Donald and Clara and their compatriots through the next few months. Clara is put in charge of the colored ward because she was the first to volunteer when the doctor who was supposed to supervise fled the influenza to Fredericksburg. She’s faced with setting up the ward in an abandoned saddle factory with inadequate supplies and no help beyond the other three nursing students.

Donald is burned out of his home by an arsonist angry at his influenza photos, which hurt Galveston’s tourist trade. He ends up helping Clara set up the influenza ward.

“Three Good Leads” is fast-paced, exciting, and accurate, and it captures the spirit of 1918 Galveston and Houston in an entertaining and captivating story.

“Three Good Leads” by Richard Cunningham, Cunningham Studios, 2020, 323 pages, $17

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Extends State of Emergency, Part II

 

Just a short addition to a recent post:

Our good Governor Brown recently condescended to modify her edict closing all dine-in restaurants in the state. She has graciously now decreed that most restaurants may now reopen, under her social-distancing guidelines, of course — requiring that only 25% of seating capacity be utilized — however, the restaurants must close by 10 p.m. each day.

I do not have the background in virology and immunology that our good Governor obviously has at her disposal, but am surprised that it has apparently been discovered that the virus is nocturnal, and thus more dangerous in the late-night hours.

Or could it be that she is discovered that the newfound powers to regulate the lives and businesses of her citizens can be exercised arbitrarily, without any need for justification?

Willie Mays: An Appreciation

 

Wednesday was baseball great Willie Mays’ 89th birthday and I thought I’d post a brief appreciation of his career. I’ve been a baseball fan almost all my life, and since I grew up in northern California and started following baseball circa 1960, the Giants were my favorite team and I gravitated quickly to their best player Willie Mays.

Willie Howard Mays was born on May 6, 1931, in Westfield, Alabama. Willie was a precocious athlete. His father was a semi-pro ballplayer, playing for a company team in the local league made up from coal and steel companies in the area. By the time he was a teenager, young Mays was on his father’s team playing against grown men twice his age. And, although he played on his high school football, basketball and baseball teams, he began his professional baseball career in 1947 at age 16 joining the Chattanooga Choo Choos, who were essentially a farm team for the Negro League Birmingham Black Barons, a team he would join within a year. The Black Barons manager, Piper Davis would become a mentor to Willie. He worked with the young ballplayer on his weaknesses as a player and required that he finish high school. Since the Dodgers had broken the color line with Jackie Robinson in 1947, major league scouts from those teams willing to add black ballplayers to their roster began scouring the Negro Leagues for major league talent and it didn’t take them long to stumble across Mays who had helped the Black Barons to the Negro League World Series in 1948 mainly with his great defensive play.

Mays was found and signed by Giants scout Eddie Montague for $4,000. He would tear through the minors hitting .353 at Class B Trenton as a 19-year old in 1950. He was promoted to the Giants top farm team for the 1951 season, the Triple A Minneapolis Millers and after 35 games in which he was batting .477 (yes, that’s not a typo, he was hitting .477, not .377), he was sent up to the big club. It’s a well-known story that Mays did not start his major league career in an auspicious fashion but it’s worth repeating here. He went for 0-12 in his first three games. He hit a towering home run over the left-field roof in the Polo Grounds off of future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn in his fourth game; however, that would be his only hit in his first seven major league games and so he was batting a less than stellar .038 after his first week in the majors.

When he first came up, his manager Leo Durocher had batted him third in the lineup, but after his slow start he moved Willie down in the order to the eighth spot to take the pressure off. The young center fielder responded and began hitting. He finished his rookie season hitting .274 with 20 HR and that along with his brilliant defensive play helped the Giants to the NL pennant over the crosstown rival Dodgers in a dramatic three-game playoff capped by Bobby Thomson’s home run. The Giants would lose the World Series in six games to the Yankees (a World Series featuring Mays, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio), but Mays had established himself as a major leaguer. After the season he added the Rookie of the Year award to his trophy case, the first of what would be many awards.

With the Korean War raging, Mays was drafted into the Army early in 1952, and he would spend most of that season and all of the 1953 season in the service. Mays spent most of his time in the Army playing baseball. By his estimate, he played 180 or so games while in the service. When he re-joined the Giants for spring training in 1954 there was talk of the Giants, who had slipped to fifth place 35 games behind the Dodgers in 1953, as the favorite for the 1954 pennant with Mays back in the lineup, which is sort of amazing when you consider that a player with only 155 major league games, a .266 batting average, and a .459 slugging average could make such a difference. But, it would come to pass.

Led by Mays, the Giants would win the pennant by five games over the Dodgers with Mays leading the league in batting (.345) and slugging (.667) on his way to winning his first MVP. In the World Series, the 97-win Giants were underdogs to the 111-win Cleveland Indians. Yet, they swept the Indians in four games with Mays’ extraordinary catch and throw in deep center field of a drive by Indians slugger Vic Wertz in the 8th inning of game 1, a 2-2 game with two Indians on and no outs being the decisive play.

Mays had become a superstar in 1954 and over the next dozen years, he played at an MVP level each and every year, averaging a .318/.392/.615 slash line, 40 homers, 118 runs, 109 RBI, 22 steals and 9.6 WAR and 37 Win Shares (WS) per season. However, he didn’t win another MVP until 1965 when he hit a career-high 52 HR (his second 50-homer season when 50 homer seasons were still special) as his Giants lost out to the Dodgers on the last weekend of the season. His 12-year span between MVPs is the longest in history although the recent advanced meta stats of WAR and WS saw him as the best player in his league many times – 10 times according to WAR and 7 times per WS.

Mays led the league four times each in home runs (1955, 1962, 1964 & 1965) and stolen bases (1956-1959) and there is still only one other player (Chuck Klein) who has led his league in these two disparate categories at any point in his career during the post-1920 lively-ball era. In addition to HR & SB, he led the league in batting average, on-base percentage (twice), slugging average (5 times), hits, triples (thrice), total bases (thrice), walks, and runs scored (twice) at various points in his career. He is also the only player to have both a four-homer game and a three-triple game in his career and he is one of seven players to have a 20-20-20- season (20 doubles, 20 triples and 20 home runs) adding in a fourth 20 (SB – 38) to boot. He is a member of both the 30-30 club (30 HR & 30 SB) and 50-20 club (50 HR 20 SB). He also has one of the best All Star Game records to be found. Playing in 24 ASG in twenty different seasons, he hit .307 and he holds All Star Game records for most hits (23), runs (20), triples (3) and stolen bases (6), while twice being named the games MVP.

Mays was also a brilliant defensive centerfielder, perhaps the best ever but, in any case, among a small handful of the best defensive outfielders of all time. His 12 Gold Gloves are tied with Roberto Clemente as the most ever for an outfielder. Of course, he’s famous for the basket catch and his most famous defensive play (the catch & throw in the ’54 series mentioned above) probably wasn’t his best. As for his best, some mention a one-handed grab of a slicing drive off the bat of Rocky Nelson in Pittsburgh, while others (including Willie) mention a 1952 catch of a drive in Ebbets Field off the bat of Bobby Morgan in which Mays dove horizontally into the wall to make the catch.

Willie Mays signs an autograph Spring Training. Photo courtesy of Gumby Mark

Perhaps the only knock on Mays’ record is his relatively poor showing in his five postseasons (four World Series in 1951, 54, 62 and 73 and the 1971 and 1973 NL playoffs) in which he hit only .247 with 1 home run. However, Mays was an outstanding player in high-pressure situations. His 22 extra-inning home runs are the most ever. One of those extra-inning homers won a famous 1-0 16-inning pitching duel between Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal in which both pitchers pitched a complete game (something we’re unlikely to ever see again). His solo HR in the bottom of the 8th against Houston in game 162 of the 1962 season enabled the Giants to tie the Dodgers for the league lead and in the first game of their three-game playoff, his two homers off of Sandy Koufax propelled the Giants to victory and a 1-0 series lead.

Getting back to a chronological look at Willie’s career, his last great season was at age 35 in 1966. After that, Willie returned to mere mortal as a ballplayer but still a good one. At age 39, he hit 28 homers and at age 40 he led the league in on-base percentage and stole 23 bases in 26 tries as the Giants won the NL West. Early in the 1972 season, the Giants traded Mays to the New York Mets for pitcher Stan Williams and $50,000. It was a homecoming of sorts (recall that the Giants played in New York through 1957 moving to San Francisco in 1958) and Mets fans showed their appreciation for Mays, although the 41-year old was by this point a part-time player. His time with the Mets is probably most remembered by his slipping and falling while chasing a flyball in the 1973 World Series. Mays retired after the 1973 season.

To this day, Mays has some of the most impressive career statistics of all time – 3,283 hits, 660 home runs, 2062 runs scored, 338 stolen bases, 6,066 total bases, a .302 batting average and so forth. His playing career was capped by his selection into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1979. After his playing career, he stayed in the game as a coach for the Mets and later the Giants. In 1983, he and Mickey Mantle took positions with different casinos in Atlantic City as greeters and MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in one of his many bone-headed moves promptly banished both from baseball unless they quit their associations with the casinos. Both declined and it was left to Kuhn’s successor, Peter Ueberroth to reinstate both shortly after he assumed his post. More recently, he has assumed a role as sort of ambassador for the game.

Before ending this appreciation, I suppose I should briefly discuss Mays’ personal life. Early in his career, the Giants set him up in Harlem boarding house of David and Anna Goosby and had veteran Monte Irvin room with him on the road. While in Harlem, Mays did regularly play stickball with neighborhood kids more often than not ending with a trip to a soda shop as per the legend. These ended though when Mays got married in 1956. He and first wife had one adopted child (a son) before divorcing in 1963. Mays remarried in 1971 and that marriage lasted until his wife’s passing in 2013. Although generally outgoing and personable Mays, who was a clubhouse leader during his playing days, has generally kept his personal feelings and beliefs close to the vest. In putting this together, I looked unsuccessfully for a radio interview of Mays during his playing career in Houston and in which he discussed his Christian faith (as best I recall). Sans that, I do have a couple of videos highlighting Mays’ career.

Three Giant Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Juan Marichal & Willie McCovey

In 1955, the Treniers, an R&B group released a single “Hey Willie” (3:15) and the high-pitched voice you hear is indeed that of Willie Mays.

Below is about a five-minute video appreciation of Mays’ career. It features various baseball announcers and reporters discussing Mays along with various highlights of Mays in action. Watching those highlights will make clear why Willie gave such joy to baseball fans friend and foe alike.

Happy belated birthday, Willie!