Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Over the past year, I have traded a number of e-mails with a nice young gentleman from Singapore. I visited Singapore once, back in the 90s. The skyline looks a bit like Manhatten's; the subway system is *immaculate*. No drugs, no graffiti- they are downright *draconian* in punishment of traffickers and vandals.
Once during the early days of the Clinton Administration, a kid from Dayton, Ohio, got caught "tagging" in Singapore and got sentenced to a number of lashes with a cane. Clinton appealled to the Singapore govt. for clemency. I was living in Dayton, Ohio at the time; I wonder if the Singapore govt. ever learned that a poll in Dayton showed that a clear majority of Daytonians favored the kid being whipped, and one Dayton DJ did a bit on the air of a crowd chanting "Hit him again! Hit him again! Harder! Harder!"
The symbol of Singapore is the merlion; bottom half is a fish, top half is a lion. *Very* cool.
It is a *very* long way from Singapore at the southern tip of Southeast Asia, to the country of Guinea, on the Atlantic coast of Africa. about 7,500 miles in fact. A few days ago, the 'President' of Guinea, Mr. Lansana Conte died and a faction of the Guinea military seized power. France gave Guinea its independence 50 years ago, and in that time, Guinea has had *two* presidents, both of whom came to power in coups. My Singapore e-mail penpal sent me a youtube clip of crowds in Guinea's capital greeting the leader of the latest coup de tat, and asked me what I thought of that.
OK, I'll tell anybody who interested what I think of that: I think I am PROFOUNDLY grateful for the fact that I had the good fortune to have been born in a country where we resolve our political differences through *elections* and not coup de tats!
I have a woman friend from my school days, who does not like President Bush *at* *all*. For Christmas a few years ago, I got her a calendar that counted the days down to January 20, 2009, when Bush will leave office. I purchased it for her for two reasons, 1. I knew she'd be delighted, and 2. I was, indirectly, paying her a compliment. Some people on the far ("Air America") Left in America were fond of accusing the Bush administration of plotting to cancel the 2008 elections and stay in power indefinitely. By buying her that calendar, I was complimenting her on having far too much good sense to believe that rubbish.
P.S. I just learned that the current President of the country of Gabon is named Omar Bongo. Perhaps he ought to consider changing his name. I think *Charlie* Bongo sounds *much* better, don't you?
Sunday, December 21, 2008
President Obama has named Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as head of Department of Homeland Security. I have grave reservations about her appointment. Several years ago, when commenting upon the possibility of the construction of a border fence to seal off illegal immigration from Mexico, the governor said, “If we build a 20-foot fence, they’ll just build 21-foot ladders."
I find that to be a *spectacularly* wrong-headed and demonstrably fallacious position. As governor of the state of Arizona, she certainly decided over the Arizona prison system. I’m sure that if every Arizona prison is surrounded by at least one barbed-wire fence, and I am equally certain that over 99% of all Arizona inmates serve out their sentences without escaping.
Translation: If you don’t think fences will work on a border; we use them on prisons and they work just fine.
Few people have heard of Wake Island, unless, like me, they are hardcore WWII history fanatics. Wake Island was a tiny American outpost in the Pacific well over 1,000 miles from any other American possession. So, after Pearl Harbor, the island’s garrison was very much on its own. They made a legendary, heroic stand. First, they repulsed a Japanese invasion attempt on December 8, 1941 before being overwhelmed by a vastly superior Japanese force on December 23.
Few people know that, in the immediate aftermath of battle, the Japanese selected five Americans and beheaded them in their anger after the losses they had suffered. While most of the garrison endured 45 months of hellish conditions in Japanese POW camps, 95 civilian contractors were kept on the island, forced to help construct a Japanese airstrip.
In October of 1943, after an American air raid, a Japanese commander ordered all of the Americans killed. Very few people, except hardcore war history geeks like me, know what happened after that.
The Japanese committed about 4,000 troops to defend a 2.5-square mile island. They didn’t know it, but they were in for an experience, possibly more dreadful than any battle. Because of the success of the American submarine campaign, the last supply ship to reach Wake Island during the war got there on New Year’s Day 1944. 4,000 men, stuck on almost a desert island with no resupply. It must have been utterly humiliating for those men to realize they were destined to occupy an island the US Navy used as a practice bombing range. I once saw an interview with a Japanese ho survived the experience; he said that they were on *one**quarter* rations and that he lost one third of his body weight. By the end of the war, 600 of those Japanese soldiers died as a result of American bombing raids while 1300 of them starved to death. In July of 1945, the Japanese sent a hospital ship, the Takasago Maru, to Wake. An American ship stopped and searched the Takasago Maru and discovered, surprisingly enough, it was not carrying any contraband. They did find that it was carrying 974 patients from Wake Island, most of who were suffering from malnutrition. Of the 1200 Japanese soldiers still on Wake at the end of the war, 200 of them had to be carried off in stretchers. This is just a tiny footnote in the history of the Pacific War. However, I believe it sheds a great deal of light on the Japanese military mentality in 1945, and what the Pacific War would have been like had it not ended so abruptly in August 1944 as a result of the dropping of the two atomic bombs.
After that last supply ship, as a practical matter, every day the Japanese garrison had an eating contest. First one to find something to eat wins. The popular story is that any American pilot shot down over Wake could count on being on the menu that night.
The episode began with a man apparently being attacked by an enormous cat. The camera angle was from the attacker’s point of view, and we saw in slow motion the victim being mauled by enormous claws. I don’t know what it was, but that scared the living daylights out of an eleven-year-old Kent Mitchell and my brothers. Then, my parents did something ill-advised. They made us go to bed without seeing the end of that episode. Man, was I scared that night! I never did find out how the episode ended. Well, knock me over with a feather. I was surfing through a BBC channel on cable, and lo and behold, got to see the episode, “The Hidden Tiger,” to its conclusion after a 40-year intermission.
I discovered that the nefarious villains were the People United for the Restoration and Rehabilitation of Cats. Or “PURR”. The resident mad scientist, Dr. Cheshire, (with his lovely assistant Miss Angora), had invented a device which transformed house cats into enormous man-killers. (Don’t ask me how it works! I didn’t write the episode!)
It was a mind-boggling experience seeing the same episode as a middle-aged man forty years later. What had terrified me in 1967, I now saw as tongue-in-cheek comedy.> > The moral of the story: Parents, if your kids see something scary on TV, do not send them to bed until they get to see the resolution.
I’ve always been a firm believer that it’s important for young women to have great dreams for the future. I have also believed that women have a perfect right to engage in just as much, or as little, amorous activity as they choose. They have the right to say no, or this far and no further. I shall always remember one evening back in the eighties when I was attending Notre Dame Law School when I had an interesting encounter with a Notre Dame coed.
In the Client Counseling Center at the Notre Dame Legal Clinic, just as it appeared that things might go from PG-13 to R, she announced that things were not going to go any further. I, of course, respected her wishes. Even twenty years later, I vividly remember her reasoning. She informed me that if affairs continued any further, sometime in the future, I might say bad things about her to the press when she ran for a seat in the United States Senate. Not Mayor..not the state legislature...not Congress... but the *United* *States** Senate*.
I have no idea where that young lady is in the present day except that she is not serving in the United States Senate. In answer to my collaborator’s question, I would not say a blessed thing about her if she did run for the Senate.
I want to emphasize that, while I’ve known some sailors who were capable of obnoxious behavior, all of these guys just wanted to get the picture of a lifetime. Besides, of all of the people you would not want to tick off, a woman lugging an automatic rifle with a full clip of ammo at the ready would NOT be that person. I’m afraid the young lady was a bit disconcerted. At first, she looked at us like, “Who am I, Cindy Crawford?” Then she stepped behind her boyfriend. Happily enough, nobody wanted to create an international incident. We went on our way. Too bad the young lady wasn’t into posing.
I thought, but did not ask, exactly what his tattoos’ rate of return was. With that in mind, I have only heard of two tattoos that actually earned money for the wearer. I once heard about a sailor who had the letters, Y-O-U-R-N-A-M-E. He used this fact to win a great many bets in bars.
There was another fellow I heard about who also had a tattoo that he used to win bets. On the middle of his calf, he had a tattoo of a rooster with a rope around its neck. I will let everyone figure that one out for themselves.
Friday, November 28, 2008
I probably had a whole *bunch* of people frothing at the mouth. For people outside the United States, I think it is safe to say that people on the leftwing in America really, really, really, REALLY *HATE* Rush Limbaugh. As in if you put a leftwinger in an auditorium with Rush Limbaugh, Osama Bin Laden, and 20 terrorists, each of whom was going to set off a nuclear device that would kill a million Americans, gave the lefty a Glock with a 21 bullets in the magazine, the lefty would shoot Limbaugh 21 times, then pistol-whip him til rigor mortis set in.
Back in December 1998, I happened to be visiting my father- just as the House impeachment vote was going on. On a historic day like that, I was eager to hear what everybody, and I do mean *everybody* had to say- so I had turned on a radio, and happened to turn the dial to a station that carried Rush. My father overhears this, and starts telling me that he is *shocked*, and *appalled*, and *disappointed*...et cetera, et cetera,...
I did not bother to tell dear ol' Dad that he had all kinds of *nerve*, *gall*, and *chutzpath*, speaking to me, a 43 year old man at the time, with three college degrees, like he'd caught a third grader with a copy of Playboy (or maybe an East Berliner listening to Radio Free Europe). Instead, I let him talk himself out, and then said, 'Gee, Dad, wasn't it *YOU* who taught me that an important part of being an educated person is getting exposure to multiple points of view?'
DEAD SILENCE.....(sounds of crickets chirping)
And finally my father said, 'Touche'
Does anybody remember Marc Christian? He was at one time, Rock Hudson's boyfriend/POSSLQ/Significant Other (take your pick.) After Rock Hudson's death, Christian sued Hudson's estate for Rock exposing him to AIDS without his knowledge/consent, and won a multimillion dollar judgment. (Editorial comment: sounds fair to me. I think exposing someone to AIDS is a *really* rotten thing to do.)
I once saw Mr. Christian give an interview in which he stated that he was done with men. I thought to myself: very good looking young man with millions of dollars, history of gay behavior- somewhere there are a lot of women who'd like to try straightening him out- now, there's a disaster aiting to happen.
Apparently Mr. Christian dodged the AIDS bullet- he's still alive 22 years later. And he's stayed out of the spotlight, except for one small historical footnote. Several years ago, Barbara Streisand produced a biopic of Ronald Reagan. It as not a sympathetic portrayal, to put it VERY mildy. There as one scene in which the screen Reagan, upon hearing of the deah toll from AIDS, says, 'Those who lived in sin, shall die in sin.'
That's when Marc Christian came back for his 16th minute of fame. He announced that when Rock Hudson was gravely ill, President Reagan and Nancy called Hudson to wish him well. Hmmm...that hardly sounds like the act of the homophobic monster Streisand depicted.
That is, unfortunately, an all too common feature of our current political discourse- it's not enough to disagree with someone, demonize them.
In April, 1945, less than a month before the end of the war in Europe the German submarine U-234 set sail for Japan, carrying two Japanese naval officers, a Staff Judge Advocate, two dissassembled Me-262 jet fighters, and 1,200 pounds of metal. They were in the middle of the Atlantic when they got the order to surrender. The two Japanese officers took overdoses of sleeping pills (I guess they didn't have any swords handy to commit seppuku) and the U-234 surrendered to the US Navy. In Nov. 1947 the US Navy used the U-234 as a target and sank it with a new torpedo.
If I had unlimited resources, I think I'd raise U-234 from the bottom and put it on display on the National Mall. You see, the 1,200 pounds of metal the U-234 was carrying was *uranium*. Is there *anybody* who can not figure out what that means? There are people who believe that we should not have insisted that Japan surrender unconditionally, and be totally disarmed at the end of WWII. They are *WRONG*.
Occasionally, I come across a bit of history that makes my jaw drop. I've read enough WWII history that I'd heard the name Miles Browning before. He was one of the US Navy's first naval aviators. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1918, served as a test pilot, and by 1941, he was a Commander serving as Admiral William Halsey's Chief of Staff. He served under Halsey from the day of Pearl Harbor through the Doolittle raid on Tokyo, and when Halsey was hospitalized in late May of '42, Davenport served as Admiral Spruance's chief of staff during Midway. I've read one account that Spruance originally wanted to wait until the American aircraft carriers got within 100 miles of the Japanese fleet to launch an attack. Browning, however, urged an immediate strike that proved to be a spectacular success- the Japanese lost 4 aircraft carriers at Midway, and most of their best aviators.
In October '42, when Halsey took command at Guadacanal, he asked to have Browning again assigned as his chief of staff.The following months made Halsey a legend in the US Navy. In that first year of the war, the Japanese had inflicted so many shocking defeats on the Allies- Pearl Harbor, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Burma- that they seemed invincable. Churchill once said of his own leadership during WWII that the English people had had the lion's heart-and that he, Churchill, had had the good luck to be asked to sound the roar. That was often Halsey's role in the Pacific. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, Halsey commented (for publication) 'When we get done out here, the only place Japanese will be spoken will be in hell' A sign over the front door to his headquarters in the South Pacific read, 'Kill Japs, Kill Japs, Kill More Japs!' (Halsey never lost the common touch. In one battle his flagship took a near-miss that knocked Halsey off his feet. As he struggled to regain his footing, his legs were shaking, and he noticed a sailor suppressing a laugh at his discomfiture. Halsey demanded to know what the sailor's rate was, and upon learning that it was Quartermaster Second Class, Halsey replied, 'Not anymore- now it's Quartermaster FIRST class! Any man brave enough to be laughing while my knees are knocking together deserves a promotion!' It may have been that same day when Halsey overheard a young sailor comment, 'I'd go through hell for that old bastard' to which, legend has it, Halsey replied, 'Son, I'm not *that* old!' Unfortunately, Browning had *none* of his bosses charm. He was a hard drinker who was quite unpleasant (at least that's what his first three wives would report) and caused a scandal when he had an affair with the wife of a fellow officer. (She later became his 4th, and last wife) Browning managed to get on the bad side of both Chief of Naval Operations Frank King, as well as the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox- so, eventually he got transfered off of Halsey's staff- over Halsey's objections. Sad to say, while Halsey never lost his flair for morale boosting, he made some grievious operational mistakes in the last year of the war that certainly gotten a less popular figure relieved. If he'd had the benefit of Browning's counsel- who knows?
Browning served as the Captain of the aircraft carrier "Hornet" until Spring of '44, when he was relieved after a crewman died in a noncombat accident, then got sent back to shore duty for the rest of the war. He retired and got a "tombstone promotion" to Rear Admiral. He died from lupus in 1955, at the age of 57.
Browning had one child, a daughter, who married a guy named Chase, and they had a son named Cornelius, who very early on picked up the nickname "Chevy", and who achieved considerable success as as a comic and actor (In past 15 years or so- well, not so much) Chevy Chase got to attend all the best prep schools, (his brother went Harvard) and when it came time to go before his local draft board, Chevy, clever lad that he was, convinced them that he was a homosexual. So some kid from Appalachia, or from the barrio, or from the ghetto, went to Vietnam in his place. I once read that Chevy Chase now claims that his mother abused him. (In my opinion, NOT NEARLY ENOUGH) It's sad that a great hero like Miles Browning died so young, but at least he was spared the ignominy of learning what a liar and a coward his grandson turned out to be.
Ralph Bunche was an American diplomat and a distinguished professor at Howard University. He also happened to be a very light-skinned black man. Once, at a party in the early 60s, the subject of Civil Rights came up, and an elderly white woman (who did not realize that Ralph Bunche was black), said to him '*Well*, would you want your daughter to marry a Negro?'
He considered that question for a moment, and then said, 'Well, not just *any* Negro.'
That's pretty much my read on the current Presidential Contest. How do I feel about America having a black President? Fine, just not *any* black President. I recognize that America electing a black President would certainly have a major on America's image throughout the world- whether Senator Barack Obama is the best person for the job- time will tell. (If he doesn't win, it will be the biggest political upset of the century.)
When I was at Notre Dame Law School, one of my classmates as a fine black fellow named Richard Blackmon. He grew up in the Chicago projects and had attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale on a football scholarship. He was smart enough to figure out he wasn't going to play in the NFL- so he got into Notre Dame Law School- and though he struggled- he got some Cs and Ds- he made it through. When he graduated, I told him, 'Rich Blackmon, I'm very happy for you. Now that Rich Blackmon has graduated from Notre Dame Law School, Rich Blackmon is going to get to become a rich black man.' Rich was quite amused.
A few years later, I heard that Rich had gotten married (a friend of mine had attended the wedding), so I called him up, and 'Rich, I hear you got married.'
He said, 'Yeah, man- it's great!'
And I said, 'Rich, I know exactly what you should name your first born'
I said, 'If you have a kid, name'em 'Highly Qualified'.' Rich was very amused. I mean, can you image the career prospects of a guy named 'Highly Qualified Blackmon'?
There's a sad postscript of my story about Rich Blackmon. In Legal Ethics class, if there is *one* thing that you are going to remember *decades* later, it is to not comingle your client's funds with you own. That makes clients funds vulnerable to a judgment against you. Rich comingled a client's funds with his own, and got a five year suspension from the Illinois Supreme Court.
Recently, I read an article on General George S. Patton that made my jaw drop. It speculated that Patton might have had Asperger's syndrome-or something very much like it. Patton has been in his grave for over 60 years now, so we'll never know for sure, but it certainly makes a certain amount of sense: brilliant intellect, terrible temper, uncanny ability to make grievious social gaffes....who knows?
I have always admired Patton for his self-confidence. He once said, 'There are people who disagree with me. They are wrong.'
Patton's political views certainly do not pass muster today. In his diary, he once wrote 'I met Cardinal Spellman. Anti-British, anti-Jew, Anti-Negro. what a guy!'
While Patton's politics and personality grated on a whole lot of people, he was an *excellent* battlefield commander. He was also a great trainer. One of his best, and truest maxims about effective traing was 'a pint of sweat will save you a gallon of blood'.
There's one story about Patton that I do not know if it is true or not, but here goes; during the Great Depression, Patton took command of a post, where, he soon learned that the local townspeople were not kindly disposed to his men. So, after a brainstorm, Patton arranged to have his men paid in two dollar bills. Very soon after payday, the townspeople adjusted their attitude.
In the closing days of WWII, a unit of Patton's 3rd Army found the secret location of the 3rd Reich's gold reserves- and a whole bunch of stolen artwork. After reporting this to Generals Bradley and Eisenhower, Patton admited that he had considered hiding the cache away until after the war when Congress started cutting defense spending- or dividing the loot among every man in the 3rd Army. That as pure Patton. He did not give a damn about money for himself (he was independently wealthy); he cared about his men and his unit.
Finally, upon occasion, Patton had a sense of humor. Anyone who has seen George C. Scott's portrayal of the General in the 1970 movie has probably wondered what Patton would have thought of it. I once in Reader's Digest (I've often looked for further corroboration, but haven't found any), that there was a young officer in the 3rd Army who could do a spot-on impersonation of the General's speech to his troops. This made this young officer very popular amongst his buddies. One night, he was doing his Patton impersonation on stage at a 3rd Army Officer's Club, when ol' Blood and Guts himself showed up. The young officer did his act, and later, went over to Patton's table, and asked him, 'Well, General, how did you enjoy the show tonight?'
And...there ....was...a...very...long....pause. And finally, Patton said, 'Son, I'm *not* going to say just who it is....but *one* of us is a *terrible* ham!'
For the benefit of Friends on both sides of the Atlantic, I'm offering one of David Letterman's Top Ten Lists: Ten stupid things Americans say to English people.
10. Is it Halloween, or are those your real teeth?
9. Do you know the Queen?
8. What language are you speaking?
7. Do you eat *anything* that isn't in pie form?
6. *Seriously* are those your *real* *teeth*?
5. When are you going to come over to pick up Posh and Becks?
4. What do you mean, 'Let's go smoke a fag'?
3. Are you speaking English?
2. OK, say that one more time- *in* *American*
1. You know what? England should have its own version of 'The Office'!
However, it did make a *big* hit with a grade school boy named Jerry Parr, who not only loved the film- he begged his father to take him to see it again and again- but the young fellow decided that when he grew up, he wanted to become a Secret Service agent- just like good ol' Brass Bancroft. Wonder of wonders, that is exactly what he did. What is far more extraordinary is that Jerry Page was head of the Presidential Security detail on the afternoon of March 30, 1981, and was standing next to President Reagan when John Hinckley shot the President. It was Agent Parr who shoved the President into the limosine, and ordered it to take the President directly to the hospital. That quick thinking almost certainly saved Reagan's life.
I think it is fair to say that the Agent's conduct that day was well above Parr.
For four years, Chad Henne was the starting quarterback for the University of Michigan Wolverines, the archrivals of my alma mater, the Ohio State Buckeyes. In those four years, the Bucks beat UM all four times, a scource of great rejoicing amongst Buckeye fans (and in the process, handled Mr. Henne very roughly indeed.) Earlier today, I am delighted to report that I *thoroughly* kicked Henne's derriere, or at least "Chad Henne 1011", the youtube name of a guy on a site who posted a list of nasty OSU insults, and asked to have more sent his way.
He *asked* for insults?!?! BAWAHAHAHAHA!!! So, I took a minute to send him the lyrics of all four verses the Dead Schembechlers' classic, "Chad Henne is a joke" You can view my comments on "Ohio State Sucks", or hear the Dead Schembechlers on "Chad Henne is a Joke" It is very, very funny, but be advised that the lyrics are VERY VERY raunchy. (Rated R- you *have* been warned)
(I'm sure that came as *really* bad news for Gary Glitter!)
Anyhow, imagine my momentary shock, surprise, and *horror* when I read recently that Michael Jackson had received a knighthood. Imagine my relief a few seconds later that the new Sir Michael, was *Lieutenant* *General* Michael Jackson, who had just retired after an outstanding career with the British Army. ooooohh...that's *different*! Never mind! (And Congratulations, General Jackson!)
For the benefit of non-football fans, Jim Brown was 6'2", weighted about 230, looked like high-grade steel come to life, and was *fast* on his feet. I've read many accounts of men who played against him. The concensus was that if you tried to tackle *that* guy, you grabbed 'hold, and fervently hoped that two, or three, or four, or *five* of your teammates showed up *real* fast. Contrary to what Brown's friend Richard Pryor once said in a comedy routine, there was never an incident of Jim Brown carrying ten guys on his back for 50 yards- but that tells you something about his reputation.
In addition to his atheletic gifts- which were *spectacular*- Jim Brown was also an astute student of psychology. One of his gambits was obvious to anyone who ever saw him play. *Every* time Brown got tackled, he'd...*very*...slowly...get....up...and...*very*...slowly...walk...back...to...the...huddle. The guys on the other team would be thinking "Well, we got him *that* time didn't we?" They couldn't be sure.
That was clever of him, but his *master* stroke was a psych job he pulled on his teammates, and the entire NFL, for *nine* years. Any man who makes a living as a professional athlete knows that it is essential to check out any possible injury, for fear it might get aggravated and develop into a career ending disaster- and perhaps a lifetime of pain. So, after both practices and games, Brown's Cleveland teammates ould form a line outside the trainer's office to get checked out. But *not* Jim Brown. He would pull off his uniform, take a shower, dress, and walk right past the trainer- and his *dumbfounded* teammates- and out the door, without a single word. Every practice, every game- exhibition, regular season, championship games, the ProBowl- same routine. For nine seasons. News of this habit of Brown's got around the NFL, as his teammates would tell anyone ho asked, that Jim Brown was not just the best running back in the league (as he certainly was), but as something Not of This Earth- the *Terminator* in *Shoulder* *Pads*.
It was not until Brown won election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, that he gave away his secret- he saw the trainer every day. At 6 o'clock in the morning, when nobody else was around. Shrewd move by Jim Brown.
One day back in 1984, while I as still on active duty, at Fort Meade, I visited the Vietnam ar Memorial on the National Mall. What immediately caught my eye was the sight of a black gentleman, dressed in the uniform of a full colonel of the US Air Force, kneeling down. I also noticed something very few people not in the service would have picked out- I noticed that the mass of ribbons over his left uniform breast pocket included the Purple Heart. He noticed my gaze and said, "I'm looking for my navigator. I got shot down and spent three years in the Hanoi Hilton."
I said, "Sir, you have paid some awfully dues for your country"
He said, quite cheerfully, "Yes, I'm one of the lucky of the unlucky, I guess." I didn't get the Colonel's name, but I've seen him on a History Channel special- and I certainly thought of him on Veteran's Day.
On that fateful afternoon of April 18, 1775, a grey haired gentleman in Massachusetts named Samuel Whittemore heard about the fighting at Lexington and Concord, so he got out his rifle. and his dueling pistols (note: I think it is a good idea *not* to mess with people who keep a set of dueling pistols), and a sabre, and took up a position close to the road to Boston. He was a former British officer who had served in the sieges of both Louisberg and Quebec, and then "went native", buying a farm and raising a family in America. At close range, Samuel Whittemore fired his rifle and both pistols, killing three British soldiers. He was trying to swing away with his sabre when a group of extremely irate redcoats set upon him, shot him in the face, beat him on the head with a rifle butt, and bayoneted him *thirteen* *times*. After the battle, the local doctor took one look at Whittemore's wounds, and declared that there was nothing he could do. Well, Samuel Whittemore had surprised the British, and he managed to *astonish* that doctor. He lived another 17 years ten months- he even got to shake hands with President George Washington, and to be realized as the oldest man to bear arms in the Revolutionary War. On April 19, 1775, Samuel Whittemore was just three months short of his 80th birthday.
In reading up on the Battles of the Lexington and Concord, I came across a coincidence that amazed me. I do not envy the lot of the British soldiers who got sent on that mission that day. Form up at 8pm, do a night march of 18 miles to Lexington, get in a skirmish, march another six miles to Concord, get in a *serious* firefight, and then start marching all the way back to Boston- with everybody and his second cousin sniping at you from behind stone walls. The only reason why they didn't get wiped out, was that early in the morning, the Colonel in chare of that 700 man unit sent a messenger back to Boston, requesting reinforcements. The Commander of that 1,400 man relief column was General Hugh Percy, later Duke of Northumberland. The Percy family goes *way* back in English history- to William the Conquerer. Percys are prominent in Shakespeare's histories, and one as executed by Elizabeth I. General Percy served for another two years in America, then returned to England (He disapproved of Lord North's war policies.) Hugh had a 23 years younger illegitimate half-brother, who unlike the rest of his family, stayed out of the military and politics, instead pursuing a carrer in science, achieving great deal of success as a chemist and mineralogist. By the time he died, heirless, in 1829, he had amassed quite a fortune. Although he'd never been to America, he left his entire estate to the United States government, asking that it be used to advance the study of science. Of course, James did not go by the name of Percy. His birthname was Smithson. And 180 years after his death, if you visit ashington D.C., you can visit the result of the bequest- the Smithsonian Institution.
There are a great many things I admire about Lord Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, not least the fact that he had a sense of humor. When he was the Captain of the HMS Kelly, one of his sailors, (legend has it that he was a Cockney named Jones) Jones decided that he did not want to participate in the Church of England services held on Royal Navy ships on Sunday morning, (I guess he wanted to sleep in) so he put down on his religious preference form "Jewish", and then, just to make assurance double sure, added "Atheist".
This came to Mountbatten's attention. Lord Louis figured that Jones was trying to pull a fast one, and he wasn't going to let that happen- so he called Jones on the carpet.
"Jones, I understand that you have stated on your religious preference form that you are a Jewish atheist. Is that correct?"
"Thas roight, Ahm a Jewish atheist"
"Jones, don't you realize that the Jewish people were the Light of Civilization whilst the entire population of Europe was painting themselves blue and running about naked in the forests? And now *you* have strayed from the faith of your forefathers! I am APPALLED! And for that reason, I have arranged that for the next twelve Saturdays you shall meet at 0700 with Royal Navy's senior Jewish chaplain for an intensive program of instruction in the Jewish religion. DISMISSED!"
The story continues, (I allow for a touch of the apocryphal here) that for the rest of the time Jones served on the Kelly, whenever Mountbatten saw him, he would say, "Ah, Jones! Shalom!"
Readers advisory- nothing nasty follows.
Once upon a time three rabbis- one Orthodox, one conservative, and one reformed, met, and the Orthodox rabbi said, "My friends, I have a problem. I have a son. I raise him to be a good Jewish boy: I read to him from the Torah, I take him to shabbot, I have him bar-mitzvahed...and what does he do? He goes out and becomes a *Christian*!"
The Conservative rabbi says, "That's amazing. I have a son, I raise him to be a good Jewish boy, I read to him from the Torah, I take him to shabbot, I have him bar-mitzvahed...and what does he do? He goes out and becomes a *Christian*!"
The Reform rabbi says, "Far out, dudes! I have a son. I raise him to be a good Jewish boy: I read to him from the Torah, I take him to shabbot, I have him bar-mitzvahed...and what does he do? He goes out and becomes a *Christian*!"
At this point the three gentlemen decide to pray for a Divine Answer. And to their surprise, the rosebush outside their study bursts into flame. So they call out to the burning bush, "Lord, what the answer?"
And a voice from the burning bush says "DON'T ASK ME- I GOT THE SAME PROBLEM!"
In other developments, Michigan has a new mascot, replacing the wolverine with the Pastry Chef. This is altogether fitting and proper, since every Saturday, they had out abig bunches of turnovers!
And finally, scUM has a new school song, replacing "Hail to the Victors" with "I'll be Home for Christmas"
One of the anomalies of American football is that while many footballers achieve great fame, some of the most important people on the field- the offensive linemen- are all but anonymous to all but the most devoted fan. One of the *very* exceptions to this rule, as the great offensive line of the Green Bay Packer teams of the 1960's. When John McCain as interrogated by the North Vietnamese, he named the members of the of that line as his squadron's pilots. In the movie, "Runaway Bride", Julia Roberts' character's third fiance, played by Chris Meloni, is a sports nut, who at one point asks Julia, "Who was that great right guard for the Packers, back in the 60's?" To which she replies, "Jerry Kramer". I thought to myself, dang, even "Pretty Woman" knows who Jerry Kramer was!
For the benefit of nonfootball fans, Jerry Kramer is a very nice, well spoken gentleman, who stands six foot three, and during his playing days weighted about two hundred sixty pounds (18 stone to our English friends; 120 kilos in metric). For a man that size, he was exceptional light on his feet, and apparently he had a pain threshold that I find mind boggling. (*Wimps* do NOT last long in the National Football League- Jerry Kramer played *eleven* *years*)
Right before the start of the 1967 season, Jerry Kramer had a really good idea. He decided to keep a journal of the season, and get it published. No Hollywood screenwriter could have possibly imagined. Green Bay made it to the NFL Championship game that year against the Dallas Cowboys. Since Green Bay had the best record, they had home field advantage. In Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin. In January.
I once read an account by Lance Rentzel, one of the Dallas Cowboys who played in that game. He related that the night before, he called time and temperature and got a recording "The temperature is 15 degrees. the wind is from the north at two miles an hour." He thought, it's cold, but no problem. The next morning, he called again, and heard, "The temperature is 15 degrees below zero. The wind is from the north at thirty miles an hour."
Later that day, the Cowboys and the Packers played what is still remembered as the epic Ice Bowl. With seconds left to go, Green Bay was behind, but had driven to the Dallas one yard line. On the final play, Jerry Kramer threw a crushing block on Dallas defensive tackle Jethro Pugh, enabling Gren Bay quarterback Bart Starr to sneak into the endzone for the winning touchdown. Jerry Kramer enjoyed some spectacular luck that day- the Ice Bowl was one of the first televised games to feature Instant Replay, so every football fan in America got to watch Jerry Kramer throw that key block over...and over...and over...and over...and over....and over...and over...and over again. Shortly afterward, he published his book, and entitled it "Instant Replay"
I read "Instant Reply" when it first came out, and recently looked throught it again. I was quite surprised at how well it stands up 40 years later. A couple of bits stand out: one was Kramer's description of the how he held out for an additional ten thousand dollars one season, and how the Packer's management completely raked him over the coals for *weeks* (today, an All-Pro lineman of Kramer's calibre would get a multiyear contract worth low eight figures.) The labor/management disputes from those days sound like something from the 1880s.
My favorite Jerry Kramer story was in his second book "Farewellto Football",which he wrote after he retired- at the ripe old age of thirty-two (that is *ancient* by American pro football standards). In one chapter he recounted all the injuries he'd suffered- broken fingers, broken ribs, a broken ankle,a couple of concussions, a detached retina...pretty standard stuff. The *worst* thing he ever faced came as the result of a childhood mishap. He'd been chasing a calf on his father's ranch, when the calf stepped on a board which flew up, and Kramer ran right into it, getting a really nasty splinter in his lower abdomen. Many years later that splinter shifted,caused complications- and Kramer's doctors told him that he probably had cancer and was going to die. Well, not quite- but he *did* have to get a colostomy. *Incredibly*,even thought it took him months of rehab, Kramer got himself back into shape, and showed up to defend his starting job at the Packer's summer training camp. After one day's practice, Kramer was taking a shower when he noticed that the guy next to him in the shower- a rookie- was staring slack-jawed at the gaping one inch-diameter hole just below Kramer's sternum. Jerry Kramer smiled and said with a straight face, "It's a tough league, kid."
There's an old story from the Soviet Union that one day Stalin announces that elephants are counterrevolutionaries and are to be shot as enemies of the people. Later that same day, a Soviet border guard sees about a million mice lined up outside his post.
"So what do you want?" He asks the first mouse in line.
"Exit visas" replies the mouse.
"Why do you want exit visas?"
"Because Stalin has ordered the execution of all the elephants in Russia."
"But you're not elephants, you're mice"
"Yeah? Just try telling that to the KGB!"
I know that in D. C. they think every plan must be a minimum of 800 pages. Usually accomplishing nothing. I have a bail out plan for the banks and auto makers. It takes about three sentences.
If your company takes any money from the bailout you and the top ten officers of your company must resign immediately without compensation. You must agree not accept a position with any company for a minimum of three years. You caused the problem therefore you are not going to be a part of the solution.
I can almost guarantee you that very few companies would be grabbing our money with these conditions. Semper Fi, Mark
Time flies, and they grow up SO fast. That adorable little kidster is now in college, and recently hit the midway point between six feet and seven. (Having some familiarity with his Mom's cooking, I'm not at all surprised he reached six foot six, and I won't be the least bit surprised if he doesn't pick up a few *more* inches.) I kid his parents that on the first day of classes K through 12 he no doubt brought all the new kids in school home for cookies. (I mean, if you're a new kid, and you see a guy *that* huge, if you make friends with him, who is gonna mess with you?) He's smart, well-mannered, and kind-hearted (he takes after *both* his parents) and very good looking (he takes after his mom :). I look forward to seeing him again; I just hope he doesn't feel the need to bounce me on *his* knee. I can heard his mom now: "Bryant, put Uncle Kent down!"
I'm glad I've know him, partially because I now have an *entirely* different association with November 22nd than I did for the 26 years before he arrived. On November 22nd, 1963, a fellow 3rd grader named Greg Sopp told me that President Kennedy had been shot. I ignored him. A few minutes later, they let us out of school, and I ran home just as fast as my eight year old legs could carry me, because I as absolutely certain that World War III had begun, and Russian missiles were flying toward Columbus, Ohio. When I got home, and my mother gave me the bad news from Dallas, for about a second, I felt profound relief. President Kennedy was dead, but I wasn't going to die that day. This is still a dangerous world, but as least today's gradeschoolers don't have to deal with that kind of fear.
I once had a client named Phillip Goldslager. I thought of him as a kid, because as a small guy with a baby-face, but he was about thirty. The first time I met him he was in Orient Correctional Center doing time on a cocaine possession charge. Before he was sentenced on that charge however, he had managed to pick up a theft charge. He had (or at least the state accused him, of stealing a guy's bag of golf clubs and fencing them. On top of that, apparently the victim had left his *wedding* *ring* in the golf bag. The golf bag was recovered, but the wedding ring was not. (Did I mention that the victim as NOT in a forgive and forget mood?) I went over the case with him (they had him dead to rights) and told him that it was his call- if he wanted to take it to trial, we'd go to trial, or I could try to get him the best plea bargain possible. He was OK with a plea bargain. Before I left, I told him, "Phil, I think I can get you probation, but you better stay away from that cocaine, because that s*** can *kill* you."
I talked with the DA, yep, they were OK with him getting probation, so I went back down to Orient to give him the good news.I said, "Ok, you're getting out in a week, we'll have your plea hearing a week after that. But remember, Phil, you better stay away from that cocaine, because that s*** can kill you."
The day after his release date, I called his mother and asked to talk ith Phil. She said, sorry, no, Phil is dead. Phil had died of a cocaine overdose the day after he was released from prison. She was nice enough to tell me that her son had told her good things about me. (That's a nice change from being called everything but a Precious Child of God- which has happened more times than I can count)
I think Johnny Cash had the right idea when he rote "The Cocaine Blues" (written from the point of view of an inmate serving a 99 year sentence in San Quentin) "Lay off that whiskey, and let that cocaine be!"
Barry Morris Goldwater served thirty years in the United States Senate and was the Republican nominee for President in 1964. People with a solid knowledge of history and a sense of irony will tell you that it is a good thing that he lost in a landslide- otherwise, the United States would have become involved in a war in Viet Nam.
His vice-president running mate that year was Congressman William Miller of New York. His son, William Miller Jr. was a classmate of mine (2 years behind me) at Notre Dame Law School, and my upstairs neighbor. (And yes, his sister Stephanie Miller is a left-wing radio personality.)
Senator Goldater accomplished a great deal in his life (He was one of the founders of the Air National Guard, and retired as a Major General) He also managed to keep a sense of humor. Goldwater's father as born Jewish, but became an Episcopalian when he married. (So Senator Goldwater was Episcopalian, but he was eligible for Israeli citizenship, and would have been in a world of hurt if the Nazis had won WWII- almost all his cousins died in the Holacaust.) One time a friend took Goldwater golfing at a 'restricted' club (this as *many* years ago) so Goldater asked the manager, "I'm only half-Jewish. Is it OK if I play nine holes?"
Saturday, November 15, 2008
2. white, and
Professor Sagan opined that the universe would probably have a great deal more diversity in that regard. He further pointed out that at the end of the film:
Han Solo got a medal
Luke Skywalker got a medal
R2D2 got a medal
C3P0 got a medal
but *Chewbacca*, the *Wookie*, did NOT get a medal.
Now that Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca, has now become an American citizen, it seems the *least* we can do is to have Carrie Fisher put on her Princess Leia outfit one more time, climb up on a stepladder (Mr. Mayhew is 7'3") and give Chewbacca his medal.
It is totally unacceptable to discriminate against someone- just because of the color of his fur!
Friday, October 24, 2008
One of the oldest Hollywood legends is that Lana Turner was 'discovered' at Schwab's Drugstore soda fountain. That legend must've been very popular with the Schwabs management- since it might attract business from 'discoveree' wannabes, as well as people who appreciate Lana Turner wannabes.
I remembered that story a hile back when I read that when Charlize Theron first arrived in Hollywood, she went to a local bank, and tried to cash an out of state check- which the management refused to do. Ms. Theron proceeded to pitch a *major* conniption fit- until a man approched her, and informed her that she was an agent. And wonder of wonders, he actually was- and the rest is history.
Ms. Theron is an extraordinarily beautiful woman with a great deal of talent, and apparently just about everyone seems to like her- except I suppose, the tellers at that bank, who, by this time, are probably *heartily* sick of Charlize Theron wannabes who go ballistic when they can't get cash for an out of state check.
During my short stay in Bowling Green, I unsuccessfully searched for a bowling alley- so I did not get a chance to fulfill an ambition I'd had since my days in Boy Scouts, many, many years before:
'Let's go bowling in Bowling Green
in Bowling Green, in Bowling Green
Let's go bowling in Bowling Green
with a green bowling ball!'
I'm glad I have some familiarity with English/English venacular (as opposed to American/English). That way, I get to say that Gloria Steinem is a complete and utter TWIT, instead of some other vowel to fill in tw*t.
I recently read an account by Senator James Webb, that he and Steinem were both attending the same seminar on Sept. 11, 2001. Webb states that upon heaing of the attacks, he said that the United States needed to do whatever was necessary to find those responsible and eliminate them. Webb reports that Steinem then said to him, as if speaking to a small child, 'When did violence accomplish anything?'
OK, that settles it: Gloria Steinem is a complete ignoramous as far as power politics is concerned.
1. Why is the United States an independent country?
2. Why is Florida US territory?
3. Why is California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, and Utah part of the United States?
4. Why is America one country, not two?
5. What eliminated slavery from the United States?
6. Why are Guam and Puerto Rico US territories?
7. Why is the Hollenzollern family no longer the reigning as the Royal Family of Germany?
8. How did we get rid of Hitler?
9. Why is South Korea an independent country?
Mark Twain once said, 'It isn't ignorance that's dangerous- it is people who know things that just ain't so' By that standard, Gloria Steinem is VERY dangerous. What strikes me as especially INEXCUSEABLE about that comment is that she comes from a Jewish family. OK, Biblical scholars,
1. How did the Israelites make it out of Eygpt. Passover- Angel of Death-Red Sea- Pharoah's Army?
2. How did David get to be King of Israel?
3. What's Purim?
4. What happened during Channukah?
5. How has Israel managed to survive the last 60 years?
Am I running up the score here? Gentle Readers, do you now understand why I can't take GS seriously?
As egregious as that was, I thought her conduct in defending Bill Clinton was a whole lot worse. There is an old legal maxim that all good dogs are entitled to *one* bite. If, however, your dog bites a second time, then you've got a problem. According to Ms. Steinem, every boss is entitled to one grope. She wrote a column in the New York Times stating that Clinton's alleged conduct towards Kathleen Wiley was -grabbing her hand and placing it on his crotch- was *not* sexual harassment- as long as he desisted as soon as she objected. Paula Jones? *Same* *thing*. No, I'm NOT making this up. If an employer, (A Governor of Arkansas) calls a state employee into a hotel room, drops trou, weinee-wags in her face and demands that she fellate him, no, that is NOT sexual harrassment- according to Gloria Steinem.
I am SO glad she cleared that up. By GSs standards, if Bill Clinton took the precaution of taping Juanita Brodderrick's mouth shut before raping her, well, that would not be sexual harrassment.
It's too bad that Ted Bundy was a one-time Young Republican. If he'd been a democrat, is there any question but that GS would have defended his conduct? (Let's see here, blungeoning women unconscious, murdering them and then practicing necrophilia, well, they did not *object* so that can't be sexual harassment) Thank you, Gloria Steinem!
He was a big atheletic 13 year old kid when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. A few months past his 14th birthday, he lied about his age, and joined the United States Marines. It took the Marines a while to wise up to his deception- they were about to send him home, but he said, 'If you do, I'll just join the Army' So, they put him to work driving a truck in Hawaii for the next few years. They one day he *stowed*away* on a Navy transport. He turned himself in to avoid being classified as a deserter- and volunteered to join in the battle the Marine unit onboard as about to fight. The Marine officers on the transport did not know his age- he had turned 17 a few days before, so, liking his attitude, they let him. Feb. 19, 1945, he and 75,000 other Marines went ashore on a little piece of hell called Iwo Jima.
A couple of days later, he was sharing a slit trench with some other Marines when *two* Japanese grenades landed in the trench. Lucas threw himself on top of the grenades. He then caught a bit of a break. One of the grenades was a dud. The other was not. The explosion left 250 shrapnel fragments in his body, and his buddies left him for dead. Amazingly, he was still alive- although his injuries required surgery 26 different times. Jack Lucas lived to be tyhe youngest Medal of Honor winner in the history of the United States Marine Corps. After receiving the Medal of Honor from President Truman, Lucas went back to high school, to finish his senior year. (I wonder if, on the first day of class, his teacher asked him to write an essay on 'What I Did on My Summer Vacation'?)
I would have thought that that would have been enough excitement for one lifetime- but no. Jack Lucas decided that he wanted to overcome his fear of heights- so he joined the Army, and volunteered to become a paratrooper. One day, as he put it, 'He was the last guy out the plane, but the first to reach the ground'. Both his parachutes failed. Jack Lucas survived the fall. (I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall, when he had a talk with the parachute riggers: 'I wish to make a complaint...')
Jack Lucas died this past summer at the age of 80. If he were still around I think I'd ask him to pick out a lottery ticket number for me.
While Iraq is definitely a hot button issue, everybody chill out for a minute. Here are the monthly totals of American military dead in Iraq. Draw your own conclusions:
A few days ago, my dear ol' 88 year old Dad was opining about Iraq (he knows everything about everything, because he reads the New York Times. He can access all the latest information about Manhatten, but couldn't tell you what movies are playing a two miles away). I said, 'Dad, have you talked to anybody who has *served* there?' Well, no, actually. Whenever I see someone in uniform (usually down at the Franklin County Courthouse) I ask them if they've been to Iraq, and what their outlook on the situation is. (It is very easy to determine who has been there- soldiers who have served in a combat zone wear a unit patch on their RIGHT shoulder). I'd encourage everyone who wants to know what is going on, to do the same- and draw your own conclusions.
Anyhow, a few days later, Bruce and I shared a cab ride back to my Dad's house, before Bruce was drive back to Athens, Ohio, here he lives. I, momentarily having the totally misguided idea that we could act like brothers, I put my hand on Bruce's shoulder- and he swatted it away *hard*. And, like an *idiot*, I said 'hey, Bruce, what's the matter?' and tried again- and he swatted my hand again- *hard*. Needless to say, if I live another 24 years I will *never* make that mistake again.
Much, much later, I asked my father what the hell had that been about, and Dad said, 'Well, Bruce told me that on the ride back from the airport you were talking with driver' At this point my father harrumphs and adds, 'That doesn't strike me as a particularly good use of time'Uh-huh. Thanks, Dad. Whereas you'd condemn Hindus for regarding some people as 'untouchables', that's just your attitude towards anybody without a college degree.
Ironically enough, I actually remember the conversation. I was in my Navy uniform, and the cabbie was a Navy vet, so we did a little bit of the, 'You're Navy too? What ship were you on? What's your rate? Where were you? Persian Gulf? No kiddin'?' That sort of thing. Of course, for Bruce Albert Mitchell, the very *thought* that anyone of *his* station should be subjected to listening to the words of someone in the *service*- well, I *never*!
It is ironic that as a defense attorney, I have to have civil conversations with some *extremely* unsavory characters, some other people who have *severe* mental problems- and some with both. I'd also like to say that I am good friends with several people I met while I was in the service, and I regard them as the salt of the earth.
I've seen Bruce twice in the past ten years. I wish I'd seen him less, I regret that I ever met him, and the next time I see him, I hope it will be at his funeral, which I look forward to attending, only to make absolutely *certain* that that s**t is actually dead. No, I'm NOT joking.Kent
However, I think there is a lesson to be dran from that 'artist' Recently, he posed as on a magazine cover- as Christ on the Cross. I guess he be keepin' it real, showin' what an oppressed genius he be, jes anudder Opressed milyunaire in AmeriKa. Uh-huh. When I saw that, I said to myself, well, no matter- it's not like my opinion of him could *get* any lower. Then I thought- why doesn't he do something similiar, mocking muhammed. I'll *tell* you why: because if he did, there is a very real possibility that some irate muslim would KILL his totally untalented ass, that's why!
I think I see a pattern here: many years ago, Martin Scorsese made a film called 'The Last Temptation of Christ', in which I understand, the thought occurs to Jesus, hmmm...it might be nice to marry Mary Magdalen and have a family. I have not seen the film, so I can't comment on how Scorsese handled that. Some Christians got riled and picketed movie theatres. Hoever, nobody killed Martin Scorsese.The same year, Anthony Quinn made a film called 'Muhammed, Messenger of God'. I've seen it, and it is a very favorable treatment of Muhammed and the beginnings of Islam. The film never shows Muhammed- we see his camel, his sword, and other actors address Muhammed while facing the camera- as per sharia law- no depicting the Phrophet. Well, a group of Muslims took hostages and killed a couple of people, demanding that the film be destroyed.
OK, that's my bottom line- there are some fundementalist Christians I do not care for at all- but they don't go around killing people- and I'm familiar with some fundementalist muslims who do!
Thirty-seven years after his death, Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller remains a legend in the United States Marine Corps. He won the Navy Cross five times, an achievement no other Marine has ever matched. I never met General Puller, but I once met a man who knew him, and I'll never forget the experience. Back in 1992, I was going through a rough patch, and to make ends meet, I spent some weekends walking door to door, circulating petitions. I stopped at one house where I noticed that the car in the driveway had a bumpersticker that read, 'US Marine First Division 50th Reunion 1942-1992' I thought, holy cow! The guy who answered the door as a greyhaired old guy. After getting his signature, I asked him, 'Sir, did you ever meet Chesty Puller?'
He said, 'All the time. I worked at Division headquarters.'
I said, in the most respectful, serious way I possibly could, 'Sir, was that guy *half* as tough as they say he was?'
He looked me square in the eye, and said, '*Tougher*'
I recently got a lesson in the value of a liberal education. Ohio State's theatre department put on a production of Trojan Women 2.0. Euripides wrote it in 415B.C. It tells the story of the fate of the women of the city of Troy after the Greeeks utterly destroyed that city at the end of the Trojan War. Over 24 centuries later, it is *heartbreaking* to watch. Hecuba was the Queen of Troy, but she's lived to see her husband and all her sons killed- and all her daughters raffled off as the spoils of war to the victorious Greeks. Andromache, widow of Hector, Troy's greatest warrior, is to be the trophy of the son of Achilles- the man who killed her husband. And, oh, yes, Andromache- ah, about you infant son- he could lead a Trojan revival, so say goodbye, because the Greeks are going to throw him off the walls of Troy.
The story that relatively few people would know is that Euripides wrote that play as a protest of the Athenian conduct of the Peloppenesian War. Just the year before, Athens had sent an expedition to a previously neutral island city/state of Melos, and told the Melians to either join the Athenian alliance (Translation: turn over the key to the city treasury to the Athenians or face a terrible fate.)
A few memorable quotes: after the Melians said that they would appeal to the gods for help, the Athenian reply was 'We have as much right to expect Divine Favor as you. Of men we know, and of the gods we believe, one rules wherever one can.' The other quote that stays with me is 'The strong do what they will; the weak endure what they must' (That was true centuries before Athens was founded, and I don't see that changing the next two and half millenia)
Melos refused the Athenian ultimatum and the city fell to the Athenian siege. Now remember, the Melians spoke the same language as the Athenians and worshipped the same gods.So what happened after they surrendered? All males past puberty were killed; the women and children were sold into slavery. As I watched Trojan Women, it occurred to me that went that play debuted, there were no doubt men in the audience who had killed Melian men, and who had bought or sold Melian women and children as slaves. Mindboggling.
I think General Sherman was on to something when he said, 'War is hell.'
PS A shoutout to my EXCELLENT history Professor Williamson Murray who introduced me to Thucydides and the Melian dialogue. Many thanks, Professor.
Anyone who was paying attention during history class knows that General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox to end the Civil War in April 1865. OK, which family owned slaves. Oh, irony, irony, irony! Robert E. Lee's father-in-la was a very wealthy man who owned a great many slaves, who by the provisions of his will (he died in 1858) ere to be manumitted in 5 years. So, ironically enough, Lee's slaves were freed on New Year's Day 1863- the same day the Emancipation Proclamation was due to take effect. (If not for the will's provisions, they would have had to have waited until the Union Army got to them.)
General Grant's in-laws owned many slaves in Missouri, who did not gain their freedom until the end of 1865. The General's wife owned one slave as a maid- so at the time of Appomattox, the Confederacy's General, a non-slave owner, surrendered to the Union General whose wife still owned a slave.
During my research, I came across one other interesting bit of trivia: in the late 1850s, through his in-laws Ulysses Grant owned one slave, a man named William Jones. At that point in his life, the Grants were in *extremely* bad shape financially; selling jones would have brought in some *badly* needed cash. Grant simply set Jones free.Kent
Of course, OJ being sent away for the rest of his life ruins his plan to get married again. Yep, he was going to take another stab at it. And I'm sure his family will miss him at Thanksgiving. He won't be there to carve up de white meat.
Way back in December, 1975, I went shopping with my then-gal pal, Donna Larimer. (I have made plenty of mistakes in my life; refraining from marrying her was not one of them) We stopped by one store's jewelry counter, and I noticed that the woman behind the counter happened to be an extraordinarily tall lady. I'm slightly under 6'3', and this gal was way taller than I was, maybe 6'6' or something like that. Anyhow, as Donna walked around the jewelry counter (probably looking for the wedding band she wanted me to get for her), she came to the spot where sales people would step through to get behind the counter, looked down, did a doubletake, and gasped, 'You're not standing on top of anything!' No, indeed she wasn't.
I think I said something nice like, gee, it must be nice to be universally admired, I mean, just about everybody looks up to you, ma'am. (I did get her to smile) Anyhow, the three of us had a nice chat for a few minutes. And then Donna and I shopped and shopped and shopped and shopped, and finally Donna says, 'Gee, what do we do now?' And I said, 'Well, we could go back and chat with Ms. Leg' For about the next minute, I caught hell. As in WHO did I think I was, and WHY did I have to act like such a jerk, and HOW could I be so insensitive, and WHAT was I thinking of, and WHERE do I get off saying something like that, and WHEN was I going to get some manners...et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. When Donna stopped long enough for me to get a word in edgewises, I said, 'Donna, did happen to notice that that lady was wearing a nametag?' 'No' 'Well, she was. And guess what her nametag said?' Yep, it was Ms. Leg. (Actually I think it was with two 'G's.)
A PS regarding Liz Pederson:
What color to you have to be, to become a Christian Scientist? Any color at all. So if I say (as I quite emphatically do) that Christian Science is rubbish (I once dated a Christian Scientist who, upon finding a lump on her breast, she would read 'Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures' until it went away. I disagreed. Very strenuously. I prevailed. It was benign. We broke up. Years later she managed to get some idiot to marry her. They had a kid. Kid got a high fever. She read SHWKTS until the kid was brain damaged.) Does saying that CS is rubbish make me a racist? Hell, no!
What color do you have to be a Mormon? Any color at all. (In 1978, the head of LDS church had a Divine Revalation that blacks could be full members of the Church.) If I say that the Book of Mormon completely fails the giggle test (I've read it cover to cover- all the Mormons I've ever met are decent people, but how they take that book seriously is completely beyond me), does that mean I'm a racist? No, it doesn't.
What color do you have to be to become Catholic? Any color at all. If I say that for ten centuries Catholics have bred themselves for stupidity and that The Church will not live down the conduct of pedophile priests in Bush Alaska (and elsewhere) in this century or in the next, or that the failure of Pius XII to show even a shred of physical courage in the face of the Nazis makes me doubt that ANYONE in Christendom takes seriously the idea of Eternal Life, and that Henry VIII had the EXACTLY the right idea about how to tax Church property- does that make me a racist? No, it doesn't.
What color do you have to be to become a muslim? Any color at all. If I can that muslim suicide bombers apparent ability to seriously believe in an Eternal Afterlife means I find them a HUNDRED times scarier than Catholic, and woebetide EVERY country in Western Europe if they don't take drastic action on immigration REAL SOON (i.e., Forceable Repatriation) cuz the most common name for newborn baby boys in Belgium and in Britian is now MUHAMMED- does that make me a racist? No, it doesn't.
However, when I made the points listed in the paragraph above, guess what LP called me. Since she is gay, I shall always regret that I did not say, look, Liz, that is both very insulting and very false. So don't call me a racist, and *I* won't call you a *cocksucker*.
A friend of mine with a primarily blue-state outlook, has told me that her red-state coworkers sometimes annoy her immensely, partly because of their inability to ever acknowledge the possibility that anyone could possibly hold an opposing point of view. V., I totally feel your pain. With colors reversed, that is exactly the situation I went through for five years in Bethel. For example, I can understand that people find Texas' record on capital punishment in general, and George W. Bush's actions while Governor deeply troubling...especially the case of Karla Fay Tucker. (Every bit as horrific as Bill Clinton's treatment of Rickey Ray Rector).
Incidentally, if you believe that as a born-again Christian Karla Fay Tucker was destined to spend eternity in Heaven after death (I quite emphatically do NOT), wasn't W. doing her a huge favor by approving her execution? I mean, really, where would you rather spend 30 years or so- Heaven or a Texas prison? OK, in six years as Governor, W. signed off on 152 executions...that's 25 a year. Texas' population is a bit over 20 million. OK, so George W. Bush's Texas was hell on earth. So, what would you call a place with a per capita rate of executions ten or twenty or a hundred times higher? Pop quiz: who was it who said, 'All that we need to execute a man is to show that it is necessary to execute him. It is that simple.'? Hint: it was not George W. Bush. Well, actually, it was 'Che' Guevera. In 1960, Cuba had a population of about 6.5 million. In 1963, after 4 years of communist rule, the Cuban government announced that they executed 2,875 people after trial, and 4,245 without trial. By my math, the a Cuban had more than a hundred times better chance of being executed by Castro's government than a Texan had of being executed by George W. Bush's.
If you're wondering why I bothered doing those calculations, it's because a coworker in Bethel, my one-time boss, John Cashion, had a poster from a coffeeshop on his wall- that contained an exerpt from Castro's eulogy for Che Guevara. Hmmm...why didn't he have one of Lawrencia Beria too?
Next story: back in '04, we got a new attorney named Liz Pederson, who happens to be gay (that's neither here nor there). First day, a group of us have lunch. The subject of Iraq comes up. Things rapidly get heated. Using my amazing powers of diplomacy, I think, I know what I'll do- I'll change the subject. Let's talk about dogs instead. I'd just read an article about American soldiers adopting Iraqi dogs (since Arabs regard dogs as 'unclean', some of those pooches have enjoyed a dramatic improvement in their standard of living). So I say, 'You know, American soldiers have always been kind to dogs...' And Liz Pederson interrupts and says, 'Oh YEAH! They kill CHILDREN, but they're kind to dogs!' Four years later, I still regret that I did not break a chair over her head. And say, 'Gee, Liz, if any American soldier killed a child, it must have been that those soldiers were gay...because everybody knows gays kill children. I mean you've heard of John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Wayne Williams, and the original Bluebeard. All gay, all killed children.'
In case any slow learners are reading this, if I had made that statement, I would have been being horribly unfair- every bit as horribly unfair as Liz Pederson slandering every person who has ever worn an American uniform. (That November, I refrained from asking her why she was supporting a Child Killer for President...or maybe she only slurred American soldiers and not sailors.) Pop Quiz: Since I was in the Navy, announcing that you're gay gets you a honorable discharge; you're not getting back in. Does anybody want to guess what the Navy's policy on homosexual conduct as back during WWII? Anybody what to guess?
About a week after that lunch incident, I overheard Liz comment that someone she knew was in Iraq, and the general effect of her words that he and his buddies probably were enjoying themselves, because that way they could do all the drugs they wanted to. I managed to check my initial urge to break a chair over her head, and instead said, in as calm and level a voice as I could manage, 'Uh, Liz, you are off by one hundred eighty degrees.' (I think that is a very diplomatic way of saying 'YOU ARE COMPLETELY WRONG')
I kept my cool, and told her that in the mid70s, drugs were a TERRIBLE problem- there was a plane crash on a carrier that killed something like 20 crewmen- autopsies showed that more than half of them had cannabis in their system. When I as in Language School at Monterey '80-'81 we were having a bunch of people getting busted for pot. In 1983 the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Heywood came out with a really strict program of testing, and the percentage of pot users declined further. By the time I was teaching onboard US Navy ships with the Program for Afloat College Education '88-'90 and '93-'95, drug tests were so common that the chance of getting away with using pot was just about nil- one strike and you're out the door. If even *one* man in a four hundred man crew tested positive, it was an unwelcome surprise. (This is where obnovxious left wingers are totally schizophrenic. They make really bad jokes about service people using drugs. 30-plus years ago, those jibes had foundation, but when you point out that drug use is now certain to bring an other-than-honorable discharge, and maybe some brig time, they get all weepy for the poor druggie. No sympathy from me at all. And they won't get any from the rank and file either.) I managed to get along tolerably with Liz, making allowance for the fact that a racist, sexist, homophobic, fascist is anyone who disagrees with her.
I am vehemently opposed to Affirmative Action. And 'Doctor' Patrick Chavis is one of many reasons. Back in the early 70s, the University of California Medical School had a quota of 16 seats reserved for minority applicants. A man named Allan Bakke sued the Medical School over that policy, and in 1978, the US Supreme Court ruled in his favor. However, the Court ruled, in a splintered opinion, that schools can consider race in admissions. (Translation: being black counts for a FULL LETTER GRADE- see the Supreme Court decision on the University of Michigan's law school admissions policy.) Of course, if you mention this fact, lefties will scream 'racist' as you until they're blue in the face.
One of the 16 applicants admitted instead of Alan Bakke was a man named Patrick Chavis. His grades and test scores were FAR lower than Bakke's but his skin was the right color, so he got in. Needless to say, he was a left-wing icon. Senator Edward Kennedy made a speech praising him. The New York Times Magazine section did a ten-page puff piece on him in 1995, even putting him on the COVER. I well remember that the concluding paragraph, the snarky comment that Dr. Allan Bakke, 'had not exactly set the world on fire' as a physician. Of course, I would be willing to bet that Alan Bakke has never been sued for malpractice. If he had, is there any doubt that the NYT would have put that news on the front page for a week running? Ah, but Patrick Chavis...well, he did not set the world on fire, but he did get sued for malpractice TWENTY-ONE TIMES. He once signed up for a seminar on doing liposuction, and (a subsequent investigation showed) only attended two of the three days of classes. Two years after the New York Times magazine put him of the cover, the California Medical Board suspended Chavis' license, finding that he'd been guilty of 94 different counts of malpractice, including killing a patient named Tammaria Cotton in a botched liposuction. 'Dr.' Chavis was murdered in 2002; the case is still unsolved. Strangely enough, neither Ted Kennedy nor the New York Times had any comment on Chavis' license suspension.
As many of you know, I'm quite fond of Can-You-Top-This stories from history. That being said, I think it would be difficult to top the too strange to be believed but not too strange to be believed story of Robert Max Widerman. Back in 1942, 16-year-old Robert was in a VERY bad situation: he and a dozen other members of his family- all French Jews- were on a train to Buchenwald. He was destined to be the only survivor. Only after the war, when he came home with a blue A5714 tattooed on the inside of his left forearm, did he learn that a few of his 13 siblings had survived. Despite all that he'd suffered, he went back to what he'd done before the war: singing and acting, and managed to achieve considerable success. He learned English, made it to America, and married Eddie Cantor's daughter. And he changed his name to Robert Clary. The irony about Mr. Clary's career that simply beggars the imagination is that his greatest professional success was playing 'Corporal Louie LeBeau'- a prisoner in a German POW camp in the television comedy Hogan's Heroes. Mr. Clary is still with us; he turned 82 last March.
Just a few days ago, I as working with my collaborator, Kenneth Nichols, on the screenplay I've been futzing around with for a couple of years now. One of my plot devices is that a small of Marines, having come upon a small girl who is one of few survivors of an ethnic clensing massacre, and not knowing her name, one guy says, 'I got it. Let's call her Anne Frank'.
To which the Team Leader says, 'Freakin' A!'
I know I will never forget the name Anne Frank.
And after what I read earlier today, I know I will NEVER forget the name Antoinette Frank. Just wondering: am I the only person who enjoyed watching the police drama, Homicide: Life on the Street? Does anybody remember the episode "The Saigon Rose"? Well, knock me over with a feather- that episode as, in very large part, based on an actual incident that happened in New Orleans.
As I pointed out in an earlier posting, I am VEHEMENTLY OPPOSED to Affirmative Action. If somebody can do the job, fine;they should get it regardless of race, creed, national origin, or sexual orientation, etc, etc. Most affirmative action advocates will NEVER admit, that lowering standards for a favored groups has a price tag...witness Antoinette Frank.
It seems that the New Orleans Police Department got the word on 'diversity, diversity, diversity' from the Feds. So, back in 1994, when Antoinette Frank, a black woman applied to be a New Orleans cop, she was in. Never mind she lied on her application about her psychological problems and family history...and got caught in those lies. A twofer is a twofer. A bit more than a year after joining the force, she was on trial for committing an armed robbery and a triple murder--WHILE ON DUTY. One of the people killed was her partner...who was moonlighting as a security guard at the resteraunt Frank and her boyfriend chose to rob. Frank has spent the past 14 years on Louisiana's Death Row.
Just wondering: until reading this, had ANYBODY heard that story? This is the sort of thing the mainstream media does NOT like to cover.