Category Archives: Book reviews

“The intelligent Southerner … you seldom meet…”

Atticus Finch: A quintessential “intelligent Southerner” – of a type now Gone with the Wind?

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1651350My last post – An early post-mortem – started with a note about my brother and I just finishing a four-day, 115-mile canoe trip down the Missouri River. (From Sioux City to Omaha, on July 12.)

But then I went on to take a look at “this time last year.” As a result of that, I did a combination-post using three draft projects I started a year ago. (“This time last year.”) That is, I combined those three draft-posts into Early post-mortem, to make one long post on those long-forgotten projects. (Plus the canoe “early post-mortem.”) Those three draft posts were on: 1) Gerrymandering, 2) humor as a weapon, and 3) – briefly – an ongoing book-project I’m working on, “My Adventures In Old Age.”

And why did I do that? Mainly because a “full postmortem account” of the canoe trip would “take time, and I’m long overdue to submit a new blog-post.” So here’s another delay in doing that full post-mortem.. But as it turns out, this project led to a “foreshadowing” post that I did about an earlier canoe-trip adventure…

To explain, once I got back home I started re-reading American Home Front: 1941-1942. In doing so I found a great quote for these challenging times. I’ll get to that quote later, but first want to note that two years ago I also started a review-post of the Home Front book. And in reviewing it I found some notes relating to my recent canoe-trip. Plus some good historical tidbits.

I wrote this first rough-draft paragraph for that review-post back in September, 2018:

For my recent long drive up to Canada – for my “Rideau Adventure” – I borrowed a book-on-CD from the local library: The American Home Front: 1941-1942, by Alistair Cooke(Most people “of a certain age” know Cooke for his America: A Personal History of the United States. I have both the book and DVD version of the 13-part BBC documentary television series first broadcast in 1972.)

And today, aside from having both the book and DVD version of Cooke’s “Americadocu-series, I now have the book version of his American Home Front. (Published in 2006, two years after his death.) And as noted, I started re-reading it again, once I got back from my latest canoe trip. In doing I found the following particularly relevant passage. It’s particularly relevant to me anyway, and I suspect to other people as well. People who may wonder “where did that guy go?”

The intelligent Southerner gives an impression you seldom meet elsewhere in America of having his own standards and of respecting you as a mature stranger while he keeps his own reserve.

“Intelligent Southerner?” “Respecting you as a mature stranger?” “Keeps his own reserve?”

Those phrases don’t come readily to mind today, whether after a session on Facebook or viewing a host of bumper stickers with sentiments like “Liberalism Is A Mental Disorder.” (To which you might reply, at least rhetorically, “Of course the only thing worse is a grumpy, bloated old white man threatened by change in the world.”) Which brings up Cooke’s comparison of that intelligent Southerner to most of the civilians he found around Louisville, the nearest big party town to Fort Knox – illustrated above right* – in March, 1942.

Cooke compared his intelligent Southerner (now mythical?) to the swarms of young people he saw as civilians in Louisville. And to the swarms of soldiers around town, from nearby Fort Knox. He said the civilian high-school boys he saw were “gawky and lifeless,” while the faces of their female companions were “innocent of any flicker of intelligence.” But to his credit, Cooke admitted – of this American town – that this was “an atmosphere that  no European need feel strange in. For it is the seeping seediness of English provincial towns.”

And just as an aside, it seems to this Old White Man – old but not grumpy – that way too many Americans these days have chosen that “seeping seediness.” But as for me and my house – or at least for me – “I will choose the way of the Intelligent Southerner.” Or try to anyway.

Nope, this “Georgia Wasp” still gets a kick out of life. And from now on I’ll cling to my own standards, while at the same time keeping my own reserve, and also trying to respect other all Americans as mature strangers. That’s going to be the hard part…

But getting back to my “Rideau Adventure.” Here’s a quote from the notes:

Another note: For the next canoe trip I’m getting a bigger tent and a cot. (No more sleeping on the ground for me.) But that trip won’t happen until at least 2020, as next summer my brother, his wife and I plan to hike the Portuguese Camino

Which turned out to be right on point. The next canoe trip did happen in 2020, and it happened despite the fact that I fully intended – this summer of 2020 – to either join my brother and his wife on another Camino hike in Spain. Or – if that didn’t happen – to fly back to Israel to Walk the Jesus Trail. Of course neither overseas flight-plus-adventure happened this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But who could have seen that coming, back in 2018?

Which brings up an email exchange shortly before we both left home to meet up in South Sioux City. (My brother from Utah, me from the ATL.) He reminded me of things I needed to bring, including a tent. He then added, “There would also be room for a folding cot…”

I wrote back: “A folding cot would be nice, but I only have that small two-person tent. Of course I could get a bigger tent, what with my stimulus check and all, but I’m wondering how many more canoe trips we’ll be doing. (Cost-benefit-wise.)” He answered, “I too wonder about how many more canoe trips. But I would imagine we’d be able to canoe great distances longer (age-wise) than walk great distances. The question is, is the interest still there.”

Just for the record: First, that was a good point about being able to canoe great distances longer than walking great distances. (At our age.) And second, the interest is definitely still there. That combination of Coleman Trailhead II Camping Cot and Ozark Trail 6 Person Dome Camping Tent made all the difference in the world. (Measuring 8-by-12 feet, instead my old 7-by-7 feet “two person” tent.*) That larger tent came in very handy on Saturday night, July 11. That was the night after my brother’s tent got destroyed by an 80-mile-an-hour windstorm…

But more on that in a later post!

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This gives some idea what happened at 1:10 a.m., early July 11…

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The upper image is courtesy of Atticus Finch – Image Results. Which leads to the question: “Why don’t we see more Southern Gentleman like him anymore?”

The “intelligent Southerner” quote is at page 40 of the Grove Press paperback edition of “American Home Front,” first published in 2006 “by the estate of Alistair Cooke.” For a New York Times review, see The American Home Front: 1941-1942, “Alistair Cooke’s America, Explored in Wartime,” or The American Home Front: 1941-1942 (Smithsonian.)

Re: “Fort Knox … above right.” Wikipedia caption: “A tank driver at Fort Knox in 1942.”

Re: Walking the Jesus Trail. A hike offered by Saint George’s College Jerusalem:

This course, new to St. George’s College in 2020, offers an exciting opportunity for pilgrims who wish to experience the land from an entirely different perspective: walking. The course will spend five days following segments of the Jesus Trail in the Galilee [(] from Sepphoris (Zippori) near Nazareth to Capernaum, staying each night in a guest house or hotel along the way. Walkers will only carry day bags; luggage will be sent to the next guest house via the bus.

The lower image is courtesy of Windstorm In A Tent – Image Results. It was said to be accompanied by an article in the Kathmandu Post, “Storms compound lives under tent.” But when I clicked on “View Page,” I was advised, “Sorry, the page you are trying to access does not exist. But maybe the search gods can help you find what you’re looking for.” So I typed in the “storms compound” headline and got kathmandupost … storm-compounds-lives, from May 23, 2015. The subhead read, “High winds and thundershowers on Saturday evening added to the hardships of people taking refuge in tents in open spaces after the April 25 earthquake displaced them.” I’ll explain the differences in the two situations in a later post, but for now let’s just say that our situation involved only my brother and I, two people in two separate tents. But the photo does give you some idea what we went through, from 1:10 to 1:50 a.m., that Friday night/early Saturday morning, July 10-11, 2020. (Also, note the alternate spelling, “Katmandu | Bob Seger.”)

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For some reason I put this note from a “president unfit” search in an early version of this post: “I got to that article (3/30/20) in The Boston Globe by starting to Google ‘a president ignored,’ based on a Washington Post article I’d just read. (See A president ignored: Trump’s outlandish claims increasingly met with a collective shrug.) But right after I typed in ‘a president’ the Google-phrase ‘president unfit for a pandemic’ came up. That led in turn to a number of media outlets reporting the Globe’s story; I saw 34,800,00 ‘search results’ from the Google-phrase. (Incidentally, the subtitle to the Globe article: ‘Much of the suffering and death coming was preventable. The president has blood on his hands.'”

I’m not sure what I originally intended that quote to relate to. (Freudian slip?)

“One nation after Trump” – a book review…

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I called the first draft of this post, “Cultural elites and Trump.”  But then I ran across – at a local library days ago – the 2017 book, One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-yet Deported(E.J. Dionne Jr., Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann.)  Needless to say I was intrigued.  And not least of all because I too look forward to an America without Trump.  Something I noted in Belated 4th of July meditation:

Whether by vote in 2020 or operation of law in 2024, Trump will end up leaving the White House.  What happens then?  Aside from the cheering, the dancing in  the streets, the fireworks and parades, a new nightmare will begin – for Donald Trump.

And when it might be said – yet again – “Our long national nightmare is over.”

But first let’s go back to Some thoughts on “the Donald.”  That post came in December 2018, but looked back at posts “from two years ago.”  That is, two years before 2018, to a post I did in December 2016, right after Trump’s election.  Among other things there was a prediction in 2016 – by Professor Allan Lichtman – that Trump would be “impeached within two years.”

Which hasn’t happened.  He may yet be impeached – by a Democrat House of Representatives.  But he won’t be convicted by the Republican-controlled Senate.  (It would take 66 votes.)  Which brings us back to the hope offered by One Nation After Trump.  I just started reading it, but hear are some sample reviews.  Like the one from the Amazon blurb:

Yet if Trump is both a threat to our democracy and a product of its weaknesses, the citizen activism he has inspired is the antidote.  The reaction to the crisis created by Trump’s presidency can provide the foundation for an era of democratic renewal and vindicate our long experiment in self-rule.

Andrea Prada at the march on Washington.Or consider the conclusion of The Guardian, the British daily newspaper (now online), founded in 1821 as The Manchester Guardian.  See One Nation After Trump review:  “In everything from the Women’s March on Washington [at left] to the ad hoc groups of lawyers who flocked to airports across the country to help victims of Trump’s travel ban, the [authors] see strong evidence that the rational part of the country is finally ready to take back America.”

Then there was a New York Times review, which opined that Trump’s rise to power. . .

. . . reflects the longer-term trends that have shaped the modern Republican Party: the four-decade war on the “liberal media”; the delegitimatization of political opponents; the appeals to racism and xenophobia; the hostility to democratic norms. “Trump is less of an outsider than he seems, and he was building on rather than resisting recent trends within the G.O.P.”

And which concluded – depressingly – that “Reading this important book, one gets the nagging sense that even after Trump, Trumpism will persist.”  Let’s hope not.

Which brings us back to “Cultural elites and Trump.”  That is, before starting to read One Nation After Trump, I tried to figure out how Trump got elected in the first place.  I initially wrote:

It finally hit me.  “What’s the attraction with Trump?”  The answer?  Donald Trump is “America showing its ass.”  (Or mooning, to put it more politely.)  Put another way, Trump “represents” – and I use the term loosely – a certain segment of American society which now chooses to thumb its nose at – or more precisely “moon” – both the rest of the world and that “cultural elite” part of American society that it hates so much.

President Trump Fat Shaming Supporter RallyWhich got support in articles like Send Her Back! Send Her Back! – The Bulwark.  It noted “acts of deliberate transgression against what many Trump supporters have come to view as the supposedly stifling ethics of our cultural elites,” and sending ”those damn media types into a tizzy.”  Also that his verbal attacks – though not including the one where he “fat shamed his own supporter ” – are just another “handy weapon for triggering the pearl-clutching libs.”  See also Class warfare between workers and elites explains Trump:

What’s happening in America is an echo of what’s happening in democracies around the world, and it’s not happening because of Trump.  Trump is the symptom of a ruling class that many of the ruled no longer see as serving their interest, and the anti-Trump response is mostly the angry backlash of that class as it sees its position, its perquisites and – perhaps especially – its self-importance threatened.

Which definitely presents a problem for those of us yearning for “the America of past years.”  And especially of past presidents, none of whom now seem so bad.  But now:  Do you see the irony?  Of Liberals and Independents trying to “go back in time,” while today’s “Conservatives” seem bent on tearing out all of America’s democratic institutions root and branch?

But perhaps all is not lost.  One thing that One Nation pointed out – early on – was how slim the margin of victory was.  Aside from losing the popular vote by 2.9 million, “Trump’s victory was a very close-run thing – a matter of 77,744 votes in three crucial states.”  His win was also “enabled” by James Comey reopening a probe into Hillary’s use of a private server while secretary of state, and by Russian interference in addition to hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee. (Likely by Russian hackers.)

Yet despite all that help this “monumental shift in the nature of the nation’s political leadership was enabled by relatively modest shifts in the electorate.”  And by voters rejecting Hillary.

Some good news? Such numbers “are critical for understanding how fragile Trump’s hold on the public is.”  (I’ve been saying the best weapon against Trump is his own big mouth.)  Then there’s “Trumpgret,” as in New Hampshire struggle: Voters feeling “Trumpgret.”  So maybe there’s hope that 2020 voters will again reject this ongoing dark side of American politics…

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American As Apple Pie?”  Americans have always hated immigrants…

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The upper image is courtesy of American Anti-immigrant Propaganda – Image Results.

Re:  “Root and branch.”  I Googledtear out root and branch” and got Sadly The Hatred Against Syrian Refugees Is As American As Apple Pie From November 2015, it noted:

As the world faces one of the worst humanitarian crises yet known, several American politicians went out of their way to attack some of the world’s most vulnerable people, continually competing to be the most cruel.

A trend that continues “even to this day.”  The article concluded that we must “fight the bigots who are acting so cruelly to people so desperately in need of aid.”  But we shouldn’t pretend this ongoing sickness is “‘un-American.’ It is a tendency in our history that we must tear out root and branch, but before we do that, we have to realize that it’s there.”  See also Root and branch definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary:If something has been completely changed or destroyed, you can say that it has been changed or destroyed root and branch.”

The “fat-shamed” image is courtesy of Donald Trump Fat Shamed One Of His Own Supporters. The article posted August 16, 2019, in UNILAD, the “British Internet media company and website owned by LADbible Group,” which provides “‘social news. and entertainment to their 60 million followers, and has offices in London and ManchesterUK.”  The caption:  “President Donald Trump accidentally fat shamed one of his own supporters at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire after mistakenly believing them [sic] to be a protester.”  The article went on:  “Trump proceeded to insult a man he believed to be one of the protesters, focusing on his ‘weight problem.’ However, he didn’t realise the man he was fat shaming was actually one of his very own supporters, an individual who had reportedly been flagging the protesters to security.

The references to the “One nation” book are from pages 21-22 of the 2017 hardcover edition.

The lower image courtesy of Anti-Irish sentiment – Wikipedia.  The caption, “American political cartoon by Thomas Nast titled ‘The Usual Irish Way of Doing Things,’ depicting a drunken Irishman lighting a powder keg and swinging a bottle. Published 2 September 1871 in Harper’s Weekly.”  Another image from the same article – at right – was captioned, “An Irishman depicted as a gorilla (‘Mr. G. O’Rilla’).”

Which supports the claim that Americans have always hated immigrants.  See also got Sadly The Hatred Against Syrian Refugees Is As American As Apple Pie, which noted that this American “hatred” goes back as far as 1790:

Just look at the Naturalization Act of 1790, one of the first important pieces of immigration legislation. It limited citizenship to those who were “free white persons.” One year before the passage of the Bill of Rights, those vaunted rights were effectively being limited to white men.  When waves of Irish immigrants came over in the mid-1800s, they were feared and hated, commonly depicted as ape-like by native born whites…  These nativists didn’t just spread hate, they burned Catholic churches, and instigated anti-immigrant riots.  

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Here are more notes from my research on “Trump’s attraction.”

See Trump’s dislike of — and desire to be a part of — the ‘elite.’

“Trump has since made a name for himself – in New York City and, more unexpectedly, in Washington. As he reminded his Minnesota supporters, he won the presidency – which by one definition automatically puts him among the elites: “a group of persons exercising the major share of authority or influence within a larger group.”

“By all accounts, Trump supporters . . . exercise the major share of authority and influence within the Republican Party, which is the governing party in the United States.  The group’s values on racial issues, the economy, immigration and other cultural issues has a louder and bolder advocate in the Oval Office than at any other time in recent history.

“But perhaps the reason it is difficult to embrace that definition is because Trump and many of his supporters believe that winning isn’t all that matters.  It matters that you be viewed as a winner.  And for a president who has been quick to lob the label ‘loser’ at those with whom he didn’t find favor, knowing that there are many Americans who don’t want him in their club is a great source of anger.”

See also Elite – Wikipedia, defining the term as a “small group of powerful people who hold a disproportionate amount of wealth, privilege, political power, or skill in a society. Defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, the ‘elite’ are ‘those people or organizations that are considered the best or most powerful compared to others of a similar type.'”

Or, a “relatively small, loosely connected group of individuals who dominate American policy making. This group includes bureaucratic, corporate, intellectual, military, media, and government elites who control the principal institutions in the United States and whose opinions and actions influence the decisions of the policymakers.”

And see Why a lot of Americans resent the cultured “New York City elite.”

“I think this feeling was shared by some of the voters who went for Trump – as well as Brexit beforehand.  Trump, a masterful populist, has manipulated this very real bitterness, raising his 18-carat pitchfork against “liberal elites” for his own political gain.”

It added that a “cultural elite may be disliked for reasons that are as not particularly economic: college professors, experts, NGO staffers and psychotherapists are not corporate titans, after all. It’s a new variation of an old-fashioned populism that is anti-intellectual and anti-expert.

“Trump and his family may be mining this anti-elite anger, but they are, of course, preposterously upscale, living in Trump Tower, attending expensive private schools, flying about in private jets (now with in-flight Secret Service) and dining in five-star restaurants… Republicans are benefitting from the cultural resentment of their non-elite electorate. They also aren’t proposing anything that could make life better for the people who actually live in small towns or in ‘flyover’ states.”

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My own thoughts:  I defined the “elite” as that “portion of American society that has pretty much ruled America during the latter half of the 20th century, and the 21st century as well, up to Election Day, 2016.  Since the end of World War II, the rest of the world has looked at America as that ‘city on a hill’ it has claimed to be since the beginning.  And America has responded – by and large – by accepting the mantle of world leadership.

“And because America is a land of such promise, people from other countries keep trying to come here. But – by and large – they are no longer white, English-speaking and mostly European. Which frightens a large segment of American society.

“Aside from that the mantle of world leadership is heavy. It means not going off half-cocked. It means being responsible, and thinking through what we say and do. And many Americans seem to think we should act more like Russia, imposing our will on the rest of the world by sheer force. Which – from all accounts – is what we used to do in the days of Teddy Roosevelt. And it could be that the Americans who support Trump would love to see a return of a bit of American imperialism.

“On the other hand, if that’s true, why did Russia try so hard to get Trump – not Hillary – elected?”

On Billy Graham – noted “Liberal?”

 Billy Graham (at right):  To some “rightist” Christians, Graham was way too “ecumenical…”

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Graham in a suit with his fist clenchedI learned something new about Billy Graham.  I learned that some far-right preachers compared him to the Antichrist

That is, lately I’ve been listening to the book-on-CD version of The Preacher and the Presidents:  Billy Graham in the White House(Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.)  I skipped over the early parts, about Graham when he was young and full of himself.  And way more conservative than he was in later life. 

Which is another way of saying that  – as he grew in age – Billy Graham “also grew in grace.”  (See 2d Peter 3:18.)

Graham eventually grew in grace so much that he came to believe that God loves all people – even Liberals.  Which led some fundamentalist Christians to criticize him “for his ecumenism, even calling him ‘Antichrist.’”  On that note, see Deuteronomy 19:16-19.

(Deuteronomy 19:16-19 says that if you accuse someone of a crime and he’s not guilty of it, you are punished as if you committed the crime yourself.  So if you accuse someone of being “Antichrist” and he’s not, you get punished as if you were the Antichrist.)   

But we digress…

That is, on the other hand Graham started out as a Biblical literalist.  That led to an early confrontation with fellow evangelist Charles Templeton.  It’s described at pages 2-4 of the “book book,” but you can see an Oniine version at Billy Graham and Charles Templeton:  The Sad Tale of Two Evangelists (See also Heresy in the Heartland: Charles Templeton.)   

In essence, it started with Templeton telling Graham:

Billy, it’s simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation.  The world was not created over a period of days a few thousand years ago;  it has evolved over millions of years.  It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s a demonstrable fact.

Graham responded, “I don’t accept that…  I believe the Genesis [account and] I’ve discovered something in my ministry:  When I take the Bible literally …  my preaching has power.”

Nevertheless, this was the man some Christians called “Antichrist.”  It started as early as 1957, when – after a crusade in New York – some fundamentalist Protestant Christians criticized Graham for his “ecumenism.”

40 years later he continued to express inclusivist views.

That is, he dared suggest that some people without explicit faith in Jesus can be saved.  For example, in a 1997 interview with Robert Schuller, Graham said:

I think that everybody that loves or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ … [God] is calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they have been called by God. 

In response, Iain Murray – writing from a conservative Protestant standpoint – said “Graham’s concessions are sad words from one who once spoke on the basis of biblical certainties.”

2013-02-18-Graham.King.jpgBut see Why Do Liberals Love Billy Graham(HuffPost.)  An example:  He was asked about two candidates for president, one “more learned and qualified,” the other a devout Christian.  How would he vote?

I’d pick the experienced and confident one…  I don’t think that we should vote for a person just simply because he says he’s a Christian.  I think we need confident men of integrity in places of responsibility.  We are living in a secular society.  We have a separation of church and state in this country.

Graham added that he doesn’t “play God,” saying who is saved and who isn’t.  The article concluded that Graham “managed to achieve that rare balance of fierce conviction and humane humility…  He would not condemn.  His mission was to comfort and inspire.”

Which brings us back to Ecumenism.  It’s the effort “by Christians of different Church traditions to develop closer relationships and better understandings.”  (See also Is ecumenism biblical “”)  Which means we could use a good dose of “Billy Graham” today.

We could use a popular preacher who “doesn’t play God.”  We could use a popular preacher with “humane humility.”  We could use a popular preacher whom does not condemn, but rather focuses exclusively on comforting and inspiring.  We could use a popular preacher who wouldn’t vote for a man “just because he says he’s a Christian.”

That is, for another – broader – view more you could check Ecumenical Synonyms …  Synonyms for “ecumenical” include open-mindedreceptivetolerantbroad-minded, unbigoted, charitableinclusiveand/or unprejudiced.  And they are good.

Because without such principles – without, for example, developing “closer relationships and better understandings” – you could end up with something like this:

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Donald Trump

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The upper image is courtesy of Billy Graham Bill Clinton – Image Results.  The photo is in “Billy Graham: Pastor to the Presidents – True Christian or FreeMason ‘Christian.'”  (From the “Orthodox Christian Channel.”)  The gist of the article was that Graham was a Mason.  Among the quotes:  

Billy Graham called Bill and Hillary “wonderful friends” and a “great couple.”  Billy Graham also had former country and western superstar Johnny Cash, known to be a Mason, perform at his crusades on numerous occasions.  

The images in the main text are courtesy of the linked-articles in the adjacent paragraph.

The lower image is courtesy of Donald Trump – Image Results.  See also ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian, which featured the image.

“The noose has to tighten SLOWLY…”

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There’s been a lot of hubbub lately about Donald Trump’s pardon power.  And a lot of Americans worry that he could use that pardon-power so freely that he could avoid any successful prosecution.  (Either against himself or against any of his underlings.)

The first question has already been answered:  He can’t pardon himself.  (See No Donald, you CAN’T pardon yourself.  And even if he could, that “self-pardon” would only apply to federal crimes, not state crimes or civil suits.)  But that still leaves the question:  “If Trump pardons anyone and everyone who could incriminate him, wouldn’t that be the same as ‘pardoning himself?’”

All the president's men.jpgThe answer?  “Not necessarily.”  Which brings us back to the years from 1972 to 1974.  Back to “Deep Throat,” Richard Nixon, the Watergate scandal, and the movie – and book – All the President’s Men.

And for you thinking this is “like deja vu all over again,” it is…  

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First of all, I wanted to call this post, “The truth will come out…”  (Because that’s what I believe.)  Then I started re-reading All the President’s Men, the 1974 book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.  I was looking for the part where “Deep Throat” lectured Woodward on the importance of building a conspiracy investigation slowly, “from the outer edges in.”  (In an obscure parking garage at 3:00 a.m…)  

I checked out the hard copy from a local library – my paperback is somewhere “lost in my house” – and eventually found the passage in question.  Then I started typing in the lecture, and the phrase “the rope has to tighten slowly” sounded ever so much better.

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But here we cut to the chase.  Specifically, could Donald Trump use his pardon-power so freely that he could avoid any successful prosecution?  Put another way, what would happen if Trump pardoned all those lower-level minions who could possibly incriminate him?

Just this.  Since those “minions” will have been pardoned, they will no longer face the prospect of incriminating themselves.  Which means they can be compelled to testify.  And if they refuse to testify, they can be jailed for contempt of court.

And once they testify, a prosecutor – or Democratic Congress – can start building a case against Trump for obstructing justice.  For one thing, granting pardons to hide a criminal act is a criminal act itself.  Which brings us to the old saying, “The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.”  (As illustrated at left.)

And today’s antithetical version: “Why is the Mueller investigation taking so long?”  (Note that that complaint was lodged as early as five months after Mueller was appointed.  Which brings up the classic American need for instant gratification, but that’s a whole ‘nother story…)

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Which brings us back to 1974, and “Deep Throat” lecturing Bob Woodward on the importance of building a conspiracy investigation slowly.  You can read the full lecture – and background – at page 196 of the Simon and Schuster (1974) hardback, All the President’s Men:

“A conspiracy like this … a conspiracy investigation … the rope has to tighten slowly around everyone’s neck.  You build convincingly from the outer edges in, you get ten times the evidence you need against the Hunts and Liddys.  They feel hopelessly finished – they may not talk right away, but the grip is on them.  Then you move up and do the same thing to the next level.  If you shoot too high and miss, then everybody feels more secure.  Lawyers work this way.  I’m sure smart reporters do too.  You’ve put the investigation back months.  It puts everybody on the defensive – editors, FBI agents, everybody has to go into a crouch after this.”

The book added, “Woodward swallowed hard.  He deserved the lecture.”

The point is this:  The Mueller Investigation started over a year ago, in mid-May, 2017.  So far – it appears – it has resulted in 17 indictments and five guilty pleas.  So what happens if Trump starts pardoning more lower-level people?

Simply this:  They lose their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves.  They can be compelled to testify, on pain of being jailed for contempt of court.  The Mueller Investigation might end, but we would begin a whole new series of state criminal proceedings.  As in any state like New York where “The Donald” or his minions have done business.

And the “noose-tightening” would start all over again…

*   *   *   *

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Noose Tightening Image – Image Results

Re: Pardons and the Fifth Amendment.  See Would a full presidential pardon void an individual’s 5th Amendment protection, and Donald Trump Pardons: How a Pardon Could Backfire.  For a fuller explanation of “contempt of court” in such circumstances, see If you’re pardoned, can you be compelled to testify about your crime?

Re:  “The wheels of justice turn slowly.”   See Justice – Wikiquote, under the letter “F,” which noted the saying has “appeared in various forms over the millennia, going back as far as “Euripides circa 405 BCE.”  In other words, the concept was known at least over 2400 years ago.  

Re:  The Mueller investigation starting on or about May 17, 2017.  See Robert Mueller, Former F.B.I. Director, Is Named Special Counsel for Russia Investigation.

Note that the ellipses (“…”) were in the original “Deep Throat” quote in All the President’s Men.

For the guilty pleas and indictments, I Googled “mueller investigation indictments and guilty pleas.”

Note that the change from “rope-tightening” to “noose-tightening” was a bit of creative license.

The lower image is courtesy of Just The Facts Ma’am – Image Results.  But see also Joe Friday – Wikipedia, which noted that Detective Friday never actually used the phrase:  “A common misattributed catchphrase to Friday is ‘Just the facts, ma’am.’ In fact, Friday never actually said this in an episode, but it was featured in Stan Freberg‘s works parodying ‘Dragnet.'”  See also FACT CHECK: Dragnet ‘Just the Facts’ –

*   *   *   *


“The Coming Fury?”

NY Post's Shameful 'Civil War' Cover On Dallas

Did someone mention The Coming Fury – first book of Bruce Catton‘s Civil War Trilogy?

*   *   *   *  

My last two posts noted a recent 10-day family road-trip north, via “convoy:”

Three cars, carrying five adults and seven younger folk, ranging in age from 10 to 22.  Among other places, we’ll be visiting Valley Forge, the Liberty Bell and Philadelphia in general…  Last but not least we’ll see Hershey PA … “The Sweetest Place On Earth.”

7096For five nights of that 10-day trip, we all stayed with my aunt in Wilmington.  Her three-story house is pretty much a museum, and a much-loved place to visit.  (By nephews, great-nieces and -nephews, and other relatives through marriage.)

Nowhere is that “museum-ness” more evident than on the third floor.  The third floor was pretty much my aunt’s private “penthouse” when she was young.  (My grandparents stayed on the second floor.)  She was an avid reader then, and a great collector of books.  Which means that now the third floor of her home resembles nothing so much as a library.

And so, late one night that last week of June, in Wilmington, I sat relaxing on the third-floor bed – topped by an air mattress – sipping a bottle of Rolling Rock.  It was then that my eyes lighted on a Bruce Catton book I hadn’t read.  I have read – and pretty much loved – all his other CW books.  But that night, I saw “Bruce Catton,” on a thick, hard-cover book, and the unread title, The Coming Fury.

WmLYancey.jpgI was hooked from the first page.

Catton began by describing the first of two 1860 Democratic National Conventions, with the arrival of William L. Yancey.  (At left.)  

It seems that certain “fire-eaters” – like Yancey – didn’t care if they caused a “split convention.”  The result?  A host of Democrat-delegates walked out of the convention.  (In essence, a revolt that split the party.)  That virtually guaranteed the opposition candidate – Abe Lincoln – would be elected.

All of which may sound familiar to modern ears.  That is, what caught my eye – in reading the beginning of The Coming Fury – was the way Catton’s writing seemed to foreshadow some of the surprises that may well be coming at this summer’s Republican convention:

The delegates might look for a safe middle ground [and] work out some sort of compromise that would avert a split in the party and nation;  or they might listen to extremists, scorn the middle ground, and commit all of America to a dramatic leap into the dark.

In 1860, it was the Democrats who saw their party literally split in two.  (Thus virtually guaranteeing the election of a candidate they didn’t want.)  In 2016, it may be the Republicans who experience a delegate revolt, and thus a split party.  (See also karma.)

Alexander H Stephens by Vannerson, 1859.jpgThe first 36 pages of Coming Fury led up to Part Four of Chapter One, “The Party is Split Forever.”  (A quote from Alexander Stephens – at right – after a friend said “things might be patched up” at the second, “rump” Democratic convention in Baltimore.)  Then at pages 78-80, Catton explored some of the reasons behind the split in the party.

He began by saying the choices made at the two competing Democratic conventions “came at least in part out of a general, unreasoned resentment against immigration and the immigrant.”  (E.A.)

[By 1860,] Americans both North and South could see that something cherished and familiar was being lost.  Looking back only a few years, it was easy to see a society where … everyone thought, spoke and acted more or less alike, living harmoniously by a common tradition.

Which is being interpreted:  “Some things never change.”  Aside from that, if anyone in 1860 had thought about it, they might have come up with a catchy slogan like “Make America Great Again.”  (That is, a call to “return the country to its previous glory.”)

However (as Catton wrote), that cherished vision of the past – “singularly uncomplicated and unworried … simple and self-sustaining” – seemed to be on the verge of disappearing:

Revolutionary change was taking place everywhere … and people who liked things as they had been found the change abhorrent.  Furthermore, it seemed possible that newcomers were at least partly responsible for the change…  Germans, Irish, French, Italians, men of new tongues and new creeds and new folk ways, cut adrift from Europe…  It was easy to feel they were corrupting the old America. (E.A.)

(79-80)  Which may be another way of saying that a large group of people who hadn’t been free – before – were about to get freedom for the first time in their lives.

But then and now, such a change in the status quo scares a lot of people.  As Catton wrote, “To fear change meant to fear the alien – the man who looked and talked and acted differently, and who therefore was probably dangerous.” (80)  Which helped give rise to the fire-eaters noted above.  (Defined in part as “extremists who did much to weaken the fragile unity of the nation.”)  

Which brings up the subject of “splitting” in another context.

In Independent Voter, I noted the phenomenon of “splitting,” a personality disorder also called “black and white thinking:”

Splitting … is the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole.  It is a common defense mechanism used by many people.  The individual tends to think in extremes (i.e., an individual’s actions and motivations are all good or all bad with no middle ground).

It’s also known as cognitive distortion, or or “all-or-nothing thinking.”  And as noted, it’s a common defense mechanism that seems to be getting commoner and commoner these days.

joe-walsh-defends-tweetWhich means that in times of great stress, people are more prone to say really hurtful, unproductive or downright stupid things.  (Like ex-congressman Joe Walsh, at right.)

But my personal theory is that resorting to cliches, canned responses, and/or downright stupid remarks – in times of great stress – simply “beats the heck out of having to think!”

So in times of great stress – like we’ve seen in the last week or so – one option is to say something really stupid and/or counterproductive, like This is now war!”  Or you can sheathe your sword – metaphorically or otherwise – and stop adding fuel to the fire.

After all, who wants to start another American Civil War?

Or as that great philosopher Henry Ford once put it (offering a better solution):

Don't find fault, find a remedy... poster

In other words, “Be a part of the solution, not part of the problem…”

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of NY Post’s Shameful ‘Civil War’ Cover On Dallas | Crooks and Liars. (Although there was a literal plethora of internet sources available:  See for example New York Post Recklessly Hypes ‘Civil War’ After Dallas Shooting (Huffington Post), and New York Post Blares Dallas Police Killings Set Off ‘CIVIL WAR‘” – from the Talking Points Memo website – which described the Post as an “infamous tabloid, known for its inflammatory headlines.”)

The book-cover image is courtesy of The Coming Fury by Bruce Catton — Reviews, Discussion. References to the text are from the are from the 1961 hard-cover Doubleday and Company edition, “The Centennial History of the Civil War, Volume 1.”

Re: “Fire-eaters.”  Here’s a quote I found working on this post, but misplaced the cite:

James M. McPherson suggested in Battle Cry of Freedom that the “Fire-eater” program of breaking up the convention and running a rival ticket was deliberately intended to bring about the election of a Republican as President, and thus trigger secession…  Whatever the “intent” of the fire-eaters may have been, doubtless many of them favored secession, and the logical, probable, and actual consequence of their actions was to fragment the Democratic party and thereby virtually ensure a Republican victory.

The “success-failure” image is courtesy of Why Black or White Thinking May be Keeping Keep Your Clients Stuck:  “I don’t know about you, but ‘Black or White’ or ‘All or Nothing’ thinking is one of the commonest issues I see with my coaching clients.  When a client is stuck – it’s often because they are looking at the world through this Black or White thinking filter…”  

(“The Coaching Tools is based on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada. Launched in March 2009 … our goal is to inspire coaches and help spread the positive impact of coaching throughout the world. We do this by helping coaches get established, grow their clients, grow their skills and grow their businesses.”)

On that subject, see also All or Nothing’, or ‘Black and White’ Thinking and Depression.

Re:  Ex-congressman Joe Walsh.  See Ex Congressman tweets of war against Obama, Joe Walsh defends tweet threatening “war” on ObamaEx-Congressman Walsh on Dallas shootings: “This is now war,” and/or Ex-congressman threatens “war,’”warns Obama to ‘watch out.” 

And by the way – Joe Walsh – the Bible clearly says, You shall not speak evil of a leader of your people.” (See Exodus 22:28 and the beginning of Acts 23.) 

Re: “sheath your sword.”  See also Sheath Your Sword | Duke Today.

The lower image is courtesy of Don’t find fault, find a remedy… poster | Zazzle.  See also Quote by Henry Ford: “Don’t find fault, find a remedy (Goodreads).  As to the phrase “You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.”  it is generally – and most recently – attributed to Eldridge Cleaver.  However, a article on the subject included one reader who said this was a “misquotation.”  Another reader wrote:  “Eldridge Cleaver was hardly being original.  ‘Those who are not for us are against us’ is in the Bible – and had probably been said before that.”  

Note that the Bible-quote is from Matthew 12:30 “Whoever is not with me is against me…”  Note further that this was part of Jesus’ sermon on A House Divided.  See also the “House Divided” Speech by Abraham Lincoln, given in 1858, when he was running for the office of Senator from Illinois.  (Two years before the original American Civil War.)  And finally, see the post from my companion blog, On Jesus: Liberal or Fundamentalist?  That post compared Matthew 12:30 with what Jesus said in Mark 9:40:  “For whoever is not against us is for us.” 

On John Paul Jones’ CLOSEST call

To the British he was “the pirate Paul Jones,” but to us he’s the Father of the American Navy

*   *   *   *

Speaking of “impudent sly sluts…”  (See the last post, “There he goes again.”  It cited Robert Louis Stevenson for the allusion, from his book Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes )

John Paul Jones by Charles Wilson Peale, c1781.jpgI recently got another book, John Paul Jones:  Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy, by Evan Thomas.  Near the end it included a slice of American history that I’d never heard before.  It told of John Paul Jones – seen at left – and what I’ve come to term “his closest call.”

But first a word of explanation.

I published my last post on May 30, on a proposed kayak trip into the Okefenokee Swamp.  Since then I’ve actually done the overnight platform-camping trip to the  Canal Run shelter.  (A trip that included much planning and preparation, not to mention a full day’s drive down to Valdosta GA, the closest major city to the put-in at Foster State Park.)

I also just got back from a weekend trip to North Carolina.  That was for the June 11 high-school graduation of my “favorite grandson named Austin.”  (See On “latitude, attitude,” and other life changes,” in my companion blog.  That trip also involved a lot of planning and preparation.)

But now I’m back home and ready to go.  So, about those “impudent sly sluts…”

Most people know John Paul Jones as the naval hero of the Revolutionary War.

That included his signal victory over the British man-of-war “HMS Serapis,” in the Battle of Flamborough Head, as seen at right.  (At the time, Jones commanded the Bonhomme Richard, which was “originally an East Indiaman.”  That is, it was a merchant ship that had been jury rigged into an ad hoc Navy vessel.)

Not to mention his having said, “I have not yet begun to fight.”  (When asked by the commander of the Serapis if Jones was ready “strike the colours,” that is, to surrender.)  Incidentally, Evan Thomas wrote that Jones probably didn’t say that.

On that note, Jones apparently did say – later in the battle – “I may sink, but I’ll be damned if I strike!”  And in his official report, Jones merely said that he answered “in the most determined negative.”  (An answer that is definitely not as colorful.)  But we digress…

What most people don’t know is that in 1787, Jones joined the Russian Navy.

This was after the War, and after futile attempts to collect prize money for the ships he’d captured.  (And also in response to his general disgruntlement with the American Congress.)  That is, he entered the service of the Empress Catherine II of Russia, who commissioned him a rear admiral.  Thus he was known in the Russian Navy as “Kontradmirál Pavel Dzhones.”

That’s when the trouble started.  Much as he had been in the American Navy, in the Russian navy Jones was also surrounded by people of far lesser ability and courage.  And who were extremely jealous of his ability and courage.  (Which happens a lot in history.) 

Those Russian enemies included Prince Charles of Nassau-Siegen.  (Seen at left.)  He  in turn “turned the Russian commander Prince Grigory Potëmkin against Jones.”  (And it didn’t help that – like many fighting men – Jones was inapt at “Imperial politics.”  That is, political intrigue.)

To cut to the chase, “In April 1789 Jones was arrested and accused of raping a [10]-year-old girl named Katerina Goltzwart.”

Or as Evan Thomas put it, “In early April, St. Petersburg society was shocked, which is to say delighted, by a police report detailing a sordid episode:”

A ten-year-old German girl claimed that she had been raped by Jones.  As the little girl described the incident, she had been selling butter in the Admiralty District when she was summoned to an apartment to see a man wearing a white uniform with gold braid and a red ribbon.  The man punched her in the jaw, bloodying her mouth.  He locked the door, threw off his uniform, and while holding the girl with one hand, threw a mattress on the floor.  He pinned her down and penetrated her.  Unable to call for help with a handkerchief across her mouth, the girl fainted, woke up, and ran crying into the street.

Moreover, the police had witnesses.  One witness was Jones’ manservant, who described “peering through the keyhole to Jones’ bedroom,” and who later found blood on the floor.  A midwife gave her expert opinion that the girl had been raped, while a doctor testified that her “child bearing parts were swollen,” and that her lip was cut and her jaw bruised.

Which is why I call this episode “John Paul Jones’ closest call.”

That is, such an accusation of “child rape” would have been bad enough under American law.  But under Russian law, anyone convicted of such rape was “to have his head cut off or be sent to the galleys for the rest of his days.”

Jones himself was not afraid of death, and indeed it was his courage under fire that made him such a great commander.  But had he been convicted as charged, he would have gone down in history as a mere child molester, to be punished as he deserved.

He tried to hire a Russian lawyer, “only to have the lawyer quit his case.”  (The Russian government had ordered the lawyer “not to ‘meddle.'”)   One of his few friends – the French Count de Segur – visited, only to find him in a suicidal state, his service pistols on a table in front of him.  As Jones said, “I would have faced death a thousand times … but today I desire it.”

But slowly, the truth came out.  (With a little help from de Segur, “Jones’ last friend in the capital.”) 

For one thing, it turned out the girl was 12, not 10.  (A minor point, to be sure.)  It also turned out both that she’d been “‘selling butter’ for quite a while,” and that “selling butter” was a euphemism for what she had been actually selling.

Then too her customers included that same manservant who’d given damning evidence against Jones.  And finally, the girl’s mother admitted that she’d been “given money by a ‘man with decorations’ in return for telling a damaging story about Jones.”  (In other words, it was a setup, a “situation in which someone is deliberately put in a bad position or made to look guilty.”)  

But enough damage had been done.  Jones didn’t have to go through the ordeal of a trial – as illustrated at left – but he was ostracized by Russian society.  That included the Empress Catherine, who was “finished with him.”  (Notwithstanding the intensity and originality of “her own sexual appetites.”)

And aside from all that, Catherine had hired a number of former British officers, all of whom “refused to serve under the Pirate Jones.”  So in the end, in the “late summer of 1789, Jones left Russia, still resplendent in his beribboned white uniform, but shunned and disgraced.”

From which we can glean at least two key object lessons.  One is that many of our hardest-fighting heroes – like John Paul Jones – also have a “penchant for the ladies.”  (Which can ofttimes be their undoing in civilian life.)  Yet another is that – as a nation – we tend to tear down the very heroes that we build up.  (See e.g. Why Do We Build-Up & Then Tear-Down Our Heroes?)

In the case of John Paul Jones, it took more than a century after he died – not until July 1905 – that his body was finally returned to his adopted homeland – the one that he’d fought so hard for – and given a decent burial.  (In Annapolis, site of the Naval Academy.)

And then only because “Teddy Roosevelt needed a hero…”

*   *   *   *  

The upper image is courtesy of John Paul Jones – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The caption for the upper image:  “Paul Jones the Pirate,’ British caricature.”  

(Note that a caricature is a “rendered image showing the features of its subject in a simplified or exaggerated way…  In literature, a caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others…  Caricatures can be insulting or complimentary and can serve a political purpose…”)

The Wikipedia article also included the image at left, with the caption:  “John Paul Jones and John Barry, honored on U.S. Postage, Navy Issue of 1937.”  Note that Barry is one of at least three men – including Jones – in the running for the title of “Father of the American Navy.”  See for example Commodore John Barry, Father of the American Navy, and also Joshua Humphreys, “Father of the American Navy.”

Re: “Impudent, sly sluts.”  See also Donkey travel – and sluts, in my companion blog.

See also Definition of slut by The Free Dictionary.  Although the term – today – has come to mean almost exclusively either a prostitute or a woman “considered to be sexually promiscuous,” that wasn’t always the case.  For example, in Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes, Stevenson applied the term to two young girls who were simply being mischievous and/or “pains.”  For another take, see Slut-shaming – Wikipedia, on the form of behavior modification in which a social stigma is “applied to people, especially women and girls, who are perceived to violate traditional expectations for sexual behaviors.”

Re Evan Thomas.  See also Wikipedia.  The quoted portions from Thomas’ Jones: Sailor, Hero (etc.) are from the 2004 Simon and Schuster paperback version, at pages 297-99.)

The oil portrait of Jones is also courtesy of the Wikipedia article on Jones.  The caption:  “A 1781 painting of John Paul Jones by Charles Willson Peale.”

Re: “general disgruntlement with the American Congress.”  Go figure!

Re: Jones’ political enemies in the Russian Navy.  See Wikipedia:

As a rear admiral[, Jones] … took part in the naval campaign in the Dnieper-Bug Liman … against the Turks, in concert with the Dnieper Flotilla commanded by Prince Charles of Nassau-Siegen.  Jones (and Nassau-Siegen) repulsed the Ottoman forces … but the jealous intrigues of Nassau-Siegen (and perhaps Jones’s own inaptitude for Imperial politics) turned the Russian commander Prince Grigory Potëmkin against Jones and he was recalled to St. Petersburg for the pretended purpose of being transferred to a command in the North Sea.

Re: political intrigue.  See also Byzantinism – Wikipedia.

The galley-slave image is courtesy of Ben-Hur (1959) – IMDb.  See also Galley slave – Wikipedia.

Re: Jones’ defense against the rape charge. As Wikipedia noted:

… the Count de Segur, the French representative at the Russian court (and also Jones’ last friend in the capital), conducted his own personal investigation into the matter and was able to convince Potëmkin that the girl had not been raped and that Jones had been accused by Prince de Nassau-Siegen for his own purposes;  Jones, however, admitted to prosecutors that he had “often frolicked” with the girl “for a small cash payment,” only denying that he had deprived her of her virginity.

Note that St. Petersburg [was] the capital of Russia between 1712 and 1918.

The lower image is courtesy of, “United States Naval Academy:  reviews, photos.”

In John Paul JonesEvan Thomas described the return of Jones’ body from France at pages 3 and 4 of his Introduction.  “Jones had died, alone and forgotten, in Paris in 1792.”  His body had lain “in a graveyard so obscure that it had been paved over.”  It had taken months for the American ambassador to find the burial site, “beneath a laundry on the outskirts of the city.”  

On page 3, Thomas described the honor guard, in Paris, of 500 American sailors, all picked for their height – over six feet – and “manly good looks.”  In response to the American honor guard marching down the Champs Elysees – wrote Thomas – “‘Quels beaux garcons!’  whispered the French ladies in the vast, cheering crowd.”  (The French translates roughly to “Who are those fine-looking studs?”)  

As to “Teddy Roosevelt need[ing] a hero,” Jones wrote that Roosevelt wanted to make the United States a great naval power, and so wanted to “celebrate Jones’ legacy with appropriate pomp.”  He therefore decreed that every “officer in our navy should know by heart the deeds of John Paul Jones,” and that all Naval Academy cadets must memorize jones’ “pronouncements on the correct training and proper manners of an officer and a gentleman.”  Then there was the tomb itself:

Jones was laid to his final rest in a marble sarcophagus modeled after Napoleon’s own crypt.  “He gave our Navy,” reads the inscription on the tomb, “its earliest traditions of heroism and victory…”  How Jones would have loved it.

And finally, as to Jones having a “penchant for the ladies:”  At page 298 Thomas wrote of Jones’ response – in part – to the charge of rape, “I love women, I confess, and the pleasures that one only obtains from that sex; but to get such things by force is horrible to me.”

Introduction to “Ashley Wilkes”

GWTW – Good for local business and a “tourist boon for Atlanta…”  

*   *   *   *

I just published a collection of posts from this blog.  The title comes from the one I did on September 1, The mysterious death of Ashley Wilkes.  The sub-title:  “And other tales from the ‘Georgia Wasp.'”  Which is another way of saying that I’m a firm believer in kismet. In one sense it means your lot in life.  (Or the alternative, your fate.)

But in another sense it means a situation “when you encounter something by chance that seems like it was meant to be.”  (Sometimes called a sign from God.  On which see Isaiah 7:11.) That explains why – in my new book of posts – the Mid-summer Travelogs are out of order.  (Part II comes before Part I.)  There’s more on that later, but first an explanation. I live in the ATL – “God’s Country” – and that’s the birthplace of Gone with the Wind.  In turn, “GWTW” has been both good for local business and a “tourist boon for Atlanta.”  (See for example GWTW trail: the top 10 sights in Atlanta.)

Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind trailer cropped.jpgSo after I posted Ashley Wilkes – seen at right, as played by Leslie Howard – I sensed a definite marketing opportunity. Like most people my age – 64 – I sat through the full 220 minutes of the film some time in the 1960s.  (At a periodic re-release in theaters.  That’s almost four hours of running time.)   And I saw it all the way through another time or two, with my parents, at home, on TV.  (Complete with what seemed to be more hours of commercials.)

Since then I’ve seen parts of GWTW dozens of times, in the process of channel surfing.  (A side note: Eugene Polley, who invented the first wireless remote control, died in 2012 at age 96.)

And finally – just last summer – I once again watched the entire movie, all the way through.  (My brother and I were traveling back from Astoria on “unfinished canoe-trip business.”)

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-363-2258-11, Flugzeug Junkers Ju 88.jpgBut it was also only then – after getting home from Astoria – that I learned about Leslie Howard dying so mysteriously.

It happened during the early years of World War II, over the Bay of Biscay off the French coast.  In June 1942, a commercial airliner carried Howard and 16 other passengers and crew from Lisbon to London.  It got shot down by eight Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 88C6 fighter aircraft, like the one above left.

You can see the full story at Mysterious death, the first chapter of this new book.  On that note, some called the shoot down an accident of war.  But others said top Nazis ordered the attack deliberately.  According to this theory, the Germans considered Howard as either a British spy, or as “Britain’s most dangerous propagandist,” or both.

Personally I found this new information fascinating, and wondered why I’d never heard it before.  (Including the part about Conchita Montenegro, seen at right.)  In turn I figured the people of Atlanta would be equally fascinated.  So, I decided to do something about it.

Thus was born The mysterious death of Ashley Wilkes (and other tales from the “Georgia Wasp”), now available in E-book and paperback.

Which brings us back to kismet

To get the book ready to publish, I had to copy-and-paste the first chapter – Mysterious Death – onto a flash drive.  But for some reason, the resulting copy-and-paste resulted in a bunch of posts being transferred.  Some 14 posts in all – including drafts – all the way down to Canoeing 12 miles offshore.  (I posted that on May 23, while I posted Ashley Wilkes on September 1st.)

But rather than get upset, I figured it was kismet.  (Either that or a sign from God)

Which means that a happy accident shaped at least the first draft of the book.  Later I did some tweaking, adding some posts, editing others and deleting some.  But basically the order of chapter-posts in the book came from that initial C&P bit of “kismet.”

There’s more on the other chapters later, but first I wanted to do another bit of homage to Harry Golden.  He’s the guy who inspired me to start this second blog.

Some years ago I bought a second-hand paperback copy of Harry’s book, Only in America.  (Not to be confused with the 2001 Brooks and Dunn song of the same name, or the 2011 “reality television series” featuring Larry the Cable Guy.)

I admired the way he wrote about topics that interested him, yet still managed to find an audience for his ramblings.  I also admired the way he wove stories that became “a wonderful look into a different time.”  And I admired the way he overcame the obstacles in his life, like serving five years in prison for mail fraud.  (See “Wasp.”)

Only in AmericaBut despite it all, Harry still liked to “accentuate the positive.”  And that alone made him both unique and well worth emulating.

I’m pretty sure he too would be fascinated by the mysterious death of Ashley Wilkes.  And I’d like to think he’d enjoy the rest of the book as well.

For example, the second chapter is “Johnny YUMA was a rebel…”  It’s about The Rebel (TV series), that ran from 1959 to 1961.  (And Harry himself was a bit of rebel.  Facing down intolerance, distrust and greed, and standing up “for the weak and downtrodden.”)  But once again there was a death under mysterious circumstances.  The series’ star – Nick Adams – died at age 36, in 1968.  (A mere seven years after the show ended.)

The third chapter is “When adultery was proof of loyalty.”  That post was inspired directly by Harry Golden, who wrote a column of the same name.  I did it as a “book review plus:”

Unfortunately, in Harry’s delightfully retro format – an old-timey newspaper or newsletter – he couldn’t use the full-color pictures, flashy graphics and built-in links that we can use in today’s blogs.  So, this bit of a book review will be more than a bit of an update. (E.A.)

Other chapters include On Oscar Wilde and “gross indecencies.” It talks about the rise and fall of both Oscar Wilde and “computer scientist Alan Turing.”  (As told in the 2014 film, The Imitation Game.)  The lesson?  It pays to remember our past history.  Which is something Harry would believe in. Then there was a chapter On leaving a legacy. It talks about something that should be near and dear to all of us aging Baby Boomers:  Putting your stamp on the future, giving some meaning to your existence, or both.

And speaking of positive mental health advantages…  That’s one of many things that I got – and get – from reading and re-reading Harry Golden’s old books full of columns, observations and essays.  (Books like Only in America and For 2 Cents Plain.)

One reviewer noted above said that Harry’s essays were “at once insightful, thought provoking and in some instances just plain funny.”  Another noted his special brand “of wit and whimsy, and a love of people and learning.”  A third said that Harry’s Carolina Israelite was “the most quoted newspaper of personal journalism of them all.”

In closing, someone once observed that “a man is known by his dreams.”  Assuming that is so, it is my sincere hope – and dream – that I can carry on the good work done by Harry Golden.

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*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Gone With Wind – Image Results.  

Re: positive outlook on life and/or “accentuating the positive.”  Referring to “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,” the 1944 song written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

See also curveball, defined in part as a “particularly difficult issue, obstacle, or problem.”  The point being that life seems to have a habit of “throwing us curveballs.”  See also the alternate definition of dinosaur, assomeone who resists change or is old-fashioned.”

Re: “The ATL.”  The link in the text goes to the Wikipedia article on the Atlanta metropolitan areaBut “ATL” or “the ATL” is a common acronym or abbrevation for the same area, if not Atlanta proper.  (Possibly or partly based on the airport code for Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport – Wikipedia.  See ATL – Acronyms and Abbreviations – The Free Dictionary.)

The “tourist boon for Atlanta” quote is from “A Tough Little Patch of History:”  Atlanta’s Marketplace for Gone With The Wind Memory.  That was the 2007 history dissertation by Jennifer Word Dickey, presently an Assistant Professor of History at Kennesaw State University:

She has a master’s degree in heritage preservation and a Ph.D. in public history from Georgia State University.  Her research focuses on the cultural impact of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, a subject upon which Dr. Dickey has delivered public programs in the United States and in Vietnam.

Re: “periodic re-release in theaters.”  See for example ‘Jaws’ Re-Release:  Film to Hit Theaters for 40th Anniversary:  “On June 21, [2015,] nearly 500 theaters nationwide will show the thriller for its anniversary, presented by Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Universal Pictures.”

899931_80902243Re: “happy accident.”  Also known as Serendipity, originally a term coined by Horace Walpole in 1754 and meaning a “fortunate happenstance” or a “pleasant surprise.”  See Wikipedia, and also Embracing Creative Failure (II): Cultivating Happy Accidents.  The latter web-article discusses happy accidents in the process of creating works of art – as seen at left – and added this:

Where would we be without serendipity…  Without the “X Factor” that unexpected results bring, who knows how long it would have taken scientists to discover oxygen, electric current, photography or the vulcanization of rubber.  And who knows if such vital medical breakthroughs as the discovery of penicillin [or], the development of chemotherapy as a cancer treatment … would have happened at all.

The view of lower Manhattan is courtesy of

Re: “a man is known by his dreams.”  That thought was attributed to Plato, in the third paragraph down of the web article, The Dreams and their Interpretation.

The lower image was featured in Was Moses the first to say “it’s only weird if it doesn’t work?”  In turn it was courtesy of Rephidim – Wikipedia, with the caption:  “Moses holding up his arms during the Battle of Rephidim, assisted by Hur and Aaron, in John Everett Millais Victory O Lord! (1871).”

*   *   *   *

In addition to Gone With The Wind Trail: top 10 sights in Atlanta – vis-a-vis the film being good for local business and tourism – see also Gone with The Wind| Atlanta History CenterVisit the Margaret Mitchell House | AtlantaHistory Center, and/or Gone With The Wind- Roadside Georgia.


A Mid-summer Travelog – Part III

Atlantic City, seen at dusk from the balcony of the Wyndham Skyline Tower


This post continues Mid-summer Travelog (Part I), and Travelog – Part II.  Of course now that it’s October 2 – a full 10 weeks after that road trip ended – this third-of-four installments will be more of a remembrance.  And among other things, I’ve taken another trip since then.

In August I took a trip out west, to Utah, and from there to “the Columbia River, near Astoria, on unfinished canoe-trip business.”  (See Ashley Wilkes.)  That trip took nearly three weeks, from August 10 to the 27.  In the meantime football season is once again upon us.  Which means it’s been a busy time for me.

And it’s also a good time for reflection.

But before we continue the travelog itself, I should remember that these shouldn’t be just the boring ramblings of an aging Geezer.  That’s because:

The journey motif, where a story’s protagonist must complete a quest … is one of the oldest in storytelling.  Usually, there is a prize or reward promised, but often the true reward is different and more valuable, as the protagonist both proves and humbles himself.

See What is a journey motif?  (Emphasis added.)  So I’ll try to keep that in mind…

Anyway, in Part II I noted Steinbeck’s comment: “when I used to work in the woods it was said of lumber men that they did their logging in the whorehouse and their sex in the woods.”   Then I added my own twist:  “Which is another way of saying that it’s only now that my trip is over that I can look back and relish the memories just lived through.”  That was back on July 22, which means this Part III will be doubly reflective.

We resume this installment in Atlantic City.  And as shown in the upper image, from the top floor of the Wyndham Skyline Tower.   That was one of the most pleasant surprises of the trip.  (I’d thought my brother’s  saying “we rented a condo” would mean a quaint little three- or four-bedroom house, somewhere near the beach.)  Being able to look out on “AC” from a 32d-floor balcony – at dawn and dusk – was refreshing indeed.

The installment will end – perhaps metaphorically – at (or near) “Old Swedes” Episcopal cemetery in Swedesboro, New Jersey.  That’s where where we surviving three brothers – along with a niece and matriarchal aunt – laid our father’s ashes to rest.

(As noted in Part I, that memorial lent “a certain gravitas to the whole ‘joint venture.'”)

1962 first edition coverAlso in Part I, I told of trying to fashion my road trip in the manner of Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley.  Which meant – first of all -noting some key differences between highway travel in 1960 and 2015.  (Differences including but not limited to cruise control.)

I noted another difference, on camping not being a cheaper way to travel.  That is, before leaving I decided not to camp as Steinbeck did.  That was because even for tent camping, the price you pay is almost as much as a Motel 6.  But since then I’ve learned that’s not entirely correct.

It is true that camping at a state park these days – even with online reservations – can cost almost as much a night at a Motel 6.  But after the trip I found a website, (See also  I haven’t actually tried one of these yet, but it does bode well for the future.  (And I suppose there’s some kind of object lesson in all this…)

That brings up another key difference between Steinbeck’s time and ours.

On page 167 of the Penguin Edition TWC, Steinbeck wrote of driving across the “upraised thumb of Idaho and through real mountains that climbed straight up.”  There he had a problem: “my radio went dead and I thought it was broken, but it was only that the high ridges cut off the radio waves.”  The point?  Steinbeck had only a car radio to entertain him.

I on the other hand had radio, and a CD player that could – and did – provide an education via lectures on CD.   (Like American History, “patched and piebald,” as seen below left.)

Or I could listen to plain old CDs with music.  (I had around 50 such CDs.)  Or I could listen to pre-programmed music on my iPod Shuffle.  (Which had some eight hours of music.)

And last but not least, I had a six-month trial of SiriusXM (satellite) Radio. That trial came with the new Ford Escape I’d bought the previous May.  It alone had over 175 channels, with comedy, sports, news and information, “commercial-free music,” and traffic and weather.

Which I suppose is as good a metaphor as any for the Information Explosion that now envelopes us today.  (And which “can lead to information overload;” that is, a difficulty in making decisions and understanding issues, caused by too much information.)

But before writing more about Atlantic City, I wanted to note another similarity.

On pages 136-37 of the Penguin Books TWC, Steinbeck wrote about rarely making notes along the way.  But (he added), “I made some notes on a sheet of yellow paper on the nature and quality of being alone.”  Such notes – he said – would normally have gotten lost, “as notes are always lost, but these particular notes turned up long afterward wrapped around a bottle of ketchup and secured by a rubber band.”

He found three notes altogether – all on being alone – with one lying “obscurely under a streak of ketchup.“  He took over a full page of TWC on the third note, “Reversion to pleasure-pain basis.”  He then concluded, “so much for the three notes below the red stain on the ketchup bottle.”  Public Chicago Hotel - Chicago, IL, United StatesAll of which had to do with the fact that  “After the comfort and the company of Chicago I had had to learn to be alone again.”  (His wife flew out to meet him in Chicago, and for a few days they stayed at the “Ambassador East.”  The lobby is seen at right.)

Along the same lines, I recently found a note I’d written during my road trip.  It was from Sunday, June 28, written on an odd scrap of paper in the Walmart parking lot on Virginia Beach Boulevard.

Road trip – Sometimes you’re amazed at how well things turn out like you “planned.”  (Appearance of Walmart this morning.)  And sometimes you have to adapt – Saturday driving up I-95 through rain and traffic.

That all had to do with how “fouled up” the driving had been on Saturday, the 27th.  Not only was the traffic on Interstate 95 even worse than usual…  Aside from that, a strong and long line of thunderstorms took it’s sweet time, taking all day Saturday to pass through the area.

(And knocking out the power for five hours in Williamsburg.  See Part II.)

But then on Sunday morning the sun was out, and driving was fun again.  The only problem was that I needed cash for the toll onto the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge.  I pondered the question while driving east toward Virginia Beach.  I wanted to visit the beach itself, and also looked for First Landing State Park, when all of a sudden – “as if by magic” – a Walmart appeared to my left.  (That’s my normal routine when needing cash.  Rather than pay an ATM fee, I generally go to a Walmart, get some inexpensive necessity and get cash that way.)

All of which could be just another way of saying, “Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you.”  Or as Steinbeck said, “we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”  (TWC-2, 4)

And by the way, I’m pretty sure they didn’t have ATMs in 1960.

Then too, that “magical moment in travel” was pretty much what happened when – later in the week – the three parts of the family got together for the memorial in Swedesboro.  We all came together “as if by magic.”

In the meantime I just checked the word counter.  It said the last paragraph put me at 1,344 words.  That means it’s time to start wrapping this up.

So here’s a condensed version of journal entries for this trip-part.  For readers more interested – or more masochistic– there’s a longer version at the end of the notes.

On Monday evening, June 29, I treated my hosts to dinner at the Hard Rock Café down on the Boardwalk.  (“I made believe I lost my credit card.  Hah!  Fooled everyone.”)  Then at another restaurant a day or so later, I walked off and left my cell phone.  I got it back, but it reminded me of something a fellow old-person once said:  “I’m not senile, I’m processing!”

Which probably qualifies as the travel writer “humbling himself.”

I don’t recall Steinbeck writing of such problems in his journey.  But see also A “Travels With Charley” Timeline, which noted “screaming signs of fictionalization,” Steinbeck’s being “fuzzy about time and place,” not to mention vague and confusing:

The book also includes scenes of several lonely overnight campouts under the stars that didn’t happen and it omits many things Steinbeck did with his wife Elaine when she joined him for a month on the West Coast.

But hey, nobody’s perfect.  (See also “young pup – definition … from the Oxford dictionary.”)

One definite highlight of the stay in Atlantic City was a visit to the Tuckerton Seaport & Baymen’s Museum (seen at right):

“Only six bucks and a great bargain at that, even though many of the exhibits were still closed, due to Superstorm Sandy.”  And among other things, I learned about the Battle of Chestnut Neck, which I’d never heard of.  (In the Revolutionary War.)

See also Travel broadens the mind, with 50 inspiring quotes, including one from Steinbeck: “A journey is like marriage.  The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”

On that note, we also did a lot of walking along the Boardwalk over several days in AC, marked by “stopping and starting, shopping, and watching the ‘passing panoply.'”

But getting back to that Journey Motif, “leading to an epiphany, or some sort of self-realization.”

We left Atlantic city on Thursday, July 2, heading for the Swedesboro cemetery.  I followed my even-more-delightfully-retro brother, who refuses to use anything like a GPS.  West on U.S. 322, not wanting to pay a toll or go through the traffic on the Atlantic City Expressway.  There were a number of stops and starts, not to mention turnarounds and dead ends, and we were supposed to meet up with the rest of the family at noon.

I was starting to have my doubts, but we ended up getting “to the cemetery right at 12:04, just behind the Prius;” i.e., the one  carrying the oldest brother, his wife and matriarchal aunt, “just getting out of the car.”  It reminded me of Steinbeck’s finding a friend’s house on Deer Isle:

I climbed a hill and turned right into pine woods and on a smaller road, and turned right on a very narrow road and turned right again on wheel tracks on pine needles.  It is so easy once you have done it.

Picture(TWC-2, 46)  As I wrote in my journal, “We laid Dad’s ashes to rest where the nice guy had dug a huge hole.  Each of us said a little something, then we had a nice lunch at a ‘Fireside’ restaurant in Swedesboro.”  (Rode’s Fireside Restaurant, at left.)

Then we drove across the Delaware Memorial Bridge to our aunt’s house in Wilmington.

Which brings up the matter of my crossing the Delaware River in my kayak the next morning.  It seems that crossing the Delaware is why there are two “Old Swedes” on each side of the river:

The journey across the Delaware by canoe and sailboat was hazardous and often impossible.  In 1706, the first priest serving St. George’s, The Reverend Lars Tollstadius was drowned while crossing the Delaware.

See the notes below, St. Georges Episcopal Church Pennsville, and also The Delaware Finns:  “on the 29th of May 1706, Tollstadius was drowned in crossing the Delaware in a canoe.  Before his death, the congregation had found objections against him, for his irregular mode of living.”  But see also Trinity Episcopal Church, Swedesboro, which had it this way:

After Tollstadius’ apparent suicide in 1706 (he was under indictment by the Burlington Court), he was succeeded by Jonas Auren, one of the three pastors to arrive in 1697. (E.A.)

Be that as it may…  (I don’t want to get into either “irregular modes of living” or being under indictment.)  Be that as it may, I myself paddled across the Delaware in a little 8-foot kayak, early the next morning and notwithstanding the danger!  (As noted in Parts I and II.)  It took almost exactly an hour, from Battery Park in New Castle, across the river to Riverview Beach Park in Pennsville.  But aside from a couple of humongous freighters on the river – and the wakes they generated – the crossing was pretty uneventful.

So much for learning from history


“Old Swede’s Church [Trinity Church] in Swedesboro, New Jersey…”


The upper image is courtesy of Wyndham Skyline Tower – 64 Photos, and/or “Giovanni A.

The “football” image is courtesy of College football – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “The Rutgers College football team in 1882.”

A note:  Quotes from “Travels with Charlie” are generally from the 1980 Penguin Books edition.  Quotes from “TWC-2” are from the 1962 “Viking Press” edition.

Re: Old Swedes, New Jersey.  That’s not to be confused with Old Swedes – Wilmington, across the river, known as Holy Trinity.  Old Swedes New Jersey was built because of the difficulty in crossing the Delaware River, as noted elsewhere:  “To attend church, the Swedish settlers in Raccoon had to cross the river to Wilmington or Philadelphia.  The difficulty of this crossing led to the decision to build a new church on the banks of Raccoon Creek.”

Another note: The “laying to rest” of my father’s ashes actually occurred at Lake Park Cemetery in Woolwich, some six-tenths of a mile south of the Jersey Old Swedes.  Thus the phrase “at (or near) “Old Swedes.”

Re “Ambassador East.”  See The Pump Room, Chicago – Wikipedia:  “The Pump Room … is a restaurant located in the Public Chicago Hotel, formerly The Ambassador East, in Chicago‘s Gold Coast area.”  The lobby image is courtesy of Public Chicago Hotel – 136 Photos.

Re:  “Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you.”  A variation of the phrase popularized in 1998’s The Big Lebowski.  (See Wikipedia.)  See also Urban Dictionary: sometimes you eat the bear, and/or What does this quote from The Big Lebowski mean?

The lower image is courtesy of Swedesboro, New Jersey – Wikipedia.

*   *   *   *

Other highlights of this portion of the road trip included a visit to the Absecon Lighthousedinner at the LandShark Bar & Grill Restaurant in Atlantic City (on the Boardwalk), a visit to Longwood Gardens (north of Wilmington in Pennsylvania, “one of the premier botanical gardens in the United States”), and another dinner at Gallucio’s Italian Restaurantt in Wilmington.

All highly recommended by this “travel writer…”



On rectal thermometers and “you’re entitle'”

“Voyageur canoe shooting the rapids,” not unlike what yours truly will do in the next few weeks… 


I’m leaving town on Monday, August 10, and won’t be back until August 27.  (A matter of some unfinished business, canoe-trip-wise.)   So here’s a post that I hope will tide you over.

I recently ran across one of Harry Golden‘s later books.  It’s called You’re entitle’ , and it was published in 1962.  (By the World Publishing Company of Cleveland.)  As noted in Harry Golden, My Father & ‘Entitlements’ – Zest of Orange, that was the “expression of a free man:”

You’re Entitle’ … was not nearly as successful as its predecessors[, including] Only in America (1958), For 2¢ Plain (1958)…  Golden dedicated the book to his father[:]  “All his life he spoke a halting English, though he certainly made his ideas clear enough,” wrote Golden. “He was enamored of the phrase, ‘You’re entitle’.’  In his youth, Golden would correct him, saying, “It ends with a d, Poppa.”  His father would nod understandingly “but the next time it still came out, ‘You’re entitle’.”

As noted below, this later book contains a number of gems that could be reflected on.  Things like “the good life,” the ongoing Conservative Tide, and rectal thermometers as a sign of gradual integration.  (Not that there’s any connection…)

Product DetailsThe first nugget of wisdom came on page 25, “A note in passing:”

I am a reporter and, I hope, no sermonizer.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t know something about this process of living.  I shall soon see my sixtieth year and along with hundreds of thousands of other middle-aged men, I believe the good life, as the Greeks called it, is within reach.  We only have to be careful about two things.  First, don’t get in trouble with the Internal Revenue people; and second, don’t get mixed up with a woman.

Those last two are still good advice.  But I was struck by the combination of his referring to almost-60 as “middle aged,” and the connotation with it, that he was “older and wiser.”  Of course we all tend to get wiser as we grow older, but Harry’s idea of “60 as the new 30” seems way ahead of his time.  See On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30″ – (Part II), which noted John Updike’s “overall image of 65-year-olds in 1969 is of people who really are over the hill. ”

So once again, Harry Golden was ahead of his time.

Which brings up his meditation (also on page 25), “Memo to Senator Goldwater.”

One of the things which the country could stand right now [1962] is a movement spearheaded by Senator Goldwater [seen below right] and Mr. William Buckley, of the National Review, to change the designation of the “liberal arts college” to the “conservative arts college.”  We might as well have this thing out in then open.

Barry Goldwater photo1962.jpgThere’s some debate whether the “Conservative Tide” in America is waxing or waning. See Conservative tide continues to ebb, particularly on social issues, posted in 2014.  But see also Conservative tide that swept Reagan in may be subsiding, which said basically the same thing in 1985.  The fact remains, however, that Harry had a fine sense of irony.

Which brings up again the title of Harry’s 1962 book, as meditated on by the Zest of Orange blogger:

That word, wrote Golden, “was the expression of a free man.  No one was entitled in Eastern Europe.  You served in the army for 10 years and it entitled you to nothing.  Your taxes entitled you to no franchise.  But in America men were free and entitled…”  Golden wrote those words in 1962.  My, how times have changed.

Times have indeed changed, but so far America remains free…

Which is due in large part to both our national despising of phonies and our sense of American ingenuity.  Harry gave an example on page 108, “You had to have baggage.”  This essay had to do with the Raines law.  Passed in 1896 by the New York legislature, the law “prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday except in hotels.”  As Harry noted, the law was also designed to improve the morals of hotel-keepers (and guests), and to cut down on prostitution.

But as Wikipedia noted, the result was “dozens or Raines law hotels,” usually right over saloons. The result was an actual increase in prostitution, “as the rooms in many ‘Raines law hotels’ were used mostly by prostitutes and unmarried couples.”  There were also the “saloon keepers who mocked the law by setting out ‘brick sandwiches,’ two pieces of bread with a brick in between, thus fulfilling the legal requirement of serving food.”

But Harry noted yet another example of the law of unintended consequences:

When the Raines law was passed … it was designed to improve morals, especially the morals of hotel-keepers and their guests.  One of the provisions of the law was that you could not rent a room to a couple unless they had baggage.  A day after the law went into effect, a dozen luggage stores opened up along Sixth Avenue with big signs, “Baggage rented.”  A fellow with a girl walked into one of these stores and for a two-dollar deposit and a fifty-cents-an-hour rate got a bag filled with newspapers, and they went off together happily to the hotel. When they were through  they returned the bag and got the deposit back.

Which brings up what Calvin – of Calvin and Hobbes – had to say on the matter:

Calvin on Obeying the Law - debate Photo

See also On “expressio unius,” which discussed the concept of gaming the system, otherwise known as “manipulating the system for a desired outcome.”  (At which Americans seem adept.)

And finally, getting back to Harry Golden’s “fine sense of irony.”

On page 218 of You’re entitle’, Harry noted a telling anomaly.  (Again, in 1962):

In the emergency room of the Alachua General Hospital at Gainesville, Florida, there are three thermometers.  They stand in a row on a small shelf with nothing else.  The first is in an open container labeled:  “WHITE – ORAL,” the third is in an identical container labeled, “COLORED – ORAL,” and the middle one, which protrudes through a cork, in its otherwise sameness, is labeled “RECTAL.”

This is what I call gradual integration.

Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or cry…


The upper image is courtesy of Canoe – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Re: World Publishing.  See Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: WORLD PUBLISHING CO., which noted that “World” was a “major publisher of Bibles, dictionaries, and children’s and trade books.”

The Goldwater image is courtesy of Barry Goldwater – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

 The Calvin cartoon is courtesy of Calvin on Obeying the Law – Debate Photo (1160519) – Fanpop.

The lower image is courtesy of States.  The caption:  “An African-American man goes into the ‘colored’ entrance of a movie theater in Belzoni, Mississippi, 1939.

On American History, “patched and piebald” of Independence:  John Adams – “patched and piebald” – stands at center, hand on hip…


Here’s a break in the action from my multi-volume Mid-summer Travelog.

I recently got some  much-needed cheering up on the political front.  I got cheered up by listening to two lectures on CD.  The one I just started is Brotherhood of the Revolution: How America’s Founders Forged a New Nation.  I started listening just a few days ago.

The other CD – actually an audiobook – was Chris Matthew’s Life’s a Campaign.   I talked about it on June 12, in “Great politicians sell hope.”  I noted the book gave me the sense that the most of the U.S. presidents of the past have been – overall, generally, and even the ones I didn’t like – “decent, honorable and capable.”  What’s more, the book gave me a sense that the same applies – in general – “to politicians today.  (Gasp!)”

I’ll write more on Campaign later, but for now I’ll focus on Brotherhood of the Revolution.

I got as far as Lecture 3 – Disc 2, Track 6 – where I felt moved to note the disconnect between history as it’s written – and taught – and as it actually happens. (How it’s actually lived through.)  John Adams – for one – preferred the more-accurate history as actually lived through, as opposed to the popular rose-colored glasses.  See Adams and American Mythology:

In elementary school, they told us that the Founding Fathers were Great Men.  They sat down in Philadelphia in 1776 with a mandate from God, and calmly and certainly wrote the Declaration of Independence.  Then they fought the British, and then they founded the first democracy ever, and then independence and democracy spread to the rest of the world.  They knew what they were doing.  They were carried by a sure and steady tide.

The American Mythology site said this mythos “became popular while Adams was still alive,” but it was a view of history he loathed.  That was followed by a statement of “nothing certain in what those ‘great men’ did in Philadelphia.”  Our American History – as lived through – was “improvised, patched together, made up from one moment to the next, with every outcome uncertain until it was safely past.”

1776 film poster.jpgThe site noted the musical 1776 – and film, shown at left – which had John Adams saying these words.  (Words that mirrored “almost exactly” what he wrote in a letter to Benjamin Rush in 1790):

I’ll not be in the history books.  Only Franklin.  Franklin did this, and Franklin did that, and Franklin did some other damn thing.  Franklin smote the ground, and out sprang General Washington, fully grown and on his horse.  Then Franklin electrified him with that miraculous lightning-rod of his, and the three of them – Franklin, Washington, and the horse – conducted the entire War for Independence all by themselves.

The article noted another book by Ellis, his 2002 Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation.  See also Wikipedia, which described the “fractious disputes and hysterical rhetoric of these contentious nation-builders.” (Emphasis added.)

Wikipedia said these disputes might come across today as “hyperbolic pettiness.”  (Hyperbole is the use of “exaggeration as a rhetorical device.”)  But the article added that Founding Brothers showed the real issues, the “driving assumptions and riveting fears that animated Americans’ first encounter with the organized ideologies and interests we call parties.”  (And apparently that “hysterical rhetoric” isn’t limited to our times.)  Then came Adams:

As Adams remembered it… ‘all the great critical questions about men and measure from 1774 to 1778’ were desperately contested and highly problematic…   Nothing was clear, inevitable, or even comprehensible to the soldiers in the field at Saratoga or the statesmen in the corridors at Philadelphia:  ‘It was patched and piebald policy then, as it is now, ever was, and ever will be, world without end.’  The real drama of the American Revolution … was its inherent messiness.

(Emphasis added.)  Note that term, “inherent messiness.”

And incidentally, the term “piebald” usually refers to the spotting on a certain type of horse.  (As shown at right.)  But in a metaphoric sense it means “composed of incongruous parts.”  See for example piebald – Wikipedia, and Piebald … Merriam-Webster.

See also American Creation – Book Review, noting Ellis on Adams’ theory that – in the history of the Revolution as people lived it – “contingency played a large role in shaping the decisions of leaders who were often making it up as they went along, teetering on the edge of the abyss.”

Note that term too, “teetering on the edge of the abyss,” which also seems to apply today.

Which brings us back to Brotherhood of the Revolution.  As noted, I’ve gotten as far as Lecture Three.  Ellis said that in the process of studying Adams – living through the Revolution as he did – it was most fascinating to read his letters and diaries.  Those papers give “a sense of how confused and how incoherent and inchoate events seemed at the time.”  And this was especially true of the letters of Adams to his wife Abigail in the critical years 1775-1776.

Ellis noted the turmoil of those two years, engulfing the Colonies.  But during that key time in American History, John and Abigail wrote mostly about their children, and about the smallpox epidemic raging through America at the time.  See Siege of Boston – Wikipedia.  Their biggest fear was of losing their children.  (And so it likely is of all history “as it’s lived through.”)

Which Ellis said brought up the point that when we study history, we normally divide it into “segments.”  But history as it’s lived through – as it happens – “happens in a variety of different ways, all at the same time.”  Which brings up that key difference, between how Adams saw such developing history, and how a guy named Thomas Jefferson saw it.

In later years, Jefferson recalled the Revolution as “clear moral conflict between right and wrong.”  But Adams saw the Revolution as a chaotic event, a “concatenation, a tumbling, overlapping experience of turmoil.”  And that chaos – illustrated at left – swept up all Americans living at the time.  Adams rejected Jefferson’s view of American history.  He thought his patched and piebald memory of the war was more accurate:

“We didn’t know what we were doing.  We were improvising … always on the edge of catastrophe.”

Which brings us to today’s political gridlock.

Before I listened to Brotherhood, I felt that we too are living in a time of chaos.  See Gridlock in Congress?  It’s probably even worse than you think (Washington Post), Political gridlock: Unprecedentedly dysfunctional, (The Economist),  and Political Gridlock – Huffington Post.  (A list of articles on the current gridlock.)

But after listening to the CD, I came to think maybe today’s gridlock is more of a “Situation Normal.”  (Or as Adams would say, politics “as it is now, ever was, and ever will be, world without end.”)  Remember those terms, “improvised, patched together, made up from one moment to the next?”  “Hysterical rhetoric?”  “Teetering on the edge of the abyss?

As Churchill said, “No one pretends democracy is perfect or all wise.  Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried…

So cheer up.  At least we haven’t come to this!   (Not yet anyway…)


Congressman Brooks makes a point of order with Senator Sumner…

The upper image is courtesy of  The caption:  “50 men, most of them seated, are in a large meeting room. Most are focused on the five men standing in the center of the room.  The tallest of the five is laying a document on a table.”

See also The Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull, and John Adams – Wikipedia, with the caption: “Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence depicts committee presenting draft Declaration of Independence to Congress.   Adams at center has hand on hip.”  Thus Trumbull showed “only” the presentation of the first draft of the Declaration, not the signing itself.

Re:  The views of Ellis – and Adams – on history as people actually live through it:  “What in retrospect has the look of a foreordained unfolding of God’s will was in reality an improvisational affair in which sheer chance” – not to mention pure luck – “determined the outcome.”  See also Trust and Caution – The New York Times, which noted:  “How to live in a tragic milieu and yet strive toward triumph … was a consuming concern for the founders.”  As it is even to this day

Re: 1775-1776.  The full cite in the text is American Revolution: Conflict and Revolution 1775-1776.

Re: Smallpox during the siege of Boston.  See The Siege of Boston & Smallpox – 1775 – 1776, and Colonial Germ Warfare : The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.  The latter especially noted the circumstantial evidence that the British engaged in a form of germ warfare against Americans during the siege.  The article noted most British troops had either been inoculated or had smallpox, and thus were immune.  Further, smallpox was endemic in Europe at the time – “almost always present” – so that nearly everyone had been exposed, and “most of the adult population had antibodies that protected it.”  On the other hand, most American soldiers were susceptible; at the time of the siege most Americans had never come in contact with the virus, and thus had no immunity.

As Ellis also noted in Brotherhood of the Revolution,  John Adams was a paradox, a “conservative revolutionary,” as shown by his defending the British soldiers after the “Boston Massacre.”  See The Boston Massacre Trials | John Adams Historical Society, and also Boston Massacre – Wikipedia:

The trial of the eight soldiers opened on November 27, 1770.  Adams told the jury to look beyond the fact the soldiers were British.  He argued that if the soldiers were endangered by the mob, which he called “a motley rabble of saucy boys, negroes, and molattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs [i.e. sailors],” they had the legal right to fight back, and so were innocent.  If they were provoked but not endangered, he argued, they were at most guilty of manslaughter.

Which raises the question:  Are there any such conservative revolutionaries today?

The chaos image is courtesy of Chaos theory – WikipediaThe caption:

Turbulence in the tip vortex from an airplane wing.  Studies of the critical point beyond which a system creates turbulence were important for chaos theory[, including] that fluid turbulence could develop through a strange attractor, a main concept of chaos theory.

The Churchill quote is from Winston Churchill’s Quote on Democracy : Papers – Free Essays.

The lower image is courtesy of Caning of Charles Sumner – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThe caption:  “Lithograph of Preston Brooks‘ 1856 attack on Sumner; the artist depicts the faceless assailant bludgeoning the learned martyr.”  See also 1851: Caning of Senator Charles Sumner – May 22, 1856 (Senate Archives), and Preston Brooks – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Note that Sumner recovered from the attack and returned to the Senate in 1859.  He served throughout the Civil War and beyond, until 1872, where he served much of the time as “powerful chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.”

Brooks on the other hand died less than a year later, “unexpectedly from croup in January 1857…   The official telegram announcing his death stated ‘He died a horrid death, and suffered intensely.'”