20. November 2019 · Comments Off on The Seemingly Unending Schiff Show · Categories: Ain't That America?, European Disunion, Fun and Games, My Head Hurts, Rant

I was going through my routine at Planet Fitness this morning, as is our habit – three times weekly, usually around 8 of the clock; half-past at latest, for an hour on the elliptical and the stair-step with a cool-down on the recumbent. There is a bank of television screens across the middle of the gym, offering all the alphabet networks, plus CNN, Univision, the Planet Fitness channel, and something that has Friends and Seinfeld on rotation during the time that I am not watching any of them. (I have perfected the art of reading my Kindle while stepping and pedaling; after all, being able to read makes the whole exercise thing bearable.)

All the news feeds – four or five of the screens had the same damn unending Schiff show; which is to say that interminable search for solid grounds upon which to impeach a sitting and duly elected president of the USA. More »

12. October 2019 · Comments Off on Occupation: A French Village · Categories: European Disunion, History, That's Entertainment!, War

On the strong recommendation of David Foster, the Daughter-Unit and I began to watch: A French Village, that seven-season long miniseries which follows five years of German occupation and a bit of the aftermath as it affects the lives of a handful of characters in a small town in eastern France close to the Swiss border – from the day that the German invaders arrive, to the aftermath of the occupation, in a fractured peace, when all was said and done. (It’s available through Amazon Prime.) A good few of the occupants of that village did not really welcome liberation and had damn good reasons – guilty consciences, mostly, for having collaborated with the Germans with varying degrees of enthusiasm. (A benefit is that this series stars actors of whom we have never heard, in French with English subtitles. Given how the establishment American entertainment media has gone all noisily woke, anti-Trump and abusive towards us conservative residents of Flyoverlandia, this is a darned good thing. Seriously, for years and years I used to only personally boycott Jane Fonda and Cat Stevens, now my list of ‘oh, hell NEVER! actors and personalities is well into the scores.)
More »

30. April 2018 · Comments Off on Citizens, Subjects and Audience · Categories: Ain't That America?, European Disunion, Health and Wellness, Luna, Media Matters Not

I am distracted this week, through having to oversee and assist with a spot of home renovation, and the launch of Book Six of the Luna City Chronicles – One Half Dozen of Luna City, which is available as of today in print, Kindle and other ebook formats – although by no means have I not paid attention to various news hiccups which caught my fleeting attention as they went past.

As a parent, I can’t help but be sympathetic and supportive of little Alfie Evans’ parents, whose’ medical situation was as heartbreaking as it was mysterious and likely terminal. Just as I cannot help being viciously cynical regarding the decision by hospital and National Health Service administrators to set the poor tot on the so-called Liverpool Care pathway. Over the strenuous objections of his parents, the church which his parents apparently belonged to, any number of advocates for the rights of parents – all life support cut off, including oxygen, nourishment and water, with the powers of the State and its police minions standing by to enforce the dictates of the state. More »

One of my internet guilty pleasures is perusing the website of the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, both the US and UK sides. I know – in the grand scheme of things, the Daily Mail is about one half-step up from a tabloid. The captions and headlines often give evidence of being written by middle-school students innocent of any knowledge of conventional grammar or spelling, they employ the execrable Piers Morgan, editorially despise Donald Trump, and have this inexplicable and unholy fascination with all things Kardashian. In my early blogging days, I favored the rather more high-class Times of London, and the Telegraph, but they went all pay-wall and frankly, hard to read. In any case and against the above-listed foibles and more, the Daily Mail is a free and straightforward read. Start at the top and scroll down; no hopscotching around to the various menu headings, hoping to get lucky and find something interesting. They nearly always do provide some daily amusement, or horror, depending on tastes. And they cover American news without fear or favor – although, as noted, they have no abiding affection for The Donald. They didn’t have for The Barack, either, so I’ll take what I can get, for easy AM reading.
This week’s headline bruhaha made the American conservative side of the blogosphere develop that kind of nervous eyelid twitch demonstrated by Inspector Clouseau’s boss in the classic Pink Panther series: an elderly retiree in a distant London suburb surprised a pair of burglars who had broken into his house in the middle of the night with the intent of robbery and god knows what other kind of criminal mayhem. This being England, land of hope and glory and strict gun control, the thirty-something burglar (who had a comprehensive record as an honest-work-shy professional criminal) was armed with an assault screwdriver, with which he menaced the home-owner. Much to everyone’s surprise – including, no doubt, the professional burglar and his faithful sidekick – the elderly retiree succeeded in defending himself against a pair of younger and presumably bigger men. Indeed, one of the felonious pair was stabbed fatally with his own screwdriver, collapsing in the street outside, whereupon his faithful sidekick abandoned him, gunned their escape vehicle, and vanished in a cloud of exhaust. (The police are searching for him, at last result, although they have located the burned-out escape vehicle. So much for honor among thieves, and the ability of the London police force.) The assault screwdriver-wielding professional career criminal was found, bloodied and dying in the street, taken to a hospital, wherein he expired. Well, they always said that crime doesn’t pay, even though for him it seemed that the eventual bill was a long time coming. More »

03. June 2017 · Comments Off on Yet Another Terrorist Incident … London · Categories: European Disunion

Yeah – this has gotten to the point where we can make sick jokes about it all.

26. June 2016 · Comments Off on Bubbles, Harbingers, and the Perils of Talking Past Each Other · Categories: European Disunion, Politics, World

If ever there was a nation-sized demonstration of the Pauline Kael intellectual bubble on the part of a national elite being caught with their metaphorical trousers down and their pale pasty behinds glowing radioactively for all to see … then the vote this last week for Britain to depart the EU at speed would be it. Here all the movers and shakers, the intellectual, social and political set were so certain in their own rectitude – and equally convinced of the stupidity, backwardness and flat-out racism of their fellow citizens … well, of course, I can almost hear the wailing from the Remainders all the way in Texas. Because – all the right-thinking people agreed with them; membership in the EU was a Positive Good, and the Way Forward, and the Wave of the Future, and such membership showered nothing but good things upon them ….

Well, it showered good things on the right-thinking people, but everyone else living outside the privilege bubble saw disadvantages up the whazoo, including the fact that basically, there was no appeal. Everything from the sugar content in jam to the proper curvature of bananas – and that was just the petty, annoying stuff – was all in rules written by some faraway bureaucrat who could never be sacked for cause, or voted out of office.

It was a transnational government without the consent of the governed. That absolutely has to get up peoples’ noses, having become accustomed for the last two hundred years or so of having some degree of input with regard to those in government, either through voting for them, or at the very least, being able to appeal effectively through protest and lobbying.

And of course, the absolutely crowning insult – after enduring the downside of EU membership, and being vocal about said downside – is a toxic combination of having your valid concerns not addressed in any meaningful fashion, but being disparaged as a racist, a nationalist, practically a Nazi, and a stupid old bitter clinger. Slapping down the race and xenophobia card is the last resort of those who actually have no concrete, defensible rationale for their actions, or are disinclined to defend them in a logical and rational manner: Shut up you stupid peasant, and let your betters make the meaningful decisions.

So in that sense, voting for Brexit was for ordinary Brits as much of an “up yours” to their establishment as backing Donald Trump is for ordinary, flyover country, working class Americans. (More along these lines from City Journal, here.)

24. June 2016 · Comments Off on On the Occasion of Victory for Brexit · Categories: European Disunion

…may I present a spot of Gilbert and Sullivan for your Friday morning pleasure!

30. March 2016 · Comments Off on The Things We Are Asked To Give Up · Categories: European Disunion, GWOT, Politics

So, as I am devoting all my energy and time to finishing the first draft of another book, I have been following – with lashings of sorrow, pity, dread and the merest splash of schadenfreude – developments in Europe. Germany, which seems to be cracking under the weight of a full load of so-called refugees, Sweden, ditto, Brussels, where the concerned citizens appear to be too frightened to continue with a protest march against fear, and the governing authorities appear to be more concerned about the legendary anti-Muslim backlash than the certainty of Islamic terror unleashed in some European or English city.

The transnational progressive ruling elites have their concerns; you see … not the safety or well-being of their own native tribes, who appear to have been bulldozed by political correctitude into assuming the supine and unresisting position. Every bit of national pride and cultural confidence looks to have been kicked out of the native European tribes over the last half-century. Whether this cultural demoralization was calculated or unwitting is still up for grabs, I guess – but there you are; the enduring image is of powerless serfs, savagely disciplined by their overlords for any breach of discipline or expression of objection or dissent, only now the overlords don’t bear patents of nobility as did the old Ruling Class. The new Ruling Class may not boast of noble titles in the old sense and noblesse hasn’t obliged to anything but veiled contempt directed at those of their own countrymen lower down on the ladder than themselves.(The sense of towering entitlement and vicious social snobbery has carried on, so there is that tradition being maintained.)

So once that national pride and cultural confidence has been destroyed, what is to be next? Such qualities are intangible things, even if they were once powerful motivators of the native European national tribes. They lead to nasty things such as wars, which the transnational progressives can’t stomach, and which ordinary people aren’t that wild about anyway, and after two particularly nasty wars rubbished cities and gutted two generations of their best and brightest, why not set them aside and give peace a chance?  Or so I presume the reasoning goes.

The worrying aspect of the recent tidal flood of Muslim refugees into Western Europe is that in order to keep the peace between the migrants and the local German, or French, Danish, English or Swedish citizens, some things must be given up. In times before, it would have been the incoming refugees who would have been asked to give up; customs incompatible with the host nation for a start. In this topsy-turvy world of the new transnational Ruling Class, though – it appears so far to be the native Europeans who are being asked to give up; a sense of being safe in their own streets for a start, especially when it comes to unaccompanied women. In France and in Belgium, whole urban neighborhoods have already been given up to the rule of sharia. The matter of the Danish cartoons and Charlie Hebdo have pretty well proven to anyone paying attention that freedom of speech, or at least the right to poke fun at Mohammed and Muslims in general is being limited.  There is a plan on already for female-only railway coaches on German trains, and for woman-only hours or spaces at public pools. It has been spottily reported that groups like Sharia4Belgium actively campaigned at a street level for Muslims and non-Muslims alike to begin conforming to Islamic custom. Other sharia4 organizing groups appear to have something more than just an internet presence, in demanding that secular law be set aside in favor of sharia – religious law.

A few years ago, I read of traditional folk street festivals in the Lowlands, being broken up and participants attacked by Muslim men. I can’t find any trace of those particular stories now – they have sunk without a trace, but they all track in the same direction. Folk and religious custom, civil law, safety in the streets and on transport, freedom of expression … what next will Europeans and Americans be asked by the Ruling Class to put limits on, or to give up? And what will be the one thing which will finally set off an explosion of rebellion among ordinary Europeans? Forbidding the consumption of pork sausages, or public beer drinking in deference to Muslims, would be my bet, although your mileage may vary. Discuss.

10. January 2016 · Comments Off on Cannon Fodder · Categories: European Disunion, Fun With Islam, Rant

An archaic term, in general; according to the wildly variable and sometimes suspect Wikipedia, it is a term taken from an even more archaic term for food for livestock. “Soldiers are the metaphorical food for enemy cannon fire.” Wikipedia defines the expression further as, “…an informal, derogatory term for combatants who are regarded … as expendable in the face of enemy fire … or to distinguish expendable low-grade or inexperienced combatants from supposedly more valuable veterans.”

Expendable is the operative word, and expendable without much regret on the part of the credentialed elite – the political, social or military elite – because the expected goal is considered worth the sacrifice, especially if the sacrifice is borne by others. Reading this week about the sexual violence reported – reluctantly in many cases by German media – as being perpetrated on a grand scale by recent Middle Eastern migrants masquerading as war refugees on women in German cities on this last New Years Eve gave me a sickening new understanding of the concept.

Indeed – here we have a transcendently generous, philanthropic goal; to provide sanctuary for the poor innocent refugee from wars’ alarms and horrors. It is a worthy goal, by the way – when genuine refugees are considered, and those providing sanctuary are quite firmly realistic about the situation and limitations. But authorities in Europe who made a great, enthusiastic show regarding welcoming Middle Eastern refugees all through last year now must accept – and accept they must, however reluctantly – that they have made their own women into sexual cannon fodder. They have enabled molestation, gang rape, robbery and massive harassment in their own streets … all so that the ruling elite might bask in the glow of their own self-righteousness. Well, done, Angela Merkel and the mayor of Cologne, and those media outlets who refused to make mention of the various incidents, which now appear to have been happening for months on a smaller scale.

However, Ms Merkel and the German ruling elite are hardly alone in selling out their citizenry to sexual exploitation for fear of being termed racist. Social workers and police looked the other way for decades in Rotherham, England … and our own very dear establishment media organs in the United States have downplayed criminal offences perpetuated by illegal aliens for years.
Cannon fodder, indeed. Discuss.

20. October 2015 · Comments Off on Dissolving the People · Categories: European Disunion, Fun With Islam, sarcasm

Berthold Brecht’s bitterly satiric poem “The Solution” has now and again been quoted here, usually in regard to some towering idiocy on the part of a government given to complaining about a lack of support among citizens for some particular national objective. Note that I specified citizens in the once-commonly-accepted American sense, and not the citizens-as-subjects in the European sense, which seems to imply that the ordinary people of a particular nation are there merely to serve as a kind of sheep to be sheared economically, or as metaphorical cannon-fodder to be marshaled up and flung to the front of whatever national objective that the national ruling class has ruled must be the focus of the effort of the moment.

After the uprising of the 17th of June
The Secretary of the Writers’ Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

Nasty old Commie that he was, he did have a way with words. The irony in this is so thick that I am surprised that it hasn’t coagulated, and dropped all the way through to the center of the earth. And it is only ironic – again – that Germany’s ruling class (analogous to our very own unholy alliance among elected politicians, the bureaucracy, the intellectual and media elite) appear to have decided to take the opportunity of unrest in the Middle East, to dissolve the people and elect another, welcoming them in with balloons, banners and stuffed toys.

Yep, opening the doors to any refugee with the energy and wherewithal to flood into Germany, that will likely end well. Note that only a few of them appear to be genuine refugees from the Syrian civil war. Note to, in contrast to the pictures of innocent, doe-eyed children and their mothers plastered across the main-stream media outlets, those pictures of the refugees in mass appear to consist largely of men. Young men of military-service age, pretty fit-looking, and nicely dressed, at that. I can’t pretend to know what Angela Merkel was thinking when she opened the floodgates and seemingly expected ordinary Germans to cooperate when her government seems to favor the newcomers at the expense of ordinary citizens … evicting long-time residents from rental apartments so that refugees can be parked there? Coopting school-children as volunteers to help feed and clean up after refugees in railway stations and refugee centers? Demanding that ordinary Germans – whose devotion to order, cleanliness and quiet is legendary – stand by and submit while public spaces are trashed, and women are sexually-harassed or worse? And never mind the almost certain possibility that ISIS/ISIL terrorists have slipped into Europe along with the refugees.

No, this will not end well, especially as the ordinary German citizens, (and British, French, Danish, Dutch, Italian and Swedish, just to name a few) begin to feel the bite of having been dissolved by their ruling classes in favor of economic and political refugees from the Middle East. The Camp of the Saints may be the best-case scenario – the worst would be Caliphate. Discuss.

The longest night, the shortest day, the turn of the year – and I think likely the oldest of our human celebrations, once our remotest ancestors began to pay attention to things. They would have noticed, and in the fullness of time, erected monumental stones to mark the progression of the sun, the moon, the stars, the seasons, the light and the dark and all of it. The farther north and south you go from the equator, the more marked are the seasonal differences in the length of day and night. Just north of the Arctic Circle in the year I spent at Sondrestrom Greenland, those mid-summer nights were a pale grey twilight – and the midwinter days a mere half-hour-long lessening of constant dark at about midday. It was an awesome experience, and exactly how awesome I only realized in retrospect. How my ancestors, in Europe, or even perhaps in the Middle East, would have looked to the longer days which would come after the turning of the year; the darkness lessening, sunlight and warmth returning for yet another season of growing things in the ground, and in the blessed trees, when the oxen and sheep, and other domesticated critters would bear offspring. And the great primitive cycle of the year would turn and turn again, with the birth of the Christ added into it in due time.

Of course, Christ wasn’t really born in mid-winter – that was not the time when shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground – but the promise of His birth, of light and joy and sunshine was added retroactively to those pagan festivities marking the longest night and shortest day. (Likely Christ was born in the early spring.) Christmas and Easter, the pole-stars of the Christian year and liturgy; the birth and the sacrifice; I’ll not get into the other pagan parallel observances. The colors of the paraments and vestments went through their turns – green, red, purple, gold and white, and usually not much linked to the absolute seasons. But still – there you are, the turning of the year, the festivals and observances and all, marking the time and tradition.

I was thinking of this, listening to one of my own personal observances last Wednesday; the live radio broadcast of Nine Lessons and Carols from the Chapel of Kings College, Cambridge. I’ve never been to that service – but I visited the chapel, once upon a time. The chapel was light and beautiful, walls of glass and fragile-seeming stone tracery, a late gothic bubble floating on the gentle green-lawn bank of the Cam. The Nine Lessons and Carols has been a tradition since the end of WWI … a little short of a hundred years, a brief time as the traditions of Christianity go. And I was thinking and wondering as I listened, and wrote and surfed the Internet – how deep do those traditions actually go in these days. One of the internet stories that I scanned – about the established church in Germany – contained a riveting phrase:

Christmas in Germany is like a brightly decorated eggshell with no egg inside. The forms of the holiday are merrily observed, but not the faith. To declare one’s belief in a personal God counts for proof of mental defect here as well as in most parts of Europe, especially among educated people.

A brightly decorated eggshell with no egg inside…which reminded me again of that summer of 1976 when my brother and sister and I did England and Scotland the Youth Hostel and BritRail Pass way. And being well-brought up, we went to church services at the nearest available and interesting-looking church wherever we happened to be on a Sunday morning. To be fair and to acknowledge that anecdote is not data, on most of those Sundays we were well out in the countryside. There usually wasn’t much else to do on a Sunday except go to church … but still, even thirty-five years ago it was perfectly plain to us that most of those churches visited in England had the lovely sanctuaries, soaring music, beautiful, comforting ritual … and mostly empty pews. Only in a couple of Presbyterian churches in Scotland did there seem to be anything like a full house and passionate enthusiasm from either minister or flock.

These days, whenever I see a story in the Daily Mail or in the Telegraph which touches on matters of faith, I can depend on most of the comments posted to be utterly contemptuous of religious belief and faith – especially for Christians of whatever denomination.(To be fair, they are usually contemptuous of Muslims, but also and worryingly – of Jews.) This is both baffling and dispiriting; I’d not be surprised that readers of The Guardian and similar high-toned publications consider sincere religious belief to be infra dig and that appearance in one of those beautiful and historic houses of worship is obligatory only twice yearly and on the occasion of a wedding, christening or funeral, if that. That Daily Mail commenters seem to feel the same … is unsettling. I would guess that if anything, the Daily Mail is aimed towards exactly the demographic – blue-collar, working-class and not educated much beyond the English equivalent of junior collage and trade school. Backbone of the country, salt of the earth, they used to say, somewhat patronizingly. I must note that my three British grandparents and great-aunt Nan were exactly that sort. In the US, that exact demographic is also the backbone of the various established churches. In the main and quietly for the most part, churches are the quiet bulwark of many communities. They offer emotional support in the main, and quite often actual economic support when needed to members in good standing and often to those without any standing at all. This I know from having been involved in church work, and through having lived in Utah (where the LDS is the quiet power behind the throne of ordinary politics).

There is a cultural value in religious belief; a shared belief lending confidence and strength to a culture – strength such as in Poland within living memory led to the downfall of a Communist system – just to name one. Yes, it sometimes lead to petty and hypocritical things – unlovely sanctimony, judgment of neighbors and vicious clannishness with regard to those designated as outsiders being the least of it. But somehow, this seems to have all been drained away, the limited bad and the solid good, all together. As far as Christianity goes, Western Europe does appear as a brightly decorated eggshell with no egg inside – a hollow thing, easily smashed.

Share and discuss – whither Britain and Europe generally?

(Crossposted at www.chicagoboyz.net)

28. August 2014 · Comments Off on Sunset Empire · Categories: European Disunion, Fun With Islam, Good God, Media Matters Not, Rant, World

Between my English and Scots-Irish-English grandparents, a deep and abiding love of English literature and history, a fair number of English friends, and two long-ago summers sojourns in Britain doing the youth hostel and Brit-Rail Pass, I’ve always looked on the place as my metaphorical second country. I know it about as well as any American could and not actually be in residence there, and I’ve always kept in touch – through English magazines, newspapers and yes, in recent years through websites. Yes, and I score sufficiently high on any number of those quizzes testing American knowledge of British slang to say, with perfect truth, that I speak fluent Brit. (Although I can’t place British regional accents … something to do with acquiring most of this knowledge from the printed page rather than the spoken word.)

So, ever since I happily discovered The Internet, and began following more news than was available in the local newspaper and mainstream print publications, I’d been reading English news sites – starting with, I think, The Times of London and The Spectator – before they put the good stuff behind a pay-wall, and moving on to the Telegraph. I had a print subscription to the Guardian Weekly, for years – and occasionally checked out their website before the burden of wading through waist to neck-deep oceans of political-correctitude got to be too much of a chore. Now my guilty tabloid pleasure is to scan the Daily Mail; I know, in the eyes of the grand and the good, this is about one step above the Star or the National Enquirer. But the Mail and the Enquirer have of late begun to commit regular acts of non-partisan journalism – especially when it comes to the American political scene, in contract to the supposedly more respectable publications.

So, I was already aware of the horrific and ongoing scandal of native English girls – many barely into their teens – being groomed, raped, gang-raped and sex-trafficked by British-born Pakistani men, in Rotherham and elsewhere. The release of an especially damning report on a formal inquiry into the matter has even rattled the cages of bloggers like Wretchard at Belmont Club – and no wonder. The most horrifying aspect isn’t just that girls were routinely raped on a wholesale basis, or that many were blackmailed by threats to their family into cooperating in their own exploitation. Even worse is that the police forces, social workers, and local politicians also knew – but refrained from doing anything about it because they did not want to be accused of racism. It seems that the national media outlets also looked away, for as long as they could. As commenter Andrew X, at this discussion thread explained: The media lying is due to a combination of fears – fear of being called racist, fear of Muslim fanatics, and above all a fear of the public. The establishment sees the working class as ignorant racist morons so they’re afraid to say anything that might give the mob an excuse to go on the rampage. It’s not just the rape gangs that see British people as “white trash”.

Wrap your mind around that, if you please – that those bureaucrats, politicians and investigators whose profession and mission is to protect and defend their fellow citizens, especially the most vulnerable among them – hesitated to act because they were afraid of being called racists, which would be a career-limiter, in these present days. They might get a letter of reprimand, or a tough question or two from local media and a certain degree of heat from the diversity-loving intellectual set. That many of the girls victimized were from working-class families or the English equivalent of trailer-trash, or from troubled backgrounds anyway just adds a dimension of particularly ugly snobbery. In order to maintain the benign mask of multicultural toleration and diversity in place, the ruling managerial and political class essentially sacrificed the children of the ruled class to a sexual Moloch … and kept quiet about it for years. How badly the ordinary British citizens are being served by their ruling class, these days! (Nearly as bad as as Americans are being served when it comes to black on white crime, but that’s a rant for another occasion.) My grandparents would be appalled, and horrified at what has become of the country that they immigrated from 100 years ago, but still held in affection.

(Crossposted at www.chicagoboyz.net)

Supposedly the red corn poppies that grow all over fields in Europe grow particularly well in soil that has been plowed, dug up, or otherwise extensively disturbed. There were many small fields around the outskirts of Zaragoza, and the little village of Garrapinillos where poppies grew, in some seasons and fields so thickly as to show nothing but red.

Most experts are certain that the association between WWI and blood-red field poppies was established because of the poem by John McCrae, which begins, “In Flanders fields, the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row…” and which became almost immediately popular upon being first published in the second year of the war. Well before the end of the war, the visual of red poppies was inextricably bound to the notion of wartime service and sacrifice in Canada, Britain and the United States. At the end of the war, it was adopted by the American Legion as a symbol of remembrance, Frenchwomen sold silk poppies to raise money for war orphans, and the British Legion adopted the practice of wearing red poppies during the period leading up to Remembrance Day. To this day, the sale of artificial poppies benefits various programs to support veterans and active duty military in England, Canada and the United States.

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of that war, and one of the most eye-catching temporary memorials is an installation at the Tower of London, where the dry moat will be filled with 800,000 ceramic red poppies, spilling down from one of the outer tower windows – one poppy for every Commonwealth casualty over four bitter years of blood and sacrifice. There are only about an eighth of the total installed so far … but the pictures are riveting. The installation – called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red will be finished by Remembrance Day – November 11.

29. June 2014 · Comments Off on A Summer Day in Bosnia-Herzegovina 100 Years Ago · Categories: European Disunion, History, War · Tags: , , , ,

This weekend marks the hundredth anniversary of the incident which was the spark that set off the cataclysm of the First World War. Which wasn’t, strictly speaking, the first world-wide war; it could be argued that the Napoleonic Wars were, and the interminable European war between France and England which spilled over into those colonies in the North American continent could also be considered a world war.
The spark was seemingly a simple thing – almost a non-story as it appeared in the English and American newspapers; the assassination of an Austrian noble and his wife by a barely competent yet very lucky Serbian amateur terrorist. This was an appalling tragedy for the family of the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand and his beloved spouse, Sophie, the Countess Hohenberg, who left three living children to be raised by the Archduke’s best friend. The assassination was perhaps an inconvenience more than a tragedy to the the court and administration of Franz-Ferdinand’s uncle, the Emperor Franz Joseph. The Archduke, who but for the accident of birth would have been a rather quiet and dutiful nonentity, devoted to gardening, architecture and the hunt – was not a particularly popular man at the time of his death, either with his uncle, his fellow aristocrats or the Viennese public. He replaced the popular but suicidal Crown Prince Rudolph as heir, and had insisted on marrying for love, instead of merely making Sophie his mistress. They were eventually permitted to marry with the assurance that Sophie and her children would not have the standing or rights of succession. Sophie – lovely and well-tempered, conventionally pious, and well-educated – was usually treated pretty shabbily by Viennese society and by the imperial establishment on those official occasions at which the Archduke was expected to be present. Franz Ferdinand did play his part dutifully in official ceremonies and events, without any particular appearance of enjoyment. What started as a personal tragedy, and a national crisis for Austria-Hungary was merely the first fall in a train of dominoes.

The war which raged between 1914 and 1918 unleashed a whole cornucopia of horrors, being that they were waged between powers that had been fully or almost fully industrialized. It came after a hundred years of relative peace, prosperity and progress in the Western world. With the exception of the Franco-Prussian War, and the American Civil War, such wars as there had been were colonial wars, fought by small professional Western armies against relatively primitive foes. Many, especially in the educated classes in the late 19th century firmly believed that total, all-out, balls-to-the-wall war was something that the advanced nations of the West had moved away from, that the economic consequences would be so dire that the powers-that-be just wouldn’t allow it to happen. Meanwhile, European military planners moved briskly ahead, paying little attention to the main lesson to have been drawn from the American Civil War – that technology had moved far ahead of established tactics. The pump had also been primed by a series of little-recollected international crises at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th, which flamed up regularly in a sort of international patch of eczema, usually involving France, or Germany, England, Russia or Austria-Hungary or any combination. The crisis would be soothed by the hastily-applied salve of diplomacy … until the next time.

The one thing in common was that the great powers were jockeying for position, sometimes straight out, and sometimes through proxies. The author of the War That Ended Peace outlined how England and Germany came to stand against each other, having been allies more often than not in their previous history. Great Britain, a navy/sea power if there ever was one, gradually began a policy of more engagement in Europe among the great powers. Germany, a quintessential army/land power (and only unified into a single nation within living memory) developed the intention of having a serious deep-water navy.

And so they drifted into enmity. Once that first domino toppled, then all the rest came as a matter of course over the next four blood-soaked years. Treaty obligations and mobilization of the reserves imposed an iron rule. When the dominoes finished falling in 1918, three noble ruling houses had been cast down and a whole generation of of German, French, British and Russian men were gutted. The unwieldy empire to which the archduke had been heir-presumptive broke into its’ constituent parts, and all the bright promise of the modern world as seen by Europeans at the turn of the century before the last was reduced to a nightmare … and left us with wreckage that we are still sorting out, even after a hundred years. The past isn’t dead. It’s not even over.

27. March 2014 · Comments Off on Winston Churchill Funeral · Categories: European Disunion, Good God, History, Military, World · Tags:

Found through a comment at Neo-Neocon.
A reminder of what Britain used to be.

12. March 2014 · Comments Off on Just for Fun · Categories: European Disunion, Fun and Games, General Nonsense, History

If World War One were a bar fight
(found on Facehook and on PJ Media. Enjoy.)

And also just for fun – World War Two as if it were played out on a Facebook news feed.

09. January 2014 · Comments Off on Musical Interlude – Done With Bonaparte · Categories: European Disunion, History, Military

Always loved Mark Knopfler’s music, with and without Dire Straits. Enjoy

03. January 2014 · Comments Off on Book Review: In the Garden of Beasts · Categories: European Disunion, History, War

This is not so much a compendium of the experiences of those Americans present in Germany when the Third Reich began it’s ascent to power, but a character study of a particular family. There were a fair number Americans resident in Germany at that time, or just passing through; diplomatic personnel and their families, scholars, newspaper and radio reporters, travelers, businessmen, expatriates of all sorts, or even German-Americans paying extended visits to kin. The family of Ambassador William Dodd falls into the first category and Dodd himself into the second as well. He was an academic, a historian who earned his PhD at the University of Leipzig at the turn of the turn of the century, where he picked up fluency in the language and a deep affection for the country. He was a friend of Woodrow Wilson and when FDR’s administration was stuck to name an ambassador (when their first two choices declined) Dodd was tasked with the honor, which he took up from 1933-1937. Dodd was not a professional diplomat, and it soon emerged that those whom he had to work with at State Department didn’t think all that much of him. For one – he was not particularly wealthy and vowed to live in modest fashion while carrying out his assignment, which lasted from 1933 to 1937. This was rather a strike against him in the circles that he was expected to move; if the professionals had to put up with a patronage appointment, a rich one who would spend lavishly from his or her own purse while in pursuit of diplomatic objectives would make up in some fashion for the bother of conducting business with the host nation through an amateur.
More »

05. June 2013 · Comments Off on My City (Country) Was Gone · Categories: Domestic, European Disunion, Fun and Games, Fun With Islam, History, Media Matters Not, Politics

“The propaganda had a certain purpose: to wipe the past out of our consciousness. We should forget that it had ever existed. We really should doubt our own memories. The revisionists of history had usurped the preferential right of interpretation, and we had silently let it happen. We were not supposed to remember the country that we were part of, and it made us deeply sad and furious. Without a rear-view mirror we had no yardstick for the present time. But that wasn’t the intention, either.”

Read the whole thing, at Gates of Vienna. The author is writing about Sweden – but it can very well apply here in the US, too.

25. May 2013 · Comments Off on Maybe That Day Has Come · Categories: European Disunion, Fun With Islam, Good God, GWOT, Rant

A day may come when the courage of men fails,
when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.
An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down,
but it is not this day!
This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth,
I bid you stand, Men of the West!
– Aragorn’s speech, before the Black Gates

It always comes back to Tolkien, doesn’t it? A man who lived through the hell of the WWI trenches, who recalled from first hand a time when you could use the term ‘Great Britain’ without ironical quotes around it, a time when there were very real social issues and pathologies to criticize and to try and deal fairly with – but also a time when the common people took enormous pride and confidence in what they were, in their country, in themselves, in their institutions – and in turn, the various institutions looked toward the general welfare of the commonality. I like the 19th century for that very reason, both the British and American versions. It’s a kind of mental refuge to me, these days. For all its pathologies and shortcomings – citizens of both countries had cultural self-confidence. In the main, a self-confidence based on real accomplishment is a hell of a lot more attractive than a pitiful, helpless and apologetic bleating about ones’ societal and cultural shortcomings.

Really, whom would you look to; someone like Isaac Kingdom Brunel, or Lord Gordon … or a cringing and eternally self-abasing creature like Uriah Heep? Never mind that the first two are real, the third a literary creation; there are plenty of vicious, ostentatiously humble Uriah Heeps now active in political life, and plenty of them – a sufficiency of them, actually – infiltrated into academia and in the media. They’ve been doing their destructive work for decades, always with the best intentions, and ostentatiously for the good of us all. They preen themselves on this, and make good careers out of it.

Only, somehow and mysteriously, it has had such malign results as the vicious and very well documented murder of a British soldier by Islamic jihadi muppets in front of a large crowd, in the capital city of what was once a proud empire. Wrap your mind about that. A public street adjacent to a military base; they bash him with a car first, and then carve him up with knives, swagger about the street declaiming on their purpose, shouting Islamic slogans … and wait for the armed officers of the law to appear. Who did arrived, twenty minutes later, when the victim had doubtless bled out – some news reports have it that his head was cut off, which would certainly remove any urgency in responding with medical aid. Meanwhile the murders, with bloody hands swagger about, explaining why they did it. Three women come forward, and I accept that this took enormous courage on their part – given that this horrible event took place out of the clear blue. I also accept that the initial witnesses to this atrocity were shocked, disbelieving … but that any impulse on the part of members of the public to intervene in any meaningfully effective way was likely squelched on the instant of being considered. The duty of any good British citizen these days, or so I have gathered, is to to be passive, and never to resist being robbed, raped or murdered, since such resistance is likely to injure or inconvenience the robber, rapist or murderer. This precept of non-resistance has been enforced over the last few decades by prosecution and convictions obtained against those who actually did resist outrages against their own or others’ property and persons. The end result was what we saw this week in Woolwich; no resistance, no rescue. Thus are a free people reduced to serfitude. Pity, that – but I am certain that the ruling classes like it very much that way.

(Crossposted at Chicagoboyz.net)

12. April 2013 · Comments Off on April Follies and Misdemeanors · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, European Disunion, Fun and Games, Rant · Tags: , , ,

This is has been one of those weeks where – in the words of the late Molly Ivins – sitting down and powering up the internet of a morning was kind of like opening the refrigerator and seeing Fidel Castro sitting inside. You can’t help thinking there was something mighty strange going on.
The current round of “Korean Motherland Unity Game of Repeated Chicken” (as another blogger on Open Salon used to call it) continues, as Li’l Pudgy establishes his dominance. Still no rain of fire on Austin, Texas, Tokyo, Seoul or anywhere else, but Li’l Pudgy ramps up the rhetoric regardless; the Norks have played this game I think every six months for the last sixty years, and he has to get louder and more threatening to even get the old Korea hands to even pay attention, let alone take the threat seriously. Say, all his generals have gaudy sprockets and decorations hung all over their uniforms – and what military action did they earn all those in? Seriously, I can only hope the Chinese are getting as tired of Li’l Pudgy as we all are. I do wonder, though – how many more Korean Motherland Unity Games of Repeated Chicken will we endure until the Kim régime implodes of itself?

Following, in a desultory fashion the horrors revealed in the trial of the Philadelphia abortion clinic doctor, Kermit Gosnell – who among other things, specialized in late-term abortions. Very late term abortions, and in horrifically unsanitary conditions, or so it would appear from the trial testimony. I’m not following it very closely because I have a very low gross-out threshold, and accounts of the the good doctor’s fetus foot collection is enough to make me upchuck. Wait – I thought that legalizing abortion would keep women safe from quacks in filthy backstreet abortion mills. Guess I was misinformed. I blame the media, of course – most of whom have been remarkably restrained in their coverage of Dr. Gosnell’s contributions to women’s rights.

And finally – the not entirely-unexpected passing of Margaret Thatcher … as I say, not unexpected, but I am still boggled by the public vitriol uncorked on the occasion by certain elements in once-Great Britain. Good lord, I thought Sarah Palin had roused a s**tstorm of hatred among self-nominated media, political and intellectual elite in this country, but it’s but a fart to a tornado in comparison. Good lord, be a bright, ambitious and successful woman politician, achieving high office without the benefit of a husband or father having gotten there first, and do so as a conservative, and the knives will come out for sure. Just as a rhetorical aside directed to all the Maggie haters out there; people, do you realize how tacky, warped and insane this makes you appear to outsiders? For one, it makes it look like the Queen and the Duchess of Cambridge are about the only adults left in the room.

And that’s my week. By the way, I brought out Our Grandpa Was an Alien on Kindle, since I didn’t carry over the print version to Watercress Press when I reissued everything else. Enjoy – all the old romps and essays about my family, growing up in the 1950s and 1960s.

Such has been the sad state of our very own dear media creatures in these United States lately that I have begun again to read the English newspapers, or their on-line iteration – mostly the Telegraph and the Daily Mail, and mostly because the worthy reporters for those establishments don’t seem to give a damn or not if they are ever invited to interview members of the Obama administration or not and thus have no inclination to soft-ball their coverage of American political matters as regards the present occupant of the White House and his administrative flunkies. Frankly, this is rather refreshing, although the Daily Mail site seems to be regularly curated by people who can’t spell, are innocently unscathed by knowledge of the customary rules of grammar and have a penchant for semi-weekly stories about well-trodden aspects of WWII posted as if they were the latest word, evah!

Anyway, one of the regular tropes on the Daily Mail are stories about neighbors from hell; sometimes about spectacular neighborhood feuds between people whom you thought might have known better (some of whom seem at best to be deranged), but most reliably about another kind of neighbor; the ‘council house and violent’ kind having it out with their hapless neighbors. I presume, from the context of the Mail, and from various other sources (movies and popular genre novels like this one, and this one) that ‘council house’ equates to the American version of public housing, or more especially ‘Section 8’ houses … and the presence of certain clients of social services in public or Section 8 are not particularly welcome among their neighbors. Not that I wish to be particularly snotty about this; but any fool can tell you that in a working-class neighborhood of house-proud home owners, the sudden presence of a family moving in with their rent paid by public funds is not often a very often a good or a welcome thing, with or without any racial element attached. Especially if the new neighbors are inconsiderate, destructive and hostile (or oughtright criminal) – and if it turns out that nothing much can be done to dislodge them, as seems to often be the case in once-great Britain. (Unlike the landlord in this story – who has a fine appreciation for a responsible kind of tenant-mix in his properties.)

One of the most recent of these stories – and one of the most depressing is this one; of a career welfare recipient with pink-dyed hair who has never, ever held a paying job or apparently a legal marriage, but who has still managed to birth and raise at government expense, no less than eleven offspring. One of her current neighbors had the most viciously accurate comment; describing her uterus as a clown-car. At any rate, this woman seems to have gotten the local council to place her and her spawn at some considerable expense in a custom-renovated house. Why Ms Heather Frost is to be deserving of this is a question unanswered or perhaps better yet, unasked by the council housing authorities, although I’ll bet a lot of her prospective neighbors are demanding to know. She doesn’t seem to have any particular qualities which would justify this tender consideration, other than being warm, breathing, indiscriminant with her favors and embarrassingly fertile. And it also appears that she and her offspring made life such a hell for one of their unlucky neighbors – an elderly widow – that the poor woman couldn’t even turn up the sound on her television without inviting regular, sustained abuse and vandalism. This wasn’t the only account of this kind of situation, oh, no – a couple of months ago, another such neighbor, this time a well-educated and relatively young university lecturer was driven to commit suicide by a similarly feral lot of neighbors. (Can’t find the link – but remember reading it.)

What a hell the local housing authorities create for working-class good neighbors, I must say; it’s almost as if they revel in assigning the hellish, destructive and improvident to live among them – as if cutting loose people like Ms Frost and her brood are a punishment for responsible homeowners who don’t have the wherewithal to respond by moving away, or hiring effective legal help. It’s purely a pity that hellish council house tenants and Section 8 recipients with form can’t all be sent to live in a neighborhood all together, where all they can do is make each other miserable, instead of blameless and quiet-loving working-class homeowners. Or better yet – right next door to those housing authorities

04. June 2012 · Comments Off on This and That – Jubilee Edition · Categories: European Disunion, Fun and Games, History · Tags: , ,

We were distracted Sunday morning by the Jubilee procession of the boats on the Thames, as covered by BBC America. Blondie noticed that none of her various friends in Britain were on-line Sunday morning; presumably they were all off at various street parties, celebrating Her Majesty’s sixtieth year on the throne. She turned on the television and we were glued to it for an hour and a half: yep, the Brits really do know how to pull off a spectacle, although the dogs were increasingly distraught because it was time for walkies, dammit, and we never watch TV during the day, so there was their tiny domestic universe being rocked. The various long shots did look like Canaletto’s views of the Thames; the parties, the people, the banners, the displays along the riverbank buildings … and above all, the boats. What a feat of organization that must have been – to get them there at the start, to keep them together for the convoy up the river … and then, of course, to disperse them all afterwards.

I looked it up – the last Jubilee was Queen Victoria’s, in 1897. There probably isn’t anyone alive now who remembers that one, unless they were a drooling infant at the time and have lived to be over 110 years old. You have to go back to Louis the XIV and the 17th century to find a monarch who lasted longer. There won’t be another Jubilee for a British monarch in our lifetime, so you really can’t blame them for going all hands on deck for the Jubilee. It looks as if it is all a fantastic celebration … and I hope, more than anything that it gives ordinary Brits a kind of sense of self, and of national pride again. They were a great nation, with a glorious past, who did fantastic things all during the 19th century … and I hope against hope that something – anything can arrest the horrible downward slide, which everyone who visits Britain or lives there has noted. My grandparents and great-aunt all recollected Britain fondly; it was once a rather pleasant, industrious, sober and polite place, full of small pleasures and quiet beauties; eccentric perhaps, and definitely class-ridden, and certainly not devoid of snobbery and injustice, but still… All of Britain’s nicer qualities are now comprehensively wrecked, seemingly – unless you are very, very rich.

I can’t help seeing that when one of the British papers that we read online; whenever they run a photo-feature of times of yore – there was one just this week, of pictures taken of British life the year when Elizabeth came to the throne – the comment sections fill up with nostalgic memories from readers; It wasn’t all that bad, back then, and there is this pervasive feeling that the best of Britain’s gifts and capabilities have been shamefully squandered, and the working and middle classes beaten constantly over the head about all those things they should be ashamed of by the intellectual class. The past is not just a foreign place, but a better one and a more honest one, even with the defects noted. I wonder if this doesn’t account for the popularity of all those TV series and movies set in the 19th and early 20th century. Even with economic disparities, painfully ugly industrialization and poisonously suffocating snobbery – that past was a confident, optimistic place, a successful and a safer place for individuals, with wider horizons than are presently available.

Anyway – Long may Elizabeth II reign; so do we all wish, especially when considering Prince Charles. Oddly enough, in pictures of the Thames flotilla, he looks every bit as old as his father.

09. August 2011 · Comments Off on London Burning · Categories: Ain't That America?, European Disunion, Fun and Games, General, Tea Time, World

Another night, another night of riots, arson and casual lootery, relatively untrammeled by the efforts of law enforcement, and perhaps slightly slowed down by the efforts of massed local residents and business owners. After three or four nights of this destruction, which leaves the internet plastered with pictures that look like the aftermath of the WWII Blitz, I would have hoped that the local residents were beginning to assemble and barricade their streets, rather than leave them open for the ‘hoodies’ to do their worst. I’d have also hoped that the police were starting to think about responding to the mob hoodlum element with more than sandbags and rubber bullets, but hey – I’m just one of those terroristic Tea partiers, presently resident in the state of Texas. Of which many and sometimes justifiable criticisms might be made, and usually are, by superior Euroweenies having a fit of lefty vapors over the relative déclassé-ness of it all – but one of the good points about living here is that the incidents of home-invasion robberies are refreshingly few in number.

Not a claim that can be made in once-Great Britain for the past few years, alas – where those who uphold Her Majesty’s laws of late seem to be more inclined to prosecute those who use any kind of weapon at hand to defend themselves in a robbery or home-invasion situation. Nope – not the case around these parts: it’s very likely that a canvass of my immediate neighborhood might turn up more weapons than the standing army of many small-to-micro European states. Law-enforcement is also rather refreshingly understanding with regard to the plight of those citizens who – under fairly strictly defined circumstances and in legitimate fear of their lives or the lives of their family – have defended their homes and castles with deadly force and dropped a miscreant stone cold on the hearth-rug, or as was the case a couple of years ago, on the doormat. (Elderly woman, living alone, local scumbag energetically trying to force open her front door. She warned him three times that she had a gun, local scumbag ignored the warning, and she drilled him straight through the front door.) Usually in these cases, the homeowner has the subdued congratulations of the local police for taking out the trash. To your average superior Euroweenie this is just the same exactly as Old West gunfights in the street practically, and an excuse for a bit of hyperventilating. Eh – whatever. It might also be the case that – depending on the year and location – communities in the Old West could just have been a good bit safer than certain of the big cities in the Old East, but that’s a discussion for another day.

No, I started on London. Ancient. Historic. The cynosure of an Empire, the great queen city of the Anglosphere. I knew it before I even set foot in it, so marinated in it for having read two thousand years worth of history and literature, in which it was the center – or near to the center – of all things. Built and rebuilt again, from Roman to Anglo-Saxon, to Norman, Elizabethan, Georgian, re-engineered by the great Victorian builders, rebuilt after the Great Fire, and again after the Blitz, and so many other relatively minor disasters . . . eternal, grand, sometimes scruffy around the edges, but comfortable and welcoming to my younger brother and sister and I, when we arrived in the early summer of 1970. We stayed in a tiny B & B in Clapham Common, one of those miniscule late Victorian brick row houses, just wide enough for a single room and a hallway alongside, and a walled garden out in back. The owner who confirmed our reservation included in his letter exhaustive, detailed and step-by-step instructions for reaching his place from the airport where our student charter flight landed. We were to take a certain train, which we would find upon walking out the front of the airport, get off at a particular stop, then walk down so many feet on a certain street to a bus stop, which we would find opposite a certain shop (he included a detailed street map for this) take a specific bus, which we would exit on Clapham High Street at another stop (which he instructed us to tell the bus conductor that we were to exit the bus at, and this part included another segment of street map), thereupon to walk so many feet on a particular direction, before turning left . . . and his establishment would be so many houses down that street on the right.

And so we did – and we stayed for three days, before relocating to the Youth Hostel just around the corner from St. Pauls’ on Ludgate Hill. In the six days of our wandering summer, we saw all the sights, to include the Tower of London, I bought books at Foyles, and explored Westminster Abbey . . . and one of the ancient established street markets – was it Golder’s Green? – where I bought a length of wool for Mom to make a bespoke pair of pants for Dad – which I don’t think she ever did. Fleet Street, and Downing Street, Trafalgar Square and Regent’s Park, and all these little hidden-away neighborhoods; we met nothing but nice people. And now that town is burning again. Is this the way that civilization ends, at the hands of insolent and brutal looters, while the populace and the government stands helpless against them? Is that little side street in Clapham one of those threatened? Are the little, old-fashioned Victorian store fronts along Clapham High Street among those smashed and looted, while the owners of those small businesses wait for a sure defense, or perhaps take matters into their own hands at last?

Interesting times. Interesting times.

(cross-posted at Chicago Boyz)

24. July 2011 · Comments Off on Something Happening Here · Categories: Ain't That America?, European Disunion, General, World

There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down…

Exploding cars, and a Beslan-like massacre of teenaged campers, plus a claim of responsibility from the usual suspects (until the full horror perhaps persuaded the be-turbanned goons that perhaps they’d better walk back from that one) nothing says long hot summer and interesting times more than what happened last week in Norway.

I visited there once, in 1970 – Oslo, Bergen and Stavanger, as a Girl Scout doing that youth hostel and backpack thing. Lovely country, very wet and rainy, even in summer it seemed to drizzle about forty-five minutes out of every hour, and it was a miracle to me that anything but moss and lichen had enough sunlight to grow along the coastal rocks. We stayed in a sailboat, which had been converted to a Youth Hostel, ate fish pudding for dinner once (it’s white, gelatinacious and completely without taste), had wonderful smorgasbord breakfasts and saw Edvard Grieg’s home – being raised on classical music, I very much fear I was the only one of our group to really appreciate it. And we took a long train ride to Stockholm, sharing a long open rail car with a touring chorus from an international music camp on the US/Canada border. It was about a three-hour trip, and we sang all the way, having between the chorus and our group, several guitars and a considerable repertoire of folk songs, summer-camp songs and other musical arcana. I have no idea what the regular passengers thought of all this, by the way. That was then – this is now, and sometimes the summer of 1970 seems as far away . . . well, another time-space continuum. The horror of last week on Utoya Island would have been inconceivable, then – in Norway or anywhere else in the Western World.

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down…

So, on past form, just about everyone over the sentience level of a mollusk assumed it was one of those horrible, unexpected outrages perpetuated by an unrepresentative member of the religion of peace who hadn’t gotten the word about being an adherent of the religion of peace or given any consideration to the backlash such an act would ignite against innocent coreligionists. Hey, it’s not cynicism, it’s just good pattern recognition – when something goes boom among noncombatants in a fairly major way of late, usually there’s someone named Mohammed involved, no matter if the venue is Afghanistan Thailand, Bali, Somalia, Iraq, Spain, Britain, India or Israel. It’s just how this has worked out. And flog that line about the IRA, Tim McVeigh or assorted small abortion-clinic bombers as hard as you like – the sheer quantity of the occurrences of kabooms involving gentlemen named Mohammed (as well as the numbers of victims involved) are kind of overwhelming.

So here – as it turns out – we have another freelance nutter, supposedly from the conservative and supposedly anti-Islamic immigrant side of the political aisle, going all mad-dog and deciding that his particular mission is to slaughter teenagers and young twenty-somethings at a political party-sponsored summer camp . . . careless of the fact that by this particularly vile act, he will have alienated just about every potential ally and sympathizer towards his particular concerns – which might (or might not) have had a chance of a fair hearing, up until July 22. Strange days, indeed – strange and brutal days.

What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down…

Of course, the eventual truth about Anders Breivik will eventually out – although I fear, not before the meme/conventional wisdom will congeal about him. But there are so many contradictory notes, so many . . . not quite wrong, incomplete, contradictory or curious things about him, as he is being presented by the mainstream or even the new media. Businessman, well educated, plenty of guns (Hey, I live in Texas, supposed to be bristling with free-lance gun-slingers.) Supposed to be a Christian, supposed to be a freemason, supposed to be . . . well, a lot of things. A manifesto cribbed from Theodore Kacznski’s writings, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts that come and go. Nutter, stooge . . . or what? Definitely a stone-cold killer; for which he may serve 21 years in the Norwegian equivalent of the super-max; and if it doesn’t be violation of his civil rights and upon being formally found guilty, I hope that he serves a bit longer. The parents of the murdered campers may have hopes for even longer than that. But all I really know about this is what I read in the newspapers. Or on-line.

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down…

I can’t say that I really know Norway, after all – the closest I came were those nice people that I met in various Youth Hostels and train stations, and on a motor-boat ferry ride between Stavanger and Bergen, all those decades ago. And what I read in various venues, of course. It’s comfortable to assume –a nutcase with delusions of glory and Wagnerian grandeur, even perhaps a brain tumor, a la Charles Whiteman, the UT Austin sniper, or a Ted Kacznski wanna-be. But what if – just suppose – he is a kind of Nordic John Brown, frustrated beyond all patience, feeling marginalized and insulted by the ruling political elite with regard to his particular concern . . . and deciding that the perpetration of a horrific crime would be worth it, just for the opportunity to make an unmistakable and irrevocable gesture. What then, oh wolves?

Much more comforting, I suppose, for the transnational political ruling class to write this off as the act of a brilliant but unfortunately deranged actor. For the other consideration would be just too unbearable to contemplate.

03. September 2009 · Comments Off on A Sunday Morning – September 3rd · Categories: European Disunion, General, History, War

(this is a reprise of a post from five years ago, slightly re-worked, but still relevant, especially since probably no one but me could find it in the archives!)

A Sunday September morning, on one of those mild and gorgeous fall days, when the leaves are just starting to turn, but the last of the summer flowers still linger, and the days are warm, yet everyone grabs hold of those last few golden days, knowing how short they are of duration under the coming Doom of winter.

And there is another Doom besides the changing of the seasons on this morning, a Doom that has been building inescapable by treaty obligation for the last two days, clear to the politically savvy for the last two weeks— since the two old political opposites-and-enemies inexplicably signed an alliance— deferred by a humiliating stand-down and betrayal of the trusting two years since, a doom apparent to the far-sighted for nearly a decade. The armies are marching, the jackals bidden to follow after the conqueror, a country betrayed and dismembered, the crack cavalry troops of an army rated as superior to the American Army as it existed then charging against tanks, their ancient and historic cities reduced to rubble – and by obligation and treaty, the Allies are brought to face a brutal reality. That after two decades of peace, after four years of war that countenanced the slaughter of a significant portion of a generation, that left small towns across Europe and Great Britain decimated and plastered with sad memorials carved with endless lists of names, acres of crosses and desolation, sacrifice and grief, for which no one could afterwards give a really good reason, a decade of pledging Never Again – war is come upon them, however much they would wish and hope and pray otherwise. Reservists had been called to active duty, children had been evacuated en mass from the crowded city center, and Neville Chamberlain, who had been given a choice between war and dishonor, chosen dishonor and now had to go before the nation on radio and announce the coming of war:

“I am speaking to you from the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street. This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government an official note stating that unless we heard from them by eleven o’clock, that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and consequently this county is at war with Germany. You can imagine what a bitter blow it is to me that all my long struggle to win peace has failed. Yet I cannot believe that there is anything more or anything different that I could have done and that would have been more successful…. We and France are to-day, in fullfrnlment of our obligations, going to the aid of Poland, so bravely resisting this wicked and unprovoked attack on her people. We have a clear conscience, we have done all that any country could do to establish peace. The situation in which no word given by Germany’s ruler could be trusted and no people or country could feel safe has become intolerable. Now we have resolved to finish it, I know you will all play your part with calmness and courage…

When I have finished speaking certain detailed announcements will be made on behalf of the Government. Give these ‘your closest attention. The Government have made plans under’ which It will be possible’ to carry on the work of the nation in the days of stress and strain which may be ahead of us. These plans need your help; you may be taking your part in the fighting Services or as a volunteer in one of the branches of civil defense. If so, you will report for duty in accordance with the instructions you have received. You may be engaged in work essential to the prosecution of war, or for the maintenance of the life of the people in factories in transport in public utility concerns, or in the supply of other necessaries of life. If so it is of vital importance that you should carry on with your job.

Now may God bless you all, and may he defend the right. For it is evil things that we shall be fighting, against brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution, and against them I am certain that Right will prevail.”

The filmmaker John Boorman in the movie “Hope and Glory” noted the queer occurrence of all the lawnmowers in the suburb suddenly falling silent, everyone listening to the sad speech of a man who has seen his worst fears realized followed by the sound of air raid sirens. It was a false alarm, that morning, but within a year the alarms would sound for real. The docklands would be reduced to rubble, historic churches would fall, the city would burn, but in the aftermath, defiantly humorous signs would appear “More Open Than Usual” and “I Have No Pane, Dear Mother Now.” It would be entirely possible for men who had served in the Western Front to see grim and tragic duty again as firemen and wardens in the streets where they lived in this new war. By the time the Blitz became a reality, most everyone had gotten more or less accustomed to the idea. My Grandpa Jim, though, would take the bombing of London as a personal insult, and be restrained from going downtown and assaulting the German Consulate in Los Angeles, while his son and namesake collected newspaper clippings about the war, and aviation for his scrapbook. I do not think the news of war that came to them on another Sunday morning, nearly two years later came entirely as a surprise, only the direction form which it came— east, and not west.

In any case, the news would have come, late on a Sunday morning, after the early service. I like to think this is a hymn that might have been sung in the last few quiet hours before the storm— as it was at the service I attended the day that the ground offensive began in the first Gulf War.

God of Grace and God of Glory, on your people pour Your Power;
Crown your ancient church’s story, Bring it’s bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, For the facing of this hour
For the facing of this hour.

Lo, the hosts of evil round us, Scorn the Christ, assail his ways!
From the fears that long have bound us, Free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of these days,
For the facing of these days!

Cure your children’s warring madness, Bend our pride to your control;
Shame our wanton, selfish gladness, Rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant is wisdom, grant us courage, Lest we miss Your kingdom’s goal
Lest we miss Your kingdom’s goal.

Set our feet on lofty places, Gird our lives that they may be,
Armored with all Christ-like graces, In the fight to set men free.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, That we fail not man nor Thee,
That we fail not man nor Thee

Save us from weak resignation, To the evils we deplore;
Let the gift of Your salvation, Be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, Serving You whom we adore,
Serving you whom we adore.

Tune: Cwm Rhondda
Words: Harry Emerson Fosdick, 1930

September 3, 1939: 70 years ago today.