Things That Grabbed My Attention Yesterday

We’re going to pull back from the daily nonsense today, the Brits are voting and there’s not much new in the Washington nonsense. Let’s take a look at some background on various things. Some days there is just so much good material out there that I can’t decide. It’s a pleasant problem.

Ben Domenech at The Federalist disagrees with Time Magazine’s choice of Greta Thunberg as person of the year, as do I. He says in relation to her…

[…] a teenager who skipped school to travel around the world telling people that they are horrible and the planet is doomed. It’s a living. Perhaps her Malthusian visions will be fulfilled by future experience. But it’s not very likely.

Heh! I wish I’d written that! His choice I also agree with…

In defiance of the most powerful authoritarian regime in the modern world, the protester in Hong Kong has stood against the authority of Red China with courage and dedication. […]

There is no bigger fight. And so, the Hong Kong protester is the Person of the Year.

He’s right. That is the person/people that free people should be honoring.


There’s a remarkable (and remarkably long) essay by George Callaghan at The Duran on the problems (and possible solutions) in British education. Some are specific to Britain and/or England, but many apply to America, as well. My curation software says 45 minutes, it’s well worth it.

I don’t see anything short enough to give you a taste, so if it is an interest of yours, go read it. I agree with all of it that I think applies to the US, I simply don’t know enough about British education to have a valid opinion.


Unintended Consequences has made Britain a frustrating laughingstock for the last three years. Why? Abram N. Shulsky at Law and Liberty has figured out some of the reasons why the British government has gotten so pear-shaped. It’s a danger we face as well, as so many (especially on the left) want to tinker with our constitution.

The recent chaos resulted from two innovations that weren’t entirely consistent with the underlying principles of the British regime: the Fixed-term Parliament Act of 2011 (FTPA) and the Brexit referendum of 2015.  Both were introduced to solve short-term political problems.

It’s an excellent explanation of how the (primarily) Conservative Party has failed to conserve the things that made the Westminster System work.


Walter E. Williams at The Daily Signal tells us that Richard Ebeling, professor of economics at The Citadel, has an essay in the American Institute for Economic Research that clarifies how Capitalism is a morally superior system.

In a key section of his article, Ebeling lays out what he calls the ethical principles of free markets. He says:

The hallmark of a truly free market is that all associations and relationships are based on voluntary agreement and mutual consent. Another way of saying this is that in the free market society, people are morally and legally viewed as sovereign individuals possessing rights to their life, liberty, and honestly acquired property, who may not be coerced into any transaction that they do not consider being to their personal betterment and advantage.

Ebeling says that the rules of a free market are simple and easy to understand:

You don’t kill, you don’t steal, and you don’t cheat through fraud or misrepresentation. You can only improve your own position by improving the circumstances of others. Your talents, abilities, and efforts must all be focused on one thing: What will others take in trade from you for the revenues you want to earn as the source of your own income and profits?

They are both spot on.


Dylan Pahman at Law and Liberty has an essay on why economic nationalism fails.

However, at present economic liberty has fallen out of favor with some who see a sea change in recent events—from the election of President Trump in the United States to Great Britain’s “Brexit” referendum—moving away from a perceived elitist, globalist liberalism and back toward the old order of nation states, not only politically but also economically.

He does an excellent job of laying out the underpinning, and I mostly agree with him, completely in theory in fact. This is the Libertarian/Conservative rationale for free trade, and mostly it is true.

But


Curtis Ellis at American Greatness lays out why Globalism and Progressivism make such a toxic stew.

The reformers of the Progressive era championed safety standards for food, drugs, and labor.

The Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906 gave birth to the Food and Drug Administration. The chief chemist at the Department of Agriculture had mobilized a coalition of women’s clubs, physicians, and pharmacists to lobby for uniform national standards for patent medicines.

It worked, mostly, although it was and is very expensive. Now add Globalism

Communist China is the world’s largest producer and exporter of “active pharmaceutical ingredients,” the base components drug companies use to manufacture most of the medications found on store shelves across America. Today, 80 percent of prescription drugs consumed in the United States originate in India and China.

Drug companies are not required to disclose the country of origin of the active ingredients in their products. That means consumers are unknowingly exposed to the risks associated with drugs made in China.

What are those risks? Well, in 2008, 100 Americans died after taking the anticoagulant heparin that was made in China. Some of the heparin was fraudulently replaced with chondroitin, a dietary supplement for joint aches.

Now what? The free traders say the Chicoms are the low-cost producer and it makes economic sense for our drug hoses to buy their product. The families of a hundred dead Americans are likely to disagree. And if we are going to use uninspected raw material, what exactly is the point of the FDA?

That’s the kind of real-world problem that always screws up those lovely theoretical solutions. The answer? We don’t really have one yet.

That should be enough to keep you out of trouble for a while! 🙂

Things to be Thankful For: Citizen Soldiers

Imperial War Museum

This is the time of year that we tend to be more thankful than other times. For me, that often comes down to our soldiers. And what drives me nearly around the bend is what Kipling described as “O makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep”. One of the sources for the quote that seems misattributed to George Orwell. It’s been pretty endemic most of my life and always rubs me the wrong way. Here’s one of them

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant Ronald W. McLean (MCSN: 0-105587), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Company A, Third Reconnaissance Battalion, THIRD Marine Division in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 8 June 1969, First Lieutenant McLean’s six-man reconnaissance team was patrolling eleven miles northwest of the Vandegrift Combat Base in Quang Tri Province when it became heavily engaged with an enemy force. Realizing the Marines needed a more tenable position, First Lieutenant McLean unhesitatingly exposed himself to the hostile rounds impacting around him and fired his M-79 grenade launcher into the midst of the enemy, killing two hostile soldiers and enabling his team to maneuver to a more defensible position. After the dead soldiers had been searched and the team had retrieved documents of intelligence value, the Marines were attacked by a platoon-sized hostile force. Reacting immediately, First Lieutenant McLean fired his grenade launcher at the enemy and killed five more hostile solders. Observing one of his men fall wounded, he boldly ignored the hostile rounds directed at him to give medical assistance to his comrade. As he was rendering first aid to the injured man, he alertly observed a hostile soldier preparing to fire on their position. Completely disregarding his own safety, he shoved his companion down and was mortally wounded by the enemy fire. His bold initiative and heroic efforts inspired all who observed him and accounted for eight enemy soldiers killed. By his courage, aggressive leadership and steadfast devotion to duty, First Lieutenant McLean upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.
Action Date: June 8, 1969

As always, the citation of a posthumous award tells us of the gallant way he or she died, but little of his life. That’s often interesting too. In this case, what jumps out is that his hometown was Beverly Hills, California.

LT McLean had a stepfather who outlived him, which is kind of amazing considering he (the stepfather) was assigned as operations officer of the 703rd Bombardment Squadron, 445th Bombardment Group, a B-24 Liberator unit soon to be sent to the war in Europe. On 20 January 1944, he was promoted Major and served as deputy commander of the 2d Bombardment Wing during what we remember as “Big Week”, where we and the RAF broke the back of the Luftwaffe. On 29 March 1945, he was promoted Colonel and given command of the 2d Bombardment Wing. Since he had enlisted after failing his draft physical, he had gone from Private to Colonel in four years.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster (two awards); the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters; the Distinguished Service Medal; and the Croix de Guerre avec Palme (France).

Unusually for a citizen soldier, he remained a reserve officer and was promoted Brigadier General by President Eisenhower on 23 July 1959. During his career, he remained current on B-36, B-47, and B-52 aircraft, as well as joining the Mach II club in a B-58 Hustler.

Brigadier General James M. (“Jimmy”) Stewart, USAFR (center) with the crew of B-52F Stratofortress 57-149, at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, 20 February 1966. (U.S. Air Force)

But wait there’s more…”20 February 1966: he, flew the last combat mission of his military career, a 12 hour, 50 minute “Arc Light” bombing mission over Vietnam, aboard Boeing B-52 Stratofortress of the 736th Bombardment Squadron, 454th Bombardment Wing. His bomber was a B-52F-65-BW, serial number 57-149, call sign GREEN TWO. It was the number two aircraft in a 30-airplane bomber stream.”

That was his part-time job, as a citizen-soldier, many are more familiar with his other career, as an actor. In fact if you are like me, you will watch at least one of his movies between now and Christmas. It’s become rather a tradition for many of us. It’s called It’s a Wonderful Life and he is indeed Brigadier General James Maitland Stewart, US Air Force Reserve. He died of a heart attack on 2 July 1997.

Many thanks to This Day in Aviation for providing accurate information on both of these citizen soldiers’ lives. There are more pictures there too.

Years of Lightning, Day of Drums

Fifty-six years ago this weekend the world stopped, as an American president was buried. Yes, really, it nearly did. I was ten years old and the muffled drums from that weekend still echo in my soul. Not because he was President Kennedy, a democrat and a son of Irish immigrants. But because he was the president of all Americans and the leader of the free world in a dark time, but he never let the dark times overshadow his vigor, his youth, and yes, his love of freedom.

As I’ve grown up and grown older I’ve come to know that he was hardly a perfect man or leader. He had many faults.  So what, we all do. In many ways he epitomized the America we long for today.

We buried him on Robert E. Lee’s plantation equidistant from the memorials of Washington and Lincoln the two great liberators of American history, one above party, and one Republican, in many ways he completes the triumvirate, the Democrat who loved America and led many to freedom, for it was on his watch, that the defeat of the Soviet Union was begun, and the world set free.

Because of his steadfast service, we no longer say, Lass ‘sie nach Berlin kommen, for Berlin is free, and the wall is gone. And make no mistake, that is a victory of the American people and armed forces.

So take a moment this weekend, or perhaps on Thanksgiving to remember President Kennedy, a man who had many political adversaries, just as we always see, but who mostly did the right as he was given to see the right, and set in train the destruction of the Soviet Union, not the end of history as some glibly claim, but the beginning of a new chapter in the saga that is America.

And yes, they made a film to tell the world what we thought of him, and yes, it still makes my monitor dusty.

 

Remembrance Sunday

Crossposted from  All along the Watchtower.

Poppy_wreath_stockwell

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

 

A WOMAN’S TRIBUTE

The Message of the Double Line of Khaki; From the London Times, October 18, 1921

In Westminster Abbey, yesterday, General Pershing laid the American Medal of Honour upon the grave of the Unknown Soldier of Britain. The bright sunlight streamed through the high stained-glass windows in long shafts of light that fell warm upon the grey stone of the Gothic arches, upon the quiet people in the Nave, and around the flower-strewn tomb, and that lay in a cloth of scarlet on the flag above the body of the Unknown Dead.

A thousand years of great history stood silent within those old walls. Close by are the tombs of Norman, Plantagenet, Tudor, and Stuart Kings and Queens, of the priests, and soldiers and the sailors, of the poets and statesmen that have made England great.

As the organ filled the sunlit spaces of the ancient church with its deep volume of sound, there marched up the aisle, with bared heads, a detachment of British soldiers from the Guard’s regiments. As they formed a line facing the centre, an equal number of American soldiers, bare-headed, marched up the other side, and turning, stood facing the British soldiers across the narrow aisle.

Both lines of khaki, both lines of straight and young and clear-eyed boys, both lines of men of Anglo-Saxon blood, of the same standards and of the same ideals they stood there in the sunlight in that shrine of a thousand years of memory, looking straight into each other’s eyes.

Between them, up the aisle, marched the choir in their scarlet vestments with their bright cross on high, the generals, the admirals, and the Ministers of the Empire, and the Ambassador and the Commanding General of the Great Republic but in all that they represented, and in all that was said in the ceremonies that followed, there was no such potent symbol as those two lines of khaki- clad boys, with the sun shining on their bared heads, their brave young faces, and their strong young bodies, looking each other straight in the face.Between them lay, not the narrow aisle, but a thousand leagues of sea, the building of a new world, the birth of a new destiny for man. But as they stood there where they could have touched hands in the old Abbey which was a shrine for their common ancestors, they were so amazingly alike in bearing and appearance that they ceased to be a detachment of soldiers from two different countries, and they became a symbol of the illimitable potentiality of a common heritage that heritage of which the ancient Abbey was a shrine the heritage of the ideals of freedom, of order, of self-discipline, of self-respect.

If any words spoken in the Abbey could have conveyed a hundredth part of what that double line of clear- eyed boys said in utter silence the world would have been a happier place to-day. The old strength and the new force of a common heritage stood in khaki in the aisle of Westminster Abbey bare-headed, to honour the symbol of supreme sacrifice to those ideals in the Cross of Christ and in the body of an Unknown Soldier.

The service included this.

Kind of the cousins, who have always been so gracious. I wonder if they also sang this, which was new that year.

It has been a very long century since that last quiet August weekend of the Edwardian Age. It has been filled far too often with the roar of the guns, and the rattle of musketry followed by the sounding of the Last Post. But the mission has been maintained, it will never be won, although we can and should pray that it will be less horrific going forward. But all around the world, freedom-loving people have learned of the steadfast valor even unto death of English-speaking soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen. We are proud of our part, yes. But we are equally proud to be your allies and friends.

Has it been worth it? The citizen of Ypres, Belgium seem to think so. Every night at 8:00pm since 2 July 1928, except during the German occupation in World War II, they have executed this ceremony, and when the Polish forces liberated them in 1944, they resumed, while heavy fighting was still going on in the city. While under occupation in World War II the ceremony took place at Brookwood Military Cemetery, in Surrey, England.

EVERY NIGHT

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

 

A time to weep

That, of course, is Notre Dame de Paris, as she has looked since roughly 1260. The interior it is said requited cutting some 52 acres of timber. That’s a lot of wood. And it’s been quite the life, through war and revolution, and even desecration, it’s hung on. But this morning it looks different.

Smoke billows as fire engulfs the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier – RC1AC7F22C50

Frankly, it hit me as I watched very much like watching the attack on the World Trade Center did, for both were symbols the WTC of a proud trading nation, and Notre Dame of a time when lives were centered on God, not ourselves. I sat here for a while yesterday, watching through my tears, even as I did on 9/11. I’m neither proud nor ashamed of that, it just is. Not only me, either.

The French say it was just an accident caused by the renovators currently working there. Like most of you, I tend to distrust governments because they have a propensity to lie, to cover up, on the other hand, it would hardly be the first time a careless workman destroyed a building. So, it likely is so.

The French also say it will be rebuilt, and already contributions are pouring in. But I wonder, are they rebuilding a historic building, or a tourist attraction, or a house of God. The name is Our Lady of Paris after all, and the French have not been noted for their Christianity since before the Revolution. So we (or more likely you younger people) will see. I will pray for the rebuilding of a house of God.

Some, at least of the relics and artwork were saved, amongst them The Crown of Thorns, reputed to be the actual Crown of Thorns that was pressed on Jesus’s head this very week long ago. It may or may not be the original, but it is a reminder.

Another parallel with the Trade Center. I suspect some of you remember this, as I instantly did yesterday.

This is from the interior of Notre Dame this morning.

And so, again, the essential remains, and we have received a message, we would do well to heed.

Ecclesiastes 3 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.

A time to kill, and a time to heal. A time to destroy, and a time to build.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather. A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.

A time to get, and a time to lose. A time to keep, and a time to cast away.

A time to rend, and a time to sew. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

A time of love, and a time of hatred. A time of war, and a time of peace.

What hath man more of his labour?

10 I have seen the trouble, which God hath given the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made all things good in their time, and hath delivered the world to their consideration, so that man cannot find out the work which God hath made from the beginning to the end.

12 And I have known that there was no better thing than to rejoice, and to do well in this life.

13 For every man that eateth and drinketh, and seeth good of his labour, this is the gift of God.

14 I have learned that all the works which God hath made, continue for ever: we cannot add any thing, nor take away from those things which God hath made that he may be feared.

15 That which hath been made, the same continueth: the things that shall be, have already been: and God restoreth that which is past.

16 I saw under the sun in the place of judgment wickedness, and in the place of justice iniquity.

17 And I said in my heart: God shall judge both the just and the wicked, and then shall be the time of every thing.

18 I said in my heart concerning the sons of men, that God would prove them, and shew them to be like beasts.

19 Therefore the death of man, and of beasts is one, and the condition of them both is equal: as man dieth, so they also die: all things breathe alike, and man hath nothing more than beast: all things are subject to vanity.

20 And all things go to one place: of earth they were made, and into earth they return together.

21 Who knoweth if the spirit of the children of Adam ascend upward, and if the spirit of the beasts descend downward?

22 And I have found that nothing is better than for a man to rejoice in his work, and that this is his portion. For who shall bring him to know the things that shall be after him?

Alex Trebek and an American Tradition

And so, Wednesday brought word from Alex Trebek that he has stage IV Pancreatic Cancer. Nat a good thing when you are 78, or ever in fact. We wish him a speedy recovery, and he will be in our prayers, but…well we are realists.

We’re also fans of Jeopardy, and it seems like we have been all our lives. Probably not least because we have stashed all sorts of unrelated and useless information, the perfect mess for playing Jeopardy, as it were. I can barely remember back at Bedrock High, a jeopardy contest, and quite a few bars over the years where the competition was spirited and friendly.

Mr. Trebek long ago made Jeopardy his own, I know he wasn’t the first host, although I can’t put a name to him, it was a perfect match, of host with program. Just as Monty Hall was on Let’s Make a Deal, Allen Ludden on Password. I can remember Bill Cullen and the GE Colleg Bowl, but it seemed impossibly hard at the time, but I was fairly young. But I’ve met many who find Jeopardy too hard as well.

Christopher Jacobs over at The Federalist makes the point that Alex is the very last man standing, the last real, professional game show host. He’s right, but let him tell it.

Few Game Shows Today

By comparison, few individuals currently on the air besides Trebek have hosted multiple game shows. Regis Philbin might qualify as a possible exception, having hosted a brief revival of “Password” after having helmed “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” But few individuals have hosted multiple game shows because so few game shows currently air.

Television dynamics have changed substantially in recent decades. The growth of syndicated daytime talk shows, beginning in the 1980s, eroded one block of time slots for game shows. And the launch of “Survivor” in 1998 heralded a new era of “reality” television programming in prime time, with cheaper costs and greater appeal to network executives.

From time to time, game shows have reappeared on the television landscape. “Millionaire” single-handedly resurrected ABC’s flagging fortunes in 1999 and 2000, prompting a series of imitators to launch big-money game shows. But ABC aired “Millionaire” episodes so frequently they ran the franchise into the ground, forcing it into daytime syndication, while “Greed,” “The Weakest Link,” a “Twenty-One” revival, and others soon disappeared entirely.

Television studios do occasionally air game shows, often during the slow summer season. When they’ve had a need, they have usually hired comedians—Steve Harvey at “Family Feud,” Drew Carey for “The Price Is Right,” Alec Baldwin for “Match Game”—or talk show hosts—Regis Philbin at “Millionaire” and Michael Strahan for a revival of the “$100,000 Pyramid.”

But the days of a single host making a stable living going from show to show, and developing a distinct identity as a game show host, have long since disappeared from the television marketplace. That makes Trebek not just an icon for fans of “Jeopardy!,” quiz shows, and trivia, but the last of his kind for an entire television genre.

That’s said, I’m a Jeopardy guy, and have been since High School, but dad and my favorite niece both favor The Price is Right, and Mom liked Password.

But I suspect the game show itself may be nearing the end of the road. At it’s best, it was communal viewing, at home as a family playing along, as we all do on Wheel of Fortune, and watching Jeopardy was always best with a group of friends playing along. That’s even true for The Price is Right, mindless as it sometimes seems.

But communal or family events are not doing so well in America these days seems like everybody has the nose stuck in their phone constantly instead of reacting to those they are with.

I’ll take sad for a $1000, Alex.

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