Lady Lex

Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen announced something this week that amazed many of us. He found the USS Lexington (CV2), the legendary Lady Lex, which the Navy was forced to scuttle after the battle of the Coral Sea, a few weeks before Midway. This was the battle that blunted to forward thrust of Japan, that would end forever just a few weeks later as the Japanese lost four fleet carriers at Midway, some of the Lex’s aircrew were there.

This was the second US carrier, the first was the USS Langley called the covered wagon because it had no island, and while the Langley had been converted from a collier, the Lex was converted during construction from a Treaty Battlecruiser.

The ship (and some of the planes lost with it) appear to be in remarkable shape, all thing considered. and one of the pictures woke a lot of us up.

That is a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter belonging to VF -31 The Tomcatters, commanded by John “Jimmy” Hatch who created the combat tactic the Thatch Weave. But two other things caught our attention. the pilot of this plane had four Japanese kills by May of 1942 less than six months after Pearl Harbor, and right there is Felix the Cat, The sign of the Tomcatters.

And some people dug into the records and now we know whose plane this is. It was the plane of LT Ed O’Hare. And he was one heroic pilot.

His record is very impressive, in the course of defending the Lexington, he became the first Navy winner of the Medal of honor in the Second World War, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and went down without trace in 1943. Chicago O’Hare airport and the destroyer USS O’Hare are both named after him.

If you’ve ever wondered why when you fly to Chicago your baggage stub says ORD, now you know, the ORD is the old name, it was renamed after Commander O’Hare. It started out as a military field in World War II named Orchard Field, in a town that is now defunct Orchard Place.


The Indispensable Man

Yesterday was, of course, the anniversary of George Washington’s birth. Without his life, the United States, if it even existed, would be a very different place. Long ago, Jessica touched on his (probably unconscious) model:  Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus.

I addressed King George’s view of him after he resigned his commission in the Continental Army here, and here, even how the left attempts to steal the legacies of the founders.

Scott Johnson at PowerLine wrote about him yesterday, as well.

In anticipation of Washington’s visit to Newport, the members of America’s oldest Jewish congregation prepared a letter welcoming Washington for presentation to him at a public event on the morning of August 18. The letter was authorized by the congregation’s board and signed by its president, Moses Seixas. It is Washington’s magnificent letter responding to Seixas that that has become famous as one of the classic statements of religious toleration in America.

The congregation’s letter to Washington is not so well known, although the most prominent line in Washington’s letter is an echo of the congregation’s letter to Washington. By far the most striking feature of the congregation’s letter is its expression of sheer gratitude to Washington himself and to America for the freedom and equal rights the congregants had attained as American citizens. Here is the congregation’s letter:

Permit the children of the stock of Abraham to approach you with the most cordial affection and esteem for your person and merits ~~ and to join with our fellow citizens in welcoming you to NewPort.

With pleasure we reflect on those days ~~ those days of difficulty, and danger, when the God of Israel, who delivered David from the peril of the sword, ~~ shielded Your head in the day of battle: ~~ and we rejoice to think, that the same Spirit, who rested in the Bosom of the greatly beloved Daniel enabling him to preside over the Provinces of the Babylonish Empire, rests and ever will rest, upon you, enabling you to discharge the arduous duties of Chief Magistrate in these States.

Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People ~~ a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance ~~ but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: ~~ deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language equal parts of the great governmental Machine: ~~ This so ample and extensive Federal Union whose basis is Philanthropy, Mutual confidence and Public Virtue, we cannot but acknowledge to be the work of the Great God, who ruleth in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth, doing whatever seemeth him good.

For all these Blessings of civil and religious liberty which we enjoy under an equal benign administration, we desire to send up our thanks to the Ancient of Days, the great preserver of Men ~~ beseeching him, that the Angel who conducted our forefathers through the wilderness into the promised Land, may graciously conduct you through all the difficulties and dangers of this mortal life: ~~ And, when, like Joshua full of days and full of honour, you are gathered to your Fathers, may you be admitted into the Heavenly Paradise to partake of the water of life, and the tree of immortality.

Done and Signed by order of the Hebrew Congregation in NewPort, Rhode Island August 17th 1790.

Moses Seixas, Warden

The painting that leads this article was painted by Scottish-born portraitist Archibald Robertson, on commission from David Erskine, 11th Earl of Buchan (1742-1829), who wished, he wrote,  “that I might place it among those whom I most honor.” (You can read the earl’s entire letter to Washington here;Buchan also entrusted Robertson with a special gift for Washington, a wooden box said to be made of the oak that sheltered William Wallace.). From: Two Nerdy History Girls.

After some adventures of its own,”in 1951, the current Earl Buchan presented the painting to Sulgrave Manor,the English birthplace of Washington’s ancestors, where it hangs today.”

But before (or after, who knows) painting that portrait of Washington as the fearless and decisive Commander in Chief, he painted another one, a miniature of Washington (and another of Martha, as well, as they appeared in 1792.

This one shows the very man that quelled the only reported American military coup with the words.

 “Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown gray in your service and now find myself growing blind.”

As General Light Horse Harry Lee eulogized him:

First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of his Countrymen.

B-Ball and the Chaos Before the Storm

In one of those unpredictable things, last night turned into movie night here, first with Hoosiers and then with Darkest Hour. It is an interesting pairing.

In the first, we have the eternal American story of the underdog, the Milan Huskers, overcoming the big city South Bend Central Bears, a quintessentially American story of the underdog overcoming the big city favorite. And all the better for being true.  See this post. But it carries over to the Darkest Hour as well.

Here we have Britain, holding firm alone amongst the Europeans against the Nazi Germans. When all the others buckled, there was Britain, standing alone, as it had against Napoleon. The nation of shopkeepers standing alone, waiting for the new world to step to its rescue.

And here again, a half-century later it becomes true again. The ruling class in the UK has sold out to the left and left the real conservatives without representation, but we know many proud Britons remain. And so. once again the New World prepares to rescue the Old World.

We know what they do not wish to acknowledge, and we are OK with that, but that is the situation. I always wonder if the situation would have worked out if Winston Churchill’s mother hadn’t been Jennie Jerome, an American. It’s an interesting point to ponder.

And we see it once again, the British establishment unable (or unwilling) to confront the leftist tide in their own society, the right taking their cue from their own daughter society, the United States. That is not a bad thing, when necessary we too have taken inspiration from our British forebearers. As I’ve said before, the difference is that we wrote it down.


You know as I continue with these subjects, increasingly it strikes me that only Americans recognize the difference between good and evil as opposed to what sounds good, feels good, but is in reality not good at all.

As for the movie, Darkest Hour, I liked it. Yes, the scene in the underground that so many have talked about is jarring and unbelievable but is there to make the point about the differences between normal and those in the ruling class, who then and now, existed in a bubble.

But do see it, in truth since both are out, pair it with Dunkirk, they portray nearly the same week, and the difference between the calm of London with the chaos of the evacuation beaches is important itself.

No movie is really historically accurate, and that is true for all three we’ve mentioned here. But movies can make a point that is hard to convey in written words, and all three do here. Hoosiers remind me of much of what I loved about growing up in Indiana, some of which is lost forever, as it always is.

The other two speak of a time just a bit before mine, when the entire world was chaos, and a very few people took the duty to lead us through the storm and did it without thinking overly of the effects it would have on them. For all of us today, these are the people who built the world we live in, and it behooves us to try to understand them, as once again chaos threatens us.

In any case, see the movies, you’ll enjoy all three.

Freedom, Bought and Sold

It always interests me to see what our readers are reading here. Yesterday, close to 20% of you were reading a fairly old article of Jessica’s, entitled The Exhausted West?.  In it, she spoke about Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s 1978 Harvard Commencement address. It is, I think quite appropriate to today’s subject, especially one of the paragraphs she quoted from the speech.

Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, the misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counterbalanced by the young people’s right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil. 

Indeed, we have lost here, and even more in Europe, the key fact that freedom imposes responsibility, and that there is much more to life than material possessions.

Today, we are going to speak of the late/current demonstrations in Iran, and even more the reaction to them in the west. The source of today’s is Douglass Murray in The Spectator (UK) article entitled The Iranian revolution the world wants to ignore.

If there is one lesson the world should have learned from Iran’s ‘Green Revolution’ of 2009 and the so-called Arab Spring that followed, it is this: the worst regimes stay. Rulers who are only averagely appalling (Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak) can be toppled by uprisings. Those who are willing to kill every one of their countrymen stay. So it is that after almost half a million dead we enter 2018 with Bashar al-Assad still President of Syria and with Iran’s mullahs approaching the 40th anniversary of their seizure of power in 1979. […]

Yep, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and quite a few more died peacefully in bed, few of their opponents did.

Yet anyone who expects these demonstrations to lead to swift change in the nature of the Iranian government remembers no history. Shortly after the latest protests began, the country’s security forces, including the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, were seen photographing the events. In Iran, a regime camera is as deadly as a sniper’s sights. Only more delayed. As in 2009, the photographs will be used by the police to arrest demonstrators and also family members unconnected with the protests. This will be followed by the torture and rape of men and women in prison by the theocratic regime’s frontmen. As after the Green Revolution, there will in due course be show trials, forced recantations and executions. This is how a police state with four decades of experience goes about its business. In 1979, the behaviour of the Shah’s dreaded Savak secret police was one of the spurs for revolution. The Ayatollahs have superseded the Savak, fine-tuned their brutality and learned from their mistakes.

Anyone in doubt about the capacity of the Supreme Leader to hang on to power need only watch the footage of crowds in the city of Rasht advancing down the street on one of the first nights of protest. You can see the exact moment when the regime’s Revolutionary Guard starts attacking the protesters. The crowd that is marching one way down the street suddenly finds an organised army running towards them. These are trained killers being unleashed on angry but peaceful civilians. Six hundred people have already been arrested and dozens already killed. The civilians don’t stand a chance. […]

None whatsoever, the Supreme Leaders people are not fully trained troops, probably, although they are inured to killing, which is all it really takes, plus a modicum of organization to easily defeat a mob in the street. Not much different than murder on an industrial scale, but it is effective.

Unless, that is, the outside world takes any interest in their plight. In the early hours of the demonstrations, the US President took to Twitter to warn the Iranian authorities that ‘The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!’ But such is the obsession with Donald Trump and the parochialism of all our politics that Trump’s critics immediately took to the media to condemn his condemnation of human rights abuses. Again on Twitter, the most powerful man on the planet — determined not to replay the actions of his predecessor in office, who was highly reluctant to speak out during the crushing of the Green Revolution — warned that ‘The world is watching.’ He may be right. But the world may watch in silence.

This is one of those occasions where, whatever you think of Donald Trump, he is correct, the west invented human rights, and are the only guarantor. And yet, many, maybe most around the world for whatever reason decided to side with the Ayatollah against the west, personified by Donald Trump. Speaking for myself, I found it sickening.

Some international caution is justified. People have their reasons. Our own Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, has expressed ‘concern’ over events, but has been careful not to go further. Fresh back from a visit to Tehran, the Foreign Secretary has been working to obtain the release of the British–Iranian dual citizen, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been imprisoned in Iran for the last 18 months. Thanks to a campaign by Labour MPs, the issue of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release has been turned into an issue of the Foreign Secretary’s personal competence (at times as though it is Boris Johnson, and not the mullahs, who imprisoned the woman). Johnson’s Iranian counterparts know that he has a lot riding on his efforts to release her and have used this advantage well. So a campaign for one woman’s freedom has hindered a Foreign Secretary from campaigning for a nation’s freedom.

Other silences have been less defensible. The leader of the opposition is not normally silent when there is an opportunity to talk about unfairness or injustice. Yet after days of protests in Iran, Jeremy Corbyn said nothing.

One reason may be that the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition was until recently in the pay of the Iranian regime. For presenting programmes on its propaganda wing, Press TV (before becoming Labour party leader), Corbyn received up to £20,000. Damningly — or it would be damning if more people cared — he appeared on Press TV even after the channel lost its broadcasting licence. It lost that licence not because of its always clear political support for a sectarian, gay-hanging, women-oppressing dictatorship. It lost it because during the channel’s campaign to delegitimise the 2009 protests, Press TV broadcast a forced confession from a journalist who had been abducted by the regime and was being held in prison. Ofcom thought this crossed a line. Jeremy Corbyn did not and was happy to continue to take his apple-juice money from Tehran.

Elsewhere the silence indicates the dream-puncturing of an entire political class. In 2015 the UN security council agreed a deal with Iran to limit elements of its nuclear programme for a period. Iran’s incentives included a freeing up of trade and a delivery of billions of dollars in cash. For their part, companies and governments across Europe hoped to get their own cash bonanzas in the wake of that deal. Such deals always compromise the people who make them. One of the chief defenders of the 2015 deal, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, has spent recent days being studiously silent on the uprisings in Iran. When President Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital she couldn’t tweet enough condemnations of his action. Yet five days into the protests in Iran, she hadn’t even said that she is watching events closely. Europe’s leading foreign affairs ideologue needs Iran’s governing status quo to stay in place so that nothing about her own deal, future cash prize or putative Nobel award is in any way disturbed.

We’ve said speaking of the election that Donald Trump has F**k you money. He has enough that he can do what he thinks is right without regard to his next paycheck. It’s a major advantage. It applies here, as well. The US, seemingly alone in the west has F**k you money, too. Not that we do, but we have a historical record of trying to do the harder right instead of the easier wrong. Do we always succeed? Of course not. But maybe that is the reason why we, of all the nations of the west, still will go out into the world to fight evil.

But I suspect the day is coming when we will come to the conclusion that if the people of Europe amongst others value money above all things, especially above their own freedom, well, why should we care. That will be the day that Europe falls. Of its own volition, bribed by its own money. It will be a sad day, but it begins to appear inevitable.


A Hell of an Engineer

We’ve lost another hero and in fact, a hell of an engineer and pilot. By now you’ve figured out that we Boilers hold an almost proprietary interest in space, not least since both the first and most recent men on the moon are our alumni, and even one of our band members. But “The Cradle of Astronauts” has had some fellow travelers. One of them John Young died this weekend, the great heroes of the space program continue to thin on the ground, and even in that company Captain John Young, USN (Ret) was special.

From Wikipedia:

After graduating from Georgia Tech in 1952, Young entered the United States Navythrough the Navy ROTC and was commissioned on June 6, 1952, as an ensign. He served as fire control officer on the destroyer USS Laws until June 1953 and completed a tour in the Sea of Japan during the Korean War. Following this assignment, he was sent to flight training. In January 1954, he was designated a Navy helicopter pilot. After receiving his aviator wings on December 20, 1954, he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 103 (VF-103) for four years, flying Grumman F-9 Cougars from USS Coral Sea and Vought F-8 Crusaders from USS Forrestal.

After training at the United States Naval Test Pilot School in 1959 with the Class 23, Young was assigned to the Naval Air Test Center at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, for three years. His test projects included evaluations of the XF8U-3 Crusader III and F-4 Phantom II fighter weapons systems. In 1962, he set two world time-to-climb records while flying his Phantom II, attaining 3,000 meters (9,843 ft) from a standing start in 34.52 seconds and 25,000 meters (82,021 ft) from a standing start in 227.6 seconds. He also served as maintenance officer of Fighter Squadron 143 (VF-143) from April to September 1962.

Fellow astronaut Charles Bolden described Young and Robert “Hoot” Gibson as the two best pilots he had met during his aviation career: “Never met two people like them. Everyone else gets into an airplane; John and Hoot wear their airplane. They’re just awesome”. Young retired from the Navy as a Captain in September 1976, after 25 years.

It’s before my time but it seems to me that getting assigned to Pax River after only about five years as a naval aviator tells us quite a lot about how great a pilot he was. So does the rest of his career.

The rest of his career would bear that out, he flew with Gus Grissom on Gemini 3, the first manned Gemini mission. He also won himself a Congressional reprimand when he smuggled a corned beef sandwich on board, knowing that Grissom would complain about the food. He commanded Gemini 10, including two spacewalks and two dockings with Agena target vehicles.

In May 1969 he was the first man to fly solo around the moon as part of Apollo 10. While commanding Apollo 16 he became the ninth man to walk on the moon. You may recall that the astronauts saluted the colors there upon leaving their spacecraft. Young made it special by saluting while in the middle of an approximately 24 in jump on the surface.

After that, he commanded STS 1, the maiden flight of the space shuttle and again commanded STS 9 which carried the first piece of Spacelab.

In January 1974 he became Chief of the Astronaut Office after the retirement of Alan Shepherd, the first American in space.

Young was openly critical of NASA management following the Challenger disaster, and in April 1987 was made Special Assistant to JSC Director Aaron Cohen for Engineering, Operations and Safety. NASA denied that his criticism triggered the move, although Young and industry insiders believed that was the reason for the reassignment In February 1996, he was assigned as Associate Director (Technical) JSC.

He officially retired on December 31, 2004, but remained involved for several years thereafter.

I’m not sure how much of a Ramblin Wreck he was but like so many from Georgia Tech, He was a hell of an engineer, and pilot, and astronaut. He’ll be missed.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of; wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sun-lit silence. Hovering there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air;
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark nor even eagle flew;
And while, with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Another hero crosses over, Rest in peace, sir.

John Wayne and the American Brand

My old friend Pumabydesign picked up an article by Vassar Bushmills about John Wayne and his brand. It’s good stuff from Watchers of Weasels.

For close to ten years, in the late 60s and early 70’s, the most hated man in Hollywood was John Wayne. That’s right, the Duke. It was all about the Vietnam War, about which you never saw one contemporaneous film released except for Wayne’s “Green Berets”, a 1968 film released just as public sentiment was turning against the war because (take note) the American media, especially Walter Cronkite and CBS News, decided it was a war that could not be won, and who then took great strides to make their analysis came true.

Like the Vietnam War, Hollywood, New York and Washington were largely of one sentiment about John Wayne, only, the rub is, the rest of America loved him. And in a contest of numbers, that matters. Throughout the war period he was America’s top box office draw. He had established a “brand” by the 1960s that lives on today, and nothing those anti-war leftists could say would diminish it. And yes, Donald Trump’s presidency is in part a result of the resiliency of that brand.

It’s simple math, actually. A point that will be driven home shortly in a different context, Richard Grenier, in his 1979 elegy to John Wayne, wrote:

“But Richard Dreyfuss and Robert de Niro are known to only a small proportion of the people who knew Gary Cooper and John Wayne.”

With that alone, John Wayne could protect his brand by not having to say a word. All he had to do was continue about his business in a way that silently said “Screw you” to Hollywood and the political left, and let his brand speak for itself.

The beat goes on. Because Americans demanded such heroes, he and Coop were succeeded by others, men such as Clint Eastwood, who began his Dirty Harry franchise in 1971 after a string of spaghetti Westerns had established him as a quiet but deadly gunslinger. Over the years Eastwood’s “brand” also grew as an anti-liberal, law and order patriot, and is still an icon today.

Yep, an icon and an ideal, still for so many of us. For me growing up, dad was my hero, but you know, he represented almost the very same things that the Duke did. He just had never had time for the movies and so I wasn’t much on them either. But when I started watching some, it was John Wayne, because I already knew him.

They weren’t all guys though, how about this.

I think I might know a few women who might have said this!

Maureen O’Hara, from Ireland, was discovered by Charles Laughton and landed her first Hollywood role in 1937. By that time the “casting couch” was a fixture of the template for getting ahead there. Everyone knew. And The Harvey Weinstein-type producer-director was the template, not the exception, for Hollywood executives. But Maureen O’Hara considered this an occupational hazard and charted her course accordingly. She refused to allow directors and producers to lay a hand on her, (“to be pawed”, her words) until they finally quit trying. She threatened to quit several projects, and eventually earned the reputation of a “cold fish”, black-balled by some studios and producers. Like Wayne, she ended up being type-cast, as a strong woman figure, fiery temperament, but honorable and noble, a heroine. Just not one who would wear a pink hat in a protest march. Like Wayne, she liked her image, and with friends like Wayne and Gary Cooper was able to established an incredible brand without ever once having to lift her skirt or run off to the front office or media with an assault charge.

I’m sure it cost her some fine roles, but she didn’t like slutty roles anyway, which earned Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Fonda both Oscars. In the 40s Joan Crawford was always there to pick those up, anyway.

Like John Wayne, Miss O’Sullivan also realized her brand was immeasurably larger outside Hollywood than inside it. So “screw ’em”.

I can remember trying on the old “Everybody’s doing it” when I was a kid. I was swiftly informed that one: I wasn’t everybody, and two, I wasn’t doing it. So were the Duke and Maureen, and they didn’t, so nobody had to cower before the bullies, but they did. Well, those people always exist. We call them victims, and we pity them and then forget them. They too made their own beds and get to lie in them.

Every encounter between two people is always different, but something I’ve learned and relearned over the years, people who want to take advantage of you, in any manner, whatsoever, are bullies, and more or less evil. Many will rationalize letting them have their way, but that is your choice. You may not get the part, you may not be the most popular guy in school, but over time, things will come, and they will be due you. Because you did it, not so much ‘my way’, as the right way.

America is like that, always has been. That’s why John Wayne symbolizes America to the rest of the world. The closer we run the country to that image, the better it is for America, and Americans, but here’s the catch, the better it is for the people (although often not the government or elites) of those other countries. That’s why all those people we thought were our friends last week voted against us in the UN. It’s not their people, most of whom, if they know us, like us. Rather like the Duke and Maureen were great friends, because they are like us, trying to feed the family and do the right thing. The people that have usurped control of their countries away from the people, well they are not like us.

As the Duke would say, “Screw ’em”. And don’t get me started on what that fiery redheaded Irishwoman would do to them.

And Vassar is right, Clint Eastwood picked up the gauntlet when he started playing Dirty Harry. In fact, I’ve read that the Duke turned down the role, clearing his path.

So I guess the elites are going to have to answer that All-American question,

“Do ya feel lucky, punk?”

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