Sunday Funnies on Monday

There was a demonstration in London the other day. Here’s a picture.

Here’s a close up of one of the leaders.

There’s a reason I don’t watch anymore. In fact, the entire BBC is like this, including the news. Can you say CNN with a better accent?

Meanwhile over here.

Seven deadly sins, There’s an app for that

And finally, IDF soldier Orin Julie

Some from PowerLine, some from Ace‘s, some from other places that I can’t remember.


The Immortal Memory

As we commented the other day, we have entered the season of critical Anglo-Saxon Battles, yesterday was the 237th Anniversary of Lord Cornwallis”s surrender to General Washington at Yorktown. In 1918 the victorious battles of the allies would soon result in the Armistice. But today is the anniversary of perhaps the most important battle of the modern age.During the negotiations with France when we were trying to buy New Orléans President Jefferson wrote an open letter regarding the return of Louisiana to France from Spain, where he commented that “on that day we shall have to marry ourselves to the British fleet and people”, meaning if France took control of Louisiana it would mean war between France and the United States, and later commented “that from that day forward France shall end at her low water mark” Of course we know that France sold Louisiana to the US so it ended well.

But, this is the day that France (and Spain) would forever lose control of the sea to Great Britain.

Today is the anniversary of a battle to rank with Salamis, with Waterloo, and with Yorktown. For today the English-speaking peoples with our concepts of individual liberty and rights took control of the sea.

That battle is Trafalgar. The battle was fought off of the south-west coast of Spain between the British Squadron with 27 Ships-of-the-Line and the combined French and Spanish fleets with 33.

The Franco-Spanish fleet was under orders to sail for Brest to help accomplish the invasion of England, which was, by far, Napoleons most steadfast enemy.

Remember these were sailing ships, completely dependent on the wind. and at Trafalgar, there was very little. The French and especially the Spanish were short-handed and had to fill their ship’s companies with soldiers. The British on the other hand had blockaded the coast for years and had been drilled mercilessly. Their commander, himself, had not been off the flagship for more than two years.

Alfred Thayer Mahan in his classic The Influence of Sea Power upon History puts it this way: “Those distant, storm-tossed ships, never seen by the Grande Armee, were all that stood between it and world domination.

And so today, in 1805, the battle was joined. The British had the weather gage and a very unusual plan. Because of the light wind (and against standing orders), they would divide their battle line in two, with each squadron approaching the Franco-Spanish line at an acute angle. With a well-trained enemy, this would have been nearly suicidal but, under these conditions it allowed the British to engage the entire fleet and win the battle in a single day.

The British were under the command of a man who had his introduction to naval war in the American Revolution, he fought in several minor battles off Toulon, was integral in the capture of Corsica, was captain of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. At the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, he lost his right arm, he won a decisive victory over the French at The Battle of the Nile and against the Danes at the Battle of Copenhagen.

At Trafalgar the British fleet went into battle with this signal flying from the flagship:

That flagship is, of course, the HMS Victory, which is now the oldest naval ship in regular commission in the world.

HMS Victory

HMS Victory, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth

The Admiral in command was Horatio, Lord Nelson.

Or to give him his full name:

Admiral Lord Nelson

The Most Noble Lord Horatio Nelson, Viscount and Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, Baron Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough in the said County, Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Vice Admiral of the White Squadron of the Fleet, Commander in Chief of his Majesty’s Ships and Vessels in the Mediterranean, Duke of Bronté in the Kingdom of Sicily, Knight Grand Cross of the Sicilian Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit, Member of the Ottoman Order of the Crescent, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of St Joachim

as it is inscribed on his coffin in St. Paul’s Cathedral, for he was killed by a French marine during the battle.

The first tribute to Nelson was fittingly offered at sea by sailors of Vice-Admiral Dmitry Senyavin’s passing Russian squadron, which saluted on learning of the death.

It is also interesting Nelson being Vice Admiral of the White is the reason that the Royal Navy from that day flies the White Ensign before it flew all three depending on the fleet commander’s rank. The black hatband on British, American, and Russian naval enlisted caps all memorialize Nelson as well.

King George III, upon receiving the news, is reported to have said, in tears, “We have lost more than we have won”.

And the Times reported:

We do not know whether we should mourn or rejoice. The country has gained the most splendid and decisive Victory that has ever graced the naval annals of England; but it has been dearly purchased.

Great Britain would hold uncontested command of the sea, even joining World War I partly to prevent Germany from overtaking the Royal Navy until, in 1921, she agreed to parity with the United States at the Washington Naval Conference. And it should be noted, that even then, it was not willingly, Britain was exhausted and bankrupt from the Great War, and probably recognized that the US would use her sea power much as Britain had, which has proved to be the case. It is also from this date that the United Kingdom began to recede from the first rank of great powers, although her legacy has been for the most part upheld by the US and the Commonwealth.

That’s fine, I hear you say, what’s that got to do with me, especially as an American, these 212 years later? Several things which we will talk about a bit here.

  1. The Atlantic Slave Trade ended because the British decided that it should and the Americans agreed. This led to the establishment of patrols by both navies off the west coast of Africa, effectively ending the trade. Without this, and without the Abolitionist sentiment in the United Kingdom, it is almost inconceivable that slavery would have ended in the western world.
  2. The South and Central American Republics remain independent (and sometimes free) countries. After the Napoleonic wars, Metternich’s Council of Vienna considered all of continental Europe helping Spain recover her American colonies until they found out that they would have to go through the Royal Navy. Yes, we proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 after Prime Minister George Canning proposed a joint statement, the story is that Secretary of State John Q. Adams said that would make us look like a cockboat in the wake of the British man-of-war. Therefore, we proclaimed it unilaterally. But it was enforced almost exclusively until the Spanish-American War by the Royal Navy because it was to the advantage of British mercantile interests. Britain thereby performed the same service for the New World that the US would for Europe in the last half of the Twentieth Century.
  3. The growth and development of America, if a continental power had regained control of Mexico there is a very good chance that it would have expanded into the heartland of America, certainly Texas and entirely possibly all or most of the Louisiana Purchase.

And so we, as Americans, even as the British, should remain grateful for those ‘distant storm-tossed ships’ of the Royal Navy, led by one of the great commanders of history.

And so, I give you the toast that will be drunk tonight in the Royal Navy and the Commonwealth navies, and at least in some places in the United States Navy and even in other navies and places. It is the one traditionally naval toast that is drunk in total silence:

The Immortal Memory of Lord Nelson and those who fell with him”

The traditional music to follow the toast is Rule Britannia.

And so today as the Queen Elizabeth, the first of the CVFs prepares to join the fleet, we again see the Royal Navy preparing to take on all the tasks that the Anglo-Saxons have performed for the world’s benefit since the Armada, itself.

In a remarkable coincidence, the other remaining warship of the period USS Constitution was christened on this day in 1797 at the Boston Navy Yard. While HMS Victory is the oldest ship in commission, USS Constitution (nicknamed “Old Ironsides”) is the oldest warship still afloat and able to sail on its own. Victory is in permanent drydock.

And yes, last night, this happened.

#Tyler Strong

A Cloud Smaller Than a Fist

We’ll be coming back to politics, for the US mid-terms and the British Brexit will determine much of the history of the twenty-first century. Will the Pax Americana continue or will the Chinese inherit the earth? This fall will have much to say about it. We would be foolhardy to be sanguine about it.

But this week kicks off what I sometimes call “The season of battles” where the English Speaking peoples obtained and held the dominion of the seas. This article, which I first published in 2011, is an excellent introduction.

Sometimes out here on the prairie way off in the southwest you will see a small dark cloud that is not very noticeable but if know what you’re looking at;  you may realize that stormy weather is coming in. History is like that sometimes too. Sometimes a small local event echoes down the halls of history with its reverberations growing until they shake the world.

Constantine’s deathbed conversion to Christianity was like that. it had no real importance at the time but echoes down the corridors of time to this day. So was the death of Genghis Khan and the Battle of Salamis. So was the signing of the Declaration of Independence, for that matter, until made good in American blood.

September 26th was the anniversary of another one of those events. On that day a ship landed in Plymouth, England. This was not uncommon, Plymouth then as now was one of England great ports.

The ship was unusual though, it had been damaged by grounding on a reef, it carried amongst other things, several tons of cloves, nearly unheard of in England. Probably, they didn’t know what they were missing; there weren’t any Virginia Hams, either. But Virginia’s namesake was interested in this ship.

The ship had sailed from Plymouth nearly 3 years earlier in company with four of her sisters. The other four had all been lost or turned back in their many adventures.

For the ship and her company had accomplished a great feat, they had circumnavigated the Earth. They had visited South America, had sailed north in the Pacific to Vancouver, refitted and claimed land around San Fransisco Bay, had made port in the Philippines and the Spice Islands and made it home again.

This ship was no ordinary ship, though, for this was the fabulous Golden Hind, captained by none other than Francis Drake, soon to be knighted on board by Queen Elizabeth I.

The Golden Hind by Derek Starkswood

An important event no doubt, for this was the first circumnavigation by anyone but a Spaniard, but not really earthshaking, you say.

You could have been right, like the Declaration it depends on subsequent events. But on this September 26, in the Year of our Lord 1580, we are less than 9 years away from the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the beginning of the long, slow and painful defeat of Imperial Spain , which would see the famous red and orange ensign fly for the last time in 1898 as the Spanish fleets surrendered to those stepchildren of medieval England, the Americans, at Santiago and Manila Bay.

That long slow decline, and the ascendancy of the English Speaking peoples at sea and around the world begins here.

As so often in history, the contrafactuals are fascinating. If the Golden Hind hadn’t survived, without Drake would the English have (with the help of the storm) have beaten the Armada, if not, would there have been English colonies and all that they represent to our world today, in North America.

But Sir Francis did make it. The North American Colonies were started and in time became the United States of America, Canada was conquered and became a British Commonwealth. Australia and New Zealand were founded and prospered. India was conquered and liberated by Gandhi. The sun that never set on the British Empire finally did; but not until America was ready to take her place as Viceroy of King Neptune.

And so 438 years ago today, occurred one of the seminal events of modern world history.

Anti Leadership

Then there comes this to our attention from Mr Ed at  Samizdata.

Recent testimony from a former Acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Craig Mackey indicates that he was present as one of his officers was stabbed to death during the Westminster Bridge attack, and sat in his car and locked the doors, and took advice from his subordinates as to what, if anything, to do. Holding, in an acting capacity, the most important policing role in the UK, he did not get out of the car, in which he was a passenger, to intervene, nor, AFAIK, did he suggest that the car be used as a weapon. Of course, it is much easier for any one of us to sit as armchair strategists as to what we might have done, but would we continue in office and look forward to collecting pensions had we been in Sir Craig’s unscuffed shoes?

Sir Craig told jurors it was his ‘instinct’ to get out of the car, but was in a short-sleeved shirt with no equipment following (a) ministerial meeting. ‘I was conscious my two colleagues were not police officers. If anyone had got out, the way this Masood was looking, anyone who got in his way would have been a target,’ he said. ‘I think anyone who came up against that individual would have faced serious, serious injury, if not death.’

He is right, PC Keith Palmer, an unarmed police officer, was murdered in front of the eyes of his then ultimate commander. An armed officer who was co-incidentally nearby was then able to shoot and kill the terrorist Khalid Masood. Presumably Sir Craig did not see it, on balance, as his responsibility to intervene.

The inquest… …heard that Sir Craig, then acting Scotland Yard chief, and his colleagues locked the car doors because they had ‘no protective equipment and no radio’.

Some have criticised Sir Craig, alleging cowardice. The Daily Mail highlights the contrast with a junior Transport Police officer who fought the London Bridge attackers.

So it’s not impossible these days to find brave people in public service, but what rises to the top? Is the process like flatulence in a bath?

In the last summer of George VI’s reign, a relatively junior RAF officer, Flt-Lt John Quinton DFC gave away the only parachute he had to save a young Air Cadet he was training at the cost of his life: The ultimate zenith of courage and leadership. I am reminded of a quote I read about being a Lieutenant in the (IIRC Imperial) German Army.

To live your life as a Lieutenant is to life your life as an example to your men. Dying as an example is thus part of it‘.

I’m more of the Patton school of leadership than the German, although it is valid enough. I believe in making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country. But neither Imperial Germany nor the United States has much tolerance for cowardice. Apparently, HMG now does. Well, one acts as one sees one’s leaders act. Maybe that is the trouble.

None of us were there, so in a way, it is perhaps unfair to criticize Sir Craig, who bears an honorific once reserved for brave soldiers and sailors, but we have a right to expect better. In my short ROTC career, one of the lessons pounded into me was this about priorities.

  • The Mission. The mission overrides all other conditions. Sir Craig’s mission was the safety of English citizens. He failed grotesquely.
  • Your People. Sometime your people will die in carrying out the mission, they know that, in America, we call it part of the job. It’s suboptimal, but it happens. To have the highest police commander in the country sit immobile in his locked car, not commanding, just spectating, as one of his people is murdered, is so far beyond the pale of acceptable conduct, that I am left almost speechless.
  • Yourself. Well, Sir Craig surely understands about looking out for number one. Personally, I think the proper precedent for honoring Sir Craig is Admiral Byng. And don’t forget the blindfold, otherwise, you’ll be chasing him about the quarterdeck.

Well, such is the leadership of the largest police force in the UK, and people wonder why New York has less violent crime.

Soon we may well once again speak of the gallantry of English s[eaking soldiers on the anniversary of three great battles. But for now, I’m reminded of the USS Hoel (DD-533) which in company with a few other destroyers and destroyer escorts attacked with torpedoes and 5 and 3 inch gunfire Kurita’s main battleship force off Samar, including Yamato with her 18.1 in guns, and saved Taffy Three’s carriers at the cost of all but 85 of the Hoel’s complement.

There are plenty of similar of similar example on both sides of the pond. Such conduct as that of Sir Craig is simply intolerable, and reduces the Metropolitan Police to a joke, but not a funny one.

But there is this, I suppose, he’d be the perfect copresenter for a presentation on cowardice with the Sheriff of Broward County, Florida.

Tariffs, Trade, and the British Corn Laws

David Foster over at Chicagoboyz has some good thoughts on tariffs and such.

Stuart Schneiderman linked an article by Robert Samuelson on the 1846 British repeal of the tariffs on food imports, which further linked an Economist article arguing that:

With the repeal of the tariffs, instituted to protect British corn farmers, liberal economic policies ascended. Free trade, free enterprise, free markets and limited government became the rule. And the world has not been the same since.  (Schneiderman’s summary)

To me, it is highly questionable how much the elimination of tariffs had to do with limited government and internal free enterprise. The view that the British 1846 action was economically a very good thing for almost everybody is, however, generally accepted.  From the Economist article:

The case for getting rid of British tariffs on imported grain was not a dry argument about economic efficiency. It was a mass movement, one in which well-to-do liberal thinkers and progressive businessmen fought alongside the poor against the landowners who, by supporting tariffs on imports, kept up the price of grain…When liberals set up the Anti-Corn Law League to organise protests, petitions and public lectures they did so in the spirit of the Anti-Slavery League, and in the same noble name: freedom. The barriers the league sought to remove did not merely keep people from their cake—bad though such barriers were, and strongly though they were resented. They were barriers that held them back, and which set people against each other. Tearing them down would not just increase the wealth of all. It would bring to an end, James Wilson believed, the “jealousies, animosities and heartburnings between individuals and classes…and…between this country and all others.”

Again, this is all mostly generally-accepted thinking.  But Stuart’s post and the links reminded me of something I read–oddly enough, in a 1910 book on railroad history.  The author (Angus Sinclair) describes the transition to steel rails (from cast iron) and the heavier trains they enabled, and then discusses the political-economic impact of this transition:

The invention of cheap methods of making steel rails has exerted a tremendous effect upon railroad transportation, and has created social revolutions in certain part of the world…It threw many farms in New England and along the Atlantic seaboard out of cultivation; it caused a semi-revolution in farming business in the British Isles, and strongly affected the condition and fortunes of millions of people in other countries.  Irish peasants used to go in thousands to England and Scotland to work in the harvesting of grain crops and thereby earned enough money to pay the rent of their small holdings.  Steel rails and Consolidation locomotives stopped the cultivation of so many wheat fields in the British Isles that the help of the Irish worker was no longer needed…

The woes of Ireland were merely the preliminary manifestations of hardships inflicted through the grim ordeal of competition worked out by our cheapened  methods of land transportation.  (The heavier locomotive enabled by steel rails) is steadily forcing more grain raising farms of Europe out of cultivation and is raising a demand for protection against cheap land, just as our politicians have so long urged the necessity for protection against the cheap labor of Europe.

About 60 years ago Great Britain abolished all duties on grain…By curious reasoning the statesmen believed that this policy would not only make the British Isles the manufacturers of the world, but that it would increase the prosperity of the agricultural communities as well.  The first thirty years’ experience of free corn did not seriously  challenge the correctness of the free trade theory, for more of the American wheat lands were yet unbroken prairie or virgin forests, and our steel rail makers and locomotive builders were merely getting ready…In 1858 the rate per bushel of wheat from Chicago to New York was 38.61 cents.  The rate today is 11.4 cents…

The effect of that cheapening of transportation in the United States has been very disastrous to Great Britain, for during the last thirty years there had been a shrinkage of 3,000,000 acres in wheat and another of 750,000 acres in green crops; an enormous amount of land had reverted to pasturage…and the number of cultivators of the soil  had declined 600,000 in thirty years–1,000,000 in fifty years.

That is a high price to pay for the devotion to a theory which fails to work out as expected.

Keep reading, it’s well out my knowledge area, so I don’t know either. But it makes sense to me. The Great Plains could not be farmed until a way to get the crop to market could be devised – that was the railroad, and by 1900, it went almost everywhere.

The point I took here is this. Free trade is great, for those it helps, sometimes it doesn’t help some, sometimes it actively hurts people, like those Irish migrant workers in England.

The other point is that it’s not obvious who gets helped and who doesn’t. If you’re a farmer in the EU, it’s protectionist policies on food probably help, but if you eat, they probably hurt. Where exactly is the balance point, and how often does it change?

Questions without answers, mostly, I suspect. But things we should think about.

A Funeral in Nebraska

in September, a burial took place in the Omaha National Cemetery. That’s not unusual, of course, our national cemeteries are sadly busy. But this one was a bit different. Amongst the Greatest Generation, it is not all that uncommon for both husband and wife to be entitled to military funerals with full honors. but again this one was unusual.

This one was for the widow of a retired US Air Force colonel, who started his career flying B-17s for the 8th United States Army Air Force, and who served in Korea and Vietnam. He had died earlier this year at age 101.

Col. John Watters and his wife, Jean Watters, on their wedding day. Jean Watters, a codebreaker of German intelligence communications during WWII, was buried Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Nebraska with British military honors.

But as I said this funeral was a bit different, for the ceremony was a bit different. His widow Jean Annette Briggs was buried with full British Military Honors, for she had been a Wren (Women’s Royal Naval Service) in world war two. She told her family she drove a bus. It was not so. Her obituary from the cemetery’s site states:

Born in 1925, Jean Annette Briggs grew up in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk County, England. One of three girls, she was a talented artist who attended school in Cambridge. In 1943, at 18, she joined the Royal Navy and her family believed she drove a bus during World War II. Briggs actually operated a BOMBE machine, used to decode German military messages, and worked for master codebreaker Alan Turing. The secret ULTRA project cracked Germany’s ENIGMA code. Briggs married U.S. Army Air Corps pilot John Watters (1917-2018) after the war. He flew B-17s, and later the U.S. Air Force colonel served in Korea and Vietnam. The couple raised six children in Bellevue, Nebraska. Jean Briggs Watters died September 15, 2018, and was buried with British military honors. She is interred with her husband in Omaha National Cemetery (Section 3, Site 253).

It is simply impossible to estimate how many Joe’s and Tommy’s owe their life to this woman, who served quietly and without recognition, and after the war married a man who would serve in three of America’s wars, and bring up a family here, in Nebraska, near what our forefathers knew as Fort Crook, and we know as Offutt Air Force Base.

God grant you rest, Ma’am.

via: Stars and Stripes.


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