Happy 100th Birthday to Dame Vera Lynn

Yesterday we regretted the loss of Chuck Berry, whom so many of us loved and enjoyed. Today is a happier occasion for today is the 100th birthday of Dame Vera Lynn, DBE, OStJ, CH, honorary citizen of Nashville Tennessee, holder of the British War medal, and the Burma Star. She is known worldwide as the British Forces Sweetheart. Quite a career for a girl from East Ham, Essex.

And besides, all here know of my weakness for British redheads, so any excuse to feature one is welcome.

Her first recording was Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire, recorded on Crown Records in 1936.

 

Her greatest fame came during the Second World War when she became the Force’s Sweetheart with songs such as these

And this

This

And tonight her image will b projected on those very same white cliffs, by the country she served so well.

This is interesting

But it wasn’t all about loneliness either, especially before the war got so grim, the humour showed itself.

Eventually, it was over

But she kept right on singing, this was the very first #1 on the American charts by a British artist.

And still she goes on, Decca released a new album,  Vera Lynn 100, just three days ago. Here is the trailer

And yes, amazon.co.uk says they will send it out to us Yanks, as well, if we want.

So, how do we end this glorious retrospective? There is only one possible way, in my mind.

And it will truly always be a:

Happy Birthday, Dame Vera!

 

 

 

Mrs. May Goes to Washington

3c82a8d800000578-4158088-image-a-4_1485387659636And so, Mrs. May is here. Came over yesterday, and will meet the President today. That’s as it should be, she’s first, the leader of our oldest friends, and strongest ally, and our cousins, so kind of a family reunion.

Last night she spoke at the Republican Congressional winter retreat, the first world leader to do so, for whatever that’s worth. So what did she say? Well, the £ Daily Mail says this is what she planned to say.

On a trip to America, the Prime Minister will say Brexit and the election of Donald Trump have given the two countries a chance to ‘rediscover’ their confidence.

Highlighting the achievements of the US and Britain in the past, Mrs May will say rebuilding the special relationship is of huge importance to the entire world in ‘this new age’, adding: ‘We have the opportunity to lead, together, again.’ […]

She will say that defence and security co-operation between Britain and the US directly, and also through Nato, is vital in countering Islamic State and trying to end the carnage in Syria.

She is also expected to make the case for an ambitious trade deal, which could lead to great ‘prosperity’ for both countries. Mr Trump has said he wants to strike a deal quickly.

The Prime Minister – who has insisted she is prepared to be ‘frank’ with President Trump in areas where they disagree – will make her firmest bid yet to turn him into a close ally. In a speech to the annual congressional Republican Retreat in Philadelphia tonight, she will say: ‘The United Kingdom is by instinct and history a great, global nation that recognises its responsibilities to the world.

‘And as we end our membership of the European Union – as the British people voted with determination and quiet resolve to do last year – we have the opportunity to reassert our belief in a confident, sovereign and global Britain, ready to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike. […]

‘The institutions upon which that world relies were so often conceived or inspired by our two nations working together.

The leadership provided by our two countries through the special relationship has done more than win wars and overcome adversity. It made the modern world.
Prime Minister, Theresa May

‘It is through our actions over many years, working together to defeat evil or to open up the world, that we have been able to fulfil the promise of those who first spoke of the special nature of the relationship between us.

‘The promise of freedom, liberty and the rights of man.’

via May tells Trump let’s lead the world together once again | Daily Mail Online

All very good, true, and even laudable. In fact, I, and many others have said the same things many times over the years. It sounds like it was a good rah-rah speech, as close as Mrs. May can get, and pretty good for a Vicar’s daughter, if not exactly Churchillian. But, dealing with Trump himself is going to be a bit more daunting, perhaps.

Kathy Gyngell writing  in The Conservative Woman this morning says this:

The Brits (or some of them) can be terribly sanctimonious snobs. Disapproval of Donald has reached epidemic proportions and distorted any sense of reality afflicting Right as well as Left. Some have taken heart from Theresa’s daring declaration that she “won’t be afraid” to tell Donald Trump if he says or does anything she feels is “unacceptable”.

Go for it, I hear their cry. No please don’t. Don’t listen to them, Mrs May. I hope you’ve left you shopping list of reprimands and policies to tick him off about behind. Just listen to what Team Trump has to say. Hard.

Good advice, that. So is this.

I can all too easily see Mrs May as a latter day feminist Major Barbara and Donald Trump as Andrew Undershaft, Major Barbara’s wealthy munitions manufacturer father. The parallel is obvious. Undershaft wins. Major Barbara’s moral vanity is exposed.

Remember when Undershaft donates his ‘tainted’ wealth to the Salvation Army, so outraged by it is Major Barbara that indignantly she mounts the moral high ground. At which her father berates her for making for herself, “… something that you call a morality or a religion or what not. It doesn’t fit the facts. Well, scrap it. Scrap it and get one that does fit. That is what is wrong with the world at present. It scraps its obsolete steam engines and dynamos; but it won’t scrap its old prejudices and its old moralities and its old religions and its old political constitutions. What’s the result? In machinery it does very well; but in morals and religion and politics it is working at a loss that brings it nearer bankruptcy every year.”

Read for morality and religion, feminism and contemporary Left liberal orthodoxies and sacred cows – the new religion of the bien pensant. Trump is trampling over the lot. He is primed to shock.

Mrs May has made  a good start with her defence of liberty and freedom speech to the Republicans. But the British media, led by the high and mighty BBC, is not going to like her ‘tacking’ right. Nor will they let up on the ‘values’ she should be projecting. How will the vicar’s daughter deal with torture as well as the reality TV star, the BBC will continue to keep needling her.

Laura Kuenssberg opined last night that she’ll have to tiptoe across a tightrope. No she won’t. Not if she accepts liberal Left ideology does not fit the facts and that this is what Donald Trump has made his quest to address. Understand that and she’ll have no problem speaking her mind or in winning his respect for her honesty, if not for her charisma.

If she tiptoes across that tightrope, she will fail. Donald Trump and most of America is basing the whole thing on reality, not ideology, especially not that of the left. Like most Americans, I care quite a lot for Britain, and want them to succeed, they are one of very few partners fit for purpose, and our shared history indicates that. But if Mrs. May listens to the Beeb, and much of Whitehall, she will fail.

And that would be a shame.

And yet, most Americans still believe what Harry Hopkins told Churchill in 1941:

“Whither thou goest I will go, and whither thou lodgest I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God,” he declared, dramatically adding, “even to the end.”

An Inaugural Reflection

2017-inauguration-e1484972542265-1120x588

The American inauguration is one of the great traditions of the American Republic, and of freedom itself. But why? First because since 1800, no matter what, the office of the President, which has come to be the most powerful job in the world, transfers completely peacefully from one incumbent to the next. Yes, there are often protests, and sometimes riots, but they never have any impact on the event. President Washington believed that the peaceful inauguration of President Adams was more important than his own. He had a point. It happened in the midst of the beginnings of our Civil War, and again during that war. It happened when Franklin Roosevelt died, without a pause in the war effort. It’s a touchstone of American freedom.

Jane Hampton Cook wrote for Fox News about why she loves it.

The inauguration is why I love America. Of all the presidential events, from election night to the State of the Union, from press conferences to state dinners, the inauguration is my favorite for one simple reason. More than any other moment, the inauguration is a picture of our Constitution, proof that we are a nation based on representation, not royalty.

In a single instance the three branches of government— the executive, judicial and legislative— come together for a united purpose. A new president takes the oath of office administered by the chief justice of the Supreme Court while standing in front of the U.S. Capitol that houses Congress.

This doesn’t mean that everyone is happy about the winner of an election, though many are. But it does mean that this American experiment, the “sacred fire of liberty” as George Washington called it in his first inaugural, is still burning today.

John F. Kennedy, who won by a mere 112,000 votes in a bitter election, poignantly explained America’s ceremonial unity at his 1961 inauguration. “We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom.”

Read it all at Fox News, and yes, I agree.

Bookworm noticed some differences from the previous administration.

Instead, Trump made the American people the stars of his speech. For example,

That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.

It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America.

This is your day. This is your celebration.

And this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Everyone is listening to you now.

You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.

At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.

Trump’s focus on the American people (“you”), rather than himself, is in marked contrast to Obama’s speeches, which invariably are all about . . . Obama.

via Donald Trump’s speech and the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, do read the whole thing.

That’s pretty much what we’ve been saying for a long time, isn’t it? In Christianity, it’s called servant leadership. That’s why the Pope is sometimes called “The servant of the servants of God”.

Another example was General Secretary of Defense Mattis’ first act, a message to our troops. Here it is.

It’s good to be back and I’m grateful to serve alongside you as Secretary of Defense.

Together with the Intelligence Community we are the sentinels and guardians of our nation. We need only look to you, the uniformed and civilian members of the department and your families, to see the fundamental unity of our country. You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and an America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind.

Every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future. Recognizing that no nation is secure without friends, we will work with the State Department to strengthen our alliances. Further, we are devoted to gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, thereby earning the trust of Congress and the American people.

I am confident you will do your part. I pledge to you I’ll do my best as your secretary.

via The Right Scoop in this case.

The Warrior Monk is about my age, and so likely trained as a Marine, about when I was in college, I suspect he believes the same things about leadership that I was taught so long ago.

First: The Mission

Second: Your People

Third: Yourself.

The analogy to our Judeao-Christian ethics as Bookworm described above is exact.

I am more and more convinced that We, the People, have chosen wisely. But actions count for much more than words, so we will see in the coming months and years, but it is a very good start.

Oh, and this, setting things right, both large and small.

churchill-bust-back

Once More Into the Breach, Dear Friends?

American and UK flags flying together

We have spent most of last week trying to explain to Europe why we are quite happy with the election of Donald Trump. As I reflect on what we have said, and read, it struck me that one cannot understand this intellectually. At one point I was asked if I identify as Anglo-Saxon.

Well in a sense, I am heir to that legacy in self-government, and more. But I also combine it with the Viking traditions of my ancestry, and with the specific American ethos. None of these lead to a quiet, and calm citizenry. There is a reason why the Anglosphere is what it is, we are pretty much all this way, if you scratch beneath the surface.

I think this post, written in 2014, explains us fairly well.


On 26 September 1580, a ship docked in Portsmouth, England. That wasn’t unusual, then as now it was one of England’s great ports. But this particular docking would echo through history. For this was the Golden Hind, returning from the first circumnavigation of the world by a non-Spaniard. Soon the captain, Francis Drake, would be knighted on the ship’s deck, by Queen Elizabeth I, and in a few years he would play a key role in the Battle with the Armada.

Elizabeth’s father Henry VIII, did some things that are important to this story, he established the Royal Navy, for the first time it became a force that was always ready. And he took England out of the Roman Church, which allowed her to go her own way, mostly looking outward, and not being involved with European politics as much as before.

But the reason this echoes so loudly in history wasn’t evident that day or even after the Armada had been stood off. It started to become apparent when England went to war with its King in the Civil War and even more so when the second chapter of that war saw the end of the first Empire, and the establishment of the United States.

Because what Sir Francis Drake accomplished that day in Portsmouth, was nothing less than the founding of the modern world, with all its freedom. If you look around at the world we live in. A world without legal slavery, where we are governed by our consent through objective law, and all the rest, you will find something surprising. It is all an English invention. It took England about 800 hundred years to put it together, and the rest of us in western civilization mostly copied it. Too often we forget that as Lady Astor somewhat unfairly said, our revolution was simply, “English freemen fighting against a German King for English rights”.

But now, in 2014, we are watching in horror as an evil group of thugs, misappropriate a religion, Islam, for the purpose of enforcing their will on the world. Nobody can claim they don’t aim high, at any rate.

anglosphere1But once again, the main obstacle between these thugs and their victory are the English Speaking Peoples. We are the ones that could have stopped Hitler easily in say 1934, but we were tired and worried about making a living. We paid for that mistake later, but Hitler and his henchman caused a holocaust of unparalleled scope in Europe. We learned from that and managed to face down Stalin and his successors without ending the world. But as the Soviet Union self-destructed, we declared it the end of history. We should have known better, evil never sleeps, it always looks for room to expand.

And so, we were attacked, in New York, and in London as the new century started, and we responded, as we always have. But this time we tried a kinder, gentler form of war, and attempted to make it easy on the local population, and to help them become like us. It seems as if it may have been a mistake.

The Hollow Men 5And so, here we are, with the weakest leadership our country has had since we entered the world stage in about 1900. They seem to have no clue what to do next.

That’s not surprising, the president has spent his entire life voting present while denigrating the military. Nor has he ever either led or managed anything. And yet, we elected him, twice. I guess we were/are tired of war.

But is war tired of us?

In business, as in war, one must have a strategy (an overriding plan). It seems to me, with an enemy as close to pure evil as ISIS, the only reasonable objective is to destroy it, root and branch, as we did the Nazis.

One level down from that is how are you going to accomplish your goal. Well, kids that’s why we have a military, and all its planners. We knew (and so did the British) on 7 December 1941 the broad outline of how we were going to fight World War Two. It was called RAINBOW. And we went on to execute it, and win, unconditionally. This is a specialized area of planning, and politicians are well advised to leave it to the military, just as I don’t tell a journeyman how to do his job. Give him the tools, and tell him what needs to be done.

And the same is true for tactics, if the guys in the field want an A-10 don’t send a B-2, at least if you can help it. In many ways our forces are best used as a force multiplier, they can do things no one else in the world can do. But a rifleman is basically a rifleman, whether he’s from London, Omaha, or Baghdad.

But the key thing here is, as it always is, the will of the people, and especially the leadership, and that is what worries me. When Obama said these guys are the JV, he spoke the truth, but the JV is much better than the girls 5th grade team, especially if they know that to lose is to die. And the JV will win if the varsity doesn’t show up.

But neither is that preordained, we have not only agency over ourselves but over what we do for and to others, for we are free people, and we are sovereign over our governments. For nearly five hundred years we, the English Speaking Peoples, have built the modern world in our image. We have endowed it with most of the comforts, including a full belly, that we innovated, and with the possibility of making oneself free to act in one own best interest. And so the question becomes, “Have we become too soft, too self-centered, to act once again for the good against evil, or will we once again rise to the challenge to make the world a better place, for ourselves, certainly, but also for others, whom we will never meet or know?”

And some of our nationalities have won their fame with all of us

For a long time now, they have been known as “The Ladies from Hell”, and they have earned it, from friend and foe alike, by their uncompromising stand, for freedom from oppression, no matter the odds.

But this isn’t “proud Edward’s power, with slavery and chains”. This is a bunch of ragtag so-called terrorists, who are really no more than well armed bullies. Are we, the guarantors of freedom for five hundred years really going to sit back while they murder and enslave ancient civilizations? All Europe will do is finance them by paying ransom but, our people learned about that long ago, when we found out how hard it is to get rid of the Dane when you pay the Danegeld.

A bit more than seventy years ago, a guy by the name of Hitler, said he would wring England’s neck like a chicken. Churchill said “Some Chicken, some neck”. A friend of mine, an Englishmen reminded me yesterday that we are the same people who Churchill was speaking of. Maybe we should begin acting like it again.

When have we ever not heeded this call

Truly, it is time to once again

And this explains, above all reasons, why the west is free,

and why Donald Trump will be President, and England shall be free.

56 Movie Mistakes: The Longest Day

2014-06-05-robertmitchumlongestday-thumb

Then there is this attempt to denigrate the movie The Longest Day recounting the Overlord operation to liberate Europe.

The Longest Day, which was made in black and white, features a large ensemble cast including John Wayne, Kenneth More,Richard Todd, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, Peter Lawford, Eddie Albert, Jeffrey Hunter, Stuart Whitman, Tom Tryon, Rod Steiger, Leo Genn, Gert Fröbe, Irina Demick, Bourvil, Curt Jürgens, Robert Wagner, Paul Anka and Arletty.

Many of these actors played roles that were virtually cameo appearances and several cast members such as Fonda, Genn, More, Steiger and Todd saw action as servicemen during the war, with Todd being among the first British officers to land in Normandy in Operation Overlord and participated in the assault on Pegasus Bridge. So just for some fun here are some of the movie mistakes – we expect you spotted most of them anyway 🙂

When the ships are about to begin bombarding the beaches you see a group of planes fly by the camera these are Douglas Sky Raiders which did not see service until the late 1940s.

The currency notes in Schultz’s winnings are of a later issue than was in circulation in 1944.

Features LCM-8s, which weren’t built until 1954.

German General Max Pemsel says: “Wir haben starke RADAR-störungen” (We have strong radar interference). The word “radar” was not used, perhaps even not known in Germany in 1944. They used a somewhat similar system, but called it “Funkmeßgeräte” (radio measuring equipment).

General Gavin is wearing a Senior Parachutist badge in 1944.The Parachutist Badge was formally approved on 10 March 1941. The senior and master parachutists badges were authorized by Headquarters, Department of the Army in 1949 and were announced by Change 4, Army Regulation 600-70, dated 24 January 1950.

During the go/no go sequence, a jet can be heard flying overhead as the naval representative is speaking.

During a very early scene in France, the back end of a Citroen 2CV can be seen parked at the side of the street as the German soldiers march down it.

via 56 Movie Mistakes: The Longest Day

And so on for three pages. Yes, it’s interesting and very likely true. But you know, it doesn’t matter a damn. Like the John Ford Trilogy, the story is the thing, and these warriors of America, Canada, Great Britain, France, Poland, and still others did something so heroic here, that all of these relatively picayune mistakes, while regrettable, just don’t matter. This is not a technical documentary, this is a commemoration of one of the greatest days in history, one of the first to try to be fair to all the participants.

I couldn’t find the whole movie on YouTube for you, but if you run the playlist in autoplay, it’ll be kind of like watching it on TV, which is where I fist saw it, long ago and far away. 🙂

What if?

blight_1945jul7_ferrier_veSome of you might know that I read Quora and occasionally answer questions there. It’s interesting and sometimes informative, ranging over all sorts of subjects. Yesterday, I was reading there, and this question was posed:

What would happen if the USA declared war on the UK today ?

Sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it? But still, we fought Great Britain twice, in the Revolution, and the War of 1812, and if saner heads hadn’t prevailed (on both sides) might have in the Civil War as well. And we had a plan for war with the UK at least as late as 1940. So who is to say it couldn’t happen again. Well, I really liked the answer given by “Aaron Maxwell, Member of the British armed forces, regular reader and researcher and the most viewed writer in the United Kingdom”.

The announcement of war, British and American military personal would start fighting with various weapons ranging from staplers to finger guns as they all work in the same offices and bases together. Maybe the occasional finger flip or dirty email maybe a brown treat from between the legs on some generals keyboards on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mass defections on both sides leading to Britain having Americas military and vice versa. Both refusing to fight Britain having not started it and British troops not wanting to invade there own country.

Both fleets would valiantly charge at each other nimitz classes on one side HMS ocean, queen elizabeth on the other. The airforces clash in a brutal display of WTF is going on, as all planes have strangely forgotten to be armed or dropped their bombs early. As the Frigates and Destroyers of the Royal Navy get close enough for gun range with the American fleet they sail past each other fire fighting hoses drenching each other’s upper deck weapons crews. Shortly followed by ‘negotiations’ as American sailors go to British ships and get drunk as British sailors go to American ships for the food and they rejoice at seeing some old friends and colleagues from wars and patrols past and present.

The British tabloids would go to war (spell checkers changed the word war to eat and I was so tempted to do that story instead), with brilliant puns like ‘who the hell has been drinking over there’ and ‘huge laughter battles break out all over the world as diplomats soil undies’.

The stock markets would still trade as everyone loves money and such a huge shift would destroy the worlds current economic system.

German and French (among hundreds of other diplomats) would get Britain and America to sit down with a stern looking at and a ‘seriously guys, you are taking the piss right?’

ICBM’s from both sides would fly into city centers and crash in park land with a pop up flag saying ‘lol’, ‘bang’ and the like.

This would be the likely action taken.

He also says his answer is a joke, which I assumed. But it says something, and something important, as well. We can imagine war against Russia, or China, or Turkey, or ISIS, or a lot of other people, but not against Britain. Sure we call them the cousins and no two (or five, if you include Canada, Australia, and New Zeeland) countries are closer, but both of our countries have experienced the horrors of civil war, so being related wouldn’t stop either of us.

But it’s literally inconceivable to almost all of us on either side of the pond. Sure, we make fun of each other in many ways, tease each other, and all that, but they’re family. And it’s a kinship sealed in both the horrors of war and friendship in peace.

President Kennedy said it as well as anyone, although he was speaking of Canada, “Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder.” I’ve always thought it at least as applicable to the UK. He also said this that day.

Nor can we mistake the nature of the struggle. It is not for concessions or territory. It is not simply between different systems. It is an age old battle for the survival of liberty itself. And our great advantage-and we must never forget it–is that the irresistible tide that began five hundred years before the birth of Christ in ancient Greece is for freedom, and against tyranny. And that is the wave of the future–and the iron hand of totalitarianism can ultimately neither seize it nor turn it back. In the words of Macaulay: “A single breaker may recede, but the tide is coming in.”

Full text of the speech is available here.

And that is equally true for the cousins, Churchill once said that he was content to see our peoples get more and more mixed up together, and they have. And since before the United States was the United States, we both have been working on that ancient bequest. It’s who we are.

Oh, that declaration of war, what do I think would happen? After Theresa May got done laughing she would call the President and say simply, “WTF, have you gone completely mad?” And so it would end.

 

%d bloggers like this: