Friday, July 29, 2016

Black Lives Matter - Even Children In Flint Michigan

I have been appalled at the White Nationalists like Rudy Giuliani who think the "Black Lives Matter" movement is aimed only at police.

Today's report of special investigators into the poisoning of Flint, Michigan's water system should disabuse people of that notion. Six more public officials with responsibility for water quality in Flint have been charged with felonies in connection with the poisoned water.

When asked why the officials acted as they did, the prosecutor answered that, to those officials, the people of Flint didn't matter.

The majority of the population in Flint is black.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Election And Related Stuff

This has been a busy month. Things have happened too fast to keep up.

I have been following the two party conventions. I have a good idea what is going on. Not least because national security policy, international relations, military affairs, public policy and related matters has been my profession all my adult life.

I know a lot about government, though I have never held high office.

My role has been like that described by C.S. Lewis in his poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:

“No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.” 

Even so, I know a lot and will be sharing my thoughts as  time goes by.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Tories Lie - Public Suffers

A week ago, voters in the United Kingdom voted by referendum to leave the European Union (EU).

Results so far: the pound went into free fall against the dollar, though it has recovered slightly; both the governing conservative party and the labour party are in turmoil; prominent supporters of the decision to leave the EU have admitted they lied about the benefits; gasoline prices are up; real estate prices are down; the whole political system is in what Brits refer to as a "shambles."

Advocates of leaving the EU didn't say "Make the UK Great Again" but they might as well have. Still, at this point it seems likely the outcome will be to diminish the size, economic power and influence of the United Kingdom. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland may very well leave the UK so they can remain in the EU.

Some of the "leave" advocates hoped to negotiate special arrangements allowing the UK full access for their goods and services to the internal EU market, with the right to exclude movement of EU citizens into the UK. This seems unlikely. EU officials have made it clear they will not allow "cherry picking."

Two groups of UK citizens are particularly dismayed at the vote: young British citizens, who had been able to explore job opportunities an all 28 EU member countries but now can only search for employment within the UK; older UK citizens who had been living abroad for many years, and whose living arrangements are now in great turmoil.

Immigration was an issue, but not for the reason Americans might think. It had nothing to do with refugees from the Middle East - it was resistance to immigration from new EU member countries like Poland. The reason many older Brits objected is they had been told by the government that EU immigration had forced the government to reduce funding to the universally revered National Health Service. That explanation was a lie.

Anti-immigrant sentiment might also stem from a modern version of the old assertion that "Wogs (a derogatory term for racial and ethnic groups seen as inferior) begin at the Channel." But there seems to be no polling data to support this. There is data supporting concern about the NHS.

This may not be the end of forces pulling the EU apart, I have thought for some years now that the common European currency (the Euro) has been a bad idea poorly executed. I don't see how the zone can survive, but it seems hard to give up, even on ideas that don't work.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Free State Of Jones

Sunday Liz and I and some neighbors went to see the movie: The Free State of Jones.

Don't miss it.

It is a very well researched and well produced movie about events during the Civil War in Jones County, Ms. involving Newt Knight, his paramour, an escaped slave named Rachel, and their neighbors and families. The story seems fantastic in many ways, but is mostly true.

It ties Civil War events together with Reconstruction and with a 1946 trial of a descendant of Newt and Rachel, who was charged with violating Mississippi's anti-miscegenation laws by marrying a white woman.

The film has obvious connections with current events in Ferguson, Mo., Charleston, etc.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow objects to the film. I think he misses the point. He actually misses several points.

So I want to offer some thoughts that differ from Blow's analysis (

1. The film depicts the origin of the observation that the Civil War was a "Rich Man's War and a Poor Man's Fight;
2.  The film shows people, both white and black standing up against the power structure of the day, but imperfectly;
3.  There are no heroes, just people who did what they had to do;
4.  The Civil War was a lot more complicated than Gone With The Wind

I'll say no more for now.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Axel Oxenstierna (Sweden) 1634 On Wisdom

"Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?" Letter to his son, 1634.

The Brexit vote last night verified Oxenstiern's observation. More succinctly: The world is governed by fools.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Next To Last Doolittle Raider Passes - Only One Left

David Thatcher, an Army Air Force gunner decorated for helping save the lives of four seriously wounded fellow crewmen in the Doolittle Raid on Japan of April 18, 1942, America’s first strike against the Japanese homeland in World War II, died Wednesday in Missoula, Mont. He was 94 and the next-to-last survivor among the mission’s 80 airmen.

While it was not a large action, it was the most imaginative and perhaps the most consequential early action in the war. Among the consequences was that Japan removed a large carrier task force from the Indian Ocean to their home waters and goaded them into the disastrous (for them) attack on Midway.

Here  is a link to the NYTimes article about Thatcher.

If you have not seen the movie, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, I strongly recommend it.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Good Advice Out of Vermont

Watching Bernie Sanders wrestle with the challenge of acknowledging the end of the Democratic nomination contest, I am reminded of Senator George Aiken (R-Vermont) advice to President Johnson: "Declare victory and bring the troops home."

It was good advice at the time, and would be good advice now.

Let's hear it for Vermont.