Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Gettysburg Address at 150 -- The Lighter Side

Today is the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.  At one point I had it committed to mind, all 271 or so (depending on the version) words.  Time has frayed my memory, although I think I can still do a mite better than Barney Fife trying to recite from his memory the Preamble to the Constitution:

As for Lincoln himself, here's Bob Newhart's playing a modern advertising man preping a somewhat befuddled Lincoln for the Gettysburg Address, in what I think is his best bit (link):

Friday, November 15, 2013

Obama’s Obamacare "Fix" – He Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Legal Basis

Once again, as he did with the Obamacare employer mandate, Obama has personally decreed that he will not enforce, for as long as it suits him to do so, certain requirements that are the law of the land under Obamacare.  There is some uncertainty whether all such requirements stem entirely from the Obamacare law itself, which cannot be changed without new legislation, or whether some stem from his regulations, which are legally changeable only once a certain lengthy administrative process has been followed (for example, a public notice and comment period).  Either way, neither the law itself nor the regulations pursuant to it have been legally changed and so remain in full effect.  Obama cannot change either with a speech.

Regardless, despite being Constitutionally required to enforce the laws of the land and having taken an oath to do so (on Lincoln’s Bible no less), Obama now asserts that he will not enforce certain parts of the law and legally-established regulations, without bothering to go through the long and arduous process of legally changing either, and will look the other way if insurance companies follow his suggestion to willfully break the law in renewing policies that violate the new law.  If the companies break the law and later get sued over a dispute under an illegal policy, well that’s the insurance companies’ problem since they’re bad guys anyways.  If such insurance companies decide not to break federal law and decline to re-establish  illegal policies, Obama says only they, the insurance companies, will be to blame for this mess. 

When asked about the legal basis for his highly selective non-enforcement of laws he is sworn to uphold and for his public encouragement to insurance companies to willfully break federal law, Obama, parroting the bandit leader’s crafty legal opinion voiced to the skeptical Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, said “Legal basis?! You want to see the legal basis?!  I don’t have no legal basis, I don’t need no stinkin’ legal basis!”

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Experts Jump the Shark on New One World Trade Center Height – 70% Building & 30% Mast; the Clintons & Obama Comment

Obama assures Chicagoans that if they like the tallest building designation for the Willis Tower, they can keep it.  Period. 

As Abraham Lincoln said, even if you call a tail a leg a dog still has only four legs.

Willis Tower (per Wikipedia)
The height committee of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, an international body based at Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology (that very underappreciated university that should be much better known), determined (link) that the big mast rising up from the top of the new One World Trade Center in New York City qualifies as a “spire”, and is not an “antenna” even though it looks exactly like one, because it is a permanent feature and thus counts in their estimation as part of the building’s height.  Despite the fact the spire accounts for a ridiculous 30% of the building’s now “official” height of a very symbolic 1,776 feet, the new structure is now designated by them as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.  Such designation could of course add to the building’s attraction as a target for Islamic terrorists, and the structure will now be defended by the administration of the city’s newly elected mayor, a socialist no less, whose main promise is to compromise the city’s increasingly successful police protection methods. 

The Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in Chicago, once the world’s tallest building, is 1,451 feet tall and doesn’t have a mast as part of its official height, while the roof of the new One World Trade Center is (only) 1,368 feet tall.  Normal people, rather than experts who sometimes, like here, get twisted up into non-sensical positions, would regard a building’s height as closely related to the tallest occupiable space on which a human could stand.  By that definition, as I understand it the Willis Tower remains the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and taller than many other “officially” higher buildings around the globe which have increasingly resorted to longer and longer “spires” in what amounts to a spire race to one-up competitors.  I think everyone would agree, though, that Willis Tower still has the highest toilets in the Western Hemisphere.

Reaction was swift.  Former President Bill Clinton, apparently an architectural buff since he's often overheard using the term “tall mast” on overnights in Chicago, said that whether the mast is a spire or an antenna depends on what the definition of “is” is.  Chicagoland native Hillary Clinton, also a prominent Democrat politician, mastermind of the Benghazi Betrayal, and noted cattle futures expert, also weighed in, saying “At this point, what difference does it make?”  Former Chicago resident Barack Obama, whose only significant adult job and therefore main qualification for the presidency of the United States was the “street cred” he garnered as a local community organizer for a socialist organization, assured Chicagoans that if they liked the tallest building designation for the Willis Tower, they could keep it.  Period. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Armistice Day at 95

A Remembrance Poppy (link)
Today is Armistice Day, commemorating, now 95 years ago, the end of the Great War, an especially senseless, useless, and destructive one, which led to, along with the further destruction from its continuation as WWII, the passivity and cultural self-disdain that runs so strong through much of Western Civilization and threatens its very existence in perhaps the greatest danger since 732 A.D.  

The tragedy and suffering of the War have been expressed so well by my favorite contemporary author, James/Jan Morris; in the incomparable Pax Britannia Trilogy there is this about grieving parents visiting their son’s grave, so very far away from home:  

In one of the lonely cemeteries in which, buried where they died, the Anzacs lay lost among the Gallipoli ravines, the parents of one young soldier wrote their own epitaph to their son, killed so far away, so bravely we need not doubt, in so obscure a purpose: “God Took Our Norman, It Was His Will, Forget Him, No, We Never Will” ... for all too often the sacrifices of the Great War, as its contemporaries called it, were given to a cause that was already receding into history, like those discredited grey battleships, their smoke-pall filling the sky, hull-down on the Aegean horizon.

Related posts:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lying about Who’s Lying at the NY Times -- Obama "Misspoke"

The New York Times recently published an editorial about all the now-obvious lying Obama engaged in to secure passage of the health law enacted solely by Democrats.  The NY Times says Obama “misspoke”.  The word “misspoke” means, at least to those not engaged in writing and publishing for a living, a mistake, a mistaken notion of what should have been said.  Obama, however, “misspoke” often, as often as he could to anyone who would listen, with the exact same unequivocal statements about Obamacare such as “If you like your existing health care plan, you can keep it.  Period.” – words we now know the Democrats knew were lies all along.   

Responding to criticism of the editorial’s using the term “misspoke”, the NY Times’ editorial page editor, one Andrew Rosenthal, defended the word by asserting “We have a high threshold for [saying] whether someone lied.”

This statement turns out to be a big, bald-faced lie, as Seth Mandel documents (link) in a post at Commentary online.  Not many years ago the NY Times repeatedly and explicitly called President George Bush a liar when disagreeing with him over policy.  Thus, when a Republican was president the NY Times was free and loose with the “liar” accusation, but now with a Democrat in office the NY Times can’t even use the word when evidence clearly shows that Obama and his aides discussed the ongoing need to lie as Obama was lying.  Ironic it is, the NY Times lying about its standard for calling someone a liar.   

I bother now to write this post not to document evidence of the extreme liberal bias at the NY Times, an unnecessary effort since examples are legion.  Rather, I write to express a certain sadness from the reminder that once-great institutions often corrode from the inside when no adults are left who know right from wrong, or good from bad.  We know now that the New York Times was long this way (its cover up of Stalin’s massacres by its reporter Walter Duranty [link] quickly comes to mind), and before the explosion of alternative sources to more readily grasp what is true and what is not, we just didn’t know different, or better.

Update 11/15/2013:  The NY Times by many accounts has abandoned the ridiculous "misspoke" terminology, and has adopted now the term "incorrect promise".  I am not making this up.  Honestly.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Remembering Sidney Reilly, the Ace of Spies

The Name's Reilly, Sidney Reilly
On this day in 1925, 88 years ago, Sidney Reilly, adventurer, con-man, and British agent, the model for Fleming’s James Bond, was supposedly executed by the Soviets after being lured to Russia in a trap.  I say supposedly because much of Reilly’s story is shrouded in uncertainty, as he fabricated stories and identities as a matter of course.  

Perhaps the first true international man of mystery, it seems most likely that he was born in Czarist Russia to Jewish parents and found his way to Britain where he married a wealthy woman, freshly widowed perhaps during an affair with Reilly, and became a valued operative for the young British Secret Service.  His undercover exploits were all over the globe, including his foiling the Russians in Manchuria just before the Russo-Japanese war, stealing weapon plans from Germany before WWI, and causing much mischief in Russia for the Bolsheviks.    

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly
I first learned of Reilly from the excellent 1983 TV mini-series Reilly: Ace of Spies, which was based the book of the same name, which I later read, by Robert Bruce Lockhart.  The music theme was a haunting melody I enjoyed so much that I recorded it from the TV speaker onto a cassette tape; I only knew it was "The Romance" movement from a Dmitri Shostakovich score for a movie called The Gadfly.  What I didn’t know until today, knocking about on Wikipedia as I am wont to do, is that this film was an adaptation of the novel of the same name, written by an Irish woman named Ethel Voynich, allegedly once a lover of Reilly’s, whose theme is revolution and romance and whose central character is allegedly based on none other than Reilly himself.    

Lockhart was a friend and colleague of Sidney Reilly.  He later worked closely in British intelligence with Ian Fleming, and Reilly undoubtedly came up in conversation.  According to the Wikipedia entry (link), “Reilly was multi-lingual, fascinated by the Far East, fond of fine living, and a compulsive gambler” – just like some other secret agent we know.

R Balsamo

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Remembering Burt Lancaster, at 100

Today would have been the 100th birthday of actor Burt Lancaster, one of the greats of Hollywood and a particular favorite of mine.  As a boy I especially liked adventure stories, and Lancaster’s The Crimson Pirate is one of the first I can remember seeing; I was particularly enthralled by the daring and ingenious escape in which he and two others, while chained together in a small dinghy, capsize their boat to trap air in its hull, sink to the bottom, and walk the whole way back to shore on the sea floor breathing the trapped air.  That movie was in the repertory of the weekly Family Classics movie series on WGN TV in Chicago along with another film of his – Jim Thorpe – All-American.  

Although born and raised in East Harlem in New York City, Lancaster started out as a circus performer, and his gracefulness of motion is evident in his work.  He had a warm, confident persona accompanied by an easy, almost trademarked, wide, toothy smile and an expressive physicality.  In his long career drama was his strength.  He won an Academy Award for his role in Elmer Gantry, a film which showcases his charm and talent as well as any other and which won an Oscar for co-star Shirley Jones as well.  Some of his other well-known performances were in The Bird Man of Alcatraz and Atlantic City.  He starred alongside some remarkable leading ladies, such as Katherine Hepburn in The Rainmaker, Audrey Hepburn in The Unforgiven, and Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity.  He also started a production company that, among other things, produced the award-winning movie Marty as well as Sweet Smell of Success, in which he starred as the heavy.

Particular favorites of mine include war pictures The Train, Go Tell the Spartans, Castle Keep, and Run Silent, Run Deep, and Westerns Ulzana’s Raid, The Professionals, and Lawman.  He had notable performances all the way to the end of his career, and his late roles in Rocket Gibraltar and Field of Dreams constitute a memorable finish to a remarkable body of work.  Lancaster died in 1994 at the age of 80.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Lincoln Highway Turns 100

Lincoln Highway Marker (photo from Wikipedia)
Today is the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Lincoln Highway, which runs from New York City to San Francisco and was the first significant cross-country road in America. 

From Wikipedia (link):  “The Lincoln Highway was America's first national memorial to President Abraham Lincoln....  As the first automobile road across America, the Lincoln Highway brought great prosperity to the hundreds of cities, towns and villages along the way.  The Lincoln Highway became affectionately known as ‘The Main Street Across America.’  The Lincoln Highway was inspired by the Good Roads Movement.  In turn, the success of the Lincoln Highway and the resulting economic boost to the governments, businesses and citizens along its route inspired the creation of many other named long-distance roads (known as National Auto Trails), such as the Yellowstone Trail, ...  [and] Dixie Highway [link].  Most of the 1928 Lincoln Highway route became US Route 30 [when the US highway numbering system was instituted].”

The Lincoln Highway route is peppered with memorials and related place names.  Among them are the four Lincoln-Way High Schools in south suburban Chicago through whose district area runs Route 30.   The popularity of the Lincoln Highway led to the development of other long-distance named-roads, such as the Dixie Highway from Chicago to Miami.  A later arrival was Route 66, from Chicago’s Loop to Los Angeles, whose fame through song, television, and movies has probably eclipsed that of all other roads.  Now if only I was a song writer ....

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Obama Pulls Out the Big Lie Tactic on Obamacare

Just when it seemed Obama and his lying couldn’t get any worse, Obama has just blamed the health insurance companies for complying with Obamacare.  Really.  Really.  His lying has come to this.

Using the “Big Lie” (link) tactic made famous by such authoritarian luminaries as National Socialist mass murder Goebbels and Soviet Communist mass murder Stalin, Obama today in a speech blamed “bad apple” health insurance companies for all the policy cancellations flooding the news reports.  Everyone knows that insurance companies are cancelling policies because they are required to under the Obamacare law.  It would be illegal for them to continue to offer those policies. 

Not only is the lying by Obama and his minions continuing, but this one today from Obama is a whopper.  Obama clearly believes in the Big Lie principle – that the bigger the lie the more people will believe it.  

As I recently wrote (link), “All the promises about Obamacare have vaporized, promises like ‘if you like your health benefit plan and your doctor you will be able to keep them’ ....  All lies known to be lies by those who uttered them.” 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Want Medical Privacy with Obamacare? Fuggedaboutit

Compared to the Obama worshipers' image of Himself as the hippest thing in the universe, Mark Steyn writes (link) that “Obamacare wound up somewhat less hipper and, in fact, not even HIPAA [pronounced "hip'-uh"] — the unpersuasively groovy acronym for federally mandated medical privacy in America. Appearing before Congress ... the magicians of Obamacare eventually conceded that ... “You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication of any data transmitted or stored on this [Obamacare] information system.”

Really, why would Obama and his followers, who have turned the IRS and the Justice Department into personal, partisan tools for use against their political adversaries, and who, since the day they took over the federal government have been illegally and immorally spying not only on Americans but even on foreign leaders – why would they care about the privacy of us plebs or have the slightest hesitation in using whatever information they can to control us while helping their friends and hurting their opponents? 

But that’s really nothing to worry about.  Once Obamacare is fully up and running and the medical care Rationing Board gets to rationing, in your suffering and anxiety while you’re waiting years for your knee arthroscopy or your heart valve repair privacy of your medical and financial records will be the last thing on your mind. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Laura Nyro In My Head

Laura Nyro
There’s music for every mood, and this week Laura Nyro has been the soundtrack of my days with her beautiful, clear voice wafting through in her unique bluesy, jazzy style.    

Born Laura Nigro in 1947 in the Bronx to an Italian musician father and a Jewish social progressive mother, she was still a teenager when she sold her first song And When I Die, which later was a big hit for Blood Sweat & Tears.  Stone Soul Picnic and Eli’s Comin’ are other well-known works of hers.  Personally, I enjoy rather many of her slower-tempo, less-well-known compositions like Emmie and Billie’s Blues.

I hold a special place for her sparkling, soulful covers of 50-60s era pop songs such as Spanish Harlem, Up on the Roof, It’s Gonna Take a Miracle, Dedicated To the One I Love, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Let It Be Me, La La Means I Love You, and Desiree, many of which were recorded with Patti Labelle and her vocal group.  It doesn’t get any better than their lilting harmonizing on The Bells.

Sadly, Laura Nyro died all too young, as did her mother, both at age 49 from ovarian cancer.  Tomorrow would have been her 66th birthday.  She left behind a treasure trove of material, to be discovered and enjoyed all over again by those yet to come. 

R Balsamo

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Let's Not Upset the Germans About That, You Know, War

Proposed 2016 British Bank Note
More evidence of a world turned upside down:

As I have written, though the British were once described as lions led by donkeys, today a more apt description would be sheep led by asses.

One of the first things Obama did walking into the White House was to throw out a bust of Churchill that had been a gift to the American people; not to Obama himself, but to the American people.  Now it has come to this – Bank of England officials are embarrassed that Britain won WWII (link):
“Bank of England officials reportedly came close to banning Sir Winston Churchill from the face of a new 5-pound note they plan to issue in 2016 because they didn't want to upset the Germans....  They warn that the ‘recentness of World War II is a living memory for many here and on the Continent,’ and note that Churchill's wartime record could make him a highly controversial choice for the bill.”  [Emphases added]
Keeping Britain alive and defeating the murderous threat from Nazi Germany, which, supported by a few other countries, started a war that killed scores of millions, including perhaps 10 million in concentration camps and countless more as slave laborers worked to death.  Yes, that “controversial wartime record”.    

As it has been said – decline is a choice.

R. Balsamo

Monday, October 14, 2013

On This Date

Every once in a while, not nearly often enough, I look over a list of past events that occurred on that particular day.  October 14 has been a particularly eventful one down the years. 

Pope Callistus I
In 222, Pope Callistus I (link) was killed by a mob in Rome and was later recognized as a saint.  Years ago on Chicago's near west side I often parked near St Callistus Church when I worked at the University of Illinois and Westside VA hospitals, and I fondly remember returning to my car on Bowler Street in the early evenings surrounded by the wonderful smells of fresh Italian cooking.  My father grew up nearby on Polk Street and had been an altar boy at St. Callistus many years before, although he attended the public school because his family could not afford the tuition at the Church school.  St Callistus Church and School eventually closed and the buildings are now the home of the private Chicago Hope Academy (link).

In 1066 on the coast of southern England there was a rather small military engagement near the slumbering village of Hastings.  That fight turned out to be one of the critical inflection points in Western history, and because of that 1066 was one of just a handful of dates (476, 732, and 1453 were some others) I was required to memorize in my high school Western civilization class by the remarkable Mr. Thallemer.

In 1322 the forces of Robert the Bruce of Scotland defeated the English and forced the king to accept Scotland's independence.  I think we saw this scene at the very end of the Mel Gibson movie about William Wallace.  While on the subject of Scotland, a few years later in 1586 just down the road, relatively speaking, Mary, Queen of Scots, finally went on trial for alleged conspiracy against her cousin The Virgin Queen; Mary had already been imprisoned for almost 19 years, and it all did not end well. 

In 1582 there was no October the 14th at all, as one of many dates skipped over that year in the switch over from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar so as to better align the calendar with the actual seasons.

William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, was born on this day in 1644.  His collection of accumulated wisdom, Fruits of Solitude (link), was republished in 1906 as the fourth volume, and has become the rarest, of the still-running Lakeside Classics series of American narratives published by the Lakeside Press as its private series of Christmas gifts to friends of the RR Donnelley Company.  One Lakeside Classics volume has been published in December of every year since 1903, and I have copies of most of them. 

In 1912, while campaigning in Milwaukee, former president Theodore Roosevelt was shot and wounded by a mentally disturbed saloon keeper.  With the fresh wound and the bullet still in him, Roosevelt finished his scheduled speech.  He was later transported to Chicago and came to be cared for by the renowned physician Dr. John B. Murphy at Mercy Hospital, the first one in the city of Chicago, and one with which I was associated for many years.  There was a small display case there with some memorabilia from that most famous patient.
Three famous movie stars passed away on October 14.  Errol Flynn, a favorite of mine and the subject of a prior post (link), died on this day in 1959 from a sudden heart attack at the young age of 50 while traveling in Vancouver, away from his home in Jamaica.  Also on this day in 1977 Bing Crosby passed away from the same cause; the circumstances of his death and the story of his remarkable life were so widely recounted in the ensuing days that among other things I still remember to this day that he was stricken while golfing in Spain, of all places.  And in 1986 Keenan Wynn passed away, having previously uttered in Dr Strangelove one of movies' most memorable lines of social commentary:  "you’ll have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company."

In 1962 on this date began the Cuban missile crisis, during which I often found myself as a young student in grammar school safety drills either huddled under my classroom desk or sitting on the school basement floor with my head resting on my knees with the rest of the kids all squeezed together like sardines.  As if any of that would have done a whit of good if a nuclear bomb had landed on Chicago.

And last but perhaps not least, this day looms large in Chicago Cubs history.  In 1908, 105 years ago this very day, the Chicago Cubs defeated the Detroit Tigers to win their last World Series to date.  And perhaps just coincidentally, also on October 14, ten years ago today in game six of the 2003 playoff series to determine the winner of the National League pennant, the Cubs were within 5 outs of going to the World Series when the now infamous Bartman ball incident occurred.  The Cubs were leading 3-0 at that point but went on to lose the game and the playoff series to the Florida Marlins.  A World Series appearance that year was not to be. 
R. Balsamo

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Obamacare – A Blank Check For the Democrat Bosses

I see that the subtitle to Peggy Noonan’s latest essay (link) about Obamacare is “It's not what Americans were promised—or even what Congress enacted.”  True, true, but that was the plan all along.  Democrats always hoped and planned that this so-called “Affordable Care Act” would be just a stepping stone towards a full government-run health care system.  They achieved their goal of passing into law a plan so large, so detailed, so complex, so full of contradictions and conflicts, that no one knew what was really in it (as then-Speaker Pelosi infamously remarked at the time), requiring lots of interpretation and reconciliation of conflicting requirements that basically would allow those in charge to do whatever they wanted. 

Yes, that was the plan that has all come to pass.  One case in point – Obama abruptly, and without any legal authority, decreed a one-year delay to the employer mandate clearly etched in black and white in the law; since when can the president abrogate laws by decree?  Since now.

I know the thinking of the elites, who want people just like themselves to be bosses over all the rest of us misguided rubes and dictate their wise decisions across the land:  the end justifies the means.
All the promises about Obamacare have vaporized, promises like “if you like your health benefit plan and your doctor you will be able to keep them” and “health care coverage will be cheaper for everyone” (remember all the hype about "bending the cost curve"?) and "it won't add to the deficit".  All lies known to be lies by those who uttered them.  The subterfuge, the debasement of our polity -- it doesn’t matter to them, the Democrat bosses – the goal was a law so complex that they could do anything to us while hiding behind it, and that they have accomplished.      

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Last Battle by Stephen Harding -- When American & German Soldiers Together Fought German SS Troops in the Last Days of WII

In The Last Battle (Da Capo, 173 pages), author Stephen Harding tells the fascinating, little-known story of the firefight for an Austrian mountain-top castle called Schloss Itter in northern Austria in the closing days of WWII in Europe May 4th and 5th, almost a week after Hitler had committed suicide.  American units were advancing into northern Austria, confronting roving and scattered bands of German troops, many of which were eager to surrender but some of which were fighting on, the latter mostly fanatical SS units that even terrorized and killed German soldiers and civilians trying to surrender.

The castle housed a German army prisoner of war facility whose inmates included 10 or so high ranking French VIPs, including two former premiers (Daladier and Reynaud) and two former top generals (Gamelin and Weygand).  The small regular German army prison garrison, interested in staying alive until they could surrender, came to learn that fanatical Waffen SS troops in the area were preparing an attack in order to kill the French VIPs.  In order to improve their post-war position with the near-by advancing Americans, the Germans in charge allowed two prisoners to leave to try to reach the advancing Americans for help in defending the castle.  The two went in different directions, and each was successful in reaching American lines.  Not wanting to fall into a trap, each American unit sent only a small detachment on a rescue mission. 

The small force destined to reach the castle in time fought off minor German army resistance on the way, reluctantly left most men and equipment behind when a bridge threatened collapse, linked up with a friendly group of German soldiers wanting to join in the rescue, and left some men and a tank to guard an avenue of retreat.   The tank and crew left to guard the escape bridge hid between buildings in a small town, joined by 10 or so Austrian partisans, and stayed silent as many still-fighting German troops moved through the town during the night.  Finally arriving at the castle were 7 Americans with just one tank, all from the spearhead of the advancing 12th Armored Division and led by a burly tank commander named Captain Jack Lee, along with about 10 German army soldiers (some of them conscripted Poles).  The Americans’ radio was broke and so they had no communication with their lines.  The assaulting Germans had a small cannon, a lethal 88mm gun, and between 100-150 men.  A battle ensued.

In light of the pre-war and early-war utter incompetence and malfeasance of the imprisoned senior French officials that directly led to the overrun of their country by the Germans, whether any American lives should have been risked rescuing and defending them is an intriguing and unaddressed question.  The book is an easy read, though perhaps too detailed early on in providing background on some German jailers who weren’t even around by the time of the assault.  Overall it’s an engrossing story of heroism and tactics under fire, and great movie material.

R. Balsamo

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Obama’s Syrian War as a Designed Distraction

Obama, who rose to prominence and finally defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democrat Party nomination in 2008 as the anti-war candidate, now wants to drop a few bombs on Syria in an operation his Secretary of State John Kerry, the archetypal anti-war guy, said would be “incredibly small”.  Nobel Peace Prize awardee Obama’s reasons for this war with Syria are not clear to anyone, including, seemingly, Obama himself.  Obama’s people have said, though, that they just intend to drop a few bombs so that Obama won't look bad on the world stage, so it won't be really a "war war", to borrow Obamaphile Whoopi Goldberg's idiotic and depraved formulation of "rape rape".  

Some brave Democratic politicians have come out to oppose this threatened war, but as expected all the major Obama-loving, previously rabidly anti-war celebrities have been absolutely silent – obviously they’re anti-war only when a Republican is president so it’s really not at all war that they care anything about.  In fact, super-liberal Ed Asner has admitted publicly that the erstwhile anti-war Democrat celebrities are staying silent because they don't want to appear racist in criticizing Obama; of course this is a big concern for them because up until now they themselves have smeared as racist anyone who dared oppose Obama.  

To contribute their fair share to the ridiculousness of this bad theater, some Republicans have come out to support Obama’s proposed little war; for example, Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard, the editors of National Review, and even talk show host Hugh Hewitt, as well as a plethora of Republican politicians who never met an air strike they didn't like (e.g., the dopey Bobbsey Twins John McCain and Lindsey Graham).  Even Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and House number two man Eric Cantor are giving Obama political cover for his proposed little adventure – not for nothing are they leaders in the Stupid Party.

Of course the Syrians in power have been killing, and allegedly even gassing, some of their people for a long time, so why attack them now?  Why now?  Well, one credible reason is to distract attention from Obama's growing domestic scandals.  Just as Clinton started lobbing bombs when the White House sex scandal was heating up, now it's Obama's turn to explode some people so that Republicans will stop talking about all the other bad stuff he's been doing.  Other bad stuff like the disgraceful IRS scandal wherein Democrat employees of the IRS and other federal agencies have been harassing, with non-approvals and audits, conservative organizations for years, a scandal that has so far reached as far as the top Obama appointee at the Agency.  A scandal like the Benghazi debacle, in which Obama and his team clearly failed to provide adequate security in advance, despicably failed to allow the military to support and rescue the besieged Americans being attacked on the ground in Benghazi (a battle that went on for about 12 hours in which four Americans died), and then disgracefully suppressed the truth about it all ever since. 

The final absurdity about this proposed attack on Syria is that it would be attacking the current government in support of Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood-led rebels who are even more hostile to the United States and Christians living in Syria than those now in power there.  It makes absolutely no sense, but then Obama's purpose is not to make sense, is not to seek justice -- it is to distract and mess with the minds of dopey Republicans.  If Obama is so easy with the use of military force, why did he order the United States military to step down and stop their rapidly developing support and rescue of the besieged Americans under attack in Benghazi? If military force to rescue Americans is unacceptable, why is military force to help Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria now a moral imperative? 

If one thing is clear about Obama and his core cadre of red diaper baby Alinskyites who are rabidly hostile to traditional American values, it is that you can never listen to what they say but always must watch what they do with open eyes and a clear head.  And as for those confused and misguided Republicans and “conservatives” who now are joining forces with and supporting Obama, Axelrod, Hillary Clinton and the others in the Alinskyite gang, to borrow a phrase, not even do they not know who the marks are they don’t even realize they’re playing in a game.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Obama Fiddles While Egyptian Christians Murdered

J. Christian Adams at PJ Media comments (link) on the toxic mix of the moral bankruptcy of Obama and his liberal media lapdogs enraptured by their demigod and their shared self-loathing hostility to Western civilization, in light of the recent antics of Obama's allies The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt -- the title captures it all:

"Christians Murdered All Over Egypt, New Puppy at White House"

See:  Roger L Simon's Obama’s Strange Love Affair with the Muslim Brotherhood

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Obama Brings America to the Inflection Point

It is ever so hard to remain positive in light of depths to which Obama and his radical acolytes are bringing down this country -- what some have described as Obama's War on America.  I think only a fraction of his backers and supporters, such as David Axlerod, understand and endorse the true agenda, the tearing down of traditional America, all predicated upon the radical belief that white people of European extraction, and particularly those in the USA, have stolen their wealth from the rest of the world and now must disgorge ill-gotten gains and be taken down a few notches.  Many, like Pelosi and Reid, support him because they are standard issue corrupt, amoral thieves who will play hardball to enrich themselves on whatever team seems to be winning (and willing to play hardball with its opponents).  The rest are the low-information duped, such as workers and dreamy idealists racked with white guilt.  They all come together to support Obama, entranced by his phony siren calls for peace, justice, and world harmony while ignoring or not comprehending his true Stalinist methods and goals.

We are at a dangerous point in America.  No doubt in 2nd or 3rd century Rome, with history and strength all about, it was incomprehensible to think that it would not go on forever.  If we had forgotten it, we now know, thanks to Obama and his gang, that liberty must be fought for by every generation, for there are always those who would control us and lord over us ever waiting to destroy our liberty, for their own gain, all in the name of "the people."

John M Greco

Friday, May 31, 2013

Sunset Over Britain

Sad it is to see the British slow cultural suicide unfolding before our eyes.  The people who once explored the world have sunk to an unimaginable level.  In the once-upon-a-time home of Kipling and Churchill, of Clive and Cook, Lawrence and Livingstone, we now have the spectacle of a British soldier murdered by Muslims fanatics in broad daylight on a busy London street, surrounded by a crowd of onlookers.

The Muslim murderers shouted Allah Ahkbar while unarmed British constables cowered nearby waiting for the arrival of policemen who actually carry weapons.  Then does the British government clamp down on radical Muslims? Of course not.  Rather, it ferrets out and threatens those few Britons brave enough to tweet or email comments of despair and outrage deemed to be anti-Islamic.  How shriveled Britain has become, unwilling to fight for its freedoms and its culture. 

If the British were once described as lions led by donkeys, today a more apt description would be sheep led by asses.

John M Greco

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Boston Marathon Bombings – Obama, Democrats, & Muslim Terrorism

As if we needed any more evidence that Obama, his team, and his acolytes are soft, very soft, on Muslim terrorism, one only needs to look at the case of the Boston Marathon Bombers.  Despite apparently repeated warnings from the Russians, the Russians no less, about the older brother’s escalating radicalism and growing ties to known Muslim terrorists, Obama’s crack team did nothing.  Nothing.  Their focus is on those dangerous, let’s-live-within-our-means white grandmothers in the Tea Party, otherwise known as Republicans.

Obama actually has some terrorist friends – after moving to Chicago, among the many ultraliberals he befriended was one Bill Ayers, who, along with his wife, are unrepentant murderous terrorists embraced by Obama and his kind (Columbia, Northwestern, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, inter alia, have such people on their faculties).  In fact, there’s a new movie out by ultraliberal Robert Redford that lionizes left-wing terrorism – that is, the good kind, like Muslim terrorism, that, though regrettably excessive at times, is nevertheless seen to be an understandable and righteous response by those feeling aggrieved by the power of Judeo-Christian Western culture.  It’s not about the murdering, it’s about whether the killers have the correct grievances against the correct oppressors.

Obama’s minions have created a hostile work environment for any government official interested in protecting Americans from Islamic extremism, from the Army General who bemoaned the effect the Fort Hood Muslim murdering terrorist might have on the military’s efforts at “diversity”, from nitwit Homeland Security boss Janice Napolitano’s refusal to call the Fort Hood massacre an act of terrorism, ridiculously labeling it as “workplace violence”, to the FBI’s downplaying Islamic terrorism in its training manual.

We now learn that the brothers were living off taxpayer money in Massachusetts, long a Democrat utopia.  On welfare, the older brother, who was supposed to be a political refugee, had enough money to return to the place in which his life was supposedly threatened, Russia, for six months.  Back in the States, on welfare he’s driving a Mercedes.   

Here’s the defining Rorschach test illustrating the divide in attitudes toward Muslim terrorism.  State the following:  most Muslims are not terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslim.  If a head explodes, it’s a liberal, and not one who was going to keep us safe.

Michael Walsh (link):  “I’ve long said that the relationship between the American Left and Islam is that of masochist and sadist; the perfect Suicide Cult meets the Death Cult of its dreams. No wonder [in Boston] they got along so well together, right up to the moment when they didn’t.”

John M Greco

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Obama Seeks to Seed Credit Crash 2.0

They're baaaaack.......

Obama, in his community "organizer" days, along with similarly-minded Democrats, led the fight, starting with the Community Reinvestment Act, to force banks to give mortgage loans to potential borrowers with bad credit.  Well, some would say that ended very badly, in , oh, about 2008.  Since then lending standards have returned to the time-tested, rational way of doing such things.

However, if one takes the view that the true goal of some politicians is to bring the system down upon itself, expecting then that the "people" will clamor to give more power to those who seek to control the proletariat, then this comes as no surprise:

Headline from the very-liberal, no less, Washington Post (link):

"Obama administration pushes banks to make home loans to people with weaker credit"

When at first you don't succeed, ....

John M Greco

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Taxes are For the Little People -- In France & USA

As the saying goes, taxes are for the little people.

As if we need any more evidence past the 20th Century that the enforced equality of "socialism" is just a smokescreen to fool the rubes for what amounts to control by self-appointed bosses who do not expect to actually live by the rules (and the consequences) they impose on the proletarian masses otherwise known as the mythical "people", comes this out of France (link):
France's former budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac admitted [on April 2] that he had held a secret bank account .... in Switzerland [and siphoned money there] in order to avoid paying taxes in France.
Remember it was his team of socialists who just last year dramatically raised taxes in France.

How quaint --  in France, being a tax cheat actually disqualifies one for high office.  Recall how much trouble Obama had in finding Democrat potential cabinet appointees who had not cheated on their taxes; obviously not being bothered by such trivialities the way actual taxpayers were, Obama went ahead and appointed a confirmed tax cheat to head the Treasury and IRS (links below).

Democrats and Tax Evasion, Like Sterling and Silver -- Tax Law Writer Rangel Joins Tax Collector Geithner and Former Senate Leader Daschle in the Tax Cheaters Hall of Fame

Geithner Tax Evasion Story Indicates the Severity of the Democrat & Media Double Standard in the Age of Obama

For the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” File: Obama Tax-Challenged Democrats Worried About Other People & Companies Not Paying Their Taxes

John M Greco

Climate Change Hypesters Reject "Two-Sided Debate"

Who says liberalism is not a religion? 

As evidence mounts to undermine human-caused global warming fanaticism and as well to reveal widespread fraudulent manipulation of data (see, for example, the now infamous "hockey stick" chart and also the "hide the decline" emails from the British climate hypesters), the need to quash the truth grows ever more urgent for the fanatics.  With medieval religious zeal, they seek ever more to silence the non-believers (link): 
[A] petition ... by the League of Conservation Voters ... is aimed at executive producers of nightly news programs for major broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, and NBC — who the groups say don’t focus enough news coverage on climate change issues and, when they do cover the issue, portray the issue as a “two-sided debate” by featuring climate skeptics.
A "two-sided debate".  How blasphemous!

I am a strong supporter of responsible, evidence-based environmentalism, but faked data, grossly exaggerated claims, fear-mongering for profit, and repression of debate is not good for anyone, the environment included, because, weary of all the lies and hype, we may actually be slow to respond to real dangers and true opportunities.

JM Greco

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chicago Mob Attacks Resume & Dems In Control Can't Stop It

On the first warm evening of the year, yet another mob of "youths" invaded Chicago's north Michigan Avenue shopping and tourist district and caused lots of trouble and terror (link; link).  Newspapers decline to identify the race or origin of these youths, but everyone knows they are young black men and women from outlying neighborhoods who travel by train and bus to descend on the area, and cause trouble on public transportation as well.  These episodes are seemingly becoming more frequent, and come amidst record-setting murder and mayhem in Chicago's black neighborhoods.  Pols, newspapers, and business leaders seem to play down these events, as they are bad for business and political futures.

The Chicago police seem powerless to prevent or control these events, and stay stuck in reactive mode; even at that, their response has been criticized as inadequate.  Chicago's police chief, one McCarthy, who soon after being appointed by Democrat Mayor Emanuel blamed Sarah Palin (link) in part for the city's escalating violence, thinks his police department is doing a pretty good job.  The Chicago Tribune reports (link):     
Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said ... that his officers responded effectively to a number of disturbances ... involving large groups of teens on Saturday night that led to nearly 30 arrests ranging from bumping into passersby on sidewalks to attacking women aboard a CTA train....  He echoed the same sentiment regarding an incident that occurred an hour after the CTA attack in which 17 more teens were arrested for causing a series of disturbances along the Magnificent Mile.  “We were on top of it, and we dispersed it immediately,” McCarthy told reporters. “And I also want to be clear that there were no assaults, robberies or property damage that was reported.....
Hey, what's the beef, says McCarthy.  Once the violence started, we dispersed the youths and arrested a relative few.  And after all, "there were no assaults, robberies or property damage that was reported", so no harm no foul.  Emanuel might want to hold yet another "take back the streets" rally (link).  At the rate of escalation of murder and mayhem since he and his hand-picked team have been in charge, soon he'll be holding one a day.


April 3, 2013 Headline at Chicago Tribune web site:

              "Schmich: Let's turn down the alarm over loud teens downtown" 

              "I don't mean to minimize what happened in Chicago over the weekend, only to suggest there has been some overreaction." [The rest is behind the pay wall]

Hey, that wasn't a dangerous situation or anything.....  A  few assaults, some terror, some pushing of some elderly and tourists, a few robberies, some "attacking of women"....  Hey, that's just urban life, what's the big deal......  Those complainers must have been from the suburbs......    They overreacted.....  Just some "loud" Chicago teens.....    Nothing to see here, move along.....  There's no problem here, really.  Now just move along....  Nothing to see here......  Everyone don't stop coming downtown to shop, there're no safety issues, really.......  NOW MOVE ALONG, NOTHING TO SEE HERE.......

John M Greco

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Latest Culture War Skirmish -- Stomping on Jesus at Florida Atlantic University

The skirmish of the week in the ongoing culture war between those who would preserve and those who would weaken traditional Judeo-Christian cultural values broke out at Florida Atlantic University.  Often the dust-up involves a cowardly teacher asserting his power position over powerless students just trying to get a grade and not cause trouble.  In covering this story (link), Dennis Prager calls the modern indoctrination-prone university "left-wing seminaries", referring to the quasi-religious nature of the modern leftist/ultra-liberal movement.

At this particular school there is a teacher, one Deandre Poole, who also happens to be an official with the local Democrat party.  This fellow happens to be black, so undoubtedly he's familiar with the current cultural ethos on sensitivity and diversity.  However, apparently he doesn't feel cultural sensitivity should extend to Christians.

Florida Atlantic Univ Teacher Deandre Poole
Poole ran a classroom exercise in his Intercultural Communications class which involved students being asked to write "Jesus" on a piece of paper, then to place it on the floor and stomp on it.  All no doubt in furtherance of some important purpose in this guy's head.  One student refused to participate and supposedly told the teacher that the exercise was inappropriate and that he should stop it.  Apparently stomping on Mohammad was not part of that day's exercise -- the teacher must have been saving that for another time.

This story followed the usual trajectory in skirmishes like this.  Step One -- defiance.  First, the University defended the teacher and the exercise on the grounds of some gobbledygook about it fulfilling the purpose of education, [speak now like Yul Brenner] etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  The school also denied that it was taking any disciplinary action against the student, but this turned out to be a lie, because at the same time a Florida Atlantic beaurocrat, one Rozalia Williams, informed the student in writing of pending disciplinary action (link), ostensibly for his non-cooperation but more likely because he went public with the whole affair.
However, according to a letter written by Associate Dean Rozalia Williams, [student] Rotela is facing a litany of charges – including an alleged violation of the student code of conduct, acts of verbal, written or physical abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion or other conduct which threaten the health, safety or welfare of any person.”  “In the interim, you may not attend class or contact any of the students involved in this matter – verbally or electronically – or by any other means,” Williams wrote to Rotela. “Please be advised that a Student Affairs hold may be placed on your records until final disposition of the complaint.”

Florida Atllantic Univ Dean Rozalia Williams
The administrators at Florida Atlantic don't seem to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.  They send the student a hostile disciplinary letter yet deny it to the press.  They're mendacious and stupid -- with university leaders like this our children are in the best of hands.

Interesting is the role a teacher from a Catholic University played in this (link), although the anti-Christian values espoused by some at supposedly Catholic institutions are getting more commonplace these days (witness Notre Dame's honoring (link) of Barack Obama, a prominent defender of partial birth abortion and infanticide (link)):
[Florida Atlantic] Communications department director Noemi Marin had earlier defended the assignment, saying, "while at times the topics discussed may be sensitive, a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate."The exercise came from an instructor's manual written by St. Norbert College communications professor Jim Neuliep. The assignment was part of a chapter about dealing with the power of certain words."This exercise is a bit sensitive, but really drives home the point that even though symbols are arbitrary, they take on very strong and emotional meanings," the exercise states. "Most will hesitate. Ask why they can't step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture."
FSU Assoc Professor Noemi Marin
"The exercise is a bit sensitive", says professor Marin.  Ya think?  Wait till they get around to stomping on Muhammad or Martin Luther King.  That, of course, will never happen, since the point of the leftist exercise is to weaken Christianity, the perceived religion of those in power -- white males -- as viewed through the prism of race/gender/class.

Step Two -- the reaction, which was swift and widespread.  Too busy waging their cultural war by bullying their students, the brain trust at this University apparently is unaware of the power of the internet.

Step Three -- the apology and retreat.  It's very important to remember that the first response of the University was to defend the teacher and punish the student.  Initially, the school issued a weak pseudo-apology if anyone "took offense", but now after the Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott asked for an investigation (link) of the incident the school is in full tactical retreat (link):
On behalf of all of us here at FAU, we are deeply sorry for any hurt that this incident might have caused our students, people in the community and beyond,” says Charles Brown, senior vice president for student affairs, in the recording. “As an institution of higher education, we embrace academic freedom. But with that comes a level of responsibility which we did not uphold.” Brown went on to promise and swear that FAU faculty will never use the exercise again. He then swore that the school would take no disciplinary action against any student concerning the incident.
The school's retreat is surely just tactical, and it will regroup to repress another day.  The forces of liberty, light, and tolerance must forever stay vigilant.

John M Greco

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Government Run Medical Care -- Dispatches from the UK

From the UK (link), the home to a government-run medical care system gushed over by Obama acolytes such as one of his big-name heath care experts, the controversial Dr Donald Berwick:
This morning, the British government released a major report outlining 290 recommendations for the country’s health-care system, the National Health Service. The move came in response to widespread disgust over the failures of Britain’s nationalized system, epitomized by the Stafford Hospital scandal, in which between 400 and 1,200 preventable deaths occurred from 2005 to 2008 at one hospital.
Hmm.  290 recommendations?  That's quite a big number.  As long as they got into that neighborhood, why not a nice round number, like 300, or something catchy, like 299?  They got to 290, and with all their problems couldn't come up with 10 more?  Then again, why not 289?  Did they stretch the count to have a number rounded to the nearest 10?

I doubt very much that Berwick and the left like the UK system because it results in better outcomes, because I very much doubt it does, accurately and honestly measured and reported.  The intellectual vanguard of the left likes it because it is a system controlled by self-appointed experts like themselves.  It's  all about undemocratic control by experts (see Liberalism as Bossism, & the Obamacare Medical Care Rationing Board).

Government-run medical care -- what could possibly go wrong, and how could it not be better than what we have now?

John M Greco

Also see:
More Liberal Love & Lies From MSNBC About Healthcare in Repressive, Socialist Countries

Monday, March 18, 2013

Will Cyprus Be a Sarajevo?

This Monday morning I'm trying to understand why there is, apparently, no run on Eurozone banks in countries with troubled banks and shaky sovereign debt.  Over the weekend news of the latest Eurozone bailout emerged, in which the EU, which I read as Germany, has agreed to bail out the Cypriot banks but only upon the condition, never seen before, that such banks seize from depositors a hefty amount of deposits, some of which have guarantees.  On the other hand, the deal does not require that the equity holders or bondholders take a hit, which would be how it should be.  The reason, as I'm reading, appears to be because the equity holders and bond holders are to a great extent foreigners who would truly collapse the banking system in Cyprus, and then perhaps elsewhere, with a run if they were to take a hit.  So Cyprus agrees to seize a percentage of guaranteed deposits from small depositors, many of whom, like the 3,000 Brits living there at the moment (link), are not even Cypriots.

I understand that underneath this is a reluctance by German leaders to put the German people on the hook for yet another bailout if Cypriots themselves don't have to pony up as well.  But seizing guaranteed deposits appears to be in violation of bank guarantees, if not the law, so in essence the deal upends the law and sound business practice to protect the big players and screw the little ones.  Boy, sounds exactly like Obama's seizure (link) of Chrysler and General Motors to circumvent normal bankruptcy procedure and replace it with a forced deal that illegally screwed bondholders to unjustly enrich the unions.  And in another nod to the machinations of Obama, the Cypriot government is calling the seizure not a seizure but a "tax", which apparently as with Obamacare makes it all OK.  Gangsta government is in vogue all over the West.

Now it seems the Cypriot government is having second thoughts about illegally screwing small depositors, and is mulling it over while it keeps the banks closed.  Meanwhile, apparently no run on banks in Greece (what's left there to run on), Italy, or Spain, despite this clear indication of bank insolvency and EU treachery.  Has socialism turned Eurozone people into sheeple?  Will Cyprus be a Sarajevo, or will the sheeple roll over?

John M Greco 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

From the Annals of Inanities: Women Of/With Color

In talking to students about racial diversity at the racially mixed Oak Park High School in suburban Chicago, one woman speaker, described by the school's principal as "a woman of color", made reference to "colored people" in a historical context.  This apparently offended some people of color who do not like hearing the term "colored people", forcing the principal to issue an apology (link) for what he called "offensive" speech.

In a new development, it is rumored that some women of color colored women minority  women females who received the letter were offended by the principal's use of the term "woman of color" and are demanding an apology, preferring, instead, to be referred to as "women with color".  In yet another related development, some females people were offended by the use of the term "woman", preferring to be referred to as "persons", finding the term "woman" to be offensive sexual stereotyping. 

UPDATE: Unconfirmed reports have it that the school principal has apologized to all self-defined identity groups for every word that was said at the event, and, in response to those who were offended about his apologies believing he had nothing for which to apologize, he apologized for apologizing.

JM Greco

Monday, March 4, 2013

Democrat SequesterMania

Legendary liberal journalist Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame, apparently maintains a shred of integrity and so broke with the liberal media palace guard protecting the Democrat president and called Obama’s dishonest rabble rousing behavior on the sequester “madness”.  Of course, we all now know, thanks in part to Woodward himself, that the so-called sequester, or automatic budget cuts, was Obama’s idea.

The Democrats are wailing about cutting about 2.4% from the federal budget, or as it seems, as it usually is, cutting 2.4% off the rate of growth of the federal budget.  That’s cutting just a bit off a federal budget that’s already mushroomed beyond recognition under Obama.  Larry Kudlow writes (link):  “The White House and the CBO are predicting a 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent decline in GDP, post-sequester, and a loss of 750,000 jobs. All this from a spending reduction of roughly 2.4 percent over the next ten years, in which Uncle Sam’s spending growth will be $44.8 trillion rather than $46 trillion.”  And while Obama and his minions and acolytes have been wailing, new US Secretary of defense Long John Kerry just promised $250 million more to the Islamist government of Egypt.  Can’t possibly cut there!     

To listen to Obama and Democrats, 2.4% less spending will cut the federal government to the bone and will impact countless essential services.  Democrats are of course claiming that they can’t possibly find even 2% of fat to cut, or even 2% of non-essential services.  Not a penny is there to cut.  On local Chicago CBS news radio, a woman identified as chief economist for Mesirow Financial, apparently a money management firm, talked about some seniors losing their government subsidized housing and being forced out onto the street in the cold of late winter.  It seems Mesirow is on board with the Obama agenda.

Mark Steyn writes (link): “Can you pierce the mists of time and go back all the way to the year 2007? Back then, federal spending was 40 percent lower than it is today. In a mere half-decade, has all that 40 percent gravy become so indispensable to the general welfare that not even a teensy-weensy sliver of it can be cut?”
Obama is not trying to find a negotiated settlement with Republicans – far from it.  For the Obama Democrats, this whole debate is really not about trying to find a budget solution to the massive deficit.  It’s really about a radical position to spend, spend, and spend, borrowing all the way, until the system breaks down, until it collapses upon itself, and in the ensuing crisis of their own making, Democrats think they will be able to expand and solidify their centralized control over a bigger piece of America and every person in it. 

John M Greco

Monday, February 18, 2013

American Egyptologist – Breasted & The Oriental Institute

Jeffrey Abt has written a fascinating and detailed account of the life of James Henry Breasted, the much celebrated University of Chicago ground-breaking epigrapher and founder, at UChicago, of the Oriental Institute.  Abt thoroughly covers Breasted’s work in epigraphy and archaeology, and also many interesting aspects of UChicago’s early history.  The book is exhaustingly researched, and is handsomely bound in rich, dark blue cloth by the University of Chicago Press (at one time, and maybe still, the largest university press in the world).

Breasted was foremost an epigrapher, studying ancient inscriptions and language, and though not trained as an archaeologist he became one by necessity, given the need to find, excavate, and explore ancient sites.  Working from the 1890s into the 1930s, his primary focus was ancient Egypt, and as a young man, struck by the deterioration of the known sites, he began a lifelong project to record and interpret the inscriptions.  In time, Breasted became famous; he was, for example, at the opening of the chamber containing the sarcophagus and mummy of King Tutankhamum.  He emphasized studying not just past events but past conditions and institutions, which seemed novel for the time. 

Breasted also became, through books and lectures, a very well-known popular educator about ancient Egypt and early Eurasian civilizations.  In his teaching and writing, he was a pioneer in the use of visual, diagrammatic displays of information, and coined the now well-known term “fertile crescent”.  He was one of the first to appreciate the important influence of Egypt’s ancient civilization on that of Greece.  The Oriental Institute’s projects eventually encompassed all the civilizations of the Near East and the field work spread out accordingly; its museum displays one of the finest collections of ancient Near East artifacts in the world, and I have enjoyed many a desultory stroll through the exhibits.      

The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago
Breasted was born in Rockford, Illinois, in 1865, and grew up in Chicago’s western suburbs.  He started out in pharmacy, of all things, and graduated from what is now North Central College in suburban Naperville.  He eventually turned to theology (at the Chicago Theological Seminary), then to languages (studying Hebrew at Yale), and then finally to epigraphy which became his life’s work.  As his career moved on, he became as much an administrator and fundraiser (Rockefeller money) as researcher and educator, and at that point in the story the book gets dry with detail I imagine not of particular interest to the casual reader, who I suspect might be inclined to tread lightly over those sections.  An abridged version for the general reader would not be misplaced.

Breasted was the first archaeologist to be elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences, and became so well-known that he made the cover of Time magazine in 1931.  When he died at 70 in 1935, his memorial service at Rockefeller Chapel on the UChicago campus featured the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and was broadcast nation-wide on CBS radio.  He was buried in Rockford, with a large granite cube from ancient Egypt placed as his tombstone.  Years later, when a film maker was creating the fictional story of a young, dynamic epigrapher, he placed his character at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, no doubt because he figured where else would you find someone like Indiana Jones. 
American Egyptologist:  The Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute
By Jeffrey Abt (University of Chicago Press, 2011)

Richard R Balsamo

Related Posts at this blog:
The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago
Ancient Assyria & the Transience of Economic Strength
The Oriental Institute's "Striding Lion" of Babylon