Tag Archives: WWII

Today’s Worry From Yesterday’s View

We’ve just passed the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with all the usual alarms and horror stories from the many survivors of those events of war.   At least this year I saw one article about one of the few surviving American POW’s who witnessed the Nagasaki bombing from miles away and what his perspective was.  The article did correctly p0int out that the Japs had already issued orders to kill all remaining POW’s once the Allies launched the expected invasion of the Homeland Islands.   The POW’s naturally were unaware of their impending death sentence and most had already reached the near end of their endurance due to the extreme cruelty and brutality of their captors.   They were thrilled to learn within days that the Japs had surrendered and that they had a chance to live.  They literally were given a ladder up at last from the depths of Hell.

I was very small at that time and don’t have a specific memory of the bombings or the end of the war.  I don’t recall my dad or any of the other men coming home in a big parade.   I do remember that dad was there and we moved to a new duplex from the old one and then a new baby brother.   The War and its aftermath was the dominate event and topic of conversation for years.  By the time I started school I knew we had used a really big bomb and that made the Japs surrender.  I recall the adults when I listened to them really didn’t understand exactly how the bomb worked.   It was an “atomic” bomb I knew from hearing them and that an atom was a really tiny thing you couldn’t even see.

It was a wonder to me that anything so small could make such a big bang.  How did those miniscule bits mix around to make such a large whomp?  As a small boy playing soldier I could understand rifles, cannons, hand grenades and regular bombs but the physics of the atomic bomb were beyond me.    You could get a feel for the destruction regular bombs and artillery could do because the newsreels in the ’40’s after the War were often about the occupation of Germany, Austria and Japan and they would always show the unimaginable destruction of whole cities.  Frankly, the newsreels of Hiroshima and Nagasaki didn’t look any different than the cities like Berlin, Munich or Dresden.

When mom and dad had relatives or friends over to visit I was always watching for when the men would gather separate from the women folk and would immeditate ly stop whatever I was doing and slip in there and sit quietly somewhere so I could hear them talk.  Sooner or later they always began swapping stories about the War.  Virtually all of them were in the War.  I guess the had some acquaintances that didn’t serve but I don’t remember a single one.  They were in all services, Army, Navy, Air Corps and Marines.  I wish I had those conversations on tape today.   What a treasure trove that would be.   All except one (with a minor wound) were still in the services in August of 1945.  Without exception they expected to be soon shipped to Japan.   Never heard one word of regret or sorrow for using the atomic bomb from one of them.  They believed the Japs deserved it, earned it with their barbaric behavior and none of them were eager to face the prospects of death after four years of war.   My dad could have been on one of those Navy ships off the coast of Japan facing the 5000 kamikaze planes (yes, 5000) that the Japs still had to deploy and planned to deploy against our invasion.  I am sure glad my dad didn’t have to do that.

“These proceedings are closed” General MacArthur after the last signatures on the Japanese surrender documents.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, Economics, family, Foreign Affairs, history, military history, War

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Well, the Holidays are over and the hibernation will be interrupted long enough for the current thoughts and ramblings of the gray matter…..

Another State of the Union address and again we call for the elimination of the current method of delivery.  It is pure political theatre and propaganda.  Regardless of what party controls the White House the prevailing showmanship of the delivery should be stopped.  For well over 100 years the State of the Union was a straightforward written report to Congress from the President.   We need to really tone down this useless drama show.  It should be a business meeting between the Executive and Legislative branches of government.  Put it on C-span and no applause and distractions.  Let the President and his Cabinet present facts and figures about our economy, national security and society.  Let the Congressmen ask questions and challenge the data and assumptions and proposed policies.  It should be give and take.  The Presidents written report should be no longer than 20 pages in length, anything more and you’re getting hyperbole and fluff.

Saw a shooting star the other night.  It was the first one I’ve seen in a number of years what with all the bright lights of the city and trees and roof lines.  It was quite dramatic and very bright as it descended to earth.  So large that I actually listened for a boom.  Did see one so large and close that it produced a loud boom decades ago.  Better than any fireworks display when they are that large.

Not at all surprised that so many people were having their private insurance policies cancelled due to Obamacare.  Those reading these pages remember that I said that would happen back in ’10 when the thing was passed and I actually read the bill.  It provided that the policies being grandfathered in could only be those that never changed.   “Any” change meant they no longer met the standard of a “qualified” plan as approved by the bureaucrat in charge, the HHS Secretary.  So if your premium in the plan you liked was $300 per month and it increased by $5 per month then that change would kick you to the exchanges and you had to get the government approved plans, period.

Fighting wars half-heartedly is always a recipe for disaster. Korea and Viet Nam are probably the worst examples but Afghanistan isn’t far behind with that current guy in the White House view of the military and the mission there.   The object of any military action should always be to destroy and subdue your enemy and do so with all the resources at your command.  History teaches well the old maxim that when you go against and remove the King you better get rid of all his heirs also.   If we aren’t committed to eliminating the Taliban as a force then we might as well get out completely and go back in at our pleasure when we detect specific threats.   If our guys can’t conduct aggressive offensive operations as of now then they are merely becoming targets for the attacks of the Taliban at their pleasure.

Read another detailed and thorough article this week about the probability of our magnetic field starting another flip.  That means the magnetic poles will switch places and your compass would point south, not north.  If that is beginning to occur then it makes a mockery of the concern over alleged global warming.   The process could take thousands of years and the effects on Mother Earth would be enormous.  Weather would change for sure as would the overall climate and the effects of the increased radiation from the Sun would tear apart much of our modern infrastructure built on electrical power and electronic machines of all stripe, not the least of which would be your handy computer.   The magnetic field has flipped many times over the eons and many scientist believe we over  due for another  anytime.  The magnetic field has already weakened and some view that has the harbinger of the flip.  So another item to add to your list of worries but this one is real, the danger is only a question of time, not an if.

About two weeks before we dropped the first A bomb on Hiroshima a US sub made one of the most unusual attacks of the entire War.  The sub had already sunk several Jap ships in a harbor and was due to return to base but the captain noticed a  railroad trestle right on the shore line that was used by the Japs to transport supplies to the war making factories nearby.  They couldn’t have used a torpedo but were innovative both captain and crew.  They decided a shore party could attach a explosive device to the tracks and get the next train to pass after installation.  It took several days to figure out how to do it.  They used the explosive charges that normally are used only to scuttle the ship for the pow factor.  But then they had to devise a method to make the “bomb” explode at the right time to take out the train.  They jerry-rigged a trigger from a battery and copper wires.  The trigger was to be placed under the metal rail after they dug out a small pit for the explosives and then when the train passed over it would depress the rail a bit and that would close the electric circuit and ignite the device.  In the dark of the night a couple of nights later the landing party of 8 went ashore, dug the pit and placed the device there.  As they were heading back to the sub in a rubber dingy a train pulled into sight and then onto the trestle area embankment and sure enough it worked and everything went sky high.  The Captain was already a Medal of Honor winner when this took place.   Needless to say it was the only sub to take out a train during the War.

Even the Fed is beginning to taper.  Now if we could only get Congress to “taper” also and spend less.  I don’t feel like I get a bang for my tax bucks paid, er, extorted, to the Federal government, do you?

“Liberty alone demands for its realization the limitation of the public authority, for liberty is the only object which benefits all alike,…”  Lord Acton, British historian  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Astronomy, business, Culture, Economics, Environment, Foreign Affairs, Global Warming, government, history, military history, Mother Nature, Politics, science

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

The dog days of August are upon us and the mind looks for cooling thoughts anywhere it can find them.

Today is the 68th anniversary of the Nagasaki bomb drop on the Japs.   The leaders of that day were hoping to maximize the damage to them to force a surrender before we had to launch the invasion of Japan proper with projected loss of American lives exceeding 250,000 to finish the job.  The nation was war-weary and ready for it to end but still determined to defeat Japan.  What is forgotten is that at the same time (within two days) of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A bomb attacks we had other major attacks on Japan by our air forces and the navy.  The navy struck a coastal region with fuel storage tanks and power stations on the east coast.  The navy ships were literally just off shore and shelled the facilities and the navy planes struck with fury.  That was a huge raid and did tremendous damage.  About the same time we launched one of the biggest air raids of the whole war.  More than 800 B-29’s roared over the industrial area of Iksukea and devastated the entire manufacturing area.  If you have ever seen a B-29 you know how big they really are.  Larger than a 737 for example.  Imagine looking up in the sky and seeing wave after wave of them coming your way and hearing the thunder of those thousands of engines.   You’ve never even heard of these raids.  That is a lesson in history and how headlines are so fluid.  If not for the A bombs these raids would have been the lead headline in every major newspaper across the country.   Because of the A bombs they were moved to the back pages.   Those raids heavily influenced the final decision of the Japs to surrender because they realized that regardless of the A bombs they were defenseless to stop the coming American assault.   To know real history you must know more than the headline stories.

Some left over dishes don’t do well when they are warmed up for that second serving a couple of days later.  One exception to that truth though in our humble opinion is spaghetti, if well made, when warmed up down the road.  As good as the first serving.

Sure glad our outreach to the Muslim world is working so well.  You recall that even the NASA leader under the guy in the White House said that was his top priority.  Have you looked at any of those photos from Cairo in the last few days with the depictions of our guy in the White House?  Look them up and reach your own conclusion.

When it comes to the Muslim world we need a Kissinger to lead our foreign policy.  He definitely knew how to employ realpolitk and understood its necessity.  Yes, as awful as it is to contemplate, sometimes it is better to do business with an Assad in Syria rather than that Al Queada and Muslim Brotherhood coalition fighting against him.  Hey, folks we were all chummy and kissy kissy with Joe Stalin during WWII!  He made Attila the Hun look like a Franciscan monk by comparison.  Often a tough world presents tough choices and we need to make them and quit the speech making and political correct approach to foreign policy.  Do what is best for America.  In the long haul that will be what is best for the world.  We still represent the best hope for a good example for the world.   But that example is changing for the worst with each passing day of this current gang in the White House.

Did you know that copper is an antibacterial agent?  In smaller concentrations it will not kill the bacteria but will prevent its growth or spread.  High enough and it can kill bacteria.  Wonder why they don’t use copper for all the trays etc in hospitals and clinics.  Cost I suppose.  Even if more expensive up front it would last more or less forever unlike all that plastic we see in hospitals.  Just wondering if anyone has ever taken a hard look at that.

Don’t know about you but frankly I didn’t notice any difference in Christie’s appearance after his well-advertised weight reduction surgery.  He needs either a redo or a refund.   I don’t think he makes a very good ad for that type of surgery.   He still looks terribly overweight.

By now you have heard that if you have a camera built into your laptop that hackers (government or otherwise) can take over that camera and record you in your own home or office.  That is in addition to the ability to listen into your conversations through  your cell or computer or even the tv and now your fancy new car with all that electronic and computer gadgetry.   Getting really hard to get off the grid these days.

Getting off the grid was a motivating factor behind much of our western expansion from the earliest days of our new nation.   Thousands and then millions of folks for various personal reasons decided to go west to escape bad marriages, creditors or bad politicians or politics.  If you went from Pa. to Mo. in 1835 you could be whoever you wanted to be in Mo.  When you left your hometown, home church and community you were indeed off the grid.  Same thing with those early Mountain Men. Many just wanted to be away from the constraints as they saw it of civilization.   Today it is really hard to have a truly private life.  Good, bad, up to each of us to have our own opinion but the sad thing is that we don’t have a choice anymore to opt out for the quiet life.  Not many Walden ponds left.

“The wise shall inherit glory; but shame shall be the promotion of fools.”  Proverbs 3/35. http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Foreign Affairs, military history, Politics, terrorism, War

June 6th And Liberal Blinders

June 6th should always remain a day of remembrance and gratitude for the sacrifice of thousands of young men who faced terror in its rawest form and an uncertain outcome for that day’s efforts.  There were many significant engagements during the War but that date was truly the opening of the final act in that grand and fateful play.  The day and the War were a victory for freedom, for some of the world but not all.   The Left in the US and much of western Europe had had a romance with the Communists and the Socialists regimes for decades and before the War and continued that devotion in many quarters to the present day.  They ignored then and continue now to avoid any discussion of the villainy of the Communist and Socialists movements.  Today many especially in western Europe prefer the use of Socialist rather than Communist.  Of course that completely overlooks the fact that the Stalinist empire was promoting Socialism.  Indeed its very name–“Union of Socialist Soviet Republics” says it all.  The Commies love Socialism.  Stalin never held a formal government office.  He was Secretary General of the Communist Party and sat of the Politburo but he ran everything.  For decades the Left had a romance with the Commies and for decades after the War continued that romance.   Many of the “journalists” from the ’20’s all the way beyond the Reagan era touted their goodness or at least their good intentions.  They were for the regular guy as long as he obeyed the dictates of the elite who knew best.

The first warning the Left had regarding Communism were the publicly flaunted purge trials of the ’30’s shortly before the War.  Their public nature was the whole point.   Yet, the Left sympathizers in the West made feeble at best comment and mostly ignored those events or made tortured efforts to justify them.  Then came a real bang on the head for the Left in the West–the Treaty of Friendship between Hitler and Stalin literally a couple of weeks before the invasion of Poland.  Some on the Left did finally abandon the socialist ship at that point but not in buckets.   They filled the newspapers, magazines and radio waves with justifications, explanations and apologias for the action.   That venal act of the Commies was quickly followed within a month by the conquest and annexation  of eastern Poland by Stalin during September of 1939.  Even then most on the Left remained loyal to that ideology.  Two months later Stalin invaded Finland without any provocation whatsoever.   Finland was tiny but fought hard and contrary to the French a few months later hung on into early 1940 before the weight of the Soviet assault overwhelmed their limited resources and men.   Finally some on the Left woke up.  You have to know your history or do some real research because it is never mentioned these days.  But the West was so outraged by the naked aggression that for a couple of months Britain and France seriously considered declaring was against the Soviets;  they say not a wit’s difference between what Stalin was doing and Hitler.  They were right but hesitated and events passed them by.  No sooner had Stalin taken a huge chunk of Finland than he immediately marched right into Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.  Raw evil on display.  As always the Soviets maintained that the local socialists and commies wanted them there and that Stalin was only doing a good thing for the ideology of the Left.   This additional conquest occurred only weeks before Hitler finally launched his invasion into Western Europe.   Still the Left around the world for the most part stood by their ideology and their man.

The Commies after the taking  of their share of Poland rounded up about 25 to 30 thousand leading members of Polish society.  These were military men, lawyers, professors, politicians, preachers and anyone consider influential in the bourgeois world.  They were taken out and slaughtered, shot in the back of the head.  Recently the death of the military people at Katyn forest was remembered as part of the current Russian charm offensive.  You may recall that was when the jet crashed killing the then Polish President and all on board.   But that was only about 5 thousand or so of  the total executed by the Left.   The Germans found some of these mass graves during the War and made them known  to the world but in the midst of the War and Hitler being hated the disclosure was discounted for decades as Nazi propaganda.   As with the concentration camps word leaked out of the executions but the Left of the West ignored the truth.

Tend years before Joe McCarthy became infamous there was another purge of Communists in a Western Nation.  The Communist Party was very strong in France during the ’30’s and totally devoted to the cause and the Comintern.  Several dozen communists were in the French legislature at the outbreak of the War.  France was a very left leaning nation at that time.  But Stalin’s invasion of Finland was too much for the majority of the French.  Within weeks of the Finnish war start, 24 communist deputies were arrested and several were tried and convicted on various charges against the State.  Over three thousand more were rounded up and imprisoned for their membership in the Communist Party and their activities.  Most of those were eventually released.   Of those arrested in the legislature otherwise many were in fact funneling information to the Commies and following orders of the Comintern which of course meant Stalin.  Old Joe wasn’t the first one to go after Commies because he believed them a danger to society and often outright spies for Stalin.

Unless you really know your history pretty well you’ve never heard about any of the above.  Certainly the typical World History text book won’t mention any of this of the multitude of other atrocities committed by the Commies before during and after the War.   The Left never discusses the shortc0ming or outright evil of Socialism.  After the War there was still the romance and all was forgiven.  At the Nuremberg trials the Soviets did not allow any of the German defendants to raise these or similar issues as mitigating circumstances.  Like an Orwellian world the invasion of Finland the rape of Poland was eliminated from history and sadly the Left in the West and their media friends were co-conspirators in this grand cover up that continues to this day.   These events mentioned are only a sliver of the evil cared out in the name of the “Revolution” by the Left.  We might list a few more down the road.

“Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.” Joseph Stalin.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Economics, Foreign Affairs, government, history, military history, Politics

Sanctimonious Sanctions

The use of sanctions against perceived bad guys has been employed for millenia.  They weren’t always called that of course but the effect was the same.  The Romans and even Greeks used embargoes and blockades to punish recalcitrant city-states around the Mediterranean Sea on many occasions.  The employment of sanctions has been utilized many times in the last 100 years.  The use has received lots of press and comment especially in the last 20 years or so.  There was great comment and push during the ’90’s as Yugoslavia began to unravel into the Balkan Wars of that era.  Europe and the US imposed them and they have been used many other times and in many other areas in recent decades.  South Africa had sanctions against it.  Israel has had sanctions imposed by Arab neighbors off and on for decades and certainly a number of the Middle East nations have been the subject of international sanctions from Western nations as has North Korea and so many others.  The sanctions are used to punish bad people for doing bad things, at least that is the announced purpose and to force them to change their behavior.  Especially in the more politically correct era they allegedly come from a position of those on the higher moral ground.

We often forget that we and all other nations often partner ourselves up with some pretty despicable characters when the perceived need arises to protect our survival or vital interests.  Most Americans wouldn’t even remember that the Soviet Union carved up Poland along with Hitler, their ally, that started WWII.  Even fewer are aware that shortly thereafter Stalin was in full fighting mode against Finland and on a conquest mode.  Those actions were morally indefensible.  The actions were so bad that Great Britain and France were considering declaring war against Stalin in early 1940 before Hitler launched the offensive against the West.  It got lost in the smoke of war.   There were no sanctions against Stalin and the Commies.   When Hitler attacked Stalin we teamed up with the Soviets to defeat Hitler.  The Soviets were allowed to even participate in the Nuremberg trials after the War for war crimes.  Their crimes committed in Poland and Finland weren’t brought up.  

During the War others nations teamed up economically with Germany yet suffered no sanctions during the war and had little consequence after the War.  Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland all remained neutral during the War.  They all continued active trade with the Germans.  The Swedes supplied most of the iron ore for Germany military industries to the very end of the War.  Portugal and Spain supplied other raw materials such as tungsten and agricultural products to German occupied Europe.   Switzerland had an active and large arms manufacturing industry and supplied the Germans with weapons to the very end.  The were still shipping goods to Germany only a month before the surrender.  The Swiss made the Germans pay in gold.  They collected over 1.6 billion in Swiss Franc value.  After the war they worked out a settlement with the Allies and returned about 250 million for emergency aid in the Western European countries.  The Swiss and the others also allowed the Germans to use their banks for transaction around the world and as a conduit for communications.   None ever were sanctioned for being an aider and abetter of Hitler. 

High-minded and haughty declarations of moral purity all work real well until the rubber meets the road.   There are no sanctions yet against Syria.  How long did it take before there were any sanctions against Libya?   After the tea leaves from the battle field revealed the likelihood that Qaddafi was falling.   The use of sanctions can be useful and coincidentally do some moral good on occasion.  They are another tool in the diplomatic and military quiver to deal with opponents.  Just don’t preach to us about their use being for the good of mankind, unless that is really the fact and not merely a cover for convenient and profitable action.

When you mail your quarterly tax payment next week don’t forget to put your SWAK on the back.  Don’t you just love knowing YOUR money will be spent wisely and not for any political purpose gain?   Oh, don’t forget that for every thousand dollars you send the Feds that they will borrow another $400.00 on your credit.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

Leave a comment

Filed under business, Culture, Economics, Foreign Affairs, government, history, military history, Politics

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Maybe we should start charging a few sprinkles of gold dust for these pearls of wisdom but for now we’ll hold firm at our bargain prices.

There have been many comments about a couple of the Supreme Court Justices recusing themselves from hearing the ultimate appeal of the Obamacare law because of perceived or real bias about the legislation.  They focus on Thomas and Kagan.  Him because they don’t like his wife being involved in the political debates of the day and her because she was an active member of the Justice department as the law was formulated and debated.  Some have argued that the US code requires them to remove themselves and others say that mere prudence would demand it.  There have even been calls for new legislation that would mandate (that word again) that Justices recuse themselves under defined circumstances and that the matter should be determined by an independent panel of “legal ethicists” ( real  oxymoron if there ever was one) when a motion is filed to remove a Justice from a case.   Those are all well and good but they all overlook one vital consideration–that our three branches of government are separate and equal.  Just as the Supreme Court cannot tell the House or Senate how to run their affairs or pass legislation or demand that the White House institute a certain administrative order or policy, the Legislature cannot tell the Supreme Court how to conduct its business.  The Supreme Court would never recognize any legislation regulating its internal affairs and would indeed find it unconstitutional.   For good or ill we have to live with what we got and that is the Supremes determing their own eligibility to hear cases that come before them.

Is there anything more nostalgic and fun that watching that child or grandchild as they walk up the sidewalk to enter elementary school for the first time?  They are a little tentative and have that huge backpack hanging down almost to their knees and those fresh new clothes mom bought for the occasion.  You stand there wondering how those first 5 or 6 years flew by so quickly.

Just as you have to put up collateral sometimes if you want to borrow more money it appears the Greeks are running into the same demands from its creditors.  You have to pledge your car or offer a second lien on your house and your unsecured creditors don’t like that if they know about it.  Now Finland is demanding that Greece put up collateral in the form of cash or real estate for Finland to fork over its share of the bailout money from the Eurozone countries.  Naturally the other Euro folks are howling.  They think it undermines the overall effort to help Greece or more likely they are simply miffed that they didn’t think to ask for collateral themselves before they handed over the bailout funds.  The next payment is due in September to stay tuned and let’s see how these negotiations work out.

Loneliness is one of the most powerful and depressing of our emotions.  It is one thing to enjoy one’s privacy but quite another to be lonely.  Atheists must be the loneliest people in the world.

The basics of economics always works even in the worst of times.  After WWII in Germany every city of any size was virtually destroyed.  You’ve seen those old newsreels of Berlin and the blocks and square miles of devastation.  Nothing worked for a while.  The bombing and the moving armies of the Allies and the Communists had leveled just about everything.  There was no food in the cities, no water, no electricity and no means of transportation.  Health care was very limited and the rape and pillaging was rampant  in the Soviet areas.  In the rural areas much of the crops for the 1945 harvest were very low because there weren’t enough workers to finish the harvests or the supplies to produce the crops were very limited.   But of course there was food and even an excess in the countryside.  Efforts were made to bring the food stocks into the cities but met initially with very limited success.   The farmers needed to eat too and there were refugees running literally all over the countryside pillaging.  But most important of all was the reluctance of the farmers to bring their harvest to the cities.  After all what would they get in exchange for the crops?  There was only the most crude of working economies and that dependent on the scrip and whim of the conquerors.  Lastly, what was there to buy if they were given some kind of paper money?  Nothing.  Even if you had what passed for “money” in those dark days you really couldn’t exchange it for anything you wanted or needed.  There weren’t any cars, washing machines, radios and cigarettes or alcohol except that pilfered from the conquering armies.   A valuable lesson in both the demand concept and the medium of exchange idea.  

So many people still get confused about how and when we went off the gold standard.  Sometimes you hear it was Roosevelt and others talk about Nixon closing the gold window.  There were two events that get conflated too often.  Roosevelt confiscated the gold coins and outlawed the use of gold to settle debts in the US.  You were required to turn in your gold coins for paper money and couldn’t have contracts requiring gold payment. It was internal to the US and its citizens.  Even Roosevelt couldn’t control the entire world and much of the world continued to use a gold standard in one form or another.  In ’71 Nixon finally said the US would not settle its international accounts with gold.  Before the foreign countries could come here, and they often did, and trade in their dollars they had earned and exchange them for gold which we had to fork over.   Nixon stopped paying in gold and would henceforth make payment only in other dollars or goods.

Some in power now echo the political philosophy of Louis XIV whether they acknowledge it or not.   Louis famously said “It is legal because I wish it”….hmm.  Sound ominously familiar.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

1 Comment

Filed under business, Culture, Economics, Foreign Affairs, government, history, law, military history, Politics, religion

The Razor’s Edge

With the upcoming mid-term elections looming on the horizon and the talk about it being the “most important election” of our lives it is good on occasion to reflect on some of the other moments in history that are not that long ago to have a proper perspective on our own day and times.  Times are difficult now here and around the world.  There are the obvious financial problems at home and abroad with few jobs and an economy that limps along at best.  Then there are the conflicts with real bullets flying in Afghanistan and Iraq.  There is the additional threats from Iran and North Korea.  The atmosphere is tense and apprehension is in the air.  Many think that times couldn’t be any worse.  Yes, they can.

Only a couple of generations ago in the fall of 1939 the War had just started in Europe.  What was even worse about it was that the Commies had joined with Hitler in the invasion of Poland which was the immediate cause of the War.  The fact that Stalin did that is almost universally overlooked these days in the classrooms.   Between them they carved up Poland entirely.  England and France declared war on Germany due to the invasion but held back on the declaration against the Commies.  They were concerned about the ability to fight both powers at the same time.  A legitimate concern but the diplomatic airwaves were busy.  The West wanted the Commies to renounce their association with Hitler and withdraw.  To compound and confound matters even worse the Commies then invaded Finland that fall.  Stalin had an appetite for conquest second to none.  He intended to take the entire world at least Hitler had limits to his ambitions geographically at that time.   The quick victory expected over the Finns was thwarted however by the stout and stalwart defense and fight offered by the Finns.  The Soviets had expected a walkover and quick surrender but what they got was a bloody nose and for a few months a stalemate along the border.  The Finns weren’t the Norwegians or the French.  They wouldn’t be rolled over.

At home the Great Depression was still in full force.  Yes, there had been some slight improvement due to gearing up for the expected war and the munitions industries here.  But the new jobs were paltry compared to the need.  Most people were dirt poor still in 1939.  Ask your grandparents or great grandparents about that time.  You don’t have to take my word for it.   Our military was miniscule at that time.  The Army only had a little over 100,000 men and the Navy was mostly using ships that had been built during WWI.

There was a very strong move by many to declare war on the Soviets in England and France.  We cautioned to take care and use diplomacy even while the guns were firing and the people were dying.  It was a futile foreign policy then just as any appeasement efforts are today.  The Finns were completely innocent of any wrong doing.  There had been a border dispute for generations with Russia but the Finns were going to invade Russia!  That excuse was all the Soviets needed.  That war was purely for conquest and the expansion of the communist system.  The Soviets could envision the expansion of their communist doctrine right across the Nordic region once they had Finland.  Sweden and Norway would be next up.  Their only concern would be with the ally the Germans.

During the winter of ’39 and ’40 there were few options available to the British to attack and fight back against the Germans.  This was during the period when the “Phony War” prevailed in the West.  The Germans weren’t ready to attack yet and the French as always weren’t eager or stalwart enough for any fight.   Churchill was the First Lord of the Admiralty during this time.  He was not yet Prime Minister that did not occur until May of 1940.  He pushed for some action against the Germans and the only place they could agree upon with the French was in Norway.  But the rub was that the Soviets were now so close since their war and conquest of Finland was afoot. 

The diplomatic heat went up.  Even the liberals and Soviet sympathizers in Britain had a hard time justifying the actions of Stalin.  Finland was calling on the West for help.  Morality and decency were on the side of the Finns and everyone knew it.  An invasion of Norway was planned to thwart this effort by the Soviets and to deny the ports and raw materials to the Germans.  The troops were embarked and the demands on the Soviets were becoming more pronounced for a withdrawal in the winter of 1940.  The Finns then had to surrender.  The Soviet takeover was a fait accompli.  Stalin allowed as how that was the end of his territorial ambitions.  Those words were hollow and false but the West was eager to pretend they were sincere.  The invasion went forward against only the Germans.  The declaration of war against the Soviets was avoided but only by a knife’s edge.  A few more days and the West very likely would have been at war with the Commies and Hitler at the same time. 

Of course some 18 months later when Hitler invaded Russia we came to be allies with Stalin.  He was a bad bedfellow.  The worst we ever were tied to by far.  If you think some of the leaders in Iraq or Afghanistan stink or are venal then they are angels in comparison to Stalin. 

That was truly a dark time.  The daily apprehension and fear of most people was real.  There were no jobs, no money and the world was marching to war before their eyes.  Except for Britain there were no decent guys around.  Some even demonized Britain because of their colonial empire.  But they played by the rules of the game and the rule of law, not the law of the gun.   Our concerns and worries are legitimate and real at this time due to the direction of our current leadership but we’ve survived much worse.  Use the ballot to avoid the bullets.

“In war, Resolution; in defeat, Defiance; in victory, magnanimity”  W. Churchill  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Economics, Foreign Affairs, geography, history, military history, Politics, terrorism

Iraq Insurgency And The German Resistance–Lessons Pro And Con

There are striking similarities between the insurgency fight we have faced in Iraq over the last few years and the difficulties we had in Germany after the War.  There are some differences too, but more on that later.  After VE Day (Victory in Europe) in May of 1945 we along with our allies, the French, British and Soviets divided up Germany into four sectors just as we did with Berlin.  There had been repeated intelligence warnings of possible German underground and guerilla movements that would carry on the fight even after the formal surrender of their armed forces.  There was great concern over the alleged “Werewolves”, alleged Nazis fanatics who would continue the fight in the
Bavarian redoubt of the mountains and the troops were on edge for any perceived threat against them.

The Allies destroyed or took control of all the major weapon systems right away without real problems, the German Navy and submarines were in custody within weeks and all their aircraft and airports were locked down and used only for Allied missions or activity.  Their major equipment like tanks and mobile artillery were likewise seized and rendered harmless.  Besides the Germans had no gasoline or oil to utilize them.  The overwhelming majority of Germans did not offer any resistance after the surrender.  They were more than glad the death and destruction were behind them.

However, as always when you are dealing with millions of people there were some who took a more active and military approach to the occupation.  After all the Nazis like the Baath Party in Iraq had been the top dogs for over a decade.  They had run and controlled everything politically, economically and militarily.  Now they were being hounded and at best driven underground.  We had an extensive De-Nazification program.  The former members were reviewed and either cleared or held for war crimes or denied participation in government and even in the work force, such as there was in the rubble of Germany at that time.   Naturally some Nazis slipped through that system and some even escaped to South America or other regions like the Middle East.   Sounds a lot like the anti-Baath program we administered after  the Iraq invasion.

There weren’t a lot but some former Nazis did take to the battle anew.  There were isolated but real hit and run attacks from them against our troops here and there.  Usually a snipe or a grenade thrown or a few shots fired from a small group and then they were off into the ruble of the German towns.  Between war’s end and 1947 we lost several hundred troops to these attacks.  They never made big headlines at home, there would be a small paragraph on the back pages of the news papers and that was about it.  We caught many of them.  They were given summary trials and the majority were executed right away.  Again, little notice was given to these events.  The French, British and Soviets dealt with the same issues.  The British naturally were more inclined to follow a legal structure to deal with these insurgents.  The French were awfully summary with their captives.   Of course the French would take that approach to redeem their manhood.  They were really tough when dealing with a defeated foe but not quite so valiant when facing a determined enemy.  Since Napoleon they had not been able to defeat anyone except the Italians in battle and that is faint praise. Lord only knows how the Soviets dealt with them, the Iron Curtain was not formal yet but there was certainly no news out of the East except that approved by the Soviets.  They didn’t want anyone to think the people there were anything but completely happy the Soviets had brought “freedom” and an end to the capitalist system to them.  We executed scores of these insurgents during this period plus those of the other Allies. 

There was no CNN or internet to spread any news and there was little or no outcry from even organizations like the ACLU for the “rights” of these ex-Nazis.  They were terrorists and were treated as such by the West in summary fashion.  If a town or village was suspected of supporting them the entire village or town would have its rations and supplies cut off.  Our tro0ps became policemen and they were tough cops on the beat.  The insurgency never got any traction with the ordinary people.  Their country was in ruins and they were literally starving at that point and they knew we were not inclined to be generous with any help or aid.  Yes, we did the Marshall Plan a few years later but that was mostly for France and England and little went to Germany.  Roosevelt had wanted to keep in a backward purely agricultural state after victory.

In Iraq we have been much more politically correct with our approach.  We have worried about world reaction to collateral damage.  During the War no cared about such a thing.  No one moaned of civilian deaths in Germany at Dresden or Hamburg or after the War when they starved in the winters of ’45, ’46 and ’47.  Only when the Soviets pulled the Berlin blockade did they become objects of appreciation because they were a symbol of resistance to the Soviets and Truman initiated the Berlin Airlift.  The Germans did roll up their sleeves though and began the hard slog to rebuild their country.  We warmed to them over time.  They did indeed become our best ally after the British during the heights of the Cold War.  They were Western, not Muslim.  We had a basic cultural connection to them.  What connection do we have with the Muslim world now?  Perhaps if we were only half as tough on the Iraqis and Afghans as we were on the Germans we would be home by now and without promising to rebuild a darn thing. 

Seventy years ago the Battle of Britain had been won by this date.  The victory was not yet apparent but by the 15th of September the Luftwaffe had suffered crippling and mission-destroying losses.  They would attack many more times but there was no longer a danger of invasion by the Nazis.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Foreign Affairs, government, history, military history, Politics, religion, terrorism

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

With all the worries about deflation and inflation floating around at the same time, which seems pretty oxymoronic, we are proud that the price of the jewels of wisdom remain the same.  Thanks, Blackie and here we go:

The recent appearance of the US ambassador at the Hiroshima Peace Day to mark the 65th anniversary of the Atom bomb drop there seems particularly ironic to many older folks.  One would think that we would have wanted to send as our representatives the handful of survivors still living from the Bataan Death March or the survivors of the Jap prison camp at Cabanatuan for the ceremony.   At least that might have put matters in a little better perspective.  Much as some may try to rewrite history  actual facts are a stubborn thing as Reagan observed. 

It is interesting the way we react and over-react to the current events of the day because of the immediacy of communications.  Every event gets blown out of proportion.  Those fires, heat and drought  in Western Russia are a bad thing, but they and the world will survive them.  Mother Nature will return to balance as she always does sooner or later, on her clock, not ours.  Five centuries ago when a similar event might have occurred no one would have known about it.  Only rumors and travelers tales would have carried the news and the reporting would have been sketchy at best but they wouldn’t have suffered the anxiety we thrust upon ourselves with hyperventilating news accounts.

While western Russia burns and fries in the heat, Northwestern China which is a very arid desert area bigger even than the great deserts of the US southwest are getting drenched with rains and floods.  Meanwhile the ice caps in Antarctica have grown the last couple of years.  Go figure.

Kids have these new-fangled skate boards they use all the time.  Seems as though they have fun with them.  Does anyone make their own scooter anymore?  We used to take a 2×4 and a pair of all worn-out skates and knock the couplings off the top of the skate and then screw them into the board.  You attach another 2×4 to the base and viola, you have a home-made scooter.  They weren’t very sturdy and constantly bent or broke and were “in the shop” for repairs as much as we used them but they were fun and our dads were always proud of us for making something with our own hands even if wobbly and ugly.  At least it didn’t come out of a box with instructions written by a Chinese interpreter.

Next time you glance into your rear-view mirror you might want to know where the idea originated.  It is attributed to Eddie Rickenbacker.  He was a famous race car driver in the early days before WWI.  To improve his odds and know when to manoeuver he rigged up a mirror so he could see the race cars coming up behind him.  The idea became a hit.  Later he was our most famous Ace in WWI when he learned to fly.  After that he was President for years of Eastern Airlines and was as survivor of a plane crash in the Pacific during WWII while on an evaluation trip for  the Army.  He and thirteen others out of 14 survived about two weeks in a small life boat with minimal water and food before rescue

Non- students of the Bible and dilettante philosophers often refer to Solomon when they make comments about the benefits and usefulness of wisdom.  What most of them ignore and forget is that it was a gift from God.  Solomon may have been born with potential but when God asked him what he wanted, just like a Genie out of the bottle, Solomon did not ask for riches or power or glory, he asked for wisdom.  God granted his wish. It is a telling episode and worth pondering.  You can read the whole story yourself in II Chronicles.

Too much credit and too easy credit got us into our current financial mess.  We did it to ourselves.  It is amazing how folks don’t like to take personal responsibility for anything.  I know the litany about how it was all Wall Streets fault.  My response is hogwash.  Wall Street can only sell and market what the people are willing to buy.  I doubt anyone had a gun to their head when they took out one of those subprime loans for no money down, or refinanced to get 40 grand from their home equity to buy new cars and plasma screen tvs, or ran up 20 grand on their credit cards for trips to Vegas and pools in the back yard. 

Walter Reuther of UAW fame most be smiling from his grave.  His group finally got their utopia.  The union and their co-conspirators in Washington own the company and the taxpayers are on the hook to feed the beast until the revolution comes.  Weird, but today if you really want to buy American then buy Ford or even Toyota.  Of course you can celebrate with a Volt if you want and on a hot day with the air conditioner and in heavy traffic maybe get only 20 miles before the mandatory over night re-charge limit.  Check it out.  The advertised 40 miles is really only in ideal conditions.  Good luck with that.

It is that time of year for the Perseid meteor shower again.  Just like the returning geese it is always comforting to know that the grand things in life continue on regardless of our petty concerns of the day.  Compared to Mother Nature and God’s grand scheme they do seem petty.  

Next time your hear someone talk about how the Founding Fathers were all Deist and indifferent about religion and Christianity you might wish to recall that Jefferson did his own translation of the Gospels in Greek and Latin.  When he was President he signed his official documents “in the Year of our Lord, Christ 18__”.  I don’t pretend to know the depth of his religious convictions but I have no doubt he held them and believed them important for himself and the nation.

Is there anything more fun than being a fly on the wall and listening to a three-year old talking to themselves when they are playing with their toys?   They can get totally absorbed in the moment.  Don’t you wish your fantasies could so intense?

The giant chemical company, Dow Chemical was started by a Canadian American before the turn of the 20th century.  He first product was so mundane.  He developed the method of extracting Bromine from brine.  Who would have thought such humble beginnings would have led to a NYSE colossus.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Astronomy, business, Culture, Economics, Environment, geography, history, Mother Nature, religion

Getting One-Upped

We have all witnessed at one time or another a situation where someone got one-upped by a competitor, rival or even a friend in a situation.  They thought they had everything wired just the way they wanted it to obtain their desired goal and then, wham, something happened or was said that put them back in their place.  These are usually fairly harmless little events in the course of life but they can provide amusement or education for the observers.    Even the rich and famous have these faux pas on occasion and get left in the dust by another.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

Shortly before D-Day in June of 1944 word by rumor was leaked to Ike that Churchill was planning on being on a British ship off the coast of Normandy.  He wanted to be a on a fighting ship that fired the salvos against the German defenses and be there as the troops hit the beach.  Churchill wanted to smell the cordite in the air and feel the jar of the big guns firing aboard ship and hear the roar and blast of those big guns.  In a word he wanted to be in the “action” with the sailors and troops.  He was in his late 60’s by this time and had been Prime Minister since May of 1940.  He was the Voice of Britain and recognized to have bull-dog tenacity in fighting the War.   Ike was very concerned.  The risk of death or injury to Churchill would be devastating to the Allied cause.

Ike called Churchill and asked him if he did plan to be there on a ship.  Churchill told him yes.  Ike tried to dissuade him from doing that pointing out the obvious danger and the blow to Britain if he were injured or killed.   Churchill was an old Navy man and had been an infantry officer for a short while during WWI and he told Ike it was very important to morale that he be there with the sailors and troops and that this was the most significant event in history and he wanted to be part of it.  Ike went so far as to say he would prevent him from getting on board any ship.  Churchill reminded Ike that he had been First Lord of the Admiralty and he was sure he had enough contacts in the Royal Navy that someone would allow him on board.  Ike still insisted.  Churchill threatened to call Roosevelt and tell him what he was going to do and go over Ike’s head in the chain of command.  Ike responded that he would resign if Churchill was successful in persuading Roosevelt.   They ended the conversation at loggerheads on the issue.

Ike was so concerned that later he placed a call to George VI and told him of Churchill’s plans and told the King that he should not be allowed to do that.  The King told Ike that Churchill was very bull-headed and the King was not sure what he could do.  The King did agree that it was not a good idea for Churchill to be exposed that way to harm.   The conversation ended with no resolution other than the King agreeing it was a bad idea.

Shortly thereafter the King called Churchill and asked what is this he heard about him being on board a ship for the invasion.  Churchill made the same reply to the King as he had to Ike.  He was the leader, it was a historic event and it was important that the sailors and troops knew he was willing  to share the risks with them.  It was a matter of leadership according to Churchill.  They bickered a bit about the question and when the King asked flat-out for a commitment not to go, Churchill demurred and repeated his argument about this importance of the troops knowing he was there with them.

The King then replied that Churchill was right.  It was important for the leaders to be there with the troops to show they were willing to accept the risks with them.   The King then said he should be there too along with Churchill and asked Churchill when they would be boarding ship.  There was a pause on the other line.   Churchill finally replied that the King had made his point.   There was no conceivable way the Prime Minister would expose the King to that danger and he knew if he went he could not force the King to remain ashore in Britain.  Churchill was one-upped by the King.

The recently fired MMS administrator was Elizabeth Birnbaum.  A Havard lawyer who specialized in environmental law and had worked for various government agencies and NGO’s prior to her appointment.  We should have known that would not end well.  How many young Jewish ladies are in engineering school to be petroleum engineers or petroleum geologists at the major universities? One?  I doubt even that.  They should have appointed a good ol boy from Purdue, Okla. St. or Texas A&M who had some experience in the industry.  Someone who knows a little about how they explore for and develop oil and gas wells.  That would be nice for too logical and non-political for the Washington types.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Environment, history, military history, Politics