An American Original – Glenn Campbell

Glenn Campbell
1936-2017

The current over enhanced and emotion deadened noise that passes for modern American popular music has separated us from the power that once was evoked from the marriage of lyric, voice, and musicianship that represented the golden age of music performance and recording.  Self absorbed and over engineered performers play one generic tome after another, calling out mechanical and soulless structure that blend together like musical hoppel poppel ,that leaves as soon as it is digested and extends no decernible satisfaction.  Attempt to recall, to sing, any of the ‘epics’ of the last twenty years and one is left with empty beat and emptier emotions that don’t linger beyond the vapid moment of vague familiarity and oppressive shallowness.

Then Glenn Campbell dies, and memories of musical greatness, like a sudden breach of a whale, or the ecstasy of one who has held their breath for too long under water and first gasps to fill one’s lungs with massive gulps of life giving oxygen,  come to mind.  Glenn Campbell was the holy trinity of performers.  He could sing like an angel. Interpret lyrics to touch one’s very core, and play the absolute hell out of a guitar.  No one who ever heard him failed to be just a little bit in awe of what the country boy from Arkansas was able to do with almost any strand of music.  When Alzheimer’s Disease stole his prodigious talent in 2012, and inevitably silenced him on August 8th, 2017, a ripple across the Cosmic celestial spheres was felt.

Glen Campbell came out of the outer banks of the American Frontier, born just outside the aptly named Delight, Arkansas on April 22, 1936.  His family was musical and Glenn took to the guitar like a fish to water, soon becoming  a participant in some of the family’s musical projects, a polyglot of american backwoods — gospel, bluegrass, and “cowboy” swing.  The teenage Campbell honed his craft in family efforts such as the Sandia Mountain Boys and the Western Wranglers, dipping into the vortex of post world war rural sound that was part Bob Wills  and part Ralph Stanley that would eventually become a force in American music known as Country and Western, with seminal stars such as Hank Williams, Kitty Wells,  Webb Pierce, and Ray Price.  C&W music no only told stories that brought sophisticated reflection to the rural life experience, but also the injection of seriously good musicians, like Chet Atkins and Buck Owens, innovators in both the acoustic and electronic voices of the new recording technologies of the post war world.  A great instrumentalist by the time he was 25, Glenn went in the opposite direction of most country inflected performers, away from Nashville and out to California, where nearly every performer recording in Los Angeles looked to have his tight and elite musicianship backing every album, from the Beach Boys to Frank Sinatra.

The not so hidden secret among studio musicians was that not only could Campbell play, he could sing as good as any performer he backed.  The general public did not discover this until Glenn Campbell discovered the songs of an obscure Oklahoman named Jimmy Webb, who could write as epically as Campbell could sing.  From mid-1967 till mid-1968, Glenn Campbell and Jimmy Webb managed to displace the colossus of the music world, the Beatles, as the world’s greatest selling artist,  with songs such as Galveston, Wichita Lineman, and By the Time I get to Phoenix.

In Jimmy Webb, Glenn Campbell had found his muse, and in Campbell, Jimmy Webb his siren.  The songs matched a profound and dignified humanity to real, everyday people caught in life’s most reflective moments, and Campbell’s perfect 21/2 octave ,innocent and aching, clarion of a voice made the simple words immortal.  Jimmy Webb, America’s greatest baby boomer songwriter and Campbell, America’s troubadour, had careers that lasted decades after, but were forever linked to their brief perfect union.   The two artists had collaborated on music that transcended pop, country, and rock to become indisputably American Music.  Fifty years later, it speaks to us in emotions and reflections as fresh as the day they were borne.

Glenn Campbell became a huge television star, hosting his own show, the Glenn Campbell Good Time Hour, promoting little known acts like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, would revolutionize the staid world of country music in the 1970s and 80s. He starred in movies such as True Grit and Any Which Way You Can, was a regular on Johnny Carson and achieved superstar status with songs such as Southern Nights and Rhinestone Cowboy.

The natural humbleness and boy next door on screen personality, however, could not withstand the typical stresses and attention of uberfame, and Campbell like many artists, lost himself in unstable relationships and substance abuse.  The productivity and quality suffered as well in the 1980s and 1990s until he was eventually able to achieve sobriety and take stock of himself.  A chastened performer in his final decades, he still at times overwhelmed audiences and fellow artists with his off the charts talent. The videos below are a wonderful memoriam to Glenn Campbell’s amazing talent, a man and his guitar wowing some of the biggest names in country with his beautiful honey tinged voice and guitar chops. The horrible prison that is Alzheimers took Glenn Campbell away when he still had so much to give. If you get a moment, turn todays’ pale imitations off, open your mind and absorb some true sensorial pleasure, on what legendary talent in the person of Glenn Campbell was all about.

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Miracle at Dunkirk: Re-Imagining History in the Post History Age

One of the “Little Boats” used at Dunkirk – Imperial War Museum

I recently had the occasion to see Director Christopher Nolan’s cinematic epic “Dunkirk”.  We have been through a period in cinema , depicting heroism relegated to the contrived world of comic super heroes and steroid injected Ubermen,  where courage is universal because personal risk is essentially eliminated.  The real world is altogether different, where courage is usually selfless, with the recognition of one’s mortal being and the randomness and cruelty of destructive fate is ever present.  Nolan has attempted to revert back to old fashioned cinematic concepts of relating historical events, more in line with the effect upon individuals of sweeping and inexorable waves of history.  “Dunkirk” is told in perspective style, in which time is warped to view a simultaneous event from the perception of those on land, on water, and in the air.  Nolan tells everyone’s story on the Dunkirk beach by concentrating on no one’s particular story, instead, relaying a visual masterpiece of surreal beauty, claustrophobic terror, and harrowing visual and audial tension. It is heroism on a human scale, with self preservation in conflict with duty, small gestures raised to epic scope, and helplessness at war with determination.  It is a war epic in classic mode, leaving the seeds of conflict for others to tell, focusing on the innate  human quality of somehow rising to the occasion, forming the mythic foundations of the human story.

Nolan’s epic, though entertaining in both its visual scope and its technical virtuosity, is strangely absent in the critical ingredient needed to attain great cinematic art, the art of telling a mythic event as an engrossing story.  Nolan’s screenplay relates in intimate detail of the overwhelming sense of entrapment and helplessness of the hundreds of thousands of men clinging to the beaches of Dunkirk, but little of the story as to the reasons for their predicament, or of the heroic and determined effort of those who put them there, to get them out.  It is the obvious trap of having to tell a complex story that extends over a week, in the two hours that the movie can relate, that resulted in Nolan determining to leave the tension and heroism in, and the history out.  The result is, despite the brilliance on the screen, one leaves the theater with the story of the “miracle of Dunkirk” seeming vaguely flat and unsatisfying as an epic event.  It is unfortunately the burden of attempting to tell history to a post historical audience, in which the assumption of knowledge of the event and consideration of its importance to our current comfort and security meets  a mostly empty vessel of recognition.  Without presenting the background of the event to the modern audience, now immersed in a world of casual, politically corrected  facts and  extremely limited awareness of history, Nolan has made “Dunkirk” into an entertaining, but at its essence,  simple “disaster” movie, ultimately no more impactful than a characterless Poseidon Adventure.

Dunkirk holds more than enough epic stories to fill a serial movie treatment.  The extent of the looming disaster to western civilization cannot be underestimated.  The relative security and interlude of the ‘Phony War’ of the winter of 1940 came to a sudden and violent end with the Nazi war machine invading Belgium and ultimately France on May 10th, 1940.  Displaying “Blitzkrieg”, the innovative and overwhelming strategy of rapid ground advancement spearheaded with tanks accompanied by devastating air support, the German Wehrmacht achieved in weeks what they could not in 4 brutal years of trench fighting  in WWI, the encirclement of the entire British Expeditionary Force in Europe, along with the residual of the French army, in a small enclave in northwest France.  The only means of escape were the ports, and with the rapid loss of Boulogne and Calais, there was  left only a small salient around Dunkirk, ten miles from the Belgian border.  Over 400,000 British and French forces were bottled up against the coast with diminishing supplies and overwhelming opposition pinching from the flanks.    A near total loss of the critically trained foundation of the British Army was imminent. The developing catastrophe had caused the prime ministership of Neville Chamberlain to fall, with the massive responsibility and enormous consequences of failure now assigned to his replacement, Winston Churchill.  Loss of the expeditionary army of 300,000 men and equipment would likely leave the British homeland prostrate before the multi-faceted superiority of the German war machine.  The future survival of recognizable western civilization lay in the balance.

Pushed against the ocean in Dunkirk, the thousands of men lay inexorably trapped against the artillery from the surrounding enemy and the vicious strafing from the Luftwaffe from above.  The small silver lining was the curious decision of the German forces at the end of May to halt tank advancement against the Dunkirk enclave, believing the surroundings not conducive to tanks due to marshes,  and rely upon the air force to prevent extraction from the sea and devastate the residual force from the air.  This provided a small amount of breathing space for a complex and coordinated heroic attempt to hold off the Germans long enough to evacuate as many as could be evacuated by sea.

Troop evacuations off the beaches at Dunkirk June 1940 – wikipedia

Nicknamed Operation Dynamo, the plan consisted of a  barricade of predominantly French troops to prevent German ground forces from entering Dunkirk while coordinated landings of the bulk of the British fleet at the Dunkirk  port would remove soldiers under the relative security of British air cover.  The evacuations started on the 25th of May, and the onset of the plan was fully realized on the 26th.  The ominous goal of perhaps removing at most,  10% of the trapped troops, 40,000 men, was the hope of Churchill and his planning team.

The difficulty of the plan, both in scope and in diminishing available time, rapidly increased the chaos at the beaches.  Incoming boats with drafts too deep for the shallow waters of the harbor proved inadequate and slow for the process, and were vulnerable to both air attack and u-boat packs, with brutal losses of ships and men.  The inner harbor was soon abandoned  for the outer breakers, or moles, where men could more efficiently organize and board, though no less vulnerable to strafing attack, as harrowingly visualized in the movie. The mythic part of the evacuation was the participation of many British citizen sailors manning hundreds of small craft, known as the “little boats”, including the motorized life boat pictured at the top of this essay.  This motley armada braved seas, minefields, u-boats and strafing aircraft to pick up and deliver home tens of thousands of additional soldiers.

The evacuation routes from Dover to Dunkirk and back –  Route X was laced with minefields and Y with u-boats, but the shortest distance Z was abandoned due to its proximity to German land based artillery. – map by wikipedia

The tremulous dribble of troops out of Dunkirk soon turned into a flood, with at its height as many as 2500 troops an hour evacuated.  By June 4th, in stunning fashion,  over 338,200 British and French soldiers had been rescued and returned to the homeland, to be positioned to help defend the homeland and, maybe one day, reverse the tide against the Germans.

The losses to achieve the ‘miracle at Dunkirk’ were immense. Losses of thousands of defender’s lives, over 100 airplanes and crew, and 226 of 693 participating ships were sacrificed to accomplish the stunning feat. The collapse of the residual French army and the established hegemony over the mass of the European continent by the Nazi dictator was soon achieved.   Churchill recognized the reality in his comments to the House of Commons on June 4th, 1940,  regarding the Dunkirk evacuation:

What has happened is a miracle of deliverance, but we must be very careful not to assign this deliverance the attributes of victory.  Wars are not won by evacuations.”

A movie like Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” provides a ‘you are there’ realism that can be achieved by no other medium.  The movie pulls at your fears and elevates your senses to bring the immediacy of an event alive and current.  What the movie does not do is frame the “how and why” of history, bringing  meaning to sacrifice and perspective as to the outcome.  The immense scope of the endeavor and a nation’s gritty and determined effort to succeed against all odds,  from its leadership on down to the most common of men, is the real survival story of Dunkirk.  The participation of the whole and the sacrifice of blood, sweat and tears for principles that define events such as Dunkirk in the stirring tale of history.  Our post – historical world can only emotionally experience the tragedy of individual loss, too superficially cognizant in their civilization’s history to acknowledge the bounty of human achievement preserved for future generations in such moments.  Our current willingness to be ignorant of history makes us susceptible to emotionally resign to a life of  personal security for the greater intellectual demands of a life of meaning.  Dunkirk reminds us that giving in when there is hope is giving up our humanity.  Across the ocean lies a better future, if we are willing to dream.

 

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Daniel Gerhartz: Reflecting Beauty, Seeking the Sublime

Detail from: To Cherish
Daniel Gerhartz 2017

When  you are good friends with someone with immense talent, your perspective on their accomplishments is sometimes akin, like Icarus,  to flying too close to the sun.  Attracted by the brilliance, you can become blinded to the risk of loss of reflection on what is transpiring.  My friend Daniel Gerhartz, like Daedalus, has carefully treaded the path between craftsmanship and inspiration to develop a prolific body of fine art.  It has been balanced between classical technique and a spiritual core that, as quoted by Waaijman, “aims to recover the original shape of man.”  The art world has already appreciated this careful balance, with awards, museum recognition, and popular acceptance. For the premier artist as craftsman, this is a very comfortable place to be. For an artist who is juxtaposed spiritually to the possibilities of the sublime, a parabola oriented toward the sun beckons.  The evolution of good artists to greatness, to permanence, lies in the eerie tension created in risking the comfortable world,  in search of the transcendent .  The art of Daniel Gerhartz is on path towards recognition of the sublime.

Equally proficient in the art forms of landscape, still life, and portrait, the unifying thread of Gerhartz’s work is Beauty, and he is nonpareil in the human form.  One of the great treatises on the concept of beauty is by Umberto Eco.  He identifies the persistent need to extol beauty in all its forms as a distinctly western concept, and reflects as to how art particularly has recorded the changing view of what is deemed beautiful over the centuries.  In his introduction Eco develops the close but distinct relationship between what is the Good and the Beautiful. Good is defined not only what we like, but what we should like to have for ourselves, as possession, that which stimulates our desire.  Beauty permits us to appreciate it for what it is, immaterial of our capability to possess it.  The Sublime lives in a plane of almost infinite beauty, creating as Schiller stated, a duality where the beauty is recognized as a component of a harmony experienced in the world of reason, but a corresponding negative tension  felt by a pull toward the infinite that exists beyond sensible perception, creating a distinct emotion somewhere between a shudder and  untrammeled rapture.  It is in the Sublime that great representational artists congregate.    Over time, Dan has recognized this historical theme, and learned to weave the various expressions of beauty into an ever more arresting and elevated body of work.

A Gerhartz artistic vision  that is evolving  is the juxtaposition of past representations of beauty as part of a mystical, dream like background relief of a classical still life.  Beautifully rendered in “The Best of June”, the exquisite June blooms of peonies frame a distinct but reflected past  expression of sublime beauty in the painting of Sir Frederic Leighton, “Flaming June” an arresting figure in repose existing in the world between languor and dreams.

The Best of June
Daniel Gerhartz 2016

Following his spiritual bent toward the mystical, inhabited in the earliest of Christian monasticism, the Desert Fathers of the 4th century, the parable of Abba Agathon is brought to life in a modern representation of timeless beauty found in selfless human action. The portrait of strength and spiritual clarity in the young man, the age and frailty of the reliant, old and crippled figure are expressively the technique of an engaged master of painting.

Least of These
Daniel Gerhartz 2016

Experimenting with classical portrait on the iconic medium of gold leaf, the echoes of Degas are reverently expressed in a minimalist style backlighting a beautiful, very classical and very Gerhartz, elegantly realized ballet figure.

Gilded Scarlet
Daniel Gerhartz 2017

The silent and intimate evocation of human love of one sister for another, in portraiture almost as perfect in its tone, proportion, and immediate warmth as can be represented by oil paint, is  expressed in Dan’s “To Cherish”.  Strains of Mary Cassatt in coloration and composition remain modern and arresting — uniquely Gerhartz

To Cherish
Daniel Gerhartz 2017

With several decades of painting behind him, this painter is hitting a creative stride that even those like me, close to him for years, can see coming to full realization of his boundless talent.  Modern representational painting has the enormous responsibility to recall , to build upon,  not to copy,  past expressions of great western art.  We have been through a sullen century of artistic  aversion to the timeless calling of human emotion and expressions of beauty that elevated the appreciation of the reason for human awareness and reflection. This aversion to life’s deeper calling is giving way slowly as modern society feels a progressive need to restore meaning to existence beyond simple material possession and security.  This call to meaning has been the basis for western thought over the past two and a half millennia.  We are wrapped in the need for human interaction, pulsed through creativity, love, courage, and tinged in passion for another. We at the same time inhabit a universe of immense scope, unknowable fate, beyond rational human insight, existing in the sublime realm of faith and spiritual awareness.  The oncoming greatness as a painter expressing a conduit for those two worlds is Dan Gerhartz’s destiny.  All that was, and all that can be artistically, is capably within the current brush strokes of a terrific  American painter, Dan Gerhartz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Crossroads at Gettysburg

Gettysburg National Military Park – wikipedia commons

Today’s society is inwardly directed and struggles to grasp the forces of history that often re-orient destiny.  When the republic was newer, however,  and more attuned to the circumstances and elements of its birth,  most citizens had an acute recognition of the role of action and consequence.  The concept of historical crossroads, a point of time at which the direction of the arc of history is called, was acknowledged by all to be present at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in early July, 1863.  The bitter battle over who owned the correct interpretation of the events of the American Revolution had slogged its way through two years of horrific struggle, but the indeterminate outcome thus far had only sharpened the the intensity of the philosophical commitment to determine the owners of the arc.    As Lincoln so presciently remarked in his ‘house divided’ speech in 1858:

I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided.

It will become all one thing or all the other.

The first six months of 1863 had wetted the appetite of the confederate military leader of the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee, to bring a finality to Lincoln’s epic conceptualization.  Two crushing victories over attacking Union forces at Fredericksburg in December, 1862, and Chancellorsville in May, 1863, had led Lee to dare to visualize a path to ultimate victory, predicated upon a penultimate battle on the Union’s own territory.  Lee saw the Union forces as worn down, divided, and the Union states weary of the devastating cost of battle and indifferent to Lincoln’s vision.  He was confident, and he was wrong, but this particular historical arc required that the question be called and destiny be played out.

The crossroads of history would therefore have a virtual and actual set-piece in the little town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  A unique confluence of actual crossroads and logistical support needs led the massive Union and Confederate Armies to congregate on Gettysburg on the 1st of July, 1863.  Five roads intersected the little town from the north, three from the south through some of the most fertile and prosperous farmland in the world.

July 1 Battle of Gettysburg wikipedia

In a somewhat fortuitous twist of fate, the Confederate army would enter from the north, the Union army from the south.   The initial battles took place north and west of town as Union forces led by General John Reynolds initially contacted and repulsed Confederate brigades at the tip of the spear, but as the mass of General Ewell’s confederate Second Corps arrived, the Union forces were pushed to and through Gettysburg into a defensive position on Cemetery Hill, with the crushingly painful mortal loss of Reynolds to a bullet.   An over-confident Lee, somewhat blinded by the absence of  his ‘eyes’ , the cavalry force led by Jeb Stuart, inadvertently  caught on the wrong side of Union General Meade’s Army of the Potomac, did not recognize the bulk of the Union Army had successfully crossed the Potomac River,  and looked to roll up his union opponents in a devastating piecemeal fashion.  Meade, however, proved infinitely better than his predecessors in mobilizing force and by the morning of July 2nd, had created a ‘fishhook’ defensive line which he was able to reinforce as necessary.

The following two days of battle stand as immortal lore in the discussion of courage, fortitude, devastating loss, and magnificent victory.

The sun rose on July 2nd with Lee striving to develop his ‘role up’ plan with massive attacks to the flanks of the Union army, hoping to crush it upon itself similar to Stonewall Jackson’s attack at Chancellorsville, but Lee had no Stonewall Jackson, as Jackson had been accidentally struck down by one of his own snipers at Chancellorsville at the moment of victory.

July 2  Battle of Gettysburg  – wikipedia

Lee instead relied upon a coordinated attack from General Ewell’s forces upon Culp’s hill to the north, and General Longstreet and Hill from the south against Cemetery Ridge.  This being an era of slow and incomplete communication, no significant coordination ever developed, and the battered Union forces heroically managed to hold against massive and fierce assaults from Longstreet at the Devil’s Den and Little Round Top.  Despite huge losses, the Union lines held and Meade was able to mobilize 20,000 troops to fill the breaches to the defensive line caused by the day’s violence.   All day long, Confederate forces had come within yards of a full breach of the Union flank, with vicious hand to hand combat between individuals and their recognition of the crucial nature of their historical role determining the fate of tens of thousands, and ultimately, the fate of a nation.  On the evening of July 2nd, Lee convinced himself that the Union Army, softened by years of inept and indecisive generalship, would finally crumble under the pressure of pointed overwhelming force aiming to split the Union Army in half and drive through its reserves.  Despite the events of the day, Lee had a prismatic view of the indestructible capability of his troops and their rightful place in Providence, and sought to raise the final call to question of July 3rd.

The crossroads of history weighed heavily across an open field in the early afternoon of an oppressively hot day on the 3rd of July, 1863 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  The terrible, heroic beauty of the specific battle known down through time as Pickett’s Charge have been rendered by Ramparts in 2011, and worthy of a separate read.

July 3 Battle of Gettysburg -wikipedia

General Lee’s vision of the tip of an irresistible force driven to and through a tiny door, at the angle of a low stone wall, was undertaken in the epic form associated with the mythical heroes of the Iliad.  An initial artillery bombardment, designed to create a porous defensive wall was undertaken by Confederate artillery.  The door was to be blown open, and then thousands of troops would then pour through and rout the core of the Union forces and, indirectly the Union state’s morale to continue the war itself.  The artillery barrage, though massive, struggled to concentrate, and much of the damage sailed over the frontline, leaving it intact.  From the concealing trees of Seminary Ridge came Pickett’s ten thousand, across the open field, focused like a laser on the door to victory, and their place in determining the outcome of this crucial crossroad of history.  Once again, in a battle of tens of thousands of surging and seething armies, the tiny angle of a farmer’s stone wall on Cemetery Ridge just past the Emmitsburg Road held a future world of either freedom or servitude in the hands of several hundred men.  Each man on the angle assumed himself the final arbiter, one determined to be invincible, one immovable – and history wavered and heaved in the heat.

In the end the attack was repulsed, and Lee’s view of an unconquerable Confederate force protected by Providence lay in taters, along with the Union Army’s previous sense of Lee’s invincibility as a leader of men.

The crossroads at Gettysburg had led ten thousands of men to an intersecting fate, and thousands of men to their deaths.  The largest armies that had ever faced across a battle field on the North American continent, had resulted in the largest number of casualties ever suffered on the North American continent, over 50,000 for the combined armies over the course of the campaign.

On the nation’s birthday, July 4th, 1863,  the call to question –  a house divided against itself cannot stand — combined with the conclusive victory of General Grant at Vicksburg on the very same day,  was answered affirmatively and indisputably on the side of individual freedom.  The war would go on for two more long years, with much sorrow and loss to come, but the verdict of history would never be in question again for this uniquely American arc.

We face our current July 4th with a population versed on the day being a holiday of fireworks and picnics, but with little connectivity to the unique fundamentals of individual liberty birthed on that specific day in 1776, or dramatically and heroically sacrificed for in 1863.  A physical battle is not what is wanting in this country.  Rather it is an intellectual one, based on individuals versed on what is at stake with every won freedom, overcoming those who are blithely ignorant of what is irretrievably lost in their self absorbed drive toward passivity and security.

On this 4th of July, enjoy the fireworks and friends, but take some personal time to absorb all that has come before and help to make the amazing country we inhabit today.  Grab a copy of a founding document, and take a minute to digest its profound wisdom.  There is no room for a house divided.  We all inhabit the same house of freedom.

 

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A Republic – If you can keep it…

Gaius Julius Caesar is assassinated in the Roman Senate

 

Upon deliberating and formulating in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a mechanism of governance for the ages,  Benjamin Franklin left Independence Hall in Philadelphia.  Stopped on the steps by a well wisher, he was asked about the outcome of the secretive deliberations.  “Well Doctor, what have we got?  A Republic or a Monarchy?”  The circumspect Franklin thoughtfully responded, “A Republic….If you can keep it.”

Benjamin Franklin was fully aware of the fragile tenets upon which self governance, the rarest of human societal structures through history, rested.  Having the opportunity to develop a republic from scratch after a providential victory over the strongest military on earth, Franklin was under no illusions as to the longevity of such an undertaking if the baser human emotions took over from the agreed upon foundations of a democratically led governance.

Yet, the republic has indeed stood for 228 years from the day the Constitution became law, and the world’s oldest continuous democracy took root.  Its careful balance of the rights of citizens and the limitation of government, protected by an innate understanding as to the role of free speech in the form of civil discourse and the rule of law as represented as blind to bias, linked inextricably to objective truth,  has  led to the exalted position of the United States as a beacon of freedom and stability so many years from birth.

Now we sit at a time where the hubris about the gift of self rule is equally matched by the ignorance of the role each individual must play in the maintenance of the compact that preserves a healthy, functioning republic. Examples abound.  The congress is back to building laws in secret to avoid the difficulties an open forum of discussion provides. The president is back to accomplishing changes by diktat. The deep state leaks to subvert the elected will of the people, to harass and damage those that would upset the applecart.  Free speech is considered a weapon that risks upsetting entrenched interests that have re-imagined the American story into one of victim groups and predators.  Elections are to be manipulated to make sure the accepted side wins.  Justice is imbued with the mission to reorder law through interpretation, not to find justice in the objective truth.  The press has become an arm of propaganda, seeing events in the shades of pre-ordained opinions and prejudices, turning facts on edge and subverting measured thought and appropriate rationalizations.  Reason has been trampled by emotion, and violence as an acceptable alternative to any compromise.

The events of the past week, where a premeditated attempt to assassinate multiple representatives of congress because of their political philosophy, couldn’t maintain a first page position in any news outlet for more than 24 hours shows how far we have fallen in our understanding of the threat every day to this most fragile of gifts, self governance.  We are in danger of losing Franklin’s republic, and the people who are pushing it over the edge are ignorant of what they would have lost, and arrogant in their ignorance of what would transpire if they get their way.

The self righteous senators who convinced themselves that by assassinating Julius Caesar they were preserving their position as the elite representatives of Roman society, found themselves instead to have permanently destroyed the republic that had given them their exalted position. By killing their Caesar, they brought upon themselves a hundred more.

It is proving progressively hard to guard the ramparts of a civilization that has presumed itself unworthy of guarding.  Et tu?

 

 

Posted in CULTURE, HISTORY, POLITICS | 1 Comment

The War Comes to the Homefront-And the Strategy Is…

 

The most telling sign of the horrendous events of  London of the past few days that we as a society have begun to accept such horrors as the status quo, is  the recommendations of the constabulary.  Faced with the sudden and savage assault of terrorists bent on untrammeled, random murder and havoc, the metropolitan police of London recommended the latter of the ancient human physiological response to extreme stress, fight or flight.  A few brave citizens did not get the war plan and threw chairs, bottles, and whatever they could get their hands on in an effort to put up a defense.  The laws that specify that law abiding citizens in England should be unarmed leads to the need to find temporary artillery with temporary stopping power.  The highly restrictive gun laws assume that small firearms are dangerous weapons and the public needs to be protected from itself.  In the case of the helpless citizens of London under attack, the weaponless society as usual exposes the innocent law abiders to the fact that the attacking wolves are assuming the lambs are undefended.  The death toll of 7 dead and 21 critically injured may very well have been unavoidable with a different set of circumstances, such as conceal/ carry as in the United States. But the effect of knowing the immediate response of the citizenry is fight rather than flight, might bring the first hesitations to the next jihadist who  sees an easy prey for their fantasy of the power of death over the innocent.

The United States, though having a unique Bill of Rights that secures in the Second Amendment, a right to bear arms, has a similar aversion to the presence of firearms available for defense in public buildings.  The typical sign fronting essentially every arena, hospital, school and theater is the proud sign securing for the illegal gun carrier or person bent on public slaughter is that the law abiding people and and security personnel will be the ones who will be disarmed.  If one studies the worst of the gun violence statistics in the United States it is the ubiquitous presence of illegal firearms in cities with the tightest of gun restriction laws.  As usual, the criminal or prospective terrorist cares not a wit for the law, only its effect to leave those with something to lose with no means of protecting themselves.  Though, there is …run, hide, and tell.  Not exactly the pronounced societal retort immortalized for all free societies in the response of the brave citizens of Flight 93.

I am not trying to make a ludicrous argument that society’s gun laws have anything to do with the horrific tragedies we are facing in western society today regarding Islamist terror. The ‘losers’ as President Trump so aptly called them are not likely to be deterred in their willingness to do violence.  But we have to be more upfront in our willingness to defend ourselves and make it known we will not cower passively into the dark night. Deterrence is clear when a society declares itself ready to defend, and ready to dispatch the murderers where they stand.  We are a free people, and we will not run and hide. Freedom is not a privilege our governments defend for us, it is our right to defend for ourselves.  It is time for western governments not to run interference for these scoundrels, but seek them out and send them back to places where they won’t have to worry so much about despising a free civilized society.  If these governments don’t, don’t be surprised if people restore the proper balance to fight or flight, and become one with their own physiology.

 

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Venezuela: The Dream State Becomes a Nightmare

Venezuela : Socialist Utopia begins the inevitable process of turning on its own
photo attrib: Christian Veron Reuters

In 1921, the brutal Russian Revolution originally born in 1917, first, to overthrow the Czarist rule and subsequently, the nidus of a social democratic structure, was coming to a climax.  The Red Army, infused with the radicalist furor of the Bolsheviks, had nearly completely eradicated the White Army, a loose collection of monarchists, non-bolshevik democrats, and militarists that stood as a viable option to the installation of a utopian  manifesto facing the ever suffering Russian people.  Like all Socialist ‘dream-states’, the Revolution was predicated in convincing the mass of people of the coming egalitarian utopia, and ignoring the means of creation, a top down elite dominance over a servile proletariat, demanded of all utopian structures.  Two organized groups began to realize their view points, as part of their cooperation with the overlords in the Bolshevik structure, were no longer valued.  Faced by the severe consequences of communist rigidity in the economy, the soldiers, sailors and citizens that had taken up the mantle of revolution, now asked the revolution to respect their needs.  A rebellion against the overlords ensued, called the Kronstadt Rebellion.  The millions of peasants of Ukraine, the breadbasket of the developing Soviet structure, objected to the forced requisition of foodstuffs without any return or support of local needs.  The response from above was ruthless; the peasant response was to defend themselves against the theft of their labors, by forming the Green Army.  The result of asking for the egalitarian provision of the resources and bounty of the state as outlined in the Marxian manifesto?  The total crushing of both groups to secure the dominance of the overlords. The Revolution eats its own last, but inevitably.

The one hundred years since the revolution on Marxist ideals first succeeded on the planet have been littered with the same reality of socialism deviating from its theoretic idealized form, over and over and over.  The recruitment of the poor and dispossessed by leaders proclaiming a utopia denied by a capitalist elite.  The progressive recruitment of the nation’s resources and power into the hands of a few elite who claim a special objectivity and principled  character that allows them to make the crucial decisions for the masses. The hero worship idealizing the leaders that permit like minded elitists in other country to exult upon their idealism, and ignore their minder’s corruption.   The eventual collapse of the agreed upon interactions that maintain civilized human behavior.  The collapse of the compact between the governed and the governing – and the inevitable brutal clash where only one societal construct can remain standing — the oppressors or the oppressed.

From Russia to China, Laos to Cambodia, North Korea to Uganda, and Cuba to , now, Venezuela – the socialist revolution eventually eats its own.  the saddest stupidity in the never ending tragedy of injecting the ideal socialism of academic treatises into the real life consequences of human society, is that elites of the world continue to observe its successive failure as an example of the lack of purity of commitment and the nefarious undermining of individuals seeking “advantage” over others.  Never mind the millions of murdered, starved, imprisoned, and oppressed in the gulags of the Soviet State, the death camps of Cambodia, the starvation of the Korean masses, the slaughter of the Chinese middle class by the Red Guard.

Now, the world turns it’s lonely eyes to Venezuela.  The emerald country of South America sits upon the world’s largest oil reserves, a bottomless piggy bank to fund any conceivable socialist agenda for its  31 million citizens.  With the nationalization of the oil industry, Hugo Chavez secured the financial means of building the infra-structure lionized in socialist lore. “Free” health clinics and hospitals. Universal education.  Planned economy.  Expansion of government direction into every societal and individual decision.  The oil piggy bank also filled the coffers of the elite — making millionaires out beholden military leaders and judges, and billionaires out of the Chavez family.  the Chavez mystique was imprinted everywhere in Venezuela – the ‘fatherly” advice for his children, the Venezuelan poor, on television talk shows, the posters extolling his far sightedness in schools and buildings across the country.  For a while, the socialist ideal was artificially propped up.

The world’s leftist elites, enthralled with yet again another potential example of the superiority of marxist principles (they themselves would never accept the yolk of), flocked to this newest latest savior from capitalist reality.  The “charismatic” Chavez – socialist dictators always have to be “charismatic” to excuse their totalitarian instincts (as in the “charismatic” Castro or “charismatic” Mugabe) — unfortunately did not count upon the great equalizer. cancer, that would abort his life time appointment to lead his nation’s socialist revolution.  At the occasion of his funeral, the celebrity elites opined upon his ‘great father’ role for Venezuela.  Michael Moore – “Hugo Chávez declared the oil belonged 2 the ppl. He used the oil $ 2 eliminate 75% of extreme poverty, provide free health & education 4 all. That made him dangerous”.  Sean Penn – “I lost a friend I was blessed to have. My thoughts are with the family of President Chávez and the people of Venezuela. Venezuela and its revolution will endure under the proven leadership of vice president  Maduro.”  Oliver Stone – “I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people and those who struggle throughout the world for a place. Hated by the entrenched classes, Hugo Chávez will live forever in history. My friend, rest finally in a peace long earned.”

The great father Chavez in death turned the whole cabal into the hands of Nicholas Maduro, who made sure to continue the unique brand of hero worship, corrupt oligarchy, and the permanent stoking of the resentment of the poorer classes.  Unfortunately, the conversion of a difficult to control diverse economy into one 93% driven by oil and petroleum product receipts,  reached its nadir with the collapse of oil prices, in 2014.  The United States had discovered fracking, and suddenly the OPEC countries faced the sullen reality of capitalist competition.  In Venezuela, there was not enough money left to bribe all the officials, subdue the black market, and provide for essential goods.  Inflation destroyed people’s meagre savings, and essential goods — food stuffs, medicines, even petrol — dried up.  The not so charismatic Maduro packed the court and attempted to shut down the Assembly, jailed his opposition, paid off more aggressively the military, even began to form para-military fascist groups — the colectivo — to harass and cower the population.

Now, Venezuelans live the life of the socialist oppressed.  There is nothing to eat, nothing to fight disease, and progressively, no hope, whether you were once rich, or poor.  The elite cabal Maduro runs cannot let go, because they would  face the full fury of the enraged population.  The junta must fight the citizens, the citizens must fight back and the country progressively descends into hell.  The socialist virus must find another host to infect as this one is almost dead.

As Venezuela must endure its inevitable collapse throwing  off the socialist yoke, and its equally painful rebirth, the elites of the world, particularly the profound hypocrites that live in free market and free expression societies, will of course avert their eyes.  They will revert to lambasting their own bountiful providence, and work toward the socialist virus infesting itself deeper into the American host.  When Maduro falls and the country is adrift with parasitic warlords like Libya, or an even more terrible junta takes his place, the leftist elites will sigh, and look for the next carcass.

If only Chavez had been a little more pure, a little more stalwart….too bad.  It appears Venezuela wasn’t a worthy dream-state after all.

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Matador

attrib photo:www.dailymail.com

The matador lives in a world of complete peril, using concentration and will to exist in a very dangerous space where a beast infinitely more powerful then himself looks for any sign of weakness or fear to destroy him.   The matador gets the juice of having survived the closest of encounters threatening complete destruction.  The beast knows it has to make the most of this encounter, because as long as the matador lives on, the beast’s fate is sealed.

Donald Trump has lived his life assuming himself to be a supreme matador, but for every matador there is inevitably the reality of having made one careless assumption too many.  Last week was a perfect example of such carelessness.  The firing of FBI Director Comey and the ham-fisted communication, particularly the President’s incredibly undisciplined mouth, has lead the beast, the nation’s incestuous  partnership of established media and the its political arm, the Democrat Party, to believe its about to find its way around the capote de brega.  A long standing press tradition of seeing Democrat Party actions as righteous, but at times unaware, and Republican Party actions as anti-societal, and at times criminal, has once again reached hyper-agitated state.   Convinced that a President who on the campaign trail bragged he was willing to treat Russia “differently” , was the codeword for traitorous collusion,   sees the firing of the nation’s chief investigative officer the blunt tool of a cover-up. And boy does the media love Republican inspired cover-ups.

Trump, like a self confident matador unaware of his own sloppy preparation, thinks his limited tools of bluster and distraction will fool the beast one more time.  Maybe so.  The blood lust of the beast has its own overbearing certitude that made it possible for a complete neophyte like Trump to succeed in the arena of public opinion in the first place.  The public though superficially repelled by matador Trump’s clumsy ‘Tanda‘ technique, remain enthralled with the sheer blissful self confidence of the matador to engage such an unequal foe.

The success of the matador is inevitably based on the internal discipline and intelligence, to recognize what is possible and not possible in close proximity with the bull.   Trump’s tendency to see the world in black and white, those loyal to him and those not, may lead to further blind spots, that may place him in the perilous and vulnerable state more in tune with being the mortally injured but angry bull then the capable matador.

FBI Director Comey kept confusing his role to function as prosecutor rather than investigator, placing himself multiple times into the center of the narrative, rather than the dispassionate deliver of evidence to prosecutors whose role is to determine whether crimes have been committed.  From his ridiculous press conference of July 5th,  2016, in which he went into extraordinary detail as to candidate Hillary Clinton’s multiple law infractions regarding her private server, destruction of e-mails, and pathetic management of classified information as chief foreign officer of the land, only then to state that he had determined the actions showed extreme carelessness, but did not rise to the level of a crime, Comey showed himself to be incongruous to his position, and should have been fired then by President Obama.  Comey now sees himself as the public servant who has been blamed for the effort to be impartial.  Certainly, as Ramparts has discussed before, a true public servant who sees that his own principles have been compromised by others, has the appropriate option of resignation available to them — but Comey,  like most modern public servants, has enjoyed the spotlight, perks and power too much to avail himself of the dignified  and principled approach.

President Trump, whose communication style reminds one of a pinball on a pinball machine, responding and reacting in completely random fashion to every obstacle, buffeted by the combination of impacts, creates the environment for his own failures.  He is likely to respond to the current criticism by doubling down, with more disconnected thoughts and ridiculous tweets, that make him feel like he is fighting back, but undermine  further any constructive way out of the morass.  At some point if he is to survive his own amateurish indiscipline,  he is going to have to define an executive council of political and legal advisors around him that he listens to and respects, rather than a group of people that through their leaks appear as undisciplined and bombastic as their boss.

The Russia connection is a meme propped up by a Democrat Party unable to recognize their radical left persona has lead them to be abandoned by the electorate, and a press consumed with the glory that could come from ‘exposing’ another Republican Watergate.  The goal is to force the matador into a corner, distract him as long as possible to prevent any success, than go for the fleshy core beneath the capote, and strike to kill.  This matador   may provide them with his own sword for a self induced  estocada.  If the president cant get his act together and find some discipline, the press will have its glory, the Democrats the restoration of their assumed position as the anointed elite to manage the country’s inevitable controlled decline, and the nation, its best last chance to restore the unique balance of competence, accomplishment,  and individual freedom and fortitude that once made this country unique and great.

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The Last Raider

A Doolittle Raider Mitchell B-25B bomber leaves the deck of the USS Hornet April 18, 1942

In the lead plane, the fuselage visibly shook as two massive engines strained against the restraints, driving rpms sufficient to create the escape velocity needed to lift the fuel and munition laden bomber across and safely off the short 500 feet of flight deck available to them on the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.  In the co-pilot seat sat Richard Cole, a 27 year old Army Air Corps pilot picked by his squadron leader Lt. Colonel James Doolittle, who likely gave him a brief nod in the noisy cockpit as the time to accept history was upon them.  No real time for nerves.  15 bombers and 75 crewmen behind them, waiting restlessly for them to clear.  Waiting since December 7th, 1941, to show the Empire of Japan the United States was wrong country to pick a fight with.

After the catastrophic surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States and allied powers were reeling from a well supplied and well trained imperial Japanese force trained in the most modern equipment and imbedded with the most ancient martial ardor. Ruthless and efficient, the Japanese spiraled into the South China Sea imperiling the Philippines, with a  tendril of American force clinging to Corregidor.  The strategic thinkers in Tokyo strove to convince the Americans and British that their destiny in resistance was in ignominious defeat, and they convinced themselves and their population that the battle would be fought on foreign lands away from the sacred homeland.

The Americans had their own psychology to worry about.  The greatest economic force in the world was well over a year away from adequate force projections against such a difficult foe, and it was not clear how long the American public would be able to tolerate defeat after defeat.  The goal after Pearl Harbor by American strategists was to eliminate the aura of Japanese invulnerability, and crack the fantasy of superior racial  will and capacity for sacrifice for the Emperor.  The Japanese had shocked the Americans with a complex and massive multi carrier strike across 3000 miles of ocean destroying a large part of the American navy at Pearl Harbor.  How could the Americans now with no functioning battleships, and 4 overstretched carriers possibly achieve a similar psychological blow?  The answer was divined By Lt. Colonel James Doolittle who almost immediately after Pearl Harbor envisioned a means of carrier projection that would strike the Japanese homeland itself and achieve an equally stunning psychological impact.  The crazy idea was not to risk the few carriers the Americans had in a suicidal mission involving fighters and dive bombers with short flight capability that would require the carriers to enter Japanese waters and almost certain overwhelming  defenses.  No, the crazy idea was to do something everyone thought essentially impossible, to use the carriers from longer distances and launch heavy bombers that would strike the mainland of Japan and have sufficient fuel capacity to continue to China, and land…. Crazy.

Doolittle, a test pilot and engineer, first proved on land he could take off on an extremely short runway on land then proved it on a carrier.  The mission would require bombers to fly as much as 2400 nautical miles to complete the mission, but nothing mattered if the fully armed planes could not even get off a flight deck.  With modifications, Doolittle had found his plane, the Mitchell B 25B midrange bomber, and in the three months since Pearl Harbor sufficiently modified it to achieve the concept of the mission.   President Roosevelt, willing to try anything to gain a foothold with the American public in a sea of bad news, approved the mission,  and the meticulous process of picking crews that were willing to try something never done before on a one way mission with no direct home of return was left to Doolittle.  80 men eventually formed Doolittle’s 17th bomber squadron, and on the second of April left the Alameda Naval Station loaded on the USS Hornet for the long trek across the Pacific.

The plan was to get sufficiently close to Japan to allow the fuel necessary to safely land in China, but on the morning of the 18th of April, the task force was spotted by a Japanese scout ship, and Doolittle and the Hornet captain, Mark Kitscher, determined to launch the bombers given the loss of the element of surprise, despite being a full 10 hours earlier and 170 nautical miles further out than planned.  The Hornet was turned into the wind.  Doolittle piloting the lead plane, and the 15 bombers behind Doolittle and Cole then accomplished the impossible in 40 minutes, all successfully launching a munitions laden bomber from a carrier flight deck, though none of them had ever done it before, or would do it again.  Flying low to evade detection, over six hours of nerve wrenched flying were required to reach the target,  Tokyo, but the insane nature of the attempt contributed to the Japanese complete surprise, and the bombers rose to 1500 feet  and managed to strike the heart of the Japanese empire, Tokyo with over 2000 pounds of incendiary  bombs each.  The physical damage was relatively minimal, but the psychological damage to the Japanese was immense.  It was clear that America had determined that the pain of war would be felt on the Japanese mainland from the war’s very start,  and an ominous hint of what was to come,  entered the Japanese psyche.

The brief glory of the successful raid rapidly turned to desperation for the flight crews as their realized the increased distance required to fly by the early launch had stolen their fuel reserves.  Some managed to reach the Chinese mainland into the hands of allied forces, but others had to ditch into the sea, and one crew was force to abandon their plane on Russian soil.  Of the original 80, 69 escaped capture or drowning, 3 were killed in action, and 3 others were eventually executed by vengeful Japanese forces.  Doolittle and Cole were among the 69 to return, and were among the pilots would fight again, and contribute to the eventual massive air destruction of the Axis powers.  Doolittle would receive the Medal of Honor and military immortality,  and Cole the Distinguished Flying Cross and the pride of a job well done.

Which brings us to Richard Cole, the co-pilot of Doolittle’s lead plane on the Tokyo raid, who stood at 101 years of age on April 18th 2017, the last survivor of the those heroic airmen who 75 years ago achieved the first blow against Japan in a mission so impossible no ever tried it again.  Every year after the war to celebrate their accomplishment, the men of the 17th bomber squadron would get together on the anniversary and toast their fallen comrades. A stand filled with upright goblets, upon which each goblet was etched with the name of a surviving raider, was placed in the room, and as time took crew members, each was toasted with cognac, and the goblets of the fallen were successively overturned.   With each decade the numbers of upright goblets grew fewer and fewer, and the group’s mortality was etched for all time when Doolittle’s goblet was turned over in a toast to their fallen leader in 1993.  By 2016, there were just two left, Cole and 94 year old David Thatcher, and on June 22, 2016, Richard Cole was the last man standing.  On April 18th, 2017, the final goblet remains upright, and it has become Richard Cole’s destiny, to be the Last Raider standing.

The men and women of the magnificent generation that braved all to save the world from a dark, soulless future are rapidly leaving us forever. They are now only faint memories in faded photographs, flickering newsreels, and history books.  But everything they were, they always will be,  as they faced true madness and through heroic sacrifice and personal will, gave us all one more chance at a better world.  To all the World War II veterans, from Richard Cole, to my own father, God Bless you and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Oh, how you soared like eagles.

Oh, how you soared.

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It Gets Syria-ous

USS Ross fires tomahawk cruise missile towards Syria                                                      washingtontimes.com Robert S. Price/ U.S. Navy via AP

 

Its been fun and games for opponents and media deriding the inexperienced Trump administration’s floundering around as the new President has adjusted to the massive difference between being an outsider deriding leaders for their actions or inactions, and being the leader of the world’s most powerful nation and head of the world’s most demanding bureaucracy.  The President has been his own worst enemy becoming fixated and pitching conspiracy theories in a badminton match with opponents regarding Russian influence and spying, while simultaneously driving a premature health care process into a political muddy rut.  The difficulty of having a tradition of gut instinct for decision making rather than a carefully developed principled philosophy has made the President look disorganized and reactionary.  His opponents on either side of him, a position he created himself by suggesting he was the ultimate ‘outsider’, are circling like vultures over an assumed terminally injured animal.

This past week however the job suddenly got serious, and the President, under estimated every step of the way thus far, is showing himself to be tenacious if not a quick study.

The hardest skill to learn for any president is the ability to project themselves as commander in chief of an unbelievably powerful weapon, the US military, without committing the force into a role antithetical to its purpose.  It requires real dexterity and recognition of the levers and dangers of escalation, when the country’s vital interests are not directly at risk.  Do nothing, and the enemy sees only a paper tiger and a corrupted and dithering power.  The puny response of President Clinton in the face of Osama Bin Laden’s massive provocation with the embassy bombings and the attack on the USS Cole led to the Al Qaeda leader’s confidence that his movement could survive a 9/11 response.   Do too much and the Powell Doctrine of “you broke it, you own it” becomes an ominous trap for any President.  Iraq and Libya come to mind.

Syria has proved to be a Petri Dish for both modes of superpower involvement.  The Russians have inserted themselves in the center of the conflict, resulting in any failure of survival of the dictator Assad being a direct reflection upon their abilities, and being splattered with the casual brutality of the same dictator.  Assad, a survivor like his father, recognizes that for dictators who are clinging to power, no force vector is too horrible to retain that power.  Assad looks to chemical weapons (curiously presenting after Saddam Hussein’s stockpile disappeared) as the ultimate nondiscriminatory terror weapon of intimidation.  Having used them previously, Assad faced a President in Obama who drew a red line,against their use, putting his country’s very prestige and resolve on the line,  that in humiliating fashion a week later he withdrew and did nothing, fearing a quagmire he had no intention of risking.  The message was clear – Assad need only give Obama a superficial out, and the President would leave him alone.  A Potemkin village agreement to “remove” chemical weapons from Syria was promised by Assad.  Obama pretended he had solved the problem, to the extent that as recently as January of this year, his buffoonish National Security Advisor Susan Rice bragged about how Obama had achieved the elimination of such weapons from Syria.   Assad knew Obama would do nothing, and was willing to use them again, this time under the nose of a new president who as a private citizen disparaged President Bush for drawing red lines with Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Citizen Trump and President Trump may well not be the same person, and this week the world took notice.  The President showed real skills in this week when the game got serious. Consider the balancing act.  The irrational despot dictator of North Korea Kim Jong Un shot a ballistic missile off, threatening Japan and the United States with an impending ability to secure a nuclear warhead on a rocket that could reach either nation.  Trump had to respond, and sent advanced weaponry to South Korea including B-52’s, having his Secretary of State announce that the US policy of strategic patience regarding such belligerence from North Korea had ended.  But was that just typical empty bluster from the US?  Assad took the signal to test Trump himself with the horrid chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun with Sarin gas, resulting in torturish deaths of scores of men women and children.  On Thursday Trump declared the action a crime against humanity, and responded promptly with a lethal measured fist full of ominous portent, blasting the airfield in Syria where the planes carrying the gas attack had based, while simultaneously meeting with the Chinese President regarding his seriousness confronting North Korea’s threat.  A powerful message reverberated throughout the world.  This President wasn’t blustering.  The North Koreans knew the Syrian bombs were symbolically pointed at them.  Assad’ s partner the Russians, realized their hegemony in Syria was at an end.  Assad reacted but knew his partners the Russians were going to not be happy with further escalation.   The Chinese, who have supported the increasingly deranged Kim dynasty in North Korea for the buffer it achieves against having a successful capitalist democracy being established on their border, took note that Trump would not use empty rhetoric, should the Chinese want to test him in either North Korea or the South China Sea.  The Syrians realized the next event would potentially end the dictator’s residual chance to stay in power.  The Iranians from a distance realized the next provocative act in the Straights of Hormuz against US ships may not be passively accepted.  The allies of the US appreciated the superpower had awakened from its lethargy.

Now that’s Exhibit#1  how you play the serious game.

The media hoped to control narrative to paint Trump as unhinged and somehow responsible for the refugee disaster in Syria, but the clarity of Trump’s approach resonated in profound ways that flummoxed the reflexive liberal media that always assume their superficial view of the world and the negativity regarding the U.S.’s role in it is shared by everybody.

The mess on the foreign stage that has been left to this President is going only get more serious, but at least, the world has been made aware, there’s a new sheriff in town.  The sound you are hearing from many parts of the world, is a quiet sigh of relief.

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