Turn of The Last Century Tela Honduras

What an amazing Saturday afternoon treat one of my friends offered me in an email, and I thought I would share it with you. I just adore old photographs. They stir so much wonder and imagination within me. The old photos always stress the fact that pictures are tiny slices of moments out of time, with the viewer tasked to build context around them. My friend says these photos were taken by the VP of a bank based in New Orleans during that time, and has graciously given me permission and information to make them into a post for Babalu, and I thank him. So, let’s just call this a “guest post”. (I’ve dropped the rest of the photo groupings below the fold.)

These photographs were taken at the turn of the 20th century roughly in the early 1900s in Tela Honduras. I have edited out the personal identification and information parts of the email by request…

[…] New Orleans was essentially the center for trade with the Caribbean, Central and South America at the time […]

Notice the use of conveyor belt to load bananas onto the ship, this was a new invention at that time.

FYI, United Brands (now part of Dole) owns a lot of property near the mouth of the Mississippi River. […] To this day, New Orleans (most live in its suburb of Kenner) has the largest concentration of people of Honduran decent in the U.S.

Follow photo grouping captions clockwise from top left of each…

Tela Honduras 29

29 – Catholic Church, Manaca Hut in the bush, native town, dugout canoe “cayuca” from single mahogany log, method of handling fruit

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A Thatcher remembrance

Conrad Black in The New York Sun remembers Margaret Thatcher:

[…] When large chunks of her parliamentary party lost their nerve over her free-market economics — a reduction of the top personal income-tax rate to 40 percent, elimination of all currency controls, massive privatization of industry, and right-to-work laws to remove the terror of the labor leadership — she famously told her party conference: “U-turn if you want; the lady’s not for turning.” She was a rock-solid supporter of the Western Alliance and was instrumental in the balanced elimination of intermediate-range missiles in Europe and the satisfactory end of the Cold War. She is generally credited with assisting President George H. W. Bush in determining that Saddam Hussein had to be evicted from Kuwait: “George, this is no time to go wobbly.” She made Britain the fourth economic power in the world, after the U.S., Japan, and Germany, made her prosperous and a low-tax country with declining public debt, improving public services, and steady trade surpluses. As she promised, she restored “Great” to Great Britain. It was, to scale, Elizabeth I’s Gloriana, without Shakespeare to publicize it, and with more than a trace of the Churchillian courage and virtue that first attracted her to a Conservative candidacy under Churchill’s leadership in 1950 and 1951.

She formed her judgment of Germany when the Luftwaffe (in what must rank as one of the greatest long-term strategic blunders of World War II) bombed the town of Grantham, where teenage Margaret Thatcher lived. And she formed her opinion of Americans from the U.S. servicemen, black and white, whom she and her family invited home for dinner after the wartime Sunday services in her local Methodist church. She was always grateful for America’s deliverance of the old world from the evils of Nazism and Communism, always supported the right of Israel to survive and flourish as a Jewish state, and never went cock-a-hoop for sanctions against what she called “the evil and repulsive” apartheid regime in South Africa, because she did not “see how we will make things better by making them worse.” She was a practical person of unswerving principle. […]

Ten Years Ago Today…

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My friend tank commander U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. (Ret.) Nick “Gunny Pop” Popaditch reminds us (from his Facebook page) 10 years ago today the U.S. Marine Corps rolled into Baghdad, Iraq …

10 years ago in Baghdad. Great Day. Cpl Eddie Chin, MSgt Leon Lambert, Cpl Reilly, and Doc Rose tore down Saddam in Firdos Square. First small step in long journey to liberation for the Iraqi people. First day of a new alliance with a new free Iraq. End of Saddam Regime and Baath Party control. Symbol of victory over Republican Guard. Great job, Marines. Glad I had a good view. — with Edward Chinand Leon Lambert — with Edward Chin and Leon Lambert in Baghdad, Iraq.

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… and the rest is history.

Later in battle “Gunny Pop” would lose an eye. Since retiring from the Corps he has made attempts to run for political office in California.

Thanks again to Nick, the Marine Corps, the Army, Navy, Air Force, and all who served. We won’t ever forget.

FDR and the Holocaust

Two excellent articles on American Thinker about the Hero of the Dems, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his subtle anti-semitism. First, a recollection by Edward Bernard Glick, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Temple University:

Eleanor Roosevelt talks about her husband and the Holocaust

April 19 will mark the 70th anniversary of the uprising of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. That date always reminds me of 1958 when Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, told me about her husband and the Holocaust.

We were both NGO (Non-governmental Organization) representatives to the United Nations and to the US Mission to the United Nations. She represented the American Association for the United Nations and I represented the American Jewish Congress.

Because she was the most distinguished member, she also chaired the NGO umbrella group. During one of our luncheons, around the time of the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, we discussed the Holocaust. When my turn came to pose a question, I asked her why her husband — whom Jews revered then as much as they lionize President Barack Obama now — never ordered Allied pilots to bomb the railroad tracks leading to and from the Nazi death camps. I speculated that had he done so, he would have slowed the slaughter.

I wasn’t sure that Mrs. Roosevelt would reply to an implied criticism of her husband, but she did […]

Next, a follow-up that delves a little deeper:

This morning at AT, Professor Emeritus Edward Bernard Glick described his frank 1958 discussion with Eleanor Roosevelt regarding her husband, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s decision not to bomb the railway tracks connecting to the Nazi extermination camps for European Jews. Professor Glick also alludes to prevalent antisemitic attitudes in the State Department, and perhaps President Roosevelt, himself, whom he quotes as having stated to a prominent Jewish Congressman, “The Jews in America should know that they are tolerated here, but not more than that.”

Roosevelt’s statement was in fact a crude retrogression from the attitudes expressed by America’s first President, George Washington. Following a visit to Newport, RI in August, 1790, and his warm reception by the local Jewish community, represented in a letter by Moses Seixas, George Washington wrote a moving reply to Touro’s congregation. Our first President rejected the idea of mere “tolerance” of Jews, embracing them as full, equal citizens of the nascent American nation, with complete freedom of conscience, and the guarantee of their personal security. […]

Why the Jews embrace a political party that is and has been their enemy is baffling. Then again, we C-As say the same thing, don’t we?

March 22, 1429

How To Declare War (Anno Domini, 1429):

Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, sends a formal letter of summons to the English upon the siege of Orleans.  (I post this once a year on this date at all the places I blog.)

Jhesus-Maria, King of England, and you, Duke of Bedford, who call yourself regent of the Kingdom of France, you, Guillaume de la Poule, count of Suffort, Jean, sire of Talbot, and you, Thomas, sire of Scales, who call yourselves lieutenants of the Duke of Bedford, acknowledge the summons of the King of Heaven.  Render to the Maid here sent by God the King of Heaven, the keys of all the good towns which you have taken and violated in France.  She is here come by God’s will to reclaim the blood royal.  She is very ready to make peace, if you will acknowledge her to be right, provided that France you render, and pay for having held it.  And you, archers, companions of war, men-at-arms and others who are before the town of Orleans, go away into your own country, by God.  And if so be not done, expect news of the Maid who will come to see you shortly, to your very great injury.  King of England, if you do not so, I am chief-in-war and in whatever place I attain your people in France, I will make them quit it willy-nilly.  And if they will not obey, I will have them all slain; I am here sent by God, the King of Heaven, body for body, to drive you out of all France … (Written this Tuesday of Holy Week, March 22, 1429.)

I post this only because I’ve been told my paternal grandmother was born in Orleans…

A “Latin” Pope

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Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina is the new Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. He is 76 years old. He is a Jesuit and has taken the name Pope (stand by … I thought I’d heard “Francis” but listening to the color commentary it might not yet have been revealed)…

Yes, he is to be “Pope Francis I”. He is the first Pope from the Americas in the millenium, and was the runner-up to the last Pope Benedict XVI.

“Habemus Papam!”

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Billy Wilder was right

“The Führer was a better dancer than Churchill and the Führer was a better painter than Churchill!”

Forty two percent of Austrians think “not everything was bad under Hitler,” while 57% think “there was nothing positive about the Hitler era,” according to a poll conducted by newspaper Der Standard that was published on Friday.

The poll was conducted among 502 eligible voters in Austria and published ahead of the 75th anniversary of the country’s annexation by Nazi Germany.

61% thought the country adequately dealt with its Nazi past, while 39% thought more should be done.

Nazi Germany annexed Austria in 1938, and a debate still smoulders on whether Austrians were Hitler’s first victims or willing accomplices. Austria’s Jewish population was nearly wiped out in the ensuing Holocaust.

54% answered that neo-Nazi groups would be successful in the Austrian elections, if there was no law banning them. […]

The great film director Billy Wilder, a refugee from Nazism, once quipped that the Austrians were the greatest bullshit artists in the world because they had convinced the world that Beethoven was Austrian and Hitler was German. It seems they’re still up to their old tricks over there…

“Hatred starts with a word uttered quietly, and then louder, if left unchallenged it is followed by deeds that become habits…”

Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger

It is said our WWII veterans seldom talk about their ‘war stories’, even when asked. However, it is not that they are ashamed. It is because the victory did not come without a lot of loss and pain. The silence of a young boy’s decorated Nazi father was driven by the bitterness of loss, and a continuing hatred and rage for those his then country horrifically victimized to death. The boy’s journey through this dark age within his family history led him to a conversion to a far brighter light of life

Dr Bernd Wollschlaeger’s 14 year old son wanted to know his saba. For the first time Bernd shared the story of his life and his Nazi father. He was afraid of rejection but his son thought his story was cool. Three weeks later was Family History Day at his children’s school. Called into the office to meet with the principal and the Rabbi, he was worried that they would repudiate him. They suggested that his son was delusional and was making up a story about his grandfather the famous Nazi. Bernd related the whole story to the enraptured school leaders. Since that time he has been sharing the story regularly and finds a weight has been lifted from his shoulders.

World War II was a verboten topic in the Wollschlaeger home. Any questions were met with silence, and yet Bernd’s father considered a hero by his buddies, was decorated with the Iron cross by Hitler himself. Bernd was 14 when the Munich Olympics, meant to reinstate Germany amongst the civilized world, were the scene of the massacre of the Israeli team. The headlines read “Jews Killed in Germany Again.” Young Bernd was confused, it happened before? Unable to get a response from his parents, the answers were forthcoming in school. Horrified by what happened to the Jews at the hands of the Germans, he needed to find out his father’s involvement. A raging alcoholic, his father could be tricked into opening up at that point of shikerness, before becoming totally drunk. Finally the truth came out, “We are German, representatives of a pure race, with a historic obligation to clear up the riff raff in the east. The only mistake was in using the train capacity to transport the Jews to the camps, instead of bringing supplies to our troops. The Jews made us lose the war.”

From that moment Bernd began his journey to get beyond the hatred, and learn more about Jews. He was helped on the way by a former Jesuit priest, and many Holocaust survivors, both on a trip to Israel and back in Bamberg where he completed medical school. The decision to convert led him on a long road, the Rabbi in Frankfurt he was sent to refuse to convert Germans. Eventually he succeeded in fulfilling his dream and left for Israel, and enlistment in the IDF as a medical officer.

Continue reading

(Note: this story was published about a month ago, but just came across my desk.)

February 26, 1993 (Updated)

Twenty years ago today, I happened to be in New York City on the last day of a consulting gig with a large international bank. As I left the offices of the bank to walk to my hotel to checkout, I decided to stop for a bite to eat on the way to LaGuardia for my flight. It was a little after noon as I was sitting finishing my meal when I heard all hell break out on the street, the most sirens I had ever heard in my trips to NYC — and that’s saying a lot. Dozens of police,  fire trucks, and fire rescue were heading in one direction: downtown. I asked around but nobody seemed to know what was going on; in those pre-internet days the only way to get news was print, radio or TV — and I had a dearth of all three heading to the airport and boarding my flight.

As soon as I was able to, I used a new-fangled toy aboard my flight: an AirFone (remember those?). I called home to find out everybody was worried sick about me and the terrorist attack in New York. Needless to say I was more than a bit shocked and surprised. That terrorist attack was the first attempt to destroy the World Trade Center towers by the blind Sheikh Abdul Rahman and Ramzi Yousef, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s nephew. I don’t remember visiting New York City after that for a long time. It turned out that that day was my last opportunity to see the Twin Towers in all their glory.

I regret it to this day.

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“The Americans” Meet Colonel Nathan R. Jessep

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I haven’t yet decided if I will give FX’s “The Americans” any full attention. I have a hard enough time remembering to watch the one or two shows I do watch, and often times need to either wait for a re-showing on the network schedule, or find them on my cable company’s “On Demand” or on Hulu.com (if carried there). I will look for the pilot first episode of “The Americans” on one of my go-tos this weekend and watch it.

However, apparently the series has already had what I like to call a “Colonel Jessep Moment” (a few of them in the first episode alone), in that the writer and director (with “A Few Good Men” it was Aaron Sorkin and Rob Reiner) craft a scene intended to make someone or something look negative or bad in order to intentionally damage it or damage what it represents, but an opposite viewer reaction and perception negates that intent.

Brent Baker MRC: FX’s new series which debuted Wednesday night, The Americans, is centered around husband and wife KGB sleeper agents who live with their kids as ordinary Americans in suburban Washington, DC when Ronald Reagan becomes President. Joe Weisberg, the creator and executive producer conceded to TV Guide that “this series, to a large extent, is told from the perspective of the KGB and the Soviets. We’re making them the sympathetic characters. I’d go so far as to say they’re the heroes.”

Yet, in the 95-minute pilot aired January 30, there were scenes which should hearten conservatives who believe in Reagan’s righteousness and the superiority of the United States.

(Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell play “Philip and Elizabeth Jennings,” Soviet agents who speak perfect English without hint of an accent.)

[…]

Colonel Nathan R. Jessep’s boisterous “You Can’t Handle The Truth” speech in a murder trial testimony told the cold hard truth and reality of unflinching duty in a dangerous world filled with enemies and critics in the face of the writer/director trying to make him, and by that the whole of the U.S. Marine Corps, look and sound barbaric and insane. Most people I know who have seen the movie feel that Jessep scene was written with that intention, but find it one of the best pro-military scenes ever in a movie. Jessep knew, in the end, he was going to be nailed for his personal involvement and guilt in the murder, but he would not be taking the Corps down with him.

If the series “The Americans” succeeds it will be due to good writing and acting, and not in making us commiserate with and cheer for the anti-American/pro-communist aspects of it … or the attempts to make a strong and resolute anti-communist/pro-American Pres. Ronald Reagan look and sound like a paranoid lunatic that instigated the Soviet’s defensive and offensive actions on our soil. Remember, Progressives/liberals in this country credit Soviet Pres. Gorbachev for ending the Cold War, not Reagan. I imagine that will be an underlying set-up within this series. As a matter of fact, I suspect the series will inadvertently fall into a few more “Colonel Jessep Moments” before all is said and done. Nice try…

The Essentials of Educating the Eloi

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Since I was a child one of my favorite movies has been the 1960 film version of the H.G. Wells story “The Time Machine”. (The more recent remakes were okay, but I like the original.) At the end of the movie Rod Taylor has jumped back into his machine and left behind his present day life in the Victorian world in order to return to the time of the childlike Eloi and the tyrannical Morlocks of the future. When H. George Wells’s puzzled housekeeper and his best friend Filby return to the parlor from his vacant laboratory they notice three books have gone missing from the shelf, and decide Wells has taken them back to the future with him. Mr. Filby poses the question to the maid, “Which three books would you have taken?”

My whole life this essential question has often crossed my mind, especially after each viewing of the timeless movie. Naturally most people would consider “The Holy Bible” at the top of that short list, but perhaps not for some folks. Not as any forced religion, but faith in an almighty God with a foundation for laws and civility in a new society based on personal responsibility would be a lesson to convey to a people that had been bred as lazy mindless cattle for government consumption purposes. They had the “talking rings” that gave a vocal accounting of history prior to the fall of Earth’s civilization, but the dumbed-down Eloi had never governed or provided for themselves, much less thought for themselves, and had no context of the importance of good or bad history. They were generationally conditioned subjects, dropping their aimless attention from their collective mediocre existence of waiting for their next meal or clothing to be provided for them until the media siren blared and filled their ears with the demand to obey their masters … marching blindly to their own demise. They had been at the mercy of the governance of Morlocks for generations and had no concept of managing and surviving the dangers of life, natural or manmade, or the individual and daring process of critical thinking. (The 2002 version of the movie gives more ‘intellect’ to the masterminds of the Morlocks.)

Also there would be the need to protect a society’s new freedom and avoid becoming serfs, cattle, or victims for anyone ever again. How about Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”? Or Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”? Oddly enough we now find ourselves becoming the dutiful Eloi to our ravenous growing government of Morlocks with the blaring media siren leading the way. Perhaps it’s time for our side to put down the other side’s “Rules for Radicals” and pick up a copy of Sun Tsu…

Many Americans these days believe the Republicans are not only losing this current political war, some think they are not even putting up much of a fight. Based on the recent results of the fiscal cliff negotiations, they may well have a point. Perhaps they could benefit, in their battles with President Obama, from a few words of wisdom from another war-time philosopher/strategist, Sun Tzu.

1. On sizing up your competition he said . . . “If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” A psychologist will tell you that when someone tells you who they are, you should probably listen. When they act the way they say they are, you should more than listen. Obama spoke for years about his activist, win at all costs ways – including his Sun Tzu-like “All warfare is based on deception” ways.

Since being President, he has stayed true to that and not negotiated in good faith – on anything. He has been a “take it or I will get it another way” president from day one (think defeated cap & trade legislation turned into mandated EPA rules). Republicans should know that by now and have had a strategy other than hoping he will act in good faith.

2. On the need for preparation . . . “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

In any negotiation, your potential success is nearly predetermined by your level of preparation including having a strategy and executing on it. For all appearances, Republicans did not dictate the pace or substance of the recent negotiations. There was no apparent grand strategy. Instead, Obama simply waited them out.

3. On framing the debate . . . “One mark of a great soldier is that he fights on his own terms or fights not at all.” Knowing that Obama won’t negotiate in good faith is only Step 1. Having a plan to deal with that is Step 2. Sun Tzu tells us here that Republicans need to fight this battle on terms they can win. To do that, they have to frame the debate so that people will listen to their message.

In these recent negotiations, and for a long time now, Obama has framed this debate. Most Americans thought this was a battle over how to close the budget gap through higher tax rates. It wasn’t a question of if higher tax rates were necessary; it was a question of how much higher. Under those circumstances, there was no chance Republicans could expect a good outcome. That’s the Democrats home field. Republicans will always lose that debate and many supporters with it.

Republicans win the debate when it is centered on 3 things:

[…]

Read in full

And I might have grabbed a forth book from my shelf … Square Foot Gardening.

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A man of honor

There are few men and women who will risk everything to be free. Vladimir Bukovsky, Soviet dissident, who turned 70 last Sunday, is one of those. Our own brothers and sisters in Cuba who oppose tyranny, living or killed by the regime are our modern day Bukovskys, Solzhenitzyns, Sakharovs, and Sharanskys in Cuba. We need many more of them.

Vladimir Bukovsky does not like to be called a politician, preferring to be known as a neurophysiologist, writer or, at the very least, civic activist. In truth, he never engaged in politics: he merely realized, at an early age, that he could not reconcile himself to live quietly with a criminal and mendacious regime that sought to make millions of people its silent accomplices. Bukovsky’s protest was a moral one. “We did not play politics, we did not draft programs for the ‘people’s liberation,’” he recalls in his memoirs, To Build a Castle (a must-read for anyone interested in Russian history). “Our only weapon was glasnost (openness). Not propaganda, but glasnost, so that no one could say ‘I did not know.’ The rest is a matter for each person’s conscience.”

“I did not know” was a popular answer among members of the older generation when asked by the youngsters of the 1950s about Stalin’s times. The public condemnation of Stalinist crimes at the 1956 Communist Party congress and (almost immediately) the brutal suppression of the Hungarian revolution, which showed that the nature of the regime has not changed, were formative events for Bukovsky. His protest activity began literally during his school days: he joined a clandestine anti-Soviet group and published an underground satirical journal. In response, he was expelled from school, summoned to a dressing-down by the Moscow City Communist Party Committee, and barred from studying at university (he nevertheless won admission to Moscow State University, only to be discovered and expelled a year later.)

Vladimir Bukovsky is one of the founders of the Soviet dissident movement, which was born in the fall of 1960 on Moscow’s Mayakovsky Square. There, a group of yet-unknown young activists, poets, and actors (including Yuri Galanskov, Eduard Kuznetsov, Vladimir Osipov, Ilya Bokshtein, and Vsevolod Abdulov) held public readings of banned poetry – Akhmatova, Pasternak, Mandelshtam, Tsvetaeva. They also read from their own works and the works of their contemporaries, which would soon be disseminated as samizdat (literally “self-publications,” the clandestine reproduction and distribution of banned literature). Samizdat, too, was born on Mayakovsky Square. The authorities responded in their usual manner: with dispersals of the meetings by bulldozers and snow ploughs; provocations by Komsomol (Young Communist League) operatives; beatings and arrests. Yet the “seditious” meetings continued in the heart of the Soviet capital for almost two years […]