Category: History (Page 2 of 4)
I have been attempting to read «Michael Burleigh’s The Third Reich: A New History» since it came out in 2000. Instead, I’ve read «William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich» twice. Nothing wrong with anything I’ve read of Burleigh’s work; quite the contrary. In fact, it has to do with how big the book is; the first edition is 950-plus pages and weighs a ton and I’ve had hand/wrist problems since, well, 2000. And I have Rise and Fall on Kindle.
But I always thought that Burleigh’s opening paragraph (and all Third Reich histories in general) were always backwards looking; in other words, they were histories. Sure they warned about what could happen if we weren’t careful, but that was all theoretical and probably wouldn’t happen and we put a stop to it in the first place and it couldn’t happen again.
Turns out, how wrong I was. His opening ‘graph was instead prophetic. And how.
“This book is about what happened when sections of the German elites and masses of ordinary people chose to abdicate their individual critical faculties in favour of a politics based on faith, hope, hatred and sentimental collective self-regard for their own race and nation.”
—Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich: A New History
The paragraph’s last sentence was actually not as accurate, however:
“It is therefore a very twentieth-century story.”
Yeah, that part? Not so much. But sections of American elites and masses of ordinary people have indeed, just 16 years after the book’s publication, chosen to “abdicate their individual critical faculties” and their “faith, hope, hatred and sentimental collective self-regard for their own race and nation” do in fact rule the day.
The only thing Burleigh couldn’t do is tell us how this particular American very twenty-first (and seventeenth/eightteenth/nineteeth/twentieth) century story will turn out.
We have, after all, already committed genocide against milions of people based on race, segregated millions of people based on race, destroyed democracy in favor of wealth (for a very few) and world domination, and are conducting limitless war without end throughout the world. What else is there? What else can we do from here on out than we haven’t already done before? Isn’t nuclear holocaust the Last American Frontier?
I’ll just stick my nose back in Burleigh’s magnum; the events in it have already happened and the good guys won and put an end to the suspense.
Turning Sows’ Ears into Silk Purses
This one truth we know: 2017 was disastrous on many levels, including in commercial aviation. Airline corporate boards’ are ever ramping up on their war on passengers, pilots and cabin crew. But there was a very tiny yet significant bright spot noted in The Washington Post and elsewhere: « 2017 was the first year since the advent of passenger air travel that no one died in a commercial airline accident ».
“The Aviation Safety Network estimated there were nearly 37 million flights in 2017, more than any year in history, meaning that aircraft mishaps are declining even as the number of flights continues to rise. The last commercial jet airline crash in which more than 100 people were killed was Oct. 31, 2015, when 224 lives were lost after a flight from Russia broke apart in Egypt. The ASN, which tracks crashes using different metrics from those to70 uses, showed 10 recorded crashes involving small propeller planes and cargo aircraft, killing 44 passengers and 35 people on the ground in 2017. In 2016, the group counted 16 accidents with 303 dead.”
—The Washington Post, 2-Jan-18
But in true 2017-was-an-asshole form, even that tiny bright spot was tarnished when the Personality-in-Chief who shuttles between golf courses and Pennsylvania Avenue on a pimped-out Boeing 747 at considerable taxpayer expense, took credit for last year’s remarkable airline safety record. Urk.
For the Golfer-in-Chief to take credit for this is beyond offensive and insensitive and a lie. It blackens the names of people like Eastern 304’s Grant Newby and Braniff 250’s Don Pauley and Jim Hilliker and Ruth and Mitchell Kuhr and USAirways 1549’s Sully Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles and those dead and injured on Southern 242 and Delta 191 and Air Florida 90, plus all the CAB/NTSB investigators, FAA enforcers and weather experts like Dr. Ted Fujita and Dr. Fernando Caracena … and on and on. And especially all the flight crews who thousands of times a day implement what was learned in the past and get us safely to Lawton and Houston and Milwaukee and Paris and Hong Kong and Lagos.
Let’s be clear: The Ego-in-Chief had absolutely nothing to do with the absence of death on the airways last year. And it was a slap in the face and highly offensive to the memories of all the people who died and all the people who worked so hard to prevent future recurrences. Their great sacrifices are the real reason why we can fly from Dubuque to Fort Myers … Without. Dying. In. A. Plane. Crash. Now you are admittedly shoved into a tiny space with little air and subject to appalling treatment, but you are more likely to be killed by being beaten up by rogue security forces (or being shot by a toddler with Granny’s gun) than you are from Dying. In. A. Plane. Crash. Airlines, airports, police and corporate boards have much work to do on the ground to equal the safety record in the air.
In fact, the record of the former deadbeat owner of the “Trump Shuttle” is pretty clearly the opposite of admirable airline operation, safety and responsibility. The Boston Globe did « a very through review in 2016 » of how the pioneering Eastern Airlines Shuttle was destroyed by Frank Lorenzo and the man who appears to be the current incarnation of P.T. Barnum.
These two Vandals have the same egos and desire to destroy, but Lorenzo actually had some brains to carry it out. Unlike his business partner.
The story is sordid and long, but the details were made clear by Matt Viser’s excellent Globe piece. To wit: Lorenzo sold the Donald the Eastern Shuttle for an overvalued $365 million (if DT had created a brand-new shuttle from the ground up with brand-new planes, not old worn-out 727s, estimates were that he could have done it for $300 million.) Of course, the money was all borrowed. It was 1989; Eastern (and Continental) were already almost dead from Lorenzo’s sledgehammer and the economy was tanking. Pan Am 103 was bombed, the first Gulf War was about to begin. It was incredibly bad judgement to overpay a bunch of other peoples’ money for something that was guaranteed to tank.
The now-decades-old D.T. playbook was followed from the beginning. D.T. started his airline foray by … snarking about Pan American, which had put in more hard work and suffering and pioneering effort into air travel than D.T. would ever be capable of mustering:
“He suggested Pan Am’s flights were unsafe, that the company was strapped for cash and couldn’t spend as much to maintain planes as Trump Shuttle.”
—The Boston Globe, 27-May-16
And, heavy foreshadowing here, true professionals expressed their disgust over his statement, which, both then and now, is like pissing in the wind:
“We said, ‘Donald, don’t ever do that again,'” recalled Henry Harteveldt, who was the company’s marketing director. “It was wrong. We had no proof to back that up. And there’s an unwritten rule in the airline business that you don’t attack someone else’s safety record. There but for the grace of God go I.”
In other words, D.T. (and countless weak attempts to contain his insanity) has never changed. He was just given 21st century tools to broadcast his uninformed and misguided vitriol to a wider audience, i.e. Twitter. And this time, he has nuclear annihilation capabilities instead of a piddly little failing airline.
But back to 1989. As Harteveldt stated, “There but for the grace of God go I.” The Shuttle was pretty crappy safety-wise from the beginning, and he did nothing to improve it, partly because he had zero aviation experience. The grace of God was apparently withdrawn:
“And Trump’s unfounded remarks about Pan Am safety? They almost immediately came back to bite him. Trump’s own airline was struck by a near-tragedy within its first three months, when the nose gear failed on one of his jets and forced a crash landing at Logan.”
As is noted, investigators found the nose gear failure cause: A “mechanic had used the wrong part in the gear mechanism, and it eventually disintegrated and locked the gear in place,” a safety failure that had happened under Lorenzo’s watch.
“Trump — who weeks earlier had made claims that he would send all of his own planes through X-rays to make sure they were safe — turned on the TV and watched as CNN showed a Trump Shuttle flight circling the air. “After several attempts to jar the nose gear loose, and after circling around to burn fuel, the pilot landed on the back two wheels, slowing the plane down as much as possible before lowering the nose of the plane onto the runway.”
He then flew up to Boston on a Trump Shuttle flight. Hilariously tragic: He “was kind of a nervous flier” and asked one of his airline executives, “Is this thing safe?” I can’t think of a more perfect illustration of his public-huckster/private-doofus personality … and oh, the foreshadowing!
Once in Boston, he praised the “maestro” pilot who sucessfully landed the flight, Robert Smith. And in another bit of foreshadowing, Smith loved D.T. right back:
“The ‘maestro’ that day, pilot Robert Smith, said Trump had been advised not to come up — so as not to draw attention to the crash — but Trump disregarded it. “He was very happy with the crew,” said Smith, who after decades in the airline industry called Trump “the best boss I’ve ever had.” “And I think he was very happy with the exposure he got that day. He handled it beautifully.”
I smell Stockholm Syndrome and future Trumpista voters; you know, the ones who voted for him but who will bear the full brunt of his destructive con. But I digress. I love the followup to “He handled it beautifully”:
“One of the passengers on that flight — who recalls sliding out the aircraft and into a pile of foam — was Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican strategist who worked for Jeb Bush and his super PAC to try to defeat Trump. “Afterward,” he said, “all I got was a form letter and a drink coupon.”
While Murphy is, like myself, biased against him (or rather his con jobs and inability to grasp reality), facts are facts. A drink coupon for an emergency evac is hardly handling things “beautifully.”
In fact, his own marketing executive at the Shuttle summed up this “beautifully handled” situation:
“‘He certainly was a man known for his bravado. He promised people a diamond in the sky when we had 21 of some of the oldest, worst maintained 727s then flying,’ said Harteveldt, the marketing director. ‘He’s giving a press conference promising a diamond in the sky. I’m saying, “You may have to settle for cubic zirconium to start.””
Perhaps if he had “x-rayed” (!) all those 727s and found the gear part problem the whole situation would not have had to be “beautifully managed” in the first place.
Ultimately, the shuttle was “successful enough to cover operating costs but not enough to pay down the debt.” Meanwhile, D.T. was divorcing his wife and marrying his mistress, something which happened twice, but does not bother the opportunistic evangelicals flitting around his head. But I digress.
After just 12 months, he fired an executive (who had insisted that the 727 needs two pilots and a flight engineer, even though D.T. wanted to fly them with just two pilots to save money) and laid off 100 employees. After 18 months, the shuttle lost $128 million dollars. After 30 months, he golden parachuted out:
“In late 1991, about 2½ years after Trump had purchased the airline, Trump gave up control of his prize in order to get out from a pile of debt. As part of the deal, Trump was no longer responsible for some $245 million in loans left on the shuttle airline. In addition, out of the $135 million that Trump had personally guaranteed, at least $100 million was forgiven, according to news reports at the time.”
Absolved from $245 million in loans and welshing on $100 million which he had “personally guaranteed.” He was out only $35 million while banks and others were left holding the bag. Said he: “I felt successful. The market had crashed. I didn’t lose anything. It was a good thing,” he said.
A very good thing for him indeed. The human wreckage he left? Not so much.
Apologies to The Globe and Matt Viser for so extensively quoting from the article, but it needs rebroadcasting to as many people as possible. Kudos.
But instead of focusing on D.T.’s usual nonsense, we should focus on remembering and honoring the memory of the thousands of casualties and millions of worrkers who made 2017 the safest commercial aviation year in history. May 2018 continue the trend.
[Text by HawkEye. Photo by Rob Potter via Unsplash]
Deutsche Welle reports that “a new survey published by German public broadcaster ARD shows Germans trust Russia more than the US.” Or to be specific: “28 percent of respondents felt Moscow was a reliable partner, compared to 25 percent for Washington …. More than 90 percent said Paris was a reliable partner, while more than 60 percent said Britain …”
So let’s see if I’ve got this. Germany, a country in which there are still many women alive who were raped by invading Russian Red Army soldiers and in which the human products of those rapes are still living, now trust … Russia more than the United States.
Yes, I hear you. I too am sick of all the Winning and Greatness we have achieved Again.
[Text by HawkEye. Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash.]
What we learned this week:
• The wheels of justice grind very, very slow, but they are grinding towards folks who allegedly but probably committed treason against the country, but who will almost certainly not do jail time, much less pay the ultimate penalty historically paid by traitors.
• Speaking of future criminals, perhaps they might wish to take instruction from the example of Slobodan Praljak.
• Terry Crews can tell you that it is currently acceptable to be a sexual assault victim … unless you’re a black male. Then people adopt a “meh” attitude. I.e., #MeToo is quite trendy at the moment, but is likely to become passé rather quickly.
• Gronk probably needs to be reined in and it’s probably already too late.
• Life is about to get particularly hellish; CVS is buying Aetna and Disney is buying (part) of Fox. Also, Congress’ War on Everyone Except Their Donors is nearing one of its biggest successes of the last 40 years.
• A would-be blacksmith saw a show on tv that instructed him how to make something weapon-ish, which undoubtedly included a post-ironic “don’t try this at home” small print warning; he then tried that at home, burning down three downtown blocks of buildings in a town near Albany, NY.
• Alabamians (whether it’s a majority of them will be seen on 12-Dec) have no problem with pedophilia rationalization, especially while the Elephant Tides or whatever their stupid name is are winning. There is no surprise here at this reality.
• Nazis are just “the normal people next door” and nothing bad should happen to either them or the New York Times for pointing this out, says The New York Times.
And I’m not linking to any of that because … reasons. Google what you don’t understand.
Good night, y’all.
[Text by HawkEye. Photo by “FreeStocksDotOrg” via Unsplash.]
The Diddler’s Club
What we learned this week:
• Al Franken is the latest member of the “People Who Diddled People Who Didn’t Want to be Diddled” Club. This Diddlers Club, of which we’re all so very proud, officially now consists of the nation’s President; at least two former presidents; two or three sitting United States Senators and lord knows how many more; a Supreme Court Justice; god knows how many Members of the House of Representatives and their staffs; governors of various states; members of various state legislatures, including a member in Ohio who was exercising his member with another man’s member, cheating on his wife as he attempted to pass virulently anti-LGBTQ legislation; the impeached Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, who may become a United States Senator next month; journalists of various stripes; sports figures and commentators; Catholic priests and Protestant preachers; college professors; doctors, lawyers, indian chiefs and at least one family member. It’s quite a roster, very inclusive.
• In other words, we learned what women have been trying to tell us about the lives they have to lead because they have something every heteronormative man seems to badly want: a vagina. Also some men, because they have what every homonormative man wants: a penis.
• What’s the matter with Kansas? The hypersecretive autocratic government which took power over the last ten years operates incompetently and in «extremely secretive, weird ways».
• I missed this back in September, but one acolyte of “Christian” nutbag autocratic Bill Gothard, who has platinum status in the Diddler’s Club (and he’s in his eighties) is in trouble in Arkansas. «Kenneth L. Dewitt applied Gothard’s principles of Godly behavior while running a prison ministry for imprisoned Arkansas women. The Godly principle apparently involved Dewitt having incarcerated women come in under his “umbrella of authority” and submit to God’s plan for women: repeated diddling because … men. Dewitt is “is currently serving a five-year sentence at the Ouachita River Unit after pleading guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault of prisoners.” Gothard couldn’t be reached for comment; he was probably unreachable in a private jet giving private dictation to one of the shapely arrows in his Quiver.
• If you don’t recall the sordid details of Reality TV stars The Duggars, who were Gothard’s proudest achievement and America’s favorite voyeuristic targets (19 blond white kids, what’s not to like?!), «here’s a link from 2015 that pretty well explains the entire wreckage of Gothard’s slimy trail, stretching back to the 1950s. [Full disclosure: My parents ponied up to pay for me to go to a Gothard Basic Seminar and an Advanced Seminar back in high school. Family members have been fully involved in the “ministry” and continue to angrily defend the old goat even now that’s he’s been sued by, what, 30 or so?, abused men and diddled women. IF we were still talking to each other and IF I was masochistic enough to be there for Thanksgiving dinner, Gothard would be a topic that would have to be avoided ere blood was shed on the turkey carcass. /End disclosure.]
• One more piece of recent Gothard news: IBLP, Gothard’s “former” ministry from which he has disassociated with just like Trump, cachinged last month on the sale of a property they owned in Australia. «They scored $9.5 million U.S. dollars on a property valued at just $6 million». And they won’t even have to practice the usual offshore tax haven chicanery to avoid a hefty tax bill; they’re an American “church” and therefore exempt from taxation. Maybe they’ll have a come-to-Jesus moment and repent and spread the money among Gothard’s Diddlers Club targets. Right after the Holy Spirit heeds their prayers and pigs fly from Melbourne to Los Angeles. Aside: I love how the Aussie press just tells it like it is in this case: “US religious cult.” You have NO idea, my Aussie friends!
• I said only one more Gothard piece. I lied. There’s an article in The New Republic that discusses the … politics and peccadilloes, shall we say … of Laura Ingalls Wilder, of Little House on the Prairie fame. I mention it because Gothardites and other similar evangelical fellow travelers have always had a very weird (at least to me) fetish for the 19th century, and their worship of Wilder and Little House is repeated in a million ways over everything from Gunsmoke and John Wayne to learning how to cook like pioneer women. Some of them even submit to the kind of abuse meted out by 19th century husbands, but that’s a different paragraph. «Little House, Small Government» is a nice starter primer to this phenomenon, although it’s sadly too short to be able to explore the evangelical connection or the fetishization of dying on the Oregon Trail.
• Turning to more uplifting in the face of bigotry, abuse and violence news, there’s a fascinating account in a publication I’d never read called Emergency Physician’s Monthly. «It’s the story of what happened to one hospital’s ER team the night the NRA slaughtered some folks» listening to what now passes for “country” music. It’s a highly recommended read, as are the other articles on the site.
• Speaking of the wild frontier, the usually lily-white Outside magazine actually printed «a lament from a young man who went west» to work some seasonal jobs at Montana resorts. Why did he not have a great season? His skin color wasn’t up to snuff. (Which of course meant he worked in “housekeeping.”) The article explores his experience with the casual “lighten up” (har har, get it?) type of racism from coworkers and guests which finally wore him down and sent him packing back east to relative safety. Remarkably, his white coworkers calling each other “ni—-s” as a “joke” was about the worst that happened to him. It’s amazing he wasn’t shot or jailed; it’s even more amazing that Outside printed the report. I grieve for his loss of innocence, and hope he has all the success in life he wants. I’d also like to shake his hand; he’s braver than I.
• Closing with one Diddlers Club story that’s so fun. Ohio state rep. Wes Goodman, family values warrior and, of course, Republican, resigned his seat after he was caught using his state office for some consensual diddling with a person who was not his wife and not a woman. Yes, yet another one of those “Fags must die! If you agree, meet me in my car at the local park for some cocksucking followed by the signing of a petition demanding the death penalty for fag kissing!” kind of people, as usual, hoisted on his own petard, or his boyfriend’s whatever. As someone quipped on Twitter, “Goodman’s wife is probably so pissed, he’s having to move into a log cabin!” (Get it? Log Cabin Republicans are the gay ones who haven’t figured out yet that they support a party which has members who seriously, sincerely, would go Leviticus on their gay, rich asses given half a chance. Goodman’s website has been scrubbed today; but the good old friend, the Wayback Machine, is providing nice clear copies of things the good man has written. Unfortunately, his Twitter account has been locked down, but that’s not a barrier either. Here’s Wes’ priceless take on the Family: “Healthy, vibrant, thriving, values-driven families are the source of Ohio’s proud history and the key to Ohio’s future greatness. The ideals of a loving father and mother, a committed natural marriage, and a caring community are well worth pursuing and protecting.” Oh, how fun. Don’t you love closet cases who talk about “vibrant, thriving” committed natural marriages when the only thing that’s actually “vibrant and thriving” is their relationship to their boyfriends’ cocks? Little Wes is a cutie. He and Aaron Schock, if that old gym queen manages to avoid prison, should totally get together. They’d make a truly hot, power Log Cabin Republican partnership. I hope Wes is a bottom, ’cause I doubt Aaron lets just anyone go balls-deep on his bleached ass.
• And, oh yeah, there was another NRA nutbag gun attack. It is now officially news if a mass shooting does NOT occur on any given day.
So, ain’t our America nation grand? After reading all this stuff (and then writing about it) I feel extremely … greasy. Like the country has gone much bukkake all over my gay face. I need a bath and some penicillin. And this country is 100%, pure Grade A, psycho nuts insane, from the demented consummate con man in the White House to … well just about everyone else. Not at ALL what I thought living in the U.S. during my middle age would be like. Can’t wait to become elderly. ‘Cause that shit is also seriously fucked up in major ways too.
Good night, y’all.
[Text by HawkEye. Photo by Vlad Tchompalov via Unsplash.]