Tag Archives: World War I

The Confederate Flag, Constitutional Slavery, and Constitutional Freedom

https://www.facebook.com/pages/What-is-the-Confederate-flag-about/194319327272913

The Confederate Flag, like the Confederate States of America, was all about Constitutionally Limited Government and FREEDOM. It seems ironic to some, an irony exploited by those who think shallow thoughts, that those most dedicated to personal liberty indisputably believed that they were “Free to Keep Slaves”. I have considered this syllogistic problem and believe it to be inherently true that the Confederate Government WAS more committed to freedom than the Union.

https://www.facebook.com/TheConstitutionOfTheCSAExplained

Absolute individual freedom, under any coherent system of law, WOULD include the power to sell oneself into slavery, because slavery is just the ultimate power of self-determination (to extinguish one’s power to self-determination. Individual freedom, however, is utterly incompatible with vast governmental power to protect individual rights.  “The greater degree of governmental protection of individual rights, the greater degeneration of individual freedom.

In the United States, the ultimate proof of this fact is that more blacks are now in jail than were ever held in chattel slavery, and the direct “honesty” of the system of slavery has been replaced by an elaborate ruse and deception committed by the government in the name of “due process of law.”  

Because today is the 76th anniversary of Orson Welles’ Famous “War of the Worlds” Radio Show, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/welles-scares-nation, it seems appropriate to ponder the American War Between the States as the first of a trio and as such the 19th Century predecessor the two great subsequent Marxist-inspired “Wars to Change the World” which followed it in the Twentieth (aka “The Great War” of 1914-1918″ and “The Good War” of 1939-1945, more commonly called World Wars I and II).  What is really more horrible to contemplate: Alien invasions from another planet or “friendly invasions to save us from ourselves” launched by our do-gooding neighbors and relatives in the world?  What is worse?  Death by alien marauders or slavery in concrete, unescapable prisons built to promote “the general welfare?”

Just last week (Tuesday 21 October 2014), I attended a City Council Meeting in Beverly Hills, California, where the Mayor and Council were debating, among other things, the “absolute necessity” of posting armed guards in every school, starting with Beverly Hills High School, in that elite, but now largely “alien” (i.e. foreign-born) enclave of Los Angeles, and of building walls around all schools which are higher and more impenetrable than the walls around the White House, which were recently scaled by a single intruder.  THE PRISON PLANET HAS COME HOME!!!!   Wow, you know, what a concept?  Walled public schools patrolled 24 hours a day by armed Guards in one of the richest zip codes of America and the World—that sounds like the American Dream AND the best way to provide a productive learning environment for its children, doesn’t it?  We all know that the guards will be too busy protecting the kids from attacks by ISIS to use their power to harass the High School Students, don’t we now?  (Anyone who doesn’t see the obvious sarcasm here is free to go jump into the nearest body of water deep enough to drown him or herself.)

The American Criminal Justice system is indeed Criminal but it contains no justice and is hardly American except in its geographic origin (but not its boundaries).  The American Criminal Justice system as it currently operates depends on the government’s ability to coerce individuals into plea bargains which render the “pleading” individual into little more than an ordinary slave for the rest of his life—except that his life belongs to the soulless government, not to an individual who might show kindness or cruelty or both (as most humans do).  

In Britain, political legal scholars often debate the limits of the power of Parliament. “Is the Power of Parliament Absolute?” goes the first question. “Yes,” is the first answer. So can Parliament delegate all its power to a dictator, or indeed, to the Queen from whom (historically speaking) the Power of the Parliament (legally, formally) derived? “NO”, say the commentators. “Well, then, the power of Parliament is not Absolute.”

We see relics of this problem in modern legal question regarding the rights of living people to sell kidneys or other organs in other to keep other people alive. This is considered a crime “for the benefit of the individual” who might otherwise sell parts of his own body and thereby reduce his own life expectancy. But those who support abortion support a form of “slavery”, declaring the right of a woman to abort that part of her body which has the undeniable status as a separable (just not yet separated) human being.

And of course, the modern STATE endorses all kinds of slavery under different names: prison, “the voluntary income tax”, “criminal liability for borrowers accepting bank credit applications containing false statements prepared by bank officers”.

I think our Confederate ancestors opposed the notion that the GOVERNMENT had the power to hold anyone in slavery, and therein is the resolution to the syllogistic dilemma: does the Constitution exist to limit the power of the government to enslave or did the Nation commit, through the Declaration of Independence, to force “equality” among “all men” and so to abolish the freedom of individuals to own property in their own bodies, and to sell this property.

https://www.facebook.com/TheConstitutionOfTheCSAExplained

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Unreconstructed-Rebel/275457345930002

A Prayer for True Memory and History on the 206th Anniversary of the Birth of Robert Edward Lee, Commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia, President of Washington & Lee University

Since December 9, 2012, I have been staying in the French Quarter, about a 20 minutes to half an hour leisurely walk to Lee Circle where a high pedestal support’s a statute of one of Virginia’s most famous sons, forever looking north because “you never turn your back on the enemy.”  My grandparents raised me to celebrate Marse’ Robert’s birthday and remember and study his life and heroism, both before, during and after the War Between the States.  I have never had any problem keeping his memory because I think he represents all the good values that were and ever could be called “American”—he was an exceedingly intelligent man of principles including loyalty and devotion, hard work, individual responsibility, skill and excellence.

This year I have not yet visited Confederate Memorial Hall, just south of Lee Circle.  It is probably the longest I have ever been in New Orleans without paying at least a quick visit, and there are many reasons for this but one is that it is no longer officially called “Confederate Memorial Hall” but has been recently rechristened “Louisiana’s Civil War Museum at Confederate Memorial Hall.”

Nothing is more insulting to Lee’s Memory or to the Heritage of the South in general and the Confederate States of America in particular than to refer to the War of 1861-1865 as “the Civil War.”  From the Southern adn Confederate standpoints, that War was as much the “American Civil War” as World Wars I and II were the “European Civil Wars.”   The analogy is fair enough only to the degree that after World War II, first the European Economic Community (E.E.C.) and then the European Union both sought to transform Europe into a new, single Continental Nation.  

The first movie ever filmed to be seen commercially by more than a million people was D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation”, released in 1915, based on a historical novel entitled “the Klansman.”  The new nation born during and after the War Between the States was a centralized Republic with a top-heavy Federal Bureaucracy modeled very generally on the economic controls imposed top down from the Imperial Central in the later Roman Empire in a manner which has come to be known as “Byzantine.”

On this 206th Anniversary of the Birth of Robert Edward Lee, son of  Governor Light Horse “Harry” Lee of Virginia, I pray that the honour and integrity of the South will be properly remembered, along with Lee’s individual, unique and irreplaceable, un-reproducable honour and integrity.  

I pray that people will start learning history more fully and accurately, and above all critically, with the understanding that the victors always write history, but that victory in war is not in fact justice in the eyes of God, despite what many of us, including many of us Southerners, believe about the value of “trial-by-battle” in the Mediaeval sense of “Justice by Duel.”  

Even in Mediaeval legal theory, Duels were ONLY fairly calculated to result in a decision by God when the two parties to the duel are equally equipped, armed, trained and skillful.  The armor and the horses had to be comparable and equivalent, and a weaker person had the right to appoint a “champion” to fight in his or her place, as Ilsa von Brabant famously did in Richard Wagner’s opera “Lohengrin” which even preserved the notion of combat only coming “at high noon” so that the sun would be in neither combatant’s eyes at the outset.   The title of one of the finest Western movies about a duel, Gary Cooper’s “High Noon” (1950) also retains this reference to the equality of the Sun God (Shamash) who presided over such duels (judicially approved and jury-supervised “trials-by-combat”) even in Ancient Akkad, Asshur (Assyria), and Babylon.

I pray that even under the Dark Skies of the Obama Presidency and all the propaganda coming out in this day and age, that a more just and inquiring notion of history will prevail in the collective, cultural memory of America, and that the virtue and dignity of the Southern and Confederate Constitutional position be realized and recognized, and the glory given to the Victorious Yankee North be tempered by the reality that northern industrialism produced the same identical level of misery and deprivation among white workers as was chronicled by Charles Dickens in England and Victor Hugo in France.  

I pray that people will understand that if we weep for Fantine and her plight in Les Miserables (published precisely in 1862, during the first full year of the War Between the States), we must also recognize the condition of “Free” labor in the North and Europe was in a hundred ways worse and more depraved than the plight of black slaves in the South.  If in no other, this is true in one major regard: only an insane slaveholder would really work his slaves to death, without caring for them as human beings, in that slaves were wealth and capital, and senselessly to destroy the life or health of a slave was like throwing gold into the sea or burning paper money backed by real gold (unlike the trash Federal Reserve Notes we use today).

By contrast, as shown in Dickens’ writings and Hugo’s, and as analyzed by Karl Marx and Frederich Engels and their followers, “free” laborers in the mid-19th Century in the North had no life-long security whatsoever.  

As soon as the “free laborer’s” strength or health should start to fail, that free laborer’s productivity declined or perhaps he was eaten up by the very machines he tended due to “assumption of the risk” by accepting employment.  The “Free Labor” capitalist therefore had a strong motivation to dismiss his worn out workers and throw them into the streets, a version of the “hellish life” captured in Les Miserables was worse than death itself. This reality was revisited (1998) by Joss Whedon in an Episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called “Anne” in which the residents of Hell work in a 19th Century style factory until they are exhausted and old (in just a short time as it turns out) and thrown back out on the streets of modern Los Angeles to live as homeless derelicts.

All these realities need to be weighed against the supposed virtuous abolition of slavery. And accordingly, I pray that people will begin to think and remember and reflect not only about the history of the 19th century, but of the 20th and even our own times.  Were we the victors REALLY the more virtuous parties in World Wars I and II, for example?  In World War I, the answer is a fairly certain absolute NO.  In World War II, the mythology has grown into a reality and even a political constitution and ecumenical social theory so thick that it is almost impenetrable.  

But if we look, again, at the details, and if we dare to compare the early German rockets or “Buzz Bombs” sent by Wernher von Braun against London in 1944-45 with the American A-Bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I think we will see that the American weapons were a far more sinister manifestation of technology.  What about the senseless fire-bombing of Dresden in 1945 when the war was almost over?  

Then if we look at the Soviets, whom we supported, and what they did to their own populations (Stalin’s purge of “the Kulaks” for instance, beginning in 1928), was our side as a whole really better than the Germans?

Even if the worst stories are true about German antisemitism, “ethnic cleansing”, and other population reorganizations and purges, no one can state that the Germans actually moved or relocated anywhere nearly as many millions of people as the Soviets and their allies forcibly relocated from the German sectors of East and West Prussia, Silesia, Posen, Danzig, and Eastern Pomerania, even as millions of Poles were uprooted and moved East to replace the Eastern quarter of Germany, after 1945-46.  

The Germans of the Sudetenland were also expelled from their homes of time immemorial.  The thousand year old Eastern boundary of the German people was moved back across Poland and Czechoslovakia to fit Stalin’s plans.  Again, who was guilty of greater genocidal crimes?  Or did Stalin’s relocations of the Poles, the Belarus, the Ukrainians, and the Germans count for nothing?

An since the war, have not the Allied Powers faithfully reenacted the predictions of perpetual war as framed by George Orwell in “1984“?  Have not the Communists become indistinguishable from the Corporate leaders they supposedly fought to overthrow as Orwell similarly predicted in “Animal Farm“?  Is there not evidence that, at least since Pearl Harbor and possibly since the explosion of the Battleship Maine, the United States Government has staged more than a hundred years of False Flag attacks against its own people to make certain that this condition of perpetual warfare exists and that there are more and more justifications (like the Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut most recently) to curtail the fundamental freedoms and liberties for which George Washington, and Robert E. Lee, spent their lives fighting?

I pray that Americans will start waking up and thinking about reality, and observe the contradictions inherent in all things, but especially in our official versions of history, and that we will work to examine our past, our present, and our futures to discover and establish deeper and more meaningful truths about the sad story which is the epic of human history.

May everyone in the World in fact look to Robert Edward Lee and the Confederate States of America as emblematic of justice defeated, of liberty lost, and of the dangers of using imbalanced thinking and propaganda as tools of social change. 

As I have written a thousand times if I’ve written it once: Chattel Human Slavery was abolished everywhere in the world (as an openly and officially legal institution, anyhow….) between 1790 and 1930. ONLY in the United States of America did the abolition of legal chattel slavery result in war, and what a coincidence that this happened 13 years after the Communist Manifesto, in a Republican Administration with so many German Communist refugees from Europe in charge, and with Karl Marx’ official blessings and endorsements—none of facts which are EVER taught in American Middle or High School history classes…

Saint Andrew’s Day in Wailea, Wailuku, and Lahaina on Maui

Although as an Episcopalian, Baptized on the Feast of the Epiphany in 1993, my son Charlie was dedicated to Saint Andrew under whose sign and flag he was born on August 23, 1992, I am told after his mother and I separated, Charlie was rebaptized in the Orthodox Church behind my back as Constantine so that he could celebrate the same Saint’s Day as his mother Elena (“Emperor Constantine and Queen Mother Helen”.  [Sidebar#1: Constantine & Helen were a son & mother pair apparently an important as portents of the future from the 4th century indicating or mandating the future of mother-son relations in post-Classical Greece….[Sidebar#2: In Classical Greece it will be remembered that the Goddess Athena, at least in Aeschylus’ Eumenides, part 3 of the Orestian Trilogy judged Orestes either unworthy of capital punishment or in the alternative without mortal sin of the murder of him mother Clytemnestra while avenging Clytemnestra’s murder of his father Agamemnon.  Athena’s judgment relied at least in part on the extreme patriarchal notion that “a son is not closely related to his mother as he is to his father.”  I think that Athena’s solution may have been formulated radically—taking the need for an antidote to the Oedipus Complex a bit far perhaps…..]

All that notwithstanding, I have always loved Saint Andrew’s Day at the beginning of Advent and as the Patron Saint’s Day of Scotland and Greece (marking the opposite ends of Europe) as well as Barbados.  Saint Andrews’ day also indirectly celebrates the flags of Alabama, Florida, and not coincidentally, the famous (or infamous, depending on your views of mid-19th century politics) Battle Flag of the Confederate States of America.

This year I spent Saint Andrew’s Day between three spots on Maui: (1) starting off from the beautiful Villa Kalista at the border of Keawakapu and Wailea where I am spending these two weeks: Villa Kalista by Night and Looking South by Southwest from Villa Kalista, (2) to the Maui County seat and Courthouse at Wailuku (and finding out that there is really no such thing as a 9-5 day in Maui), and (3) finally ending up, for the third night in a row now, in King Kamehameha III’s beautiful home town of Lahaina.  Kamehameha III, who reigned 1825-1854, is said to have been the last “traditional” King of the Hawaiian Islands, and his royal compound was the island of Moku’ula at Lahaina.

The memory of the Hawaiian Kings and Nobility is strong here.  On my first full day here, Tuesday 11-27, I stopped into the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church and discovered that I had just missed “Ali’i Sunday” wherein the local Anglicans were celebrating 150 years since 1862 when King Kamehameha IV and his “Beloved Queen Emma” (née Emma Rooke) became converts to the Church of England (Anglican Communion), having been confirmed on November 28, 1862 as communicants of the one true Church and instituted a period of intense Anglophilia on the Island which is to this day commemorated in the inclusion of the Union Jack in the state (formerly Royal, and afterwards Republican) flag of Hawaii.   It is noted that this years is the sesquicentennial of the Anglican Church of the Sandwich Islands, that Queen Emma decreed that the Episcopal Seat/Cathedral should be named Saint Andrew in part because her husband, Kamehameha IV, died on Saint Andrew’s day, November 30, 1864, having reigned only eleven years since the death of Kamehameha III at Lahaina.  The Episcopal Church in Lahaina is called Holy Innocents and it was apparently there, on that site in December 14, 1862, that the Right Reverend Thomas Nettleship Staley (sent by Queen Victoria) conducted the first Anglican services in Lahaina.  This was commemorated this year as “Feast of the Holy Sovereigns”—a name which sounds positively Orthodox-Eastern (Byzantine or Russian Imperial) rather than Church of England-Protestant Episcopal.

But the Church of England had lagged behind among missionary activity in Hawaii.  A few blocks away from the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, also in Wailuku is a Church at 103 South High Street, founded in 1832, in a building dating to 1875, called the Ka’ahumanu (Congregational/Hawaiian Evangelical) Church (affiliated with the United Church of Christ).   This Church was founded, however, much earlier, and endowed in 1832 by a predecessor of “Beloved Queen Emma”, namely Queen Ka’ahumanu, the “Kuhina Nui of the Hawaiian Kingdom, who was an “ardent convert to Christianity.”

The relationship between the Hawaiian Royal Family and Nobility, on the one hand, and the Anglo-Christian missionary/colonization of Hawaii on the other, are the sources of major disputes in Hawaiian cultural, political, and racial identity and affiliation to this day.  It was precisely during the 1850s-1860s that Great Britain had politically perfected the first “World System” economy ever actually to encompass the entire world, ushering in the “Pax Brittanica” which lasted for barely 50 years until the start of “the Great War” (aka World War I).  The British did this by suppressing the Sepoy Mutiny in India and winning the first Opium Wars in China (forcing the Chinese to buy British India’s poppy and opium products, against the Chinese Emperor’s strong resistance), as well as by carefully staying out of the American War Between the States despite Queen Victoria’s strong sympathies for the Confederate States of America.

Today, Lahaina’s mile long boardwalk (called “Front Street”) displays an interesting stylistic combination/mixture of higher-end Santa Fe and Key West type art boutiques mixed together with cheesier New Orleans (and Key West) bars and souvenir shops—heavy on the toe rings and t-shirts.   The historical architecture is probably closer to Key West and Magazine Street New Orleans than to the French Quarter, and the prices are more akin to those in Santa Fe, but the overall effect is delightful and the soft sea air is better than any of those three (Key West, New Orleans, or Santa Fe) can ever manage.

My hostess at the Villa Kalista took me to the Baldwin House Museum (a New England Missionary’s House built in 1834, now the oldest standing structure in Lahaina; anything with original walls and foundation dating back to 1834 is of very respectable antiquity by the standards of someone just arrived from West Los Angeles, where the oldest standing structures were built not much before 1934, even on the UCLA campus and in downtown Santa Monica).

At the Baldwin House we took a slightly over-hyped “Candlelit Tour” (available only after 6 only on Fridays) from a woman who knew that the Baldwin Missionary couple had eight children two of whom died….and where these children slept in the house…..and that was about it.   It seems that Mark Twain visited in the late 1860s and Thomas Edison visited in the 1890s.  But nobody could tell us much about the relationship between these earliest Baldwins and the real estate company of that name “Alexander & Baldwin”) which seems to own most of the island on Maui, much as the Bishop family owns most of the land on Oahu.  Our tour guide knew much less than my hostess about the Baldwin Family and how they run Maui, or at least she admitted to knowing next to nothing.

We had a magnificent dinner with a corner balcony table overlooking the Pacific, looking west at Lahaina Fish Company, which I recommend to anyone who ever visits this town, and then spent an hour or so looking over vintage european posters at Christopher Dudley’s excellent shop of that same name.  The highlights for me were an early 20th century French poster with a Centaur and an even earlier poster with a rare text in the now almost extinct Langue D’Or of Provençal in Southeastern France, although seeing an early edition Toulouse Lautrec Poster that seemed to have been stolen from my mother’s bedroom (not really, just identical) was the eerie beginning of my tour at 744 Front Street.

No place could be less reminiscent of Scotland than Lahaina on Maui—on Saint Andrew’s Day or any other day, I feel reasonably sure.   The transition from Barbados to Maui would not be such an amazing cultural shock I suppose.  But then I think of Heilige Andreasnacht in rural Austria….and that would even be greater.  There are stone field walls and rough stone masonry in the historical buildings of Maui just as there are in Patras, the city in Western Peloponnesos in Greece where Saint Andrew was martyred—crucified on a saltire cross….which became his emblem, both during Hurricanes of his Name and otherwise, and on several flags of Dixie….

The conversation here in Maui almost inevitably returns, over and over again, to the interrelationship between race and politics here on Maui in particular and Hawaii in general.  The consensus seems to be that non-White Hawaiians constitute the “establishment” here on the Island, and that they are pro-corporate and anti-Environmental in their political affiliations, even though the state has a resolutely democratic voting record.

There are lessons here for the whole country: Whites are the agitators for environmental protection and ecological/historical conservation.   People with Anglo-names but non-white constituencies (like the Baldwins on Maui and the Bishops on Oahu) constitute the local core elite controlling the large corporate real-estate holdings and all aspects of local land-use regulation, apparently, but the local elite does not share the immigrant White “Howlie” fondness for environmental conservation—even as an obstacle to “growth and development.” Supposedly “Howlie” in local parlance refers to whites whose “uptight” customs include avoiding excessively close “nose-to-nose” proxemic contact with non-relatives….

Visions Hawaii from Dinesh D’Souza’s Obama 2016 keep coming back to me.  The “minorities” have become the ruling class—Hawaii has travelled even further down this road than Los Angeles—a LOT further.

Every single day in Hawaii is a major step of learning, as well as an overwhelming process of sensual satisfaction with the feel of the air, the taste of the food, the smell of the flowers, and the sound of the ocean or even of the garden around the villa at night.

I wish my son could be here with me on this adventure—I haven’t been to Hawaii in several decades, and never to Maui before.   I am grateful that God and Kalista gave me the chance and invited me here.   Somehow I feel I will never be quite the same again—and when you’ve travelled as much as I have, it’s a very rare new experience that makes you feel that way.  I should have come to Maui before….

August 12—a Bloody Day in History: in 30 BC Cleopatra Committed Suicide; in 1480 AD the Ottoman Army Beheaded 800 Christians at Otranto for Failure to Convert to Islam; in 1914 Great Britain Declared War on Austria-Hungary—and it’s a Bloody Hot Day in Fresno, California, too….

How One Day In History Outlines the Creation of the Present World Order and World Mythology under which we live

  • 1898 – An Armistice ends the Spanish–American War—the U.S. acquires Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippine Islands, Guam and simultaneously—-by no coincidence:
  • 1898 – The Hawaiian flag is lowered from ʻIolani Palace in an elaborate annexation ceremony and replaced with the flag of the United States to signify the transfer of sovereignty from the Republic of Hawaii to the United States.
  • 1914 – World War I: the United Kingdom declares war on Austria-Hungary; the countries of the British Empire follow suit.
  • 1914 – World War I: the Belgium Battle of Haelen a.k.a. (Battle of the Silver Helmets) last cavalry style attack from the German army on the city of Halen Belgium—in the battle of horses against tanks and machine guns, the horse fared very poorly….
  • 1944 – Waffen-SS troops massacre 560 people in Sant’Anna di Stazzema.
  • 1944 – Nazi German troops end the week-long Wola massacre, during which time at least 40,000 people were killed indiscriminately or in mass executions—one historian wrote, that in the aftermath of the Warsaw uprising of 1944: “the massacres in Wola had nothing in common with combat” as “the ratio of civilian to military dead was more than a thousand to one, even if military casualties on both sides are counted”
  • 1944 – Alençon is liberated by General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, the first city in France to be liberated from the Nazis by French forces (most French cities were liberated by U.S. and British Forces)
  • 1950 – Bloody Gulch massacre : American POWs were massacred by North Korean Army.
  • 1952 – The Night of the Murdered Poets: 13 prominent Jewish intellectuals are murdered in Moscow, Russia, Soviet Union.
  • 1953 – Nuclear weapons testing: the Soviet atomic bomb project continues with the detonation of Joe 4, the first Soviet thermonuclear weapon.
  • 1953 – The islands of Zakynthos and Kefalonia in Greece are severely damaged by an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale.
  • 1960 – Echo 1A, NASA’s first successful communications satellite, is launched.
  • 1964 – South Africa is banned from the Olympic Games due to the country’s racist policies—-the politicization of the Olympics had already begun….
  • 1964 – Charlie Wilson, one of the Great Train Robbers, escapes from Winson Green Prison in Birmingham, England, United Kingdom.
  • 1969 – Violence erupts after the Apprentice Boys of Derry march in Derry, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom resulting in a three-day communal riot known as the Battle of the Bogside; this is the first of these historical events of which I have some vague personal memory of contemporary awareness—I was with my grandparents in London that August—we were staying at the Savoy Hotel—I was nine and misbehaving and my grandfather offered me a hundred pounds if I would shut up at the dinner table and my grandmother made him pay when I did….they wanted to talk about the Protestant-Catholic conflict in Ireland and I have no idea what I was talking about.
  • 1976 – Between 1,000 and 3,500 Palestinians are killed in the Tel al-Zaatar massacre, one of the bloodiest events of the Lebanese Civil War
  • 1977 – The first free flight of the Space Shuttle Enterprise.
  • 1977 – The 1977 riots in Sri Lanka, targeting the minority Sri Lankan Tamil people, begin, less than a month after the United National Party came to power. Over 300 Tamils are killed.
  • 1978 – The Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China is signed.
  • 1980 – The Montevideo Treaty, establishing the Latin American Integration Association, is signed.
  • 1981 – The IBM Personal Computer is released.
  • 1982 – Mexico announces it is unable to pay its enormous external debt, marking the beginning of a debt crisis that spreads to all of Latin America and the Third World.  This is the event on this list I remember most clearly—I was in Merida, Yucatan, after my first summer at Chichen Itza, and when President Jose Lopez-Portillo nationalized the banks a few weeks later, I was there for the incredible panic and crisis, and the eerie scene of all the bank facades being draped in immense Mexican flags….

Confessions of a Lifelong-Heroine Addict….(oh well, since I was 6 or 8 I guess, probably not so much before that…)…from Dorothy Gale to Katniss Everdeen

The California Secretary of State having quite literally locked the doors to my running for Senate this year (at least in Tulare and Fresno Counties)—and the California Courts not seeming to offer a sufficient or accessible remedy—I now have time to indulge other (if related) obsessions my life, such as my sufferings from a lifetime of heroine addiction….  

Like almost every other aspect of my life, I blame my mother Alice and grandmother Helen almost equally….

It was my mother and father who, when I was very small, used to take me down by the Thames in Westminster near the Houses of Parliament and show me the statue of Boadicea (aka “Budica”), the last independent Iceni Queen of East Anglia who rebelled and died trying to evict the Roman Conquerors, in whose memory it was said and sung that “Britons never shall be slaves.”  We also took one trip out to Norwich to visit one of the woods where the Iceni supposedly worshipped their own goddess of Victory….called “Budika” in the Ancient British language of the Druids….(my parents were both heavily into historical and comparative linguistics).  Budika/Boadicea in A.D. 60-61 apparently burned Roman Londinium to the ground along with several other cities before being defeated and poisoning herself by the long Roman Road called “Watling Street” which we also visited…. She was a heroine and supposedly a great archer….  

Of course my parents also tried, as heart as their own agitated and addled lives would permit them, to make me aware of a very different heroine, regarding whom they required me to memorize “the Magnificat” from a very early age….”My soul doth magnify the Lord….Abraham and his seed forever…” And yes, the Virgin Mary was indeed a rebellious heroine… and she has remained a heroine to hundreds of millions of people up to the present time….  Later on, I learned to sing the Magnificat and other pieces of Anglo-Catholic “Maryolatry” as a choirboy in the junior Choir at the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, under the tutelage of the late, Great Russell J. Brydon (who died just a few months after this post was originally written, in September 2012 at the age of 88:

http://www.dallasnews.com/obituary-headlines/20120906-russell-j.-brydon-jr.-longtime-dallas-church-and-temple-organist-dies-at-88.ece

But it was my grandmother Helen who was something of a heroine in my young eyes herself, and it was Helen who introduced me to the very first literary  (as distinct from Historical or Biblical) heroines of whose stories I ever learned in detail: namely Dorothy Gale, Scarlett O’Hara, and the Roman Goddess Diana and her Sacred Temple by Lake Nemi  near Ariccia (Diana was also an archer…)

The path of fictional heroines from Dorothy Gale’s grey home in Kansas to Katniss* Everdeen’s equally grey home in District 12 of Panem took 108 years….from the first publication of the Wizard of Oz in 1900 through the appearance of archer Katniss Everdeen  Hunger Games in 2008**….is really the history of the idealistic dreams and ultimate failure of the 20th century (idealist dreams in Baum’s time giving way to a more cynical realism by 1939, passing through the somewhat confused “liberation” of the 1960s, sinking into the dark, pessimistic world of Buffy and Angel and finally coming to rest in the despair of District 12 in Panem in 2008—the year Barack Hussein Obama took over from George W. Bush…two different faces for the heartless, soulless, President Snow….)

But the difference in spirit between those two places traces indeed the tragic story of the Decline and Fall of Western Civilization (and of the American Dream) in the 20th Century. Major stopping points along the way (for me at least) include 1939 with the Dorothy Gale’s transformation in the person of Judy Garland and Scarlett O’Hara’s complete redefinition of the concept of “progress” in the late 19th century, Jane Fonda’s comic Cat Ballou and Barbarella in the 1960s, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in movie and television from 1992-2003.  

At each of these intervals, the world is more cynical and darker, and the heroines more complex.  Many critics have observed that the “head injury/dream sequence” aspects of the 1939 Movie Wizard of Oz and the metathesis of real individuals to “dreamtime” residents of the Land of Oz (which was COMPLETELY absent from L. Frank Baum’s book) resulted directly from Freudian psychoanalysis and the early popularity of psychology.  The general effect is to radically weaken the power of Oz as metaphor or lesson—but the movie was a wonderful hit—a lightly comic Wagnerian gesammtkunstwerk of acting, visual art, and music, so nobody really cared.  

A lot of the verbal banter and humor in the movie likewise showed a certain “worldly” sophistication with which I think Frank Baum would only have been somewhat congenial. E.G. the Cowardly Lion’s song “there’s just no use denyin’, I’m just a DANDYlion…” and the Wizard’s closing comment to the Scarecrow:

Back where I come from we have universities, 
seats of great learning 
-- where men go to become great thinkers. 
And when they come out, they think deep thoughts -- 
and with no more brains than you have .... 
But! They have one thing you haven't got! 
A diploma!

As a former denizen of the great academic halls of Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 and Chicago, Illinois 60637 (from various halls of which august institutions I did, for all the good that it’s done me or the world, get diplomas), and a regular visitor to many other such places, I can tell you that the Wizard here is absolutely right: 

And when they come out, they think deep thoughts -- 
and with no more  brains than you have.... 

But such cynicism simply was not part of the original vision of Oz, and although Baum occasionally did occasionally turn such comments to ridicule life back in North America in later books, he did not at all in his first installment in which he remade European folk mythology and archetypes and reshaped them in a very idealized panorama of a world where death was rare if non-existent and even the most evil of men and creatures did not kill for sport or pleasure.

For all of L. Frank Baum’s futuristic visions, I do not think he could have foreseen the transition from the naïve and hardworking life of Kansas to the nightmarish dreamworld of Suzanne Collins’ grim opera—neither a soap opera nor a very lyric, although even in the written version (which I finally got around to reading), music plays an immensely important part in the methathesis of metaphor and character, from Katniss’ Father to Peeta, from Prim to Rue… as between the unnatural National Anthem of the Conquering Capitol and the free world of nature and the poor of the “outlying districts.”

L. Frank Baum’s Oz books in so many was shaped and defined the culture of early-to-mid 20th Century of a predominantly White Christian America, especially after the release of Judy Garland’s movie….***  The spirit of Dorothy Gale’s Kansas was stiflingly dull and harsh—the American dream had already, at that point, apparently kind of run aground and needed new life— The spirit of Dorothy Gale’s Oz was half atavistic throwback to the Middle Ages, half filled with futuristic wonders (such as Glinda the Good’s Magic Picture, which permitted her what we would now call “live video access” to whatever was going on in Oz or elsewhere earth she was interested.

Dorothy Gale was a simple, pre-teenage girl (Judy Garland was at least ten years older than the original character was portrayed as being in the First Oz Book, but Dorothy Gale remained essentially a-sexual throughout the series, never had a boyfriend or a beau…. perhaps recapitulating some archaic notion of “the Virgin Goddess”,  e.g. Diana Nemorensis or the Virgin Mary or the “Virgin Queen”, Mary again or Queen Elizabeth I) whose strength derived from common sense, great courage, love, and determination.  Dorothy Gale was a generalist who never specialized in anything or focused on any particular trade, profession, or way of earning a living (all throughout the long series of Oz books, in fact).  She was just flexible, imaginative, and practical—kind of a “Renaissance girl” in a very low tech way.

Being a non-specialized generalist seems to be the primary role of all feminine heroes.  Of the earliest three I knew (Dorothy Gale, Scarlett O’Hara, and Diana Nemorensis), if Dorothy Gale had the purest and most asexual identity, Scarlett O’Hara surely had the most impure and sexual.  

It was perhaps for that reason that I was never really taken with her until I was a teenager, even though with my grandparents I religiously had watched Gone with the Wind at every possible opportunity and my grandmother compared the mythic South with the real South over and over again.   Scarlett O’Hara was beautiful, flirtations, and OWNED men in a way that is both fairly realistic and quite cynical.  But the book and movie Gone with the Wind were brilliantly timed between the First and Second World Wars to show that the American War Between the States of 1861-1865 was the first really and truly modern war of total destruction.  

Throughout history, up until Abraham Lincoln loosed Sherman on Georgia and Grant on Virginia, the goal of Conquest Warfare had been to preserve as much of a conquered land’s wealth as possible—so that it could be stolen and appropriated for the victors.  There might have been a lot of talk in Ancient Rome about how “Carthage must be destroyed” and about Salting the Earth once it was vanquished, but Carthage was not only not burnt to the ground and left to rot by the Roman Conquest, it became one of the Great Cities of the Roman Empire, as 20-30 years of Harvard Archaeological excavations in Tunisia have so clearly shown.  Gone with the Wind showed something else when Sherman’s “wind blew through Georgia.”  The purpose was indeed, as the opening lines of both the movie and the book suggested, to wipe out an entire civilization, a way of life—to replace what Marxists call one “mode of production” with another.   NONE of Baum’s villains in Oz were as bad as that, although the movie version of the Wicked Witch of the West was pretty murderous in her general attitude….

One major innovation of Jane Fonda’s heroines Cat Ballou and especially Barbarella in the 1960s was the advent of “free love”, which never appeared even once in any of Baum’s pre-1920 writings, which was only very obliquely alluded to in Gone with the Wind, but which by the 1960s was all anyone really cared about.  

Like Dorothy Gale and Scarlett O’Hara before her, Cat Ballou and Barbarella were unspecialized generalists who could adapt to almost any situation.  They were strong, intelligent, sexy, deadly in a good cause, and then Jane Fonda went to Hanoi….  In retrospect she may have been right to do it because the Vietnam War was totally wrong, a seriously failed experiment in 1984-type “perpetual war”….but Jane Fonda’s actions did not seem positive at the time.  

In this defiance of the outward semblance of world order sense, Jane Fonda’s characters of both Cat Ballou and Barbarella somehow came to life as defiant outlaws….crossing boundaries that no one else would cross, and doing so with both impunity and (what seemed most shocking at the time) complete immunity from real official sanction.  Like the righteous killer Catherine Ballou who avenged her father’s death in the Wild West—Jane Fonda first enacted herself as a mythic reality and then, by going to Hanoi, remade herself as a historic metaphor—walking through the image of a treacherous act, unscathed, in essence to show that Vietnam was all a staged event….. a dramatic diversion to keep the masses simultaneously afraid, amused and absorbed….  

Fast forward 24 years from Jane Fonda as Barbarella and you arrive the first incarnation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a completely modern LA County San Fernando Valley girl with no hints of modesty or virginity about her…. followed by the much more intriguing evolution of Buffy Summers in the TV Series from virginal high school freshman to intensely sexual college freshman, in a world which is increasingly dark and where reality is increasingly concealed….. Buffy’s Sunnydale was a mythic place, a lot like Los Angeles, while her first boyfriend and lover Angel eventually goes to the real Los Angeles and sets up shop as first as a private detective and then director of a large law firm—two professions which, in Los Angeles at least, possibly in the movies generally, have almost acquired the status of modern Jungian archetypes….  

The increasingly dark and brooding, sad and depressed Buffy Summers never lost her general adaptability—she could never specialize in any profession or line of work any more than Dorothy Gale or Scarlett O’Hara or Catherine Ballou… but the realization that the dark forces of the world were effectively unbeatable and had pre-existed anything good in the world—these were major transformations of the American Dream from the Early 20th Century.  And it was during the 7 televised seasons of Buffy that the 20th Century, which came in with a little girl magically transported by a tornado from dull grey Kansas to a bright and beautiful alternative universe which knew no death, went out during Buffy’s Freshman year at UCLA with a young adult barely out of her teens who was alone in the world, with her small circle of more specialized friends, fighting vampires and the forces of darkness.

And five years after Buffy ended, Katniss Everdeen picked up the bow from her archetypal ancestors the Goddesses Inanna and Diana and Queen Boadicea, and began to hunt for meagre food in the desperately hunger fringes of District 12 (in what was once called Appalachia in what was once called North America).  

The gruesomeness of the Hunger Games apparently shocks some people—I would have thought that Americans had long since forgotten how to be shocked about or by anything.  Children murdering children for sport isn’t the most pleasant of ideas, to be sure. But in that 17-19 year olds have gone off to fight in every war America has ever seen….along with a few 16 year olds here and there, and since the History Channel periodically shows authentic news clips of 15-16 year old resistance “werewolves” in 1945 Post-World War II Germany being shot by firing squads of American Troops, and countless tens of thousands of teenagers have been silently snuffed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam, it is hard to believe that the idea of children fighting and dying is really such a big deal to our ever hypocritically squeamish population.

The Hunger Games resonate with so much in our history and culture—with the original Victor Hugo version of Les Miserables (hopelessly buried and lost in the Broadway Musical of the same name), and in Suzanne Collins’ own account with the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.  

But above all the Hunger Games resonates with the year 2012 in which America has taken so many steps towards being a brutal, repressive dictatorship like Panem, already—with idiot fake and fraudulent “Conservatives” like Lindsey Graham and Newt Gingrich competing with idiot truly fraudulent “Liberals” like Carl Levin, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama competing with one another to see who can shred the Constitution fastest.  

Interesting to me, given that I based my own doctoral dissertation at Harvard in large part on revisiting Frazer’s the Golden Bough and with it Diana’s Temple by Lake Nemi near Ariccia, are the parallels between the Hunger Games and the myths and rituals of Divine Kingship.  There is nothing in the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, however, about games or about Tributes being well-fed and allowed every luxury leading up to their deaths.  But precisely this treatment is common in the rites of Divine Kingship, where sacrificial victims, like the individual selected for sacrifice during the rites of Toxcatl among the Aztec, are equated with the God Tezcatlipoca (“Smoking Mirror”) during the last year of their lives, given wonderful food and drink, and then sacrificed.  Similar paradigms of sacrifice are found throughout the world—

And the sacrifice of children, likewise, is extremely common: to the rain gods in Mesoamerica, relic traces of this existed even among the modern Yucatec Maya who tie small children to the legs of the altar during the cha-chaac or rain ceremony—although the children have to do nothing more that happily chirp like rainy season frogs (but woe to the boy who croaks like a dry season Toad—he will be beaten, not sacrificed, but beaten).  The Hebrew Bible itself is filled with child sacrifice (all through the Books of Kings and Chronicles, in particular, are Kings who make their children “walk through the fire”—perhaps most famously the daughter of Jeptha…), and by way of archaeological parallel—the excavations at Carthage have revealed hundreds and thousands of child sacrifices…. Among the Natchez of Mississippi, families sacrificed their children in order to rise in social status from commoners (“Stinkards”) to “Honored” Nobility according to the French records by Dupratz and recounted by John R. Swanton….

And in this sense it is perplexing: sacrifice almost always lead either to elevation in status or to outright deification: why the elite of Panem would not have recognized the risk embodied in Golden Bough-Divine Kingship type of analysis: the sacrificial victim—like the Rex Nemorensis at Ariccia who becomes King by killing the old one in combat, will always become the next king.  

At the end of the first book of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, Katniss Everdeen is poised to become (with Peeta), Queen and King of Panem.  This was not only foreseeable, it was in comparative mythological terms inevitable—and yet Suzanne Collins’ trilogy does not allow this drama to evolve that way.  In part, this may be because technology and traditions of oppression have obliterated the natural succession of Divine Kingship….

But Sir James G. Frazer’s point in writing the Golden Bough was to show that Divine Kingship involving the deification of sacrificial victims and their elevation as Kings is a nearly world-wide phenomenon.  I sit here puzzling at the significance of all the trappings of Divine Kingship and the Golden Bough in the Hunger Games.  

Frank Baum had either borrowed or unconsciously recreated so many motifs from ancient mythology—the Four World Quarters with colors Winkie-yellow Quadlin-red Munchkin-blue and Gillikin-purple with Green for the Center of the Emerald City are like nothing so much as the mythological and symbolic organization of (1) Ancient Mesopotamia, “Land of the Four Quarters” centered on Uruk, (2) Celtic Ireland, Ulster, Munster, Connaught, Leinster, and centered on Midhe (Meath) at Tara, and (3) pre-Hispanic Yucatan which, at several Classic sites, is divided into quarters dominated (as recorded on Stelae A & H at Copan) by Tikal, Calakmul, Palenque, and Copan and which even now is divided into four quarters (Yucatán, Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Petén, with Belize claimed by Guatemala and Geographically appearing to be a southern extension of Quintana Roo).

But in Frank Baum’s Oz, kingship is never strong and is always frowned upon, as are all attempts at centralization or standardization of culture, customs, or laws among the four/five regions of Oz.  For that reason, I would assume, there are no hints or traces of divine kingship in Oz—it is a Federal egalitarian Democracy of sorts (even though no one ever votes).  

But by the time of Buffy, as the 20th century closes, the need for a leader has brought forward the Slayer—“one girl in all the world” who fights the Demons.  Now Joss Whedon optimistically ended his series with a devolution of power and prowess from Buffy through the magic of Willow to Millions of “potential” slayers—-but it didn’t quite ring true, in a Television series where even the most outrageous vampiric and magic witchcraft was somehow made to feel “emotionally authentic.”

In the Hunger Games, Dictatorship is the reality and the two victors of the Hunger Games, Katniss & Peeta, are set to become the Divine Kings and possibly the real sovereigns of their land.  Perhaps the need for leadership, the need for someone to save the population, is not yet great enough, but in terms of the political and emotional significance of our story-telling, I think that the journey from Dorothy Gale’s Grey Kansas to Katniss Everdeen’s Grey District 12 tells us the story of the loss of hope and impending doom and despair which was the 20th Century.

*  Katniss is named after a plant called Sagittaria, and my grandmother was born under the sign of Sagittarius—it could be that Katniss reminds me a great deal of my grandmother Helen—similar complexions and faces…. Actress Jennifer Lawrence certainly fits very precisely the image in Suzanne Collins’ book…. and the younger pictures I’ve seen of my grandmother with long hair as a teenager in the time before the U.S. entered WWI….growing up in a place very much like the defeated districts of Panem in the Southern USA.

** In some New Age texts, 108 years is said to be a Venus Cycle, the more ordinary astrological cycle is one of 104 years.  108 is used, but oddly enough, is four years longer than longest calendrical cycle and planetary identity of the Ancient Goddess of Love, namely Inanna/ Ishtar/Aphrodite/Venus.  The calendrical cycles of Venus and the sun are said to “bind” (i.e coincide) every 2920 days, but the ultimate binding of 5 Heliacal Cycles of Venus with 8 Calendar years …. (365 x 8 = 5 x 584 = 2920 x 13 = 37,960 = 2 x 52 years (my current age) = 104 calendar years/105 “tuns” or 360 day periods—the root of the Maya and Aztec Calendars).  Like her Roman Counterpart Diana, Aphrodite and Inanna were both archers—it seems to be the feminine weapon of choice, possibly for purely sexual Freudian reasons, possibly for some mixture of Freudian sexual and Jungian archetypal causation.

*** In the 1970s, Broadway Musical and 1978 movie “the Wiz” the just recently departed Diana Ross and the late Michael Jackson did their best to reframe and appropriate the Baum story for African-America in the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement (or Fraudulent Civil Rights Fiasco) of the 1950s-60s…. I have never been comfortable Easing on Down the Road with them in that direction…. although my grandfather was a great supporter of alternative all black productions (now almost extinct) because they upheld and even developed, really and truly, the old segregationist’s doctrine of Separate but Equal (we actually attended the Wiz at the Majestic Theater on Broadway as well as an all black revival of Guys & Dolls in my one major summer with him (ever in my life) in 1976.

Nine Historical Vignettes for February 3, 2011: (1) Kosciusko’s Bridges 1781, (2) Hampton Roads Conference 1865, (3) Declaration of War against Germany 1917, (4) Death of Woodrow Wilson 1924, (5) Arrest of Karl Fuchs 1950, (6) Publication by Jacques Cousteau 1953, (7) Death of Buddy Holly 1959, (8) Landing of LUNIK 9 on the Moon 1966, (9) Alberto Gonzalez Confirmed as Attorney General 2005

What follows are nine moments in the history of the United States or Western Europe which relate to and lead up to the formation of the world as we know it.  All of these events happened on February 3, of one year or another.  THEY SAY THAT AMERICANS, FOR THE MOST PART, ARE the most HISTORICALLY ILLITERATE people in the world.  WHILE TEACHING AT AUSTIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN 2001-2003, ONE OF MY STUDENTS ASKED ME HOW I EVER CAME TO KNOW SO MUCH HISTORY—HOW LONG HAD IT TAKEN ME—I ANSWERED HIM I HAD BEEN STUDYING HISTORY MY WHOLE LIFE, AND THAT DISCOURAGED HIM, AND HE SAID, “SO NONE OF THE REST OF US REALLY HAVE A CHANCE”.  I RESPONDED THAT, NO, HISTORY WAS SOMETHING ONE COULD LEARN IN THE QUIET MOMENTS OF RELAXATION BETWEEN WORK, SLEEP, EATING, AND PLAY.  THAT HISTORY WAS LIKE CROSS-WORD PUZZLES OR VIDEO-GAMES—EASY AND RELAXING TO TAKE NOTES AND STUDY LINES OF HISTORY VERY CASUALLY—THIS I SINCERELY BELIEVE, AND TO THAT END, I HAVE COLLECTED 9 HISTORICAL VIGNETTES FOR FEBRUARY 3, 2011.
Today in History — Tuesday, Feb. 3 (52 Years Ago/The Day the Music Died, 87 years ago, the day Woodrow Wilson Died, 6 years ago, the day the decency of the Office of U.S. Attorney General Died)

Historical Vignette # (1)    On the evening of February 3, 1781, during the final year of the American War of Independence (“Revolutionary War” implies social change, and since the War of 1775-1781—peace resolved by the Treaty of Paris in 1783—with the United States Congress meeting in the dull & dreary Maryland Capital of Annapolis), American General Nathanael Greene and his troops successfully cross the Yadkin River to evade General Charles Cornwallis. The crossing followed consecutive Patriot losses at the Catawba River and at Tarrant’s Tavern, as well as heavy rainfall on February 1, which Greene feared would soon make the river impassable.

Although contradictory evidence exists, it is likely that the efforts of Polish engineer and military advisor Thaddeus Kosciusko made the crossing possible. Kosciusko had made a canoe expedition up the Catawba and Pedee Rivers, assessing Greene’s options, in December 1780. He then built a fleet of flat-bottomed boats for General Greene to use as a means of transporting his men across the water without having to waste time on manual portage, which would have involved soldiers removing the boats from the water and carrying them on their shoulders over land. The boats could be loaded into the Southern Army’s wagons for transport between river crossings. Kosciusko’s study of the rivers also allowed Greene to accurately predict the two-day interval between a heavy rainfall and rising river water.

Greene had ordered the Kosciusko-designed boats to be waiting for his men at the Yadkin. Thus, despite the flood of refugees clogging North Carolina’s roads in a desperate rush to leave before notoriously cruel British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton arrived, Greene was able to move his troops to the river and cross it. Although Cornwallis caught the tail-end of the Patriot crossing and shelled Greene’s camp on the far side of the river on February 4, he was not able to cause major damage or disruption.

Greene’s timing was impeccable–Cornwallis was unable to ford the quickly rising Yadkin behind him. Instead, Cornwallis was forced to march his men to the aptly named Shallow Ford and did not finish crossing the Yadkin until the morning of the February 7, by which time Greene and the Southern Army had a two-day lead in the race towards the Dan River and safety in Patriot-held Virginia.

Historical Vignette #(2) During the Final Year of the War Between the States (“Civil War” being as much a misnomer as “Revolutionary War”—the English Civil War of 1644-1649 was a truly “Civil War” between classes and religious groups within the same society, but it is only by a long post-war process that the full class, constitutional, economic, and socio-political implications of the American War of 1861-65  were resolved) President Lincoln met on February 3, 1865 at Hampton Roads with a delegation of Confederate officials to discuss a possible peace agreement. Lincoln refuses to grant the delegation any concessions, and the president departs for the north.

New York Tribune editor and abolitionist Horace Greeley provided the impetus for the conference when he contacted Francis Blair, a Maryland aristocrat and presidential adviser. Greeley suggested that Blair was the “right man” to open discussions with the Confederates to end the war. Blair sought permission from Lincoln to meet with Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and he did so twice in January 1865. Blair suggested to Davis that an armistice be forged and the two sides turn their attention to removing the French-supported regime of Maximilian in Mexico. This plan would help cool tensions between North and South by providing a common enemy, he believed.

Meanwhile, the situation was becoming progressively worse for the Confederates in the winter of 1864 and 1865. In January, Union troops captured Fort Fisher and effectively closed Wilmington, North Carolina, the last major port open to blockade runners. Davis conferred with his vice president, Alexander Stephens, and Stephens recommended that a peace commission be appointed to explore a possible armistice. Davis sent Stephens and two others to meet with Lincoln at Hampton Roads, Virginia.

The meeting convened on February 3. Stephens asked if there was any way to stop the war and Lincoln replied that the only way was “for those who were resisting the laws of the Union to cease that resistance.” The delegation underestimated Lincoln’s resolve to make the end of slavery a necessary condition for any peace. The president also insisted on immediate reunification and the laying down of Confederate arms before anything else was discussed. In short, the Union was in such an advantageous position that Lincoln did not need to concede any issues to the Confederates. Robert M.T. Hunter, one of the delegation, commented that Lincoln was offering little except the unconditional surrender of the South.

After less than five hours, the conference ended and the delegation left with no concessions. The war continued for more than two months.

Historical Vignette #(3) On the 3rd day of February, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson speaks for two hours before a historic session of Congress to announce that the United States is breaking diplomatic relations with Germany.

Due to the reintroduction of the German navy’s policy of unlimited submarine warfare, announced two days earlier by Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollwegg, Wilson announced that his government had no choice but to cut all diplomatic ties with Germany in order to uphold the honor and dignity of the United States. Though he maintained that We do not desire any hostile conflict with the German government, Wilson nevertheless cautioned that war would follow if Germany followed through on its threat to sink American ships without warning.

Later that day, Count von Bernstorff, the German ambassador to the U.S., received a note written by Secretary of State Robert Lansing stating that The President has directed me to announce to your Excellency that all diplomatic relations between the United States and the German empire are severed, and that the American Ambassador at Berlin will be immediately withdrawn, and in accordance with such announcement to deliver to your Excellency your passports. Bernstorff was guaranteed safe passage out of the country, but was ordered to leave Washington immediately. Also in the wake of Wilson’s speech, all German cruisers docked in the United States were seized and the government formally demanded that all American prisoners being held in Germany be released at once.

On the same day, a German U-boat sunk the American cargo ship Housatonic off the Scilly Islands, just southwest of Britain. A British ship rescued the ship’s crew, but its entire cargo of grain was lost.

In Berlin that night, before learning of the president’s speech, German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann told U.S. Ambassador James J. Gerard that Everything will be alright. America will do nothing, for President Wilson is for peace and nothing else. Everything will go on as before. He was proved wrong the following morning, as news arrived of the break in relations between America and Germany, a decisive step towards U.S. entry into the First World War.

Historical Vignette #(4) *CLOSELY RELATED TO #(3):  On February 3, 1924, Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, died.  Woodrow Wilson was the first Southerner elected President of the United States since 1856, and the first Southerner to hold the title of President within the territory of what is now the United States since Jefferson Davis, and the only Ph.D. and Academic ever to be elected President (he was previously President of Princeton University in New Jersey).  Wilson died in Washington, D.C., at the age of 67, 7 years after the declaration of War on Germany that effectively ended American Isolation in the New World and launched the country, unwillingly and unnecessarily, as a world power forever.

Wilson was also the President who presided over the “ratification” of the 16th Amendment and implementation of Income Tax, the establishment of the Federal Reserve Banking System, and the 17th Amendment to the United States which effectively abolished the power of the States in Federal Government forever.  OK, his administration also saw the extension of the voting Franchise to Women and many other “progressive” acts, but on the whole, Wilson effectively crystalized the implementation of the foundations of Corporate-Socialist government in the United States of America.  It was all very tragic.

But in 1912, Governor Wilson of New Jersey was elected president in a landslide Democratic victory over Republican incumbent William Howard Taft and Progressive Party (“Bull-Moose”) candidate (and formerly Wildly-Popular President) Theodore Roosevelt. The focal point of President Wilson’s first term in office was the outbreak of World War I and his efforts to find a peaceful end to the conflict while maintaining U.S. neutrality. In 1916, he was narrowly reelected president at the end of a close race against Charles Evans Hughes, his Republican challenger.

In 1917, the renewal of German submarine warfare against neutral American ships, and the “Zimmerman Note,” which revealed a secret alliance proposal by Germany to Mexico, forced Wilson to push for America’s entry into the war.

At the war’s end, President Wilson traveled to France, where he headed the American delegation to the peace conference seeking an official end to the conflict. At Versailles, Wilson was the only Allied leader who foresaw the future difficulty that might arise from forcing punitive peace terms on an economically ruined Germany. He also successfully advocated the creation of the League of Nations as a means of maintaining peace in the postwar world. In November 1920, President Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at Versailles.

In the autumn of 1919, while campaigning in the United States to win approval for the Treaty of Versailles and League of Nations, Wilson suffered a severe stroke that paralyzed his left side and caused significant brain damage. This illness likely contributed to Wilson’s uncharacteristic failure to reach a compromise with the American opponents to the European agreements, and in November the U.S. Senate refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles or the League of Nations.

During his last year in office, there is evidence that Wilson’s second wife, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, may have served as acting president for the debilitated and bed-ridden president who often communicated through her. In March 1921, Wilson’s term expired, and he retired with his wife to Washington, D.C., where he lived until his death on February 3, 1924. Two days later, he was buried in Washington’s National Cathedral, the first president to be laid to rest in the nation’s capital.

Historical Vignette #(5) On February 3, 1950, Klaus Fuchs, a German-born British scientist who helped developed the atomic bomb, was arrested in Great Britain for passing top-secret information about the bomb to the Soviet Union. The arrest of Fuchs led authorities to several other individuals involved in a spy ring, culminating with the arrest of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and their subsequent execution.

Fuchs and his family fled Germany in 1933 to avoid Nazi persecution and came to Great Britain, where Fuchs earned his doctorate in physics. During World War II, British authorities were aware of the leftist leanings of both Fuchs and his father. However, Fuchs was eventually invited to participate in the British program to develop an atomic bomb (the project named “Tube Alloys”) because of his expertise. At some point after the project began, Soviet agents contacted Fuchs and he began to pass information about British progress to them. Late in 1943, Fuchs was among a group of British scientists brought to America to work on the Manhattan Project, the U.S. program to develop an atomic bomb. Fuchs continued his clandestine meetings with Soviet agents. When the war ended, Fuchs returned to Great Britain and continued his work on the British atomic bomb project.

Fuchs’ arrest in 1950 came after a routine security check of Fuchs’ father, who had moved to communist East Germany in 1949. While the check was underway, British authorities received information from the American Federal Bureau of Investigation that decoded Soviet messages in their possession indicated Fuchs was a Russian spy. On February 3, officers from Scotland Yard arrested Fuchs and charged him with violating the Official Secrets Act. Fuchs eventually admitted his role and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. His sentence was later reduced, and he was released in 1959 and spent his remaining years living with his father in East Germany.

Fuchs’ capture set off a chain of arrests. Harry Gold, whom Fuchs implicated as the middleman between himself and Soviet agents, was arrested in the United States. Gold thereupon informed on David Greenglass, one of Fuchs’ co-workers on the Manhattan Project. After his apprehension, Greenglass implicated his sister-in-law and her husband, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. They were arrested in New York in July 1950, found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage, and executed at Sing Sing Prison in June 1953.

And Now for Something Completely Different #1, Cross-tabbed as Historical Vignette #(6)   On February 3, 1953, French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau publishes his most famous and lasting work, The Silent World.

Born in Saint-Andre-de-Cubzac, France, in 1910, Cousteau was trained at the Brest Naval School. While serving in the French navy, he began his underwater explorations, filming shipwrecks and the underwater world of the Mediterranean Sea through a glass bowl. At the time, the only available system for underwater breathing involved a diver being tethered to the surface, and Cousteau sought to develop a self-contained device.

In 1943, with the aid of engineer Emile Gagnan, he designed the Aqua-Lung, the world’s first self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba). With the Aqua-Lung, the largely unexplored world lying beneath the ocean surface was open to Cousteau as never before. He developed underwater cameras and photography and was employed by the French navy to explore navy shipwrecks. In his free time, he explored ancient wrecks and studied underwater sea life.

In 1948, he published his first work, Through 18 Meters of Water, and in 1950 Lord Guinness, a British patron, bought him an old British minesweeper to use for his explorations. Cousteau converted the ship into an oceanographic vessel and christened it the Calypso. In 1953, he published The Silent World, written with Frederic Dumas, and began work on a film version of the book with film director Louis Malle. Three years later,The Silent World was released to world acclaim. The film, which revealed to the public the hidden universe of tropical fish, whales, and walruses, won Best Documentary at the Academy Awards and the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

With the success of the film, Cousteau retired from the navy to devote himself to oceanography. He welcomed geologists, archaeologists, zoologists, environmentalists, and other scientists aboard the Calypso and led numerous excursions to the world’s great bodies of water, from the Red Sea to the Amazon River. He headed the Conshelf Saturation Dive Program, in which men lived and worked for extended time periods at considerable depths along the continental shelves.

His many books include The Living Sea (1963), Three Adventures: Galapagos, Titicaca, the Blue Holes (1973), and Jacques Cousteau: The Ocean World (1985). He also produced several more award-winning films and scores of television documentaries about the ocean, making him a household name. He saw firsthand the damage done to the marine ecosystems by humans and was an outspoken and persuasive environmentalist. Cousteau died in 1997.

HISTORICAL SUB-VIGNETTE: As a personal note, when I was a Judicial Law Clerk to the Honorable Kenneth L. Ryskamp in West Palm Beach, Florida in 1992 (Ryskamp was, without doubt, one of the most completely decent, distinguished and honorable men I have ever known, as well as one of the most dedicated and hardworking Judges), I had the occasion to participate in and prepare jury instructions and other papers relating to the trial for drug trafficking of a Cousteau apprentice and protege, Michael Wludarszcik, an East German who had earned fame in 1971 or thereabouts by jumping the Berlin Wall and running through a hale of bullets to “Freedom” in the West. In 1989-1990, I had had occasion to participate in the dismantling of that wall, and so I felt a special kinship to Wludarszcik.  Michael Wludarszcik was a sailor, merchant marine, oceanography, and underwater archaeologist who worked closely with Cousteau on several expeditions.  He was also an expert welder, and was accused of having welded several tanks or containers full of marijuana and other contraband and bringing it across the Caribbean into the United States.  He was a handsome, young, good-looking rugged man and had a beautiful wife and infant child who sat, the wife often sobbing, the baby well-behaved and quiet, throughout the trial.  Wludarczsik was found guilty and sentenced under the then current sentencing guidelines to 20 years, although Judge Ryskamp commented on what a terrible loss was this man and his life to society and science, even as he pronounced sentence.  Wludarczsik’s case awakened in my mind a passionate hatred of the war on drugs, which was only repeatedly reinforced throughout the remainder of my clerkship.  I had been disgusted by some drug defendants, the corrupt cops and the slimy drug dealers and all the double-crossing informants, but Michael Wludarczsik was a man whom I would have been honored to know, and his “acts of piracy” involved providing substances which almost all of my friends and colleagues in academia and social circles generally used, enjoyed, and actually valued.  The hypocrisy of the American War on Drugs as a means of incarcerating hundreds of thousands of Americans continues to aggrieve and offend me.   I hope that in my lifetime I will see a time when freedom of choice and freedom to choose an individual lifestyle is restored to the American people, and where no person will ever be imprisoned for providing good value to a willing marketplace.  I deeply respected and will always treasure the time I spent with the Honorable Kenneth L. Ryskamp, but I wish he had fought harder, as did his Palm Beach Colleague the Honorable James C. Paine, to neutralize and counteract the War on Drugs, which began in this Country as a power grab after prohibition by oligarchs such as William Randolph Hearst and John D. Rockefeller, the war on drugs itself being a phrase coined or at least popularized by Nelson A. Rockefeller while Governor of New York  (later first unelected Vice-President under Gerald R. Ford).

And now for something completely different #2, Cross Tabbed as *Historical Vignette #(7): On February 3, 1959, rising American rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson are killed when their chartered Beechcraft Bonanza plane crashes in Iowa a few minutes after takeoff from Mason City on a flight headed for Moorehead, Minnesota. Investigators blamed the crash on bad weather and pilot error. Holly and his band, the Crickets, had just scored a No. 1 hit with “That’ll Be the Day.”

After mechanical difficulties with the tour bus, Holly had chartered a plane for his band to fly between stops on the Winter Dance Party Tour. However, Richardson, who had the flu, convinced Holly’s band member Waylon Jennings to give up his seat, and Ritchie Valens won a coin toss for another seat on the plane.

Holly, born Charles Holley in Lubbock, Texas, and just 22 when he died, began singing country music with high school friends before switching to rock and roll after opening for various performers, including Elvis Presley. By the mid-1950s, Holly and his band had a regular radio show and toured internationally, playing hits like “Peggy Sue,” “Oh, Boy!,” “Maybe Baby” and “Early in the Morning.” Holly wrote all his own songs, many of which were released after his death and influenced such artists as Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney.

Another crash victim, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, 28, started out as a disk jockey in Texas and later began writing songs. Richardson’s most famous recording was the rockabilly “Chantilly Lace,” which made the Top 10. He developed a stage show based on his radio persona, “The Big Bopper.”

The third crash victim was Ritchie Valens, born Richard Valenzuela in a suburb of Los  Angeles, who was only 17 when the plane went down but had already scored hits with “Come On, Let’s Go,” “Donna” and “La Bamba,” an upbeat number based on a traditional Mexican wedding song (though Valens barely spoke Spanish). In 1987, Valens’ life was portrayed in the movie La Bamba, and the title song, performed by Los Lobos, became a No. 1 hit. Valens was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Singer Don McLean memorialized Holly, Valens and Richardson in the 1972 No. 1 hit “American Pie,” which refers to February 3, 1959 as “the day the music died.”

And now for something completely different #(3), Cross-Tabbed as Historical Vignette #8:  On February 3, 1966, the Soviet Union accomplishes the first controlled landing on the moon, when the unmanned spacecraft Lunik 9 touches down on the Ocean of Storms. After its soft landing, the circular capsule opened like a flower, deploying its antennas, and began transmitting photographs and television images back to Earth. The 220-pound landing capsule was launched from Earth on January 31.

Lunik 9 was the third major lunar first for the Soviet space program: On September 14, 1959, Lunik 2 became the first manmade object to reach the moon when it impacted with the lunar surface, and on October 7 of the same year Lunik 3 flew around the moon and transmitted back to Earth the first images of the dark side of the moon. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the U.S. space program consistently trailed the Soviet program in space firsts–a pattern that shifted dramatically with the triumph of America’s Apollo lunar program in the late 1960s.

OK, so saving the worst of all for last of all (as Historical Vignette #9), on February 3, 2005, Alberto Gonzales won Senate confirmation as the nation’s first Hispanic attorney general despite protests over his record on torture.   Alberto Gonzalez would have been a disgrace to his profession and to the United States of America and its Constitution as a county prosecutor handling misdemeanors and traffic tickets and clearly had no business being the Attorney General of the United States.

The Senate approved his nomination on a largely party-line vote of 60-36, reflecting a split between Republicans and Democrats over whether the administration’s counterterrorism policies had led to the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere. Shortly after the Senate vote, Vice President Dick Cheney swore in Gonzales as attorney general in a small ceremony in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. President Bush, who was traveling, called to congratulate him.

Gonzales was born in 1955 in San Antonio, Texas, the son of migrant workers and grew up in a small, crowded home in Houston without hot water or a telephone. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1973 after graduating high school. Following a few years of service, Gonzales attended the U.S. Air Force Academy.

After leaving the military, Gonzales attended Rice University and Harvard Law School before Bush, then governor of Texas, picked him in 1995 to serve as his general counsel in Austin and in 2001 brought him to Washington as his White House counsel. In this new role, Gonzales championed an extension of the USA Patriot Act.

After Gonzales became attorney general, he faced scrutiny regarding some of his actions, most notably the firing of several U.S. attorneys and his defense of Bush’s domestic eavesdropping program. The firings became the subject of a Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007. Concerns about the veracity of some of his statements as well as his general competency also began to surface.

Democrats began calling for his resignation and for more investigations, but President Bush defended his appointee, saying that Gonzales was “an honest, honorable man in whom I have confidence,” according to an Associated Press report from April.

A few months later, however, Gonzales decided to step down.

On August 27, he gave a brief statement announcing his resignation (effective September 17), stating that “It has been one of my greatest privileges to lead the Department of Justice.” He gave no explanation for his departure. In his resignation letter, Gonzales simply said that “. . . this is the right time for my family and I to begin a new chapter in our lives.”

Gonzales and his wife Rebecca have three sons.

TODAY IN HISTORY
By The Associated Press
Today is Tuesday, Feb. 3, the 34th day of 2011. There are 331 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
Fifty-two years ago, on Feb. 3, 1959, a single-engine plane crashed shortly after midnight near Clear Lake, Iowa, claiming the lives of rock-and-roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, as well as pilot Roger Peterson. That same day, an American Airlines Lockheed Electra from Chicago crashed into New York’s East River while approaching LaGuardia Airport, killing 65 of the 73 people on board.
On this date:
In 1809, 202 years ago, German composer Felix Mendelssohn was born in Hamburg. Congress passed an act establishing the Illinois Territory effective March 1.
In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens held a shipboard peace conference off the Virginia coast; the talks deadlocked over the issue of Southern autonomy.
In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, providing for a federal income tax, was ratified.
In 1916, Canada’s original Parliament Buildings, in Ottawa, burned down.
In 1924, the 28th president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, died in Washington, D.C., at age 67.
In 1930, the chief justice of the United States, William Howard Taft, resigned for health reasons. (He died just over a month later.)
In 1943, during World War II, the U.S. transport ship Dorchester, which was carrying troops to Greenland, sank after being hit by a German torpedo. (Four Army chaplains gave their life belts to four other men, and went down with the ship.)
In 1966, the Soviet probe Luna 9 became the first manmade object to make a soft landing on the moon.
In 1969, Yasser Arafat was elected chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization’ s executive committee during a council meeting in Cairo, Egypt.
In 1989, Alfredo Stroessner, president of Paraguay for more than three decades, was overthrown in a military coup.
Twelve years ago: The Clinton administration told Congress a NATO-led peacekeeping force could be needed in Kosovo for three to five years and might include up to 4,000 American troops.
Seven years ago: John Kerry won Democratic presidential contests in five out of seven states. Work in the U.S. Senate slowed to a crawl, a day after ricin powder was found in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Three years ago: The New York Giants scored a late touchdown for a spectacular Super Bowl win, 17-14, that ended the New England Patriots’ run at perfection.
Today’s Birthdays: Comedian Shelley Berman is 85.
Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton is 71. Actress Bridget Hanley is 70. Actress Blythe Danner is 68. Singer Dennis Edwards is 68. Football Hall of Famer Bob Griese is 66. Singer-guitarist Dave Davies (The Kinks) is 64. Singer Melanie is 64.
Actress Morgan Fairchild is 61. Actor Nathan Lane is 55. Rock musician Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) is 55. Actor Thomas Calabro is 52.
Actor-director Keith Gordon is 50. Actress Michele Greene is 49. Country singer Matraca Berg is 47. Actress Maura Tierney is 46.
Actor Warwick Davis is 41. Reggaeton singer Daddy Yankee is 35. Musician Grant Barry is 34.
Singer-songwriter Jessica Harp is 29. Rapper Sean Kingston is 21.
Thought for Today: “I can, therefore I am.” — Simone Weil, French philosopher (born this day in 1909, died 1943).

Death Came, as it must to all men, to Georges Kourembanas, my brother-in-law, age 51

I will say it again:

I have been an unworthy hypocrite to judge you; you and I were so much alike; you were always my brother; I shall miss you.

CEL III: Georges Kourembanas was a big man

He was a great body builder!

Georges in competition sometime in the mid-1980s

who loved his women, loved his dogs, loved his liquor and cigars, and was loved by all in turn.  He was strong and seemingly indestructible, but he just died at age 51.  How I resented him!  How I envied him!  How I hated him for his life of leisure and luxury living the last ten years of his life on Greek Islands in the Aegean and Cancun!  How I envied the fact that certain people loved and cared for him who could not love and would never care a fig for me!   How I wished that I were as physically strong as he was!   How I wished I had his life, and so, could any two males of the human species be less alike than me and my brother-in-law Georges, who died one week ago on Friday, January 22, 2010, at about 8-8:30 PM in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, at his home with his mistress Lena who called him “Daddy”, even though knowing that he was beloved by his wife Lisa?

Last Saturday January 30, 2010, Georges Kourembanas was laid to rest beside his father, Panagiotis Kourembanas, a Greek Orthodox Priest, who also died young (at 54, in 1984) in Detroit, Michigan, though both father and son were born in Athens, Greece.  His family all surrounded and mourned him during this past week, although he had literally been an exile, shunned or ignored by all but his Anglo-American wife Lisa, who collapsed at the graveside, his mother, who after 37 years in the United States speaks less English than most foreign secondary school pupils immediately after flunking their first year exams in English, and his sisters, one of whom is my wife from whom I have been estranged for 8 continuous years now and my son, whom she and the system hid from me until he broke through the barricades and found me.

Not having any memory of the heartaches associated with Georges during 1990-1999, my 17 year old son Charlie was very sad about his uncle Georges, who died at age 51, just about two weeks after his birthday in fact, which was January 9—he was born in 1959, one year, three months and one day older than I am now.  He was healthy, at least considering everything, he was a body-builder (contestant representing Greece in the Mr. Universe pageant in 1983), who later became addicted to steroids and then to crack cocaine, which caused his family (including me) no end of trouble and grief.  But he was a good natured and happy guy. “I have come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”, said Shakespeares’ Mark Anthony, “the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones, so let it be with Caesar.”  In Georges’ case, it seems almost exactly the opposite (his family cried and forgave him all his sins), except that I plan here to write the good, the bad, the ugly, and try to put it all in the context of the world that I think made him who and what he was, and how he and I, as unlike as any two people could be, in so many ways have travelled along similar and parallel paths…rather lonely, difficult paths in fact….

You see, Georges and I both became, in very distinctive ways, victims of American injustice and oppression and the corruption of the American government in the “land of the free.”  We were both deprived of our rights.  We were both made to seem less that ordinary worthy citizens, and we suffered from these unconstitutional offenses against us, as did our country which inflicted these offenses…

First I should quote what my son Charlie, born August 23, 1992 under windows taped with St. Andrews Crosses at St. Mary’s Hospital “Birth Place” in Palm Beach, Florida, during the early landfall of Hurricane Andrews, wrote about his Uncle—(The Following Paragraphs are Charlie’s epitaph for his uncle):

CEL IV: To me, to my mother, to his own mother, and to his wife and friends, Georges Kourembanas was a Great Man, he lived a life that in some ways was extraordinary, eccentric, perhaps unenviable, but many, including some who never met him, would agree that there was something Great about his heart and soul as well as his body—his physical strength.  His mother was my maternal grandmother, Neonina (aka “Nina”) Kourembanas.

One of the dearest of all God’s Saints to me is Saint George.   I grew up reading my Father’s English stories of St. George and the Dragon under the white and red flag of England, but St. George was also the Patron Saint of my mother’s native Greece with its universally recognized blue and white flag, but also of Aragon, thus triangulating Europe (and my parents’ lives—my mother from Greece, my father of Anglo-American heritage, but they met in Mexico, speaking Spanish).   One of the few things my parents ever agreed on was to celebrate St. George’s Day on April 23, and we used to go to Saint George’s Church on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, where there were dragonslayer windows made and set by George Comfort Tiffany (damaged but not destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, 2005).

My Uncle Georges, had a traditional Orthodox Greek icon of Saint George in his room above his bed.  One of my earliest memories with Georges was in the 90s when I went to a Karate Tournament.  I won by tapping my opponents head, Georges remembered that very well and reminded it to me many times; I imagine he was proud as he himself was a boxer who won “golden gloves” in several tournaments (he told me this when I was in Cancun during the summer of 2007).

If I were to describe my uncle Georges in one word it would be that which he told me ran in our blood, Spartan.

Beside mere physical ability strength Georges was one of the kindest men I have ever met, he would often tell me that he loved me with all his heart, and “Charlie I have a big heart.”

Together while spending the summer with Georges in Cancun during July and August of 2007 he decided to train me in body building for he was one of best bodybuilders in the world. During the 80s he was awarded Mr. Michigan three times consequently he went to Greece and became Mr. Greece then in the Mr Universe competition which he won 8th place at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Georges Kourembanas was born in the Kingdom of Greece, son of an Orthodox Priest who married a model, so an unlikely start for a champion body builder. His Mother and Father immigrated to the United States in 1970 foreseeing the downfall of the Dictatorship of Papadoupoulous, and meeting up with George’s maternal Uncle John Samohin and George’s maternal Grandmother in Detroit, bringing both of Georges’ young sister, my mother Elena, with them (my aunt Alex was born in Detroit in 1973).

In the summer of 1974, after Georges had already started working out at the original PowerHouse Gym on Woodward St. in Detroit,  Georges went to Greece to visit with his parents and little sister Elena; there he witnessed the commotion in the streets of Athens during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

By 1980 Georges won “golden gloves” in boxing, having already won 1977 Teen Mr. Highlands 4th Place, and several other teen bodybuilding awards.  After graduating from High School George went to Wayne State University in Detroit. In 1981 Georges won Mr. Michigan, then in 1982 he was awarded Mr. Michigan Most Muscular, and then in 1983 he won 1st place Tall Mr. Michigan.

Since Georges was born in Greece, and could was not eligible to compete for the American title Mr. USA, so he went back to Greece to become Mr. Greece and to represent Greece in the 1984 Mr. Universe tournament in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace, where he took eighth place.

In 1984 Georges and his family suffered the loss of his Father, Panagiotis (aka “Peter”) Kourembanas; who was a Greek Orthodox Priest and fell of a heart attack while delivering the Good Friday Sermon in Toronto, Canada (Detroit and Toronto form part of the same Orthodox Diocese, or at least they did back then).

Georges by this time had already come to be known as ‘The Greek’ in many parts of Detroit. He met his future wife Lisa Ann Cook in 1983/4.  She was a beauty queen and a body builder herself—they were quite a striking couple.

Like so many athletes, I’m afraid that my uncle succumbed to the temptation of “enhancement” drugs, i.e., steroids, and unfortunately for him this led to other kinds of “substance abuse” with consequences I think my father will write more about below.  Drugs are apparently sold on credit—but since repossession of collateral to users is rarely an option, collection techniques tend to be significantly more than dunning letters followed by notices of default and acceleration.

In connection with one deal gone bad, Georges was shot on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1990, in the head through the ear, a bullet that he would carry with him to his death, and while still conscious he protected himself, left the area in his 1987 Camaro, and instead of going to the hospital right away he drove, with blood squirting out of head, to Lisa under the impression that he was going to die. When Lisa saw him she convinced him to go to the hospital where he spent about a week not knowing wheather he would survive or not. By the Grace/Protection of God Georges said he survived.

Georges was shot again in Austin on Christmas morning 1990—he carried some of the bullets he got on those two occasions to his grave, but God had other plans for him than to die a victim of crime.  Instead, Georges died a victim of injustice, American injustice, and that’s where my father is going to take over and write the rest of this.  I can say very little more, except that my whole family have cried every night since he died, and I have lost one of my best friends, one of the few people who remained loyal both to my Father and Mother (along with his wife Lisa) during their long divorce and fighting.

CEL III: I confess that there was a time when I felt my brother in law was a terrible burden, an imposition, a weight sinking my life which I could not bear.  I blamed my wife and mother-in-law for what I called their “Co-Dependence” on Georges during his steroid abuse and crack-cocaine addiction years.  Today as we all remember him, I will try to forget the bitterness that I once felt—the unjust accusations I once made that he was the breaking factor in my marriage to Elena—because it was obviously our fault and no one else’s—oh well, perhaps some fault can be laid at the doors of “the system”, some of its judicial officers and agents, and particularly one false and treacherous Hungarian archaeologist ex-friend of mine, perhaps they were to blame also, but not Georges—Georges was true blue—flawed but stained if by anything then only with his own blood, and his own human frailty—yes, frailty, for all that he was strong enough to tear phonebooks apart.

Most of the substances which constitute modern illegal drugs have been known to man since the dawn of time….at least since the beginning of civilization. Some modern drugs, like “LSD” the favorite of so many young people in the 1960s-70s, and “Crack”–the synthetic form of Cocaine which became popular in the 1980s, and to which Georges eventually became addicted, are artificial, but clearly the need for mind-numbing intoxicants and poisons is one of the “discontents” of civilization to which Sigmund Freud so often referred.

In Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, a substance called “Soma” was rationed out to all people liberally—without any of the side effects of alcohol or other drugs.  The importance of drugs to the 19th century British Empire is epitomized by the “Opium Wars” which forced drugs on an isolationist China.  The importance of drugs to the 20th century American Empire is punctuated by the events of 1919, during which year the United States acquired the patent for Heroin and Bayer Aspirin from Germany as part of the Treaty of Versailles, at the same time that the United States passed the 18th Amendment imposing the Prohibition so definitive of the 1920s, and the origins of both organized crime and the earliest formation of a Federal Police State in the United States of America.  There are those who say that William Randolph Hearst was responsible for making George Washington’s favorite crop—Cannabis Sativa illegal in the 1930s to protect his own interest in synthetic fiber ropes, but the true beneficiaries of the suppression of marijuana were each and every police department and above all the FBI, DEA, and ATF organs of the Federal government, which grew and maximized their power with every new “commercial” regulation of drugs in violation of the constitutional liberties of the people.

Psychoactive or narcotic drugs have been used throughout history, and alcohol is still used without prescription to this day.  So I have asked myself, since I was a small child, how is it that opium aristocratically inspired so many poets and other historical figures from Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius to Cardinal Richlieu, as well as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Edgar Allen Poe only to become an abomination forbidden by law in modern times….all over the Americas and Europe….

The reason to me is obvious: government cannot thrive except by forbidding and monopolizing that which people crave.  The earliest example of this in the history of the United States is the play of righteous emotions similar to those I confessed, at the start of this post, to feel about my brother-in-law Georges: envy and resentment of what others have.  The War Between the States in the years 1861-1865 was about many things, but one of them was the envy and resentment of the Northern Whites who prided themselves on hard work and self-sacrifice against the more indulgent, hedonistic, and languid slave-owners of the Southern white world.

The 13th Amendment forbade slavery or involuntary servitude, “except as a punishment for crime”—and from the day of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox until the present day, the prison population of the United States of America has grown until it is the largest in the world (relative to the population of the country as a whole) and the absolute number of incarcerated, paroled and otherwise judicially restrained black people now exceeds the number of African-American slaves in 1860 (and the number of white prisoners, parolees, and probationers exceeds the entire population of the American Colonies in 1776).

Three years before the secession of South Carolina on December 20 1860 through the secession of Texas on February 1, 1861, the United States Supreme Court, per Chief Justice Taney, handed down a significant decision in a case called Scott v. Sanford (1857) which decided, among many other things, that one state could not declare to be illegal a form of property which was legal in others, as a matter of comity, due process of law, and many other reasons.  The “due process” reasoning of Chief Justice Taney’s opinion in “the Dred Scott” case is still worth reading, although the memory of the 19th century’s most deadly and devastating war, three constitutional amendments, and many generations of civil rights litigation have otherwised tarnished the memory of the only U.S. Supreme Court case which can ever be said to have had an effect more disastrous than the Judgment of Paris….

So the thirteenth amendment abolished slavery or involuntary servitude EXCEPT AS A PUNISHMENT FOR CRIME, and all of a sudden, the U.S. Criminal Codes started to expand exponentially—because civilized society will apparently not exist without slaves.  Having abolished one species of private property by war and constitutional amendment, the United States Government in the 20th Century started to regulate all manner of commerce and private property, which caused much unhappy spinning in the graves of the Founding Fathers.  Worst of all, the 1920s saw the triumph of the First Prohibition, in which the constitution was amended to forbid the sale of alcohol.  Having proved to be the worst experiment in the moralistic legislative history of the human race, Prohibition of Alcoholic Liquors was repealed in December  of 1933, but it was almost immediately replaced by utterly unconstitutional restraints on drugs such as cannabis sativa, cocaine, opium, and all their derivatives.  The “commerce clause” justification for the federal regulation of drugs is a farce, one of the cruelest hoaxes ever played on a free people, but to explain why no American Patriot would ever suggest that George Washington should have ploughed under his profitable “rope” crop would just be to go too far astray from this story, which is still about my brother-in-law, Georges Kourembanas.

The bottom line, to my mind, is that Government wanted to expand its power, and Government DID expand its power, by controlling what people have always naturally desired and craved: narcotic and psychoactive drugs.  The “War on Drugs”, since the phrase was coined by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller in an attempt to fill the prisons of his state and build more, but especially since this “War” was adopted by Richard Nixon whose advisors told him not merely to make “detente” with Communist China, but also to start emulating its policies of mass incarceration, has operated as one of the largest slavery-cum-corporate welfare programs in the history of the world.  Vast numbers of unemployed youths, skillful middle-aged businessmen, and entrepreneurs of every kind have, since about 1966, been swept into prison through coerced plea agreements engineered by a cabal of licensed attorneys and the judges who love and control them together with the corporate franchises which fund all of them, and between 1-2% of the American population is now locked into slavery from which escape is much less likely, and emancipation much more stringently regulated, than Antebellum slavery ever was in the South.

Computers mean that tracking of “escaped slaves” is much more certain and recapture much more likely than it ever was in the days of the “underground railroad”—and of course, all middle class whites, Northern and Southern, Eastern and Western, rejoice in the burgeoning population of the prisons until they or their relatives end up in the trap—at which time it’s just “too bad, so sad” that the privileged middle class population never learned that “none can be free until all are free.”

White America loves the “war on drugs” and the explosion of prison population which has accompanied it.  African and Hispanic Americans can be disproportionately incarcerated for the most trivial crimes, and the most uppity and enterprising white people are likewise incarcerated or threatened with incarceration whenever they get to “uppity” and/or “big for their britches”—unless of course, they are part of the truly immunized elite inner circle.  Entrepreneurial spirit and individual initiative rot in prisons—but corporate values flourished and corporate subservience is instilled in prison, in case you missed the lessons or ignored them in U.S. Elementary-High School (or for that matter in British schools whether portrayed by Dickens or in Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”).  Every indication is that President Barack Hussein Obama fully intends to crush every relic of American freedom that exists, and enforce a rigid conformity to his plans by ever expanding the powers of government through Homeland Security and more and more prisons, private and/or public. Guantanamo will eventually be closed, of course, and replaced by prisons inside the U.S. where indefinite detention without trial will be permitted and the Writ of Habeas Corpus lost forever.

But this is the unjust world reality which trapped and destroyed Georges Kourembanas during the years 1990-2000 and, more than any other single factor, caused his death in exile, however luxurious, in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico on January 22, 2010.

You see, Georges, as noted above, was not born in the United States.  He was accepted and respected as an American in Michigan for years, as so many immigrants have been.  But Georges never gave up his Greek passport—he was content with a “Green Card” (as was his sister, my wife, throughout our marriage—although since our separation she has apparently gotten a Blue American Passport and given up her Democratia Hellinika-E.C. Diabaterio which I always thought was so neat….).  Well, at the very least, she’s voting now…..I’m not quite sure about all that….but I digress…

Georges Kourembanas was (unsurprisingly) arrested several times during his years “under the influence.”  In this he differed little from another fellow named George who just happened to be governor of Texas in 1999.  Aside from the natural class-based consequences of having an Orthodox Priest rather than a U.N. Ambassador and CIA Director for a Father, Georges Kourembanas’ life was little less accomplished than George W. Bush’s.  But as George W. Bush was riding on the modern American prison-based slave-ocracy and its attendant envies and corruptions, Georges Kourembanas was arrested and the government of his adopted land sought his deportation.   There is no “exile” for American citizens who misbehave, but there is deportation for legal residents who do the same or less.  Literally HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS bordering on MILLIONS of Hispanics are imprisoned throughout the United States for nothing much more than job hunting and maybe then getting drunk (and stopped) on a Saturday night.

I have often said that if Mexico were to imprison rowdy Americans in Cancun, Acapulco, and Mazatlan at the same rate that Mexicans are rounded up in the United States, that the United States would invade Mexico and bring about the North American Union immediately, without further delay or debate.  I also think to myself that there is no real contradiction between building a big prison-like unescapable/uncrossable fence along the Mexican border and proposed a North American Union, because the corporate powers of the United States would like nothing better than to convert Mexico into one gigantic prison-labor camp from which workers could be employed or removed as market conditions should necessitate.  If the politicians of Mexico had any pride….things would be different, but they are mostly former employees of American Corporations such as Coca-Cola, so it hardly matters.

“Moral Turpitude” is what makes people like Georges Kourembanas deportable.  “Moral Turpitude” is a concept as amorphous as “original sin” which Immigration Courts use to send “undesirables” back from whence they came.  Was Georges Kourembanas less desirable than George W. Bush?  In my opinion, and probably in the opinion of hundreds of thousands of widows and orphans around the world at least from Iraq-to Afghanistan, there is really no comparison or competition at all.  Georges Kourembanas as a man who loves his women, loves, his dogs, and loved his liquor, and never hurt anyone.  “No one died when Clinton lied” was one of my favorite Bush-era bumper-stickers.

Georges family—my in-laws—took good care of him at the same time that they shunned me as my marriage to his sister resolved itself into a dew.  Care packages and love and visits flowed from Austin to Athens during the early 2000s after Georges took “voluntary departure” instead of deportation—he could have contested deportation but he would have stayed in jail for God knows how long while he did, and he was never convicted of anything which the Greek authorities thought worthy of note.  After a year or so in Athens Georges eventually settled in a Lemon grove amid olive and fig trees on a little island in the Aegean.  He lived there with Lena his mistress while his wife Lisa and his mother and sister and even my son visited him de temps en temps.

I am sure he was lonely and bored living there in a fruit orchard, but his family took care of him, so he never had to work, and I did envy him his existence no end.  I lived along during the years 2002-2007, but I talked to Georges’ American wife Lisa—sometimes almost daily, sometimes only once a week, recently (especially since I left Texas in 2007) not quite so often.  But Georges and Lisa talked to me and helped me keep up with news about my son when the truly criminal state domestic relations courts of Williamson County, Texas, took my son away from me.  So I got to know Georges better and talked to him more often by telephone during those years than I ever had when he lived in the United States.  And yes, Georges was a very kind, good, and big-hearted man, and he always assured me that my son loved me and missed me—and he was obviously telling me the truth.

His wife Lisa?  Well, I have often written that Georges and Lisa were like Tristan and Isolde—always separated, always longing for each other.  Lisa was the ideal loyal and patient wife, in every way tolerant of Georges and his needs (including his need for a permanent female companion on the other side of the Atlantic).  In spite of the situational peculiarities, I think that they really did love each other on an epic, Wagnerian level which few can understand.  Lisa supported Georges, assisted occasionally by my wife Elena and her mother Nina, not so much by any of the other Greek relatives on this side of the Atlantic, except possibly for Tia Maria whom I only met a few times at her home in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City.  Lisa, like Georges, had a huge heart, great compassion and almost boundless love, at the same time that she became physically weak due to breast-implant poisoning caused by Dow Pharmaceauticals.  She was as much a victim of the American Corporate love-hate affair with drugs, in that sense, as Georges himself.  But Lisa was my true and steadfast friend and through her love for Georges I came to care for my brother-in-law more than I ever dreamed I could have.  My wife Elena always resents the fact that Lisa (alone among my in-laws) supported me in my quest for custody of my son, and she sometimes quotes hatefully and sarcastically how I called Lisa my “Rock of Gibraltar”, but I stand by my evaluation.  I know of no one truer and more loyal and steadfast than Lisa Ann Cook, and Georges was the luckiest man alive to have the love and generous acceptance and tolerance and support of such a wonderful woman, who never judged others but always tried to understand why those who inflicted harm on her might have done so.   In this, she was the truest of true Christians.

So Georges was strong, likable if not downright lovable, and yet he was caught up in currents of history which rendered his life difficult, a struggle, almost impossible.  He was “a man without a country”—never quite American enough to give up his Greek passport while he was living here throughout the nearly thirty years from 1970-1999.  Georges Kourembanas was a three-time “Mr. Michigan” (different awards) who represented Greece in the “Mr. Universe” competition in Las Vegas, Nevada.  He was determined to be a morally turpitudinous undesirable by the same government which created first the demand for drugs and then the war against drugs as a means of maximizing governmental power and control over the population at large.

Was America made any safer or more morally upstanding by deporting my brother-in-law?  No, definitely not—America became poorer and probably more dangerous—indeed, almost certainly more dangerous, because every person removed against his will is another person whose destroyed life is a feather-in-the cap of brutal authoritarianism in America.

Several members of my family-in-law feel so very sad and guilty that they did not do more for Georges during his lifetime.  My main suggestion that may have improved his life was that he relocated from Greece to Cancun, and was closer to his family during the last several years of his life as a consequence.  I made this suggestion because almost as completely as the United States as George’s adopted homeland, Mexico era durante muchos anos mi segunda Patria, aun mas que Inglaterra—Mexico was the land of more of my young adulthood life, dreams and ambitions than any other, and I figured that George could benefit from the amazing Caribbean winds and waters of Northern Quintana Roo.   I had intended to spend at least half of time with Georges in Cancun (en mi Mexico lindo y querido), but for several reasons that never happened.  I am happy to say that my son Charlie, whose first trips outside the U.S. were to Yucatan and Quintana Roo Mexico as a baby, toddler, and elementary schoolboy, was able to spend one summer with George in 2007—even though the purpose at that time was to make sure that Charlie spent as little time in contact with me as humanly possible….

One of the reasons, of course, that I was lacking in funds to spend half of my time in Mexico during the first decade of the Third Millenium Anno Domini was the troubles I had during these same years with the same American government which oppressed my brother—yes, in that he was not just my brother in law, but my brother.   I too had to struggle with charges of ridiculously trivial criminality (I never did drugs—at least I have never done them as a mature adult—that wasn’t my problem—I had plenty of others—when I was indicted (coincidentally in December 1999, shortly after Georges took his involuntary departure) my pre-trial release officer finally stopped giving me the degrading urine tests because they were just pointless).

I too had to struggle with questions of moral turpitude and the significance of such charges for my professional life.  I had had such a fine education and opportunities unparalleled in most people’s lives.  I was very lucky.  But in 1997 I had stood up to the system and sued my local police department for not one but 7-9 instances of police brutality, corruption, and civil rights violations.  And at that point, all-of-a-sudden, my previously essentially dull and blameless life became “morally turpitudinous” and I became in the eyes of many critics an “incompetent attorney.”

So if Georges Kourembanas can hear me—if he had a coin for the Ferryman Charon and has thus crossed the River Styx—or if he is standing somewhere in the upper levels of limbo or purgatory, I hope he will hear my apology for my hypocrisy in criticizing him, in thinking myself superior to him, in believing that my education was in any way superior to his physical strength and good heart (even though his physical heart finally gave out on him, much too soon).  I apologize to him that I could introduce him to the Quintana Roo and Yucatan and Mexico and Belize that I know and love, because I think it would have made his last few years so much better than just hanging around the beach and hotel zone of Cancun.  He and I were both victims of some of the very same authoritarian and repressive forces in the United States in Texas which reached their political apogee in the years after 1993-6.  He and I were both victims of the streamlining and mass production of criminal prosecutions in the United States which all have, as Ayn Rand predicted so many years ago, the sole purpose of rendering us all “criminals” just waiting to be arrested here “in the land of the free” or any of the formerly freedom-loving countries of Europe or the Americas.

Georges and I are also victims of some of the same personal and familial situations.  Now in his epitaph I will not speculate here on what any members of his family could have done for him that they did not, because all I know for sure is that they loved him more than me, so very much more, in spite of all his flaws, and since he was blood, I suppose I can forgive them that.   But in the midst of all that I think he was ten times blessed to have Lisa as his wife and lifetime companion and supporter.   The bottom line is that our two lives, so different, as that of my late brother-in-law and my own, were actually parallel in terms of the circumstances of our “exile” from society.  I still envy him for all the love he enjoyed, and up to a point, I even envy him his early death in Mexico.  Sometimes I wish that I had died, when I had the chance, ten years ago in Egypt.  But I apparently had a purpose to live, and for that reason I do continue to live, and breath, and fight, and remember the pointless injuries done to Georges, my brother-in-law, my brother-in-suffering, and my brother-in-the sometimes loneliness of exile.