Considering John Kelly

Compelled by John Kelly, Boston Marine turned Trump babysitter / White House chief of staff.

John Kelly, like Robert E. Lee, is brave, self-sacrificing, dignified, and wrong.

It’s possible to be noble and admirable and honorable and really wrong.  Like, a force for wrongness.

Watched his entire press conference re: presidential respect for fallen soldiers.  Found it very moving.  He mentions walking for hours in Arlington National Cemetery to collect his thoughts.  Maybe he should send the president.

In one of the infinite amazing connections of American history Arlington National Cemetery was built on the grounds of Lee’s wife’s house.

INTERVIEWER

What about General Robert E. Lee?

FOOTE

The single greatest mistake of the war by any general on either side was made by Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg, when he sent Pickett’s and Pettigrew’s divisions across that open field, nearly a mile wide, against guns placed on a high ridge and troops down below them, with skirmishers out front. There was no chance it would succeed. Longstreet told him that beforehand and Lee proceeded to prove him right. Having made this greatest of all mistakes, Lee rode out on the field and met those men coming back across the field— casualties were well over fifty percent—and said, It’s all my fault. He said it then on the field; he said it afterwards, after he’d gotten across the Potomac; he said it in his official report a month later. He said, I may have asked more of my men than men should be asked to give. He’s a noble man, noble beyond comparison.

(from the Paris Review interview with Shelby Foote)

Henry Lee, Robert E.’s father

Why did people love Robert E. Lee so much?  He was handsome, for one thing.  Here’s Elizabeth Brown Pryor going off in her Six Encounters With Lincoln:

“Matinee-idol looks.”

They liked Lee too because he reminded of them of George Washington.

Is this interesting?: two of the most prominent American slaveholders, Washington and Lee, only owned slaves because they’d married rich women.

Lee’s wife was Martha Washington’s great granddaughter.

Anyway: whatever, it’s time for some new statues!

John Kelly made his most recent remarks about Lee on The Ingraham Angle on Fox News.

During that appearance, Kelly says something not true, that the events in the indictment came from well before Manafort knew Donald Trump.  Not true, if we believe Slate’s helpful timeline. Manafort and Trump have known each other since the ’80s.

Didn’t Manafort live in Trump Tower off the money he made as a lobbyist for dictators?

Kelly also says that the part about where got wrong what Fredrica Wilson said at the FBI dedication, that part “we should just let that go.”

Also brooooo!  What is American history up to the Civil War but a history of compromises?

Happened to read an interview in PRISM, a publication of the Center For Complex Operations, with John Kelly yesterday.  He’s talking about his career leading the Southern Command, ie Central and South America.

This was not my experience talking to Latin Americans.  More than one South American has pointed out to me that in their countries, “the troops” are not assumed to be good guys or on your side.

Didn’t love this:

We need more Marine generals like Smedley Butler:

I wish John Kelly would also remember the time Henry Lee put himself in harm’s way to defend the freedom of the press.

During the civil unrest in Baltimore, Maryland in 1812, Lee received grave injuries while helping to resist an attack on his friend, Alexander Contee Hanson, editor of the Baltimore newspaper, The Federal Republican on July 27, 1812.

Hanson was attacked by a Democratic-Republican mob because his paper opposed the War of 1812. Lee and Hanson and two dozen other Federalists had taken refuge in the offices of the paper. The group surrendered to Baltimore city officials the next day and were jailed.

Laborer George Woolslager led a mob that forced its way into the jail, removed the Federalists, beating and torturing them over the next three hours. All were severely injured, and one Federalist, James Lingan, died.

Lee suffered extensive internal injuries as well as head and face wounds, and even his speech was affected. His observed symptoms were consistent with what is now called post-traumatic stress disorder.

Need to learn more about this!

Maybe a statue of James Lingan, outside Prospect House?:

source: wiki, photo by AgnosticPreachersKid

One last bit from Shelby Foote:

Bud, history always has bias!  You don’t think this guy

thought Lee was cool, if only because they looked alike?

 

Does Ta-Nahesi Coates get tired of having to say the same stuff over and over?:

“History’s history,” says John Kelly on The Ingraham Angle.  Is it?

Personally, when I think about John Kelly’s life, I’m prepared to cut him some slack, but man.  I can’t say he “gets it.”

Thomas Ricks, as always, has the take:

A must read.

The comment of Kelly’s that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves is when he half-jokingly suggests (around 26:41)

that they’re gonna replace the Washington Monument with Andy Warhol.

 


Brain surgery

(from The Economist)

isn’t there something obscene about the human brain studying itself?

Looks like Karl Ove Knausgaard looked into this theme, with pictures, for The New York Times.

(Talk about a brain studying itself!)

 


Boston (England)

There’s a lot of crime fiction about Boston, America, but is there any about Boston, UK?  I went looking and was directed to the works of Colin Watson, who writes about a fictional town, Flaxborough, which is based on Boston (UK version)?

I can’t say it was totally compelling to me but cheers to Colin Watson.

Watson was the first person to successfully sue Private Eye for libel, for an article in issue 25 when he objected to being described as: “the little-known author who . . . was writing a novel, very Wodehouse but without the jokes”. He was awarded £750.


Trump: Our First Mexican President

An inflammatory clickbait headline but I have a point.

Excerpt from Trump’s presidential announcement speech, as transcribed by Time:

Did he say “they’re rapists” or “their rapists,” as in “they’re bringing crime, their rapists”?

The latter seems to me the kind of way Trump talks.  We in the media (everybody) hurt the anti-Trump cause if we do anything that could remotely be considered exaggerating.  It’s not necessary, the person who gave this speech obvi shouldn’t be President, whether he said “they’re rapists” or “their rapists.”  Why not give him any margin calls to avoid accusations of unfairness?

Whatever — the point is Trump’s candidacy was driven by fear of Mexico / Mexicans, South America and Latin America.

Concern that the Anglo-Protestant tradition of America was about to be overwhelmed or subsumed or at least weakened by a Mexico-Catholic-Hispanic tradition is as old as Anglo-Protestants and Hispanic-Catholics sharing a continent I reckon.  It’s a theme in this book, for instance.

My suggestion here is that what could be more Latin American than electing a bullying gangster/businessman who talks like this?:

Trump might build a wall, but Latin American style politics has come to us.

My Chilean buddy mentioned that when he saw Trump at the U. N., he thought, “oh he’s Chavez.”

One of the reasons why Mexico sucks is their presidents have been guys like Trump: nepotistic bully-gangsters who care about nothing but enriching themselves, their family, their idiot sons-in-law, and creating enough chaos and division that the “order” appears necessary.

Pinochet of Chile

Something I tried to get at in my book

is that Los Angeles is at least as much a part of the South American world as it is a part of the Anglo world.

It’s the northernmost city in South America, as much a part of this world:

and this world

as it is of this world

and this world

This doesn’t have to be bad, duh.  It’s part of why Los Angeles is one of the most dynamic, exciting, creative, and appealing places in the country.  (That along with trans-Pacific partnership, which Trump is also fouling up.)

Trump voters should be less worried about Latin Americans coming here, and more worried about a Latin American-style president.

Worry less about Mexicans, and more a breakdown into Mexican style corruption, disregard for rule of law, one party rule, and a generally more cruel, ugly, hopeless and depressing politics.

Worry less about Mexicans coming here, and more about the United States becoming more like Mexico.

Trump voters should be doing a lotta things different, if you ask me!


Did not know

That one Jody Miller, no relation to Roger Miller, did a response to his song “King Of The Road” entitled “Queen Of The House.”

 


Carey

INTERVIEWER

How did you manage the historical setting?

CAREY

Well, I’m a bloody colonial, aren’t I? London is not my place and Britain is not my country. How was I going to have the authority to invent London in 1837? First I had to know something that’s different from what anybody ever thought about the period. I couldn’t steal from literature even if I wanted to—for the most part metropolitan literature takes the place for granted. So I spent a lot of time reading about people visiting London from abroad. They’re going to see things that would not occur to the Englishman. There was a German visitor to London, for instance, who spends all this time describing this weird English breakfast that turns out to be toast. That was terrific—the familiar defamiliarized. I was trying to imagine—what was it really like? We generally think of London in that period as gloomy and sooty and filthy, but in the New York Public Library I found an account by an American visitor who described London as ablaze with light. That’s not how anyone thinks of that period, but if you came from Australia or America at that time it was bright. I thought, that’s it—this story will start at night, and it will be blazing bright. That’s the first way in which I can colonize London for myself, take imaginative possession of the territory.

from the Paris Review interview with Peter Carey

 


On My Mind!

The Scarecrow Festival

is underway up in Cambria.

What the hell are we doing in Niger?

This is where four US soldiers died.  Why?

What the hell were our boys doing waiting for the damn Frogs?! The damn French Air Force has to bail out our boys? When we have the best goddamn Air Force in the world? We better anyway, we’re paying for it to the tune of $132 billion a year.

For that matter, what are the French doing in Niger?  They haven’t exactly cloaked themselves in honor in the region:

Following the 1885 Berlin conference during which colonial powers outlined the division of Africa into colonial spheres, French military efforts to conquer existing African states were intensified in all French colonies including Niger. This included several military expeditions including the Voulet Chanoine Mission, which became notorious for pillaging, looting, raping and killing many local civilians on its passage. On 8 May 1899, in retaliation for the resistance of queen Sarraounia, captain Voulet and his men murdered all the inhabitants of the village of Birni-N’Konni in what is regarded as one of the worst massacres in French colonial history. French military expeditions met great resistance from several ethnic groups, especially Hausa and Tuareg groups.

If you’re gonna be in Niger, you want to be near the river.

Source taken by diasUndKompott.

The rest of it looks rough!

Dinner in the desert

Attended a fun dinner.

Book I gave up on

Incredible title.  But what the hell is this guy talking about?

Bought it after I read this bit in Girard’s NY Times obituary:

Professor Girard’s central idea was that human motivation is based on desire. People are free, he believed, but seek things in life based on what other people want. Their imitation of those desires, which he termed mimesis, is imitated by others in turn, leading to escalating and often destructive competition.

His first work, published in French in 1961 and in English in 1965 as “Deceit, Desire, and the Novel,” introduced this idea through readings of classic novels. Over time, the idea has been used to explain financial bubbles, where things of little intrinsic value are increasingly bid up in the hope of financial gain. It has also been cited to explain why people unsatisfied by high-status jobs pursue them anyway.

And:

Mr. Thiel, of PayPal, said that he was a student at Stanford when he first encountered Professor Girard’s work, and that it later inspired him to quit an unfulfilling law career in New York and go to Silicon Valley.

He gave Facebook its first $100,000 investment, he said, because he saw Professor Girard’s theories being validated in the concept of social media.

“Facebook first spread by word of mouth, and it’s about word of mouth, so it’s doubly mimetic,” he said. “Social media proved to be more important than it looked, because it’s about our natures.”

Scene in Los Angeles

A guy at the East Side Food Festival was demonstrating a machine that’s basically a Keurig for marijuana.

How Many

copies of the Blu-Ray of Baywatch Extended Cut does Paramount expect to sell?

Xi

From Wiki:

In May 1966, Xi’s secondary education was cut short by the Cultural Revolution, when all secondary classes were halted for students to criticise and fight their teachers.

Never forget how crazy the world is.

Xi as a boy, left.

The President of China sent his daughter to attend Harvard.  That, to me, seems like a good example of American “soft power.”

Xi’s wife is famous singer Peng Liyuan.

Excerpt

and then Bobby added the “S”

(from Vulture’s oral history of SNL’s David S. Pumpkins sketch.)

What?

Somehow this was up on my phone when I picked it up.

Atlas

Satisfied with my purchase of a new atlas

I’m always trying to get new views.