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.

 


McCain

Happened to be reading this this weekend.

Michener says:

 

The ugly old aviator:

Dropped dead four days after the Japanese surrender.


Hoover Boys

our Chicago correspondent sends us this find:

The authors:


Ants

reprinting this 2013 classic because can’t find my copy of this book, wondering if I loaned it to one of you.  
IMG_7611

IMG_7641

IMG_7642

IMG_7643

Nice work boys.

IMG_7644

Wilson got his start doing a survey of all the ants in Alabama.

There’s the question of, why did I pick ants, you know? Why not butterflies or whatever? And the answer is that they’re so abundant, they’re easy to find, and they’re easy to study, and they’re so interesting. They have social habits that differ from one kind of ant to the next. You know, each kind of ant has almost the equivalent of a different human culture. So each species is a wonderful object to study in itself. In fact, I honestly can’t…cannot understand why most people don’t study ants.

(source)

Somewhere else I think I heard Wilson say something like “once you start to study ants it’s hard to be interested in anything else.”

Look at the wild coolness on Bert Hölldobler:

IMG_7646

Bert Hölldobler:

 


Denis Johnson, Walt Whitman

We’ve been thinking a lot about the glow of some of your poems, the visionary language seeping through parts of Angels, and the electric way in which the border between Fuckhead’s consciousness and the outside world is always being dissolved throughout Jesus’ Son. Could you talk a bit more about Whitman’s influence in your poetry and prose?

I’m not sure I could trace the lines of his influence on my language, particularly, or the way his work affects the strategies in my work, or anything like that.  His expansive spirit, his generosity, his eagerness to love – those are the things that influence me, not just as a writer, but as a person.  His introduction to LEAVES OF GRASS I take as a sort of personal manifesto, especially the passage:

This is what you shall do:  Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body. . . .

found in this interview with Denis Johnson.  Oddly or presciently or synchronistically enough I’d been looking for Denis Johnson materials as I did ever so often.  How did this guy know this stuff? was what I was looking for as usual.

so good!

 

May I please recommend to you you have actor Will Patton read you the audiobook of:

I loved the experience so much I got into the full unabridged 23+ hours of:

Will Patton is such a gifted, subtle performer of audiobooks.

from a profile in AudioFile

Let’s give the last word to DJ:

 I love McDonald’s double cheeseburgers and I don’t care if they’re made of pink slime and ammonia, I eat them all the time because they’re delicious.


Will and Ariel Durant

One of the local branches of the LA Public Library, the one on Sunset across from Wendy’s, is named after Will and Ariel Durant.

David Brooks grows wistful as he considers the Will and Ariel Durant project:

Between 1935 and 1975, Will and Ariel Durant published a series of volumes that together were known as “The Story of Civilization.” They basically told human history (mostly Western history) as an accumulation of great ideas and innovations, from the Egyptians, through Athens, Magna Carta, the Age of Faith, the Renaissance and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. The series was phenomenally successful, selling over two million copies.

I’ve taken a look at the first volume of the series,

and was astounded, amused, and delighted by what I found there.  Here’s an example.

When Will met Ariel Durant, her name was Ida, she was fourteen, and she was his student.

She was 15 at her marriage on Oct. 31, 1913, and came to the ceremony with her roller skates slung over her shoulder. Her husband was just about to turn 28. He called her Ariel, after the the imp in Shakespeare’s ”The Tempest,” and she later had her name legally changed.

(from Will’s NYT obituary).  In Our Oriental Civilization, Will makes the case for himself:

It’s pretty funny that we named the library after a pair of lovers whose romance would get the man arrested today.

On the other hand, that’s the kind of paradox of historical and civilizational change that Will Durant took so much joy in teaching about.

More from the NYT:

Dr. Durant consistently took a generally optimistic view of civilization, despite a growing belief that ”the world situation is all fouled up.”

”Civilization is a stream with banks,” he said in his precise voice. ”The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing the things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry and even whittle statues.

”The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river.”

Will and Ariel, from Wikipedia:


Literary Life

Some real talk from Larry McMurtry

One of these days I’m going to rank all of McMurtry’s non-fiction books.  They’re all chatty and great.  This is the single best one.

Either Film Flam or Hollywood tells what it’s like to be friends with Diane Keaton and her mom.

McMurtry has really meant a lot to me.  Here are some other posts about him:

his book Roads

about the time I heard him talk about Brokeback

Oh What A Slaughter and Sacagawea’s Nickname

Sarah Palin and glamour

The Field Of Blackbirds