Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Correspondence: Looking up

By Moristotle

Some good things are happening in America: “A Great New Accidental Renaissance” [Timothy Egan, NY Times, March 3]. Excerpt:
My friend Sam laughed when I told him I was going to spend my Saturday at a “Search for Meaning” festival....
    ...In the winter of the American soul, people thronged to hear advice on how to “live a life of significance and impact” and to “find meaning in times of change, challenge and chaos.”
    I credit President Trump...because the threats to truth, civility, rational thought and brotherly love coming from the White House have prompted a huge counterreaction.
    It’s early, but we may be experiencing a great awakening for the humane values that are under siege by a dark-side presidency....
    Trump has been good — indirectly — for a free press, an independent judiciary, high school civics, grass-roots political activity, cautionary tales in literature and theater, and spirituality. You don’t know what you’ve got, as the song says, till it’s gone — or nearly so.
    Face it: We have become a lazy, aging, fairly ignorant democracy. Even in the most turbulent election in modern history, about 90 million eligible voters didn’t bother to cast a ballot — the basic task of citizenship. Trump took his 46 percent of those who did vote, many of whom believe fake-moon-landing-level lies, and has tried to act like the earth moved, as he said on Tuesday. It did, but not in the ways that he meant it.
    It would be immodest, even overtly Trumpian, to boast about the huge circulation gains at the not-failing New York Times, or the robust support for our competitors, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. But let’s just say having a man who told an average of four false or misleading statements a day for the first month of his presidency has been good for those the president calls enemies of the people. [read more]
The “Norwegian Joy,” under construction in the shipyard of Meyer Werft in landlocked Papenburg, Germany. It will be pulled by three tugboats up the Ems River in Northwest Germany. If the docks at Emden are too small, the steamer will be tugged in the canals to Bremerhaven or to the Netherlands, where docks accommodate huge liners.
    It will be the fourth largest luxury steamer in the world. Meyer Werft has been building luxury liners for many years.
    This is a huge ship, with 28 floors – a ghostly moving hotel along the small, dammed Ems in the flatlands of rural Niedersachsen, watched by thousands as it is delivered to the owners at the dock.

Interesting take on enlisting Trump, sort of bracketing the underlying issue of his destructive presidency: “An unlikely ally for President Trump: Liberal actress Jennifer Garner” [Paul Kane, Washington Post, February 27]. Excerpt:
Other Hollywood liberals have shunned the new commander in chief — notably during [the recent] Academy Awards ceremony, when many jokes were told at President Trump’s expense. But Garner, a true-blue Democrat who campaigned for Hillary Clinton last year and held a fundraiser for Barack Obama in 2008, is taking a unique approach: pushing a cause that would benefit the new administration’s political base.
    The West Virginia native has long worked to bring assistance to poor, rural communities in desperate need of it. She has no plans to change that just because most of those communities went big for Trump in last year’s election. In fact, she sees an opportunity to hold the president accountable for the pledges he made to the country’s rural working class.
    “I’m looking forward to helping him make good on what they saw as promises, a mandate from him, that he was going to make their lives better,” Garner said in a 45-minute interview with The Washington Post.
    It’s another indication of how Trump has changed the rituals of Washington. For decades, Hollywood celebrities have used the glow of the Capitol dome to advance personal causes. Some may be less inclined to do so now, when legislative gains might help burnish Trump’s image. [read more]
See the similar pouty look and suspicious eyes of Trump and Nero, both populist heroes fighting the influence of aristocratic families in their capital cities and their countries.
    Their fiddling with politics also seems similar.
    Let’s hope that no grave mistakes or miscreant policies of Trump’s new Caesarism will burn Washington DC down….

Two stories about Chicago: Many Years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.
    Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” He was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time. To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago city block.
    Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocities that went on around him. Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object. And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; he couldn’t pass on a good name or a good example.
    One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. He wanted to rectify the wrongs he had done. He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al “Scarface” Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some resemblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against the Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. But, he testified.
    Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine. The poem read:

The clock of life is wound but once,
and no man has the power to tell
just when the hands will stop,
at late or early hour.
Now is the only time you own.
Live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in time.
For the clock may soon be still.
Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat restored
in the markings of Butch O’Hare’s plane
The second story involves a fighter pilot in World War II. The War produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.
    His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold: a squadron of Japanese aircraft were speeding their way toward the American fleet. The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. Butch couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.
    Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 calibers blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now-broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was spent.
    Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly. Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.
    Upon arrival, he reported in and related the events surrounding his return. The film from the gun camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft. This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of WWII, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Medal of Honor.
    A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat, at the age of 29. His hometown would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.
    So, the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch’s memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It’s located between Terminals 1 and 2.

Oh, by the way, Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’s son.

Grateful for correspondence, Moristotle

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