22 June 2016

75 Years Ago

The German Fascists sealed their fate on this day in 1941 when they invaded the Soviet Union, thus beginning the period of conflict known as the Great Patriotic War.

The Hitlerites had initial successes that was similar to that enjoyed by Napoleon in the Patriotic War.

In both wars, the invaders penetrated deeply into Russian territory. The Germans failed to take Moscow, unlike the French. Dislodging the German invaders took much longer.

Both wars ended with Russian soldiers marching down the streets of the capital of the enemy.

23 May 2016

Exile

Those imperialists in Silicon Valley sent this blog into exile for a long time. It did not matter what I did, I was not able to log into the blog editing system.

Until today.

In the future, I may have thoughts about the apparent insanity, or the "Putinization", of the American political system.

02 February 2014

Stalingrad

The last element of organized Fascist forces formally surrendered on this day in 1943.

However, there were thousands of Hitlerites who did not surrender. It took another month for Soviet forces to dig out the troops that a modern American Secretary of Defence would later term "bitter dead-enders".

From 2 February 1943 (or 23 November 1942, when the Axis forces in Stalingrad were surrounded), the tide of war flowed against the Axis until 2 May 1945, when Berlin fell to the Red Army.

01 October 2013

The Land of the Crazy People

I do not pretend to understand what is happening in the American Congress. It seems to be this:

First a law was passed.

Then the law was challenged in the court system and the law survived.

Then there was a presidential election. The challenger, who said the law was no good, was defeated about as badly as Napoleon at Berezina.

Not content with losing the election, the opponents of the law have tried approximately forty times to repeal the law. They have failed.

Now the opponents of the law have taken the American government hostage. They claim that they will shut down the American government if they do not get their way.

Two types of people negotiate in such a manner: Spoiled children and terrorists.

You may decide to which group belong the opponents of the law.

Nevertheless, they are politically, if not medically, insane.

09 September 2013

America the Ironic

President Barack H. Obama was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

Now, he may order his military to attack another nation-- Not because that nation attached America. Not because that nation attacked an ally of America.

But because that nation attacked its own people.

President Obama may order this attack without any fig leaf of international authority.

Which very well may make this president the second recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize to commit a war crime.

(The first was another American: Henry Kissinger.)

29 March 2013

Why Was That Not Theft?

I have attempted to pay attention to the situation involving the banks in Cyprus. The European Union apparently thought that it would be a very great idea to try to confiscate some of the money in the banks that had been deposited by Russian oligarchs, or the Russian mafia. It must be conceded that the border between those two groups is not distinct.

Still, I wonder how this would have been viewed by the Americans if the Grand Cayman Islands government, which I believe is a British colony, attempted to similarly confiscate a significant percentage of the amounts deposited in their banks. While Cyprus may have been a favored offshore banking haven of the Russian rich, the same can be said of the Grand Cayman Islands banks and the American rich. I believe that Mr. Romney, the losing candidate in the last American election, had significant amounts of money in the Grand Cayman Islands banks.

Another point worth your consideration, please: Many of the Russians who had money in the Cyprus banks are what you may call "hard men". If the European bankers had been successful in taking their money, it is not without question if the Russians involved would have let that go without giving the same sort of gift as was received by Anna Politkovskaya.

14 May 2012

The Corrosive Effect of Water

A war crimes tribunal in Malaysia has judged that former American president George W. Bush, along with several of his underlings, committed various war crimes. The convictions were in absentia, for not a single defendant faced the tribunal.

The tribunal itself has no power to issue warrants for the arrest and imprisonment of those found to be guilty. It is, as the lawyers call it, a "moot court".

That sentence may not be entirely correct. The judgment of the court is a drip of water falling upon the reputations of those charged.

Those eight men may well consider surrendering their passports. There are nations, including, yes, the United States, which claim world-wide jurisdiction for war crimes and crimes against humanity. One of those nations may well bring charges should any one of those men set foot on the soil of one of those nations.

A conviction in one of those nations will not be done by a moral court, as was the case in Malaysia. A conviction in one of those nations will end with a lengthy term in a prison.

Over time, enough drips of water can wear away mountains of granite.

25 December 2011

Merry Christmas

May Father Frost have brought you all that your heart has desired.

To the New Year!

23 October 2011

The End of a War

Last Friday, the Americans announced that their army will leave Iraq as of 31 December.

One must wonder if an American general will symbolically walk across the border into Kuwait in the same way that Red Army General Gromov was the last Soviet soldier to walk out of Afghanistan in 1989.

11 September 2011

The Eleventh Day of September

I have noticed that the Americans have been commemorating the day they call 9/11. It is of no importance that Europeans may regard that as 11.9. It is the Americans' day to observe.

It is slightly curious that they are spending so much time and effort marking the day that began President Bush's "Global War on Terror". That may be due to the point that, other than the slaying of Osama bin Ladin, one may wonder what other days there are to celebrate. The American victory in Afghanistan, which they were celebrating when the leadership of the Taleban fled to Pakistan, has turned into bitter ashes. The American conquest of Iraq has led, in turn, to a resurgent Iran with Iraq becoming a virtual Iranian vassal.

It may be no wonder why, then, the Americans are marking this day.

10 February 2011

68 Years Ago-- The Limit of German Expansion

The German Sixth Army surrendered at Stalingrad. 90,000 Fascist soldiers were marched into captivity in the Soviet Gulags. The Nazis had proclaimed that the rules of civilized handling of prisoners of war did not apply to their war against the USSR. The Soviets were more than happy to treat Fascist soldiers as harshly as they treated their own convicts. Regardless, the number of Fascist soldiers captured was almost insignificant compared to the numbers of soldiers who were killed on both sides during the battle.

In November of 1942, Soviet forces encircled the Nazi forces who were besieging the city and the besiegers became the besieged. The Germans from the outside tried to lift the encirclement but were readily defeated. The Germans trapped inside never attempted to break out on their own. They sat there and slowly starved as the Red Army squeezed the German area of control ever smaller and smaller.

The German surrender marked what is now regarded as the turning point of the Great Patriotic War. Over two years of hard fighting remained, but the onrushing tide of German expansion was stopped.

04 December 2010

Information is More Dangerous Than a Firearm

With a firearm, it is possible to kill one, two, maybe even thirty people at a time. Information can bring down governments.

In the Soviet Union, it was a crime to own an unregistered firearm. It was also a crime to own an unregistered duplicating or copying machine. Owning the copying machine was punished more severely than owning a Kalashnikov.

Americans once found that to be amusing.

I suspect that a number of Americans, including those in their government, no longer find it funny.

31 October 2010

Is America a Land of Crazy People?

One has to wonder if the United States has become a nation of lunatics.

First, there is a leading American senator who has publicly avowed that his sole legislative goal is to destroy the career of the current president. America has many problems facing her, but to say to the world that "none of that matters as long as we can destroy the President" would seem to be a textbook definition of sedition.

Second, a group of students printed tee-shirts in order to raise money for research into fighting breast cancer. The reaction of the school was to forbid the students from wearing the shirts.

Third, an American airport was partially shut down because a passenger had a snow globe in a carry-on article of luggage.

There is more, of course, much, much more. America was formerly a leader in modern culture, science and invention. In the former nations of the Warsaw Pact, millions of people listened to the nightly Music USA jazz broadcast by Willis Conover over the Voice of America. America was a nation to be admired, even if it had problems such as lynchings and poverty. America was a nation where anything was thought to be possible.

Now America seems to be a nation largely composed of embittered lunatics. The world is poorer for this.

22 June 2010

The Fatal Step

22 June 1941. In the hours before dawn, Germany attacked the Soviet Union with almost three million soldiers. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers from German allied nations, such as Hungary, Italy and Finland, joined in the attack.

Germany had, in a comparatively low-cost campaign, rolled up the nations of Western Europe in less than two months. The Fascists were not so fortunate this time around. The Soviet Union was a far larger nation with a population to match.

Three million Soviet soldiers were captured or killed in the first months of the war. The German advance was more costly than the Germans planned on and the Russian weather did not cooperate. The Soviet Union, in men and material, was far stronger than Germany anticipated. Germany was virtually bled out in campaigning over vast distances to conquer what was largely empty steppes.

And when the Germans made the second major mistake of declaring war on the Americans following the Japanese air raid upon the Pearl Harbor Naval Base (an incomprehensible act by Germany as Japan had not declared war on the Soviet Union), that opened the floodgates of supplies from the factories and farms of the United States.

By the summer of 1943, the Germans had been defeated at Stalingrad, where an entire German army group had laid down their weapons. The Fascists were then defeated at the Battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle ever fought. The German Wehrmacht, arguably man-for-man the finest armed force of the first half of the 20th Century, was ground into powder by the Red Army. When the Red Army began to roll them back, by then the Germans had the Western Allies coming at them from the other end of their little empire.

Historians may debate when the tide turned for Germany. It is my view, however, that Hitler sealed his fate when he unleashed his armies upon the Soviet Union.

04 June 2010

Turning Points

The Battle of Midway took place on 4 June 1942. In this battle, a vastly outnumbered American Navy formation defeated a far larger armada of Imperial Japan. The American pilots sank four Japanese aircraft carriers for the loss of one of their own aircraft carriers.

This battle has become regarded as the turning point in the Pacific aspect of the Second World War. The Japanese only lost territory after the conclusion of the Battle of Midway.

Turning points in a war are for the determination of historians.

26 March 2010

50th

Lisa wrote a series of blog posts about attending her parents' 50th anniversary celebration. My parents had theirs over a decade ago. It was a nice celebration, just of immediate family, though.

There were reasons for that. Chief among them is that one of my cousins, an exceptional child to the eyes of her mother, had been consuming large amounts of drugs for decades and had, by past self-absorbed conduct, made a circus of other family celebrations. As the story was told, one of my other cousins went to my father, who was by then the family patriarch, and said something like: "I am going to shoot her the next time that I see her, so you might want to consider not inviting either her or me to the next family function."

It was a nice celebration. Papa was tired, more than usual. He said that he and my brother were starting a new enterprise and that he was tired from that. We purchased his favorite brand of vodka for him, as the resort was nominally a "dry" one, and he was pleased by that. His obvious exhaustion, though was very noticeable to those of us who had not seen him in some time.

Less than two months following the celebration, Father finally went to see a doctor. The diagnosis was cancer, most likely from the smoking of cigarettes that he had begun in the Army during the War and then for many years after that. There was chemical therapy and radiation therapy, all of which only served to delay the inevitable. He and Mother did mark their 51st anniversary, but by then he was deteriorating rapidly and he did not last for very much longer.

If there is a point to this tale, it is this: Enjoy the presence of your beloved family members when the opportunity is presented. You may not have a chance again.

04 March 2010

Eating Bert and Ernie

Although my parents were city folk, my father always dreamed of having a farm. When he retired from his first job, my parents began searching for a farm to buy. They eventually found one and, after fencing off a couple of pastures, bought a small herd of sheep.

They also bought two steers. The idea was to grow the steers over the spring and summer and then send them off to be butchered. They bought two steers so that nobody would know which steer was providing the meat for dinner any particular night. Mother named them Bert and Ernie, although which one was which didn't seem to matter.

Bert and Ernie resided in a pasture that was several acres in size, which was surrounded by a fence that had a couple of shock-wires to keep them in and dogs out. The pasture had a small pond that was fed by an underground source. Every day at four in the afternoon, they were given a bucket of grain. If whoever had the duty of feeding the steers grain was running late, the two steers would stand by the fence where they go their grain and bellow until they were fed.

One day, for a reason I've forgotten, Bert and Ernie escaped their pasture. As we fixed the fence, I wondered aloud where they had gone (I had returned home after military service). Papa told me not to worry, they'd come back. He was right, for a little bit before 4 PM, the two steers walked up the road to the farm and stood by the gate to their pasture. He let them in, they went over to where they were fed and Father gave them their grain. Other than that one escape, they were not any trouble.

Grain was their undoing, for it was a bucket of grain that lured them into the livestock trailer that took them to the slaughterhouse. A few days later, the deep freezer was nearly full of beef wrapped in white paper.

As it turned out, Bert and Ernie were ahead of their time. Grass-fed beef wasn't the rage and most everyone who dined on their meat thought it was too lean. Two steers provided far too much meat for my parents (I had moved out). Bert and Ernie ended up doing community service by appearing on the menu at the local shelter and in the food bank.

They were the only beef my parents ever raised. Raising lambs turned out to be far more manageable, at least in the size of the consumption units.