Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Education Created and Promoted Progressivism, ANTIFA, and BLM

George Washington's teeth
historical artifact in the Mount Vernon
estate and museum in northern Virginia
As a parent who struggles to pay tuition for their child at the average university in America, or goes in debt borrowing the money, consider what your child must face in order to finish four years of college education which may or may not help them get a job.

The American campus is no longer the place of learning, to discuss and exchange ideas, it has become a place of indoctrination, of fear, a place where your children are further indoctrinated, and are not prepared to deal with or function in real life and in the job world.

Students have to deal with bullies, who call themselves “social justice warriors,” who are as far removed from justice and warriors as they can possibly be. They have to deal with college professors who are obsessed with quotas, perverted sex novels, ethnic studies, invented “white guilt,” “white privilege,” and “micro-aggression,” manufactured constructs that are now suffocating every corner in America.

Your children demand and are sent to “safe spaces” where they escape from reality, from any concept or person that contradicts their fantasy world where they have dwelt since birth. They’ve been told their entire lives how special they are, and have received so many undeserved awards each year, they see themselves as real trophies who can waltz through school by virtue of who they are.

Students claim, they are so stressed from school that they demand no grades be given for their poor attendance or non-performance; sadly, half the schools in the country have obliged.

Your students must deal with classes in which they are afraid to express a different opinion from the teacher’s, lest they be dropped from class, failed, or expelled.

Your child may be beaten by mobs of minority students simply because they’ve been oppressed and your Caucasian student happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and catch the ire of their wrath.

Your child is subject to different theories of education methodology that come and go. Experimental surveys and tests supplement these hair-brained fads designed by different College of Education professors in order to justify their existence, their fat salaries, and to make the conference circuits around the country and the world as speakers. When it is obvious that Johnny is doing worse and is unable to pass the tests that have nothing to do with what was taught, and parents revolt, the fad is dropped.

Your child is indoctrinated into Marxism blatantly or subtly in every subject matter – nothing escapes the radar of the tenured college brain-washer. They find clever ways to insert their subjective ideological view of communist utopia into every lesson plan.

Your child studies and receives excellent scores on ACTs and SATs but is disappointed when someone with lesser scores is admitted to college ahead of them simply based on their socio-economic profile and the color of their skin.

These minorities, protected based on the color of their skin, not their intellectual merit, have created a society that is no longer based on merit, but on affirmative action, diversity, and “social justice.” It is these “social justice warriors,” as they euphemistically named themselves that are creating the chaos in our society.

History does repeat itself because these ANTIFA, BLM, and other fascist and race-baiters learned a revisionist history in school. They are very busy, with funds from well-placed billionaires, echoing the actions of the Bolsheviks, Taliban, and ISIS, who have destroyed priceless artifacts of history.

Sanitizing history because they did not like the Civil War, these “social justice warriors” cleverly indoctrinated by their college professors and agitated by neo-communists/globalists and progressive anti-Americans are fast removing any traces of our history under the guise of white nationalism. These statues have been on display for almost a century and longer, nobody batted an eye on seeing them but now, they are suddenly offensive and traumatic.

They are not going to stop at Confederate monuments. They will destroy other parts of history they do not like, i.e., Lincoln, Ted Roosevelt, WWII, etc. How long will it be before they go after churches?  

Gregory B. asked the question, “because Mary Todd Lincoln’s three sisters were married to Confederate soldiers and her brother was a Confederate surgeon, should her memorabilia be removed from the White House Lincoln bedroom?”

Instead of having a History Department, we will have the Fiction Department. Just like George Orwell had warned us in 1950.

He said, “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street, building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, Ceausescu, the Taliban, and ISIS have ordered the destruction of history, books, painting, statues, and the renaming of schools and streets. It ended badly in the enslavement and death of millions of innocents.

The brain-washed fascist and progressive groups, with no solid point of historical reference, have painted every white person with the same brush of hate-mongers, even though most of the hate and the violence are coming from the left. Caucasians are suddenly evil “white nationalists.”

Since when is maintaining self-governance, sovereignty over one’s homeland, preserving a national identity based on culture, language, race, religion, political goals, patriotism, and belief in a common ancestry, hateful and racist?

The fads in education come and go but they are presented as facts and “evidence-based.”

Shane Vander Hart wrote a recent article, irately criticizing an educational propaganda post which was praising “social-emotional learning as good for the economy” and urging readers to look at Mindful meditation. It cites large companies with entirely leftist leanings and culture and the tiny country of Bhutan as success stories in using social-emotional learning (SEL), another educational fad pushed by the left. The article makes a weak and bizarre connection of this educational fad to Real Gross Domestic Product Growth.https://truthinamericaneducation.com/social-emotional-learning/social-emotional-learning-good-economy/

Because most people are economically ignorant, they don’t know that “Economic growth is the increase in the market value of the goods and services produced in the economy over time. It is measured as the percentage rate change in the real gross domestic product (GDP). Determinants of long-run growth include growth of productivity, demographic changes, and labor force participation.”

Forcing children to meditate in class is not going to create jobs, will not alter demographics, immigration policies do, and will not affect productivity. Math and science knowledge, not the Common Core variety, will make a better mechanic, builder, engineer, doctor, scientist, nurse, chemist, physicist, researcher, and statistician.

As Vander Hart wrote in his article, “Do you know what would help boost kids’ self-esteem and happiness in school? Being able to understand math and to read well. Do you know what would help our economy down the road? Graduates being able to understand math, be well read, be able to write well, and who have a well-rounded education.”

Un-sanitized, non-revisionist history will live for a while through those who were eye witnesses such as my friend, “Ironman.” In his own words, he describes the negative changes that have occurred in the last decades which I attribute to the brainwashing of academia, Hollywood, communist foreign infiltrators, and the main stream media.

“Having lived through WW-II and the booming 50’s and 60’s that followed, I’ve seen the negative changes in our way of life. I well remember my brother and 14 million others of Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” march off to war, and sadly the gold stars that appeared in the windows of many homes. I fondly recall the high standards in the news and entertainment media when a radio announcer would never even say ‘Hel’” or ‘damn’ for fear of losing his broadcasting license, and the uplifting movies like ‘Going My Way’ and ‘Mary Poppins’ that were typical of our entertainment fare. Before globalization I recall when a man’s factory salary supported his many children, with mom in the home, and he could expect a significant pay raise each year. I recall when the safest person in America was the baby in the womb, in contrast to the 61 million innocents that have been brutally murdered in the womb since 1973. I recall when nearly every black child was properly raised by having a father in the home, contrasted with the 72 percent now born to an unwed mother…..leading to a disordered family, supported forcefully by working taxpayers, and producing druggy members of gangs that often end up in prison. I certainly remember when the sole mission of our schools was to teach the three R’s as well as possible, not to indoctrinate their charges with liberal social precepts. I lament the 1970’s when universities stopped operating women’s dorms as safe, wholesome homes-away-from home, instead irresponsibly letting the male students in without limit.”
Would all museums and artifacts be destroyed?

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Calendar Castle of Romania

Calendar Castle Photo: Andreea Dogar and Cosmin Meca
radiocraiova.ro and greatnews.ro
Cosmin Meca wrote about a fascinating and lesser known castle in Romania, built in 1911. Its owner, Baron Istvan Ugron, was the former Austro-Hungarian ambassador to Russia. http://www.radiocraiova.ro/castelul-calenddar-o-minune-din-romania-are-365-de-ferestre-52-de-camere-si-7-terase/

Istvan is said to have fallen in love with one of Czar Nicolai II’s daughters. But when the Bolsheviks came to power in 1917, the entire family and the love of his life were killed. The Baron was so heartbroken that he withdrew from public life to mourn his loss.

Istvan commissioned the castle and construction began in 1911. According to radiocraiova.ro, the construction in medieval French style, lasted three years and the castle served as Baron Ugron’s summer residence.

Located in the village called Zau de Campie, state of Mures, Istvan’s castle is known to the locals as the Calendar Castle, because all the details were constructed to reflect our modern measurements of time.

Istvan’s Calendar Castle has 365 windows, 4 towers like the seasons, 52 rooms like the weeks in a year, 7 balconies like the days in a week, and 12 hallways like the months in a year.

While the communists ruled Romania with an iron fist, the castle served various purposes. As it was always the case, communists in power were fond of appropriating things they did not own, private property and wealth they deemed bourgeois. So the communist leadership confiscated the castle’s furniture and sent it to Turda, the capital of the state at the time.

Following confiscation, the castle became a sanatorium for people infected with tuberculosis, a school, a grain depository, and, most recently an orphanage.

Presently, the Calendar Castle is listed as a historical monument and is part of the patrimony of the state of Mures. In a terrible state of decay, neglected during the communist era and now, it awaits restoration.

According to Andreea Dogar, the authorities are seeking EU funds to restore this architectural jewel. http://greatnews.ro/castelul-calendar-din-romania-are-365-de-ferestre-52-de-camere-si-7-terase/

The occasional tourist can appreciate the exterior, the façade, the turrets, and wander around the courtyard.

There are so many beautiful places in Romania that are decaying more each day while awaiting restoration. A beautiful art deco building in my home town of Ploiesti, which was used as a marriage house during the communist era, is now oozing rust, decaying with neglect; and the courtyard is covered in weeds up to the rooftop. It is where I got married in 1977 on a beautiful fall day. 

The powers that be don’t seem to be extremely preoccupied with the preservation of Romania’s rich historical past and its beautiful buildings, but are concentrating on a hurried quest for globalism.

 

 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Grant Hall and the Fate of Conspirators

Grant Hall and the burial sites of those hanged
Photo: Ileana Johnson 2017
Grant Hall is located on the green and perfectly manicured grounds of Ft. McNair, near the banks of the Anacostia River and the Washington Channel of the Potomac River.

Building 20, Grant Hall, was part of the Federal Penitentiary that was built on this site in 1829. It was designed by Charles Bulfinch, the same architect who designed the Capitol. In 1831, a women’s ward was added to accommodate female prisoners. The Old Penitentiary was built on the Arsenal Grounds, formerly enclosed by a high brick wall.

The population of 200 inmates of the federal prison grew to 322 during 1862. Prisoners were taught useful skills such as shoemaking hence the existence of a shoe factory.

The original larger building was used during the Civil War to keep Confederate prisoners.  After the assassination, the conspirators were housed on the third floor cell block; Harper Weekly published a drawing of the exact location.

Burial site and scaffold by the tennis courts today
Photo: Ileana Johnson
 
The penitentiary was eventually torn down but one part of the building was spared, the wing where the trial took place.  The courtroom was used through the 1990s for various things such as enlisted members quarters, officers’ quarters, and five apartments, until 1996 when the Army had plans to tear it down. 

Dr. Hans Binnendijk, professor and vice president for research and applied learning at National Defense University, wrote to his congressman and made the case that Grant Hall could not be torn down as it is a national treasure. The funding was raised to restore the building, a process which took three years, from 2009 to 2012. During restoration, Robert Redford’s 2010 movie “Conspirators” could not be filmed in the building, but he came to measure the room and loaned props from the film to the museum.

As quoted in the Washington Post, Dr. Binnendijk said, “This was a place where, in some ways, the Civil War ended.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/building-where-lincoln-conspirators-were-tried-gets-a-second-life/2011/06/14/AGjwAAVH_story.html?utm_term=.57f32c89e660

The assistant warden’s office was converted into a courtroom per instructions from the Secretary of War. Bars were put on the windows and on doors. In this courtroom on the third floor, the eight conspirators who had helped John Wilkes Booth assassinate President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, faced the military tribunal.

Grant Hall
Third floor courtroom where the trial took place
Photo: Ileana Johnson 2017
 
Upon entering the courtroom, the first table on the right was reserved for the military tribunal. Each seat was marked with a photograph of the respective officer.  The defendants were seated on a bench against the far wall, behind a wooden rail. The accused’s portraits were placed in the exact location on the bench.  Mary Surratt’s table was in the middle. A pot-belly stove provided heat.  A third table located on the left side was reserved for journalists. Prominent people from the area, with a pass, could come and stand against the wall, behind this press table. Two side rooms contained props from the 2010 movie “Conspirators.”

Four conspirators were sentenced to death by hanging, including the first woman in the history of the U.S., Mary Surratt. The executions took place on July 7, 1865, on the gallows constructed in the Penitentiary Courtyard. Mary Surratt, J. W. Atzeroth, David Harold, and Lewis Payne were hanged for complicity in the murder of President Lincoln, and for the attempt upon the life of Secretary Seward.

The military commission that tried and convicted the Lincoln conspirators was composed of the following: Lt. Colonel David R. Clendenin, Colonel Charles H. Thompkins, Brigadier General Thomas M. Harris, Brigadier General Albion P. Howe, Major General Lew Wallace, Brigadier General James A. Eakin, Major General David Hunter, Major General August V. Kautz, Brigadier General Robert S. Foster, Congressman John A. Bingham of Ohio, General Henry L. Burnett, and Brigadier General Joseph Holt.

Because Lincoln and Seward were officers of the federal government, the conspirators were tried by a military commission, not by a civil court. The charges against the conspirators included “maliciously, unlawfully and traitorously being in aid of the existing rebellion… combining, confederating, and conspiring to kill and murder Abraham Lincoln, the late president; Andrew Johnson, vice-president; William H. Seward, secretary of state; Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the army of the United States.”

Dr. Samuel A. Mudd was represented by Frederick Stone and General Thomas Ewing. Mary Surrat was represented by Reverdy Johnson, Frederick Aiken, and John Clampitt. William E. Doster represented both Lewis Paine and George A. Atzerodt. Frederick Stone represented David E. Herold. Walter Cox and General Ewing defended Samuel Arnold, Michael O’Laughlin, and Edward Spangler.

The trial held the country spellbound; everyone wanted justice, eager and curious to know how far the conspiracy stretched from Richmond to Canada, and what the role of the woman was in the conspiracy to kill the nation’s beloved tyrannical president and the heads of the federal government.  The trial started on May 8, 1865 and ended in June 30, 1865 when the verdicts were read. All eight defendants were found guilty.

Perley Moore wrote, “Mrs. Surratt naturally attracted the most attention as she entered the room where the Military Commission was held every morning, the irons which connected her ankles clanking as she walked. She was rather a buxom-looking woman, dressed in deep black, with feline grey eyes, which watched the whole proceedings. The evidence we showed that she had been fully aware of the plot. Her house was used by Booth, Payne, Atzerott, and Herold as a meeting place.” (Perley’s Reminiscence of Sixty Years in the National Metropolis, Hubbard Brothers, Pa, 1886, p. 184)

Mary Surratt's coffin bottle
 
According to D. Mark Katz, before leaving her cell, Mary Surratt told one of her priests, Jacob A. Walker, “Father, I wish to say something. That I am innocent.” On that hot day, her two attending priests, Walker and Bernardin F. Wiget, held umbrellas over her head to shield her from the sun. (Witness to an Era: The Life and Photographs of Alexander Gardner, Viking Press, New York, 1991, p. 182).

The hanging was so popular that tickets were given to members of the government who wanted to witness the four conspirators die. Pictures from that day show people standing on the tall brick fence behind the gallows. Soldiers are seen beneath the gallows. The museum contains wooden fragments from the scaffold.

D. Mark Katz wrote in his book that Payne forced his way into Secretary of State Seward’s home around 10 p.m., tried to shoot his son, the pistol jammed, struck him over the head with the butt of his gun instead, and then stabbed the ailing Seward repeatedly. (pp. 143-146)

Gen. John F. Hartranft read the order of execution to the prisoners seated in armchairs; soldiers knocked out the props supporting two hinged trap doors.

From the third floor window, one can clearly see the spots where the four were buried in unmarked graves, with heads against the wall, and a bottle inside the coffin with their names written in:  Atzerrodt, Herold, Powell, and Surratt.

Barry Cauchon studied, mathematically calculated, and marked the exact location of the graves. It was revealed on the 150-year anniversary of the start of the Lincoln Conspirators Military Tribunal (May 8-9, 2015). A fifth grave was also marked for Confederate Officer Henry Wirz, who was tried, convicted and executed in November 1865 for Civil War crimes.

The dried wooden floors creak and groan; one window stays damp and foggy all the time, and snow seems to melt curiously on the pathway to the gallows where tennis courts are located today. Some really believe that the place is haunted by Mary Surratt’s ghost.

According to the archives, “The gallows were constructed in the Penitentiary courtyard and the executions ordered on a sweltering July 7, 1865. This historic event generated such interest that the Potomac River was filled the day of the execution with boats crowded with spectators. Witnesses to the execution included federal troops and 100 civilians. One of the most famous photographers of his time, Alexander Gardner, and his assistant, Timothy O’Sullivan, documented the execution by taking photographs as the events were unfolding. The photographers set up their cameras on the second floor of the shoe factory to take the most astounding series of photographs, thereby expanding the new art of photojournalism.” https://digitalndulibrary.ndu.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/greenleaf/id/55/rec/19

The other conspirators were sentenced to life imprisonment at the Dry Tortugas, Florida. All served three years and nine months before they were pardoned by Andrew Johnson. One of the conspirators died in prison. The famous Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, who worked on Booth’s fractured leg, was among the pardoned group. Interestingly, one of his descendants, LTC Joseph F. Mudd, Jr., USAF, graduated from NWC in 1998.

Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was temporarily buried under the penitentiary cellblock and his body was later released to the family and reburied in Baltimore, MD.  Lewis Powell’s remains experienced a bizarre misadventure.

Powell’s body was not claimed by his family, even though ads were placed, urging family members to come forward and claim it. When the local cemetery went under, the undertaker buried Powell’s body in a mass grave in Rock Creek cemetery, but the head had detached from the body and he kept it for some lugubrious reason and it stayed with him for twenty years.

Eventually the undertaker donated the head to the Army Medical Museum which was temporarily housed in Ford’s Theater. The collection then went to the Smithsonian Museum. Powell’s head wound up among the Native American collection and displays.

The Repatriation Act was passed in 1990 and all Native American relics had to be returned to their proper tribes. Powell’s skull was found among these artifacts, clearly labeled with name, date, and place of death. Powell’s descendants were contacted in Florida and they buried the skull in late 1990s next to Powell’s mother.

D. Mark Katz explained in his book, on p. 149, that Alexander Gardner had the inspiration to photograph for posterity the following:

-          the exterior of the Ford Theater with the black muslin cloth draped over the façade

-          the interior of the box at the Ford Theater and the torn flag caught in Booth’s boot

-          the stables of John C. Howard, where Booth kept his horse

-          the telegraph office where the world learned about Lincoln’s death

-          the Navy Yard Bridge where Booth escaped across

-          the execution

The actual photographs of the conspirators can be seen on this site. The fate of the conspirators was outlined in the PBS documentary as follows: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/assassination-co-conspirators/

-          John Wilkes Booth – killed at Garret farm with a bullet to the neck (actor)

-          David Herold – surrendered at Garrett farm and was executed by hanging (pharmacy clerk)

-          George Azterodt – assigned to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson, lost courage and got drunk instead; death by hanging (German-born carriage painter and boatman)

-          Lewis Powell – former Confederate prisoner of war, assigned to kill Secretary of State William Seward when the kidnapping plot failed; he injured Seward, his son, and a body guard; death by hanging

-          Mary Surratt – owned boarding house where the conspirators met; death by hanging

-          Michael O’Laughlin – Booth’s childhood buddy; turned himself in; life in prison in Fort Jefferson, off Key West; died of yellow fever in 1867 (ex-Confederate soldier)

-          Samuel Arnold – Booth’s friend; tied to the original kidnapping plot; not present in Washington during the assassination; life in prison; pardoned by President Andrew Johnson; died in 1906 of tuberculosis

-          Samuel Mudd – set Booth’s broken leg during the night of April 14; life in prison by one vote; pardoned in 1869; died of pneumonia in 1883 (medical doctor)

-          Edmund Spangler – knew Booth; six years in prison; pardoned in 1869 by President Andrew Johnson; lived in Maryland until his death in 1875 (carpenter at Ford Theater)

-          John Surrat – conspired in the failed kidnapping  plot; was not present in Washington at the time of the assassination; fled to Europe; was apprehended in Egypt in 1866; civilian court did not convict him in 1867-1868; died in 1916 (college educated Confederate spy).

Six feet to the right of a beautiful tree is the place where Booth was temporarily buried. The verdant grass and a tennis court are peaceful settings today, obscuring what was once a place that witnessed the tragic and tumultuous history of our country that forever changed the character of the nation.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Dining on 14th Street in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is a very strange city. We were on 14th street today, dining; there are many cafes and eateries frequented mostly by locals. The French restaurant we ate in was packed at 3 p.m. We were able to people-watch while we dined but the diversity of characters Democrats pride on was quite unsettling.

There was a "community day" one street over - no community I would ever want to be a part of;  the people milling at that event were young and old, dressed in 60s flower power outfits, with bongo drums, dreadlocks, and other bizarre outfits and hats.

Young women in the street were dressed in skimpy outfits like hookers; others wore rompers like toddlers, showing too much buttocks and most of their fake breasts. Some women were pretending to be clothed in dresses that were split to their private parts, or just-kidding skimpy skirts and tops showing their underwear and bras. 

Metrosexual-looking men were wearing pants and shirts two sizes too small or wife-beater black shirts with strange-looking shorts that appeared to have been shrunk in the wash. Most of them were latching their bikes to poles in the street like the good environmental commies that they are.


There was a strong presence of millennials with their heavily tattooed and pierced bodies. When the occasional, normally dressed Americans strolled by with their children, you knew they were out-of-towners visiting the big metropolis.


At the other extreme were women clad in 7th century black tents, covered to their eyeballs, running in packs of four with one husband herding them ahead, lest they got lost.


These people are helping run our country? God have mercy on us!

Monday, July 31, 2017

They Love Globalism and I Know Why

Wladyslaw Szpilman
Photo: Wikipedia
I was seated recently at a table of educated Romanians, late twenties and early thirties, lawyers, businessmen, teachers, engineers, doctors, and lobbyists for various globalist non-profits in D.C.

We were celebrating the success of Romanian-Americans, a diaspora composed of individuals who belonged to my generation that escaped communism and others who were recent arrivals and successful entrepreneurs, people who won the citizenship lottery, or remained in the U.S., following their education in Ivy League schools.

Romanians are generally very smart and make exceptional students – it is easy for them to get an education abroad, especially in the U.S., on full merit scholarships.

I watched and listened to my interlocutors speak with reverence about socialism, communism, and the need to have a communist global government and global citizenship in order to promote the rights and freedoms of all people, no matter where they live.

These young people have not experienced the tragedy of having to grow up under communism; they only knew what was taught to them by teachers and books written by academic socialists. By the time Ceausescu’s tyrannical regime was gone, they were small children, babies, or not yet born.

Their parents chose to shelter them from the horrors of communist life; they grew up in a relative free and abundant life. Democracy to them was how to make a quick enterprise at the expense of generous grants and investors. Opportunity knocked very hard and they responded quickly – adaptation of the fittest.

Grandparents perhaps spoke with nostalgia about the times when they were paid so little and had no freedoms but a cement roof was assured over their heads and a stale loaf of bread on the table.

The new crony capitalism and politically-corrupt “free” society that ignored the elderly and their plight of continued poverty scared their grandparents so much that they wanted the welfare safety of socialism back.

“Yes, we are free now to say whatever we want but nobody listens, nobody pays attention to us,” said one eighty-something lady I interviewed on my last trip.

I listened to one teacher from California who was bemoaning the fact that she was going to miss her favorite CNN personality, Fareed Zacharias. I really had to bite my tongue into silence.

I can understand how these young people have been brainwashed into globalism by the western academia and by their lack of a reference point to the suffering that their families had to endure for decades under Soviet Marxism and the leadership of the “Maverick” Ceausescu who brought his people to the brink of disaster.

It is for this reason that Romania had such a hard time catching up with other nations that were former Soviet satellites under the Iron Curtain. Most of these countries had better living conditions for their people and amassed huge debts to the west that were eventually forgiven once communism “fell” in 1989.

Romania’s “Maverick” president, Ceausescu, paid back every cent to the west by stealing as much food that he could possibly steal before starving his people to death in the streets. When communism fell, Romania owed precious little to the west, there was negligible debt to be forgiven. But the people’s standard of living was so low, and the infrastructure so poor, they had a much harder road to catch up to prosperity.

Young people, I learned, think that stories of starvation and man’s inhumanity to man are just stories, nobody in his right mind would mistreat their fellow man. Life is just a bowl of cherries, there are no pits inside. Besides, history and truth have been greatly sanitized.

My breakfast under communism, almost every day, was a piece of dark bread with prune jam made by grandma and the occasional butter, if we were lucky to find any in the perennially empty “laptaria,”(dairy shop) where we had to stand in line as early as we could, even though the store did not open until 6 a.m. The line would wind around the block and there was never enough milk, butter, or cheese delivered to satisfy all the customers waiting.

Socialism, like you see in the today’s starved Venezuela, is not very good at basic economics and planning based on supply and demand. Socialists are good at propaganda and lies and centralized control of the population.

Prunes were plentiful to make jam but sugar was a different story. Grandma, like any other shopper, was entitled to only so much sugar a month on rationing cards. We all pooled the rationed sugar and grandma was able to make prune or sour cherry jam for everybody.

The scene in the 2002 Polansky movie, The Pianist, is fascinating and highly emotional in many ways, not the least of which is the utter joy of tasting something again that seemed impossible to find. In some ways it reminds me how I felt when I opened the first jar of prune marmalade or jam of the season. On my last visit, I actually brought back with me four sealed jars made by cousin Ana.

Szpilman, the pianist in the movie, hiding from the Nazis in the attic of a bombed-out house, is discovered one day by an SS officer while he is desperately trying to open a can of pickles with a fireplace poker and a shovel.

Closing his eyes, knowing what his fate was going to be, Szpilman is surprised by the sympathetic SS officer who is interrogating him about his profession, asking him to play something on the piano in the room, instead of killing him.

The beautiful classical music reverberates in the dilapidated and frigid room, while his warm breath and flying fingers on the piano keys are the only evidence that he is still alive, transported on a realm of beauty, joy, and hope that touches all senses and does not need translation in any language.

The officer is listening intently, mesmerized by this “Jude” as he calls him disrespectfully. He leaves and returns unexpectedly with a loaf of bread, a can opener, and a large serving of jam wrapped in waxed paper. As a last gesture of humanity, he hands the “Jude” his warm coat.

Szpilman licks his fingers of jam, with his eyes closed, in total culinary ecstasy. He is someone who barely survived, who had not eaten anything so delicious in many months; the officer wants to know his name so that he can listen to his music on Polish radio later. The Russians were approaching and the liberation of Poland was imminent.

 
House at 223 Niepodlegiosci Avenue
in Warsaw where Captain Hosenfeld found Szpilman
Photo: Wikipedia
 
In this true story, the real Wladyslaw Szpilman, pianist and composer, searched for the one enemy officer who found kindness in his heart and had spared him. Szpilman eventually learned in 1951 the SS officer’s name, Wilm Hosenfeld. Despite his efforts to rescue him, Hosenfeld died in a Stalingrad prison camp in 1952 after seven years of captivity.

I wonder how young people would feel if they were forced to suffer such deprivation of food and freedom in a war or in a tyrannical government like communism, theocracy, or fascism? Would they still be so willing to be multicultural globalists?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

American Civil War Museum and Historic Tredegar


Historic Tredegar
Photo: Wikipedia
Nestled on the bank of the James River in Richmond, Virginia, near the American Civil War Museum, the Tredegar Iron Works began operating in 1837. The name Tredegar honored engineers Rhys Davies and his crew who were recruited from the Tredegar Mills in Wales. The proximity to railroads and canal boats made this location ideal.

On this very hot and lazy Saturday afternoon, with temperatures upwards of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, locals were sunbathing on the beach nearby.

First producing iron for railroads and then cannon, Tredegar Enterprise did not rise to fame until 1842 when the U.S. Navy ordered 100 cannon. Within eighteen years, Tredegar became the largest ironworks in the South, an important factor in the Confederate decision to move its capital from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia in 1861.

Photo: Wikipedia
The American Civil War Museum is located in the Gun Foundry which was built in 1861. The opening salvo on April 12, 1861 at Ft. Sumter was fired by a cannon cast at Tredegar Iron Works. By the end of the American Civil War, Tredegar cast more than 1,160 cannon.

Tredegar also made iron products, ammunition for the Spanish American War, WWI, and WWII, eventually closing in 1986 due to slow demand for iron goods which were replaced by steel.

Gen. Joseph Reid Anderson
Photo: Wikipedia
Joseph Reid Anderson bought out various stockholders and became the sole owner of Tredegar in 1860 when it was the fourth largest ironworks in the country.

A secessionist, Anderson wanted to unite the South and requested a Brigadier General appointment in the Confederate Army which he held until the summer of 1862. At that time, he resigned his commission as he was more valuable to the confederacy as leader of the iron works.

After the federal government confiscated the Confederate war industry, Anderson persuaded President Andrew Johnson to pardon him and to return his property which had been confiscated. He ran Tredegar until his death in 1892.

One of the largest employers in Virginia, Tredegar had recruited workers from Great Britain, Germany, the North, and even hired slaves who were trained as blacksmiths, teamsters, boatmen, and skilled ironworkers.

According to the American Civil War Museum archives, “In 1847, the white workers who usually held these skilled jobs, demanded that Anderson stop bringing in slaves and went on strike. Anderson fired the striking white workers, recruited new workers, and placed slaves in yet more sought-after positions.”

The white labor force shrank between 1861 and 1864 from 86 percent to 25 percent due to Confederate draft and the resignation of Union workers. Until its closing, Tredegar employed between 700 and 1,000 men.

A January 1862 list of “negroes” hired at Tredegar shows 131 slaves and four “free negroes.” The slaves were “housed, fed, clothed, and provided medical care. They earned cash by working overtime or exceeding their daily quota; several bought their own or family members’ freedom. Free black earned the same wages as white workers.” (American Civil War Museum archives)

Abraham Lincoln and his son
Photo: Wikipedia
The outdoor exhibits surrounding Historic Tredegar and the American Civil War Museum display a modern bronze statue of a child sitting on a bench by a man, Abraham Lincoln and his son, with the words engraved in stone on a wall behind them, “To bind up the nation’s wounds;” three bronze cupolas from the Virginia State Penitentiary that stood not far from Tredegar and was torn down in 1992, making room for Ethyl Corporation’s laboratories; various Tredegar tools and furnaces; an overshot waterwheel like the many that produced the mechanical energy needed by Tredegar’s furnaces and machinery from 1837 until after the American Civil War.

The waterwheel ran with water from the Kanawha Canal, guided to the top of the wheel and spilled over each bucket, causing the wheel to turn. As it turned, a wind box (a small fan) forced air into the furnace to stoke the fire.

The Historic Tredegar is operated by the non-profit American Civil War Center and the Richmond National Battlefield Park of the National Park Service. Three stories talk about wartime Richmond, its government, the military, refugees, prisoners, the wounded, and locals whose lives were displaced from 1861-1865 by a civil war that brought national attention to places like Cold Harbor, Gaines’ Mill, Malvern Hill, New Market Heights, and transformed farms into battlefields.

The National Park Service displays cannon, memorabilia, limber wagons with six-team of horses that pulled cannon, drums, letters, a well-worn Confederate flag carried in battle by the Richmond regiment, and narrates other interesting facts about southern life, the role of slavery, spies such as Elizabeth Van Lew, most famous Union spy, and other sympathizers who cooperated with the Union. There were Union spies in Richmond just as there were Confederate spies in Washington.

Wealthy Richmonders ran a spy network, “the best-organized one in the Confederacy, utilized safe houses, codes, signals, and clever hiding places, as well as smuggled newspapers, personal letters, and access to Confederate high command.” (National Park museum archives)

Richmond’s 1860 population of 38,000 grew to 80,000 due to the war and the cost of living rose through the roof while housing space became scarce. People had to flee in order to survive. Even a coal cellar was used as living quarters.

Women had to take unsavory jobs in order to survive, even jobs generally done by men. Some turned to prostitution or selling writing paper, sewing kits, and small pies in the streets.

Children had a difficult life in war-torn Richmond. Older ones joined gangs, bullying blacks and poor whites alike. Younger children who sought refuge in Richmond were petty thieves who vandalized property and created general disturbance. Some escaped to Union lines.

Well-to-do Richmonders sent their girls to boarding schools or to live with relatives out of harm’s way. Others were hired to sign Confederate Treasury notes. Poor girls worked in factories and stores. Upper class boys were sent to military schools and became officers.

By 1860, Richmond had five black churches and many black charities. Blacks worked as “domestic and day laborers, but also in tobacco factories, coal mines, flour mills, ironworks, bakeries, construction sites, hotels, and print shops. Free blacks dominated barbering, blacksmiths, street vendors, musicians, and cooks.” (National Park archives)

Blacks and free blacks had to carry passes or free papers at all times, an indignity to the human spirit. Richmond’s war chaos provided opportunities for some to escape to the Union lines.

Massive stonework on the first floor and brick walls on the second floor of the Historic Tredegar show evidence of the woolen mill that burned in 1854 on whose foundation the ironworks building was reconstructed.

The National Park Service describes the atmosphere in Richmond before the Virginia Convention voted to secede on April 17, 1861. “Although some Richmonders were passionate secessionists, many immigrants, merchants, and politicians had little enthusiasm for the Confederacy. Slaves and free blacks waited to see where their advantage lay.” (National Park museum archives)

Richmond became the Union prisoners’ destination. Officers were kept in Libby Prison. Enlisted men, upwards of eight thousand, were held prisoners on Belle Isle on James River. Lew and other Union sympathizers helped officers escape from Libby Prison.

The American Civil War Museum displays on two floors historical accounts and the time line of the Civil War. Films present evidence, facts, and opinions about the war that had torn a nation apart and caused so many casualties on both sides.

Interestingly, the museum presents the causes of the American Civil War as four possible choices and invites the visitor to decide by making careful insinuations:

a.     Disagreement over Federal vs. State Powers

b.     Competing Economies and Cultures (Industrial vs. Farming)

c.      Westward Expansion

d.     Slavery

The U.S. population in 1790 was four million, including 800,000 enslaved Africans in the North and the South. By 1860, the population grew to 31 million, 4 million of which were slaves concentrated in the South.

“While the average value of enslaved women, children, and the elderly was $750 a person, a single field hand could sell for $1,500 (about $25,000 in today’s dollars). The market value of slaves totaled nearly $3 billion, exceeding other U.S. assets such as railroads and factories.” (American Civil War Museum archives)

It is hard to understand man’s inhumanity to man but human trafficking and slavery continue to this day around the world and is swept up under the rug. Few people actually mention it or seriously try to stop it.

The true cost of the American Civil War was tallied at the end by taking into account soldiers lost to disease, battle wounds, and injuries. According to the museum archives, there were “10,455 skirmishes and recorded battles which resulted in over one million casualties (killed, wounded, missing in action, captured, or sick).” Survivors had to live with amputated limbs, depression, and persistent disease which forever changed their quality of life.

The museum had been somewhat sanitized in its revisionist historical opinions presented as a “balanced way to explore the Union, Confederate, and African-American perspectives.” The causes of war, the war years, and its legacy, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution in reference to freedom, citizenship, and equal protection were explored from different angles.

As we left the somber American Civil War Museum grounds, children’s laughter and playful beach banter echoed from the banks of the James River.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Obamacare Socialized Medicine Rationing and the Elderly

Healthcare is not a right, it is a service provided by doctors and nurses who went to school to learn how to care for a sick human being. And they expect to be compensated for their services. Surely you would not expect your mechanic who learned how to fix your car, repair it for free, because it is your right to have a running vehicle.

Health insurance is not a right either, it is also a service. Can you control what an insurance company does and what pricing systems they use? Can you control what government does now that they are in charge of your socialized health insurance and healthcare, including the 15-member death panel?

We know the Senate does not care about Americans’ health insurance premiums and the quality of their healthcare. If they did, they would not have passed without reading and then failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), socialized medicine under government control. Passed by Democrats in the dead of night, and deemed by the Supreme Court a tax, ACA became a burden for Americans who were mostly satisfied with their previous premiums and their healthcare delivery. Sure, there were improvements necessary but not an entire overhaul worth trillions.

What good is having a shiny insurance card that says you are entitled to Obamacare but that care is denied to you when doctors are not taking your insurance, the quality of care is very poor, procedures are denied due to rationing and age, and your deductibles shot through the roof?

Like most Americans, who saw their health insurance premiums skyrocket and their care worsen since 2010, I am confused why politicians are forcing this monstrosity called Obamacare on us. Congressmen have exempted themselves from Obamacare and are protected by their own private plans but the rest of us will eventually have to suffer under the socialized medicine of the type that sentenced baby Gard to death in the U.K.

Seniors are already treated like "units" in hospitals. My mom was recently the victim of Obamacare in one of the alleged best hospitals in Northern Virginia. She was kept solely on IV fluids for three days, even though she is skin and bones, so that she would not throw up and force doctors to give her the upper GI and endoscopy tests she needed. Instead, they treated her for a bladder infection which was not the reason why she had been brought to the ER - she was vomiting blood and had stroke level BP.  She was crying for solid food!

Her doctor explained to me that they could not do the upper GI and endoscopy because the radiology group located in the hospital gave priority to outpatients, unless an inpatient was currently bleeding and/or vomiting. She vomited but they ignored her. Was it because she is 85 years old and an Obamacare "unit" and not worth spending the money on, or was it because she is a legal immigrant?

She was starved for three days and her important medicines for conditions like blood pressure and dementia were not administered, causing a serious relapse in her physical and mental condition. This is medical abuse when you tell a patient that comes into the ER with serious symptoms that they cannot have procedures except on an outpatient basis at a later date and withhold important meds that they are currently on.

No amount of protests, complaints, or inquiries on my part made a difference. This is what happens under socialized medicine when bureaucrats who know best make life and death decisions over us and our loved ones.

Mom lived under the boot of communism and escaped to this country in her late forties. The communists stripped her of everything she had ever earned, owned, and saved, including her pension after 30 years of work. She was not even given my dad’s pension. She lived here for over three decades under relative freedom. It is sad that now, in her twilight years, she is made to suffer again and will die under the neglect of socialized medicine that allocates funds to more productive individuals. Mom was productive too in her younger years.

Little Charlie Gard lost his battle with socialized medicine rationing in the U.K. Those who are unable to protect themselves, children and the elderly, are the first victims of socialized and rationed medical care because they cannot defend themselves. The way we treat seniors, the weak, and the most vulnerable speaks volumes of our lack of civilization and compassion. We should protect wildlife and our habitat but it seems that we care more for minnows and polar bears than we do human beings.

Mom lost five pounds she could not afford to lose while in hospital care for three days. They were more worried that she might fall than her actual survival. She was not fed anything for three days except water and IV antibiotics. She was lucky to have gotten out with her life.

It is bad enough that some elderly are physically abused in nursing homes and/or neglected by underpaid and understaffed medical personnel; they must now suffer the indignity of denied hospital medical care in the rationing environment of Medicare and Medicaid that were shortchanged in order to help fund Obamacare, and by the scarcity of doctors and nurses created by Obamacare.

So much for the unaffordable Affordable Care Act that provides substandard medical care and offers expensive insurance premiums to Americans who are now faced with huge deductibles each year, possible loss of insurance, and fines by the IRS for non-compliance.