Not Far From The Tree

Everybody knows I’m a great fan of Texas senator Ted Cruz. It’s not that I agree with his politics or his thinking, it’s just that he makes really great copy and keeps me in material for this blog when the well runs a little dry. Such as today.

This meme was not created by some Facebook wonk, but is the work of cartoonist Clay Bennett of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. It invokes the theme of the Gadsden Flag from the Revolutionary War. The original showed a coiled rattlesnake, as does this cartoon, only the caption on the original flag was “Don’t Tread On Me.” In modern times we might say instead, “Don’t mess with me, Bro.”

The Tea Party movement also invokes a theme from the time of the Revolutionary War, the Boston Tea Party incident, and the name is meant to call up a supposed lost sense of patriotism and thirst for liberty. The cartoon speaks to how the modern Tea Party movement has blighted this once-proud symbol. In the past few weeks the Tea Party has acquired the ridicule not only of its principle opposition, the Democratic Party and America’s liberal faction, but also of its own foster parent, the Republican Party. And the principal author of this ridicule has been none other than our own Senator Ted Cruz from Texas.

However, this post is not about Senator Cruz. The topic today is Rafael Cruz, the father of the Texas senator.

Cruz senior is not a public figure in that he does not hold public office. He is however, the pastor of a Dallas-area church, and he has often spoken in behalf of the Senator in matters political. The Dallas Morning News reports on a story from Mother Jones.

Rafael Cruz, senator’s dad: send Obama “back to Kenya”

By Todd J. Gillman 10:06 am on October 31, 2013

WASHINGTON — Rafael Cruz, a Dallas-area pastor whose son was born in Canada and may run for president, apparently is a birther when it comes to President Barack Obama.

In September 2012, stumping for Ted Cruz’s Senate campaign, the elder Cruz spoke of sending Obama “back to Kenya.” That’s the land of birth for Obama’s father, though by every authoritative account, the 44th president was born in Hawaii, making him American two ways — by birth on American soil, and because his mother was a natural-born American from Kansas.

Ted Cruz’s own claim to eligibility is slightly more complicated.

Like Obama, he had one American citizen parent at the time of his birth (dad was still a Cuban citizen at the time) but unlike Obama, it’s unquestioned that he was actually born outside the United States.

That makes Rafael Cruz’s comments somewhat cheeky.

It’s also an indication of where Senator Cruz gets a lot of his crazy ideas—apparently not far from the tree.

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The Grand Alliance

I’m back to reading Churchill again. The book is his The Second World War, which is in six volumes (four volumes in some editions). I have picked up again the third volume, The Grand Alliance.

War started with Germany when Hitler’s army invaded Poland in 1939. England and France had committed to war against Germany in that event, and hostilities commenced on 3 September. By June 1940 the German army had overrun and occupied also Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium, and France had surrendered to the conquering foe. England stood alone against Germany and its new partner in aggression, Italy, for many months after, with only its colonies and dominions for assistance. American neutrality was enforced by a staunchly anti-war Congress all this time, although President Roosevelt wrangled through agreements that allowed the United States to supply ships and war materials to England and ultimately to press a naval threat on German submarine patrols in the North Atlantic and elsewhere. England had won the Battle of Britain by successfully fighting off German air attacks in the latter part of 1940, but 1941 was to be England’s darkest time in the war.

England’s only recourse, its only means for countering the German and Italian forces was to attack the Italian army that was making war in North Africa and then resisting the German army that came to the Italian’s assistance when Mussolini’s forces faltered. Still, for most of the year 1941 was very bleak.

Some relief came when Hitler switched his attentions from England and attacked the Soviet Union in June. The story of Churchill and Stalin at this juncture would make a novel on its own, but for another time.

Toward the end of the year a new threat for England loomed as the Japanese Empire began to assume a more aggressive posture. Japan had for years been waging an war of aggression against China, and England and the United States were for once united in resistance to this threat. Churchill and Roosevelt collaborated closely on how to deal with the Japanese menace in the Western Pacific region. The Dutch, though defeated in their own country, maintained a government in exile and still managed their own colonial interests in what is now Indonesia. They threw in their lot with the British and the Americans.

In his book Churchill gives a brief review of the Japanese Empire and the transformation of the Japanese from a feudal society to a modern industrial power in the span of about two generations. By the beginning of the 20th century Japan was a major world naval force. Militaristic interests in the country saw military expansion as Japan’s manifest destiny, its right and obligation.

England, the United States, and the Netherlands government in exile resisted this Japanese expansion by embargoing critical material to Japan. Look at a map. Japan is an island nation of mostly volcanic mountainous geography. It has no petroleum of its own and scarce other mineral resources. Everything must be imported, and the three Western powers determined to strangle the Japanese war effort. On 10 November Churchill gave a talk that included the following remarks:

Viewing the vast, sombre scene as dispassionately as possible, it would seem a very hazardous adventure for the Japanese people to plunge quite needlessly into a world struggle in which they may well find themselves opposed in the Pacific by States whose populations comprise nearly three-quarters of the human race. If steel is the basic foundation of modern war, it would be rather dangerous for a Power like Japan, whose steel production is only about seven million tons a year, to provoke quite gratuitously a struggle with the United States, whose steel production is now about ninety millions; and this would take no account of the powerful contribution which the British Empire can make. I hope therefore that the peace of the Pacific will be preserved in accordance with the known wishes of Japan’s wisest statesmen. But every preparation to defend British interests in the Far East, and to defend the common cause now at stake, has been and is being made.

Churchill, Winston (2010-07-01). The Grand Alliance (Winston Churchill World War II Collection) (Kindle Locations 9496-9502). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

In Japan there was a divergence of world view between the army and the navy. Until 100 years prior to World War II Japan had been a closed society, suffering few interactions with the remainder of the planet. In the 20th century Japan’s naval forces sailed the world’s oceans and visited foreign ports. Naval commanders, including Admiral Yamamoto, acquired a knowledge of what lay outside the home islands. The Japanese army had no such opportunity and possessed an unrealistic view of other cultures. While naval commanders were wary of challenging other world powers, in 1941 the army generals came to dominate Japanese politics and began to steer the country toward war. Churchill and Roosevelt soon came to the correct conclusion that Japan would initiate war against the Wester powers, and quite soon.

While Churchill dreaded conflict with Japan in this, its darkest year, he also saw that such an event would turn the Congress on its ear, and the United States, with its vast industrial resources, would enter the war and tilt the balance for good. Churchill promised President Roosevelt that in the event the United States went to war with Japan, England would have a declaration within the hour. He was good to his word.

In England Churchill was entertaining American ambassadors John Gilbert Winant and Averell Harriman at his home on a Sunday evening. He switched on his radio and caught a brief mention of Japanese attacks on American interests. A butler came in and confirmed the news. Japan had initiated a war with the United States and England.

From that moment, Churchill has stated, he foresaw the final outcome. With four fifths of the world’s population and maybe 90% of its industrial capacity pitted against the Axis powers, within a matter of a few years the people who had initiated this global conflagration would be standing with ropes around their necks.

Churchill gained the Nobel Prize in literature for this work, but it is not considered a definitive piece of history. Churchill was not a historian by profession, and he was not in a position to do the comprehensive research to produce a major historical work. He was, however, a master of language, and that’s what shows in his public life and in this work.

The War Cabinet authorised the immediate declaration of war upon Japan, for which all formal arrangements had been made. As Eden had already started on his journey to Moscow and I was in charge of the Foreign Office I sent the following letter to the Japanese Ambassador:

Foreign Office, December 8th
Sir,

On the evening of December 7th His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom learned that Japanese forces without previous warning either in the form of a declaration of war or of an ultimatum with a conditional declaration of war had attempted a landing on the coast of Malaya and bombed Singapore and Hong Kong.

In view of these wanton acts of unprovoked aggression committed in flagrant violation of International Law and particularly of Article 1 of the Third Hague Convention relative to the opening of hostilities, to which both Japan and the United Kingdom are parties, His Majesty’s Ambassador at Tokyo has been instructed to inform the Imperial Japanese Government in the name of His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom that a state of war exists between our two countries.

I have the honour to be, with high consideration,

Sir,
Your obedient servant,
WINSTON S. CHURCHILL

Some people did not like this ceremonial style. But after all when you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.

Churchill, Winston (2010-07-01). The Grand Alliance (Winston Churchill World War II Collection) (Kindle Locations 9758-9770). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

It requires a Churchill to issue a death warrant with such panache and style.

Bad Movie of the Week

I seem to be putting these out on a less than once a week schedule. Maybe I should change the theme to “Bad Movie of the Month.” Nah. There are enough bad movies to have a Bad Movie of the Day.

Walter Pidgeon plays pat a cake with Joyce Compton

This one is Sky Murder, starring Walter Pidgeon in a Nick Carter detective role. It’s got everything going for it, star power and some presentable acting, and also one of the most absurd story lines to come out of MGM. Here’s the setting:

The United States has not entered World War II (the film was released in 1940) but Nazi agents are gearing up to wreak havoc. In the opening frames we see them at work with typical Nazi efficiency. A printer’s delivery truck is making its rounds at high speed. You have to ask why. At a signal along the way somebody throws a bundle of print off the back of the truck to be picked up by somebody waiting. This repeats until the high speed of the truck causes a crash when a tire blows. This is Nazi efficiency?

One of the truck’s occupants is severely injured. He cannot escape the crash scene (somewhere out in the country). The police are coming. I can’t figure out why. They cannot have known about the crash. They were too far away when the accident occurred. Anyhow the cops are coming on their motorcycles. The ambulatory survivor, in typical Nazi fashion, kills his injured cohort with a pistol shot and runs away. There must be nobody left at the scene who can talk.

The cops arrive at the crash and discover subversive propaganda leaflets scattered all around the crash site. Obviously fifth columnists are at work here. This is the kind of language that was popular 70 years ago.

Anyhow, this provides an opportunity for detective Nick Carter to be called in, and the story line follows a path that is so predictable, but with some hideous plot twists.

The wealthy business man hosting the investigating Senator Monrose is actually the ring leader of the subversives. Among the gaggle of absolutely stunning females who are also guests at the soirée is a woman with a past. Another male guest is an obvious Nazi sympathizer, who makes advances of the political kind on the troubled chick.

Then all are aboard the host’s private plane, where the Nazi sympathizer is murdered, and Nick sets out to figure out who and how. He has abundant help from his wacky side-kick Bartholomew, AKA “Beeswax.” Bartholomew is played by Donald Meek, who comes up to about the arm pit of a standard detective, but is extremely wiley and able to handle the bad guys mano-a-mano or even with a gun. Carter also has the assistance of daffy detective Christine Cross, played by Joyce Compton. Both are enough to keep Nick Carter on his toes and also to lend assistance in mauling this plot into submission.

Texas-born Chill Wills plays a New York sheriff, giving that official an accent that’s hard to figure out.

This is your movie if you enjoy improbable plot twists and dead ends. Spoiler alert: They capture all the Nazis, and there is a patriotic tip of the hat to the United States Army Air Corps, called in by the senator to help corral the Nazi leader’s plane.

Libertarian Liberty

Once again I have Facebook to thank. Somebody posted another cute meme that reminded me about an on-going political campaign:

Rand Paul stumps with Ken Cuccinelli

By JAMES HOHMANN | 10/28/13 2:31 PM EDT

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Michael Bloomberg has become the Republicans’ favorite punching bag in the closing days of the Virginia gubernatorial race.

Rand Paul seized on the New York City mayor’s new $1.1 million TV ad buy, which attacks Republican Ken Cuccinelli for opposing gun control, during a Monday afternoon rally here.

“Once he takes your guns, he’s coming after your Big Gulp,” the Kentucky senator said.

First the Big Gulp, then the guns. Senator Paul didn’t explain how that would work. For example, if people still have guns, then how are your going to be able to take away their Big Gulp? Work that one through for me, please.

You may know that Rand Paul is not what you would call a true Republican. He’s a Libertarian. Someone has described a Libertarian as a Republican with a bong. Libertarians are for all the liberties espoused by Republicans, only without the associated lifestyle restrictions.

Here’s where the cute meme comes in:

I hope the irony is apparent. Cuccinelli is a True Republican, seeking to ban homosexual marriage, contraception, oral sex, abortion, no-fault divorce plus possibly various liberties too obscure to be listed.

So, is Rand Paul a True Libertarian, or is he a True Republican seeking to garner the votes of conservative-minded free-thinkers? Senator, when you stand that close to a True Republican it becomes hard not to paint you both with the same brush.

The Comical Conservative

Apologies again, but I have to keep coming back to this. It’s The Comical Conservative, and I like it because it’s so conservative. Comical also, as you will see.

Somebody posted this on Facebook. It’s from The Comical Conservative. People post stuff from The Comical Conservative a lot, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Maybe not in the way that was intended, but enjoyment anyhow. Maybe that’s the perverse side of me. So, here’s the meme posted from The Comical Conservative. Ironically, it’s a comic:

Forget for a moment this strip is a rip from a very respected cartoonist who likely would not have shared the views expressed. Here’s what’s going on. Republicans have sidled up to a racist segment of society in order to garner votes and win elections, and with this contact some of the gloss has worn off the Republican brand. What this strip is attempting to do is to unload this Republican baggage onto the other major party. Here’s how it works, and also here is what has been left unsaid.

The story line is accurate as far as it goes. Historically in the 1850s the major political party in the United States was the Democratic Party, founded just a few years previous by Andrew Jackson, no friend of racial equality, but he got his picture on the $20 bill. The Republican Party was founded in 1854 by people seeking to abolish slavery. The Democratic Party at the time and for the next 100 years opposed the abolition of slavery in the beginning and equal rights for former slaves and descendants of slaves following that. The Democratic Party’s base during the first half of the 20th century was the American Deep South—the region of the former Confederacy.

Then something happened. In 1960 a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts was elected president, and his vice president was a former senator from Texas. Together they fostered a new era of liberalism, with the Southern senator carrying on the movement after the president was murdered. Under the Democratic Party leadership in the 1960s enormous gains were made in voting and other rights for descendants of black slaves. Then something happened.

The Democratic Party’s former base, the conservative, racist Southern Whites deserted the Democratic Party en masse. Voters, politicians, some already holding elected office, they bailed out. And they went… Where?

They went to the Republican Party, of course. Unfortunately today the former party of racial equality can’t survive without the votes of this racist contingent, so election after election they drag this baggage, left over from the century before the previous, to the polls with half-spoken promises and soothing words of comfort. Not fully endorsing the darker side of humanity, the GOP soldiers on, too fearful to publicly denounce this putrid corpse. What conservatives do, instead, is attempt to slough off some of the stench onto the opposition. Not always well-played. As in the following:

The latest piece of dead weight to attach itself to the GOP has been the Tea Party movement, leading to some considerable embarrassment:

Republican protesters sing, ‘Bye Bye Black Sheep’, hold racist signs ‘Impeach the half-white Muslim’

Protesters gathered from both sides of the political spectrum outside of the venue where President Obama was speaking in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday. While the crowd was populated largely with Obama supporters, his opponents yelled out racially charged derogatory statements. While their racism was on display for the world to witness, one woman actually blamed President Obama for racial tensions.

In today’s political climate, you don’t have to go far to find remnants of the old Confederacy. Just head over to the next Tea Party function.

Scott Terry of North Carolina, accompanied by a Confederate-flag-clad attendee, Matthew Heimbach, rose to say he took offense to the event’s take on slavery. (Heimbach founded the White Students Union at Towson University and is described as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)

“It seems to be that you’re reaching out to voters at the expense of young white Southern males,” Terry said, adding he “came to love my people and culture” who were “being systematically disenfranchised.”

Smith responded that Douglass forgave his slavemaster.

“For giving him shelter? And food?” Terry said.

You’re a good man, Charlie Brown. Just be careful and don’t stand too close to those Tea Baggers. Some of that stuff might rub off.

Liberal Left Watch

I can’t get enough of these. I set out yesterday to demonstrate that liberals are just too uninteresting. I like to post memes I’ve picked up on conservative sites. They’re meaty, and they challenge the imagination. The ones I’ve been finding on sites such as Americans Against the Republican Party are too factual or else too obvious to be of interest to all but the most perverted minds. Take this one:

All right, here’s a crusty old white man (actually a white man this time), and he has something to say. The first thing I find wrong is what he has to say is actually humorous. He’s trying to make a joke, and it was all I could do to keep from laughing.

But here’s what’s so bad about this one. It almost contains an element of truth. No, no. Cute political memes are best when real truth is totally absent.

Try harder next time, Americans Against the Republican Party.

Liberal Left Watch

Recently I’ve been making a lot of fun of conservatives by posting stuff on this blog that conservatives previously posted somewhere else. I’ve found that an excellent way to make fun of conservatives is to repeat out loud things they among themselves. My apologies.

As I mentioned before I like to pick on conservatives, because they are just a lot of fun. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to be deadly dull. Who wants to be told stuff you already believe, and who wants to be told things you already know? Anyhow, I’m going to illustrate just how deadly dull these liberals can be. To start with I went to a Facebook site called

Americans Against The Republican Party and pulled out this meme:
People, what’s the point of this? Where’s the interest? Where’s the controversy? Where’s the outrage? Can you imagine my trying to make a story out of this?
No way! Give me a Republican blog post any day of the week. Now there’s a story in the making. Come back often. See more.

Baa baa Black Sheep, have you any wool?

It’s from a very old nursery rhyme:

Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full;
One for the master,
And one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.

This seems to be the inspiration for a story from last August. The story came with this screen shot:

Sorry, conservatives, but if you guys stand too close together it’s going to be hard to keep from painting you all with the same brush.

Republican protesters sing, ‘Bye Bye Black Sheep’, hold racist signs ‘Impeach the half-white Muslim’

Protesters gathered from both sides of the political spectrum outside of the venue where President Obama was speaking in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday. While the crowd was populated largely with Obama supporters, his opponents yelled out racially charged derogatory statements. While their racism was on display for the world to witness, one woman actually blamed President Obama for racial tensions.

The story is posted on FreakOutNation and cites a couple of news sources. The Arizona Republic reported:

Obama foes at one point sang, “Bye Bye Black Sheep,” a derogatory reference to the president’s skin color, while protesters like Deanne Bartram raised a sign saying, “Impeach the Half-White Muslim!”

Half-white? Does this make the protester half-racist? And “Muslim?” This person is serious. It’s a great opportunity when we find somebody who is both a racial and a religious discriminator.

I have previously noted the fascination white and religious supremacists hold for the Republican Party and the Tea Party faction, in particular:

A CPAC session sponsored by Tea Party Patriots and billed as a primer on teaching activists how to court black voters devolved into a shouting match as some attendees demanded justice for white voters and others shouted down a black woman who reacted in horror.

The session, entitled “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” was led by K. Carl Smith, a black conservative who mostly urged attendees to deflect racism charges by calling themselves “Frederick Douglass Republicans.”

That was back in July. Apparently the hurt feelings of these white folks did not get soothed during the intervening month, and I expect they are going to stay sharp for the foreseeable future. Apparently this is built into us.

Obamascare

I mentioned before I mined a number of cute memes from sites such as The Comical Conservative. Memes are used by conservatives and liberals alike to express political ideas sharply and concisely so their thoughts can be easily grasped and bounced around from user to user. Of course it helps when a meme is not only to the point but is also contains an accurate message. When the message misses the mark it makes fun for me and an opportunity for a new post on Skeptical Analysis. Here is one such:

The point of this seems to be the president’s administration has created an unusable Web site, and you are going to fined if you cannot use it to purchase insurance. This message is more accurate than most in that the healthcare.gov site was dead on arrival when it opened the first of this month. That’s a good point. However, for the person who created this meme there is not much gain left over after after the reader gets past that point. It would have been better if the entire message were true, but it falls short in that respect. Often ultimate truth is not the point in these messages.

The entire truth is that alternate methods exist for obtaining health care in accordance with the Affordable Care Act, and these pathways are open and workable to all who need to acquire insurance in order to comply with the law. This small point blunts the point of the message ultimately, but in the mean time conservatives who pass this along get a short flash of enjoyment.

The irony, and people know I am a great fan of irony, is that a great number of those who traditionally vote conservative are currently without health insurance and can obtain coverage for themselves and their families through the act that they would previously have had difficulty obtaining. A number of these people, who voted against this president, will now obtain medical insurance and enjoy the benefit while still grumbling about other aspects of the administration. That’s the American way.