Heart Of Dumbness

Second in a Series

First of all, we should all be careful to not take Ray Comfort much too seriously. Even seriously:

In 2006, Comfort recorded a segment for The Way of the Master‘s television show in which he argued that the banana was an “atheists’ nightmare”, arguing that it displayed many user-friendly features that were evidence of intelligent design. Comfort retracted the video upon learning that the banana is a result of artificial selection by humans, and that the wild banana is small and unpalatable.

An excerpt of this amazing video is captured on YouTube, if only to embarrass Ray Comfort.

All this did not prevent me from purchasing a copy of Comfort’s book You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics. In the previous post I promised a review, and here it is. It’s 160 pages in the hard copy, but I purchased the Kindle edition.

Comfort has published a basket full of titles, laudable in itself. One is Overcoming Panic Attacks, but the remainder seemed to be overtly religious. I’m thinking possibly the panic attack book may also be anchored in religion. He is an evangelical Christian, teaming up with actor Kirk Cameron to form and promote The Way of the Master.

A big thing with Comfort is creationism and its obverse, modern science, biological evolution, cosmology, and anything else that gets in the way of creationism. That’s the center of the first of seven chapters, and readers will forgive me if I bear down on that section and trip lightly through the remainder. Besides the chapters there are also a forward, a preface, an introduction, a conclusion, and an excellent section of notes, covering references made in the book.

The Introduction is by atheist Darrin Rasberry, who oddly cautions us to be kind and gentle. Rasberry derides modern and vocal atheists, and it’s no wonder that he later turns out to have converted to the faith. This isn’t mentioned in the book, giving the impression that even atheists don’t like atheists. Notably, the book came out in 2009, and the link to Rasberry’s conversion dates from  2011.

Early on Comfort portrays matching it up with atheists as a grand sport. In the Preface he gives a clue to what is to come:

Most who profess atheism aren’t really “atheists.” After a few moments chatting with them about the fact that every building is proof that there was a builder, and that creation therefore is proof that there is a Creator, many change their minds.

But then there’s the staunch atheist. This one is a challenge. He is the marlin of deep-sea fishing, and he doesn’t give up easily. As a fisher of men, I have found that this type of atheist is always ready for debate. He will take the bait, the hook, and any line you give him, and give you a run for your money.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 55-60). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

But on to creationism. It is unfortunate that Comfort hangs so much of his argument for Jesus on the failure of evolution. His experience with the banana gives a clue to the level of intellect he brings to the discussion. He ties atheism to evolution, and he strikes close to home here. Modern theories of biological evolution completely undermine a basic premise of the Bible. Comfort and others of his ilk buy deeply into the literal truth of the Bible. To defend their faith, they must demolish evolution, along with geology, cosmology, and other facets of modern science. The first paragraph sets the stage:

Atheists’ beliefs vary as much as atheists themselves. Still, atheists hold a fundamental belief that unifies them. An “atheist” believes that there is no God and that man came into being without any intelligent design. If there was no designer, then an atheist owes his existence to random chance, over millions or billions of years, of course. While some believers in evolution deny that evolution is a random process, if it’s not unplanned, then it’s planned. And if it is planned, then there is Someone doing the planning.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 125-128). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

Readers are going to come back at me and say, “Dude, there are loads of Christians who accept evolution as true.” Put those Christians aside, dear reader, Comfort has.

By the second paragraph he has launched into the kind of argument that brought him so much ridicule:

As a fly on the wall, we are there when Adam takes his first breath. It is fortunate that, when his lungs drew in the air that surrounded him, the air was there. If there had been no air, he wouldn’t have been able to breathe and he would have instantly died. But for some reason it was there, presumably at 14.7 pounds per square inch.

But it’s more miraculous than the air just being there. It was fortunate the air was made up of 78.09 percent nitrogen and 20.95 percent oxygen—the exact mixture that his lungs and blood needed to survive.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 130-134). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

He goes on to point out additional, miraculous, coincidences to illustrate why there must be a God who caused all this to happen and with a plan in mind. Wasn’t it nice that Adam just happened to have  lungs to breathe the oxygen. Wasn’t it nice that Eve came along about the same time so the Clan of Adam could populate the Earth. And wasn’t is fortunate that Eve just happened to have lungs so she did not die before Adam could put the move on her. Do I  have to explain what’s wrong with this? I hope not.

The foregoing is a preamble. It is a view into Ray Comfort’s intellectual processes that should disturb you. It is possible that I was unfortunate in spending my working  life in the company of people who think for a living. That in mind, it’s jarring when I encounter somebody like Comfort. This is not the kind of person who should be allowed to handle sharp objects. Additional  examples illustrate:

It was also an amazing coincidence that gravity existed at the time of their evolution. Without it, the first man and his first mate would have spun off into the infinitude of space. But for some reason it evolved and matured at just the right time to keep their feet firmly planted on the earth, which also evolved.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 137-139). WND Books. Kindle Edition.


The banana pales.

Comfort strives mightily to convince us that there must be a God behind the universe and all creations. He employs two devices:

  • Ex nihilo
  • Creation-creator

The first is that the universe is here but it has not always been here. This is the ex nihilo argument. Something cannot come from nothing. We never see this happen:

In all of history, there has never been an instance of anything spontaneously appearing out of nowhere. Something being created from nothing is contrary to all known science.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 382-384). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

Except that we do. Quantum physics includes a a corner for actions without a cause and objects without a predecessor. Lawrence Krauss has discussed A Universe from Nothing. Folks, it is not unknown, if I can be forgiven the double negative.

The creation-creator argument is more involved. There is something. That something must have been created. Chapter One has the title “Creation Must Have a Creator.” Comfort illustrates:

In short, the evolutionary view cannot offer a logical, scientific explanation for either the origin or the complexity of the universe. There are only two choices: Either no one created everything out of nothing, or Someone—an intelligent, omnipotent, eternal First Cause—created everything out of nothing. Which makes more sense?

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 384-386). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

Comfort plays lightly with the meanings of words. Something was created. Waves created ripples in the sand. But there is a chair. It takes an intelligent being, something with a purpose, to create a chair. Comfort wants us to know that all things that exist were created in the sense of the chair. Somebody wanted the chair, and the chair was created for a purpose. It’s a different concept of creation for the ripples in the sand, but Comfort wants to impute purpose in all things.

Comfort is missing a major point, previously discussed. The creation Comfort has in mind comes from purpose, and purpose is a feature of living things, at diminishing levels. It is well considered that plants do not think. They put out leaves and roots solely on the basis of blind chemistry. People are considered on this planet to be the kings of purpose. They fashion instruments out of metal for serving up food, and they also construct elaborate craft for exploring other planets. Ultimately it all boils down to a matter of chemistry in action, and other animals, for example ants, have less of purpose than people.

Purpose, however, is a result of biological evolution—biological evolution that Comfort so much despises. Purpose is an inherited trait that promotes survival and procreation in a loop that feeds back to increasing the presence of that trait in a population. Darwin was right, after all.

Supposing God exists. What was God’s purpose in creating? What was God’s purpose in creating the universe, the sun and planets, and all living things on Earth? Are we a cosmological science project concocted by an ethereal middle school pupil? That hardly seems likely. If you are an ethereal fellow, then you have not experienced the forces of environment inflicted by existing on this planet, which supposedly you created. Arguing for creation must argue for purpose, for which we can find no excuse. It’s a philosophically devoid enterprise. It’s an enterprise Comfort pursues with an astounding blindness.

A significant blind spot that Comfort has missed is the core of his pitch. God wants us to be moral people (as part of his science project), and Jesus is his vehicle for imparting morality. The evidence of creation is the evidence of God. Missing is the connection. Suppose I were successful in proving there must have been a God behind the creation of the Universe. Nobody has ever connected this God with Jesus. The Bible provides this connection, but it is just words printed on paper (originally on parchment). There is nothing historically or philosophically sound to connect the creation of the Universe with Jesus, and thus morality.

I will leave the creation-creator chapter at this point. Comfort spends the remaining six chapters talking morality, religious orthodoxy, biblical inerrancy. But before that he reminds atheists what horrible people we are. He complains of his treatment at the hands of atheists:

In April of 2007, during an ABC Nightline atheist debate, Kirk Cameron and I produced imaginary pictures of what we imagined would be genuine species-to-species transitional forms. We called one a “Crocoduck,” and another was called a “birddog.” This was to show exactly what evolutionists believe, but can’t back up through the fossil record. We were ridiculed, called stupid, and told that we didn’t understand evolution. However, these books vindicate us (not that we needed it). They have done with the future what evolutionists have done with the past. They have made a mockery out of science.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 609-613). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

Bad. Really bad. How bad? Glad you asked:

It is because of God’s love that I care about the fate of atheists. When an atheist says he sees no evidence that God exists, I take the time to reason with him about creation not being an accident, even though it is intellectually demeaning to have to do so (atheism is the epitome of stupidity). It’s an intellectual embarrassment. But I have done so thousands of times, and will do so until my last breath…thanks alone to the love of God that dwells in me.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 170-173). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

[Emphasis added]

Apparently there is a lot of that going around.

Comfort obviously sees morality as the cornerstone of his thesis. He talks to no end on morality. One aspect of comfort’s morality is something I find very strange, and that something is the matter of sexual lust. Sexual lust, he asserts (and he backs it up with biblical references) is the same as actual sexual coupling, and it is just as sinful. And that is what is so strange. Sexual coupling is sinful? Really/ Sexual coupling is how we make people. Without sexual coupling there would be no people, and without people there would be no Christianity.  He mentions the word lust 49 times in the book and adultery 30 times. Something has happened in Comfort’s life, having to do with sex, and it seems to have been devastating. And we are offered a peek into this world at the price of purchasing his book.

Comfort’s reasoning for concluding the Catholic Church is not Christian is beyond the scope of this post, and I’m not going to dig deeper into his eschatological haranguing. Comfort and Cameron can be watched at length and for free on YouTube. Readers with a thirst for more can pursue at their leisure. With popcorn.



Besides additional and notable idiosyncrasies, current President Donald Trump’s tendentious, and typically casual, relationship with the truth gets a lot of attention. Prime are his recent recent claims of massive voter fraud and the unrealized popularity of his swearing in ceremony. Continuing a thread that ran throughout his campaign, Trump’s campaign of deceit is leaving an indelible mark on his tenure. Not by accident, George Orwell‘s classic novel from  1949, titled 1984, last week topped Amazon’s sales list.

It will be worthwhile to revisit this iconic tale, made most famous by a movie of that title, that burst on the large screen in 1956. My acquaintance was through a feature in Life magazine that summarized, with illustrations from the movie. A more recent release came out in the title year and featured John Hurt (recently deceased) and Richard Burton, who died before the film hit the screen. The tie in with the current president is inescapable.

It’s the year 1984 in a dystopian world. It’s Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels gone wild on a planet beset by global and eternal war. The setting is London, but the country is now Oceania, and Oceania is ruled by an enigmatic and oppressive leader known only as Big Brother and seen only on wall-size view screens and prolific wall posters. Truth has ceased to exist. The following images are screen shots from the 1984 production.

There is no news, only propaganda, fed in a 24/7 stream. It’s purpose is absolute control, keeping the teaming masses in perpetual passion for their masters and against foes, real or imaginary. A five-minute hate session opens viewers to this world.

Suzanna Hamilton is Julia. Her passion, we eventually learn, is crafted. She has by some means discerned  the truth, that it is all a big lie. You cannot tell it from watching her scream, along with the others, at the images on the big screen.

Winston Smith (John Hurt) works in the Ministry of Truth. His job is to kill the truth. He rewrites history. Literally. He reviews publications that no longer reflect the party message, and he rewrites them to conform to the truth of the day. For example:

Winston’s job was to rectify the original figures by making them agree with the later ones. As for the third message, it referred to a very simple error which could be set right in a couple of minutes. As short a time ago as February, the Ministry of Plenty had issued a promise (a ‘categorical pledge’ were the official words) that there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration during 1984. Actually, as Winston was aware, the chocolate ration was to be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty at the end of the present week. All that was needed was to substitute for the original promise a warning that it would probably be necessary to reduce the ration at some time in April.

Orwell, George. 1984 (Kindle Locations 617-621). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Readers of the book, and present day observers who have previously read the book, will find the parallels with the current administration striking if not chilling.

Richard Burton is O’Brien, a party official who oversees Smith’s destruction. It is the job of the rulers to systematically eliminate subjects. The practice of entrapping visible personalities, exposing their offenses against the state, and rendering them unpersons, maintains the level of terror needed to preserve absolute control. Winston is being set up to take the fall for thoughtcrime. One word. Terms like this permeate 1984. It’s called newspeak.

And that hopefully concludes the parallel between 1984 and 2017. To round out the story, Julia contacts Winston and recruits him as her current lover. She has had many. Winston rents a room in a shadowy area in the proletarian section, where the proles live. Interestingly the proles are not subjected to the perpetual hazing inflicted on the bourgeois class.

Here Winston and Julia enjoy their bliss together, waiting for the day when their thoughtcrime will be discovered, and  they will  be rendered. Winston falsely projects that, when tortured—as tortured as he must eventually be—he will never betray Julia. He will always love her.

From a window in the rented room they observe a prole woman hanging out laundry on a clothes line and singing a tune that has been composed by a state factory. Here  is an example from the book:

It was only an ’opeless fancy,
It passed like an Ipril dye,
But a look an’ a word an’ the dreams they stirred
They ’ave stolen my ’eart awye!

Orwell, George. 1984 (Kindle Locations 1985-1987). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Their downfall comes precipitously and without warning. As they watch the woman hanging he laundry:

The birds sang, the proles sang, the Party did not sing. All round the world, in London and New York, in Africa and Brazil and in the mysterious, forbidden lands beyond the frontiers, in the streets of Paris and Berlin, in the villages of the endless Russian plain, in the bazaars of China and Japan— everywhere stood the same solid unconquerable figure, made monstrous by work and childbearing, toiling from birth to death and still singing. Out of those mighty loins a race of conscious beings must one day come. You were the dead; theirs was the future. But you could share in that future if you kept alive the mind as they kept alive the body, and passed on the secret doctrine that two plus two make four.

‘We are the dead,’ he said.

‘We are the dead,’ echoed Julia dutifully.

‘You are the dead,’ said an iron voice behind them.

They sprang apart. Winston’s entrails seemed to have turned into ice. He could see the white all round the irises of Julia’s eyes. Her face had turned a milky yellow. The smear of rouge that was still on each cheekbone stood out sharply, almost as though unconnected with the skin beneath.

‘You are the dead,’ repeated the iron voice.

‘It was behind the picture,’ breathed Julia.

‘It was behind the picture,’ said the voice. ‘Remain exactly where you are. Make no movement until you are ordered.’

Orwell, George. 1984 (Kindle Locations 3156-3167). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

The hidden TV camera was behind the picture, which now comes crashing down to reveal the likeness of Big Brother, speaking to them.

Julia is struck down and carried nude from the room. Winston appears before O’Brien and undergoes his torture. Winston has claimed that two plus two must always be four. O’Brien disabuses him of that notion. He holds up four fingers. This was famously pictured in the Life magazine item 60 years ago. Under torture Winston wants so much for two plus two to equal five, as O’Brien insists, that he eventually comes to that belief.

Winston also betrays Julia. The government has obtained a copy of the journal he has been keeping, and they know his secret fear is rats. As a child he observed rats crawling of the body of his dead mother. When his torturers strap a cage containing hungry rats over his face and threaten to turn the loose on  him, to eat at his face, perhaps starting with his eyes:

‘Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!’

Orwell, George. 1984 (Kindle Locations 4077-4078). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Winston’s destruction is complete. He is freed from prison to walk the streets as an unperson. He no longer exists. The Ministry of Truth has expunged all references of his existence. His recorded self-denunciation appears prominently on screens about Oceania. Eventually he will physically cease to exist. He will simply disappear unnoticed by anybody.

But before that:

He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished.

He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

Orwell, George. 1984 (Kindle Locations 4230-4233). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Of course, this is only a work of fiction. Forget that master Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels made a stab at molding truth over 70 years ago. Forget that the Soviet Union pulled dissenter off the streets and published their self-denunciations. Remember it started with a few lies.

Fact Deficit


I obtained the Kindle edition earlier this week. The topic was still fresh back then. It’s What the (Bleep) Just Happened, and it’s by Monica Crowley, a Fox News contributor and columnist for The Washington Times. If you don’t know already, Crowley holds extreme conservative political views, and her book represents the extreme of that extreme. The subtitle is The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback.

Considering that she “holds a B.A. in political science from Colgate University and a Ph.D. in international relations from Columbia University (2000) [Wikipedia], a reader might expect a scholarly work with deep insight. The insight shows in flashes throughout, but the scholarship drags bottom in places. Some explanation.

The title concerns what the bleep happened when Barack Obama burst on the American  political scene and wrenched the country in a new direction, or not. No surprise, the narrative is all about the current president. No surprise, it is about 100% negative. A few characters of the Roman  alphabet into this book, and you get the idea President Obama is not going to get treated lightly. Treatment comes in multiple forms, never complimentary. A reader will have no problem concluding Obama is not going to be able to purchase a fair shake at any price.

The major theme running through the narrative is American exceptionalism. Exceptionalism is a word that already existed, but you want to get the idea that Crowley invented it. The Google search engine finds it, but the Oxford American Dictionary that comes with my copy of Kindle reports, “No definition found.” Throughout, she throws the term around with patriotic fervor, explaining why lefties, she calls them kooks, and especially Barack Obama, are enemies of American exceptionalism, set wholeheartedly on destroying it. Some examples.

The last few years have been a bizarre stroll through a surreal landscape. America hasn’t been looking like America. It’s been looking like an America painted by Salvador Dalí, all dripping landscapes, liquid clocks, and warped reality … like what Paul Pelosi sees when he wakes up every morning. It’s as if America has fallen down the rabbit hole. It’s America in The Twilight Zone.

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (p. 4). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.


Crowley is an inventive writer, if not an imaginative one. Throughout she dishes to liberals—she calls them kooks—in the manner illustrated above. Nancy Pelosi is a typical kook, showing her age. To Crowley, husband Paul Pelosi must see wife Nancy’s face in the morning as a Dali clock face. Cute, but tiresome after the first 25 or so pages.

Communist is a word Crowley likes to throw around a lot. It received considerable use in my younger days when I watched Senator Joe McCarthy on TV flinging it at any and all who blunted from his political agenda. More recently former congressman from Florida Allen West appeared to rediscover the word, counting the number of card-carrying communists in Congress. Crowley attaches the term to a number of individuals left of center but not actually members of any communist party and not professing themselves as being communist. My guess is that echoes from 60 years ago still resonate among a certain stratum in American society.

A particular target is Saul Alinsky. From Wikipedia:

Alinsky did not join political parties. When asked during an interview whether he ever considered becoming a Communist Party member, he replied:

Not at any time. I’ve never joined any organization—not even the ones I’ve organized myself. I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it’s Christianity or Marxism. One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as “that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you’re right.” If you don’t have that, if you think you’ve got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide.

It does not appear that Crowley tags Alinsky as a communist, but she, and other authors note Obama’s reliance on the grass-roots mobilization approach developed and popularized by him. Likewise, Hillary Clinton took note of Alinsky early in life:

That fall, Hillary began research on her senior thesis about a true American radical, Saul Alinsky, whose work Don Jones had lauded. What she found in the library stacks on Alinsky seemed to her insufficient and truncated. His philosophy was perhaps best summarized two years after she had completed her thesis, when

Alinsky published his Rules for Radicals, a volume intended for Hillary’s generation of student activists. In it, he enumerated a set of rules governing what he called “the science of revolution,” based on an analysis of ends and means:

Power is the very essence, the dynamo of life…. It is a world not of angels but of angles, where men speak of moral principles but act on power principles; a world where we are always moral and our enemies are always immoral; a world where “reconciliation” means that when one side gets the power and the other

Bernstein, Carl. A Woman in Charge (p. 57). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

And more. Communism and socialism are invoked periodically to set liberals off from mainstream America. In truth, Crowley does cite the distinction  of the base definition of socialism—government ownership of industry—from the more popular usage—deep government involvement and stewardship in human affairs.

Obama and fellow kooks want to destroy American exceptionalism and make citizens dependent on the government, which liberals will control, apparently for power alone—a self-serving ego trip. Of course, that’s news to many Americans, who see liberal causes, such as environmental protection and the Affordable Care Act as means toward making the country a more desirable place to live and also more competitive in world markets.

Crowley hardly misses the opportunity to detract from President Obama, with examples. When he objects to torture methods used against captured combatants, he is depicted as soft:

There was, however, one major policy that Obama could not abide: enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs), which, despite having been determined to be legal in 2002 and 2003 when they were used, were called “torture” by Obama and the kooks. Following the capture of top al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002, the CIA and the U.S. military developed interrogation techniques that were directly adapted from the training techniques used to prepare our special forces personnel to resist interrogation, such as wall standing, sleep deprivation, facial or “insult” slaps, the playing of loud music, and, until 2003, waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning.

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (p. 228). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

When he directs the CIA and our military to quit taking prisoners and to kill our enemies on the ground, he gets similar treatment:

The administration’s protracted indecision on Guantánamo led the military to kill suspected terrorists on the battlefield or through drone strikes or hand off those captured to other countries for detention. They had more due process under President Bush. Special forces on the ground in Afghanistan and the judges handling the cases were clamoring for legislative clarity on detainee policy. Essentially, the Obama/ Holder detainee policy became “Crap in One Hand and Wish in the Other to See Which One Fills Up First.” In the end, Obama kept Guantánamo Bay open and operational, although he hasn’t ordered a single terrorist suspect sent there since he became president. He apparently finds it easier to kill them on the battlefield without due process than to have to deal with the mishegas of interrogation and detention.

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (pp. 227-228). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.


The book came out in 2012, and is in that sense anachronistic and does not reflect the direction the country was going:

Not quite. Instead of changing course and trying some pro-growth policies, Team Obama went back to the exclamation points. The administration fired up “Recovery Summer, Part Deux!” in 2011, and that didn’t fly either. Anemic economic growth and little to no real job creation had a way of trampling the good times. At some point, even Obama’s daily economic briefings petered out. In fact, other than Tim Geithner, his entire economic team has fled faster than O.J. in the white Bronco. Larry Summers, Christina Romer, and Peter Orszag: they’re all gone. Who has replaced them? Does anybody even know? Word on the street is that they’re all filming the new Three Stooges movie, while the real Moe, Larry, and Curly now work in the West Wing and have been placed in charge of the nonexistent economic briefings.

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (pp. 176-177). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.


More recently the Dow-Jones Industrial Average has gone from 6,626.94 two months into Obama’s presidency to 19,963.80 earlier this month as he prepares to leave office. Jobless figures have dipped to as low as 4.7%, while Crowley correctly points out that low wages and a reduced work force accompany these latter figures.

There’s a lot more to the book, the main body runs to 360 pages. The final chapter makes a go at presenting a scholarly discussion of economic principles at play, but a careful reader will want to pull up a fact check source. Glaring examples set me back in my chair through my coarse reading. Consider the long-winded discourse on President Obama’s fumble-handed management of his enormous power:

Obama, with the assistance of the radical czars and his wingmen in Congress, got the leftist rampage rolling. In the first hundred days alone, Obama pushed through the nearly $ 1 trillion “stimulus”; got a half-trillion-dollar omnibus spending bill; offered up a measly $ 100 million in “cuts” in a nearly $ 4 trillion initial proposed budget, all while claiming he wanted “fiscal responsibility”; nationalized much of the U.S. auto industry; screwed General Motors’ bondholders; pledged transparency while stonewalling disclosure of where the TARP (Trouble Asset Relief Program) money went; nominated five tax cheats to his cabinet; began to launch Adventures in Socialized Medicine; oversaw a Department of Homeland Security report that called our returning veterans “security risks”; politicized the 2010 Census by moving it into the White House; announced the closure of Guantánamo Bay without a plan to actually do so; released top-secret Central Intelligence Agency interrogation memos; opened the door to prosecutions of CIA officials who had engaged in enhanced interrogations of terrorist suspects; failed to respond to a North Korean nuclear missile test launch; was all smiles for longtime U.S. enemies Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro, and Daniel Ortega; bowed to Saudi king Abdullah; began his Apology Tour to offer his regret for past American injustice; and insulted our closest ally, Great Britain, not once but twice, first by returning a bust of Winston Churchill that had been a special gift, and second, by giving Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II an iPod loaded with his speeches (because, after all, Obama speeches are like Lay’s Potato Chips: you can’t have just one).

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (pp. 68-69). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

It took Crowley 263 words, but she did get around to chastising Obama for kicking back the gift of a Churchill bust from Great Britain. Hint: it never happened.

Lately, there’s been a rumor swirling around about the current location of the bust of Winston Churchill. Some have claimed that President Obama removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the British Embassy.

Now, normally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column.  He said President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”

This is 100% false. The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.

On another occasion I came across something that tugged at my memory:

One hundred years after the Constitution became the law of the land, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, described the fall of ancient Athens with a succinct and accurate summary of how and why democracies decline. “A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury,” he wrote. “From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (pp. 313-314). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.


Where had I seen that before? Oh, yes:

What a grand piece of patriotic inspiration this is aimed at. How much more inspiration it would be were there ever much truth to it. Where to begin? Let’s start at the beginning. Let’s start with Alexander Tyler.

Those are wonderful words of Alexander Tyler. Rather they might be if Alexander Tyler ever said them or wrote them.

The following quotation has been attributed to Tytler, although it has also been occasionally attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville:

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the world’s greatest civilisations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to complacency; From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.

This text was popularised as part of a longer piece commenting on the 2000 U.S. presidential election, which began circulating on the Internet during or shortly after the election’s controversial conclusion.

There is no reliable record of Alexander Tyler’s having written any part of the text.In fact, it actually comprises two parts which didn’t begin to appear together until the 1970s. The first paragraph’s earliest known appearance is in an op-ed piece by Elmer T. Peterson in the 9 December 1951 The Daily Oklahoman, which attributed it to Tytler:

Two centuries ago, a somewhat obscure Scotsman named Tytler made this profound observation: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy”.

The list beginning “From bondage to spiritual faith” is commonly known as the “Tytler Cycle” or the “Fatal Sequence”. Its first known appearance was in a 1943 speech by Henning W. Prentiss, Jr., president of the Armstrong Cork Company and former president of the National Association of Manufacturers, delivered at the February 1943 convocation of the General Alumni Society of the University of Pennsylvania. The speech was subsequently published under the titles “The Cult of Competency” and “Industrial Management in a Republic”.

I’m getting old, and my memory will someday begin to fail, but I do recall reading that Monica Crowley holds a Ph.D. in international relations from Columbia University. I also recall that obtaining a Ph.D. typically requires producing scholarly works. A Ph.D. in physics may involve a lot of messy math or even some exceedingly delicate experimentation, but degrees in the soft subjects, such as international relations, are based on research—research of multiple and arcane publications. And careful checking. For Crowley that was so yesterday. Out of school these past 17 years, and sound scholarship is now passé.

The book gave Crowley 360 pages to poke fun at her political polars, and here she shows a wit as sharp as a boxing glove. Beginning on page 26 she invokes a moniker from out of nowhere with, “Barry and the kooks (not to be confused with Bennie and the Jets)…” and proceeds from there to use Barry 32 more times. Dense as I am, it took me chapters into the book before I figured out Barry refers to President Barack Obama. I am guessing Crowley’s publisher was not paying her by the word.

She invokes sarcasm, seemingly every other page:

Obama’s initial group of czars was a delightful collection of communists, socialists, and other sundry radicals. In fact, he met them all at socialist summer camp, where together they would make arts and crafts projects like a hammer and sickle constructed out of boondoggle, pinecones, and Popsicle sticks. After a long day of nature hikes up the Ho Chi Minh Trail and skinny-dipping with Madeleine Albright, they would roast Marxist marshmallows and tell scary stories about capitalism around the campfire.

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (pp. 65-66). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

My own experience is that sarcasm is best when front loaded with some wit.

There is the creepy feeling that Crowley is writing to an audience in this country. Guess what! Obama is black. That is, he is biracial. His mother was of European ancestry, and his father was actually a foreigner from Kenya. And biracial is the operative term, invoked six times in the book. For example

But a biracial leftist would be granted all kinds of passes, excuses, and protections. The race card, played subtly by Obama but boldly by others, would prove to be the most powerful weapon in the Obama/ leftist arsenal.

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (p. 12). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

And Obama’s father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., was a communist. Hint: he wasn’t. And his American mother was a communist. She wasn’t.

Her sense of values already strained, Crowley makes odd picks for folk heroes:

The now-iconic photograph of the three of them reveals much about the towering personalities and even more about America. Jackson stands between the Reagans, wearing a tamer version of his famous sequined faux-military costume. Hands clasped in front of him, he waits silently as the president finishes making a point to Mrs. Reagan and she responds. His eyes as wide as saucers as he gazes up at the president, Jackson makes obvious his legendary offstage shyness as he stands mere inches from the Leader of the Free World. The world’s greatest performer had discovered himself on a stage even bigger and more profound than the ones to which he was accustomed. His awe is palpable. And Reagan, the experienced showman, looks just as dazzled to be in the presence of a young man who had set the world (and earlier, his own hair) on fire with a raw, sheer, devastating talent.

Crowley, Monica. What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (p. 5). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.


By the time this was written Jackson had been dead for three years, and was long recognized as having a proclivity for drug abuse and an unhealthy interest in young boys.

The book comprises five parts, and Part II carries the title “The Skinny Socialist Is a Big Fat Liar.” That title is so curious, considering Crowley has more recently been picked to be senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council  for President-elect Donald Trump. I considered for a moment whether she ever looked for a way to choke back the “big fat liar” part on her way to taking the position. Unfortunately, that never happened, because she decided not to take the job.

I finished this in time to get the review out before Mr. Trump takes office on Friday. I probably rushed some sections that told me a lot of stuff I already know, but still there was this feeling of deja vu. It was as though I had read some of this before.

Others agree:

It would appear that Crowley is going to  be a useful addition to the Trump administration. Her sterling communications credentials will be of tremendous benefit to the Trump team,  too often  beset by the curse of mixed messages. However, in light of recent developments, we wonder just who will be doing Crowley’s communications for her:

Conservative author and television personality Monica Crowley, whom Donald Trump has tapped for a top national security communications role, plagiarized large sections of her 2012 book, a CNN KFile review has found.

The review of Crowley’s June 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened,” found upwards of 50 examples of plagiarism from numerous sources, including the copying with minor changes of news articles, other columnists, think tanks, and Wikipedia. The New York Times bestseller, published by the HarperCollins imprint Broadside Books, contains no notes or bibliography.

Crowley did not return a request for comment. Multiple requests for comment by phone and email over the past two days to HarperCollins went unreturned.

Noticing the rising tide, I hopped onto Amazon Kindle immediately and ordered my copy. Hours later Harper Collins pulled the book, and it is not longer available.

The drama deepened. Crowley previously (1999) wrote a column for The Wall Street Journal that plagiarized material from another writer for The New York Times. Her Ph.D. dissertation from  2000 was found to contain multiple instances of plagiarized material.

This is not my first dance with Monica Crowley. She popped up in an item related to the Benghazi fiasco from September 2012:

Then in October of this year the prestigious news program 60 Minutes on CBS aired a segment critical of the government’s response to the attack. The segment was largely based on an interview with a security contractor working in Libya. My conservative friends expressed even greater joy at this wonderful news:

60 Minutes’ Benghazi report aired the night of October 27. The segment featured the supposed “eyewitness” account of the attacks from British security contractor Dylan Davies, who appeared on the show under the pseudonym “Morgan Jones.”

Davies’ tale included him scaling a 12 foot wall on the side of the diplomatic compound and dispatching a terrorist with his rifle butt. He also told viewers about how he had supposedly seen Ambassador Chris Stevens’ dead body in a local hospital.

In addition to Davies’ story, the 60 Minutes report also rehashed old myths about Benghazi, including invoking the “lingering question” about why no U.S. military forces from outside the country were able to help the embattled diplomatic facilities the night of the attacks. (This was answered long ago.)

The night it aired, conservatives took to Twitter to praise CBS. Fox News contributor Monica Crowley lauded the network for joining Fox News “among the very, very few reporting on this grave & outrageous scandal.” Fellow Fox News contributor Jonah Goldberg also connected CBS’ work to Fox’s reporting on Benghazi, tweeting “This 60 Minutes #benghazi piece corroborates pretty much everything #foxnews has reported so far.”

October 28-30: Conservative Media And Republican Lawmakers Laud CBS

The morning after the 60 Minutes report aired, Fox News hit the ground running promoting it. Over the course of Monday, October 28, Fox would devote more than 13 segments over 11 different shows to the CBS report, totaling more than 47 minutes of coverage.

Much of Fox’s coverage was self-congratulatory, claiming the CBS report had corroborated their network’s coverage of Benghazi. Bret Baier, host of Fox’s flagship news show Special Report, told viewers that “[l]ast night, one of journalism’s heavy hitters reaffirmed what we knew and had reported on.” Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy praised CBS for “finally catching up” to conservative media on the story and proclaimed, “60 Minutes doesn’t cover phony scandals.” The network also predictably used the 60 Minutes story to revive its smear campaign against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Benghazi.

[emphasis added]

I can only hope her disappearance from the Trump administration does not mean we will no longer be treated to her wit and deep insight. Will readers please join me in saying to her, “Play it again, Sam.” Or Monica.

Sea Chase


There’s a movie by the same name, but this is about a book. It’s The Hunt For Red October, by Tom Clancy.

This was Clancy’s first published novel, and it came out in 1984 to quite a sensation. The first movie in the Clancy series was released in 1990 and is based on the book. A review of the movie is being posted simultaneously with this.

The book introduces the character of John Patrick “Jack” Ryan, Ph.D., who appears in all the Tom Clancy movies. Astute readers will notice that the chronology of this story follows that of a book that came out later, Patriot Games, previously reviewed. Had you been given the opportunity to read that book first, you would already know how Jack Ryan got up to his neck in the CIA and how he obtained a British knighthood. Of course, when Clancy wrote this he likely didn’t know what a hit it was going to be and had to scurry to come up with a book to fit the circumstances.

See the movie. It follows the book, to a point. As with all of Clancy’s stories, there’s a lot in the book that can’t be crammed into the movie. Compared to Clear And Present Danger, this book is better captured in the film. I’m not going to  recap the plot. My plan is to provide enough to put the movie into  perspective with the book.

Both the book and the movie begin with the sailing of Red October, a newly-minted nuclear Soviet missile submarine. The action begins when the boat is out to sea, and Captain Marko Alexandrovich Ramius murders Political Officer Ivan Putin, the only person who can foil his plot to defect to the United States, taking the boat and its officers (who are in on the plot) with him. Clancy’s depiction of the political officer’s murder went straight into the movie script:

Ramius kicked Putin’s feet out from under him just as he was stepping away from the table. Putin fell backwards while Ramius sprang to his feet and grasped the political officer’s head in his strong fisherman’s hands. The captain drove his neck downward to the sharp, metal-edged corner of the wardroom table. It struck the point. In the same instant Ramius pushed down on the man’s chest. An unnecessary gesture— with the sickening crackle of bones Ivan Putin’s neck broke, his spine severed at the level of the second cervical vertebra, a perfect hangman’s fracture.

Clancy, Tom. The Hunt for Red October (A Jack Ryan Novel, Book 3) (pp. 14-15). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Enter Jack Ryan. He’s in  England, doing analyses for the CIA. He gets hold of photos for a new Soviet sub. It’s the Red October. He’s on the next available flight to D.C. At CIA headquarters we meet Vice Admiral James Greer, Ryan’s boss. In the movie the part is played by James Earl Jones. In the book it is assumed Greer is a white man, since whenever a character is not European, Clancy makes mention of it.

The interlude with Skip Tyler  is captured in the movie. Tyler is the engineer who points out the sub photos indicate a “caterpillar drive,” something that would allow the sub to run quieter, but an idea that  had been abandoned by American engineers. As in the movie, Tyler is a former sub driver who lost a leg in an auto accident and has been  sidelined from sub duty.

Book and movie have Ryan, ostensibly an analyst—not a field operator, taking on the assignment of contacting Captain Ramius and entering the Soviet vessel by means of a rescue craft. Watching the movie gives the impression that Ryan comes up with the idea Ramius is defecting and taking his officers with him. The book tells of a CIA mole in the Soviet government, who reports that Ramius has left behind a note of his intentions. In  the movie the first indication that the Soviets are scrambling for Red October is when all of a sudden a large segment of the Soviet navy heads out into the Atlantic.

Ramius has the plan to ditch the enlisted crew, who are not in on the plot and would not defect when the boat reaches the U.S. The Americans would like to take the sub without the Soviets knowing they have it. This can only happen if the officers can abscond secretly and go into hiding under CIA protection. The plot by Ramius is to fake a reactor emergency, getting all the enlisted off the boat and rescued, while the officers give the appearance of going down with the boat.

This plot, from the book, is nearly foiled by Red October‘s cook, who is a Soviet intelligence agent planted on the boat. Ryan kills him in a gun fight as he attempts to scuttle the boat.

There has to be an excuse for giving up on the hunt for Red October. The movie incorporates a duel between Red October and a Soviet attack boat, with the attack boat being sunk by one of its own torpedoes. Red October then sails into hiding in an inlet on the coast of Maine. And that’s the end of the movie

The book has the presumed sinking of Red October on its final voyage from Pamlico Sound (North Carolina) to Norfolk. Same sort of thing. Ramius outwits his protégé, commanding the attack boat, and sinks it, instead.

Ryan, who has been  going practically nonstop since leaving his office in  England, sees Ramius off to safety, provides an after-action report to  his bosses at CIA headquarters, gets the nod for future advancement, and heads back to England to spend Christmas with his family.

About the time the book, and then the movie, came out I was doing work that involved development of advanced weaponry. There was a lot of interest in military stuff, and the Clancy novels, and the movies, were popular. The consensus was (I had neither seen nor read any) that Clancy had the inside track on how this stuff really worked.

Clancy had no first hand experience with military matters, neither weaponry nor tactics. What is in his books he gained through research, which included obtaining advice from people in the business. My own familiarity with things military has been limited  to a short stint in the Navy Reserve and later working on weapons systems. To that extent, reading the book brings back memories from an  early life, particularly anti-submarine warfare and some of the East Coast military facilities in the book.

A short stint in the AT shop aboard the USS Randolph introduced me to the concept of MAD (magnetic anomaly detection) gear and sonobuoys. Training as an aviation ordnanceman acquainted me with the homing torpedoes mentioned in the book. Much later in life I worked on a project to automate tracking of submarines with sonobuoys. This was about the same time frame as the book plot, and the impression I have is that technology was advancing rapidly at the time, making some of the book’s terminology now seem quaint.

Prior to  this book Clancy appears to have had no other experience in professional writing. Considering this, the book is well-crafted. Action moves along without stranding the reader in detail  overload—although Clancy can be faulted by piling on too much detail. Clancy also takes opportunity to reflect his political conservatism and also his naiveté regarding some facts of life. In the book there is the added incident of a Soviet attack sub sinking with a sole survivor. Americans rescue the survivor, and his treatment is explained to Soviet officials in  the U.S.:

“His name’s Albert Jameson. We call him Jamie. He’s twenty-nine, graduated Harvard third in his class, and he’s been with us ever since. He’s board-certified in internal medicine and virology. He’s as good as they come.” Tait suddenly realized how uncomfortable he was dealing with the Russians. His education and years of naval service taught him that these men were the enemy. That didn’t matter. Years before he had sworn an oath to treat patients without regard to outside considerations. Would they believe or did they think he’d let their man die because he was a Russian? “Gentlemen, I want you to understand this: we’re giving your man the very best care we can. We’re not holding anything back. If there’s a way to give him back to you alive, we’ll find it. But I can’t make any promises.”

Clancy, Tom. The Hunt for Red October (A Jack Ryan Novel, Book 3) (p. 267). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Clancy feels he needs to explain the Hippocratic oath to readers. He also needs to remind us how more rewarding is American capitalism. He describes an American supermarket to an incredulous Ramius:

“A building about the size of a football field— well, maybe a little smaller than that. You go in the front door and get a shopping cart. The fresh fruits and vegetables are on the right, and you gradually work your way left through the other departments. Ive been doing that since I was a kid.”

Clancy, Tom. The Hunt for Red October (A Jack Ryan Novel, Book 3) (p. 450). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

And Clancy’s religiosity tends to  leak through in his tales:

“You are be— believer?” Borodin asked. “Yeah, sure.” Ryan should not have been surprised by the question. “Hell, you gotta believe in something.” “And why is that, Commander Ryan?” Borodin was examining the Pogy through oversized night glasses. Ryan wondered how to answer. “Well, because if you don’t, what’s the point of life? That would mean Sartre and Camus and all those characters were right— all is chaos, life has no meaning. I refuse to believe that. If you want a better answer, I know a couple priests who’d be glad to talk to you.”

Clancy, Tom. The Hunt for Red October (A Jack Ryan Novel, Book 3) (p. 397). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I’m reviewing the Kindle edition of a book that was likely composed on a typewriter and set into type by hand. Generating the Kindle required either manual transcription or else OCR, which can sometimes produce curious results:

…subs and surface ships all the timé, low-flying aircraft…

Clancy, Tom. The Hunt for Red October (A Jack Ryan Novel, Book 3) (p. 286). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Descriptions of available technology and entertainment date this book. We see, for example:

  • Wordstar
  • Apple (new)
  • Commodore
  • TRS-80
  • Atari
  • Hewlett-Packard scientific calculator
  • Bubble memory (T.I. abandoned the technology three years after the book came out.)
  • E.T.
  • Star Wars
  • Hondo and Big Jake (after Wayne was dead for several years)

Also a computer:

Though only about the size of a business desk, it cost over five million dollars and ran at eighty million operations per second. It used newly developed sixty-four-bit chips and made use of the latest processing architecture.

Clancy, Tom. The Hunt for Red October (A Jack Ryan Novel, Book 3) (p. 80). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I’m composing this using a computer that costs about $800, is the size of a coffee table book, and can run circles around those eighty million operations per second.

Clancy’s first offering still shines after all these years. I faulted his follow-on, Patriot Games, for being overly maudlin and for sometimes stretching the story beyond endurance.


Friday Funny

One of a series


The Trump administration is coming together, 12 days prior to inauguration day. Selected to be senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council is conservative columnist Monica Crowley:

Monica Crowley (born September 19, 1968) is an American columnist, political commentator, and talk radio personality. She has regular appearances on Fox News, is the online opinion editor and a regular columnist for The Washington Times, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In December 2016, the Donald Trump administration announced that Crowley will be appointed senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council.

The above mentioned Washington Times is not to be confused with The Washington Post, a publication carrying a considerable journalistic reputation. An item in Wikipedia sums up The Washington Times:

Founded on May 17, 1982, by Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon, the Times was owned by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate associated with the church until 2010, in which Moon and a group of former executives purchased the paper. It is currently owned by diversified conglomerate Operations Holdings, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the church.

It will be remembered that creationist Jonathan Wells, author of the creationist tome Icons of Evolution, is a follower of the late Reverend Moon. The Washington Times notably supports conservative philosophy, including creationism (Including Intelligent Design).

According to the Wikipedia article, Crowley has been with Fox News as “a foreign affairs and political analyst.” and she has been an occasional stand-in for Sean Hannity on the Hannity program. Her recent book is What The (Bleep) Just Happened (full title: What The (Bleep) Just Happened? The Happy Warrior’s Guide To The Great American Comeback). I have a copy of the Kindle edition.

It would appear that Crowley is going to  be a useful addition to the Trump administration. Her sterling communications credentials will be of tremendous benefit to the Trump team,  too often  beset by the curse of mixed messages. However, in light of recent developments, we wonder just who will be doing Crowley’s communications for her:

Conservative author and television personality Monica Crowley, whom Donald Trump has tapped for a top national security communications role, plagiarized large sections of her 2012 book, a CNN KFile review has found.

The review of Crowley’s June 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened,” found upwards of 50 examples of plagiarism from numerous sources, including the copying with minor changes of news articles, other columnists, think tanks, and Wikipedia. The New York Times bestseller, published by the HarperCollins imprint Broadside Books, contains no notes or bibliography.

Crowley did not return a request for comment. Multiple requests for comment by phone and email over the past two days to HarperCollins went unreturned.

I am guessing we will have to wait until we hear back from somebody, anybody, in the Trump team before my question can be answered. In the meantime Andrew Kaczynski, writing for CNN Money, has cited some egregious examples:

In the book, Crowley lifted an entire section on Keynesian economics from the IAC-owned website Investopedia.

In one instance, Crowley lists a variety of so-called “pork” items she claimed were part of the 2009 stimulus package. Many of the instances were copied wholesale from a conservative list of pork barrel spending, with some items dating back to the 1990s. Most of the copied instances were listed on a website for a podiatrist dating back to 2004.

The article also demonstrates some interesting parallels between passages in the book and matter, uncredited, by other authors. For example:


The similar (identical) text is highlighted.

Director of Strategic Communications for the NSC is a job that does not require original writing, and congressional review for the position is not required. That aside, we can only hope that when Director Monica Crowley reports to the new president that Russian forces are massing on the Ukraine border, she is not repeating something she read in The New York Times.

If that is not funny, then what is?

Debating Lefty


Truth be told, I was searching for a different book on Amazon when I found this one by conservative columnist Ben Shapiro. And what a deal! Only $0.99 in Kindle. The full title is How to Debate Leftists and Destroy Them: 11 Rules for Winning the Argument, but you are allowed to abbreviate. I recommend just How to Debate Leftists.

But wait. That’s what I said to myself, “But wait!” If Amazon is selling it for 99 cents, it’s possible all 20 pages (as advertised on Amazon) can be found somewhere for free on the Internet. Seek, and ye shall find. It is available in  PDF for free, but running to 34 pages. Here’s a link.

And here’s a review.

My overall take: Shapiro is dead on in his approach. If your aim is to win the argument, get in the first punch and hit hard. That’s Shapiro’s Rule #2:

Rule #2: Hit First. Don’t take the punch first. Hit first. Hit hard. Hit where it counts. Mike Tyson used to say, “Everybody has a plan ‘til they get punched in the mouth.”

[Page 12]

As advertised, Shapiro lays out eleven tactics you will find most helpful in winning an argument:

  • Rule #1: Walk Toward the Fire.
  • Rule #2: Hit First.
  • Rule #3: Frame Your Opponent.
  • Rule #4: Frame the debate.
  • Rule #5: Spot Inconsistencies in the Left’s Arguments.
  • Rule #6: Force Leftists to Answer Questions.
  • Rule #7: Do Not Get Distracted.
  • Rule #8: You Don’t Have To Defend People on Your Side.
  • Rule #9: If You Don’t Know Something, Admit It.
  • Rule #10: Let The Other Side Have Meaningless Victories.
  • Rule #11: Body Language Matters.

I am impressed that somebody barely 30 years old has reinvented concepts I long considered personal secrets of my own. But some of them can use explanation.

Walk toward the fire. Don’t avoid the debate. Look forward to it and be prepared. Seek out the fight.

Frame your opponent. Reinvent your opponent into somebody you can beat. If you debating, for example, President-elect Donald Trump, establish him as a person who gropes women before he gets a chance to remind everybody he has just been elected president.

Frame the debate. Establish what the debate will be about before your opponent can cast it in a form you will be unable to assail.

You don’t have to  defend people on your side. I know that one well. Many are the liberals and progressives I would rather not have brought up when I  am having a “friendly” conversation with a right wing nut case. The best thing to do when your opponents brings up a stinking corpse is to immediately throw the body under the bus and move on. This is no time for misplaced loyalty.

The business about body language is something I  have never been  able to master. When somebody is arguing against the science behind anthropogenic global warming (AGW), it is impossible for me to  wipe that shit-eating grin off my face.

These are all good things to  know and sound approaches to take, if your aim is to win the debate only. If you aim is to educate and  to put over something of substance, then you need to get serious and take a more pragmatic approach. I’ve done that, as well.

Knowing Ben Shapiro’s approach to wining arguments with liberals, it is additionally worthwhile to appreciate why he needs to use this approach. The fact is, many of the causes he advocates have little or no worth. An example:

When you’re discussing global warming, for example, the proper question is not whether man is causing global warming. The question is whether man can fix global warming – a question to which the universally-acknowledged answer is essentially no, unless we are willing to revert to the pre-industrial age.

[Page 24]

A cold reading of this gives pause to wonder whether Shapiro believes AGW has no basis or whether it is real, and there is nothing we can/should do about it. A video clip from October 2015 seems to show him saying he does not believe it is real.

[After saying that certain aspects of AGW have been  debunked] The idea that the hockey stick graph is anything remotely resembling reality… The hockey stick graph shows that over the last century, and it’s too short a period of time to do climate change statistics like this, it shows that over the last century, century and a half that the climate, along with carbon emissions, go like that [sweeps his hand across and up], and it’s a hockey stick.

The problem is that’s all falsified data. There have been multiple problems with the measurement data, as far as global warming.

He goes on to say this is the reason it’s called “climate change” and not “global warming” now. He asserts the planet has not been warming for the past 15 years.

Despite what Ben Shapiro is trying to get across in his talk, the problem is not that the data have been falsified, and the problem is not that the planet has not been warming. The problem is that Ben Shapiro is lying to his audience. My guess is he has been reading some of his own stuff.

He was in charge of Breitbart.com from 2012 (when Andrew Breitbart died) until March of last year. It was from this period I mined the following:

I have no record of who posted it, but a link showed up on Facebook:

Scientists at two of the world’s leading climate centres – NASA and NOAA – have been caught out manipulating temperature data to overstate the extent of the 20th century “global warming”.

The evidence of their tinkering can clearly be seen at Real Science, where blogger Steven Goddard has posted a series of graphs which show “climate change” before and after the adjustments.

When the raw data is used, there is little if any evidence of global warming and some evidence of global cooling. However, once the data has been adjusted – ie fabricated by computer models –  20th century ‘global warming’ suddenly looks much more dramatic.

This is especially noticeable on the US temperature records. Before 2000, it was generally accepted – even by climate activists like NASA’s James Hansen – that the hottest decade in the US was the 1930s.

The excerpt from Breitbart is noticeable wrong, as I mentioned at the time:

This is interesting. Government agencies, NASA (National Aviation and Space Administration) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), have been tweaking scientific measurements to give the false impression that global temperatures are rising. That would be scientific misconduct at best and criminal misuse of governmental authority at worst. If only it were true.

Besides already knowing the background, I picked up on an obvious clue in the last paragraph above. “[T]he hottest decade in the US was in the 1930s.” Taking first that the statement is true, how does this bear on average global  temperatures over the past hundred years or more? The world wonders.

From that point forward this item from Breitbart needs additional scrutiny. The facts may not be as interesting as Breitbart, but they have the advantage of being facts. The NOAA has posted an explanation of the process so recently assailed by that reputable scientific source, Breitbart. Here is an excerpt:

Monitoring Global and U.S. Temperatures at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information

There are several factors that are important in monitoring global or U.S. temperature: quality of raw observations, length of record of observations, and the analysis methods used to transform raw data into reliable climate data records by removing existing biases from the data. An additional process takes the multiple climate data records and creates U.S. or global average temperatures.

And more. Follow the link and get back to me if you still have questions.

Shapiro’s response to fiery criticisms of his stance on AGW and also his stance on a number of other issues is to note the quality of his attackers. Continuing the section quoted from the book above:

This is a more useful question, and it also avoids the left’s preferred line of argument on global warming, which is a variation on their preferred line on gun control: “Global warming is man-made. Don’t agree? That’s because you’re stupid and hateful.” As a general matter, the left’s favorite three lines of attack are (1) you’re stupid; (2) you’re mean; (3) you’re corrupt. Sarah Palin is supposedly stupid; Mitt Romney is supposedly mean; Dick Cheney is supposedly corrupt. Take away those lines of attack and watch the discomfort set in.

[Page 24]

Yes, it really is bad form to start calling names and making wild accusations in response to a philosophical affront. In a debate, in a dispute over a point of fact, the person who throws an insult is revealing he has no facts. However…

Shapiro says, “As a general matter, the left’s favorite three lines of attack are (1) you’re stupid; (2) you’re mean; (3) you’re corrupt.” The last two are way out of line, but number 1 is a valid argument. If you are arguing with a person who says the Earth is flat, then, “You’re stupid” might be an appropriate response. I run into into this at times:

Daniel G. Kuttner You have no idea of my qualifications. You throw your ample supply of tomatoes at me, rather than my assertions, which are backed BY science (e.g. that engineering reference link). Thus, you were replying ad hominem, literally.
I could be a bum on the street and still report correct – or incorrect – science. My lack of a white lab coat has no import.
If you are so full of science, where is your scientific refutation of my numbers? All I see from you is condescension and sarcasm.
Saying something is “clearly wrong” is not refutation, it’s disagreement; an opinion. You are, of course free to have those.

I have highlighted the operative text. Because Dan’s information was ridiculously false, and I pointed this out, I was being condescending and sarcastic. Bad form? When is being honest and forthright being condescending and sarcastic?

Along the lines of stupid, and corrupt, consider Shapiro’s own conduct, not in a face to face debate, but in his description of people who disagree with him.

The problem is that’s all falsified data.

The people who don’t agree with him, the scientist, are lying. They are falsifying data. So much for acceptable etiquette in public discourse.

Rounding out, there is more. By now you might not expect this, but Shapiro is not a supporter of Donald Trump. For this he has come under considerable personal attack from, presumably, Trump supporters:

In May 2016 New York Magazine reported: “Shapiro…has increasingly found himself targeted by the so-called alt-right movement, a loose conglomeration of online personalities — many if not most of them anonymous — currently devoted to tweeting and posting their support for Donald Trump and attacking those who disagree, often in racist and anti-Semitic ways. They have been denigrating Shapiro as a “pussy,” a “cuck,” a “Jew” and a “kike.””

In an article in National Review, Shapiro wrote: “I’ve experienced more pure, unadulterated anti-Semitism since coming out against Trump’s candidacy than at any other time in my political career. Trump supporters have threatened me and other Jews who hold my viewpoint. They’ve blown up my e-mail inbox with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. They greeted the birth of my second child by calling for me, my wife, and two children to be thrown into a gas chamber.”

An article in The Washington Post quoted an Anti-Defamation League report that “focused in particular on the anti-Semitic tweets aimed at journalists, frequently those whose writing about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has displeased a large contingent of Twitter users who band together to attack these journalists online. The words most commonly found in the bios of the people who post these anti-Semitic attacks? “Trump,” “nationalist,” conservative,” “American” and “white…The target of the most anti-Semitic tweets, by far, was Ben Shapiro, a conservative writer who formerly worked for Breitbart and who does not support Trump.”  Shapiro stated “I’m honored because being targeted by mouth-breathing idiots is a compliment – you know you’re doing something right if people who tweet pictures of gas chambers on the day of your child’s birth find you unacceptable as a human being.”  He also said: “As the fellow who receives hook-nosed Jew memes more than any other journalist on the planet, I don’t believe that people ought to be suspended or banned from Twitter or Facebook for posting vile garbage, so long as it isn’t openly advocating violence. I make a habit of retweeting these pieces of human feces in order to mock their stupidity and to expose the fact that people like this exist.”

Apparently there is not a massive amount of  personal honor going to waste on the political  front these days.

Military Thriller


The author is one of my sister’s four daughters, and it is for that reason only I am reviewing the book. Fact is, I read very little fiction these days. The list of worthwhile fiction I have not read and will never read is too long for me to ever address. I sometimes read a novel in  order to gain insight to a movie. In the case of this book, I am curious at the efforts of the only close family member to produce a work of length.

This is The Obsession, and I purchased the Kindle edition. It’s Dawn Brotherton’s first of what promises to be a number of successful enterprises. It’s a murder mystery thriller, set within military life. I’m not going to detail the plot. I’m looking at this as an assessment of a first-time author’s efforts. But an overview is necessary.

The story begins with a police investigation of a murder. A single woman, living alone, has been attacked and killed in her home by a person unknown. If you are starting to think this will be about a serial killer, you are right.

Jackie Austin is a young Air Force Lieutenant, working as a missile specialist at a base in Missouri. This should bring back memories to a lot of us. ICBMs, tipped with nuclear warheads and kept ready in below-ground silos scattered about the country, kept the balance of power between the United States and the Soviet Union for decades. This setting is crucial to the plot, because these missile specialists were carefully vetted individuals upon which the nation placed it’s utmost trust. The specter of a stalker who murders women in this context injects critical tension into  the plot.

It takes only a few turns of the page to realize that Lieutenant Austin fits the profile of the stalker’s targets. She is young, single, attractive, and lives alone in a house she has purchased in a quiet neighborhood. That she may become a target is made apparent through a series of harassing phone calls, home intrusions, mash notes delivered by mail or left at the house.

At a certain point the reader is given a veiled view of the killer, who remains a mystery until the very last. Disturbing and multiple profiles are revealed, leaving the reader to wonder if they fit any of the men in Jackie’s life.

Without revealing any secrets, readers need to know that Jackie prevails in the end, using a bit of detective work to unmask the killer and bring him to justice. The book is about what happens in the meantime.

Now for some critical assessment. I compare the first few chapters of the book with the initial work of another successful author, that being Erle Stanley Gardner. Gardner was a California attorney before he turned to writing. His first novel was The Case of the Velvet Claws, which I reviewed for much the same reason I am reviewing this book. As expected, Gardner took some time to find his feet as a fiction writer, and it shows in this early work.

In my niece’s first work, finding her footing amounts to  providing a level of maturity to her character. Jackie Austin’s interactions with her friends, associates at the base, men in her life, her immediate family, remind the reader more of life back in junior high rather than adults of demonstrated maturity. The good news is that as the book progresses, Jackie matures and so does the writing. It is as though the author is finding her way at first before hitting her stride. The pace quickens and the drama builds.

Reading about the serial killer, I had to  reflect back on the Thomas Harris works I have read. Both Black Sunday and Red Dragon involve damaged characters who morph into instruments of atrocity. Black Sunday was made into a film of the same name, and Red Dragon was the basis for the first Hannibal Lecter movie, Manhunter. Dawn Brotherton does readers service by having a go at developing the warped characters that appear in the book, and there are more than two.

At another level, this is an Agatha Christie novel in the way Jackie Austin throws off her self-doubts, sets her goals, and unmasks the killer. Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie was born to wealth and privilege and published her first detective story, The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1919. Her second was The Secret Adversary, for which I have not written a review. However, that early work by this most successful of writers reflects the same issues with character development as The Obsession. A for-instance:

“Tommy, you’re stony!”

“Not a bit of it,” declared Tommy unconvincingly. “Rolling in cash.”

“You always were a shocking liar,” said Tuppence severely, “though you did once persuade Sister Greenbank that the doctor had ordered you beer as a tonic, but forgotten to write it on the chart. Do you remember?”

Tommy chuckled. “I should think I did! Wasn’t the old cat in a rage when she found out? Not that she was a bad sort really, old Mother Greenbank! Good old hospital— demobbed like everything else, I suppose?”

Christie, Agatha. Secret Adversary (pp. 3-4). . Kindle Edition.

That was our introduction to the girl and boy protagonists in this early work. Needless to say, Dame Agatha’s style matured in subsequent works, and so did her characters.

I know the author as a deeply committed Christian, and her religiosity shows through at points in the book:

Jackie nestled closer into Stan’s arms. “I do. My boss ordered me to talk to someone, but he didn’t say I had to go to Mental Health. I figured it was time I gave God another chance. Doing it on my own obviously wasn’t working.”

“Wait a minute… did Chaplain Vandesteeg help you hatch this plot to catch that psycho?” She could hear the hidden resentment in Stan’s voice.

Brotherton, Dawn. The Obsession (Jackie Austin Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Locations 3227-3230). Blue Dragon Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Significant authors have written with their religious commitments as part of the theme. Besides possibly C.S. Lewis, whom I have never read, there is G.K. Chesterton. Chesterton wrote The Man Who Knew Too Much, which title but not plot was the inspiration for two Alfred Hitchcock movie plots. He also wrote the Father Brown books, which naturally have religion woven into  their fabric:

When this spirit of the captain spoke in Valentin he was obeyed like a bugle. Dr. Simon went through to the armoury and routed out Ivan, the public detective’s private detective. Galloway went to the drawing-room and told the terrible news tactfully enough, so that by the time the company assembled there the ladies were already startled and already soothed. Meanwhile the good priest and the good atheist stood at the head and foot of the dead man motionless in the moonlight, like symbolic statues of their two philosophies of death.

Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith). The Innocence of Father Brown (p. 22). . Kindle Edition.

Hint: it was the atheist who did the killing and for religious reasons.

Speaking as one who has never published a short story, much less a novel, I will recommend that if there is a major aspect of a subjects character introduced into a story plot, that aspect needs to be worked into the plot in a major way. Else its introduction may be seen as a mission statement of the author, not relevant to the story.

What can I say more. The author is family. Earlier this year we had the pleasure of attending her retirement from the service, giving our scattered relations the opportunity to get together for the first time in decades. Here are some photos:

The author at her retirement ceremony at the Pentagon.


At the White House. Most of the people in this photograph are descendants of John Freeman Blanton, born in 1867 in Johnson County, Texas.


Dawn’s first book includes her mother as one of the characters. This is spooky, as I can hear my sister’s voice as I read these passages. It’s a problem with reviewing a work too close to home.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same


The willingness of people to suspend sound judgment in favor of belief has boundless consequences, only one of which is death. Faith healers, such as Oral Roberts, have played on this character defect to devastating consequences. Stephen Barrett and William T. Jarvis in their book The Health Robbers chronicled egregious examples, including this:

In 1983, Roberts announced, “God has called this ministry to declare war on cancer and dread diseases…. We must believe that a cure for cancer can be found through a supernatural manifestation from God and medical research.” In 1987, Roberts told his followers that God had ordered him to raise $8 million for scholarships at Oral Roberts Medical School and would “call him home” unless he did so. He obtained the money, but the appeal set off a storm of protest from television executives and religious leaders. Roberts had envisioned that his center would attract large numbers of devout Christians from across the country. But in 1989 he announced that unfilled beds—a problem from the beginning—had forced him to close the school and shut down his hospital. At its peak, the 777-bed facility had only 148 inpatients.

Stephen Barrett. The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America (Consumer Health Library) (Kindle Locations 4513-4517). Kindle Edition.

The above is from Chapter 24 of the book, dealing with faith healing.

Master of Aggression


On critical anniversaries of World War Two I am posting various historical notes and reviews. Along those lines I obtained Kindle editions of biographies of Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Goering by Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel. This book is Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader. In discussing the book I’m going to deal a lot with the life and doings of Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, the leader of the German Luftwaffe during World War Two. I’m posting this on the 70th anniversary of the death of Hermann Goering.

The authors published their trilogy 15 years after the end of the war, and this was a critical time. The collapse of the Third Reich and the Nazi Party was so complete and so cataclysmic that comprehensive documentation was not immediately available. Important records were presented as evidence in the war crimes trials of 1946 and subsequently. In the mean time the Soviets had overrun the major institutions of Nazi power, and they were initially slow to disclose their holdings. Manvell and Fraenkel were able, by 1960, to obtain access to records not available to early writers.

This and the others of the trilogy offer detailed accounts of the lives of these top Nazis. Problems I have encountered with other legacy Kindle books plague these, as well. The use of OCR technology can result in unwarranted character substitution, leaving it to the reader to make the correction mentally. For example:

As the guards in the prison at the Palace of Justice peered through the trap door of cell number 5, they saw Goering poring over the document which summarized the record of the Nazi regime under the four headings which constituted the charges against him: the common plan or conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. It had been signed in October in Berlin by the chief prosecutors and had become the official indictment of a great international assembly of nations, since by then eighteen countries had adhered to the charter setting up the tribunal. The defendants were accused not only individually under these four main charges, but also as key members of one or more of the organizations through which the Nazi regime had operated: the Reich Cabinet, the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party, the S.S. and the S.D., the Gestapo, the S.A., the High Command of the Army (O.K.H.) and the High Command of the Armed Forces (Q.K.W.). These organizations were themselves placed on trial as criminal groups.

Fraenkel, Heinrick; Manvell, Roger (2011-03-02). Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader (Kindle Locations 5817-5824). Frontline. Kindle Edition.

[Emphasis added]

Obviously the authors wrote “O.K.W.,” not “Q.K.W.” O.K.W stands for Oberkommando [der] Wehrmact. It’s a small error, but representative of a number of glitches in this and many legacy ebooks.

Of all the Nazi villains, Goering may be the most curious. To track the trajectory of his life you will have to wonder, how did the son of an Imperial German consular official rise to the heights of war hero before plunging to the depths of depravity, only to rise again to the peaks of power in one of the most depraved military and political powers of the 20th century. You start by knowing he was not always destined for glory. He was once a problem child possibly headed nowhere.

By the time Hermann was conceived, Franziska, who needed all the toughness of her Austrian and Bavarian blood to lead this life of constant movement and rough, violent living, had already borne three children, Karl, Olga and Paula. Shortly before the birth of this fourth child she left Haiti and traveled home alone. When she returned to Haiti she left the six-week-old baby in Fürth, Bavaria, in the hands of a friend of the family, Frau Graf, whose daughters became his playmates and remember him today as a handsome, headstrong boy.

When the child was three years old his father returned to Germany to face retirement. Hermann Goering’s earliest recollection was of expressing his resentment toward his mother by hitting her in the face with his fists when she tried to embrace him after her prolonged absence. She was deeply upset.

Fraenkel, Heinrick; Manvell, Roger (2011-03-02). Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader (Kindle Locations 186-192). Frontline. Kindle Edition.

Heinrich Goering looked forward to maintaining his family on his meager pension. Salvation came in the person of  his friend, Dr. Hermann Epenstein. Epenstein was a Jew, a bachelor and quite wealthy. He purchased a Mautern-dorf Castle in Austria and established himself there. He also purchased the Veldenstein Castle near Nuremberg in Germany. The Goering family was allowed to stay here. Part of the arrangement involved Frau Goering sharing a bed with Epenstein. This arrangement was subsequently to become a source of embarrassment to the Nazi Hermann Goering.

The irascible Hermann found his outlet in playing military, and at the age of 12 he was sent off to military school. Here he found comfort inn the rigid discipline and thrived. In 1912 he obtained a commission in the Prinz Wilhelm Regiment of the 112th Infantry. When war broke out in 1914 he proved to be an aggressive, if impetuous, fighter, almost leading his reconnoiter platoon to destruction in an early encounter with the French.

Early adventure succumbed to the horrors of trench warfare, and he was invalided back to the rear. A visit from life-long friend Bruno Loerzer, in training at a flight school, got Goering out of the trenches and into the air. There he found his true calling and quickly made a name for himself:

By 1917 , Goering’s reputation as a fighter pilot was fully established. In addition to the Iron Cross, he was to be awarded the Zaehring Lion with swords, the Karl Friedrich Order and the Hohenzollern Medal with swords, third class, all prior to his final award, Pour le Mérite. In May he was put in command of Squadron 27, which needed an improvement in morale. Goering was now responsible for both administration and strategy; he had to show inspiring leadership. He set about the immediate strengthening of the squadron, working day and night to ensure efficiency first on the ground and then in the air. In the summer the two squadrons , 26 and 27, were operating alongside each other, flying from the same airdrome on the Flanders front— at Iseghem, near Ypres. The air attacks on the Allies were now built up into a major offensive ; Goering’s squadron in particular had to help in the protection of the other planes, attracting enemy fire away from them. The Allies , meanwhile, were redoubling their efforts in the air, and the Germans countered by forming specially large composite squadrons, called Jagdgeschwader (pursuit squadrons), equaling four of the others; the first of these was commanded by Manfred von Richthofen. Goering and Loerzer were among those whose squadrons were merged to create the third of these major formations.

Fraenkel, Heinrick; Manvell, Roger (2011-03-02). Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader (Kindle Locations 371-380). Frontline. Kindle Edition.

When Richthofen, the “Red Baron,” was killed in April 1918, Goering took his place leading the famous “Flying Circus” squadron. It may be that was the true high point of Herman Goering’s life. He was then headed toward the lowest of the low from which few ever recover. Germany’s defeat and the Armistice in November 1911 dismantled his life of glory and set him on a course that would lead to his ultimate destruction:

Goering was demobilized, with the honorary rank of captain, in the old Bavarian town of Aschaffenburg, some thirty miles from Frankfurt There, it seems, he stayed, at the villa of the managing director of the Buntpapier A.G., a firm of paper manufacturers, and the actual disbanding of the Geschwader took place in the courtyard of the firm’s premises where the officers’ luggage was stowed before being sent on to their homes. Goering and his officers spent most of their time in the Stiftskeller, the best restaurant and drinking place in the town. They were determined to keep together as long as they could. On November 19 Goering finally said goodbye, and he discovered his gifts as a speaker in a speech he made at the Stiftskeller. He spoke of the history and the achievements of the famous Richthofen squadron, of the bitter times that Germany must now endure , and of the disgraceful behavior of the German people in their attitude to those who had, as officers, sacrificed themselves for their country. He was outraged by the revolt of soldiers against authority , and by the support the soldiers’ councils were receiving in many parts of Germany. “The new fight for freedom, principles, morals and the Fatherland has begun,” he said. “We have a long and difficult way to go, but the truth will be our light. We must be proud of this truth and of what we have done.

We must think of this. Our time will come again.” He gave the toast to the Richthofen Geschwader. solemnly they drank, then smashed their glasses.

Outside, crowds of civilians and ex-soldiers gathered in the streets to insult the officers, who, they were now led to think, had betrayed Germany and sacrificed the lives of their men in order to win for themselves decorations of the kind the Emperor had bestowed on Goering. The story goes that Goering was set on in the street and that with difficulty he prevented the mob from stripping the medals from his breast. He stayed in Aschaffenburg until early December, and then, without gratuity or pension, he went to Munich, where his mother was living. It was plain to him that he must make his own way in the world.

Fraenkel, Heinrick; Manvell, Roger (2011-03-02). Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader (Kindle Locations 450-466). Frontline. Kindle Edition.

Germany’s military failure produced a deep and lasting social rift. Civilians had suffered immense deprivations under the war, and they perceived the military had squandered German society in a vainglorious quest for valor. Many in the military, particularly in the officer corps, saw the revolution that overthrew the government during the last days as a betrayal of their blood sacrifice. Goering drifted into the morass of militarist coalitions seeking redress and a restoration of German honor. As Germany sank into economic, social and political chaos, Goering found himself among a group of former officers and soldiers that included Ernst Udet, another former fighter ace, and also General Erich Ludendorff and Adolph Hitler.

At a critical time, at a critical place, Goering found his voice in the advocacy of continued and renewed German militarism.

During these immediate postwar weeks, Goering found himself in a new and alien world. He was a Prussian officer whose only background was his military training and the sense of caste inspired by his father, and the traditions represented by his early life in the castles of the south. Now he was an unemployed man of twenty-five in search of work. Politically Germany had collapsed into a form of mob rule, owing to the weakness of the hastily established government set up to formulate some kind of peace treaty. In Munich the throne of Bavaria had collapsed and a republic had been proclaimed on November 8, a few days before the armistice. Wilhelm II, the Emperor of Germany, had fled to Holland, and General Ludendorff, Chief of the General Staff, had also disappeared. The German working class had turned on the men they felt to be responsible for the war, and the soldiers who remained in uniform regarded their officers as traitors. A Socialist revolution had been proclaimed officially in Berlin and in a number of other German cities.

The officers, meanwhile, banded themselves together to defend their caste. They organized the so-called Freikorps—“free corps” of volunteers— in an effort to keep the German Army in being. In December Goering attended an officers’ rally in the Berlin Philharmonic Hall at which the new Prussian Minister of War, General Walter Reinhardt, spoke, urging the packed audience to support the new government and obey its order that officers should discard the traditional insignia of their rank and replace their epaulets with stripes on their jacket sleeves. The General himself wore his three stripes; his epaulets and his medals were gone.

As Reinhardt was about to dismiss the meeting, Goering stood up in the body of the hall. He was wearing his full uniform, with his silver epaulets and the stars of his new rank of captain, and with the Pour le Mérite prominent among his medals and decorations. He stepped onto the platform, saying, “I beg your pardon, sir.” The large gathering of officers fell silent. Goering had discovered his ability as a speaker in Aschaffenburg; now, as one of the more famous of Germany’s young officers, he was forced to say what he felt. He began:

I had guessed, sir, that you, as Minister of War, would put in an appearance here today. But I had hoped to see a black band on your sleeve that would symbolize your deep regret for the outrage you are proposing to inflict on us. Instead of that black band you are wearing blue stripes on your arm. I think, sir, it would have been more appropriate for you to wear red stripes!

The officers broke into applause, but Goering held up his hand for silence and went on speaking.

We officers did our duty for four long years … and we risked our bodies for the Fatherland. Now we come home— and how do they treat us ? They spit on us and deprive us of what we gloried in wearing. And this I can tell you, that the people are not to blame for such conduct . The people were our comrades— the comrades of each of us, irrespective of social conditions, for four weary years of war … Those alone are to blame who have goaded on the people— those men who stabbed our glorious Army in the back and who thought of nothing but of attaining power and of enriching themselves at the expense of the people. And therefore I implore you to cherish hatrcd-a profound, abiding hatred of those animals who have outraged the German people . … But the day will come when we will drive them away out of our Germany. Prepare for that day. Arm yourselves for that day. Work for that day. 6

Then Goering left the hall,

Fraenkel, Heinrick; Manvell, Roger (2011-03-02). Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader (Kindle Locations 475-503). Frontline. Kindle Edition.

Good fortune came to Goering as his military contacts and his flying experience brought him financial success in the emerging aircraft industries in Germany and elsewhere. His return to Germany from Sweden soon led to him to Adolph Hitler.

One day , on a Sunday in November or October of 1922, the demand for the extradition of our military leaders was again placed in the foreground on the occasion of a protest demonstration in Munich. I went to this protest demonstration as a spectator, without having any connection with it. Various speakers from parties and organizations spoke there. At the end Hitler too was called for. I had heard his name briefly mentioned once before and wanted to hear what he had to say. He declined to speak, and it was pure coincidence that I stood nearby and heard the reasons for his refusal … He considered it senseless to launch protests with no weight behind them. This made a deep impression on me; I was of the same opinion.

I inquired and found that … he held a meeting every Monday evening. I went there, and Hitler spoke about that demonstration, about Versailles … and the repudiation of that treaty. He said that … a protest is successful only if backed by power to give it weight. As long as Germany had not become strong, this kind of thing was to no purpose. The conviction was spoken word for word as if from my own soul.

On one of the following days I went to the business office of the N.S.D.A.J.P. … I just wanted to speak to him at first to see if I could assist him in any way. He received me at once and after I had introduced myself he said it was an extraordinary turn of fate that we should meet. We spoke at once about the things which were close to our hearts— the defeat of our Fatherland …, Versailles. I told him that I myself, to the fullest extent, and all I was and possessed were completely at his disposal for this, in my opinion, most essential and decisive matter: the fight against the Treaty of Versailles.

Hitler spoke at length about his program and then offered Goering a position in the Nazi Party.

He had long been on the lookout for a leader who had distinguished himself in some way in the last war … so that he would have the necessary authority. … Now it seemed to him a stroke of luck that I in particular, the last commander of the Richthofen squadron, should place myself at his disposal I told him that it would not be so very pleasant for me to have a leading office from the very beginning, since it might appear that I had come merely because of this position. We finally reached an agreement: For one or two months I was to remain officially in the background, and take over the leadership only after that, but actually I was to make my influence felt immediately. I agreed to this, and in that way I joined forces with Adolf Hitler.

So Goering , well pleased with himself, joined the Nazi Party and at the age of twenty-nine assumed once more what he most desired, the command of men.

Fraenkel, Heinrick; Manvell, Roger (2011-03-02). Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader (Kindle Locations 592-613). Frontline. Kindle Edition.

Working against Goering’s new found success was the deepening decline in German society. Saddled with a weak government and burdened by the onerous terms of the Versailles Treaty, the German economy collapsed almost completely. Into the political vacuum of those years rose varied movements offering solutions and seeking real power. In addition to the ex-military groups prowling the streets of Germany  a strong Communist element made itself felt. The clash between the militarists and the Communists was to be pivotal.

Communists march in Berlin (Wikipedia)

Communists march in Berlin (Wikipedia)

The various factions often clashed in the streets, violently. Confrontations rose from harassment to beatings to outright murder. Pitched gun battles erupted. The government was powerless to keep the peace.


From Google Images

Goering’s lurch to the brink came 9 November 1923 as he found himself alongside Hitler, facing armed police, in Hitler’s attempted coup d’etat. When the police opened fire Goering was wounded but escaped, just barely. A hunted man, he fled first to Austria and ultimately to Italy. His recovery was long, perilous and painful. The morphine that slaked his pain remained a life-long burden. He could have died, he could have settled into oblivion, or he could have rebounded as a remake of his former glory. The road to prominence and ultimately doom was through Hitler.

Adolph Hitler stood trial for his part in the Beer Hall Putsch, and used it as a sounding board for his political outlook. Hitler received a five-year sentence for treason, but served less than a year. Once out of prison he began to reform the National Socialist Party, which had been dismantled by the government. He now determined to obtain power without violent revolution, and he began to gather his previous followers.

Exile and addiction had left Goering at rock bottom, including confinement in a strait jacket at the Institute for the Cure of Nervous Diseases of Langbro, Sweden. When Hindenburg was elected German president in 1927 he proclaimed political amnesty, allowing Goering to return to Germany and to seek re-employment in the Nazi Party. Hitler and others were at first reluctant to accept Goering back. The Party was short on money to pay new workers, and Party principals, including Hitler, were unsure of Goering’s worth.

Even though money was scarce, Hitler was by no means impoverished. The Nazi press was gaining ground. There were steady profits coming in from the innumerable mass meetings, to which a small entrance fee was always charged. There were gifts from wealthy sympathizers . Hitler had an income; his tax records survive and prove that he was learning how to argue about expenses with the tax inspectors.

Goering gradually established himself during the winter months as a business agent in the aircraft industry. He was in touch with Erhard Milch, a senior executive in Lufthansa, which enjoyed a monopoly in German civil aviation. He acted as an agent in Berlin for the Bavarian Motor Works, which made aviation engines, and for the firm of Heinkel. He was also agent for the Swedish Tornblad parachute, and he worked from a small office in the Gaisbergstrasse, which he shared with Victor Siebel, who was later to become an aircraft manufacturer. 1 Heiden claims that the Bavarian Motor Works had been bought by Camillo Castiglioni, an Italian Jew from Trieste, who paid Goering generously to act as his representative, but that Goering achieved little for him. Heiden describes Goering as tireless in work and in the social round, turning night into day, working by candlelight in his flat, in front of him a picture of Napoleon, behind him a medieval sword. 2

In Berlin he was joined by Paul Koerner, another ex-officer, who became his partner. He began also to work upon his old social contacts, such as Bruno Loerzer and Prince Philipp von Hessen.

Early in 1928 Goering apparently decided to put pressure on Hitler. The elections were approaching in the spring, and he went to Munich to fight for the recognition he felt that he deserved. Together with Hanfstaengl, he walked in the snow to Hitler’s flat in the Thierschstrasse. Goering did not want to go in alone, but Hanfstaengl refused to accompany him. Later he gathered that Goering had lost his temper, but won his point; Hitler consented that he should be regarded as a Nazi candidate for the Reichstag. 3 Hanfstaengl says that he often heard Hitler express fears that Goering would fail to be of any use to the party; however, he copied Hitler’s style and delivery on the platform with remarkable effect.

Fraenkel, Heinrick; Manvell, Roger (2011-03-02). Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader (Kindle Locations 923-940). Frontline. Kindle Edition.

Acceptance back into the party and election to a seat in the Reichstag lifted Goering out of poverty and enabled him to bring his new wife from Sweden. The chain of events that followed compels the conviction that his return to prosperity fueled Goering with a driving lust for more. The remainder of his life, right up to the final few days, is the story of a relentless accumulation of wealth. Increased power brought increased opportunity.

When Goering became Premier of Prussia in April 1933, he was entitled to another official residence in addition to that of president of the Reichstag . But, like most men tasting the first fruits of power, he was dissatisfied with the stale palaces of a dead regime; he wanted to express himself through something new. While Goebbels, who had been appointed Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment in March 1933, was tearing down the stucco and changing the interior decoration of the Leopoldpalast on the Wilhelmplatz (“ I cannot work in the twilight,” he said), Goering decided to clear a site on the corner of Prinz Albrechtstrasse and Stresemannstrasse, the name of which he had had changed by the local authority to Hermann Goeringstrasse. Here he built himself a town house at the taxpayers’ expense next door to the new headquarters of the Gestapo, for whose activities Diels had commandeered the premises of the Berlin Folklore Museum. The new palace was completed early in 1934[.]

From this period, Goering’s financial status was inextricably entangled with the perquisites and prizes of office. His officially declared salaries were relatively small: president of the Reichstag, 7,200 marks a year; Cabinet minister, 12,000 marks; Air Commissioner, 3,000 marks; president of the Prussian State Council, 12,000 marks. Some of these offices carried expense allowances or exemptions from taxation. Hitler was always prepared to enable Goering to entertain lavishly when it was necessary. In addition, Goering began, by virtue of his powerful positon, to gather substantial business interests in the form of shares, and the influential newspaper, the Nationalzeitung of Essen, became his particular mouthpiece.

Fraenkel, Heinrick; Manvell, Roger (2011-03-02). Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader (Kindle Locations 1787-1799). Frontline. Kindle Edition.

Goering milked the cow of political power to a far greater extent than any other of his Nazi cohorts. In the years ahead he was to become the face of self-aggrandizement in the new order. As his position improved his grasp for wealth seemed to expand without bound. Eventually he was demonstrated to be an administrative hack, administrator of the German economy and commander of the German Luftwaffe in name only by 1943. That he retained position and nominal power right to the final fall can possibly be attributed to his decisive actions and tactical success in the final stages of the Nazis’ climb to power. The period leading into the first weeks of 1933 saw Goering’s supreme triumph. Franz von Papen was one of the last chancellors of the Weimar Republic and the final obstacle to Nazi power.

The next round of elections was announced for November 6, Meanwhile Papen continued in office by presidential decree. The Nazis had to some extent overplayed their hand. They lost over two million votes at the elections and the number of their deputies dropped from 230 to 196. Many people had ceased altogether to trust them, and they were short of money. Their tactics during the past few months and their attitude to both the President and his Chancellor did not please the industrialists on whom they still had mainly to rely for financial support. Also, the number of unemployed, on whose discontent the Nazis depended for their votes, had appreciably decreased ; it can be said that the genuine peak of the Nazi vote in Germany was attained when the unemployment figure was at its height, in July 1932. Time was running out.

The battle between Hindenburg and Hitler and the conspiracy behind it began immediately after the elections and lasted throughout the final tragic weeks of Germany’s tortured freedom. The decadent form of German democracy gradually petered out of existence, although Hitler was now supported by only 33.1 per cent of the total electorate, a fall of 4.2 per cent since the elections in July, The éminence grise behind Hindenburg was still Schleicher. On November 17 Papen resigned on his advice. According to Heiden, Goering was in Rome, sitting beside Mussolini at a banquet given in honor of the guests attending the European Congress of the Academy of Science, when news was brought to him of Papen’s defeat. Having assured Mussolini that fascism was now about to triumph in Germany, he flew back to Berlin in time to make the necessary arrangements with the President’s State Secretary, Otto Meissner, for a meeting between Hitler and Hindenburg. On November 19 Hitler met the President, and again on the twenty-first. Nothing came of it. Hitler was determined to be Chancellor, and Hindenburg would not allow this unless he could secure majority support in the Reichstag, which was now impossible.

The next stage came when Schleicher secured the chancellorship for himself. The Nazi leaders were divided as to whether they should or should not co-operate with him. They met on December 1 at Weimar, and again on December 5 at the Kaiserhof, to discuss the matter; Gregor Strasser, never really Hitler’s man, had been in direct touch with Schleicher and was, in fact, secretly ready to lead a faction of the party deputies into Schleichef’s trap in exchange for receiving the office of Vice-Chancellor. Goering, Goebbels and Hitler were utterly opposed to any compromise. Goering was left, aided possibly by Roehm and Frick, to negotiate with Schleicher along the line determined at the final conference. According to Heiden . Goering had already been instructed to approach Schleicher on December 3 to ask for the office of Premier of Prussia and had been told there was support among the center parties only for Strasser to become State Premier.

When the new Reichstag met on December 6, Goering was reelected president. He did all he could to bring the assembly into ridicule, and he told it bluntly that its life would be a short one. When he had sat down, the Reichstag continued with its business while Goering stared at the deputies through binoculars, comparing the faces that he did not know with a file of photographs on his desk. In particular, he stared at the men he suspected of complicity with Strasser, and at Strasser himself. Two days later Strasser quarreled violently with Hitler and then wrote him a celebrated letter of recrimination, resigned from the party and left for the south. Hitler, aware his future was in the balance, threatened to shoot himself if the party deserted him, while Goering threatened to break the neck of every follower of Strasser.

Fraenkel, Heinrick; Manvell, Roger (2011-03-02). Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader (Kindle Locations 1322-1349). Frontline. Kindle Edition.

Hard to reconcile with his professional life, which existed in contradiction to basic humanity, was Goering’s family life. He married a divorced woman, Carin von Kantzow in 1923, and following her death from tuberculosis in 1931 Goering continued to aid and assist her son, Thomas von Kantzow. After brief dalliances with other women, Goering married German actress Emma Sonnemann. They had a daughter, Edda, who is alive at the time of this writing. Considering all the excesses of the Nazi regime and its principals, no demonstration of marital infidelity regarding Goering has emerged. He was completely devoted to both of his wives. With his new wealth he constructed a magnificent home near Berlin and named it Karinhall. Goering made it into a shrine for his first wife, continuing expansion and embellishments to the property almost to the day he had it dynamited in 1945 as the Soviet Army approached. Goering built another home which was referred to as Emmyhall.

Nobody studying Goering’s career has credited him with the level of anti-Jewish sentiment expressed by his compatriots. However, nothing in this lack of enthusiasm thwarted his participation in the murder of European Jewry. He was equally callous with the scripted destruction of millions of lives in the conquered countries.

During May, June and July Goering authorized directives for his Economic Staff East which were so ruthless in their exploitation that they became some of the principal documents quoted by the prosecution in the Nuremberg trial. He gave detailed instructions for plundering Russia in the spirit of a memorandum issued on May 2, which opened: “The war can be continued only if all the armed forces are fed by Russia in the third year of the war. There is no doubt that as a result many millions of people will be starved to death if we take out of the country the things we need.” 27 These directives came to be known as the Green File or Portfolio.

A top-secret report for the staff on May 23 contained this statement:

The German Administration in these territories may well attempt to mitigate the consequences of the famine which undoubtedly will take place and accelerate the return to primitive conditions … However, these measures will not avert famine . Many tens of millions of people in this area will become [redundant] and will either die or have to emigrate to Siberia, Any attempts to save the population there from death by starvation by importing surpluses from the black-soil zone would be at the expense of supplies to Europe. It would reduce Germany’s staying power in the war, and would undermine Germany’s and Europe’s power to resist the blockade. This must be clearly and absolutely understood. 28

Fraenkel, Heinrick; Manvell, Roger (2011-03-02). Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader (Kindle Locations 4384-4395). Frontline. Kindle Edition.

So much for Goering’s good points.

The Allies can attribute an earlier victory over their enemies to Goering, himself. In a notorious case, Goering’s vanity severely challenged any shred of military judgment he may have possessed. When, in 1940, the Wehrmact had British and French troops penned against the English Channel, Goering convinced Hitler to allow his Luftwaffe to finish off the enemy (and capture the glory). While General Heinz Guderian’s tanks waited patiently a British fleet evacuated English and French troops across the Channel.

Additionally, Goering’s lack in vision resulted in an early concentration on production of short-range bombers of limited payload. Finally, when the German air war switched from one of offense to one of defense, Goering’s weakness of character rendered him unable to convince Hitler to shift emphasis to the production of fighters. Hitler insisted the production of fighters would be an admission of defeat.

The debacle continued, and by the time the end came Goering was a figurehead Reichsmarschall, though nominally second in command to Hitler. In the final hours of the Third Reich even this facade collapsed. Hitler’s control of power relied upon dilution of power among potential rivals. He kept underlings in competition with each other, and Nazi leadership was continually plagued by division of purpose and focus. A key enemy of Goering’s was Martin Bormann, Hitler’s secretary. With Hitler trapped in a bunker as Soviet Forces closed in, Goering sent off a message to inquire whether he should invoke a previous directive that he take over in such a situation. Bormann relayed the message as an attempt to usurp power, and Hitler ordered that Goering be arrested and executed. Before any such thing could happen Hitler killed himself (30 April 1945), and Bormann ended up dead in a Berlin street (2 May 1945).

In his deathless vanity, Goering imagined he could arrange reconciliation with Allied powers and place himself in power in a reconstructed Germany, and he surrendered himself to American forces in Austria. The troops who took him into custody at first basked in the celebrity of their acquisition, but news of this special treatment struck a sour note with people who mattered, and Goering was quickly relegated to the status of a P.O.W., albeit a valuable one. The rope to hang Goering was already in somebody’s supply depot.

Paul Roland’s book (see below) gets more into the attitude of the victors toward these Nazi survivors. (Besides Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler had already killed themselves.) The Brits, including Prime Minister Churchill, voted for summary execution. Surprisingly the Soviets were in favor of a trial. The trial began in November 1945, and in October the following year those convicted and sentenced to death were hanged. Some received only prison sentences, and a few, including von Papen, were acquitted and set free.

The hangman never got to Hermann Goering. Although the prisoners awaiting execution at the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg were not told in advance of the execution date, Goering may have sensed that the final hour had come. He was scheduled to be the first taken by the hangman, but two hours before his time he took poison and died in his cell.

Goering’s death did not interrupt the proceedings. Ten convicted Nazis went to the gallows in a period of less than two hours beginning at 1 a.m. on 16 October 1946. Following the executions Goering’s body was brought from his cell to the gallows room and formally identified for the death certificate. Writer Paul Roland relates the final journey of Hermann Goering.

Just before dawn the bodies were taken away in two trucks under heavy guard and driven to Dachau concentration camp, a short distance northwest of Munich, where the ovens had been relit for their cremation. The ashes were scattered in a nearby river.

There was no sense of triumph among the victors, only relief that this tragic and violent era had finally come to an end.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 2648-2651). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Tattered Justice


It was the morning of 15 April 1945 near Bergen in northwestern Germany. When Clara Greenbaum woke it quickly became apparent something was wrong. Nobody came to bang with sticks on the bed frames in the barracks where she had spent the night, and many nights in the previous months, along with her two children. And there was something wrong. The guards who had tormented, brutalized and murdered 100,000 others were now gone. In the middle of the night, while their victims lay sleeping under threat of death, guards at the notorious Bergen-Belsen prison camp fled into the darkness. Soldiers of another army were approaching.

It was hours before anybody in the barracks summoned the courage to open the door and peer out. Then, in ones and twos, prisoners filed into the light of an overcast day. The guards were gone. But where? Then there was a sound. More soldiers were coming.

Hours passed and then the mass of people stirred. They could hear the unmistakable sound of heavy vehicles approaching from behind the low hills to the north. A moment later a column of tanks and trucks appeared. The vehicles were rumbling across the ploughed fields towards the barbed wire. Panic went through the crowd like a bolt of electricity . This was it. The Germans were going to machine-gun them and then roll over their bodies to eradicate the evidence of their crimes. Then someone saw the Union Jack flying from the turret of one of the tanks. They were British! To the prisoners’ amazement the column circled the camp twice before drawing up in formation at the front gates, where the vehicles’ engines were turned off. Presumably they had been checking to see if any SS troops were prepared to make a final stand. And there they waited. Not a word was spoken. No orders were given. Clara estimated that as many as 500 troops were standing in complete silence, staring through the barbed wire. What were they waiting for? And then one of the soldiers doubled up and retched. Another vomited and then another. So that was it. They had been staring at the inmates in disgust. Hardened soldiers were sick to their stomachs at the sight of them . At that, many prisoners turned away. They were ashamed of what they were, of what they had become.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 117-126). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Slave labourers in the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, one of the first camps to be liberated by US soldiers in April 1945. The camp’s first commandant from 1937 to 1941, Karl Otto Koch, was himself imprisoned here for corruption and was tried and executed by the Nazis shortly before the camp’s liberation. Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 190-192). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Slave labourers in the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, one of the first camps to be liberated by US soldiers in April 1945. The camp’s first commandant from 1937 to 1941, Karl Otto Koch, was himself imprisoned here for corruption and was tried and executed by the Nazis shortly before the camp’s liberation. Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 190-192). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

But there was no reason for these people to be ashamed. They had not caused this. An organized gang of criminals had instigated the deaths of millions of people and had brought a modern, industrial, cultured nation to absolute ruin. This was a criminal act, and somebody would have to pay.

Fifteen days after Clara Greenbaum woke to a new era, the man who had orchestrated this travesty was dead, having shot himself in the head rather than face the justice he deserved. In the following days a number of the other principals in crime would also be dead. Some at their own hand, others before the muzzles of the guns of vengeful armies.

In other camps Allied officers found it difficult to maintain discipline among their men – in some cases captured SS guards were summarily executed. This was soldiers’ justice, meted out by men who had seen their share of death, but who could no longer restrain themselves when confronted with the cold-blooded slaughter, or brutalization, of innocent civilians.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 140-142). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

By the ninth of May formal hostilities were terminated, and German forces were surrendering all over Europe. Troops were going into P.O.W. camps, Nazi government leaders were being identified and arrested. Joseph Goebbels and his wife had murdered their children and killed themselves in the government’s bunker in Berlin. Heinrich Himmler was identified and apprehended, but as he was being searched for means of suicide he chomped down on a poison capsule and died. It was later determined that Hitler’s secretary, Martin Bormann, was killed in a Berlin street while attempting to escape the bunker. A few, including Adolph Eichmann and Joseph Mengele, escaped to other countries beyond the reach of the Allies. For those firmly in the grasp of Allied forces, the future was for a moment uncertain. Some in the Allied camp wanted swift retribution.

The Allied leaders realized that something had to be done with the captured Nazi elite – and soon – because the will to pursue those guilty of perpetrating atrocities was swiftly evaporating. Furthermore, the Allied troops were exhausted after five long years of war and they just wanted to go home and put the horrors behind them. It was well known that the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, favoured the immediate execution of the captured Nazi leaders, in order to avoid the ‘tangles of legal procedure’, and certain elements within the American administration felt the same. They had managed to persuade President Franklin D. Roosevelt that a cursory hearing followed by a firing squad was the most economical method of dealing with the problem. The British Cabinet had discussed what to do with captured war criminals as far back as June 1942. Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary, had reminded them of the embarrassment caused by their failure to deal decisively with Kaiser Wilhelm II after the First World War.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 194-201). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Interestingly, the Soviets, who early had been complicit in Hitler’s war of aggression and ultimately suffered terribly from a German invasion, now favored a public trial.

Ironically it was the American secretary of war, the elderly Republican Henry Stimson, who vehemently opposed Morgenthau’s plan. He found an unexpected ally in the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who had told Winston Churchill that if the leading Nazis were summarily executed the world would say that their enemies had been afraid to put them on trial and had put them to death to silence them. Stimson added that to deny the defendants due process would be to risk making them martyrs in the eyes of their people, which is exactly what had happened after the British had executed the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. Stimson recalled that the citizens of Dublin had initially jeered at the plotters for the destruction they had brought upon their capital city, but that their mood had altered after the British authorities had ordered the rebel leaders to be shot without trial.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 213-219). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Where to hold the trial was a problem of some proportion. We, the Allies, had bombed Nazi government institutions to rubble, with one notable exception. Here irony piled on top of irony. Spared from destruction was the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg.

The Palace of Justice

The shell -scarred Palace of Justice resembled a besieged fortress in bandit country. It had been the site of the final battle for the city. The courtyard was still strewn with pieces of shrapnel and spent cartridges where the remnants of two SS divisions had held out until they had been shelled into submission. Now five Sherman tanks squatted at key points around the main building, their gun barrels loaded with 76 mm shells, while GIs crouched behind sandbags at the entrance to the court.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 500-505). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

From Google Images. Apart from the Palace of Justice, the rest of Nuremberg was a bombed out mess. That's what you get for starting a World War that kills +50 million people.

From Google Images. Apart from the Palace of Justice, the rest of Nuremberg was a bombed out mess. That’s what you get for starting a World War that kills +50 million people.

This is the place of some of the Nazis’ notorious transgressions against justice. The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 stripped German Jews of their citizenship and of all basic human rights. Here was subsequently the site of continued judicial insults, including the trumped up trial of Leo Katzenberger.

Leo Katzenberger was a Jewish businessman who had seen his chain of shoe stores stolen from him by the Nazis under the Aryanization decrees of 1938, which legalized theft from German Jews. The elderly man had no hope of emigrating so he continued to live in an apartment in one of his properties. During 1941 his friendship with a teenage girl, Irene Seiler, was reported to the authorities, who accused Katzenberger of violating the race laws, which forbade relationships between Aryans and Jews. At his trial, 67-year-old Katzenberger repeatedly denied that there was anything of a sexual nature in the relationship, but his protests were shouted down by the presiding judge, Dr Oswald Rothaug, who called Katzenberger a ‘syphilitic Jew’ and ‘an agent of world Jewry’. Katzenberger was sentenced to death.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 2719-2725). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Writer Paul Rolland tells the story in The Nuremberg trials in The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity.

Among the principal Allied governments, Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States, the Americans picked up the heavy lifting for the trials. The vast bulk of the expense, logistics and legal work was provided by the U.S.

Seated in the back row are the eight members of the tribunal representing the four main Allied countries: the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States and France. Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 278-280). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Seated in the back row are the eight members of the tribunal representing the four main Allied countries: the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States and France. Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 278-280). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Paul Roland is not an academic historian, but he has produced a number of historical writings, including The Crimes of Jack the Ripper: The Whitechapel Murders Re-Examined. Books related to the Nazi phenomenon include Nazi Women: The Attraction of Evil and Nazis and the Occult. His book on the Nuremberg Trials is an excellent brief that draws from authoritative sources and gives a good account of the development of the legal case against the Nazi principals. Courtroom drama abounds.

Robert H. Jackson had been United States Attorney General under President Roosevelt. He led the American prosecution contingent. His duel with former Reichsmarschall Herman Goering presented a most interesting moment.

Goering Signs His Own Death Warrant

‘Did you not also sign a decree in 1940 ordering the seizure of all Jewish property in Poland?’

‘I assume so if the decree is there.’ The defendant was now visibly squirming in his seat.

‘And another saying the Jews would receive no compensation for damage caused by enemy attack or by German forces?’

‘If the law bears my name then it must be so,’ Goering conceded.

‘Is this your signature?’ asked Jackson, pointing an accusing finger at the next document that had been laid before the accused.

‘It appears to be.’

‘Is it or is it not your signature?’ Jackson’s tone betrayed his growing impatience. Goering sensed that a trap was being set. He took a moment to answer.

‘It is.’

‘It is your signature on a document dated July 1941,’ Jackson explained for the benefit of the court, ‘asking Himmler and [Reinhard] Heydrich to make plans for the Final Solution of the Jewish Question.’

Goering exploded.

‘That is not a proper translation! I said total solution, not final solution.’

‘These are your words to Himmler,’ continued Jackson, warming to the task.

‘“ I charge you to send me before long an overall plan for the organizational, factual and material measures necessary for the desired solution of the Jewish question.” Is that an accurate translation of this order?’

‘That had to do with the evacuation and emigration of the Jews,’ Goering protested.

‘You ordered all government agencies to co-operate with the SS in the final solution of the Jewish question. Did you not?’

‘There is nothing in there about the SS!’ The colour was coming back to Reichsmarschall Goering’s flaccid cheeks.

‘This document states that you ordered all government agencies to co-operate with the SS. You sent this letter to SS Gruppenführer Heydrich.’

‘That does not mean that the SS had anything to do with the solution of the Jewish question!’

The words were barely out of his mouth when Goering realized that he had placed the noose around his own neck. There was an audible murmur in the court as Jackson leaned in to face his most formidable adversary.

‘Would you mind repeating that?’ he asked calmly.

‘I must say this clearly. I did not know anything about what took place in the concentration camps or the methods used there. These things were kept secret from me.’

But Jackson was already striding back to the bench where his colleagues sat, jubilant in the knowledge that the murderous nature of the Nazi leadership had finally been exposed for all to see.

‘I might add that even the Führer did not know the extent of what was happening.’ Goering was rambling, desperate . But no one was listening.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 1723-1753). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Twenty-four people were charged:

Martin Bormann
Karl Doenitz
Hans Frank
Wilhelm Frick
Hans Fritzsche
Walther Funk
Hermann Goering
Rudolf Hess
Alfred Jodl
Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Wilhelm Keitel
Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach
Robert Ley
Konstantin von Neurath
Franz von Papen
Erich Raeder
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Alfred Rosenberg
Fritz Sauckel
Hjalmar Schacht
Baldur von Schirach
Arthur Seyss-Inquart
Albert Speer
Julius Streicher

Only 21 stood trial. Bormann was by then already dead, though this was not demonstrated until years later. He was tried and convicted in absentia. Gustav Krupp, head of the German industrial empire that fueled, and collaborated with, Nazi aggressions was deemed too ill to stand trial. Robert Ley, who had ruled over slave labor for the Nazis, killed himself in his cell at the Palace of Justice prior to the trial.

Proceedings began in November 1945 and concluded in September 1946. The judges handed down the verdicts on 1 October 1946. Three defendants, Hans Fritsche, Hjalmar Schact and Franz von Papen, were acquitted and walked free, but only with protection from angry mobs. Of those convicted, seven received death sentences and sentenced to be hanged. Principal of these was Goering.

Hermann Goering

VERDICT: Guilty on all 4 counts. Sentenced to death by hanging.

The Judgment against Goering concluded: ‘From the moment he joined the Party in 1922 and took command of the street fighting organization, the SA , Goering was the adviser, the active agent of Hitler and one of the prime leaders of the Nazi movement. As Hitler’s political deputy he was largely instrumental in bringing the National Socialists to power in 1933, and was charged with consolidating this power and expanding German armed might. He developed the Gestapo and created the first concentration camps, relinquishing them to Himmler in 1934… The night before the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the absorption of Bohemia and Moravia, at a conference with Hitler and President Hácha he threatened to bomb Prague if Hácha did not submit… He commanded the Luftwaffe in the attack on Poland and throughout the aggressive wars which followed… The record is filled with Goering’s admissions of his complicity in the use of slave labour… He made plans for the exploitation of Soviet territory long before the war on the Soviet Union… Goering persecuted the Jews, particularly after the November, 1938, riots and not only in Germany… Although their extermination was in Himmler’s hands, Goering was far from disinterested or inactive despite his protestations from the witness box… There is nothing to be said in mitigation… His guilt is unique in its enormity. The record discloses no excuses for this man.’

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 2303-2315). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I have posted a separate review of Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader [Kindle Edition]. That post concluded:

The hangman never got to Hermann Goering. Although the prisoners awaiting execution at the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg were not told in advance of the execution date, Goering may have sensed that the final hour had come. He was scheduled to be the first taken by the hangman, but two hours before his time he took poison and died in his cell.

Goering’s death did not interrupt the proceedings. Ten convicted Nazis went to the gallows in a period of less than two hours beginning at 1 a.m. on 16 October 1946. Following the executions Goering’s body was brought from his cell to the gallows room and formally identified for the death certificate. Writer Paul Roland relates the final journey of Hermann Goering.

Just before dawn the bodies were taken away in two trucks under heavy guard and driven to Dachau concentration camp, a short distance northwest of Munich, where the ovens had been relit for their cremation. The ashes were scattered in a nearby river.

There was no sense of triumph among the victors, only relief that this tragic and violent era had finally come to an end.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 2648-2651). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The First Nuremberg Trial was not the last. The Allies followed up with prosecution of lesser lights of Nazi evil. There was a Doctors’ Trial, December 1946 to August 1947, and there was a trial of Nazi judges, March to December 1947. The Judges’ Trial was the subject of a motion picture Judgment at Nuremberg in 1961, staring Spencer Tracy as an American judge in a fictional case that reflects the injustice inflicted on Leo Katzenberger.

Poster from IMDB.com

Poster from IMDB.com