75th Anniversary of D-Day

1944My home town of Portsmouth in Hampshire, England has been a naval base since medieval times. Henry VIII fortified it in the 16th Century when French naval activity began to threaten England’s south coast. Since then it has been the premier base for the British Navy and occupied a strategic role during WWII by preventing Germany from moving its capital ships into The Atlantic Ocean via the English Channel. Portsmouth is an island, joined to the south coast by a causeway. On both west and east sides there are large harbors, but the western harbor is deeper and its narrow entrance shielded by the Isle of Wight has always provided an ideal protection for a naval base. In June 1944 it was destined to be the port from which the vast accumulation of military might would leave to invade the coast of Normandy, France.

Planning for the invasion of northern France began in 1943, but Winston Churchill persuaded the Joint Chiefs of Staff to delay such an invasion until German forces along the Mediterranean coast had been defeated or pushed back. By early 1944 the Allied invasion of Italy was proceeding sufficiently well to encourage an invasion of the German occupied French coast with General Dwight Eisenhower as overall commander and British General Bernard Montgomery commanding all land forces. These commanders estimated the buildup of weaponry around Portsmouth would be complete by May or June, but did not finalize the date for an invasion of Normandy until hours before the choice of June 6 because of weather and tide considerations.

As a five year-old, I recall the excitement of watching tanks and trucks gradually fill first the city streets and then country lanes out fifteen miles beyond the city. Ships and landing craft filled both east and west harbors. American tanks lined our street while British tanks and Canadian trucks occupied neighboring streets. Housewives like my mother and grandmother supplied the tank crews with hot and cold water and helped with laundry needs. My school friends and I picked up phrases such as “Got any gum chum?” from those crews. I still find it amazing that camouflage and security were sufficiently good to prevent enemy intelligence from discovering the vast collection of armaments on England’s south coast. The Royal Air Force destroyed any enemy reconnaissance aircraft venturing anywhere near it, but permitted them to catch sight of a clever dummy invasion force mounted by General Patton on the southeast coast opposite Calais, from where German military expected an invasion to come.

Eventually, thirty-nine Allied divisions were committed to the Battle of Normandy: twenty-two American, twelve British, three Canadian, one Polish, and one French, totaling over a million troops and forming the largest invasion force in history. Eisenhower selected five invasion targets, with the American forces assigned to Utah and Omaha Beaches, British forces assigned to Sword and Gold Beaches, and Canadian forces assigned to Juno Beach.

The invasion progressed slowly at first because of unforeseen obstacles and the obstinate resistance of the extensive and embedded German forces along the entire French coast, but it gathered momentum as the weeks and months passed. Allied casualties were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead, while estimates of German casualties on D-Day are 4,000 to 9,000.

On those now rare occasions when I return to my hometown, I try to include a visit to the beach where I spent many happy afternoons swimming and sunbathing after school. On the esplanade there is a white marble monument built in memory of the million men who set sail for Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Posted in HISTORY, In The News, MEMOIR, Uncategorized | Tagged

TRUMP THE BUFFOON

Queen Elizabeth made a mistake in meeting with Trump today after he insulted the mayor of London. Trump’s stupidity and offensiveness finds new lows each day. Queen Elizabeth should have cancelled her meeting with Trump and suggested he instead spend the day at the London Zoo.

Posted in In The News, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged

RAPE & ABORTION

If states or the federal government are going to make it impossible for a rape victim to have an abortion, then justice demands more severe treatment of the male responsible for the pregnancy. A pregnant rape victim potentially faces a ruined lifetime; similarly for the child created by the rape. The powers who find their consciences demand refusal to aid such a rape victim need, in parallel, to amend the laws governing punishment of the guilty male. If a women and child have to face a lifetime not of their own choosing, then I suggest that the guilty male should receive an equivalent level of punishment, possibly a life sentence in prison. Police forces would then need to raise their level of activity to bring the male miscreant to justice; perhaps closer to the energy expended in a murder hunt rather than the feeble effort currently spent in rape cases.

Posted in In The News, JUSTICE, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

HYPOCRISY ALONG PARTY LINES

The hypocrisy across the nation is growing steadily from day to day in the last few years.  Minnesota Congresswoman, Ilhan Abdullahi Omar, is currently in the news because she accused someone of dual allegiance to the U.S. and Israel, maybe a disturbing relationship if true. It is not the accusation of allegiance to Israel that is causing the fuss, but the deliberate misuse of the name Israel as a synonym for the Jewishness. There is a Republican effort to remove Omar from office.

Because Italy is predominantly a Roman Catholic country, does this mean that if I say something negative about Italy then I am being anti-Catholic? Of course, it suits the Republican cause to use any juvenile ploy to remove a Democrat from Congress by claiming Omar was anti-Semitic in her statement. Could we remove President Trump from office because in most of his tweets he has insulted various ethic groups and individuals who have called him out? Congress should stop wasting time and public money, and get on with the task of rectifying the national problems that have sprouted around them like weeds in two and a half years.

Posted in Government, In The News, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

SOCIALISM VERSUS COMMUNISM

I was disappointed to hear via National Public Radio that a recent poll showed the majority of people in the U.S. voted in favor of capitalism and against socialism. I am disappointed because President Trump, that source of all current wisdom, has managed to link Democrats with Socialism as though that were something bad. Now, if you expect to draw social security benefit when you retire, that is socialism; if you expect to join Medicare when you retire, that is socialism; if you are injured and draw a welfare benefit; that is socialism; if you have children and receive a tax break for them, that is socialism etc. etc.

Communism is a system whereby everyone’s wealth (land, housing, furniture, savings) is pooled across the national community and shared out between people either equally or according to their value to the community (depending on the type of Communism).

Recent proposals by Democrats running for President in 2020 include making Medicare available to everyone, thereby raising U.S. healthcare to the standard of other industrialized countries. Yes, that is socialism, but it is not communism. President Trump takes advantage of ignorance on the part of millions of voters to mislead them on this point. There is basically nothing wrong with socialism; it is the form of government already practiced by all the advanced nations of the world, including the United States.

The misunderstanding fostered by President Trump, for his own advantage, is caused partly by sloppy education standards throughout our national community, and partly by a disease that is becoming rampant in the 21 st. Century. This disease is caused by defective transfer of electrical impulses from one neuron to another in the brain; and is commonly known as stupidity. As an example, in a recent discussion with two friends about global weather change and drastic warming of the oceans, one of them stated he didn’t believe the 99 percent of climate scientists who have given an overabundance of detail about climate change that is already upon us. He trusts Trump instead. The other friend said that the increase in ocean temperature is probably temporary. When I replied that scientists predict the change is likely to follow the behavior of the last ice-age and last 20,000 years, he said quite sincerely, “That’s what I said—it’s temporary.” My equally stupid response was, “When you are dead, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren in their misery with the changed environment and its destruction, will gather annually with their families to spit of your grave-site—if it is not under water.”

Posted in Essays, Government, HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, Humor, In The News, Politics | Tagged , ,

FABULOUS ADDITION TO CONGRESS

With the wonderful addition of so many women to Congress in 2019, may we dare to hope that the most important of the many problems facing this nation will at last be addressed after an age of lethargy and lining of pockets? At the same time, I recognize that they will face unusual hurdles in the form of President Trump and the cowardly members of our Senate who acquiesce and grovel before Trump’s every thought, word, and deed.
It is therefore especially exciting to see that this new intake of Congresswomen includes the fabulous Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York’s 14th District, who lights up her surroundings with incisive ideas and commentary. Given an opportunity, she will make an important mark on our lives. I for one wish her well with all my heart and look forward to her rapid progress up the ranks of government.

Posted in Government, In The News, Politics, Uncategorized

WIDESPREAD MALAISE

If you have needed to contact businesses or corporations of any size in recent years, have you noticed that so many of the people who answer your phone call have a tired, apathetic attitude to your inquiry or message. If, instead of you calling them, they call you or leave a message on your phone, you probably have found that their information, phone number, and name can be almost incomprehensible even after listening to them several times. The underlying message is clear, I don’t really care who you are or what you want; don’t bother me. My experience of people in these positions has been mostly with young females and I have had little or no experience of communicating with their male equivalents to be in a position to make a valid comparison. Perhaps inequality of pay might be an important factor. Most reception areas for doctors, dentists, clinics and surgeons are prime examples of apathy bordering on rudeness. The employers appear not to check on reception staff occasionally.

Assuming you have got past the front office and have reached someone who is employed to answer your question or provide customer service of some kind, you now have to explain several times in the simplest language the nature of your call. Chances are the answer you receive will be wrong or the service promised will not be performed correctly, so that you will need to repeat the whole experience. One of the worst companies to deal with in my part of the U.S. is CenturyLink, a major provider of telephone service to the general public. For a corporation whose business is communication by telephone, trying to resolve a problem with them by phone is a miserable experience.

In general, all branches of business are experiencing widespread malaise. So many employees cannot read or write beyond elementary school levels. Others lack basic skills or comprehension of their job and should never have been selected to fill the position they occupy, while another subset simply does not care about performing its job in a first-class manner. Poor education on the one hand and failure by society to demand more from providers on the other must take a major share of blame. Three generations ago, even completely uneducated people entered the workplace knowing and wanting to do their best to satisfy the consumer for whom they were providing a service.

Today, if your request for a tradesman or artisan is filled by someone in his sixties, be happy because it is likely he obtained his training as an apprentice years ago, instead of learning his trade or art by working alongside another person of inferior expertise and experience.

I have no idea if the malaise I have described is limited to the U.S. or is a global problem, but if you need a single example of what I am describing, consider who is currently filling this nation’s most important job.

Posted in Consumer products, education, Uncategorized | Tagged