I Hereby Grant Loyal Ethics Alarms Readers This Open Forum…

US Grant

Sorry, I had to find some way to feature U.S. Grant this morning, in part because he died on this date in 1885, but mostly because my son was named after him, and I love Grant Viktor Bowen Marshall with all my heart. Grant is one of the most interesting and complex of Presidential personalities, as well as among our most ethical Presidents. Even in death he was ethical: he spent his last days furiously writing out his memoirs so his family could be cleared of debt by selling them. (The publisher was Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain.) Grant was in the process of dying in agony of throat cancer, but he not only wrote through the pain, he did a fine job of it. I’ve read most of the Presidential autobiographies, and if there is one as good, I haven’t encountered it yet.

I suppose by now everyone knows my favorite piece of Grant trivia: he was christened Hiram Ulysses Grant, but was embarrassed that his initials spelled out “hug” (Grant was fanatically modest, and wrote that his wife had never seen him naked), so he flipped his middle and first names so the initials spelled “uhg,” as if that’s an improvement. Then some careless clerk at West Point substituted an “S” for the “H,” and the young Grant recognized that “U.S. Grant” was a pretty cool name, and kept it. The “S” didn’t stand for anything except “Hiram,” but he got sick of explaining this, so settled on “Simpson.” This eventually made Grant one of two U.S. Presidents with a middle initial S that actually was meaningless: the other is Harry Truman. If a source prints Harry’s name with a period after the S, it’s a hack outfit. Wikipedia has the period, for example. No, Truman’s middle name was just “S”…

But I digress.

Start writing about your ethical issues, concerns and observations, please…

40 thoughts on “I Hereby Grant Loyal Ethics Alarms Readers This Open Forum…

  1. If a source prints Harry’s name with a period after the S, it’s a hack outfit.

    You have “U.S. Grant” twice – is that some auto-correct error, or is the period after the S allowed when fully shortening the name?

    • No, Grant used the period himself, and since it was essentially a made-up name, we should follow his lead. Since the appeal of “U.S.” was that it suggested the abbreviation for “United States,” it would have made no sense for Grant to call himself “U.S Grant,” now would it?

      I KNEW someone would raise that. I was betting on two other commenters, though…

      • Simpson was not entirely made up. Grant’s mother’s maiden name was Simpson. It’s quite common to give children family names as middle names, so even though not given at birth, Simpson is not nearly the same as Harry’s “S”, which as noted, is not an abbreviation.

        • It was entirely made up, because the “S” predated the “Simpson.”
          He could have picked “Smegma” or “Syzygy,” but he wasn’t that whimsical, so he claimed the S stood for Simpson, except that it didn’t. It stood for Hiram.

  2. Wikipedia had a long an extensive debate on Truman’s middle name. They concluded/surrender to move on to other inane battles that his middle initial was still “S”, even if no additional letters followed in the complete name.

    • It was inevitable. They jettisoned Chief Wahoo a couple of years ago. The “Guardians” name refers to four Art Deco statues standing sentry at a bridge leading out of downtown Cleveland.


    • I am actually really frustrated about this. Our state decided to fine public schools with the mascot Indian, warriors, etc and several nearby will have to address that. Which imo is awkward because the town where the school is located is named after a tribe. The river is named after a tribe, streets are Indian names too. The county is also a tribe name. To me it is like forced renaming of “Main Street” because of corporate oppression.

      “What you look for you find”

      If you go looking for oppression and sleights, you’ll find them.

  3. Grant’s memoirs are among the best, I agree.

    I’d read the story that the Congressman that recommended Grant to West Point had gotten his name wrong, confused him with his brother Simpson and recommended him as Ulysses Simpson Grant. West Point would not allow him to attend if he used any other name than what they accepted him under so he stuck with it.

  4. I’ve always been amazed by Grant’s face. It’s such a modern looking face compared to, oh, say, Abraham Lincoln’s. It also seems to reflect ever single casualty and the over all inestimable tragedy of the Civil War.

  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/03/us/texas-provisional-ballot-appeal.html (paywall–search ‘Crystal Mason 2016’ for other sources or use incognito mode)

    Here we have a person facing new charges for voting while a felon under probation for tax fraud.

    1. Provisional ballots are a relatively new law allowing a vote to be accepted permitting later verification. I’ve seen a lot around the point that her ballot wasn’t counted and she’s still being charged. It’s irrelevant, she broke the law regardless and ignorance is no excuse. Maybe she can claim it’s like Hunter Biden lying on his form 4473 so that he would pass the background check.

    2. I can see logic in the “don’t prejudice the jury” argument that details of the prior conviction are not relevant to future legal proceedings, but I had to dig through half a dozen news articles before finally finding an appeals court filling that explains what one must do before being jailed for three years for tax fraud. In short, she ran a filling service employing several others complicit in completing nearly 800 returns claiming fraudulent deductions totalling around four million dollars loss to the government. Is not this detail still relevant to readers of the news articles?

    3. The linked article concludes with appeals to emotion around the gender and demographics of the accused. Journalist’s must really want Lady Justice’s blindfold to slip.

  6. Given Joe Biden’s obvious incapacity, when are the Dems and Nancy Pelosi going to have him removed? Is it really safe for our adversaries to know the United States is headed by an incompetent?

    • They’ll have to find a way around the Kamala problem. I’ve read more than one article – and not by Fox News – about the Democrats’ fretting about VP Harris being profoundly unpopular. That plan to replace Biden after a few months with Harris probably needs to be revised.

      I once joked about Harris tripping Biden in front of a Biden, but it may be that a bus accident is in her future.

      • “I once joked about Harris tripping Biden in front of a Biden, but it may be that a bus accident is in her future.”

        Overheard some chatter on the subject and the consensus was to bring Billary in to work out the details.

      • Harris will have a better chance in 2024 if she’s an incumbent, unless she completely screws up, which is a distinct possibility. I don’t think she can win in 2024 running as the VP, even against Trump.

    • What enemies? Everyone knows that the only threat we face are those white supremacists and Republicans. Even if Biden were incapable, which he isn’t you agist, the FBI has asked for families, friends, and coworkers to report on anyone who is a possible terrorist. We’ll be safe. After all, Russia was only a problem with Trump, China is totally harmless, etc.

      I’m being sarcastic, just in case that wasn’t obvious.

      • Frankly, I think we’d be better off with Harris than Joe. She may be a nitwit and an insufferable jerk, but at least she’s lucid. She must have some amount of judgement and self-awareness, neither of which are currently present in Joe. He’s absolutely a wreck of a human being. What Ron Klain and Dr. Jill Biden and the rest of them are doing to him is elder abuse. It really is “Weekend at Bernie’s Goes to Washington.” The man is PATHETIC and no one’s saying anything about it at all. Mum’s the word. Just three and a half more years of this and everything will be fine.

  7. I guess I’ll have to give Grant’s memoirs another chance. I never got past the first half dozen chapters. I found no greater sleeping pill during my time in the army than to try to plod through his memoir — and we had field manuals available to read also…downright riveting compared to what I recall of Grant’s memoir.

    That is no knock on his life.

  8. I don’t know if Grant was any tactical genius. He had numbers on his side, while numbers inherently didn’t mean anything given the CSA army’s constant out maneuvering of the US forces. His performance at Shiloh left much to be desired.

    No, his genius was in realizing that the the overwhelming numbers he possessed allowed him to eliminate the only advantage the South ever enjoyed – freedom of maneuver. He didn’t need to out maneuver Lee in any bold way but rather avoid allowing Lee to do the same while playing a game of small moves.

    Before Grant, Lee’s victories inevitably came because Union commanders plodded along (not necessarily inappropriately) in a manner that surrendered initiative to Lee so Lee could consistently attack in unexpected locations.

    Grant eliminated this advantage by doing the one thing his numbers allowed him to do – stay in contact with Lee’s army. He didn’t have to win victories, he just had to keep Lee from performing decisive maneuvers. He just had to stay in contact. Staying in contact kept Lee from doing anything bold, unexpected, and crushing. Inevitably, this simultaneously bled the South dry AND allowed Grant to simply wait until openings were available to either move towards Richmond or move on tactical weak points.

    • Reminiscent of the Russians in “War and Peace” simply staying in contact with the retreating Napoleonic forces and letting them starve rather than attacking them.

    • I remember reading about after the Wilderness battle, which was a dreadful affair and not a Union victory, to be sure. The U.S. army came to a fork in the road — all their previous generals had, in similar situations, retired from the field and went back to base to regroup. Grant had them march south, towards inevitably more battles and bloodshed and it raised morale immensely. Grant had that rare (at least amongst Union generals) stick-to-it-ness ability which was what was desperately needed at that point.

      One of Grant’s quotes — “I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.” Of course he then spotted an opportunity to gain a march on Lee, and took it to break away cleanly to come up to Petersburg. Sadly the underlying command inability of the Army of the Potomac reared its head, denying Grant the chance to end the war in the summer of 1864.

      Grant knew — his troops knew — that the Union was bound to win if it just pressed the matter. They also knew that doing so would certainly kill a whole slew of them — and they still volunteered to finish the job.

      I do think Grant deserves the accolades for his military leadership. The concept may have been simple, but (Clauzwitz) the simplest things in war are very hard. He is denigrated much like Eisenhower, who I think also deserved his awards.

  9. Apropos of nothing ethical but I watched some of the Tokyo opening ceremony last night. The athletes looked like they were having fun and the crowd was happy. Those 1800 drones were pretty phenomenal, only then to be underwhelmed by a pointless rendition of one of the dumbest songs John Lennon ever wrote*. I turned it off at that point.


    *Ed. Note: “Attica” was truly abysmal but we haven’t been punished with that nonsense too much, so at least there’s that . . .

    • Oooh, great parlor game! John Lennon’s dumbest songs! Last night’s ditty, “Imagine,” has to win in a walk, but “Give Peace a Chance” is a contender, as is “Oh Yoko” and “Revolution #9,” if you can call it a song. John needed someone trustworthy to stand next to him and say, “Uh, NO, John. No.”

      • I will forgive “Oh, Yoko” and “Revolution No. 9” as the former is simply a love letter and most love letters are pretty awful, and the latter is studio experimentation, which is simply ok with me, especially considering that “The White Album” has some great music and cutting edge stuff on it. “Helter Skelter” was punk before punk knew how to be punk.


        • John, do NOT give Jack a chance to start in on “Imagine.”

          It’s like those annoying bumper stickers that say “Co-Exist.” Israelis are supposed to co-exist with Iranians who want to literally wipe Israel off the map and push the Israelis into the Mediterranean? We’re supposed to co-exist with a foreign government that declares “Death to America” on a regular basis? There’s a plan worth implementing. That and “Humanitarianism is not a crime.” But aiding and abetting people breaking U.S. laws to enter the country is. Assholes all.

      • I think the need Lennon and McCartney had for each other went both ways. McCartney’s post break up output is pretty miserable. “Band on the Run”? Schlock.

        • Schlock, but never pretentious schlock that pretended to be profound while having the intellectual depth of a urine puddle. Paul could always write catchy tunes. That’s a gift.

  10. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.deseret.com/platform/amp/utah/2021/7/21/22587068/why-salt-lake-city-leaders-declared-racism-a-public-health-crisis-mendenhall-utah-covid-19-systemic

    I looked up “Salt Lake City demographics”
    According to the quick search Salt Lake City is over 70% white and 22% Hispanic. Can you have a “public health crisis” when over 70% of the people is of one ethnicity? At best it shouldn’t be called a “crisis”. According to FBI, there was 1 hate crime in Salt Lake City in 2017.

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