Encore: “How Did I Not Know This About D-Day?”

navy-memorial-normandy

On Veteran’s Day two years ago, I posted this after being stunned by learning new details about the June 6, 1944 invasion of Normandy. Since that time I have been on the lookout for attempts to publicize and inform the public about a crucial aspect of battle for Omaha Beach that have been completely ignored in most media accounts. There have not been many. So it seems like a good idea this June 6 to post the story again.

***

After all these many years of reading about and watching movies and TV shows about D-Day, June 6, 1944,  I discovered how the US Navy saved the invasion and maybe the world only yesterday, thanks to stumbling upon a 2009 documentary on the Smithsonian channel.

If you recall the way the story is told in “The Longest Day” and other accounts, US troops were pinned down by horrific fire from the German defenses on Omaha beach until Gen. Norman Cota (Robert Mitchum in the movie) rallied them to move forward, and by persistence his infantry troops ultimately broke through. Yet it was US destroyers off shore that turned the tide of the battle at Omaha, an element that isn’t shown in “The Longest Day” at all.

Though it was not part of the plan, the captains of the Navy destroyers decided to come in to within 800 yards of the beach and use their big guns at (for them) point blank range to pound the German artillery, machine gun nests and sharpshooters. The barrage essentially wiped them out, allowing Cota’s troops to get up and over without being slaughtered. I’ve never seen that explained or depicted in any film, and according to the Smithsonian’s video, apparently was part of the story that had been inexplicably neglected. No monument to the US Navy commemorating its contributions on 6/6/44 was erected at Normandy until 2009.

Here’s the relevant part of account from the  Naval History website on “Operation Neptune,” the Navy counterpart to Operation Overlord:

Continue reading

TGIF Open Forum!

Pointing at the sky

Well, I’m thankful it’s Friday, at least: what an awful week, culminating in an inexplicably sleepless night. Oh—that’s two out of the three things I’ve received reader complaints about in the last few days—yes, EA has a complaint desk: my occasional use of CAPS, bolding and italics for tone and emphasis, and the inclusion of “personal stuff.” The third is that I reply to comments too much, or so some critics think.

Now, hoping to prompt a complaint that I shouldn’t taint the purity of an open forum by mentioning a topic, I’ll point out this, since I’m going back to bed and may not be in any shape to get back here for a long time: today’s headlines about the U.S. government finally admitting that it has no idea what a lot of the UFOs are is infuriating. THAT’s something that Congress should investigate; not the potential flying saucers themselves, but how the policy of lying to the public about them, calling them swamp gas, domestic aircraft and hallucinations and generally gaslighting the American people, was allowed to continue for decades. Who approved that? Who allowed it to continue? What news organizations assisted in the cover-up? Is there any wonder that the public doesn’t trust our institutions, and that conspiracy theories abound? This was a conspiracy, one that the military and every President from Ike to Trump—that’s twelve!— allowed to continue. Give Joe some credit on this one.

Now feel free to ignore me , and write about the ethics issues you want to.

And if I decide to comment on it, I will.

Memorial Day Ethics Warm-Up, 5/31/2021…

It will be interesting to see if the news media discusses the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 any more this May 31 than it has in the past. Discussing this horrible mass murder of blacks in Oklahoma over Memorial Day weekend has always been seen as sufficiently tasteless that the story has suffered the equivalent of a historical airbrushing. When did you first learn about it? I didn’t encounter the episode in elementary school, high school, college or law school. I was 50, and furiously researching the life of Clarence Darrow so I could churn out a one man show (that was already in rehearsal) after Leslie Nielsen pulled the rights we had paid for on the Darrow show performed on Broadway by Henry Fonda. I was looking for the context of Darrow’s epic closing argument in the Sweet case (1925), in which he referenced examples of white mob violence against blacks. That was my introduction to the tragedy. How was this possible? I was and am a voracious consumer of American history, movies, and television. Yet the facts of the Tulsa Race Massacre never entered my consciousness.

Here’s one useful resource…there are many others available online. A brief summary: After World War I, Tulsa’s African American community was notable for its affluence. The Greenwood District was known as “Black Wall Street.” But on May 30, 1921, an incident between a white woman and a black man on an elevator—nobody knows exactly what happened—was reported in the Tulsa newspapers as an attempted rape. The young African-American, Dick Rowland, had been arrested, and members of the community believed that he might be lynched. When an angry white mob gathered in front of the courthouse, a group of over 70 back men, some of them World War I veterans with weapons, confronted them. A gun went off in a struggled, and chaos descended on Greenwood. A white mob of thousands overran the Greenwood District, shooting unarmed black citizens in the streets. It burned an area of some 35 city blocks, and more than 1,200 houses, numerous businesses, a school, a hospital and a dozen churches. It is estimated that 300 people were killed in the rampage, though official counts at the time were much lower. 300 is the same death toll as the 1871 Chicago fire. I knew about that tragedy by the time I was 8.

1. IIPTDXTTNMIAFB! That’s short for “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden…”, introduced here. The current example: during a speech at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Langley,Virginia two days ago, President Biden began spontaneously complimenting a pre-teen girl who had joined her parents and two older brothers on the stage after her mother had introduced Biden to the crowd. Biden said, inappropriately and creepily, “ I love those barrettes in your hair, man. I tell you what, look at her. She looks like she’s 19 years old sitting there like a little lady with her legs crossed.” Republicans pounced, as the MSM cliche goes whenever Democrats are legitimately criticized. The episode was barely mentioned by the media dedicated to propping up Biden—that is, almost all of it—at all. IIPTDXTTNMIAFB…and President Trump didn’t even have a photographically preserved series of encounters like this:

Creepy-Joe-Biden-President

2. AHHHH! It’s a virus ! Get a gun!!! The headline on the front page of the NYT website yesterday read, “Pandemic Fuels Surge in U.S. Gun Sales ‘Unlike Anything We’ve Ever Seen.'” Incredible. People bought guns for the first time because rioting was going on all over the country, and in many places the police were doing little or nothing to stop it. Buildings were burning and being looted; citizens were being threatened. Who gets a gun to fight a pandemic? (There was never any threat of the kind of civic breakdown from the virus like that portrayed in the movie “Contagion.” Toilet paper riots?)

The degree to which the Times—the “paper of record’!—continues to distort reality to mislead the public and warp public opinion is astounding. Later in the same article, the Times said, “While gun sales have been climbing for decades — they often spike in election years and after high-profile crimes — Americans have been on an unusual, prolonged buying spree fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, the protests last summer and the fears they both stoked.”

Continue reading

Ethics Nightcap, 5/12/2021: More Cheney Fallout, An Influencer Drops Her Mask, And The Generals Just Wrote Us A Letter…

1. Speaking of fitness: Once again flaunting his flat learning curve, Donald Trump thought it was necessary to say “Nyah nyah nyah!” to Liz Cheney after she was stripped of her GOP leadership post in the House. He wrote, “Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being I watched her yesterday and realized how bad she is for the Republican Party. She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our country. She is a warmonger whose family stupidly pushed us into the never-ending Middle East disaster, draining our wealth and depleting our great military, the worst decision in our country’s history. I look forward to soon watching her as a paid contributor on CNN or MSDNC!”

Surprisingly, he didn’t call her homely or say she smelled bad.

I can think of no previous ex-President who would engage in such public taunting. It serves no purpose, other than pettiness, and appeals only to others with similar infantile instincts. It’s unpresidential, unstatesmanlike, and ugly. Moreover, what Cheney’s family has done is only relevant to those with dubious logic skills.

2. Another “social influencer” shows she’s unworthy of influencing anybody. Rachel Hollis is another one of those social media-created mutants, a woman of no special talent or expertise who blundered into wealth because so many Americans are searching for a guru in this age of declining religion and online hucksters. A high-school grad, Hollis became a social media star in March 2015, when an Instagram photo of her celebrating her stretch marks went viral with more than ten million views. She capitalized on that with a motivational book called “Girl, Wash Your Face,” celebrating female self-reliance. It was a best-seller, and she built on that with a YouTube channel containing motivational videos.

As in a Greek tragedy, she has been brought down by hubris. She really began to believe she was special. In truth, social influencers are just today’s televangelists.

Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/25/21: “Genocide,” Crisis” And “Honeymoon”

John-Tenniel-Humpty-Dumpty

The good news is that I’m back at the keyboard, though at a ridiculous hour. The bad news is that I’m here because I’m out of pain-killers, and my mouth is killing me. [UPDATE: I started this post at 3 am, couldn’t continue, and now it’s after noon. I’m clearly a weenie. I’m pretty sure my father endured worse pain than I am dealing with all through his life and repeatedly after his foot got blown up in the war, and he never complained once…]

Yesterday marks a great moment in ethics, and my plan was to mention it on time. On that date, April 24 in 1863, Francis Lieber, a Prussian immigrant whose three sons served in the Civil War, created what became General Orders No. 100. Reflecting his many writings on the topic, it was a code of conduct for Federal soldiers and officers when dealing with Confederate prisoners and civilians. The code was subsequently borrowed or adapted by many European nations, including influencing the Geneva Convention. Unique when it was written, Lieber’s code was the product of a committee of four generals and Lieber, who were tasked by Union General Halleck to draft rules of ethical combat. The the 157 articles established regulations and standards for the treatment of prisoners, exchanges, flags of truce, and much more. The document was written almost entirely by Lieber, and there was nothing like it.

1. President Biden does the ethical thing that President after President didn’t have the guts to do…He finally authorized referring to the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian genocide as “genocide.”

Good. Any President since 1916 (that’s Woodrow Wilson through Trump) could have made official the historical reality, but keeping our Turkish allies happy by enabling their long denial was deemed more pragmatic. Of course what the Ottoman Empire did to its Armenians was genocide. An estimated 800,000 to 1.2 million Armenian men, women, children, elderly and ill Armenians were marched to the Syrian desert in 1915 and 1916, with many thousands killed on the way. There they were placed in concentration camps. After another wave of massacres in 1916, only 200,000 of those deported survived. Many of these were forcibly converted to Islam and integrated into Muslim households. Still more massacres and ethnic cleansings of Armenian survivors were carried out by the Turkish nationalist movement after World War I. Naturally, the Armenians’ property was confiscated in the process. The genocide reduced the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire by an estimated 90%

2. And yet, ironically, the same administration refuses to use the word “crisis” to describe the current illegal immigration mess at the Mexican border, a crisis entirely created by Biden’s implicit invitation to aliens to break our laws and eventually benefit from doing so. Thus Politico, part of the Left’s propaganda and disinformation apparatus, sent out a memo to staff telling them not to use the term “crisis,” and to “avoid referring to the present situation as a crisis, although we may quote others using that language while providing context. While the sharp increase in the arrival of unaccompanied minors is a problem for border officials, a political challenge for the Biden administration and a dire situation for many migrants who make the journey, it does not fit the dictionary definition of a crisis. If using the word ‘crisis,’ we need to ask of what and to whom.”

The situation indeed fits the dictionary definition of “crisis.” Politico also doesn’t seem to be troubled at all that it and every other news source referred to a similar but far less massive wave of children showing up at the border when Trump was President as a “crisis.”

Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/17/2021: No Good, Good, Good, No Good, and Good

Some baseball ethics notes in italics, since a lot of you don’t care:

  • The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) issued Major League Baseball an overall grade of C+ , with a B+ for racial hiring and a C for gender hiring. (There was nothing about competency and qualifications hiring, for some reason.) The report also praised MLB’s decision to pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta, proving that the organization is a partisan political group using “diversity” as a prop. Baseball should pay no attention to TIDES whatsoever. It is the Southern Poverty Law Center of sports.
  • There was a wonderful example of why baseball needs robo-umps in Wednesday’s game between the Red Sox and the Twins in Minneapolis. At a critical moment in a tie game with the bases loaded for the Twins, Sox pitcher Matt Andriese struck out the last Twins batter for out number three, ending the threat. The umpire, however, said the ball had been fouled into the dirt before bouncing into the Boston catcher’s mitt. The video showed that the bat had missed the ball by several inches, and no foul had occurred. When Red Sox manager Alex Cora came out to protest, the home plate umpire, also the crew chief said, “There’s no way I’ll be over-ruled on that call.” What he apparently meant was that the other three umpires would back him up even though he was obviously wrong, and after briefly caucusing, that’s what they did. Cora was thrown out of the game. Luckily for the umpires, Andriese struck the batter out with next pitch, so the mistake and cover-up didn’t matter. Moral luck!
  • Also Twins related: Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons issued an articulate tweet about why he was declining to be vaccinated like his teammates, after considering the risks. He tested positive 24 hours later. Also moral luck!

1. NOW you’re telling us???. At 6:57 pm on April 15, I stumbled across this:

Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Delights, 4/6/2021:

The U.S. entered The Great War on this date in 1917, surely among the most disastrous decisions the nation has ever made. Unfortunately, almost all of the debate over whether we “should” have gotten involved in the seemingly pointless quarrel among the European powers is polluted by hindsight bias, consequentialism, and a disregard for moral luck. Yes, it’s true that The Great War led to a far worse one, and that Germany winning what became World War I probably would have kept Adolf Hitler painting houses. But that’s cheating: we can only assess the legitimacy of the U.S. entering the war on the basis of what was known at the time.

1. Baseball uniform ethics. Oh yeah, this makes a lot of sense. The Boston Red Sox uniforms have been red, white and blue for almost a century—perfect for the team’s annual Patriot’s Day game, which occurs in the morning so the crowd can watch the end of the Boston Marathon. Only Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut celebrate Patriot’s Day, when Paul Revere (and his two friend) rode to warn the Boston suburbs that the British were coming in 1775.

Well, Nike is now pulling baseball’s strings (there is evidence that the company that employs Colin Kaepernick as a spokesperson helped push MLB into punishing Atlanta for Joe Biden’s made-up racist voting law claims), and part of its deal with the sport is that it will design new uniforms for many of the teams. Here are the uniforms the company thinks the Boston Red Sox should wear to celebrate Patriots Day, since those old colors just reflect the flag of the racist nation founded on the backs of slaves:

They look like eggs.

And of course, no red socks.

2. The rest of the story! Remember this post, about San Francisco’s lunatic school board declaring that one-third of the city’s school names, including those honoring Washington, Jefferson,  Lincoln, James Madison and both Roosevelts , Presidents Monroe, McKinley, Herbert Hoover and James Garfield; John Muir, the naturalist and author; James Russell Lowell, abolitionist poet and editor; Paul Revere,  Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,  Daniel Webster, and current California Senator and former city mayor Diane Feinstein must be replaced so as not to honor individuals who were, in the words of an over-acting character in “The Birds”,

Rendering the equivalent of Tippy Hedren’s slap to these idiots has been, well, just about everybody, from historians, scholars, parents, anyone with an IQ above freezing, and even San Francisco’s reliably woke mayor. Implementing the re-naming was also expected to embroil the city in litigation. So now, the school board, after pausing its grand cancellation project, is expected to overturn its decision after wasting a lot of time and money, and making the city appear even more absurd than it usually does, which is quite an achievement.

You would think that someone on the school board would have been sufficiently smart, competent, responsible grounded in reality to predict the fate of such a mass historical airbrushing. Nope!

This isn’t called The Great Stupid for nothing, you know.

Continue reading

Ethics Exclamation Points, 3/16/21: Duh! Whoa! Yay! Gag! Asshole!

1 Duh! The competition for most incompetent host on CNN continues to be neck and neck, with Chris Cuomo, Brian Stelter and Don Lemon threatening a photo finish. Lemon rounded the turn and made up some ground by visiting “The View” (Lemon coming to the idiot-infested ABC uninformed opinion fest is the very definition of “carrying coals to Newcastle”) and, when asked to respond to the Vatican’s announcement that Roman Catholic priests cannot extend a sacramental blessing to same-sex unions, set a new high for egomania and presumptuousness. Lemon answered in part,

“I think that the Catholic Church and many other churches really need to reexamine themselves and their teachings because that is not what God is about. God is not about hindering people or even judging people… do what the Bible and what Jesus actually said, if you believe in Jesus, and that is to love your fellow man and judge not lest ye be not judged.”

Gee, thanks Don for answering the question that theologians have been debating for centuries: “What is God about?” And nice mangling of that quote, though even if you got it right, it still doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make judgments about people. The New Testament passage carrying that message (Matthew 7:1) holds the we should be prepared to be judged by the same standards we use to judge others. In several other places the Bible specifically instructs us to “judge,” and God repeatedly reserves the right to judge human beings, so to say He “isn’t about judging” is an eccentric interpretation at best. Meanwhile, the Ten Commandments, like all laws, are about “hindering people.” Lemon isn’t competent to discuss politics; who cares what he thinks about theology?

Continue reading

The U.S. Military Defends The Nation Against…TUCKER CARLSON???

Carlson Military

Last week, Fox News rock star Tucker Carlson launched into criticism of the U.S. military for, in his terms, prioritizing “diversity” over its mission. He said in part,

“So we’ve got new hairstyles and new maternity flight suits, pregnant women are going to fight our wars.It’s a mockery of the U.S. military. While China’s military becomes more masculine as it assembles the world’s largest Navy, our military needs to become more feminine, whatever feminine means anymore because men and women no longer exist. The bottom line is it’s out of control. And the Pentagon’s going along with this. This is a mockery of the U.S. Military and its core mission which is winning wars.”

The ethical issue here does not require debating Carlson’s point, but for the record, the mission is what matters, not who performs it or what group they “identify” with. If the nation would be best defended by an all-female armed forces, then all-female armed forces is what we should have. If all-trans would do the trick, great; I’m on board. If clinical schizophrenics were found to be the best soldiers, draft them all, I say, and make sanity a disqualifying feature for volunteers. Prioritizing demographics over efficiency and effectiveness is incompetent and irresponsible, and while the U.S. can survive incompetence in all other aspects of our government, and does, we cannot tolerate it in the military.

But I digress. The ethical issue here is that someone at the Pentagon (or <cough> elsewhere) told the military to attack Carlson, a civilian commentator giving his opinion, for his criticism.

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/24/2021: The Sarcasm Edition

First appearance in 2021 of my favorite Ethics Warm-Up intro. Maybe that’s why 2021 ethics has gotten off to such a rotten start…

In addition to its significance in the siege of the Alamo, yesterday’s date of February 24 has other important ethics markers, perhaps some more important than Travis’s iconic letter. Perhaps the most impact on U.S. history was this date in 1803, when Chief Justice John Marshall (no relation that has been shown to my satisfaction) handed down the landmark decision in William Marbury v. James Madison, Secretary of State of the United States, establishing the legal principle of judicial revie. That’s what gives the Supreme Court the authority to limit Congressional power by declaring legislation unconstitutional. I doubt very much that the United States would still exist as a free republic had not that case been decided as it was, yet the result was probably dictated more by partisan politics than philosophy.

Marshall, in his majority opinion, declared that acts of Congress in conflict with the Constitution are not valid law and therefore are non-binding on the courts, and that the judiciary’s first responsibility is always to uphold the Constitution. And if two laws conflict, Marshall wrote, SCOTUS has the responsibility of deciding which law applies in any given case. Periodically members of Congress, pundits and even academics have criticized the decision, but there can be little doubt that had Marshall not led the Court to make this stand, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would have been quickly shredded.

This is particularly relevant now, when the Democrats in Congress have signaled that they want government authorities to decree what is factual and what is “disinformation,” while they also seek to weaken Second Amendment rights. Incidentally, there is a prominent statue of Marshall at the Supreme Court, and a recast in John Marshall Park, near Judiciary Square, also in D.C. Another recast is in Philadelphia. Marshall owned hundreds of slaves, which is entirely irrelevant to his essential influence on our government and values. Clearly, many, perhaps most, of the college students in the U.S. would prefer that a non-slave owner had headed the Court, even if it resulted in a nation that slipped into allowing the virtual slavery of all citizens to a national government that “knew what was best.”

1. Oh, sure. Why not? We all know that committees are so effective at leadership. A letter signed by three dozen House Democrats urge Joe Biden to relinquish full control over the country’s nuclear weapons in favor of a committee of legislators. “…Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks,” states the letter, inspired by Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California. “Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president’s judgment.While any president would presumably consult with advisors before ordering a nuclear attack, there is no requirement to do so,” the letter adds. “The military is obligated to carry out the order if they assess it is legal under the laws of war. Under the current posture of U.S. nuclear forces, that attack would happen in minutes.”

Continue reading