Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Austrian Painter's 75th Birthday: What are the Yanks up to?

So let's say the Great War never happens, or more precisely Germany knocks out France in 1914 and Russia in 1915. We flash forward to our protagonist's 75th birthday in 1964. What's the United States been doing this whole time?

There is still a war with Japan at some point. It was inevitable. Perhaps that war is closer to Hector Bywater's The Pacific War, a piece of Clancyesque alternate history written in the 20's.  Does this Pacific War go to the hilt? Or is it a series of wars that flair up every decade?

With no Great War there's no Isolationist reaction, but America probably still sees little reason to get involved in Europe.

Domestically in this 1964 we'll still see social change. Technology is still marching on. A woman's kitchen has been overtaken by gadgets and she's probably wondering why be at home. The Civil Rights movement is still in full swing. Still, there's no 1960's as we think of our own.

There's also no Cold War. That means no space race. We don't think we've seen the invention of atomic weapons yet.

One of the questions we've been dealing with is the Great Depression. Does it still happen? Roughly, we can say that mechanization will occur, leading to a drop in farm prices leading to a farm crisis. Stocks are still being bought on margin. There will most definitely be some sort of economic calamity, but will it be closer to 2008 than 1929? All lot of other things had to go wrong for the Crash of '29 to turn into the Great Depression.

Overall, in The Austrian Painter's world the United States is still very inward looking and lacks the post war dynamism that exited in our own 1964.

The Trumped up Budget

This is not a political blog.

Even so we are interested in some of the political maneuverings and goings on over the Federal Budget. We believe President Trump has outsmarted the Dems.

Here's how.

In the budget Trump eliminates funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, Public Broadcasting Systems, National Public Radio, and of course Planned Parenthood.

These are boutique agencies that most people couldn't care less about, but which feed the liberal's soul. Already I see my liberal friends posting articles and cartoons about the NEA or PBS and adorning their profile picks to I LOVE NPR buttons.

So they're going to fight tooth and nail over All Things Considered rather than defense spending.

This will use up precious bandwidth and further alienate Dems from the rest of the country. Trump even framed the question right, why should we make a coal miner pay for Masterpiece Theater? We have 500 TV channels. No one cares about Big Bird.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday Tally

Douglas MacArthur Edition

General MacArthur's top five deeds and acts:

1-Going on the Offensive: Rather than sit back and defend, MacArthur decided to fight for Australia in New Guinea.
2-The New Guinea Campaign: After the bloodbath at Buna, which I should note gets mention in A March Through Hell, MacArthur realized that the best way to fight the Japs was to bypass their strongholds. In A March Through Hell, Sgt. Sam Sparta has a lot of choice words for 'that son-of-bitch, MacArthur.
3- Liberating the Philippines: To hell with his ego. MacArthur was absolutely right. By going to the Philippines America showed Asians that we would fight and stick. He liberated thousands of POWs and millions of people who had been under America's sovereignty.
4- The Reconstruction of Japan: MacArthur rebuilt the country without alienating the populace and turned it into an American ally. He handled the situation with the emperor perfectly.
5-Inchon: Rather obvious, but still, he executed an amphibious landing far to the north of the front and virtually destroyed the North Korean Army.

*MacArthur was no HQ general. He visited the front often. Heck, in the Meuse-Argonne he went forward to find out what was wrong with his own 42 Division's advance only to be 'captured' by a patrol from the 1st Division, which mistook MacArthur for a Kraut.


General Douglas MacArthur is a subject we've written about before. We are extremely critical of his actions in the Philippines. His conduct of the rest of the war is exemplary, though.

On a whim yesterday I watched MacArthur, the 1977 film staring Gregory Peck. I'd not seen it in something like 30 years.

This was Universal's answer to Patton, a movie we once loved (in 1992, when we played Captain Bracket in South Pacific, we modeled our monologue on Patton's),but have trashed in this space.  As a drama and historical document MacArthur is a better film.

MacArthur is no hagiography. This movie pulls no punches and is at times very critical of MacArthur, showing his ego and his obsession with the press. His speech upon landing at Leyte is melodramatic in the extreme and we found it hard to watch.

That said MacArthur's words and actions during the surrender ceremony were perfect and well portrayed in this film. The general is also given credit for bypassing Japanese strongholds and avoiding casualties.

A note on the specs. They filmed MacArthur in technicolor using Panavision camera lenses. The effect is sooooo 1970's. It almost looks like an extended episode of Black Sheep Squadron. I found the intro scene on Corregidor utterly convincing. This too is true also when MacArthur tours a liberated prison camp. In another scene MacArthur reunites with General Wainwright and it is heartbreaking.

The film also does an excellent job showing MacArthur's reconstruction of Japan, a supreme act of statesmanship for which he does not get enough credit.

While one can't quite forget that one is watching Gregory Peck, he does give a fine performance of the man, capturing perfectly his ego and most importantly his mysticism. Peck does bear a striking resemblance to MacArthur.

If one is curious about the man and his campaigns, MacArthur is a good place to start.

Blessed Are the Editors

My editor(PBUH)  just took her Special Needs Educational Praxis test, you know for autistic and or emotionally disturbed students. She thanked me for giving her all that prep.

This was her recommended action plan for myself:

So upon conducting a functional behavioral assessment on you, I have concluded that the function of your bizarre behavior is attention seeking. So when I write up a Behavior Intervention Plan for you I need to replace that behavior with one that serves the same function. Maybe I could let you hand out the crayons before class ( only if you promise not to eat them) then every time you raise your hand and ask for help appropriately you get a reward. Therefore the target behavior is made extinct and the replacement behavior is positively reinforced.
This clip very much describes our relationship. After all, she is a limey:

Just this week she told me that she had a dream about me. She began:
I had this weird dream last night that I...
I'm thinking, 'Oh yeah....' But sadly, no:
...visited you in a psyche hospital. Before the nurse showed me the room you were in she said "Remember he is going to tell you that he is normal and that he does not need to be here, but they all say that so don't let him suck you in!
Damn it.

My editor says don't feel bad for her. After all she gets to go home. Now Mrs. Stroock on the other hand....

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sliding off the Dem's Bench

We're at the end, I think, of the Democrat Party bench. No, I take that back, we've slid off the end and we're looking at what's left of the Dem's bench. We'll do a quick rundown.

Senator Corey Booker: Former mayor of Newark. I can't say what he actually did for or to Newark. He seems like a fine human. I think I voted for him when he ran in 2014. Or was it 2012? I dunno.

Senator Elizabeth Warren: Me white man, trade big wampum! Ahhhhhhahahahahah. Yeah, she's Native American alright, 1/32 if that. Privileged white woman and cultural appropriator. President Trump said yesterday that he hopes Senator Dances with Lies is the nominee in 2020. So do I.

Chairman Tom Perez: Former Sec of Labor and current head of the DNC. At least its not the Islamist Keith Ellison (D, Riyadh). I don't know what Perez ads except the Dems being able to check the Latino/Chicano box.

Hillary! Redux: No, not really. Syphilis, Parkinson's, alcoholism, or it might just be a bad slip and fall in the bathroom...I don't know what'll get her, but Hillary! will be dead by 2020. I'm serious.

The Austrian Painter's 75th Birthday: The World of 1964

So in the Austrian Painter's world Germany defeated France in 1914 and Russia in 1916. There has been no Great War as we think of it.

What else is missing?

No communist Revolution, no Nazis. No World War Two. No Cold War. No atom bombs. No space race. Britain is not bankrupted by two world wars.

At the heart of Europe stands the German Reich. She is rich and powerful. Culturally der Fatherland is a bit of a brute and showoff. But Germany is an economic powerhouse and a center of science and learning. She gets on well enough with Britain for they have the same concern, Russia. To that end Germany is the head of an alliance of Eastern European states against Russia. The number two nation in this alliance is Poland, followed by Romania and Hungary. It should be noted that the rump Austrian state has been absorbed into the Reich. Germany has a vast African empire centered on Congo, taken from Belgium as par the 1914 settlement. Its Syrian-Lebanon colony is a favorite vacation spot.

France is an economic basket-case which for the last four decades has been run by a series of despots each claiming to be the next Napoleon.  She has lost a series of colonial engagements from Asia to Africa and is something of a laughing stock on the continent.

The British Empire is strong though a bit slow and stodgy. By act of parliament India was granted dominion status in 1950.

Russia is a dictatorship with a rump parliament and still decades behind Europe. The Germans roughed her up in the Great Eastern War.

America has little interest in Europe and is focused entirely on the Pacific. As Germany commemorates the 50th anniversary of its victory in 1914, America commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Pacific War. Japan mourns.