American Elephants


Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, R.I.P. by The Elephant's Child

James Bond and his ilk were not entirely derived from fantasy.  There were examples of the type in real life, and one of those was Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor who died at the age of 96 this last week. As a young man, after being expelled from Kings College, Canterbury for holding hands with a greengrocer’s daughter, he walked through pre-war Hungary and Romania. It was his war record that made him the stuff of legend.

In 1940, when he was twenty-five, he was commissioned into the Brigade of Guards, and then because of his knowledge of Greek, he transferred into SOS, the Special Operations Service.  He took part in the British fighting and withdrawal from Greece and Crete, but then set about organizing the resistance in Crete to the German occupation. He turned out to be a natural commando, and could pose as a Cretan as he spoke the language.

His unforgettable exploit was the kidnapping of the Nazi commanding officer in Crete, General Kreipe. Leigh Fermor and Stanley Moss, another young Guards officer, disguised themselves as German corporals, stopped the General’s car, dealt with the driver, stowed the General under the back seat with several members of the resistance on top.  They drove through some 20 roadblocks and frog-marched the General across the island to a waiting British submarine.

Stanley Moss wrote up the whole episode in Ill Met by Moonlight after the war based  on his own wartime diary. It’s one of the classics of war. Leigh Fermor is the one in the center of the three seated men, and Stanley Moss is just to the right.

Paul Rahe, who was a friend, has a memoir with more pictures  and a clip from the movie by the same name at Ricochet.  Ill Met By Moonlight is a great read, particularly if you are a history buff. Parachuting into Nazi occupied Crete is the stuff of today’s thrillers, as it was really lived in 1944.



How America Grew: An Animated Atlas of the Growth of a Nation by The Elephant's Child

Here’s a great lesson in geography and history.  Our students are graduating from school without much knowledge of their own country and no sense of the big picture of how our nation developed.

History ought to be fascinating and fun. I can’t say that any of my teachers made it so.  I remember a college professor whose idea of drumming history into young heads was Saturday morning 8 o’clock snap quizzes where you were supposed to list what happened from, say 1874 to 1883.  Dates were the important knowledge, but we had no sense of a framework into which to enter the dates.  I suspect he turned out no future historians.

I still remember, hazily, a fourth grade textbook called Pilots and Pathfinders about the world’s great explorers and adventure. Just the right thing for 4th grade. Explore this version, and if you like it, you can buy a more elaborate version for your student.



The Strange Death-Wish of the American Mainstream Media. by The Elephant's Child

There’s a lot going on in the world: we’re at war in Libya; China is about to launch its first aircraft carrier; hearings are beginning in the House on allegations that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms knowingly allowed criminal suspects to purchase weapons and smuggle them into Mexico for Mexican drug cartels; a nuclear expert from RAND has calculated that within two months Iran will have enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture a nuclear weapon; and the EPA is attempting to destroy the coal industry.

So Friday, when a trove of more than 13,000 emails detailing almost every aspect of Sarah Palin’s governorship of Alaska were released.  The mainstream media, including everyone from Mother Jones to Britain’s left-leaning Guardian, claim that they just don’t have enough reporters to go through them all and  have asked unknown citizen activists to go through them playing “gotcha,” to find something scandalous. One of the more reprehensible acts by the mainstream media in living memory.

Toby Harnden is the US Editor, based in Washington, for the British Daily Telegraph.  He suggests that the email frenzy is backfiring on her media antagonists:

The trove of more than 13,000 emails detailing almost every aspect of Sarah Palin’s governorship of Alaska, released late on Friday, paints a picture of her as an idealistic, conscientious, humorous and humane woman slightly bemused by the world of politics.

One can only assume that the Left-leaning editors who dispatched teams of reporters to remote Juneau, the Alaskan capital, to pore over the emails in the hope of digging up a scandal are now viewing the result as a rather poor return on their considerable investment.

If anything, Mrs Palin seems likely to emerge from the scrutiny of the 24,000 pages, contained in six boxes and weighing 275 pounds, with her reputation considerably enhanced.

Sarah Palin remains a lightning rod for the media. I have a hard time understanding the hatred out there, for hatred there is. She was a highly effective governor in a state where the governor’s office is far more powerful than in many other states.

The hatred seems to be based in the fact that she stands in opposition to the Left’s concept of who can be considered a member of the elite.  She came out of “nowhere.” Alaska is some sort of backward, uncivilized,  place and not a proper state. She is some kind of country person who shoots animals, and her husband competes in snowmobile races, and she has five (can you imagine!) five children. She was mayor of a little tiny town that no one ever heard of.  She graduated from the University of Idaho, you know, where they have all those neo-Nazis. And she couldn’t answer the question about what she reads.  She doesn’t even read the New York Times!

These pitiful folk who hope to become certified members of “the Elite,” and worry more about their newest handbag and who was seen at the latest cocktail party, have no understanding of real competence and women who are perfectly capable of handling whatever comes along.  Meet some farmer’s wives in the Midwest (“flyover country”) or western ranch women who can milk cows, tend a garden, preserve foods, plow, drive a tractor and serve on the school board or county council. The minimal competence of the glossy barbie dolls who report on the news pales by comparison.

Do read “Sarah Palin’s letter from God” from Andrew Malcolm in the Los Angeles Times, written (not for publication ) just before the birth of her son Trig. The media keep following her around, hoping for — what? She is not, at the present, running for anything.  She is on a family tour of America, celebrating America and freedom, our history, and Americans, and the media are squawking because she won’t give them her itinerary.




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