American Elephants


Paul Revere’s Ride by The Elephant's Child
April 19, 2012, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Freedom, History, Literature, Military | Tags:


[A little Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for the eighteenth of April]
Today is the 237th anniversary of the “Shot heard Round the World”

Listen, my children, and  you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend,”If the British march
By land or sea from the town tonight,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light—
One if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

Then he said, “Good night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, a British man-of-war:
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed to the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the somber rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade—
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay—
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now gazed at the landscape far and near.
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth
And turned and tightened his saddle girth:
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and somber and still.

And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides:
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.

And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest.  In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm—
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will awaken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the  midnight message of Paul Revere.

A lovely paperback edition illustrated by Ted Rand, if you have kids.

Rick Moran has a nice bit of history of the day at American Thinker. It’s hard to imagine an essentially unarmed, unprepared nation without even an army taking on the British Empire, but Americans have never been afraid of a challenge.



Obama’s Stuck on Solar, or Just Plain Stuck. by The Elephant's Child

Another day and another solar company disaster. First Solar, a solar energy company that received a $1.46 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy announced Monday that it will lay off 2.000 workers worldwide. In December, they laid off 100 employees at a Santa Clara, California plant. The DOE has committed the loan to a project in Riverside County in California that is expected to create 15 permanent jobs and 550 temporary construction jobs.

Now the Department of Energy is preparing to issue another bunch of loans,”subject to a robust monitoring effort to ensure that taxpayers investments are protected” loan program chief David Frantz said. He also said that the Energy Department loan program has “helped the United States keep pace in the fierce global race for clean energy technologies.” Race? What race? Everybody else if getting out.  Franz added that those loans support American clean energy projects expected to provide power to nearly 3 million households and are creating tens of thousands of jobs. Construction jobs? Any permanent jobs? Or just till the outfit goes bankrupt?

The money, it seems, has already been appropriated, and you certainly can’t put it back once it has been appropriated.  After all there is “intense global competition” and the nation “cannot afford to stop moving forward.” Why ever not?

For whatever reason, Obama has  put a lot of faith in clean green energy. He spoke early on about halting the rise of the seas, and he really believed that there would be lots of ‘green’ jobs. He has worked very hard at shutting down fossil fuels: stalling permits in the Gulf using the excuse of safety of offshore rigs; putting the coasts out of reach for drilling; refusing to sign on to the Keystone XL pipeline; pushing electric cars and solar arrays, wind farms and high speed rail; and demanding that in just 8 more years that 30% of our energy come from renewable energy.

The evidence has been very clear that these were pipe dreams — that there was a vast gap between ‘capacity’ as the promoters described it and real power. Wind is intermittent. It doesn’t blow steadily— ever.  A wind turbine needs backup 24/7 from a conventional power plant because the wind doesn’t blow steadily.  The sun goes down at night, and there is no solar energy on cloudy days nor in the winter when days are short and storms are frequent and people need power more. They require backup power from a conventional power plant as well.  And electric cars get their charge from a conventional power plant.

Even now, Spain has dumped their renewable energy. They can’t afford it. Germany has cut way back on subsidies and their world’s leading solar manufacturer has gone bankrupt (as did their subsidiary in this country). Germany is a northern country that gets very little sun in the winter, and solar energy isn’t practical— but the Germans do love the sun.  The Chinese, who put everyone else in trouble with their cheap solar panels, have lost interest in solar energy and are going to rely on nuclear energy instead.

It’s hard to know what Mr. Obama believes about green energy? Did he see himself as the hero of the world’s move to a 21st Century  clean green world?  Betsy’s Page quotes a passage from the new book The Escape Artists; How Obama’s Team Fumbled the Recovery:

Energy was a particular obsession of the president-elect’s, and therefore a particular source of frustration. Week after week, [White House economic adviser Christina] Romer would march in with an estimate of the jobs all the investments in clean energy would produce; week after week, Obama would send her back to check the numbers. “I don’t get it,” he’d say. “We make these large-scale investments in infrastructure. What do you mean, there are no jobs?” But the numbers rarely budged.

There never were those green jobs promised. There were in some cases a number of jobs constructing the facilities, but running them took very few; not hundreds but ten or fifteen.Where does this notion of a world competition to power our world with solar energy come from? Don’t they read the papers? What do all those intelligence agencies do? Spain is a very sunny country, as is Portugal, as is Italy. If they can’t make it work, and they can’t, doesn’t anybody notice?

Polls from Gallup, Pew and Rasmussen show that radical environmentalism has been seriously losing influence in America for  a couple of decades. Last August, a Rasmussen poll showed that 69% ;of Americans believe that scientists have falsified global warming research. Forty years ago Americans were concerned about smog and air quality, but the country has made changes to factories, and developed catalytic converters for cars.

Real life and living in the real world requires common sense and an understanding of market forces. America is a world powerhouse of cheap abundant energy from coal, natural gas and oil. One man is demanding that we shut down those sources and spend our precious wealth on trying to make the sun light our homes at night, dependably power our hospitals, keep our people warm in the winter— all things that it cannot do. Maybe if we just come up with some new and better panel, or figure out some way to store the energy from the sun, or make the clouds go away,  If we just invest enough money we can make that little turquoise wedge grow to 30% in just 8 more years, can’t we?

If we just shut down all the nasty, dirty coal plants that the big environmental outfits hate so much, then everybody will have to depend on ….?




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