American Elephants

“The Great Escape” Revisited. by The Elephant's Child
January 20, 2012, 7:54 pm
Filed under: Europe, Freedom, History, Military, Movies | Tags: , ,

One of the great movies of all time is The Great Escape. Here is the original trailer. If you have never seen it, (is there anyone who has never seen it?) order it up from Netflix, or order it up again, it’s well worth seeing more than once.

The classic Steve McQueen movie immortalized three tunnels at Stalag Luft III POW camp,  named Tom, Dick and Harry. But now archaeologists have located a fourth tunnel called George. The camp was located 100 miles east of Berlin in western Poland.

The notorious camp once held ten thousand prisoners under German guns, on a 60 acre site ringed with a double barbed-wire fence and watchtowers. Tunnel Tom was discovered by the Germans. Dick was used for storage, and Harry became the stuff of folklore when it was used on the night of March 24, 1944, and immortalized in the movie.

Here is the story of the archaeological dig, the memories of the still living former POWs and pictures of what they found, and the story of tunnel George, which the Germans never discovered. And don’t miss the destination of George and its intended purpose. Enjoy.

The Worst Crime is the Destruction of Truth and Freedom by The Elephant's Child

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” And we seem to  be living in a world where the two parties do not speak the same language, see the world through the same eyes and we do not perceive events in the same way.  I knew that, but I am always surprised by the extent of the chasm.

The president had a busy day yesterday: he gave a speech at Disney World to encourage tourism, while shutting down the popular tourist destination for several hours. Then on to New York where he had a succession of four campaign events. At each, he made the case that he had done a wonderful job of preventing the Great Depression, created a growing economy, restored America’s place in the world, and made the world love us again.

What set me off was the president’s self-congratulation for making America “more competitive” and bringing jobs home from overseas. Inflation has been rampant in China, as factory workers demand raises. The cost of labor in China is going up. The White House has released a paper outlining how current policies are making America more competitive with low wage countries like China. One of the principal strategies is — lowering wages.

The president’s view of his performance in office is naturally a little different than Republicans’ view, but the chasm is very wide indeed.

But let me just, first of all, say that we’re obviously living in historic times.  When I first came into office, we were going through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and so, understandably, a lot of my time and most of the country’s attention was consumed by, how do we get America back on its feet.

But we were also in the midst of two wars. We were also coming out of a period in which America’s leadership around the world had declined.  And what we’ve been able to do I think over the last three years is to not only avert a Great Depression, not only save an auto industry, not only get the economy moving in the right direction — although we’ve still got a long way to go — but we were also able to end a war that had distracted us from our most ardent enemies; we were able to decimate al Qaeda; we were able to beef up what we were doing in Afghanistan in a way that now allows us to take a transition and start bringing our troops home there, and turn over the security needs of the Afghan people to Afghan security forces.

But what we were also able to do I think is to restore a sense of America as the sole, indispensable power — a country that, whether it’s responding to an earthquake or a tsunami, or it’s dealing with a dictator that is about to ruthlessly butcher his people, we aren’t out there alone.  We’re able to mobilize around a set of values and a set of principles, and ensure that the international rules of the road are followed.

At other events, he praised the administration energy policy — Keystone, Solyndra and the other 11 failing solar companies, the unsalable electric cars, the moratorium on permits in the Gulf, the biofuel debacle, banning drilling on most public lands. On the other hand, he bragged about reducing imports of foreign oil below 50%. In a recession, gasoline usage is down, and the production of gas and oil on private lands is way up, in spite of the government.

“Saving” the auto industry was accomplished by illegally stripping bondholders of their first claim on car company assets, and illegally handing it over to the unions who supported his campaign. Private businesses — the car dealers — were put out of business overnight, not because their operations failed, but because the administration ordered them shut down.

The Stimulus Plan not only failed, it cost $312,500 per job saved or created. To recover, we need to add 125,000 jobs each month just to keep up with population growth. We added 220,000 new jobs in December, and laid off over 390,000 in the first week of the new year. The 1,100 jobs lost at Solyndra were known to the administration, but hidden until after the election.

The State of the Union speech is Tuesday night. Expect a view of America that you do not recognize. We are indeed in an Orwellian world. Words no longer have their accustomed meanings:

And when memory failed and written records were falsified — when that happened, the claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested.

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