American Elephants


Time for Our Annual Salute to Paul Revere by The Elephant's Child


[A little Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for the eighteenth of April]

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.

(The illustration is from a lovely edition of the poem illustrated by Ted Rand for children or any Longfellow lovers. Copies still available from Amazon at very reasonable  prices)

I post this every year, but I almost forgot entirely. Too late for most, but print it out if you have kids and teach them a little history, which they probably won’t get in school. Kids like the rhythm- of galloping hooves that Longfellow used in this historic poem.

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February 22 is George Washington’s Real Birthday, Not Some Ginned Up “President’s Day” by The Elephant's Child

Imagine, you just turned 43 years old, and suddenly you find yourself Commander in Chief of a ragtag American army, such as it was. The battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill had already been fought when Washington arrived in Massachusetts, and had established that the British could not break out of Boston. Once Washington placed the captured British cannon on Dorchester Heights, the British evacuated by sea.

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Washington had been named Commander in Chief by the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia in June 1775. He was forty-three years old. There was not yet any American army for him to command, only the militias ringing Boston, but the delegates of the increasingly rebellious colonies were seized by fury for action and for war. “Oh that I was a soldier,” wrote John Adams, a radical lawyer from Massachusetts. “I will be. I am reading military books. Everybody must and will, and shall be a soldier.”

Adams never became a soldier, but Washington had already been one. He had served in the Virginia militia during the French and Indian War twenty years earlier, rising to the rank of colonel. In his old age, Adams would describe Washington’s selection as a political compromise—a southern commander, to lead what would at first be a mostly New England force—engineered by congressional wise-men, including Adams. But Congress did not have many other officers to choose from, Israel Putnam, of the Connecticut militia, was, at 57, too old. Artemas Ward, the commander of the Massachusetts militia, was incompetent and suffering from the stone.
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The state begins in violence. However lofty the ideals of a new country or a new regime, it encounters opposition, as most new regimes and countries do, it must fight. If it loses, its ideals join the long catalogue of unfulfilled aspirations.

At six o’clock on the evening of July 9, 1776, the soldiers of the main American army, stationed in New York, were paraded and read the Declaration of Independence. General George Washington, Commander in Chief, hoped this “important event” would inspire them, though when some soldiers joined a mob in pulling down a statue of George III, he deplored their “want of order.” Over the next two months the American army and its commander, orderly or not, were unable to offer much in defense of the Declaration’s sentiments. …

During the summer, the British assembled, on Staten Island and in the harbor, the largest expeditionary force of the eighteenth century: ten ships of the line, twenty frigates, and 32,000 regular troops. On August 22, most of those troops began moving to Gravesend Bay on Long Island, in what is now southwest Brooklyn. Anticipating a possible landing there, Washington had posted more than a third of his own force of 19,000 men on Brooklyn Heights, and on a line of hills to the south. But he expected the British to attack him on the harbor side of his position, where they could bring the guns of their ships into play. On the morning of the 27th, the British slipped a force through the hills five miles away in the opposite direction and hit the American front line from before and behind.
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These are excerpts from Richard Brookheiser’s Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington, which he calls a moral biography, which has two purposes: to explain its subject, and to shape the minds and hearts of those who read it—by showing how a great man navigated politics and a life as a public figure. Brookheiser says “If Washington’s contemporaries were too willing to be awed, we are not willing enough. …We have lost the conviction that ideas require men to bring them to earth, and that great statesmen must be great men. Great statesmen are rare enough in their world. We believe they are mythical, like unicorns.” They are not.

According to recent studies, our kids don’t know anything about George Washington, nor do most adults. There is some speculation that the problem is big fat books. People are more apt to read thin books that don’t scare them about the time involved. Answering that need is a new biography by the great British historian Paul Johnson. The paperback is only $8.71, and a hardback is available.

ADDENDUM: The picture above is a forensic reconstruction of Washington as a General, and Commander in Chief. Getting a likeness is hard. You get one thing just a little off, and you have lost the resemblance. Washington’s skin was pale, we are told, and he burned in the sun. I don’t think the tricorn hat gives even as much protection as a baseball cap, so I’m sure he appeared much more weathered, with squint lines (no sunglasses). His real hair was reddish. But nasty Stuart Gilbert did him real dirt down through the ages by overemphasizing the distortions of false teeth, and getting a poor likeness. Remember that, every time you look at a one dollar bill. It was deliberate.



The Trouble With ObamaCare by The Elephant's Child

The trouble with ObamaCare was, in particular, the regulations. Lots of other problems,of course, but Leftists always think that they know better how anything should be run, and for just that reason, it mostly doesn’t work. The Wall Street Journal today pointed out one of the big reasons which is that ObamaCare mostly meant that small businesses quit providing healthcare for their employees.

Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta is proposing to allow small businesses to band together to provide insurance on an equal footing with corporations and unions. Excellent!

The share of workers at small businesses with employer-sponsored health benefits has dropped by a quarter since 2010 as insurance costs have ballooned, in part due to government mandates. About 11 million workers employed by small businesses are uninsured. Some businesses have dropped their workers onto state insurance exchanges where premiums are subsidized by taxpayers.

Enter President Trump, who last fall directed Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to consider “expanding the conditions that satisfy the commonality-of-interest requirements” for association health plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or Erisa.

Large-group plans that are self-insured—i.e., funded by unions or employers—are covered by Erisa. These plans are exempt from ObamaCare’s essential benefits requirements, though they must comply with rules on annual and lifetime limits and pre-existing conditions as well as state solvency regulations.

Mom-and-pop businesses and sole proprietors aren’t so lucky. Most purchase coverage from insurers in the small group or individual marketplaces, which are subject to ObamaCare’s coverage mandates and controls on premium prices. The Obama Administration precluded small employers from forming association plans that are exempt from Erisa by narrowly interpreting the “commonality of interest” membership requirements.

Secretary Acosta on Thursday, proposed a new rule that would define “commonality of interest” among employers to include geographical area, such as a metropolitan area or even a state, as well as an industry, trade or profession. Chambers of commerce or national industry groups could sponsor plans. Sole proprietors could be defined as both employers and employees, which would allow independent contractors to form or join association plans. The Left is, of course, howling about Trump trying to destroy ObamaCare, but millions of small business people and sole proprietors aren’t insured at all because they can’t afford coverage on the exchanges. Sole proprietors who earn too much to qualify for subsidies are squeezed out by soaring premiums.

If they are freed from ObamaCare’s mandates, they can devise plans more suited to their workers, and costs would be reduced by spreading the administrative burden. This is not going to solve the burdens of ObamaCare, but ObamaCare was never a plan to give health care to everyone. It was a plan for government control of health care so that the giver of health care would always be voted back in because of the fear of losing health care. They saw that kind of ‘insurance’ in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

Britain’s NHS figures show that 16,893 patients waited more than 30 minutes at Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments in the week at the end of the year. This was a 42% rise over the previous week when only 11,900 waited in the ambulances hoping they wouldn’t die while they waited. Hospital bed occupancy was 91.7 percent—an 85% level is considered safe.

It was announced a day earlier that all non-emergency operations will be cancelled until at least February as the worst NHS winter crisis in 30 years hits. Around 55,000 procedures that were planned will not happen. A senior doctor claimed that patients are being treated in “third world” conditions in some hospitals. In the meantime cases of flu are rising and there are severe respiratory problems. The people generally believe that their health care is free, but forget that they pay for every last bit of it in their taxes and lower standard of living.

The population of Great Britain is 66,387,483, ours is 323.98 million as of 2016. When healthcare is free, people are inclined to run to the doctor at every small symptom. ObamaCare assumed that when all the healthy young people were forced to pay their share, it would cover the sick people. The skyrocketing premiums show how well that all worked. And young people have consistently dropped out. Doctors tell their kids to choose another profession. Those who use up the most medical care are of course, the old folks. The Eskimos solved that by leaving granny out to freeze on an iceberg which is a relatively painless way to go. Some in India leave their grannies in a tiger preserve, I have read. I’m sure we will gradually come up with solutions. Just try to keep the politicians out of it.



In the Bleak Midwinter, for the Winter Solstice by The Elephant's Child
December 21, 2017, 9:36 pm
Filed under: England, Freedom, Heartwarming, Music, Politics | Tags: , ,

For the winter solstice, the first day of Winter, and for my father’s birthday.  I miss him.



Playing With The Notion of What it Means to Be Human by The Elephant's Child

If you are not familiar with Melanie Phillips, you might enjoy her columns. She is a long time British journalist, and a sharp observer of the world.

If you want a break from the spectacle of Britain tearing itself apart over leaving the European Union, you can upset yourself instead watching the spectacle of the western world tearing apart the very notion of what it is to be a human being.

The knee-jerk bullying, victim-group sectarianism and repudiation of reason itself over transgenderism defy belief. The Times (£) reports that a lesbian Labour party women’s officer was allegedly subjected to months of harassment as a “Terf” — a derogatory term for “trans exclusionary radical feminist” – because she took issue with aspects of transgenderism.

Intimidation by transgender activists, in the laughable cause of promoting greater tolerance and inclusivity, has suddenly become the new norm. Examples – such as the Christian maths teacher who was suspended for addressing as a girl a female pupil who identifies as a boy – are coming thick and fast.

Little kids usually go through a period when they fantasize about being someone other than who they are — like in reality a princess in disguise, waiting to be truly recognized. There have been lots of children’s books based on just that fantasy. One of the earliest was Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. But where this current idea sweeping society here and in Europe that you can be whoever you feel like being comes from is a serious question. Melanie Phillips addresses it head on.

Bodily dysphoria appears in many forms. There are people who come to believe that they are really cats, or that one of their limbs is bad or  diseased and must be removed, sometimes going as far as removing the limb themselves. But now we are having young mothers decide that when their daughter prefers to climb trees or play with toy trucks, it’s an indication that she is transgender, and encourages the confusion. This is child abuse. Transgenderism is a disorder of the brain, not the body. It requires psychiatric help. Included in Melanie Phillips article is a link to the American College of Pediatricians and a paper on Gender Dysphoria in Children.

I posted a video of a young British mother who was doing just that, in the belief that she is doing the right thing for her child.  There are a lot of problems in our country and in the world that deserve our attention. Why are we wrapped up in a world of who sexually abused whom and how much and how many years ago, and when do we move on to the next frenzy? Is this all just a journalistic creation to keep our attention glued to their desired themes? Can we get back to reality or are we stuck in this weird world?



The Passing Span of the Years –Some of Them by The Elephant's Child
November 6, 2017, 6:19 am
Filed under: England, Environment, Europe, France, History, Immigration, Law, Politics, The United States | Tags:

1066: The Norman Invasion, William the Conqueror, The Battle of Hastings.
1215;  Magna Charta
1348-1350: The Black Death, 1/3 of Europe Died
1350-1600: The Renaissance, Best Weather Known to Man
1227-1453: The Hundred Years War (France, Crecy, Potiers, Jean d’Arc)
1450-1850:The Little Ice Age
1455-1485: Wars of the Roses: Lancaster v. York
1502: The First Watch – telling time
1517: Martin Luther,  1532: Calvin, 1541: John Knox.
The Reformation
1519-1535: Spanish Conquest
1533: Henry VIII leaves Catholic Church Marries Anne Boleyn
1542: First Western Entry to Japan
1588: The Armada
1603: Queen Elizabeth dies
1642-1660: Roundheads v. Cavaliers. Cromwell
1620: Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock
1630: Winthrop Fleet Arrives in Massachusetts Bay
1675-1678: King Philip’s War or Metacomet’s Rebellion
1773: Boston Tea Party 1775: Paul Revere, Bunker Hill
1760-1791: The American Revolution
1776, July 4: The Declaration of Independence
1787: The Constitution, 1791: The Bill of Rights
1799: Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed Emperor
1804-1815: The Napoleonic Wars 1815: Waterloo
1846: The Irish Potato Famine
1853:
The Crimean War
1859: Charles Darwin: The Origin of Species
1867: Canada Becomes a Dominion
1899-1902: The Boer War
1903: The Russian Revolution 1918: Nicholas Abdicates

Leaving a lot out, of course. A quick ten centuries,



A Quick History of the American Revolution by The Elephant's Child

I like timelines or chronologies that tell you just where and when the events of history took place. It gives you a sense of history as it happened and what was happening at the same time elsewhere in the world. So you will see one here now and then, and I hope you find them useful.

So lets start with the 1765 Stamp Act, passed by Parliament on March 22, 1765. It imposed on all American colonists a tax on every piece of printed paper they used. The money collected was to be used to help pay the costs of defending and protecting the American frontier near the Appalachian Mountains, and 10,000 British troops were to be stationed on the frontier for this purpose. It wasn’t the cost that was so offensive, but the standard it seemed to set, that Britain could impose a tax without the consent or approval of the colonial legislatures. This was a tax on ships papers,legal documents, licenses, newspapers, other publications and even playing cards. That started things:
1767: Townsend Acts (import taxes on tea, glass, and products from England)
1770: The Boston Massacre (Colonists rioted to protest English soldiers there to protect British commissioners and the Townsend taxes) 5 colonists
killed, including Crispus Attucks, an escaped slave.
1773: Boston Tea Party
1774: The Intolerable Acts and the First Continental Congress
1775: Rhode Island abolished slavery.
Paul Revere’s Ride to warn Lexington and Concord
Battle of Bunker Hill
1776: Declaration of Independence.
Battle of Long Island (August)
Battle of Trenton   (December 25)
Washington crosses the Delaware R. (Dec. 26)
1777: Battle of Princeton (Jan. 3)
Burgoyne captures Fort Ticonderoga
Articles of Confederation
Saratoga: Sept. 19, and October 7.  Victory!
1778: American Colonies sign treaties with France and Holland,
reject British peace offer.
1779: John Paul Jones on Bonhome Richard defeats Serapis.
1780: Charleston Falls
Camden Aug 16, Kings Mt. 7 October, Cowpens, Jan 17
1781: Cornwallis Surrenders at Yorktown, October 19.
1789: George Washington chosen president
1799: George Washington dies of strep throat
1789-1793: The French Revolution




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