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Arsenal of Democracy

As the Ukraine-Russia War escalates with a long-awaited counteroffensive by Ukraine and news that the US will finally begin sending fighter jets as part of the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022it’s fitting and appropriate to remind ourselves of the ‘fireside chat’ Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered on May 27, 1941, in response to the Axis powers goals of “world domination,” as he called it, when President Roosevelt announced a state of “unlimited national emergency.” His address to the nation by radio followed a formal declaration for “Military, naval, air and civilian defenses [to] be put on the basis of readiness to repel any and all acts or threats of aggression directed toward any part of the Western Hemisphere.”

The deadly facts of war compel Nations, for simple self-preservation, to make stern choices. It does not make sense, for instance, to say, “I believe in the defense of all the Western Hemisphere,” and in the next breath to say, “I will not fight for that defense until the enemy has landed on our shores.” If we believe in the independence and the integrity of the Americas, we must be willing to fight, to fight to defend them just as much as we would to fight for the safety of our own homes. It is time for us to realize that the safety of American homes even in the center of this our own country has a very definite relationship to the continued safety of homes in Nova Scotia or Trinidad or Brazil. 
Our national policy today, therefore, is this:

First, we shall actively resist wherever necessary, and with all our resources, every attempt by Hitler to extend his Nazi domination to the Western Hemisphere, or to threaten it. We shall actively resist his every attempt to gain control of the seas. We insist upon the vital importance of keeping Hitlerism away from any point in the world which could be used or would be used as a base of attack against the Americas.

Second, from the point of view of strict naval and military necessity, we shall give every possible assistance to Britain and to all who, with Britain, are resisting Hitlerism or its equivalent with force of arms. Our patrols are helping now to insure delivery of the needed supplies to Britain. All additional measures necessary to deliver the goods will be taken. Any and all further methods or combination of methods, which can or should be utilized, are being devised by our military and naval technicians, who, with me, will work out and put into effect such new and additional safeguards as may be needed.

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

In WWII the Axis powers were our enemies and Russia, then called the Soviet Union, was ungraciously pushed to our side after Nazi Germany invaded their former Axis ally to the East. It was decided by the Roosevelt administration that the best way to begin fighting the Nazis was to financially support Britain, Russia and France through the Lend-Lease Act and on December 29, 1940, nearly a year before the United States entered WWII, President Roosevelt delivered his famous “Arsenal of Democracy’ speech that put an end to ten years of isolationist policy that Congress shackled on the third-greatest wartime president in US history. Roosevelt was resolved to commit American might to the task at hand, and in the May 27th speech, he reminded all Americans of his most famous quote about our deepest fears:

There are some timid ones among us who say that we must preserve peace at any price—lest we lose our liberties forever. To them I say this: never in the history of the world has a Nation lost its democracy by a successful struggle to defend its democracy. We must not be defeated by the fear of the very danger which we are preparing to resist. Our freedom has shown its ability to survive war, but our freedom would never survive surrender. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

Today, we find the sons and daughters of the same weak-kneed, timid souls at the precipice of WWII unable to face the reality of a dangerous world full of enemies of democracy, no less fearsome than those that Roosevelt prepared the US for war against back in 1941. He went on to speak about the crisis in terms that we should all recognize today:

It is no mere coincidence that all the arguments put forward by these enemies of democracy—all their attempts to confuse and divide our people and to destroy public confidence in our Government—all their defeatist forebodings that Britain and democracy are already beaten—all their selfish promises that we can “do business” with Hitler—all of these are but echoes of the words that have been poured out from the Axis bureaus of propaganda. Those same words have been used before in other countries—to scare them, to divide them, to soften them up. Invariably, those same words have formed the advance guard of physical attack.

Defense today means more than merely fighting. It means morale, civilian as well as military; it means using every available resource; it means enlarging every useful plant. It means the use of a greater American common sense in discarding rumor and distorted statement. It means recognizing, for what they are, racketeers and fifth columnists, who are the incendiary bombs in this country of the moment.

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

The last two great wars fought by the US were the Vietnam War and the Korean Conflict; Iraq and Afghanistan were minor skirmishes in comparison to the efforts and expenditures in these two big wars, with the high number of casualties (over 36,000 combat deaths in Korea and 68,000 in Vietnam) to less than 6,000 combined combat deaths in both Iraq Wars and the so-called Afghanistan War. The Second World War accounted for the highest number of American combat deaths outside of the American Civil War, with a half-million American servicemen and women killed, and in both of the subsequent wars — Korea (yeah, it was technically a conflict and not a war) and the Vietnam War — these were really proxy wars fought between the US and Russia.

However when we were still awkward and unlikely allies, the US provided more than one-third of all the explosives used by Russia during the war and almost 33% of all the Red Army’s vehicles were provided through Lend-Lease. More than 20,000 Katyusha mobile multiple-rocket launchers were mounted on the chassis of Studebaker (!) trucks. The Lend-Lease program propped up the rusted and broken Soviet rail system, which was fundamental in moving and supplying troops to the front, and the program also sent nearly 2,000 locomotives and many more boxcars to Russia. In addition, almost half of all the rails used by the USSR during the war were provided by the US, and this, too, was provided for by Lend-Lease. Our aid also sent to Russia 4.5 million tons of food, 1.5 million blankets and 15 million pairs of boots. Russia (attacked by Germany on June 22, 1941 in the Barbarossa offensive) was declared eligible for Lend-Lease aid on November 7, 1941 — exactly one month before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, however in retrospect, in proportion to total US defense and war expenditures in WWII, Lend-Lease was a fraction of the overall cost and it turned out that the aid amounted to only around 15% of our total financial commitment to the war, the best use of US dollars in history.

In his Arsenal of Democracy speech in 1940, Roosevelt said that, “Europe does not ask us to do their fighting. They ask us for the implements of war, the planes, the tanks, the guns, the freighters which will enable them to fight for their liberty and for our security. Emphatically we must get these weapons to them, get them to them in sufficient volume and quickly enough, so that we and our children will be saved the agony and suffering of war which others have had to endure.”

Roosevelt stressed that it was not the government but the American people who had the power to turn the tide of the war and it was in the 1940 speech that Roosevelt first used the famous phrase, the “arsenal of democracy,” saying, “We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.” Finally, he reassured the American people: “I believe that the Axis powers are not going to win this war.”

After the US entered WWII, at the November 1943 Tehran Conference with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator proposed executing 50,000 German officers after the conclusion of the war so that Germany could’t start another world war and it was Roosevelt, as Churchill stormed out of the meeting, with FDR believing that Stalin wasn’t being serious — this was the first time that Roosevelt and Stalin had ever met — who wittily joked that “maybe 49,000 would be enough!” The next day, the last of the momentous talks, Stalin raised a toast to the Lend-Lease program and said that, “I want to tell you what, from the Russian point of view, the president and the United States have done for victory in this war, the most important things in this war are the machines…. The United States is a country of machines. Without the machines we received through Lend-Lease, we would have lost the war.” 

The cross-channel invasion of France (Operation Overlord) agreed to in Tehran would be launched in June 1944, in conjunction with operations against southern France (Operation Dragoon) and at the Tehran Conference Stalin also revealed that Russian forces would launch an offensive (Operation Bagration), that would begin two weeks after Overlord with the object of preventing German forces from transferring from the Eastern to the Western Front. Overlord was originally to begin on June 1st, 1944, but the weather, moon and tides required the invasion to be delayed until June 6th. Operations Overlord and Bagration were Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin’s great plan to catch the Nazis off guard and to divert the Germans from their ill-fated invasion of Russia. These bold decisions would eventually spell the beginning of the end of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.

Carl Holt
May 27, 2023

Egg a Tesla

The day before Elon Musk took the wheel of Twitter, after he carried that effing sink into Twitter HQ (to throw at people, I suppose?), his first viral, lame stunt as owner was the last straw that caused me to close my Twitter account that I’ve held since 2009 because I couldn’t stomach watching Musk destroy the social media platform I’d begrudgingly grown to love. Looking over the news reports of what Musk has wrought in just two short weeks, I feel seen. Now don’t get me wrong, I think Tesla vehicles are fine automobiles, and I support electric mobility and think the Tesla car model designs are sleek and efficient people movers, but I don’t support their failing, idiotic automatic driver lunacy, yet I got no problem with the cars. I wouldn’t buy a Muskmobile, mind you (check out the sweet, new e-BMW i7!) because I just can’t stand their insufferable blowhard of a CEO and ‘know-it-all genius’ owner.

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Fascist Pigs

I’ve written about Fascism and Nazis a lot on this here blog through the years (now over a decade) and never in my life, at least since the darkest Nixon years, has the subject been so damned timely. Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans are (correctly) called out as semi-fascists by President Biden while Vladimir Putin in Russia makes the claim that Ukrainians are fascists, after Poots invades the peaceful European country in veritable Hitleresque-style. In America, Nazis and Fascists are without question derided as lunatics and losers, most hilariously depicted by Hollywood directors, with financing from international Jewish bankers I hear, such as Charlie Chaplin’s first talkie, The Great Dictator (1940) the great director (and proud WWII veteran) Mel Brooks in the Producers (1967) or director John Landis in the great comedy The Blues Brothers (1980) where “Springtime for Hitler” and “I hate Illinois Nazis” were funny jokes because fascists usually are a joke. Of course, the best way to attack a hateful ideology is with derision and satire and the cultural war against the Nazis was ultimately won by comedians and humorists while the actual war was won by our hardcore Allied killers, some no less hateful than the Nazis to be honest, but they were on our side.

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Glory, Glory Hallelujah

Few remember a more polarized and toxic time in American politics, where even Watergate and the Vietnam War are being re-examined as ‘the good old days’ compared to today’s gloomy political landscape. It’s no surprise that the recent ‘leak’ of Justice Alito’s Roe v. Wade draft reversal has Margaret Atwood getting totally worked up again, she the great mind who conjured The Handmaid’s Tale was quoted recently saying, “Enforced childbirth is slavery” in regard to the long established right here in America. As a Canadian, Atwood should well remember that her country was the terminus of the Underground Railroad before the Civil War and I’d hope she’d use more caution with any comparison of these two separate and distinct rights. It follows statements in the press and Tweets comparing anyone who we disagree with to Hitler and the Nazis and that’s irresponsible hyperbole in the gravest sense and the Auschwitz Holocaust Museum has had to make that particular point a lot recently. This plea has fallen on deaf ears in MAGA-ville of course, where Nazi flags were unfurled in Disneyworld recently by disciples of the stupidest Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, because Disney supports gay, lesbian and transgendered folks and these Nazi flag-waving Floridians couldn’t be more vile and disgusting human beings if they tried. So the notions portrayed in The Handmade’s Tale are horrific indeed, however there’s simply no comparison with slavery to abortion. Perhaps the American institution of slavery prior to the Civil War could legitimately be compared to Nazism because both institutions were created by the utmost evil ever perpetrated on the human race. Atwood’s most recent comments about her novel and the reality we all face were more measured and thoughtful:

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Fucked Around and Found Out

83 years ago, the Winter War began, where Joseph Stalin had been granted Finland in a ‘quid-pro-quo’ with Adolph Hitler, prior to the Barbarossa offensive, a dazed and confused Russia (referred to in international circles at the time as the ‘Soviet Union’) were bloodied and beaten after just three months of battle, where Russia suffered 134,000 to 138,000 dead or missing with estimates as high as 168,000 by the Russian State Military Archive in this early conflict of WWII and the following Continuation War pushed the numbers far higher for both sides.

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We Shall Never Surrender

On June 4, 1940, Winston Churchill gave the greatest speech of the 20th Century, his ‘darkest hour’ speech which girded the British people for the travails that were to come to the ancient nation. Hitler had already invaded Poland and accordingly, but not expected by all, the British government had declared war on Nazi Germany but this ‘phony war’ as it was described was made very real after the British Expeditionary Force was stranded on a beachhead in Dunkirk after Germany invaded and defeated France, but miraculously the British Army evacuated as Churchill exclaimed, these hard and heavy tidings revealed that wars were not won by evacuation, this feat of escape after a lost battle, but he went on to declare exactly how the British people would go on to win the war: “We shall fight on the beaches…” and asserted:

[W]e shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

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Lend Me Your Eyes

I’ll give the former president* some credit, he has serious people comparing him to Julius Caesar after he was impeached (again), which is really quite a feat, so you have to hand it to this former president* — he actually tried to pull off a coup d’état, kicking off 2021 with a bang! The Julian calendar is very close to the (Gregorian) calendar we use today, part of Caesar’s reforms to mark the annual naming of the new consul (president) every year, because following the Year of the Consulship of Caesar and Lepidus, Julius Caesar decreed that the next year his new calendar would begin with a new month called January, back-ending all the leap days that had built up since the beginning of the old Roman calendar and in doing so, created the longest year in recorded history.

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It’s All Greek to Me

 

The Parthenon

I’ve been putting off writing this post because it’ll be the last one that I’ll throw up before the 2020 Presidential Election and in 2016, just after Trump was nominated, I posted The Most Hated Man in America. This year, I don’t wanna be right again if that means losing you, however I obviously have the gift of prognostication (a noun meaning “the action of foretelling or prophesying future events”) and anyone who doubts that, read on. I’ve had a few choice words to describe my feelings about Donald J. Trump through the years, yet who am I to question the leadership of this man? What gives me the right to ask if he’s insane or not? I’m just an ordinary citizen of the United States, at least I was the last time I checked but who knows anymore? In the four years since Donald J. Trump has been our duly elected president, I’ve been right about pretty much everything I’ve said about him (actually since 1988 but who’s keeping score?) and if he’s not the most hated man in America by now whom, pray tell, would grab that crown from him?

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We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

One of my favorite movies of all time is Jaws (1975) but I can’t name an African-American in the film so that’s messed up, but then Steven Spielberg made The Color Purple (1985) so he’s cool. My other favorite directors are Martin Scorsese and also Woody Allen so if you total up all the African-American characters in their films you end up with ‘Stacks’ in Goodfellas (1990). Too bad about Stacks, he got high and left his prints all over the getaway van. In Goodfellas, ‘Two ni**ers just stole my truck’ was the excuse for the paid-off truck driver as he complains to anyone who will overhear him, “Can you believe that?” he asks incredulously, Charles Stewart-style. There were no black gangs in New York in the 1800s, apparently and Sugar Ray Robinson isn’t even given a line in Scorsese’s masterpiece, Raging Bull, (1980) yet he’s still my favorite director. Scorsese himself plays a racist in his film Taxi Driver where he brags to DeNiro’s Travis Bickle that he’s going to kill his wife because she’s cheating on him with a ‘ni**er.’ Marty, time’s up to make your Black Narcissus.

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When America Sneezes, the World Catches a Cold

The Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation by James Gillray (1802)

Conservative Austrian diplomat Klem von Metternich (1773 – 1859), the architect of the ‘Metternich System’ of détente diplomacy between France and Prussia from 1800-1848, which dominated politics on the Continent and established the pathway to Austria’s independence, for four decades Prince Metternich served as foreign minister from 1809-1848 and also Chancellor from 1821, the father of the empire until the liberal Revolutions of 1848, he maintained Austria as a great power and was Napoleon’s able foil because Metternich was super smart but also extremely cocky, once saying,

There is a wide sweep about my mind. I am always above and beyond the preoccupations of most public men. I can cover a ground much vaster than they can see. I cannot keep myself from saying about twenty times a day: ‘How right I am, and how wrong they are.’

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