Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Julia and Paul Child and the Cold War

Julia and Paul Child

In August of 1945 two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan.  Shortly afterward, Japan surrendered and VJ day was celebrated on 8/15/45.

In September of 1945, just weeks later, President Truman signed an executive order disbanding the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) which had gathered intelligence and fought behind enemy lines during the war.  This action had the overwhelming support of the US Congress at the time.

The naivete of President Truman and most members of the US Congress in dissolving our worldwide intelligence apparatus is truly staggering.  We'd won the war beating Germany and Japan;  No more need for an American intelligence service!  Those who write dark conspiratorial histories of America's grasping imperialist ambitions typically forget these chapters in our history.

Historians Isaacson and Thomas write in their history of the cold war The Wisemen, "Americans had grown weary of global responsibilities...and wanted nothing more than to "settle our difficulties with Russia and then go to the movies and drink Coke," according to Averell Harriman.  Source: The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made, Walter Isaacson & Evan Thomas, 1986, (    In late 1945, the veterans of the "greatest generation" wanted to return home and begin work on launching the baby boom without giving further thoughts to war and international politics.

One direct consequence of Truman's executive order was the dismissal from the OSS of Paul and Julia Child (8/15/12 marked the centennial of her birth, see earlier post, Happy Napoleon Day!, 8/15/12) who had met and fallen in love while serving in the OSS in Ceylon and in China.  During the war, she even invented a recipe for shark repellent that was designed to save the lives of downed naval airmen--did it contain butter?  After leaving the OSS, the couple returned to the United States and were married.  Paul was re-assigned to work for the USIA (United States Information Agency) in Paris.  Without Truman's dissolution of the OSS Julia Child might never have become a French-trained Cordon bleu chef, famous author or television personality.

Later in life Julia Child wrote a book (with Alex Prud'homme) called My Life in France ( which tells the story of her consuming love affairs with Paul Child, France and Cooking.  The half of the movie Julia and Julie that was worthwhile was based loosely on this book--an anorexic cook who prepares a year's worth of Julia Child recipes -- I don't buy it!  Reading My Life in France makes one hungry for classic French cuisine.  I can relate to her exuberant joy in the pleasures of expat life.

Paul Child was a foot soldier in the cold war efforts who helped created presentation materials in Paris, Marseille, Bonn and Oslo.  In her book My Life in France, Julia Child writes, "So icy was the Cold War now that Paul and I were half convinced that the Russians--"the wily commies," he called them--would invade Western Europe.  He suffered nightmares over the possibility of an all out nuclear war.  He grew snappish at the office, convinced that the busy world that ate up his days was trivial in light of our nation's unpreparedness.  I declared that I was ready to man the barricades to defend la belle France ad her wonderful citizens."  Julia later writes that Paul was preoccupied with "the fact that the U.S. wasn't doing enough to prepare Western Europe for a Russian invasion".   In Paris, Paul did his best for the USIA creating, for example, presentations on the Berlin airlift that saved Germans from starvation in 1948 (see earlier post,

Julia and Paul Child were, undeniably, liberals for their time.  She was a young woman who was in rebellion against her father -- a conservative Republican businessman from Pasadena.  Julia tells us that Paul, "had to bite his tongue when my father's friends would casually scorn President Truman, Jews, Negroes, the United Nations, or all those "Phi Beta Kappas" in Washington".

Julia did not "like Ike" and she let her father know it.  After the election of 1952 Julia had this exchange with her father...Julia "'Well, I guess you Pasadenans are pretty glad about Ike's election results.'

'Glad?  I should say we are!'  Big John thundered.  'Why who wouldn't be?  Everybody's glad!  But of course you people over there, you wouldn't know how the country feels--all your news is slanted.'

This was hard to take, especially from the man who read only the right-leaning LA Times.  For the record, Paul and I were avid devourers of the New York Times, The Herald Tribune, Le Figaro, Time, Fortune, The Reporter, Harper's, The New Yorker, even L'Humanite, not to mention the flood of embassy cables, intelligence briefs, and other twenty-four-hour-wire-service and ticker sheets pouring in from around the world.  So -- whose news was slanted?"

Commander Kelly must note here that Julia Child writes these words without even a trace of irony.  The answer to her question is, of course, that BOTH father and daughter's news sources were slanted!  They always are.  Some, dear reader, have even accused Commander Kelly of being somewhat slanted!

When McCarthyism broke out in the US, Paul Child was summoned back to Washington and subjected to interrogation.  Paul Child, the OSS spook, was suspected of being a treasonous commie spy in the state department.  Julia Child was a committed New Dealer -- recall that the Democrats in 1952 had won 5 consecutive Presidential contests over twenty years.  Accordingly, she did not "like Ike" and blamed him for complacency in the anti-communist withchunt.

She writes, "What was happening to America?  Several of our friends and colleagues were tormented by McCarthy's terrible witch hunt.  It ruined careers and, and in some cases, lives.  Even president Eisenhower seemed unwilling to stand up to him, which made me angry.  When Eisenhower announced that he'd run for a second term, after having a heart attack, I had no doubt that Adlai Stevenson would make the better (an more resilient) president.  Ike was just not inspiring: I got nothing but a hollow feeling from his utterances, as if Pluto the dog were suddenly making human noises.  Just about anyone from the GOP had, for me, a fake soap-selling ring to him, with the exception of Herbert Hoover, who had impressed everyone on a recent swing through Europe.  Stevenson, on the other hand, had a nobility of ideals that appealed to me.  I just liked eggheads, damnit!"

Julia Child might have been surprised to learn that Eisenhower in (see earlier post, Eisenhower in London, 7/23/12) loathed Senator Joseph McCarthy, in Stephen Ambrose's words "almost as much as he hated Hitler."  Ike ordered all members of the executive branch to ignore  McCarthy's summons with his Army committee hearings in the US senate.  When Senator McCarthy went after the US Army he was taking on the American institution that was dearest to Ike's heart.  Moreover, it was Ike who was, in fact, the principal architect of McCarthy's self-destruction in his showdown with the US Army.  For a full account of how Ike broke McCarthy see Jean Edward Smith's "First off the Tee" chapter in his book--Eisenhower in War and Peace, 2012 (http:/

Julia Child's Classic

It was, of course, not principally in the field of political commentary that Julia Child made her mark on the world, but rather in the kitchen;  here she excelled.  The childless 6'2" Child poured out her passion into mastering French cooking and then explaining it effectively to the wide American public.  She, along with her collaborators, wrote the classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking ( which was published in 1961 and made its way into countless American homes.  She then went on to become the French Chef on public television.

Vice president Nixon and Nikita Krushchev fought their famous battle of the kitchen in Moscow in 1959  (  Previously, I credited General Electric with making many of the appliances that helped American women surpass their Soviet counterparts in the kitchen (see earlier post, The Corporations that Won the Cold War, 8/19/12), but that of course, is only part of the story.  Corporations such as GE and Frigidaire may have supplied some of the "hardware," but it was Julia Child and others like her who created the essential "software" to advance the deplorable state of American cookery.

Julia Child's success meant that a surprise Soviet "borscht" first strike would be answered by the USA, not only with burgers and fries, but also with a devastating "boeuf bourguigon" reprisal!

Julia Child loved using butter and cream in her preparation of rich French sauces such as Bearnaise and Beurre Blanc.  She adored pate and foie gras (see earlier post, Marijauna and Pate in California, 6/30/12).  It is safe to say that "liberal" Julia Child would be horrified by the politically correct approach to food and nutrition espoused by today's liberal diet police (e.g. Michelle Obama).  She made the world more delicious by her presence.  She was a bridge across cultures and represented an America that would remain, not isolated, but rather, engaged positively with the world.

Commander K. flashes the "V for Victory" sign at Comrade Lenin in Fremont, WA

Commander Kelly says, "Julia and Paul Child, therefore, each deserve credit in helping to guide the West to a most delectable victory over communism in the Cold War.  Pass the butter!"

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's 
first book, America Invades or on

Monday, August 27, 2012

Oysters and World War II

Great Food History

In Mark Kurlansky's wonderful book, The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell ( we learn about the bivalve bounty that once existed off the shores of Manhattan.  Kurlansnky writes, "By 1880, New York was the undisputed capital of history's greatest oyster boom in its golden age, which lasted until at least 1910.  The oyster beds of the New York area were producing 700 million oysters a year."

The first blow to oyster production was sewage.  "The reality is that millions of people produce far too much sewage to co-exist with millions of oysters...A million times worse than pollution happened.  The silt and sludge alone would have been enough to kill oysters, which would sink in it and suffocate.  But the industrial wastes consisted of heavy metals, including seven thousand pounds of zinc, copper, lead chromium, and nickel that entered the city sewer system every day...Between the 1940's and the 1970's, General Electric dumped hundreds of thousand of pounds of polycholorinated biphenyls, PCBs, into the Hudson..Concentrations of six heavy metals were found in the 1980's in the central muddy portion of the bay (Raritan).  They had entered the water from the many factories built on the Raritan Rover during World War II.  With the sentiment "anything for the war effort," these industries were allowed to freely dump into the river, and the practice continued after the war.  In 1978, Raritan Bay was found to have the highest concentration of hydrocarbons.  Fish in the bay were found to be laced with PCBs.  The fish were often misshapen by a pollution-caused disease known as "fin-erosion disease."  The Big Oyster, Mark Kurlansky, 2006 (

World War II was the most destructive war in the history of mankind claiming the lives of around 60 to 70 million casualties worldwide; another casualty was the oyster beds of New York.  America's Military Industrial Complex may have knocked off Hitler and Tojo, liberated the Nazi and Japanese concentration camps, but it also has the death of billions of oysters on its hands as well.  In order to construct Freedom's Forge and win World War II the tasty bivalves of New York had to walk the plank.

Today, Seattle is a great place to explore the still-beating heart of the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) that grew out of World War II. You can take in The Museum of Flight (see earlier post, Museum of Flight, 7/9/12), near Boeing Field, and Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection (see earlier post, Flying Heritage Collection, 6/29/12) up in nearby Everett.

Commander K. at the Walrus and the Carpenter
Seattle and the Northwest is also, happily, a terrific place for oysters.  The pristine waters of the Puget Sound are a fabulous breeding round for the delicious bivalves.  A fantastic new restaurant called Walrus and the Carpenter ( recently opened in Ballard,WA.    The Walrus and the Carpenter is located on Ballard Avenue in an mixed use neighborhood that has manufacturing along with several restaurants and bars.  The restaurant is located just above a bike shop.  They have a great selection of local oysters, fresh baked bread, seasonal salads which can all be washed down with champagne, draft micro brews and a good selection of wines.  Their menu also features provocatively named cocktails such as Moustache Ride and Death in the Evening.  Beyond oysters the menu changes on a daily basis to provide for the freshest possible options.  They featured French classics such as escargot and steak tartare on my recent visit.  The tomato salad with organic tomatoes was amazing.  They do not take reservations, so go early when it opens at 4:00 pm to avoid disappointment!

Walrus and the Carpenter, (Photo: courtesy Jan Katzenberger)

The restaurant is, of course, named after the eponymous poem by Lewis Carrol.

Oysters in Ballard!
The Walrus and the Carpenter

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright--
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done--
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To come and spoil the fun!"

The sea was wet as wet could be,
Lewis Carroll
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead--
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "it would be grand!"

"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

Walrus and the Carpenter
"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head—
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat—
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more—
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes- and ships- and sealing wax-
Walrus and the Carpenter, Ballard, WA
Of cabbages- and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot-
And whether pigs have wings."

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed—
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."

"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said.
"Do you admire the view?"

"It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf—
I've had to ask you twice!"

"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"The butter's spread too thick!"

Walrus and the Carpenter, Ballard, WA
"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchiefs
Before his streaming eyes.

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?"
But answer came there none—
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.

Lewis Carrol 1872

Commander Kelly says, "Eat Your Oysters and check out the Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard"!

Special thanks to Randa Minkarah for pointing out the Walrus and the Carpenter to me!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Corporations that Won the Cold War

The Cold War

The "Cold War" was a term first coined by George Orwell in 1945* (see earlier post Animal Farm, 8/12/12).

The Cold War lasted  from the conclusion of World War II in 1945 until 1989 and the collapse of the Berlin Wall. When the wall came down, the once fearful Soviet Union quickly imploded and the nations of the Warsaw pact became free. The "velvet revolution" would transform eastern Europe and the world.

Commander K. and Lenin, Fremont WA
Many individuals and leaders played a role in winning the cold war for the West.  Truman, Marshall, Orwell, Eisenhower, Churchill, Kennedy, Reagan, Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, Gorbachev and Lech Walesa all contributed, to name but a few.

There were also brave men and women who served the cause of freedom in their nation's military in the mountains of Korea, the jungles of Vietnam and around the globe during the cold war.  I honor their service and sacrifice.  But the cold war was not a war like other wars, won or lost on the field of battle. There were costly armed conflicts, to be sure, in Korea, Vietnam, Angola etc.  The cold war, however, was primarily a struggle for "hearts and minds" that was waged around the world.

Neither the leaders nor the soldiers are my focus now.  Today I would prefer to honor the corporations that contributed to winning the cold war laying a wreath, so to speak, at the tomb of the unknown shareholder (see earlier post, The Corporations that Won WW2!

The cold war was ultimately won in the court of global public opinion with massive help from the public relations experts -- corporate America.  It should, therefore, come as no great surprise that it was the corporations of the West that prevailed in winning the cold war.  These corporations that contributed to the triumph of the West were not just defense contractors but much more far-reaching.

Thanks to all the companies around the world that helped to win the Cold War.  Thanks also to the American taxpayer for generously funding this peaceful victory.  It was not just the West that won the cold war -- it was the entire world that ultimately triumphed.

Here is my very partial top ten list of the Corporations that Won the Cold War...

Air Force One - 747
BOEING  President Truman authorized the dropping of two atomic bombs on Imperial Japan in August of 1945 that ended World War II;  these devices terrorized the globe into never resorting to these weapons again (as of now and one may hope, forever).  These bombs were delivered by Boeing's B - 29 Superfortress bombers.  In the flash of an eye, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed and the full horror of atomic warfare was demonstrated to the world.  After witnessing the first atomic weapons test, the physicist Kenneth Bainbridge remarked to Robert Oppenheimer, "Now we are all sons of bitches."

Boeing (BA on the NYSE) went on to build other aircraft such as the B - 52 Stratofortress bomber which, introduced in 1955, is, remarkably enough, still in service as of this writing.  These planes were a part of the Strategic Air Command that helped to deter Soviet aggression during the cold war.  The bomber force could assure the implementation of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) that would be satirized so effectively by in Stanley Kubrik's black comedy Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (

Military aviation, however, was only part of Boeing's contribution to the cold war. Boeing introduced the 707 -- the first commercial jet aircraft in 1958.  Advances in commercial aviation led by the Boeing company ushered in a new mobile lifestyle that made the West so much more attractive (not to mention safer) than the stasis of those living in Eastern block.  This was followed by the 737 and the 747.  The initial USAF request for proposal for an Air Force One using a 747 was made in 1985.

Boeing played a huge role in the US space program that sent astronauts to the moon and back, explored the heavens and launched the Hubble telescope.  Boeing was also part of the consortium that build the Space Shuttle that demonstrated US technical proficiency to the world.  The space race was the ultimate public relations triumph of the West.

USA feeds the World, Berlin Airlift, 1948
CATERPILLAR INC.  This company (CAT on the NYSE) has been building tractors since the company was formed via merger in 1925.  The Navy Seabees used Caterpillar tractors during World War II.  They also constructed some of the engines for the Sherman tanks built during the war.  But it is Caterpillar's contribution to agricultural efficiency that helped make it a winner in the cold war.  With Caterpillar I also imply a host of other agricultural related-companies such as Con Agra, John Deere and many others who all helped to make American farmers the most productive in the world.  During the Dutch famine of 1944, RAF planes dropped food into German occupied areas of Holland in Operation Manna.  Later it would be US shipments of surplus food under the Marshall plan that kept most of Europe from the brink of starvation in the aftermath of the Second World War.  During the Berlin airlift of 1948 planeloads of milk, flour and other food items kept the city alive.

"The Berlin blockade was saved from catastrophe by the airlift.  Standing in the street in Berlin, Bohlen** recalled his amazement at the sight of C-54s swooping into Berlin (see photo above) one after another, landing at Tempelhof Airport every four or five minutes.  The airlift just kept growing.  Keeping Berlin alive required 4,000 tons a day, or a C-54 every three minutes and forty-three seconds.  In June and July, the airlift averaged 1,147 tons; but by autumn, it had reached the 4,000 ton minimum.  The planes were even able to transport coal.  To accommodate more transports, another airfield was built by twenty thousand Berliners with their bare hands.  Stalin had blundered.  The Soviets began to look like barbarians, bent on starvation, while the Americans seemed like saviors."  Source: The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made, Walter Isaacson & Evan Thomas, 1986,

America's bountiful harvest, made possible by companies such at Caterpillar, would go on to help alleviate famine throughout the third world throughout the cold war.  
Ronald Reagan GE Spokesman
GENERAL ELECTRIC  GE hired actor Ronald Reagan as a spokesman in the 1950's.  Reagan toured GE plants around the country honing his speaking and political skills.  As President, Reagan would question to continuation of the orthodox strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) hoping for a more satisfactory result.  GE (GE on the NYSE) also built the kinds of appliances that helped Nixon to show up Khrushchev in the famous "Kitchen" debate which took place in Moscow in 1959  The American housewife had a better deal than her Soviet counterpart partly because GE "brought good things to life".  GE also owned NBC which, in turn, hired American patriots such as Bob Hope who inspired the troops in many wars with his USO tours.

James Bond 007, Cold Warrior
MGM/UNITED ARTISTS  Ian Fleming wrote the novels, but it was MGM/UA with the EON production team, led initially by "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, that made the James Bond films -- the longest running and most successful movie franchise in film history.  The 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall with Daniel Craig, is due out in November 2012.  James Bond (see earlier post, Commander Bond's London, signaled the emergence of Britain and the West from the dour austerity of wartime rationing.  Bond was part of the jet set.  Bond ate well and enjoyed life.  Moreover, Commander Bond kicked ass and made the Russians look silly and inept -- unless, of course, they happened to be beautiful female Russian agents!  When I cite MGM/UA and the Bond films I also tip my hat to the real life intelligence operatives (Ian Fleming was one during World War II.) Britain's MI-6, Felix Lighter's CIA, spy planes like the SR-71 Blackbird and, later, earth-orbiting satellites; the West had strategic advantages in intelligence gathering services that had evolved from our triumphs during World War II with  the code breakers at Bletchley House (see earlier post Bletchley Park and the Judgement of History, in the UK and the Magic program in the USA.  Bond is also a direct descendant of the Special Operations Executive  (SOE) that had been tasked with "setting Nazi-occupied Europe ablaze " (see earlier post, Violette Szabo,

McDonnell Douglas F - 4, Phantom, Museum of Flight, Seattle, Wa
MCDONELL DOUGLAS  This company manufactured the F-4 Phantom Fighter bomber which was a workhorse aircraft for the West during the cold war.  They also contributed to commercial aviation with aircraft such as the D-10 and also assisted with the US space program.

The Soviets bought it!
20th CENTURY FOX  George Lucas created the megahit film Star Wars for 20th Century Fox which was released in 1977.  While Lucas may be an economic simpleton (see earlier post, Red Tails versus Obama, 6/20/12), he has been a movie making genius whose work had reverberations that extended beyond his wildest imaginings.   President Reagan, in an effort to move beyond Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), came up with the Strategic Defense Initiative ( This program was mocked and derided by the mainstream media who labelled it a "Star Wars Defense" program.  The technical merits of SDI may be long debated, but the public relations victory of Star Wars weapons is unquestionable.  These laser guided ICBM melting weapons may not have actually worked, but the Soviets, because of the film Star Wars believed that those darned Americans would figure out a way to make them blast the motherland's missiles out of the sky like Han Solo firing on Imperial Star fighters.  The Soviet Union could not afford to keep spending vast resources on defense to keep up with those crazy Americans with their space lasers.  The Hollywood entertainment industry, in spite of its frequent criticism of western capitalism, provides many great American exports (film and television) that helped our balance of trade and insinuated the superiority of the West throughout the world during the cold war.

The Orginal

Mao Jacket

Joni Mitchell in denim
Reagan in denim
LEVI STRAUSS & CO.  Levi Strauss is a private company that was founded in 1853 and is based in San Francisco, CA.  They benefited enormously from the "jeans craze"of the 1960's and 1970's.  When I cite this company, I imply far more than just the most famous jeans brand in the world.  I also suggest the self-evident superiority of all Western fashion (Italian, French, American, etc.) over anything created behind the iron curtain -- Dior versus the Mao jacket -- no contest!  Levi's jeans also suggest the unmistakable appeal of the old West that one could find in cowboy movies (e.g. Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns), TV series such as Gunsmoke and Bonanza and country and western music.  The cowboys were the "good guys," they were rugged individualists and they wore Levi's jeans.  Levi's jeans were the perfect synthesis of democratic egalitarian principles and the libertarian aspirations of the old west, expressed in denim and brass.  They were worn with pride by Joni Mitchell and Ronald Reagan.  A generation of American youth rebelled against parental authority and stifling all wearing the exact same jeans!

Apple "1984" Ad

APPLE COMPUTER.  Steve Jobs introduced the Apple Macintosh in 1984 with the most famous Superbowl commercial of all time.  The dystopic vision of Orwell's 1984 did not come to pass due largely to the liberating effect of technology which put information and unprecedented computing power in the hands of individuals.  I cite Apple (AAPL on the NASDAQ) but I also imply the work of many other technology leader such as Microsoft, Intel, IBM, HP and many more.  The current iPad or iPhone has more computing power than all of NASA's computers had in 1969. In 1969, NASA, aided by Boeing and many other companies, launched men to the moon.  This rapid increase in terms of computing power drained power from the state and put it squarely into the hands of individuals pursuing their own dreams.  The Soviet Union copied and frequently stole American high technology to meet their own ends, but they could not match the potential for technological innovation inherent in Western capitalism.

Irrepressible Rock

ROLLING STONES RECORDS  I cite this label as being representative of rock 'n' roll and the entire music industry in the West.  I could also include Decca, EMI, Apple, Virgin, Motown and many more.  The rebellious spirit of rock 'n' roll exercised and still has enormous appeal for the baby boom generation and their descendants.  Rock 'n' roll was the music of freedom and liberation from tyrannical authority.  It spread throughout the world like an unstoppable virus.  Young people would listen to Western music in secret.  Yes, there were messages of sex, drugs and rebellion, but there was another message too -- the West was much cooler and hipper than the communist world.

Russell Baker wrote in his preface to Animal Farm, "The Soviet Union could surround itself with walls but could not block out revolutionary radio and electronic waves, which stirred up the supposedly whipped human herd with an irresistible appetite for rock 'n' roll, blue jeans, and other such subverters of totalitarian rule."  Preface to Animal Farm, Russell Baker 1996, Signet Classics.

When the Chernobyl nuclear disaster struck in 1986 the Soviet Union, instead of disclosing the truth of the matter played several minutes of sombre classical music. "During that time, all radio broadcasts run by the state were replaced with classical music, which was a common method of preparing the public for an announcement of a tragedy that had taken place," according to Wikipedia.

By contrast, during operation Just Cause the US Army blasted rock 'n roll to drive dictator Manuel Noriega out of  the Vatican Embassy in Panama City in 1989.  The LA Times wrote, "For the first time, it appears that the U.S. government recognizes rock music as a front-line weapon in the fight for truth, justice and the American Way."

Shortly after the Berlin wall fell, the Rolling Stones did a concert tour of Prague that blew the doors down.  Beer sales reached an all time high.  Vaclav Havel himself was a big Stones fan (see video below).  From Havel's obituary we read, "Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones arrived just as the Soviet army was leaving. Posters in Prague proclaimed: 'The tanks are rolling out — the Stones are rolling in.'"  Source:

It is with sadness that I note that the free expression of ideas in song is under attack today in Russia where the group Pussy Riot was recently sentenced in Moscow to do hard time for the crime of having mocked Putin in a song.


Back on the home front during the cold war there were "hawks" who favored military responses and "doves" who opposed them.  There is always a dynamic tension between the impulses of left and right.

From the perspective of 2012, those on the left must acknowledge that the cold war required military preparedness.  George Marshall summed this up eloquently, "We have tried since the birth of our nation to promote our love of peace by a display of weakness.  This course has failed us utterly."  (Source: Patton: A Genius for War, Carlo D'Este, 1995,  Corporations such as those above and many more allowed us to maintain the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) that was critical to winning the cold war.

Those on the left must also acknowledge the vital importance of aggressive principled moral leadership by the United States of America.  In 1961 at his inaugural JFK said, "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."  President Carter would respond to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan with a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics (see earlier post, Defending...Jimmy Carter,  Later Reagan would denounce the "evil Empire" that imprisoned political prisoners in its gulag.  Reagan would visit Berlin and speak these immortal words, "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!'

Those on the right must, however, acknowledge that those who exercised their right of dissent and protested the Vietnam war, for example, ironically helped to achieve ultimate victory for the West insofar as their voices represented the superiority of a free pluralistic society over authoritarianism.  Partisans of the right must also acknowledge that the cold war was not won by means of military strength alone and that the leadership skills of patience, compassion and forbearance exemplified by Eisenhower and others (see earlier post Eisenhower in London, were invaluable.

* "We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity.  James Burnham"s theory has been much discussed, but few people have yet considered its ideological implications--that is, the kind of world-view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a State which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of 'cold war' with its neighbors."   You and the Atom Bomb, George Orwell, October 19, 1945.

** "Chip" Bohlen was an adviser to Harry Truman.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Lucian Truscott's Advice to his Son

Lucian K. Truscott, 1895 - 1965

Lucian K. Trucscott was one of the US Army's finest polo players. He also served as a general under Patton in the Sicily campaign and took over command of Third Army after Patton's relief in 1945.  He joined the Army as a lieutenant in 1917 and retired as a four star general in 1948.  He was one of the great military leaders of World War II.

This was his advice to his son...

"Listen, Son, goddamit.  Let me tell you something and don't ever forget it.  You play games to win, not lose.  And you fight wars to win!  That's spelled W-I-N!  And every good player in the game and every good commander in a war, and I mean really good player or good commander, every damn one of them has to have some sonofabitch in him.  If he doesn't, he isn't a good player or commander.  And he will never be a good commander.  Polo games and wars aren't won by gentlemen.  They are won by men who can be first-class sonofbitches when they have to be.  It's as simple as that.  No sonofabitch, no commander."

Source: Patton: A Genius for War, p. 312, Carlo D'Este, 1995,

3rd Army Vet remembers encounter with Truscott

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Business Experience and the White House

Romney, Business Leader

When Governor Romney becomes President Romney next year, (I am sticking with my earlier prediction, see earlier post Paul Ryan and the Path to Victory, 8/11/12.  He is leading now in WI and FL according to the latest Rasmussen polls.) he will have more business experience than any previous occupant of the White House.

Commander Kelly asks, "Is having business experience a plus, a negative or neutral in terms of being a good American President?"

George Washington was a land surveyor.  This was excellent training for becoming a general -- getting the lay of the land before battle.  Being a land surveyor meant that Washington also gained significant commercial experience.  He provided a valuable service to others.    Washington also became a significant real estate entrepreneur.  Joseph Ellis writes, "Washington's most grandiose western venture, called the Mississippi Land Company, was launched in 1763, the very year of George III's proclamation.  Fifty investors requested proprietary control over 2.5 million acres on both sides of the Ohio River."  (His Excellency: George Washington, Joseph Ellis, 2004,

Ellis continues, "Several biographers have looked upon this extended episode of land acquisitions as an unseemly and perhaps uncharacteristic display of personal avarice, mostly because they are judging Washington against his later and legendary reputation for self-denial, or against some modern guilt-driven standard for treatment of Native Americans.  In fact, Washington's avid pursuit of acreage, like his attitude toward slavery, was rather typical of Virginia's planter class.  He was simply more diligent in his quest than most."  These business experiences helped him to become our first President and one of our best.

Harry Truman had commercial experience of another kind.  He ran a Haberdashery in downtown Kansas City.  The business went bankrupt during the recession of 1921.  Nevertheless, Truman carried away lessons from this experience that he would apply to his Presidency.  Truman faced enormous challenges in his time.  He had to bring World War II to a successful conclusion.  He had to deal with bringing 10+ million servicemen back to the US without triggering massive unemployment and avert a second depression.  He had to deal with an obstreperous Stalin, a devastated Europe and the start of the Cold War.  Truman's experience as a failed businessman perhaps influenced him in deciding to support the tremendously influential GI bill.  Truman was remarkably successful in rising to these challenges partly because of his experience as a businessman.

Ronald Reagan was not a business titan.  He was, however, an actor.  He earned the respect of his peers and became the head of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).  As the leader of the SAG he was  required to negotiate with the Hollywood studios on behalf of his union, not an easy task.  He gained much practical business experience by doing so (see Peggy Noonan's When Character was King).   Reagan gained further business experience as a spokesman for General Electric during the 1950's.  These formative experiences in business helped Reagan to become a successful President.

Business people tend to be pragmatic.  They understand the importance of hiring good talented people who can get the job done, regardless of religion, ethnicity, ideology or party affiliation.  Both Washington and Reagan were particularly good as talent spotters (Alexander Hamilton and Colin Powell are two respective examples).  See earlier post, George Washington in London?, 2/8/12.

Finally, business people recognize that they did build their businesses, typically in spite of government rather than because of it.

Calvin Coolidge, a very under-rated President who presided over a period of peace and prosperity said, "The business of America is business".

Commander Kelly says, "I would submit that history demonstrates that business experience is a significant advantage for any candidate for the White House; its complete absence is, on the other hand, a liability."

Astonishing Ignorance from Bill Maher...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Napoleon Day!

Napoleon I, 1769 - 1821

On this date in history, August 15, 1769 Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Ajaccio, Corsica.  Today we mark the 243rd year since Napoleon's birth (CRK -- written 2012).

Napoleon shares his birthday with Julia Child who was born one hundred years ago today.  One short / one tall (she was 6' 2"), one male / one female, one Corsican / one American -- but both shared a love for France.  He said, "An army marches on its stomach," she said "Bon Appetit"!

Today also marks the 67th anniversary of V/J Day, or the cessation of World War II -- the most destructive war in human history.

Julia Child served her country in OSS in the Pacific theatre in World War II.  She met her husband, Paul Child, while working for OSS, the forerunner of the CIA.  She invented a recipe for shark repellent that was designed to save the lives of downed naval airmen; did it contain butter?  Julia Child was born and grew up in Pasadena, CA.

George Patton also grew up in Pasadena, CA.  He was a lifelong student of Napoleon.  Today you will find his grave in Luxembourg where he is surrounded by the fallen of the American Third Army.

Patton's Grave, Luxembourg
Napoleon once said, "The boundaries of an empire are marked by the graves of her soldiers."

Happy Birthday to Napoleon!

Happy Napoleon Day to You!

Bon appetit!

Peace to All!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Silent Service in World War II

Commander K. with USS Torsk, Baltimore, MD
The flip side of the story of the Liberty Ships such as the Jeremiah O'Brien (see earlier post, SS Jeremiah O'Brien, 8/13/12) was the fate of the Japanese Merchant Marine at the hands of the submarines of the US Navy.  A staggering 56 percent of these ships were sunk by the US Navy submarines in the course of the war  (The Storm of War, Andrew Roberts, 2009 http:/

USS Pampanito, SF, CA
The historian Niall Ferguson writes, "The Germans had already made the concept of 'lightning war' their own.  But never in military history has lightning struck in so many places with such devastating results as it did in Asia and the Pacific between the beginning of December 1941 and the end of April 1942.  Moreover, the distances involved were vastly greater than those being covered simultaneously by the Germans in Europe.  At its maximum extent, the Japanese Empire stretched 6,400 miles from west to east and 5,300 miles from north to south; its circumference was a staggering 14,200 miles.  By the beginning of May 1942, the Japanese could plausibly contemplate attacks on Midway, New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa, New Guinea and even Australia , Ceylon and India."  The War of the World, Niall Ferguson, 2006. (http:/

Commander K. in the Map Room, USS Torsk, Baltimore, MD
The initial and overwhelming success of the Japanese onslaught in the six months following  the attack on Pearl Harbor created a vast sprawling empire encompassing most of the Pacific ocean.  The far-flung Japanese garrisons and forces needed to be re-supplied entirely by sea.  The Japanese home islands also depended on shipments of scarce natural resources such as oil and rubber as well.  This put enormous pressure on the Japanese merchant marine.

USS Torsk, Inner Harbor, Baltimore, MD

These ships were vulnerable to attack by American submarines. The British historian Andrew Roberts wrote, "the American naval blockade that had been in effect since 1943 would eventually starve the overcrowded island into surrender, though not for many months or possibly longer.  No fewer than 4.8 million tons of Japanese merchant shipping were sent to the bottom by US submarines in the course of the war, 56 percent of the total, and that did not include 201 warships, comprising a further 540,000 tons.  It came at the grievous cost of fifty-two US submarines, however, and thus the worst death rate of any branch of the US armed forces, even higher than the bomber crews of the Eighth Air Force."  (The Storm of War, Andrew Roberts, 2009 http:/

"Still on Patrol" 52 US subs lost in WW II, USS Torsk, Baltimore, MD
203 US submarines were constructed by the US during World War II (Source: Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II by Arthur Herman, 2012  (http:/   Some are, thankfully, still afloat.  (See earlier posts The Corporations that Won World War II, 7/20/12) and Freedom's Forge, 8/10/12).

Commander K. in the Engine Room,  USS Torsk, Baltimore , MD

In San Francisco at Pier 45, you will find and can tour the USS Pampanito (  This ship is a Balao class submarine built at Portsmouth Naval station in Maine in 1943.  In Baltimore's Inner Harbor you will see the USS Torsk  (  The USS Torsk is a Tench class submarine also built by the Portsmouth Naval Station and launched on 12/16/44.

Even the bluest cities in our land enjoy celebrating these vestiges of our Military Industrial Complex (MIC) and the brave men who all volunteered to serve on board them.

Commander Kelly says, "Go on board to experience a small part of the claustrophobia, body odor and terror that these brave crew members had to endure."

Tribute to the Silent Service

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