Saturday, February 15, 2014
WHO would be a watchdog in a dysfunctional democracy? The events of the last five days demonstrate that in one vital area, this State resembles something plucked from the dark imagination of Franz Kafka, rather than a modern European country.
Last Sunday, The Sunday Times revealed that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission’s premises had, in layman’s terms, been bugged.
Three different potential security breaches were identified in sweeps last September and October. Modern surveillance techniques ensure that the presence of interception cannot be definitively established. But in one of the three threats, the possibility that it was not bugged was rated at “close to nil” by the counter-surveillance company which discovered it.
In most democracies, this would be a matter of grave concern. Who could be bugging GSOC? Who, other than members of An Garda Síochána, would have any reason to do so? It is possible that highly organised criminals might engage in this behaviour, but surely they would have more interesting targets to bug — the gardaí themselves, for example.
The implications are enormous. Yet among large sections of government, media, and the national police force, a concerted effort was made to divert all attention from a possible assault on the heart of our alleged democracy.
On Monday, the Irish Independent ran with the headline ‘Garda Watchdog to be grilled over failure to report spying probe’. The thrust of the story was that GSOC was in the dock for not reporting that it had been bugged. It was akin to suggesting that the victim of an assault was to blame for the crime because they didn’t report it to the gardaí.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny picked up on the theme. Later that day, he played down the notion of a bugging scandal, and instead had a cut at GSOC.
“Most importantly, Section 80 subsection 5 of the Garda Síochána Act requires that GSOC would report unusual matters or matters of exceptional importance to the minister for justice and that’s a fundamental issue that GSOC needs to explain to the minister for justice,” said Kenny.
Kenny is not noted for his grasp of detail, but here he was quoting the exact provision of a law. Except there was no such law, unless the Taoiseach had, in a Kafkaesque flourish, taken it upon himself to invent one as he went along.
The section he quoted states that GSOC “may” inform the minister if it believes a serious issue warrants his attention. There was no obligation on GSOC to inform Shatter, but Kenny, like others, was seeking some deflection from the real story.
It didn’t matter who had bugged GSOC. What was at issue was the GSOC heads hadn’t informed the minister for justice. If they had, Alan Shatter would presumably have donned a Superman cape and flown off to nab the bad guys.
The chairman of GSOC, Simon O’Brien, was summoned to Shatter’s office to explain why he hadn’t informed the minister. After the meeting, O’Brien issued a statement in which he said he “regretted” not telling Shatter earlier.
Shatter is charged with overseeing justice, security, and policing in this state. Yet his main concern over the breach of surveillance in GSOC was that he hadn’t been filled in.
Shatter effectively carpeted O’Brien. In doing so, the minister dealt a blow to the independence of GSOC. Could anybody imagine Shatter dressing down the Garda commissioner in a similar manner? Since he came to power, Shatter has repeatedly sided with the gardaí when tensions flared between the force and GSOC. Here he was now, putting the independent agency in its place.
The GSOC statement on Monday evening included a line that the security breach unearthed “no evidence of garda misconduct”.
Cue righteous indignation from Garda commissioner Martin Callinan. A few weeks back, the commissioner didn’t mince his words in relation to whistleblowers in the force making allegations about garda misconduct. “Frankly, I think it’s disgusting,” he said then.
Now, with grave suspicions that the offices of an independent state agency had been bugged, the top cop in the country was more concerned with perceived insensitivities towards the force. He lined up to take a shot at O’Brien and his colleagues.
“It is a cause of grave concern that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission’s statement contains a clear indication that An Garda Síochána was in some way suspected of complicity in this matter despite GSOC’s overall finding that the existence of technical and electronic anomalies could not be conclusively explained,” Callinan stated.
Who did he think might be suspected of bugging an organisation charged with investigating gardaí? Mrs Brown’s boys? Donald Duck? The reference to the gardaí in the GSOC statement was made in the context of the whole country assuming that the person or persons most likely to have bugged the office would have come from Garda ranks. However, Callinan couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a cut. Another blow for GSOC, another chip away at its independence, a few more inches gained in shoving it towards the abyss of irrelevance.
By the next day, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors was calling for O’Brien’s head. Who cares who bugged GSOC? The commission was on the ropes, lined up to hand out another pummelling.
SINCE its inception under the 2005 Garda Síochána Act, GSOC has been held in barely concealed contempt by large swathes of the force.
In the early days, the investigative body made some mistakes. On one occasion, when an officer had taken his own life, GSOC swooped on the station with precious little sensitivity for bereaved colleagues of the dead man. In another instance, a GSOC member left a voice message for an officer which was interpreted as heavy-handed and legally threatening.
Yet, apart from incidents such as these, the main issue is that many in the force still balk at the spectre of an outside agency investigating how it does its business. Both the AGSI and the Garda Representative Association have been highly critical of GSOC at various junctures in the last six years.
This is the context in which the AGSI stuck the boot in this week, calling for O’Brien’s head, which would have undoubtedly further weakened GSOC’s independence.
On Tuesday evening, Shatter told the Dáil there was nothing to see here. There was no “definitive evidence” of a bugging, but the failure of GSOC to tell him about it “is a matter of substantial concern to me”.
Tell him about what? If he was to be believed, there was precious little to report. The main thing, though, was that everybody got off the bugging business. Move along there, now.
By Wednesday, the Indo had the whole thing nailed down: “Watchdog defies call to quit in ‘bugging’ scandal”. It was all about O’Brien limping on in this scandal that required inverted commas. Eyes front. No bugging in sight.
Later that day, at an Oireachtas hearing, O’Brien laid out the reality. He had been highly suspicious that somebody had at least been trying to breach the security of the agency. This position was at odds — certainly in emphasis — with that laid out by Shatter the previous day.
What angle is taken by RTÉ? That a major hunt was now on in GSOC to find out who leaked the story to The Sunday Times. Bugging, what bugging? The story had moved on from the failure to report to Shatter to the hunt for the leaker.
Quite obviously, some reporters who followed this thread have no grasp of irony.
Many crime reporters in this country, with some honourable exceptions, rely nearly exclusively on highly placed leaks within the force for their information. The relationship is grossly imbalanced, ensuring that reporters are reluctant to say or write anything that might not meet with approval in garda management. Yet now the GSOC story was the leak. What dastardly cur dared to leak information from a State agency concerned with security? It was a revealing week.
When faced with the prospect of upsetting their cozy cartel, garda management, government, and elements of the media moved swiftly to eliminate unpalatable truths. A possible scandal drawing in members of the gardaí would just not be tolerated by any of the parties. There is simply too much to lose. Lip service to democratic values is all very well, but when it comes to the crunch, everybody knows where their bread is buttered.
It is almost certain that somebody attempted to, or succeeded in, bugging the offices of an independent agency charged with policing the police. So what?
Those holding the reins of power apparently see their responsibilities purely in terms of their own positions. The notion that we live in a proper democracy is little short of a joke.
By Michael Clifford
Friday, February 14, 2014
In October of 1973, Bruce Severy — a 26-year-old English teacher at Drake High School, North Dakota — decided to use Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, as a teaching aid in his classroom. The next month, on November 7th, the head of the school board, Charles McCarthy, demanded that all 32 copies be burned in the school's furnace as a result of its "obscene language." Other books soon met with the same fate.
On the 16th of November, Kurt Vonnegut sent McCarthy the following letter. He didn't receive a reply.
November 16, 1973
Dear Mr. McCarthy:
I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. I am among those American writers whose books have been destroyed in the now famous furnace of your school.
Certain members of your community have suggested that my work is evil. This is extraordinarily insulting to me. The news from Drake indicates to me that books and writers are very unreal to you people. I am writing this letter to let you know how real I am.
I want you to know, too, that my publisher and I have done absolutely nothing to exploit the disgusting news from Drake. We are not clapping each other on the back, crowing about all the books we will sell because of the news. We have declined to go on television, have written no fiery letters to editorial pages, have granted no lengthy interviews. We are angered and sickened and saddened. And no copies of this letter have been sent to anybody else. You now hold the only copy in your hands. It is a strictly private letter from me to the people of Drake, who have done so much to damage my reputation in the eyes of their children and then in the eyes of the world. Do you have the courage and ordinary decency to show this letter to the people, or will it, too, be consigned to the fires of your furnace?
I gather from what I read in the papers and hear on television that you imagine me, and some other writers, too, as being sort of ratlike people who enjoy making money from poisoning the minds of young people. I am in fact a large, strong person, fifty-one years old, who did a lot of farm work as a boy, who is good with tools. I have raised six children, three my own and three adopted. They have all turned out well. Two of them are farmers. I am a combat infantry veteran from World War II, and hold a Purple Heart. I have earned whatever I own by hard work. I have never been arrested or sued for anything. I am so much trusted with young people and by young people that I have served on the faculties of the University of Iowa, Harvard, and the City College of New York. Every year I receive at least a dozen invitations to be commencement speaker at colleges and high schools. My books are probably more widely used in schools than those of any other living American fiction writer.
If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. They beg that people be kinder and more responsible than they often are. It is true that some of the characters speak coarsely. That is because people speak coarsely in real life. Especially soldiers and hardworking men speak coarsely, and even our most sheltered children know that. And we all know, too, that those words really don’t damage children much. They didn’t damage us when we were young. It was evil deeds and lying that hurt us.
After I have said all this, I am sure you are still ready to respond, in effect, “Yes, yes–but it still remains our right and our responsibility to decide what books our children are going to be made to read in our community.” This is surely so. But it is also true that if you exercise that right and fulfill that responsibility in an ignorant, harsh, un-American manner, then people are entitled to call you bad citizens and fools. Even your own children are entitled to call you that.
I read in the newspaper that your community is mystified by the outcry from all over the country about what you have done. Well, you have discovered that Drake is a part of American civilization, and your fellow Americans can’t stand it that you have behaved in such an uncivilized way. Perhaps you will learn from this that books are sacred to free men for very good reasons, and that wars have been fought against nations which hate books and burn them. If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own.
If you and your board are now determined to show that you in fact have wisdom and maturity when you exercise your powers over the eduction of your young, then you should acknowledge that it was a rotten lesson you taught young people in a free society when you denounced and then burned books–books you hadn’t even read. You should also resolve to expose your children to all sorts of opinions and information, in order that they will be better equipped to make decisions and to survive.
Again: you have insulted me, and I am a good citizen, and I am very real.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Don’t you just love or hate, Batty o Keeffe, former Fianna Fail Minister Of Education? Yet it seems that Batty knows very little about education. He said about the former Magdalene Laundries victims this: “The Magdalene laundries were privately –owned and operated establishments which did not come within the responsibility of the State. The State did not refer individuals to the Magdalen laundries nor was it complicit in referring individuals to them.”
Of course today we know that was untrue, and a lie that may damn Batty to hell if he did know then, which I suspect he very much did. All of this posturing by the Magdalene victim bashing Batty was way back in 2009.
Of course I would guess if you were to ask him today has his position altered on the matter and manner of how those poor victims were treated and about their rights as citizens, I guess he would answer: ‘Based on the information we had at the time…..’ Politicians normally learn from each other rather rarely given to original thought in this country and Batty is little different and has come a long way since in not redeeming himself.
Out of a job and politics he ended up being president and chairman of the board of Eden College in Dublin, whose parent company, Eden College International London, is in a right little pickle presently.
England’s BBC’s Panorma expose has shown fake candidates sitting tests in English and a multiple choice exam where the answers were read out. The Department of Education here, the one which Batt was once lord and master of, has decided to withdraw recognition of Batty's new fieldom. Not in compliance and all that stuff I suppose or so they said, but in true batting style, Batty is challenging that decision and believes that his challenge is very strong. Ah, bless him.
Where will Batty go from here is anybody’s guess; when we do know it will be based on the information we had at the time. Until then, good riddance.
By Barry Clifford
Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way. And don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines.
When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
You just never give up, no matter how hard the challenges are, and observe this world with a healthy dose of criticism and don't just follow the herd like somebody else might do.
If you really believe in what you're doing, work hard, take nothing personally and if something blocks one route, find another. Never give up.
The reason I never give up hope is because everything else is so basically hopeless.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
The letter below was written in 856 over 1158 years ago by a man in China. It resonates today as much as it did then, and for anyone out there who has taken one too many a drink on a particular night out will understand it better. Enjoy.
*Yesterday, having drunk too much, I was intoxicated as to pass all bounds; but none of the rude and coarse language I used was uttered in a conscious state.
The next morning, after hearing others speak on the subject, I realised what had happened, whereupon I was overwhelmed with confusion and ready to sink into the earth with shame.
The quotation "Lies-damned lies-and then there is statistics" is often attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, the 19th century British Prime Minister. The source for this view is the autobiography of Mark Twain, where he makes that attribution. Nevertheless, no version of this quotation has been found in any of Disraeli's published works or letters. An early reference to the expression, which may explain Twain's assertion is found in a speech made by Leonard H. Courtney, (1832-1918), later Lord Courtney, in New York in 1895:
'After all, facts are facts, and although we may quote one to another with a chuckle the words of the Wise Statesman, "Lies - damn lies - and statistics," still there are some easy figures the simplest must understand, and the astutest cannot wriggle out of.’
There's no indication that by 'Wise Statesman' Courtney was referring to any specific person, although it may be that Twain thought that he meant Disraeli.
The earliest citation of the current usage of the phrase, that is, "there are three kinds of falsehoods, lies, damned lies and statistics" is from Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, as quoted in the Manchester Guardian, 29th June 1892:
“Professor [Joseph] Munro reminded him of an old saying which he rather reluctantly proposed, in that company, to repeat. It was to the effect that there were three gradations of inveracity - there were lies, there were damned lies, and there were statistics."
It is quite possible that earlier examples may be found in print. There are certainly numerous earlier examples that approximate to the phrase - "a fib, a lie and statistics" (1891), "simple liars, damned liars and experts" (1885) etc. There are several other examples from the 1880s and 1890s of different wordings of what is the same thought, that is, the distrust of misleadingly interpreted statistical data.
In 1885, Leonard Huxley, published The Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley, a memoir of his distinguished zoologist father. Included in this is T. H. Huxley's account of a meeting of the X Club, which was a gathering of eminent thinkers who aimed to advance the cause of science, especially Darwinism:
"Talked politics, scandal, and the three classes of witnesses - liars, damned liars, and experts.”
The same idea was also current in the USA around the same date. The New Albany Daily Ledger printed this opinion in July1887:
The total value of the entire agricultural crop for 1886 is given at $219,531... There is nothing that lies like statistics.
RTE journalist Fergal Keane ‘enlightened’ the nation as to why Irish people did not resort to rioting in response to the economic collapse.
He gave two reasons:
One: Irish people know the consequences of political violence; we’ve lived with it for 40 years or more.
Two: A collective sense of guilt. Everybody sinned in one-way or another. People took out too many loans; they bought stuff they shouldn’t have bought. Everybody felt responsible so we all took responsibility for it.
Keane could not be more wrong in his assessment and his ignorance reflects a disturbing lack of awareness within the media in general but particularly within RTE of the reality of how Ireland is really governed.
Let’s take the political violence argument first.
Keane, along with a great deal of Irish journalists, politicians and other commentators, has this bizarre idea in his head that, somehow, political violence in Ireland is special.
So, the death of an Irish citizen by bomb or bullet is infinitely more painful, more horrifying than the violent death of a citizen in Iraq or Afghanistan.
I remember a few years ago Ryan Tubridy losing the run of himself during an interview with a victim of the Northern Ireland conflict.
I’m so impressed with your courage; your suffering is surely the worst in history. (Or words to that effect).
I could almost hear the gears grinding in Tubridy’s head:
A bit over the top Ryan, what about World War One and Two, what about the Holocaust, the Inquisition, the countless billions of others who suffered and died in wars?
He eventually spluttered: Of course that’s not to take away from others who have suffered throughout history.
Leaving aside for the moment the absolute horror and loss personally suffered by the victims of the NI conflict it was, in reality, a dirty little war fought over a long, long, thirty years with a tiny death rate (about 3,000) in comparison to over half a million and counting in Iraq, 100,000 and counting in Syria which includes the death of nearly 7,000 children and over 4,000 women.
As for those of us in the Republic, there was no war, no suffering apart from some bombings and shootings which, while horrifying for those involved, did not have any substantial affect on the lives of the general public.
This apparent widespread idea that political violence in Ireland (1916, Civil War, NI conflict and all the rest) sets the Irish above the rest of the world in terms of political violence and suffering is part of the delusion that allows journalists and others to live in a bubble of denial.
And it is from inside that bubble of denial that Keane formed his second reason as to why Irish citizens are so docile in the face of the ongoing economic catastrophe.
By Anthony Levy
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Well, there are similarities: first of all he was an out of work carpenter, had 12 drinking buddies, and lived with his mother until he was 33 years old. The similarities didn't stop there.
He always believed that his mother was a virgin and she never wavered in the belief that he could do any wrong, and not forgetting that she was always thought he was God as well.
He always believed that his mother was a virgin and she never wavered in the belief that he could do any wrong, and not forgetting that she was always thought he was God as well.
Monday, February 10, 2014
 A widow, after the death of her husband, is immediately and without any difficulty to have her marriage portion and her inheritance, nor is she to pay anything for her dower or her marriage portion or for her inheritance which her husband and she held on the day of her husband’s death, and she shall remain in the chief dwelling place of her husband for forty days after her husband’s death, within which time dower will be assigned her if it has not already been assigned, unless that house is a castle, and if it is a castle which she leaves, then a suitable house will immediately be provided for her in which she may properly dwell until her dower is assigned to her in accordance with what is aforesaid, and in the meantime she is to have her reasonable necessities (estoverium) from the common property. As dower she will be assigned the third part of all the lands of her husband which were his during his lifetime, save when she was dowered with less at the church door. No widow shall be distrained to marry for so long as she wishes to live without a husband, provided that she gives surety that she will not marry without our assent if she holds of us, or without the assent of her lord, if she holds of another.
 Neither we nor our bailiffs will seize any land or rent for any debt, as long as the existing chattels of the debtor suffice for the payment of the debt and as long as the debtor is ready to pay the debt, nor will the debtor’s guarantors be distrained for so long as the principal debtor is able to pay the debt; and should the principal debtor default in his payment of the debt, not having the means to repay it, or should he refuse to pay it despite being able to do so, the guarantors will answer for the debt and, if they wish, they are to have the lands and rents of the debtor until they are repaid the debt that previously they paid on behalf of the debtor, unless the principal debtor can show that he is quit in respect to these guarantors.
 If anyone holding a lay fee from us should die, and our sheriff or bailiff shows our letters patent containing our summons for a debt that the dead man owed us, our sheriff or bailiff is permitted to attach and enroll all the goods and chattels of the dead man found in lay fee, to the value of the said debt, by view of law-worthy men, so that nothing is to be removed thence until the debt that remains is paid to us, and the remainder is to be released to the executors to discharge the will of the dead man, and if nothing is owed to us from such a person, all the chattels are to pass to the (use of) the dead man, saving to the dead man’s wife and children their reasonable portion.
 No constable or his bailiff is to take corn or other chattels from anyone who not themselves of a vill where a castle is built, unless the constable or his bailiff immediately offers money in payment of obtains a respite by the wish of the seller. If the person whose corn or chattels are taken is of such a vill, then the constable or his bailiff is to pay the purchase price within forty days.
 No sheriff or bailiff of ours or of anyone else is to take anyone’s horses or carts to make carriage, unless he renders the payment customarily due, namely for a two-horse cart ten pence per day, and for a three-horse cart fourteen pence per day. No demesne cart belonging to any churchman or knight or any other lady (sic) is to be taken by our bailiffs, nor will we or our bailiffs or anyone else take someone else’s timber for a castle or any other of our business save by the will of he to whom it was taken.
 There is to be a single measure for wine throughout our realm, and a single measure for ale, and a single measure for Corn, that is to say the London quarter, and a single breadth for dyed cloth, russets, and haberjects, that is to say two yards within the lists. And it shall be the same for weights as for measures.
 No bailiff is henceforth to put any man on his open law or on oath simply by virtue of his spoken word, without reliable witnesses being produced for the same.
 No freeman is to be taken or imprisoned or disseised of his free tenement or of his liberties or free customs, or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor will we go against such a man or send against him save by lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land. To no-one will we sell or deny of delay right or justice.
 All merchants, unless they have been previously and publicly forbidden, are to have safe and secure conduct in leaving and coming to England and in staying and going through England both by land and by water to buy and to sell, without any evil exactions, according to the ancient and right customs, save in time of war, and if they should be from a land at war against us and be found in our land at the beginning of the war, they are to be attached without damage to their bodies or goods until it is established by us or our chief justiciar in what way the merchants of our land are treated who at such a time are found in the land that is at war with us, and if our merchants are safe there, the other merchants are to be safe in our land.
 All patrons of abbeys which have charters of the kings of England over advowson or ancient tenure or possession are to have the custody of such abbeys when they fall vacant just as they ought to have and as is declared above.
 No-one is to be taken or imprisoned on the appeal of woman for the death of anyone save for the death of that woman’s husband.
 Nor is it permitted to anyone to give his land to a religious house in such a way that he receives it back from such a house to hold, nor is it permitted to any religious house to accept the land of anyone in such way that the land is restored to the person from whom it was received to hold. If anyone henceforth gives his land in such a way to any religious house and is convicted of the same, the gift is to be entirely quashed and such land is to revert to the lord of that fee.
 All these aforesaid customs and liberties which we have granted to be held in our realm in so far as pertains to us are to be observed by all of our realm, both clergy and laity, in so far as pertains to them in respect to their own men. For this gift and grant of these liberties and of others contained in our charter over the liberties of the forest, the archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, knights, fee holders and all of our realm have given us a fifteenth part of all their movable goods. Moreover we grant to them for us and our heirs that neither we nor our heirs will seek anything by which the liberties contained in this charter might be infringed or damaged, and should anything be obtained from anyone against this it is to count for nothing and to be held as nothing. With these witnesses: the lord……….
Given at Westminster on the eleventh day of February in the ninth year of our reign.
We, holding these aforesaid gifts and grants to be right and welcome, conceed and confirm them for ourselves and our heirs and by the terms of the present (letters) renew them, wishing and granting for ourselves and our heirs that the aforesaid charter is to be firmly and inviably observed in all and each of its articles in perpetuity, including any articles contained in the same charter which by chance have not to date been observed. In testimony of which we have had made these our letters patent. Witnessed by Edward our son, at Westminster on the twelfth day of October in the twenty-fifth year of our reign. (Chancery warranty by John of) Stowe.
In 1940, a year after fleeing Nazi Germany and setting up home in New York, the writer of the following letter (edited) attempted to enlist with the U.S. Armed Forces; however, his application was denied for one incredible reason: his uncle was Adolf Hitler. He wasn't deterred, and two years later, a few months after his uncle had declared war on the U.S., William Patrick Hitler (pictured above) tried again to register for military service by way of the fascinating letter below, sent directly to the U.S. President. It was quickly passed on to the FBI's director, J. Edgar Hoover, who then investigated Hitler's nephew and eventually cleared him for service.
William Patrick Hitler joined the U.S. Navy in 1944, and was discharged in 1947 after being injured in service. He passed away 40 years later, in New York.
March 3rd, 1942.
Dear Mr. President:
May I take the liberty of encroaching on your valuable time and that of your staff at the White House? Mindful of the critical days the nation is now passing through, I do so only because the prerogative of your high office alone can decide my difficult and singular situation.
Everybody in the world today must answer to himself which cause they will serve. To free people of deep religious feeling there can be but one answer and one choice, that will sustain them always and to the bitter end. All my relatives and friends soon will be marching for that freedom and decency under the Stars and Stripes. For this reason, Mr. President, I am respectfully submitting this petition to you to enquire as to whether I may be allowed to join them in their struggle against tyranny and oppression?
The great expense the English legal procedure demands in changing my name is not within my financial means and they will not let me join their army. At the same time I have not been successful in determining whether the Canadian Army would facilitate my entrance into the armed forces. As things are at the present and lacking any official guidance, I find that to attempt to enlist as a nephew of Hitler is something that requires a strange sort of courage that I am unable to muster, bereft as I am of any classification or official support from any quarter.
As to my integrity, Mr. President, I can only say that it is a matter of record and it compares somewhat to the foresighted spirit with which you, by every ingenuity known to statecraft, wrested from the American Congress those weapons which are today the Nation's great defense in this crisis. I can also reflect that in a time of great complacency and ignorance I tried to do those things, which, as a Christian I knew to be right.
As a fugitive from the Gestapo I warned France through the press that Hitler would invade her that year. The people of England I warned by the same means that the so-called "solution" of Munich was a myth that would bring terrible consequences.
On my arrival in America I at once informed the press that Hitler would loose his Frankenstein on civilization that year. Although nobody paid any attention to what I said, I continued to lecture and write in America. Now the time for writing and talking has passed and I am mindful only of the great debt my mother and I owe to the United States. More than anything else I would like to see active combat as soon as possible and thereby be accepted by my friends and comrades as one of them in this great struggle for liberty.
May I therefore venture to hope, Mr. President, that in the turmoil of this vast conflict you will not be moved to reject my appeal for reasons which I am in no way responsible?
There could be no greater honor, Mr. President, to have lived and to have been allowed to serve you, the deliverer of the American people from want, and no greater privilege then to have striven and had a small part in establishing the title you once will bear in posterity as the greatest Emancipator of suffering mankind in political history.
I would be most happy to give any additional information that might be required and I take the liberty of enclosing a circular containing details about myself, and hope it will not be held against me that I am the nephew and only descendant of the ill-famed Chancellor and Leader of Germany who today so despotically seeks to enslave the free and Christian peoples of the globe.
Permit me also, Mr. President, to express my heartfelt good wishes for your future health and happiness, coupled with the hope that you may soon lead all men who believe in decency everywhere onward and upward to a glorious victory.
Very respectfully yours,
Below, is an excerpt from a letter written by an 18 year old kid who sent it to his Aunt Patty about meeting a childhood friend for the first time. The year was 1962
So sorry not to have written before (I plead insane) in bluebottle voice. Exit right amid deafening applause.
I do hope you're very well. We have survived yet another glorious English Winter. I wonder which day Summer falls on this year?
Oh but my dear I have been soooo busy since Christmas beside working at school. You know I was keen on Chuck Berry and I thought I was the only fan for miles but one mornin' on Dartford Stn. (that's so I don't have to write a long word like station) I was holding one of Chuck's records when a guy I knew at primary school 7-11 yrs y'know came up to me. He's got every record Chuck Berry ever made and all his mates have too, they are all rhythm and blues fans, real R&B I mean (not this Dinah Shore, Brook Benton crap) Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Chuck, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker all the Chicago bluesmen real lowdown stuff, marvelous. Bo Diddley he's another great.
Anyways the guy on the station, he is called Mick Jagger and all the ........
A speech writer, H. R. Haldeman, sent this letter to President Nixon’s chief of staff Bill Saffire, just is case should the first attempted moon landing ended in disaster. Thankfully it never had to be read out in public and the landing was a success.
From: Bill Safire to H.R. Haldeman
July 18 1969
IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER:
Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.
These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.
These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.
They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by the nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.
In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.
In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.
Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.
For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.