Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Dear Mr. Wood:As you know, I am under subpoena to appear before your committee on May 21, 1952.I am most willing to answer all questions about myself. I have nothing to hide from your committee and there is nothing in my life of which I am ashamed. I have been advised by counsel that under the fifth amendment I have a constitutional privilege to decline to answer any questions about my political opinions, activities, and associations, on the grounds of self-incrimination. I do not wish to claim this privilege. I am ready and willing to testify before the representatives of our Government as to my own opinions and my own actions, regardless of any risks or consequences to myself.But I am advised by counsel that if I answer the committee’s questions about myself, I must also answer questions about other people and that if I refuse to do so, I can be cited for contempt. My counsel tells me that if I answer questions about myself, I will have waived my rights under the fifth amendment and could be forced legally to answer questions about others. This is very difficult for a layman to understand. But there is one principle that I do understand: I am not willing, now or in the future, to bring bad trouble to people who, in my past association with them, were completely innocent of any talk or any action that was disloyal or subversive. I do not like subversion or disloyalty in any form and if I had ever seen any I would have considered it my duty to have reported it to the proper authorities. But to hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and indecent and dishonorable. I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions, even though I long ago came to the conclusion that I was not a political person and could have no comfortable place in any political group.I was raised in an old-fashioned American tradition and there were certain homely things that were taught to me: To try to tell the truth, not to bear false witness, not to harm my neighbor, to be loyal to my country, and so on. In general, I respected these ideals of Christian honor and did as well with them as I knew how. It is my belief that you will agree with these simple rules of human decency and will not expect me to violate the good American tradition from which they spring. I would, therefore, like to come before you and speak of myself.I am prepared to waive the privilege against self-incrimination and to tell you everything you wish to know about my views or actions if your committee will agree to refrain from asking me to name other people. If the committee is unwilling to give me this assurance, I will be forced to plead the privilege of the fifth amendment at the hearing.A reply to this letter would be appreciated.Sincerely yours,Lillian Hellman
Monday, January 18, 2021
Sunday, January 17, 2021
"As usual the Liberals offer a mixture of sound and original ideas. Unfortunately none of the sound ideas is original and none of the original ideas is sound."
British Conservative politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1957 to 1963. Caricatured as "Supermac", he was known for his pragmatism, wit and unflappability.
Bonus Harold Macmillan repost, from the vault:
Saturday, January 16, 2021
Just three days after it began, the coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev collapses. Despite his success in avoiding removal from office, Gorbachev’s days in power were numbered. The Soviet Union would soon cease to exist as a nation and as a Cold War threat to the United States.The coup against Gorbachev began on August 18, led by hard-line communist elements of the Soviet government and military. The attempt was poorly planned and disorganized, however. The leaders of the coup seemed to spend as much time bickering among themselves—and, according to some reports, drinking heavily—as they did on trying to win popular support for their action. Nevertheless, they did manage to put Gorbachev under house arrest and demand that he resign from leadership of the Soviet Union. Many commentators in the West believed that the administration of President George Bush would come to the rescue, but were somewhat surprised at the restrained response of the U.S. government. These commentators did not know that at the time a serious debate was going on among Bush officials as to whether Gorbachev’s days were numbered and whether the United States should shift its support to Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin’s stock rose sharply as he publicly denounced the coup and organized strikes and street protests by the Russian people. The leaders of the coup, seeing that most of the Soviet military did not support their action, called off the attempt and it collapsed on August 21.The collapse of the coup brought a temporary reprieve to the Gorbachev regime, but among U.S. officials he was starting to be seen as damaged goods. Once a darling of the U.S. press and public, Gorbachev increasingly was viewed as incompetent and a failure. U.S. officials began to discuss the post-Gorbachev situation in the Soviet Union. Based on what had transpired during the August 1991 coup, they began a slow but steady tilt toward Yeltsin. In retrospect, this policy seemed extremely prudent, given that Gorbachev resigned as leader of the Soviet Union in December 1991. Despite the turmoil around him, Yeltsin continued to serve as president of the largest and most powerful of the former soviet socialist republics, Russia.
The 1991 Gulf War created a new benchmark in reporting restrictions, and the images photographers were allowed to publish were strictly controlled. At the time of the war, David Turnley was an acclaimed photojournalist. In 1988 he had won the top prize at the World Press Photo competition for his photograph of a man mourning his son, killed in the 1988 Armenian earthquake. Two years later he won a Pulitzer Prize for his photography covering the political uprisings in China and Eastern Europe.When the Gulf War began, Turnley was one of a pool of photographers attached to the US Air Force. However, he found that his work was being restricted. “We were accompanied by a public affairs officer whose job was to make sure we stuck to Pentagon restrictions,” he recalled in a BBC interview in 2005. “This meant we would not be allowed to photograph casualties of war and certainly not war dead.”“While out in the field I got wind that much of the TV coverage was portraying a kind of sanitised war, one in which big technology was being used but that no human life, and particularly not American life, was at risk. It became clear to me that it was going to be very difficult for me to document the reality of the war.” Later, Turnley joined an elite MASH (mobile army surgical hospital) unit, which, by chance, didn’t have a public affairs officer attached to it.After the fierce bombing raids of Operation Desert Storm and the later Allied invasion of Iraq on 24 February 1991, the brief but devastating war was coming to an end. During one of the final battles, Turnley was on board a military helicopter when it picked up the three-man crew of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. It had taken a direct hit in a missile attack that was later revealed as “friendly fire”. The vehicle’s driver, Andy Alaniz, was killed instantly and had been carried into the helicopter in a body bag; the two surviving men, who included Sergeant Ken Kozakiewicz, were both wounded and disorientated.Turnley watched as a medical staff member handed Alaniz’s identity tag to the Sergeant. He photographed the moment that Kozakiewicz, seen in the picture on the left, realised that his friend and comrade was dead and began to cry. This image captures the tragedy of the soldier’s death on what turned out to be the last day of fighting.“I knew this was going to be a good picture and I wanted to get it back to my editors in Saudi Arabia quickly,” Turnley later remembered. “My only option was to send the film through the military. When I got to Saudi Arabia, I found out that my editors hadn’t received the film.”When he questioned the US military officials about the film, he was told that it was being held until the next of kin were informed, although this had already happened. Turnley recalled that he went to the Lieutenant in charge and said, “You know what happens in war and you are depriving these men of their due heroism, the fact that they had to risk their lives to fight in this war.” The film was subsequently given back to Turnley and this one image was published in newspapers and magazines worldwide.The photograph later won the Picture of the Year prize at the World Press Photo awards and confirmed Turnley’s reputation as one of the best contemporary photojournalists. He believes it has provoked such a strong reaction, and for many people has become symbolic of the war itself, because of its raw emotional power. “It is an unbelievably intimate photo,” he has said. “It reveals the vulnerability of otherwise strong men.”“It is not necessarily a photograph about American soldiers. It’s about war and the young men who go to war. There is a certain nobility and dignity on the faces of these soldiers. I think that Ken Kozakiewicz touches chords that are deeply emotional in terms of his grief and his heroism. There is a certain everyman quality that becomes a very strong icon for the reality of war, which is always a tragic reality.”