Friday, 4 September 2015

Plain talking and good sense from today's Sarasota Herald-Tribune: "Religious beliefs can't determine civil duties".

Editorial: Kentucky clerk must obey law

Published: Friday, September 4, 2015 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 7:18 p.m.

After a federal judge ordered a Kentucky county clerk jailed Thursday for failing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate and senator from Kentucky, said it was “absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberties.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, the Canadian-born senator from Texas, and other candidates took the same tact — accusing the judge of exercising “tyranny.”
Paul and the others putting forth these arguments have it wrong: The clerk, Kim Davis, was jailed not for her religious beliefs, but for failing to follow Kentucky law and defying a court order.
The distinction is vital.
In this case, Davis is the tyrant. She is the government official unrestrained by law or the Constitution. Davis is the one asserting that she, an elected official, can unilaterally refuse to abide by the law.
What’s more, Davis had options to being jailed.
She could have taken a principled stance and resigned her position as clerk, citing the conflict between her religious view of the definition of marriage and the execution of her civil duties.
She could have allowed her deputy clerks to issue the licenses. The presiding judge offered on Thursday to free Davis if she would agree to allow one of her six deputies to issue licenses to qualified gay couples. Five of those deputies agreed to do so; the only one who refused was Davis’ son. (Apparently there are no anti-nepotism laws that apply to county clerks in Kentucky.)
But Davis refused the judge’s compromise.
That offer from the judge underscores an important point: The jailing of Davis was not the result of an impulsive decision by a temperamental activist jurist. Thanks to the Constitution, Davis has been afforded due process and more.
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that state bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional, Kentucky Gov. Steven L. Beshear told county clerks to issue marriage licenses to all eligible couples.
Davis, the elected clerk of Rowan County, refused. She sued in federal court, contending that she should be excused from implementing the Kentucky statute requiring county clerks to issue marriage licenses to all eligible couples — including gays.
District Judge David Bunning, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, ruled against Davis. So did the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Bunning granted a stay, putting his order in temporary abeyance, but it expired. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the Sixth Circuit’s ruling. Judge Bunning then gave Davis at least two chances to avoid incarceration for contempt of court.
We understand that the nation’s laws, court rulings and public opinion on gay marriage have changed relatively quickly. We recognize that many Americans, like Davis, oppose the civil approval of gay marriage on religious grounds.
But Davis is a civil servant. She took an oath to uphold the law and the Constitution.
During the Civil Rights movement, legions of Americans, most of them black, were jailed and mistreated for refusing to follow Jim Crow laws. They paid a high price for their civil disobedience.
But there’s an important difference between those protests and Davis’ actions.
Unlike the laws that discriminated against black Americans, the law Davis refuses to accept doesn’t deny civil rights or equal protection under the Constitution; the gay-marriage law expands those rights.
Davis’ First Amendment right to free speech remains intact. The clerk is free to exercise her religious beliefs, but she may not establish religious-based tests to determine who receives marriage licenses.
The law and constitutional principles at stake are clear, and Davis has been held accountable for violating them.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

I posted incorrect information.

"When life gives you lemons you cannot always make lemonade"  

was the title of a Blog article I wrote last week about the apparent demise of my Veterinarian.  My posting was based on a conversation I had with a person who had sub-contracted for the good animal Doctor.

It transpires that her information was not accurate. 

I regret that I reported on what she said without double-checking, or tracing my sources.

In a 'phone message I received today from the Veterinarian's wife, I learned that his building has indeed been sold,  (to the Humane Society), but  he will shortly re-open his practice in another building.


As one who frequently urges others to be careful about what they post, and  often exhorts them to check with,   lest what they post turns out to be an urban legend  -  (there are a million and one false stories in cyberspace!)  -  I am very sorry that I posted a false or misleading report about my Vet.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The road to hell, and a pathway to "heaven".

Some of you may remember my references to Randie E, the wonderful Swedish born woman I used to  encounter in my morning walks..

I live at Glen Oaks Ridge, and Randie lived at the Glen Oaks Garden Condominiums.  

Our serendipitous meetings were on the walkway around  the pond at Glen Oaks Manor.

I was drawn to her because she would "take time to smell the roses": that is that she would stop walking, and take a long pause to enjoy a tree in bloom, or an Osprey, Hawk,  or and Eagle high above.

She was never in a hurry.  Her walks were graceful and gracious times during which she fed her soul by a deep and careful appreciation of the natural world.

I visited her  a couple of times at her home, there to enjoy good coffee and fine pastries, with
profound conversation.

Came the time that Randie moved from her Condo to a Retirement Community, situated no more than two mies from my home.

I would pass this place at least twice a week, always with the intention to stop by and visit Randie.

But "the road to hell is paved with good intentions", and I never got to visit Randie.

I was careless, but "heaven" had other things in mind.

So it was that when I stopped by my local supermarket this afternoon, to pick up various bits and bobs, lo and behold, there was Randie with her loving gentleman friend,

We indulged in a "sniff-sniff, teary eyed" reunion.

Turns out that Randie has moved from the nearby Retirement Community to an Assisted Living facility some eight miles away.

But her loving gentleman friend is taking such good  care of her, to the extent that he had driven her to the supermarket which she knows well, even as they drove past three other markets in the same chain.

This is the fragile, serendipitous,  and elusive "pathway to heaven" via which Randie and I met again today,

Tehran not Yalta

It was at the Tehran meeting of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin (1943)  that FDR made fun of Churchill, not at Yalta as I stated yesterday.

The account of this is to be found on page 304  of "Citizens of London- the Americans who stood with Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour"  by Lynne Olson, Random House 2010.

Olson's source is the book she wrote with Stanley Cloud "A question of honor: The Kosciuszko Squadron: Forgotten Heroes of World War II" (Alfred A. Knopf - 2003) (which I am now reading  jmp)

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

What you may not have known about WWII

MOST OF THE FOLLOWING HAS BEEN GLEANED FROM "Citizens of London- the Americans who stood with Britain in its darkest, finest hour"  by Lynne Olson, Random House 2010.

William Fiske was the first American to join  the R.A.F.  in WWII.  He skirted the American regulations that made it illegal to join a warring power's military service,or to  travel on a belligerent ship, or use a U.S. passport to go to a foreign country to enlist, by falsely claiming Canadian citizenship.

He joined the RAF less than three weeks after Britain's declaration of war against Germany.  His plane was hit on August 16th 1940. He managed to nurse his plane back to base, but died two days later.   He is memorialized in Westminster Abbey,

Seven American citizens flew in the Battle of Britain alongside five hundred other non-British pilots,  -  Poles (about which more in a day or two), Czechs. Belgians, French, New Zealanders,  and South Africans.


We often forget that when H-tler came to power he was welcomed by many of the great and the good in the U.K. and the U.S.A. as the strong leader which Germany needed after the chaos and hyper inflation which marked the breakdown of the Weimar Republic.

But with  regard to the myth that W.S.C. welcomed H-tler's rise to power please see this for the entire context of his words:


Many Britons and Americans do not know that the U.S.A. had no appetite to join in the fray when Great Britain declared war on Germany.

They no know that  were were millions of German-Americans, and Irish-Americans who, for their own obvious reasons had no desire to "come to the aid"  of the British.

The popular sentiment in the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House was that this was a purely European affair, of no concern to the United States.

Additionally, there was a widespread American belief ( fostered of course by Joe Kennedy) that following the annexation of Austria, the occupation of Czechoslovakia, the conquest of Poland, the fall of Noway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and France, Britain was finished,

Indeed, there were very many in high places (including President Roosevelt ) who were more than happy with the thought that a weakened Great Britain might be forced to give up all or part of her Empire, and thus decline as an international trading nation, and a competitor with the United States in world markets.

For example:  in  1942,  FDR's antipathy towards British Colonialism was echoed in an Life magazine - article in which  the author made it clear that the USA was in no way fighting to hold the British Empire together.

When Churchill first visited Roosevelt, the latter raised the issue of self determination for India.

WSC reacted negatively!

It was in response to the  Life article that Churchill   stated that he had "not become the King's First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire."

(Churchill was indeed an unreformed imperialist and colonialist).


American attitudes began to change at first because of the broadcasts by Ed Murrow, and the intensive diplomacy of John Gilbert Winant, (the American Ambassador to the Court of St. James's), and the not too well focused efforts of  Averill Harriman (the administrator of Lend-Lease).

The U.K. Government was positively giddy with delight when Winant was appointed. On March 1st 1940 he flew into Bristol (my home City), and was taken in a Royal train to the railway station in Windsor where  (defying all British protocol) King George VI himself greeted him -  at the station.

Murrow and Winant were profoundly aware of the intensely evil nature of the N-zi regime. They understood that more was at stake than a battle for Britain.  It was a battle for civilization.


On December 7th 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  The American mood immediately shifted.  The United States was being faced by the unthinkable: -the Pacific and Indian Oceans dominated by Japan; the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea dominated by Germany.

There is a popular myth that the American entry into the European "theatre" was an act of pure altruism.  That's "stuff and nonsense".   Nations engage in war out of real or perceived self interest.

Such was the case for the America of 1941 and onwards.

We must be entirely grateful that Britain had not "fallen", (due to the indomitable British Bulldog spirit, to the multi-national Airmen of the Battle of Britain [ the finest of which were Polish] -  (more about this later),and also due to A.H's decision to invade the Soviet Union.

Since Britain had not fallen, the country became what Dwight David Eisenhower described as  "the greatest operating military base of all time".

By May 1944 there were 1.65 million American troops in the U.K.

D-Day came and went.  The Allies pressed into Germany (at GREAT COST) via France and Italy.

The Soviets (equipped with huge supplies of American armaments) pressed into Germany from the East.

V-E day came. V-J day followed.

Murrow, Winant,  (and Harriman) had tilled and fertilized the American soil -  they were  great men who helped to reap a great harvest when the U.S.A. joined the battle  for civilization. 

By war's end in Europe, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John G. Winant were the most popular Americans in Great Britain.  

Eisenhower's name is well remembered, and deservedly so.   

Winant has been all but forgotten.

Why do we remember the soldiers and forget the diplomats?


Standing astride the European conflicts were the political giants - Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill. 

In the  tripartite WWII settlements  (Tehran  and Yalta), Stalin out-foxed Roosevelt,  and all but ignored Churchill.

In Yalta,  Roosevelt made fun of Churchill, much to the amusement of Stalin.

Thus,  the great and noble nation of Poland   so far from becoming a proud and independent nation,  became a Soviet satellite from 1945-1990:  betrayed as it was by Roosevelt,  (aided and abetted by Churchill - who bowed to the inevitable):

( Please remember that  Great Britain declared war on Germany in defense of a free and independent Poland).


MOST OF THE ABOVE HAS BEEN GLEANED FROM "Citizens of London- the Americans who stood with Britain in its darkest, finest hour"  by Lynne Olson, Random House 2010.

I have tried my best to paraphrase her words rather than quoting them directly,  as I do not wish to violate her copyright, and that of Random House.

YOU, my dear readers,  will do well to buy (or borrow from a Library) "Citizens of London- the Americans who stood with Britain in its darkest, finest hour"  by Lynne Olson, Random House 2010.

It is a grand and profound book.

Monday, 31 August 2015

When the Dessert takes you over the top.

Sarasota friends Jack and Donna Chrisman shared Sunday lunch with me yesterday at their home.

They are gracious and thoughtful hosts.

Jack, using his resourceful Anglophile side, tracked down some English Back Bacon (lots of meat and not too much fat), English Sausages, and Heinz Baked Beans.

Donna got out her mixing bowl and made Buttermilk Pie for dessert.  This was a first for me.  It was utterly delicious -  and took the meal "over the top".

Thanks good friends.

This photo' is via Google images. Donna's pie looked even better, 

* Heinz Baked Beans as made and sold in the U.K. are in a tomato sauce rather than the molasseses based sauces which are favoured in the U.S.A.   They are Britain's favourite canned "fast food", often served on toast, and especially necessary for a "full English" breakfast.  They are now marketed in the U.K as "Heinz Beanz".  Jack and Donna Chrisman, discerning gourmands as they are, prefer the British beans.

A full "English" , complete with "Heniz Beanz"as created by Jamie Oliver.

Sunday, 30 August 2015


Our Mum's death was in 2001 (not 2002).  Sorry for my memory lapse.