When the Rule of Law Fails: A Reprise Post

So, reading the story of this numbskull (link found through Instapundit) bloviating on MSNBC about the fierce urgency of abolishing the police reminded me of a long post that I did some years ago about what happens in a lawless, politically corrupt, violence-plagued city when the otherwise upright and law-abiding citizens get fed to the teeth with lawlessness, corruption and violence, and decide to take matters into their own hands. Brittany Packnett Cunningham, apparently noted as an anti-police activist, likely would not like what happens when citizens are finally pushed an inch too far.

The resulting post of mine was originally in three parts, but reposted here in total, below the fold. The story of the Vigilance Committee of 1856 was one that I had originally researched as providing a turn of plot for my Gold Rush adventure, The Golden Road. The hero of that novel, young Fredi Steinmetz worked for a time in San Francisco with his friend Edwin, selling copies of James King’s Evening Daily Bulletin on the streets and delivering to subscribers late in 1855, but left for the diggings before the Vigilance Committee renewed itself. The situation in San Francisco, which finally boiled over, reminds me very much of current events; naked chicanery at the polls, political corruption, a high level of crony capitalism, and criminals terrorizing ordinary citizens and going unpunished.

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Something Light from Ukraine

Netflix is streaming Servant of the People; we’ve been enjoying it.  A sit com juxtaposed with the daily news of death and destruction is trivial, but few cultural artifacts are more interesting than those that reveal what a nation laughs at, what it likes.   The series satirizes corrupt government but also reflects daily life and asserts values that attracted its public.

The charismatic Zelensky we see on the news has a touch of the honorable, naive history teacher he portrayed just a few years ago;  we’ve only seen the first few episodes, but the ghost we might most want to represent our own history – Abraham Lincoln – appears to advise him as he nervously goes over his inaugural speech.

Some of you may be (quite understandably) opposed to Netflix, but I’m not sure if this is streaming somewhere else. If anyone knows  of other outlets or where the second season or the film produced between the two is showing, please comment.

For Thanksgiving – Heirloom Dishes

(This essay was originally written more than ten years ago, and is included in the ebook Happy Families; a reminiscence  of what Thanksgiving was before I left home to join the Air Force. I think I was home with my family for that holiday perhaps four or five years since then. Dad passed away in 2010, Mom is a semi-invalid living with my sister and her family. I don’t know if my sister ever fixes the onions in cheese sauce – I certainly don’t.)

Fairly early on, Mom and Dad reached a compromise on the question of where the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas would be celebrated: Christmas at our house, and Thanksgiving alternating between the grandparents’ houses: One year at Grannie Jessie and Grandpa Jim’s little white house on South Lotus, the next at Grannie Dodie and Grandpa Al’s in Camarillo. Since Dad was an only child, and Mom an only surviving child, all the hopes of constellation of childless or unmarried great-aunts and uncles were centered on JP, Pippy, Sander and I. We rather basked in the undivided attention, even as we regretted the lack of first cousins; there was Great-Aunt Nan, who was Grandpa Al’s younger sister, and Grannie Dodie’s two brothers, Fred and Bob. Fred had been a sailor on a real sailing ship in his youth and had lady in a frilly skirt tattooed on each forearm, who did the shimmy when he flexed his muscles: he also had children, so he was not invariably with us every Thanksgiving. Great-Uncle Bob was married to Great-Aunt Rose, and her sister Nita lived with them. Rose was frail and genteel, and her sister Nita plump and bossy, but they both had neatly marcelled short hair, in the fashion of the 1920ies, and both smelt deliciously of flower-scented dusting powder when hugged.

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Suburban Sophistication

(Another of my long-ago archive posts, from 2005 – the California that once was, and that I remember when I think of growing up there.)

When JP and Pip and Sander and I were all growing up, the contiguous suburb of Sunland and Tujunga, untouched by the 210 Freeway was a terribly blue-collar, gloriously low-rent sort of rural suburb. It was if anything, an extension of the San Fernando Valley, and not the wealthier part of it either. It was particularly unscathed by any sort of higher cultural offerings, and the main drag of Foothill Boulevard was attended on either side by a straggle of small storefront businesses, a drive-in theater, a discouraged local grocery store, a used car lot, the usual fast food burger or pizza places, a place with an enormous concrete chicken in front which advertised something called “broast” chicken, Laundromats, and a great variety of very drab little bars. There were no bookstores, unless you counted the little Christian bookstore across from the library and fire station.

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6 June 1944

(a reprise post from The Daily Brief – and re-posted here, now and again)

So this is one of those historic dates that seems to be slipping faster and faster out of sight, receding into a past at such a rate that we who were born afterwards, or long afterwards, can just barely see. But it was such an enormous, monumental enterprise – so longed looked for, so carefully planned and involved so many soldiers, sailors and airmen – of course the memory would linger long afterwards.

Think of looking down from the air, at that great metal armada, spilling out from every harbor, every estuary along England’s coast. Think of the sound of marching footsteps in a thousand encampments, and the silence left as the men marched away, counted out by squad, company and battalion, think of those great parks of tanks and vehicles, slowly emptying out, loaded into the holds of ships and onto the open decks of LSTs. Think of the roar of a thousand airplane engines, the sound of it rattling the china on the shelf, of white contrails scratching straight furrows across the moonless sky.

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