Rep Steve Vaillancourt
Just by chance, probably because I was following the World Cup in Brazil, I happened to pick up Neill Lochery's new book "Brazil, The Fortunes of War--World War II and the Making of Modern Brazil".
That's not the best title ever devised, and when I left the library, I wasn't sure how far I'd get into this little gem, but it turned out to be the type of book I couldn't put down once I had begun it.
Any good story, fact or fiction, needs great supporting characters, and Lochery provides them from Walt Disney, Orson Welles, Errol Flynn, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., to a young Nelson Rockefeller; they all played major roles in U.S./Brazilian relations as the war proceeded, not to mention Deputy Secretary of State Sumner Welles who was referred to as "my fairy" by Secretary of State Cordell Hull.
Germany wins fourth World Cup title by beating Argentina, 1-0
Sure enough, as expected, the media is reporting yesterday's 1-0 win over Argentina as producing the fourth World Cup for Germany.
That's not quite true.
I guess it's what we could expect when sportscasters enter the realm of geopolitics.
Late in the game on ABC, I heard the announcer proclaim, correctly, that this would be the first World Cup for Germany since 1990.
The problem, of course, is that Germany as we know it today did not exist until 1991 when West Germany bascially absorbed the East. Thus, the three previous World Cups were for West Germany, not Germany.
Without going into a Cold War history lesson here, one which sportscasters chose to completely ignore, the vanquished Germany was split into four zones after World War II, occupied by the victorious Allied powers of the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. The three western zones united to form West Germany while the Soviet zone became East Germany. The three western zones had about three times the population of the East, even more after millions of East Germans fled to the freedom of the West prior to the wall coming down on Novemver 9, 1989.
The three previous years that a German team won the World Cup (1954, 1974, and 1990) were thus all when the country was split between East and West Germanny. Let's not try to rewrite political history by saying this was the fourth World Cup for Germany.
Far be it from me to tax the intellectual powers of your typical sportscaster, but Germany is not the same as West Germany.
In fact, Angela Merkel, the popular German Chancellor who was in Brazil for yesterday's championship game, grew up in East Germany. I won't go into her life history here, but clearly, she was not in West Germany when it won the 1954, 1974, and 1990 World Cups.
1974, when West Germany hosted and won the World Cup, was the only time East Germany made it into the tournament. East Germans actually beat West Germans 1-0 that year; they beat Australia 2-0 and tied Chile 1-1 before losing 1-0 to Brazil in the quarterfinals. West Germany beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the title game in Munich (Remember Munich had hosted the 1972 Olympics--how could anyne ever forget?). Presumably, Angela Merkel was rooting for her East German comrades that year, not that there's anything wrong with that.
Here's just one story you could find on google, one which suggests Chancellor Merkel was quite close to East German Communism (not that there's anything wrong with that either; to survive in an evil system like East Germany, one had to play the game...if you doubt it was an evil system, try reading Peter Weyden's book "Wall--The Inside Story of Divided Berlin").
I was actually visiting Berlin at the time of unifiication (wiedervereinigung) in 1991. I trust the story is more than a myth, but a friend of mind pointed to dogs who were out in force to keep the peace that night and said, "Those are the same dogs which were patrolling at the wall a few years ago."
So, let's be historically accurate.
By becoming the first European county to claim a World Cup on the soil of the new world, Germany captured its first, not its fourth World Cup yesterday.
Here's another way of looking at it. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia have never won World Cups, but they certainly most have won some titles during their existence. Today, of course, neither country still exists. Were the Czech Republic or Slovakia to win something today, would we add the titles into those taken by Czechoslovakia? Or what if Bosnia, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, or any of the entities which used to comprise Yugoslavia (can you name them all?) were to win? Would we lump them in with Yugoslav titles? I think not.
To say today's Germany today is the same as West Germany which won three World Cups is like implying Ireland is still part of Great Britain and any Irish title should be added on to those of England! Ouch!
As for the game, although 0-0 through regulation time, I found it much more interesting than last year's finale between Spain and the Netherlands. In fact, the Netherlands, 3-0 winners over Brazil in the consolation game Saturday, have played some of the most boring soccer in recent years--not only against Spain last year but against both Costa Rica and Argentina this year. I, for one, was glad to see the Netherlanders not advance to the finals.
Although I would have preferred a Messi (Argentina) win, I thought it was Germany's year, and the lone goal was certainly spectacular. No one that I know of is checking to see if the German players are from east (East) or west (West), but we know that the three previous times a German team prevailed, they were all West Germans.
Let's keep it short and sweet for this week's trivia, nothing about the World Cup or Brazil (although I'm in the middle of an interesting new book "Brazil, The Fortunes of War, World War II and the Making of Modern Brazil" by Neill Lochery).
Here's a rather delicious quote. Who said?
"Liberty is a succulent food, but difficult to digest?"
Hint--Siimon Bolivar did not say it, but I came across it in the new biography of Bolivar, ("Bolivar, American Liberator" by Marie Arana) and he certainly learned the truth of the quote. After liberating six Latin American countries (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Panama), Bolivar died a broken man (tuberculosis most likely) tyring to govern the areas which had broken free from Spain. Thus, liberty was indeed hard to digest.
Here are some options; and had I not read about this quote in the Bolivar book, I don't think I'd be able to choose correctly from this group.
John Jacques Rousseau;
Edmund Burke; or
Alexis de Tocqueville;
For the answer, let's go to google, and in the process, we'll see how Bolivar used the quote.
I always considered Henry Kissinger a war criminal (and after reading the book on Vietman "Kill Anything That Moves", I'm more convinced than ever that I was right); he was the first pol I decided to "click out". The honorable tradition continues.
Here's the explanation and a list of today's most clickable.
Almost 40 years ago--I remember it well; I was living in Ashland at the time; Henry Kissinger obviously was still Secretary of State so it must have been 1975 or 1976--I recall sitting in my favorite easy chair watching TV when Henry Kissinger appeard on the screen, and I resolved to myself then and there to immediately change the channel whenever he appeared on the screen. I considered him a war criminal at the time (and still do) and decided that the very least I could do was to simpy ignore him even if millions of others chose to hang on every virtually unintelligible syllable he uttered.
Until very recently, I kept that pledge to myself. 10, 20, 30 years went by, and I never once heard a word from Henry Kissinger. Through the years, as if my life depended on it, I have managed to tune out the unindicted war criminal, former Secretary of State, and FOD (friend of Dick Nixon).
Now comes a confesion. A few months ago, I'm not sure why because certainly a clicker was nearby, I actually listened as Kissinger appeared with Charlie Rose talking about Vladimir Putin, Crimea, and the Ukraine.
Personal pledges to avoid offensive peope is an honorable past-time. In fact, as I noted in another blog just moments ago, I choose to ignore Sarah Palin today. Of course, with the TV clickers, it's much easier these days than it was 40 years ago to simply avoid those who annoy us.
Any sentient human being can come up with his or her list of the most clickable; can pledge to himself or herself to click 'em all; and then to follow through or not to follow through as the case may be.
Most of the people who offend me most readily are Republicans (perhaps because I expect more from them), but in the interest of fairly ignoring members of both parties, I've come up with a list of five clickables from each party here....above and beyond Palin of course.
Republicans move out to a quick 3-0 edge due to what I have long referred to as the Triumvirate of Stooges. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and their newfound ally Kelly Ayotte, really put me to the test becasuse like weeds, they crop up everywhere when one least expects it on all sorts of media.
Two other Republicans come quickly to mind. I loathe New York Congressman and publicity hog Peter King who may or may not be running for President. I guess I'll never really know what his plans are because whenever he comes on....
I already alluded to the fifth Republican. Whatever his role in shutting the George Washington bridge down as part of political retribution, New Jersey Governor and Presidential wannabe (god forbid!) Chris Christie gets one thing and one thing only from me...
As for Democrats, while I don't beleive Barack Obama should be impeached, I am convinced that whether willfully or unintentionally he frequently lies to us. Those who lie constantly deserve a...
Just because he is who is he is, Joe The Clown Biden merits a...
Not to leave Kelly Ayotte out there alone among New Hamsphire Senators, let's provide Jeanne Shaheen, the absolute epitome of insincerity, the poster child of someone who will say or do anything to get elected, and who will do so with a voice enough to make one prefer chalk on the old-fashioned blackboard (are such things still used?), with a...
Of course, Shaheen can't hold a Missouri candle to the queen of insincerity at the national level, another woman who will say or do anythiing to get elected. Certainly Hillary Clinton deserves what her husband has been spared thus far, a...
Then there's New York Senator...nuff said...I don't even need to names a name here...just as well because I've happily forgotten it...
Those are my 11 most clickable.
To quote the great Soviet American comedian Yakov Smirnoff, "What a great country" ...what a great country we live in where the most loathsome can rise to the highest places, to such high places that some...many...most (?) people will hang on their every word but where others, such as I, can simply...