Wellington Mara, the White Sox, and My Touch With History-10-27-05

Wellington Mara, The White Sox and my touch with History

By Richard J. Garfunkel

October 27, 2005



The rainstorms of October have washed away the long, hot days of summer. The Yankees, after a frustrating up and down season were once again not in the World Series. Over the last ten years we started to believe in the myth of Yankee invincibility and that the Bronx was its only legitimate home. But George’s open checkbook policy of signing “over the hill” former trophies has finally come home to roost. Inconsistent play was the hallmark of the former champs and baseball is still a team game.


Baseball history was surprisingly served the last two years by the success of two perpetual “bridesmaids,” who were two of the original American League franchises, and have coincidentally similar names. The Red Sox and the White Sox have now ended two of the longest championship droughts that had lasted over 80+ years. The White Sox 4-0 sweep over the Houston Astros, replicated three previous other times in baseball history when one league was able to sweep the other league twice in a row. In 1927-8, the Yankees Murderer’s Row teams with Ruth and Gehrig swept both the Pirates and the Cards. Again in 1938-9 the Bronx Bombers with Gehrig and DiMaggio swept the Cubs and the Reds. And of course recently, the “Torre” Yanks swept both the hapless Padres and the Braves. The White Sox, who had a long history of futility emanating from the infamous Black Sox Scandal of 1919, came back into the championship spotlight under the enlightened tenure of Al Lopez in 1959. But since then they had not made an appearance in the Fall Classic and had not won a World Series since 1917, with their ill fated star Shoeless Joe Jackson.


We have a slight connection with the White Sox through one of Linda’s fiends from Barnard College, whose husband is very close to one of the owners of the White Sox. Not too long ago we went to see the Edward R. Murrow film, Goodnight and Good Luck with them and we all wanted the White Sox to win. Months earlier at another dinner we had all speculated about the slim possibility, of the then surging White Sox’s ability to sustain their momentum and win. For sure very few baseball fans would have thought way back in April, that these two teams would have been playing for the championship come October.


Meanwhile the local football season has been shocked by both the collapse of the Jets, with their numerous injuries, and the death of Wellington Mara, the long-time patriarch and owner of the Giants.


In the late 1950’s I started caddying at the Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, at the invitation of my Mount Vernon neighbor, the famous and flamboyant William J. O’Hara, a former member of the old Westchester Board of Supervisors. Bill O’Hara, who was affectionately known as the “Commissioner,” was the lawyer of both the old Brooklyn Dodgers and the football New York Giants. Not only was the late Bill O’Hara, who passed away in 2002 at the age of 87, a great golfer and a remarkable individual, but he attended and played football for Fordham College with not only Wellington Mara, but with the late great Vince Lombardi, who was a member of their famous “Seven Blocks of Granite” front line.


Ironically I had another indirect connection with that Fordham class of 1937. They had a wonderful football team that year, and were undefeated when they met a determined University of Georgia Bulldog squad. Fordham was expecting a Rose Bowl invitation. In those days, before the Big 10 Conference winner had an automatic invitation to play the Pacific 8 Champion, the Rose Bowl quite often invited the best team from the East to play. In fact, remarkably, Columbia University beat Stanford 7-0, in 1934.


Fordham, expecting to finish the season undefeated, faced a determined Bulldog team that came to New York, with a young Frederick W. Rosen, a cousin of my wife Linda. Fred later earned fame with his service during World War II with the PT Boats and his friendship with young Jack Kennedy. He met the future President in Charlestown, South Carolina and eventually trained with him at the Melville Motor Boat Training School in Rhode Island, later attended his wedding at Hammersmith Farm in Newport, RI and was part of the team of former PT Boat veterans that campaigned for Kennedy in the 1960 Presidential campaign. Fred, was a member of Peter Tare, the PT Boat Officer’s Alumni Association that later presented the President with a Stueben glass replica of the ill-fated PT-109. Of course Georgia wound up tying the Rams 10-10 and as a consequence of that tie, Fordham eventually lost their invitation to the Bowl game to the University of Pittsburgh.


In the 1950’s, I was a young teenager and had the pleasure and unique experience of caddying for Wellington Mara at Winged Foot. Wellington Mara was the younger son of Tim Mara, a local legal bookmaker at the New York tracks, who had acquired the NY franchise of the Giants in 1925, for an amount reportedly between $500 and $2000. Supposedly that money represented a gambling debt owed to Mara, but the real details have only been rumored about.


The inaugural 1925 season opened inauspiciously with three straight losses. Their first home game, at the fabled Polo Grounds, was a loss to the Frankfort Yellow Jackets 14-0, and played in front of 40,000 fans, of whom only half had paid. The Giants were able to win the next 7 games including 4 shutouts, but despite their new success they became a financial disaster. By the time the Chicago Bears came to town, they were deep in debt, probably about $40,000. Tim Mara’s friends and colleagues were urging him to the man to forget this ill-fated business. Wellington Mara clearly recalled that Governor Al Smith, a friend of his father, and a frequent visitor to their home, telling him “Pro football will never amount to anything, why don’t you give it up.”  Reportedly Tim Mara answered, that the boys, Jack, age 18 and Wellington, age 9 would never forgive him. Of course Al Smith, a great governor was also wrong about FDR. When he was warned by friends not to let FDR, a potential state rival, nominate him at the 1928 Democratic Convention, and become the candidate for NY State governor, Smith said, “don’t worry, he’s a sick man and won’t live another year.”


But resurrection, to coin a phrase for a family of devout Catholics, was at hand. The Chicago Bears were on their way to New York with their most recent acquisition, the great, legendary Harold “Red” Grange and his wily agent Charles C. (Cash and Carry) Pyle. Grange had played his last college game the Saturday before Thanksgiving and his first pro game on Thanksgiving Day. The “Galloping Ghost,” from the University of Illinois, as Grange was nicknamed by the famous sportswriter Grantland Rice, was still technically a senior in College.


With the game scheduled for December 6, a week after the Army-Navy Game at the Polo Grounds, thousands of seats were still in place. By the game time 70,000+ seats had been sold, and more then 20,000 fans were perched on Coogan’s Bluff that overlooked the Polo Grounds, and the neighboring apartment buildings. It was said that Grange made $30,000 on that game alone, and $250,000 that season.  Mara’s $40,000 debt was wiped out and at season’s end he had made a profit of $18,000.


Of course, in the late 1950’s and early 60’s, Wellington’s older brother Jack ran the Giants. When Jack died in 1965, Wellington, who was the personnel director of the Giants, took over the reins of the team. He owned half the Giants along with his brother’s widow and their son Tim. Unfortunately with the dual burden of management and personnel, the Giants entered into a long period of failure and fan disillusionment.


But, be that as it may, I did caddy and get to meet Wellington Mara a number of times. His reputation as a gentleman, a sportsman, a family and religious man was second to none. Mara was the last survivor of one of the founding families that included George Halas and Art Rooney. Who would know, certainly not the politically astute Al Smith that this ramshackle and disorganized league, where franchises were bought and sold for hundreds of dollars, would eventually become a multi-billion dollar enterprise?


An old era has finally passed with the death of the last witness to the earliest days of the National Football League. Will there also be a change in the Bronx, as the Yankees start to feel their age? Will see next spring.


Letter to the Editor 9-27-05 Patritism of Democrats

September 27, 2005


Letter to the Editor:


In a letter to the editor, on Tuesday, September 27, 2005, Ms. Judith Niewiadomski makes a broad-brush attack on the patriotism and competence on liberal Democrats, as if they were un-American. She seems to intimate that all Democrats and liberals believe that racism caused the disaster in New Orleans. I believe that is an insincere and insulting conclusion. She also includes, in her diatribe about Democrats, her evaluation of why people are poor. Her thoughts seem to reinforce the view, that conservatives and many Republicans possess, that the biggest crime in America is being poor. Ms. Niewiadomski seems to want to obfuscate the real issue that most people are starting to believe, that it is George W. Bush who is incompetent and that he reflects the insensitivity of his mother and her cavalier attitude of noblesse oblige. Whether the local officials of New Orleans and Louisiana are competent, or not, begs the issue regarding a delayed and confused response from the Bush administration. The American people seem to want to know why FEMA and other critical agencies have been compromised by the appointment of political hacks, and why George W. Bush and his cronies have been directing billions of dollars towards their wealthy supporters and friends? All the metaphors about hard work and savings do not mask the reality that there are millions and millions of disadvantaged poor people whose lives have been completely disrupted by the hurricanes and that George W. Bush’s faux attitude of concern has been promulgated by political necessity.


Richard J. Garfunkel

The Sixth Month Letter 10-14-05

Richard J. Garfunkel

2801 Watch Hill Drive

Tarrytown, NY 10591


October 14, 2005


Dear Friends,


Just in case you don’t have e-mail or haven’t read my e-mail lately, I thought I could give you a New Year’s update on what has been going on in our little corner of the world.


It’s been a very busy past half year. After months of unusually dry and hot weather of this endless summer, and just when our previously full reservoirs were starting to suffer, the rains from the south’s latest tropical event hit the metro area. One of the reservoirs in New Jersey increased its volume 50% in a few days. So with all this rain the hot weather has dissipated, and the sun has not been seen in quite awhile.


Of course five months ago my father, who lived deep into his 100th year, and only a few weeks before my parent’s 70th anniversary, unfortunately developed pancreatic cancer. When Linda and I were in Freeport celebrating my 60th Birthday with Dana and Jon, my sister Kaaren was in New York and happened to be spending some time with my parents. She told me that his skin looked a bit yellow. When I came home that Saturday and saw him, we immediately went to his doctor. Within three weeks of his eventual diagnosis he was gone. In spite of all the predictions that my mother, who wasn’t in the best shape of her long life, and was over 97 years, would quickly deteriorate, those thoughts were proven incorrect.  She did not fall apart or sink into an unrecoverable or irreversible depression. In a stretch one could say that “Mourning Became Electra.” My mother never really changed, is a bit lonelier, but has none of the tension and angst that characterized and came with their unique relationship over the years. Of course most people’s relationships are unique and probably a book could be written about each marriage. I am sure thought that few would read any of those books because most would not want to relive someone’s daily struggles, silliness, and heartaches. So my mother eats well, gets out once in a while has round the care, and watches oodles of movies from Turner Classic. I don’t know which are her favorites per say, but anything with Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, Rosiland Russell or Carole Lombard captures her fancy. She has had a life-long distaste for Wallace Beery, Joan Crawford, and Ethel Merman.


The Passing of Milton Garfunkel May-2005




This morning, my father, who was few months’ short of his 101st B-Day, passed away quietly at his home. He was assisted by hospice, but for the most part by his very dedicated caregivers, who have been helping both my parents for a time now. Miriam, who was with my parents for five years, helped manage their needs and supervise their overall care. Doxie was marvelous with both my parents for over a year. My father had been driving up to two weeks ago and had devoted all of his energies to my mother's well being, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a two weeks ago. He obviously had it for a while, but once the symptoms were manifested and he was diagnosed, his decline was quite rapid. He had a great powerful heart and I wasn't surprised that he was able to hang on for days. He was kept quite comfortable by hospice and passed away peacefully. We all should have his luck! He lived a very pleasant rewarding life, and was able to accomplish and witness whatever he wished. He enjoyed sports, especially golf, cards, especially gin and pinochle, and food, especially sardines, a kosher salami or corned beef. He was very proud of his strong athletic shape that he maintained throughout his life. He was originally a NY Giants fan, and always asked my what was wrong with the Yanks? The Yankees could have been in first place by 10 games, and then had lost one or two and he always asked that question. My father's family was in the clothing business and he loved to dress up. He owned a closet full of marvelous suits. He was always trying to get my son Jon to take them. But unfortunately my father's build and great shoulders were too wide for Jon. He had gotten those massive shoulders from years of championship handball at Manhattan Beach in the early 1930's and from being a great swimmer.


He was a moderate Democrat; he had no prejudices other then vestigial elements of his class and time, and always believed sincerely in equal rights and opportunity for all people. He was against our foreign intervention without provocation, and hated to hear of young men and women being lost overseas. But he was a realist and understood that there were no easy answers. He admired Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Bill Clinton, but was never a hero worshipper. Both my parents, and my sister Kaaren were great readers and I was lucky to have that habit passed to me early on.



As the summer moved into high gear I took on the role as chairperson for the re-election of Paul Feiner, the long-time Democratic Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh. We live in the unincorporated part of that town and our post office is Tarrytown. Town demographics are a bit complicated, but Greenburgh, which has a population of over 86,000, is made up of the Villages of Irvington, Hastings, Dobbs Ferry, Elmsford, Tarrytown and Ardsley along with a larger unincorporated area that has areas called Hartsdale, Edgemont, Greenville and etc. These areas have their own post offices linked with Scarsdale and White Plains. Why that happened I cannot tell, but it is certainly confusing to most. Paul, in his 7th term, was faced with a primary challenge, and was not designated by the Democratic Party of Greenburgh. Though he had no Republican opponent for the November general election, in heavily Democratic Greenburgh, he was challenged in the Democratic Primary. Even though he was previously a great vote getter, who had won 14 previous races, which included three other primaries, four for County Legislator, and seven for Supervisor, this race, in retrospect, became his greatest challenge. So with a large number of volunteers and the hard work of a core of loyalists, we beat back the well-financed challenge and won by about 4%. I was very happy with the campaign, but the relative low turnout of 5600 Democrats of 28,000 registered benefited his opponent who had organizational support, and the endorsement of all the newspapers. Of course a win is a win! We were the victims of an 11th hour slam of slanderous and mischaracterized literature. This campaign sleaze of false accusations kept the vote total down and we felt it made the race much closer than it should have been. Immediately after, we filed charges against our slate’s opponents to the Fair Campaign Practice Board. We made and won our case with two of our three claims, but the damage was done and Paul’s running mates were narrowly defeated. But all that is now behind me, and it is what it is.


In between all of this, and for ten days at the end of August, Linda and I had a great trip to Madrid, Barcelona, and a cruise of the Mediterranean. The weather was sensational and I cannot recommend more highly a trip to Spain and a visit to the beautiful and remarkable city of Barcelona. Its architecture, wide boulevards, sidewalks, shops, Olympic site, and museums are all first rate and world class. The amount of young beautiful people, from all over Europe and Spain, that could be seen strolling along Las Ramblas, that remarkable street that stretches from the Port to the massive Catalunya Square, were remarkable. The crowds must have been in the hundreds of thousands. Besides wonderful Barcelona, we loved seeing Marseille, Villefranche su Mer, St. Paul du Vence, and of course Florence and Rome. We had been both in Italy back in the 1960s. I was there with my grandfather, John Kivo in the summer of 1966. I can tell you with authority that the same buildings are still there. Those cities, except for Naples are much cleaner than I remember 39 years ago. The streets were packed, and southern Europe was enjoying a boom despite the high prices and the weak dollar. The Euro has made currency exchange quite simple, but has raised prices all over Europe. Exchange is as easy as finding one of the numerous ATM machines and pushing in one’s credit card, and voila the Euros appear as if by wizardry! So I took hundreds of pictures, two-thirds with my new digital camera, courtesy of my son Jon, and the rest with my trusty SLR Pentax. All in all, they came out great, and have provided us with wonderful memories. 




Madrid to Barcelona to Naples and Back –August 2005


Just returned from a fantastic time touring Madrid, Barcelona, cruising the sunny warm Mediterranean from Barcelona to Naples, with stops in between at Marseille, Nice, Livorno/Florence, Citiavecchio/Rome, and Naples. We loved Barcelona and I recommend that city for a must see. I took 325 pictures on my new Canon E05 Rebel, care of the generosity of son Jon, and also snapped another 120 on my trusty, now old, 35mm SLR fabulous Pentax.


We met some lovely people aboard the magnificent, 76,000 ton behemoth, “The Splendour of the Seas.”  I ate like a savage but only gained 3 lbs, must have burned off all those calories with our extensive walking along the beaches at Villefranche and Marseille. Linda, who eats “right” all the time, lost 4 lbs! Wow! Meanwhile the beaches are an incredible eyeful and one has to admire the French boldness. My new digital camera was quite handy in capturing the wonders of geological and human splendor and development.


The ruins, historical sites the churches are the same in Florence and Rome, as always, from my early trip with my wonderful Grandfather in 1966. Linda also went to Italy in 1967 and had the same comment. I am still in awe of the utter mindlessness of the Victor Emmanuel II monument as I was 39 years ago. The sites are in great shape considering the traffic, pollution and general wear and tear of the public. The crowds in Florence, in and around the Ponte Vecchio, were immense. But don't buy gold there, go to 47th Street. The dollar doesn't have the punch it had in 1967, and I don't have my Grandfather's bank account. Meanwhile the Euro has made it quite easy going from country to country, but all in all it has raised prices considerably in Europe and there are local complaints.


Barcelona is magnificent and beyond my description here. I will write a long piece, when I have time, and send it out and post it on my blog/website. I created an extensive travel journal, which has given me great pleasure. I will tell you all about meeting a high school wrestling coach, on board ship, that does a travel journal with water colours. What a great guy. He's a school administrator in Monterrey, who taught, history and art. Lo and behold he's from Pacific Grove, Calif, and knows Lighthouse Avenue quite well, where my great friend, the late and beloved Henry Littlefield, lived, with his wonderful wife Madeline, for many years. Of course he heard of Henry, who ran the York School for many years, before he taught at the fabulous Robert Louis Stevenson School, on the 17 Mile Drive. That was some co-incidence. Of course he also remembered the great and famous John Irving's citing of Henry in one of his books. The amateur wrestling community is still quite intimate and almost every one of a certain age gets to know everyone else. I told him about when Linda and I went to the Columbia-Cornell dual meet at the NYAC, a few years ago with Doug Garr and his brother, which was the 100th anniversary of collegiate wrestling, and I met Dan Gable, the legend of all grappling legends and Andy Fitch, Henry's old friend, who was a 2-time NCAA champion and an Olympian.


Meanwhile the cruise ship was great, the sea was smooth, the food was plentiful and excellent, the weather was sunny and hot, hot, hot, and there was great fun had by all. I even won a medal, with 5 others for “best legs” (male that is) on the ship. Of course Linda persuaded me to join the fun with about 30 other “extremity” wannabees.


The trip back was long, don't fly Iberia Airways if you can help it. The airport at Madrid is too too large, and the service on Iberia is lacking. But the Airbus they use took off and landed, and that counts more then anything. We disembarked from the ship in Barcelona and stayed in a lovely Atrium Hotel, spent Saturday walking around, and then we were picked up and taken to the airport for a 50 minute flight to Madrid for our trans-Atlantic connection. All in all, I have no real complaints about the four fights, to and fro. Considering the conditions that exist today, I have no complaints about extra security, or waiting a bit to err on the side of caution.



Upon our return it was back to politics and tennis. We joined a new club in Armonk and we kept busy all summer with new friends and competition. In the interim our children, Dana and Jon, after living together in Brookline for seven unanticipated years, decided to part company and find their own places. Jon bought an apartment in Brighton (part of the city of Boston) just across the street from Brookline and off Beacon Street, and Dana moved to Arlington, on Massachusetts Avenue a suburb of Boston northwest of Cambridge and just down the road from historic Lexington and Concord. Both apartments are quite nice and we were happy that their split and dissolution of their old apartment was quite amicable. We have been lucky over the last 9 years or so that Charlesbank Capital Partners, where Linda works, has a large office in Boston, and therefore whenever her firm has an event, we combine business and pleasure. This past September Charlesbank had a great party celebrating the closing of one of their funds, and we stayed in the Jurys Hotel and partied at the Excelsior Club. Again, a great time was had by all!


On a more somber and tragic note, Linda’s niece, Sarah Rosen, the eldest daughter of her brother was killed in a car accident at the tender age of 28. She was a graduate of Tufts and had spent the last few years working in Washington in political offices. Recently we learned that she was working as a lobbyist for the distilling industry and was on a business trip to Kentucky, when a truck hit the car she was riding in. Her funeral was at the Shaarey Tefila Synagogue on 79th and 2nd Avenue in NYC, the day before Rosh Hashanah! It was a sad day for all. Linda and I had not seen the Rosen’s in many years, and had not seen Sarah since her late teens. Sunday, on our way out see Linda’s Aunt Syd who lives in an assisted living facility in West Orange, we visited the Rosen gravesite at Beth-El Cemetery on Forest Avenue in Paramus, NJ.  We arrived after the office was closed and frankly didn’t remember the Rosen-Kulick gravesite. But we drove around for a few minutes and systematically went up and down each row until I spotted the location. Most of the graves were maintained, but some were not. The Kulick’s were not kept up properly and in bad shape and we don’t know where their children are. Originally, with regards to the Rosen section, Linda and her brother had agreed to divide the upkeep. Unfortunately only the part that Linda was responsible for was being cared for, and she immediately called the cemetery and learned that her brother had not paid his share in six years. We assumed that when he had moved the invoices had not caught up with his new address. Linda informed them of his new location and hopefully the maintenance will be brought up to its proper level.


One always receives a reality check when one makes a visit out there. Nearby Sarah’s new grave was a marker for a Jennie Meyerowitz (1867-1972). Quite a difference!


On a happier note we were able to go back to our old synagogue in White Plains, Bet Am Shalom to hear the famous British historian Martin Gilbert talk on the history of Israel. Bet Am has finally opened again after a devastating fire a few years ago. It’s been re-built and I am quite happy for the Congregation and their great Rabbi Lester Bronstein, who we had first met 16 years ago when he conducted the funeral for my father-in-law Morris. Ironically he was the assistant Rabbi at Shaarey Tefila when Sarah Rosen was a young student there.


Sir Martin, as he is now known, is one of the world’s leading experts on the Holocaust and is Winston Churchill’s official biographer. Of course he is not limited to those two areas, and has written 72 books on a number of subjects; including, Israel, World War II, and the Righteous, a story of many of the known cases of how righteous gentiles helped Jews in World War II. His excellent book, the Allies and Auschwitz contradicts David Wyman’s attack on FDR in his book the Abandonment of the Jews. Gilbert, a Jew, who is intimately associated with Israel, wished that Auschwitz would have been bombed, has analyzed systematically how few Jewish lives would have been saved. Recently I have also read a collection of essays in the book, The Bombing of Auschwitz, edited by Michael J. Neufeld and Michael Berenbaum that includes fifteen experts and historians from Henry Feingold to Walter Lacquer to Deborah Lipstadt to Martin Gilbert to Gerhard Weinberg. Most of these historians side with Gilbert’s perspective on Auschwitz and the lack of feasibility regarding the bombing, and disagree with Wyman’s accusations. Meanwhile Sir Martin gave an excellent encapsulated history of Israel over the past 100 years since Theodore Herzl had started the Zionist movements with settlements in 1905. It was also gratifying to hear Sir Martin mention the name of the late Brigadier Orde Wingate, a heroic British soldier who helped build the Jewish military forces in Palestine before and during the early days of World War II. Wingate lost his life in Burma, while in command of his famous Chindit Force that effectively worked and fought behind Japanese lines. He has recognized as a hero in Israel and has been honored by their postal service with a stamp. Of course Sir Martin, who worked at the United Nations, was able to reveal and recall many of Israel’s difficulties with that institution. But he was very upbeat regarding their future at the UN and enlightened us, and the overflow crowd of listeners, with good news about their greater acceptance by that world body. Later I was able to say hello to him and remind him of our correspondence over the last five years. I had met him at Manhattanville College, when he was doing a lecture on the Auschwitz bombing question. I was able to send him some material, and later I sent him my recent paper, “Franklin Roosevelt and the Jewish Community.” He was able to associate my name with my face, as we had last seen each other in 2000. 


June 2, 2003


Dear Sir Martin,


I hope that this letter finds you and yours quite well. After recently finishing your massive work The Second World War, and The Righteous, along with seeing you on C-Span, I decided to send you a letter of thanks. We had met a couple of years ago at Manhattanville College, after you gave a lecture regarding the Allies knowledge of Auschwitz. At that time we talked extensively and I was able to forward to you some documents regarding John J. McCloy’s response to Joseph Pehle’s request for the bombing of the railroad tracks to Auschwitz.


I am part of a standing committee to re-institute the celebration of FDR’s birthday in combination with the March of Dimes. In fact, on this past January 30th, FDR’s 121st birthday we held our renewal birthday ball at the both Hyde Park and the Culinary Institute of America. Over the years I have collected thousands of FDR artifacts and continue to lecture around Westchester County on the subject of his life and the study of history through collecting. Similarly I have collected and read many hundreds of books on World War II and have become known, in my circle, as one who has an abiding interest in that horrendous event. Also I read very carefully, and I must note, but not in criticism, that on page 510 of your history of WWII, you state that 724 crewmen of the Franklin drowned. They were actually killed by the fires resulting from a kamikaze attack and the inadvertent turning of the ship into the wind. The resultant flames and smoke enveloped the hanger deck and caused the high number of casualties. The Franklin, like the Bunker Hill suffered tremendous casualties from suicide attacks, but survived the war in the Pacific and made it home under their own steam.


Most importantly, in your history of World War II, you do something that I have never noticed in any other general history of the war. You sight constantly, in parallel, to the incidents of fighting, the atrocities committed by the German and Japanese forces. In almost the six years of warfare, or over the period of 2190 or so days to VJ Day the civilian death total in the Allied nations, or the overrun countries exceeds 25 million souls. Most of these people were murdered in one way or another. Many were starved deliberately or died from the strain and deprivation of forced labor, or malnutrition as a result of appalling conditions. But many, like the Jewish population of occupied Europe, or the Poles, or the Serbians, or the Gypsies, or other peoples who were political dissidents were murdered as part of Nazi war goals. In other words the activity resulting in Judenrein, was the national policy of Nazi Germany and their fascist allies from all over Europe. This massive, an unprecedented criminal act of wanton murder, no less, rape and robbery is discussed at length in the many treatises and studies regarding the Holocaust. Lucy Davidowitz’s book, The War Against the Jews, as for example,chronicles in depth the massive state sponsored criminality of the Nazis. But you, unlike most of the other historians of this calamitous event, bring into focus the daily atrocities along with the military strategy, tactics, and results. The persecuted millions count the same as the military casualties when it comes to being “dead.” One just has to divide the 6 million Jewish deaths by 2000 days or so, and realize that over 3000 people must be murdered, each and every day to reach that catastrophic number. Therefore you have contributed an important element to that chapter of World War II, which is often forgotten, or conveniently ignored. There is nothing romantic about war in general, and the clinical approach that many take to the study of war quite often removes the ugly and most inhumane nature of it all. It’s fine to digress about troop movements, and logistics and ordinance, but when one stops to mention, that the innocent are being murdered and raped all the time, the true picture of war is really seen. War is an atrocity in itself, but we, the free peoples of the world, are forced, at times to defend ourselves and practice the art of war to survive when “the barbarians are at the gate.”


Also, I appreciated your recent publication, The Righteous. You have told the story of the many Europeans from almost every nation, who risked their lives to save Jews. That activity was incredibly dangerous, and the fact so many would risk their lives is quite remarkable. Obviously, as you so eloquently state, there are countless untold stories that have been lost to history of personal bravery and sacrifice. I am quite sure, that all who read The Righteous, will have a new appreciation of the struggle that existed in Nazi-occupied Europe to save a “marked” people. My sense is that if the Jews have learned anything from history, it is the lesson to be strong, vigilant and politically involved. No ally, no scrap of paper and no guarantee is as strong as a unified people. Jews must be ever vigilant. They must never let “the big lie” be perpetuated into the common culture. Today, as in no other time since the World War II, has there been a constant unanswered drone of anti-Semitic rhetoric. We must answer those slanders with all our power.





Richard J. Garfunkel


Basically, after all of that, we are off to Arizona come mid November, and upon our return the heating season will be upon us. It is not hard for most of us to recall Jimmy Carter sitting in front of the fireplace at the White House, in his sweater, and discussing the consequences of being dependent on foreign sources for oil. Of course that was many was many years ago, but unfortunately the problem has gotten worse over the last 25 years. Yes we have created much better efficiencies, and yes the rest of the world is paying much higher amounts for their oil and gasoline, but we are much more dependent on oil and with our population only 6% of the world’s total we are using between 20-25% of the world’s fossil fuel resources. With only a 1% increase in demand coming from India and China, our current worldwide production will peak in 2017. Unlike the 1970’s, most of the world has been geologically mapped with much more sophisticated technology. Therefore the specter of large new “finds” to fuel energy growth far into the future are bleak. So our current administration has another problem to deal with.


Ms. Dowd,


Read your excellent piece in the Sunday Times. This is my take on this Bush 2’s place in the modern history of the Presidency. Unfortunately your colleagues and generally the Democrats have given this guy a free pass for years. I have been a “political person” on the local level for 36 years, and spend some of my off time lecturing on FDR and the New Deal in front of anyone who invites me! We need a more critical press who should start looking at the fetid underbelly of this country with regards to: jobs, education, healthcare and housing and how their runaway costs are bankrupting the middle class. Let’s start focusing on “core” issues or one day we are all going to wake up and find our selves like Humpty-Dumpty, and all the kings horses and men won’t put old Humpty back together again!


Richard J. Garfunkel




September 4, 2005


Bush is the Real Disaster!


In the modern age of the Presidency, from Theodore Roosevelt to today, we have had many Presidents: the good, bad and ugly. We have had abject failures like Harding and Hoover, mediocrities like Taft, Coolidge, Carter, Ford and Bush I, and unpopular ones, that history may or may not re-evaluate, like Truman, Nixon and Johnson. All in all, in this tumultuous past century, our leadership may have made mistakes from bad judgment, lack of intellect, greed, or downright incompetence. But today we have unquestionably the worst President of the whole lot. He has squandered our goodwill and sympathy from most of the world that came our way after 9/11. He has dissipated the surpluses left to him by a previous administration with adventurism and tax giveaways to the rich and to the powerful military industrial- complex, and he has pandered to the flat-earth society with his support for “creation science.” He is the worst President, by any measuring standard, on the environment since Teddy Roosevelt established the National Park system. Instead of quashing terrorism, he has allowed it to grow and blossom all over the world. He has fought a war with under-armed and undermanned forces. He has ignored the plight of the mourning families and has underserved the wounded, while letting many of our veterans become impoverished by their service to our country. We have fought this war on the “cheap” with huge deficits placed on our progeny, while our ordinary civilian National Guard and Reserves take the brunt of the pain, and our oil prices soar out of control. Now we see the results of FEMA cutbacks regarding the disaster in New Orleans, and other Gulf coastline areas. Under this President little has been done about our deteriorating national infrastructure including the strengthening of the levees protecting New Orleans. This shortsighted thinking has led to a $200 billion disaster. This is not a question of the right or the left. This is not a question of liberal or conservative. This is the reality of malevolent incompetence. Now with the rise of nuclear terrorism emerging from N. Korea and Iran, we have a President who cannot even pronounce the word “nuclear.” With all this in mind, we need a change in Washington starting in 2006.



Richard J. Garfunkel


Of course the above letter to Ms Dowd and the NY Times reflects my current and ongoing view of this President and his administration. Hopefully the public will learn the truth about Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, the Valerie Plame leak, the incompetence regarding New Orleans, the cronyism rife in Washington, the gerrymandering of Congressional Districts, the religious right and its Creation Science, just in time for the Congressional elections in 2006. Then, if there is no substantive change, we only have ourselves to blame.


Well baseball is officially over for New Yorkers now that the Yankees have folded their playoff tent. It was a frustrating season, and even though the Yanks narrowly beat out their Boston rivals for their 7th Division title in a row. Frankly they had played sub par baseball a good part of the season. Their pitching was a disaster, and their clutch hitting was non-existent. One would think with all their high-priced all-stars they would have come through against a mediocre Angel team. But again they played badly with running mistakes, poor fielding and the lack of timely hitting, especially by their big bat Alex (A-Rod) Rodriguez. It could be that this long run of winning from 1994 until this season is starting to wane. Look for big changes in the coming season, but frankly it has to be young, hungry players to help resurrect that winning synergy.


So stay well, have a happy New Year, and get involved! Without your effort you/yours will get what you deserve. So contribute to what you believe in and volunteer your time.











Rabbi Schecter's Remarks on Yom Kippur and my views 10-14-05

October 14, 2005


Dear Rabbi Schecter,


I hope by the time this letter reaches you the rains will have stopped. I just want to wish you a Happy New Year and congratulations on another job well done. Both Linda and I appreciated how you run the service along with your excellent and dynamic chorus.


With and regarding your Yom Kippur remarks, I can sincerely agree with your position on the Holocaust and I can certainly understand the non-Jewish world’s tiring of the subject. There comes a time when the articulation of self-pity generated from someone else’s need to be reminded of “guilt” starts to get weary. To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “I can forgive, but not forget.” I can never do either. But I speak not for the world. But since many of us preach that that “That the sins of the father should not be visited on the son, “ now we are dealing with the grandson. Throughout the long history of the Jewish people and many others, there have been many horrible murderous periods. Of course that invidious character Hitler said, in talking about the Jews, “Who remembers the Armenians?” We have therefore have had many, many pogroms and indescribable events of brutality that have permeated each century of recorded and unrecorded history. How many in our congregation can remember or even know of the “Rape of Nanking?”


I have worried about the cult of “Holocaust Worshippers” for many, many years. If, of course, the understanding of G-d is amorphous then surely the long-lasting meaning of Holocaust and its message is also unclear when dealing with so many parallel events of smaller, but no less brutal of consequences. We all know the uniqueness of the Holocaust, but to each new generation of non-Jews, the Holocaust becomes less important as a “lesson to the world” and more and more a “self-aggrandizing” method of currying sympathy aside from all other peoples. Certainly in our own time, and in the last 60 years since the walls of the last concentration camps were ripped down, we have experienced the Cambodian genocide, the Rwandan tribal massacres and the Balkan ethnic cleansing among others.


Of course the Holocaust was almost an unspoken topic in the post war era. It almost associated and caused more guilt amongst the victims then a lesson in brutality from group to another. In the 1970’s when Jewish concerns were raised with the rise of anti-Semitism, the Palestinian liberation movement, the threat of the disappearance of the Jewish people through assimilation, the lack of religious commitment and an accelerating inter-marriage rate, the subject of the Holocaust started to emerge. On an intellectual basis two themes started to coalesce from a new class of Jewish neo-con thinkers. Though unconnected these themes started to merge. One theme was that traditional Jewish liberalism was encouraging assimilation and therefore inter-marriage. Inter-marriage would eventually inhibit the Jewish people from replacing itself with a new vibrant progeny. It was the internal Holocaust. On the other hand the cause of the Holocaust was aided and abetted by so-called liberal Western governments, which did not do enough to stop Hitler or attempt to rescue Jews before or during the war. This twin attack on liberalism culminated with David Wyman’s book, “The Abandonment of the Jews,” which cast an unfair pall on Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration. On one hand it was liberalism that tolerated and encouraged assimilation and on the other hand the chief icon of America liberalism, Franklin D. Roosevelt, turned his back on the Jewish problems in Europe. As a corollary of that, Roosevelt was even accused of being an anti-Semite, even though the New Deal, called the “Jew Deal” by his legion of haters, brought Jews into the mainstream of American life, and President Roosevelt and his mother Sara were avowed Zionists throughout their lives. FDR met his future close associate Benjamin V. Cohen, at the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919, who was a lawyer for the American Zionist Movement from 1919-21. Cohen would serve Roosevelt throughout the President’s life. But other Jews closest to FDR as, Henry Morgenthau Jr, Samuel I. Rosenman, and Anna M. Rosenberg were not avowed Zionists and they represented a large number of well-placed Jews in America that feared a large Eastern European Jewish immigration and the subsequent increase in the backlash of anti-Semitism that was sweeping America during the Depression.


Of course Wyman’s postulation about immigration and the lack of the bombing of Auschwitz fueled this frustration within the Jewish people and had a resonance with younger less informed generations. Of course America’s attitude of “forget and forgive” coupled with the containment of Communism, promulgated by President Truman after the war, fed Jewish frustrations. Remember because of the rise of Communism, both Japan’s atrocities in China were conveniently ignored and Werner von Braun’s V1 and V2 team of Nazi friends and co-workers were invited with open arms to America. Nazi hunting took a back seat as other international problems and threats emerged. American intelligent agencies, desperate for help against the Soviet menace, freely used Germans with explicit Nazi histories, and many in our State department ignored the work of the Roman Catholic Church in helping well healed and well placed Nazis escape to South America.


So with worries about a 50% inter-marriage rate, the new neo-cons of American Jewish thought raised Holocaust iconography to an art form. The Holocaust worship reached almost on a par with the Passover Seder and the High Holidays. Of course as a result of this diversion of interests, the traditional needs of education, Jewish religious institutions and the preservation of Jewish culture suffered. Jewish culture started to descend almost into a mocking satire of itself with the rise of Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, and the Seinfeld sit-com phenomenon. Along with these self-deprecating images brought forth by Jewish comics, producers and directors, in Hollywood and out, Jewish life was portrayed in the same way American life was pictured, but even worse, petty, vain and materially focused.


Therefore the problems that the Jews face now, and in the future, cannot be assuaged by a constant appeal for sympathy relating from the uniqueness of the Holocaust. Other disasters and crises are happening daily and the demands of new generations of Americans and others for aid and comfort will far outweigh the pleadings and demands of Jews, who for the most part, enjoy high economic and social status in an America that is getting more and more divided between lower and upper middleclass.


As for your other two thoughts on Catholicism and the Palestinians, both Linda and I reacted much differently to your thoughts.  With the Roman Catholic Church, as opposed to Catholics in general, I (we) do not have much sympathy for their current plight. The Church has been in the vanguard of opposing change, progressive thinking, scientific advances and toleration for others. Over the last 2000 years, until very recently, the Church was opposed to almost everything Jewish. In fact the Vatican still maintained a chained in Jewish Ghetto well into the period just before World War II. The Church only had it excesses controlled, by first the emerging Italian Republic, the rise of Mussolini, and the subsequent end of the monarchy after WWII. Each group, whether liberal or conservative was co-opted by the immense strength of the Church, and in almost every instance, Jewish aspirations suffered. But besides their institutional anti-Semitism, their current conduct regarding tolerating and covering up sexual abuse of children cannot be excused, justified or pitied. The Church has been at the forefront and complicit in the greatest crime of sexual abuse in the history of the 20th Century. Any other business or public institution or school that would allow its managers or employees to sexually abuse children would have been prosecuted and sent to prison for life. In fact the Church has been given a “free pass’ by most of the press, especially Catholics, and Jews who are afraid to speak out against their litany of crimes. Local government has also been afraid to take on this battle. Thanks to the heroic work of lawyers who have pushed for victim’s redress through civil action, has some justice been served. As recently as the other day, the NY Times reported, on its front page, another massive cover-up of criminal sexual activity by the Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archdiocese. Therefore I have no sympathy for this outrageous collection of pederasts and pedophiles. I would not shed one tear over its potential institutional collapse. The average Catholic should demand full disclosure of their records and a complete rooting out of all of these criminals and their protectors. Any Catholic that continues to contribute to their church until this happens are, in my opinion, complicit in the cover-up.


Also I do not have any sympathy for Palestinians, or their movement and leadership. Their problems are almost 100% self-inflicted. They have had ample opportunity over the decades to seek normalization with Israel, and justice for themselves. They and their Arab brethren rejected power sharing in 1947 when they were granted 83% of the land of the total British Mandate. When the West Bank was completely controlled by Jordan from 1947 to 1967 there was no effort to grant the so-called Palestinians independence or statehood. The whole area was called Palestine, a name that originated with the Romans in 79 AD. After they defeated the Judean Revolt they changed all the Jewish names in Judea and called the area Palestine after the Philistines. Up until the 1970’s, Arabs, Druse, some Christians and Jews occupied the land that was the old Mandate. The term, Palestinian, was then adopted by Yasir Arafat and his PLO cohorts. But the truth is that both the Jordanians and the Palestinians were Arabs of the same region, with a small group of Hashamites from Saudi Arabia. Therefore Jordan is the Arab-Palestinian State. Of course the main reason that the West Bank was not annexed by Jordan or not granted its statehood, would be by that mere act Israel would have been recognized by de facto. In today’s world, Israel’s so-called draconian tactics are a sensible reaction to the extreme tactics of the radicalization of the Intifada that had been fueled by Arab payments of “blood-money” to encourage suicide bombings. West Bank dissatisfaction with the criminality Arafat’s Fatah Party has led to the more radical Hamas alternative. Therefore sympathy for their national desires and angst must wait for another day. Statehood and so-called liberation from Israeli control will not solve their problems. They must create an internal stability first by rooting out their climate of hatred and revenge. When that happens maybe they will deserve our sympathy to their plight.





Richard J. Garfunkel

Answer to a young uniformed conservative 10-10-05

October 10, 2005


Answer to a young uninformed pseudo- conservative!


You are a bit young and naive for such rash conclusions. They are quite simplistic, immature and non-factual. Liberalism has little to do with foreign intervention, and race-hatred and bigotry isn't really a hallmark of liberalism or even intervention in foreign lands. Truman, a liberal fought back against Communist aggression in Korea, and kept the US's reaction limited to prevent a nuclear war. FDR dealt with American First and Liberty Lobby isolationists that were PRO-GERMAN and NAZI leaning! In fact we fought an undeclared naval war against German U-Boats for a year before GERMANY DECLARED WAR ON US! Look it up. The US was not interested in war and every opinion poll reflected the public's opposition. In fact, the last Gallup Poll of November 1941 reflected a 90% opposition to going to war against Nazi Germany to help and save England from collapse. FDR was certainly not an anti-Semite, and that statement is ridiculous on its face. In fact he was so often accused of favoring the Jewish community that the New Deal was often referred to as the “Jew Deal.” Therefore your premise is quite false, silly and insulting. Also FDR was on record from 1933 onward as a vocal foe and critic of the Nazi regime and specifically Hitler. Unfortunately right-wing isolationist friends of your grandfather's generation, the CONSERVATIVES of those days were pro-Nazi and anti-interventionist. There are millions of pages of support of this clearly understood history. With regards to JFK, he didn't hate Cubans because of the failure of the Bay of Pigs; he was unprepared, as a new President, for its consequences and failure. The planning started in the last days of the Eisenhower Administration and it was Eisenhower that let Castro overthrown Batista, a military dictator with strong ties to the US, gambling interests, the sugar business and organized crime. It was the failure of Eisenhower and his CIA to understand the detrimental aspects of Fulgencio Batista, the revolution by Marxist leaning Fidel Castro, and the Mafia that vast interests in Cuba. Kennedy's problem was that he underestimated the failure of the CIA to plan properly. Meanwhile Castro has existed for decades under mostly Republican conservative Presidents, while these same people catered to Soviet and Chinese communists for trade purposes. Jimmy Carter had little to do with Iran. The Shah and his family were brigands from way back. The US had put him back in power in 1953 when there was a revolution. When finally the corruption and heavy-handedness of the Shah and his secret police finally backfired on him, the Ayatollah Koumeni, who was exiled for decades, came back into Iran. Carter had made a terrible mistake of allowing the Shah into the US, for so-called medical reasons, he was dying of cancer, and that precipitated the holding of our Embassy and its people for 444 days. Nobody here wanted physical intervention in Iran to either rid the country of the Mullahs or even free the hostages. Iran is a big country with 50+million people. So Carter's attitude towards the Iranian people is basically irrelevant. The Iranians are dominated by a conservative Moslem-Shiite branch and are virulently anti-western. The issue of liberal or conservative is meaningless. Nixon was a friend and supporter of the Shah and his administration totally misread the Shah's weakness and the strong opposition to his rule, which was rotten with corruption and human right's abuses.


Johnson was not anti-Asian or anti-Vietnamese. He tried to continue and sustain the containment policies started by Truman, and continued by Eisenhower and Kennedy. The Vietnamese nationalists started the Vietnam War almost immediately after the French conquered Indo-China in the 19th Century. FDR promised Ho Chi Minh freedom if they helped US against the Japanese during WWII. After the war, when Indo-China reverted to the French, the war for independence continued with the eventual defeat by the French at Dienbienphu, despite financial and not military support by the Eisenhower Administration. Eventually after the partition of Vietnam in 1956, the Vietminh, the North Vietnamese and the new Viet Cong wanted one country, reunification, and the overthrow of the South Vietnamese government, supported by earlier administrations. Johnson was caught in a political quagmire. He did not want to fight there, but was faced with the charge by the Republicans that the Democrats “lost China!” Therefore he started to escalate our involvement to protect our interests in the South. His eventual bombing pause had little to do with liking or hating Vietnamese, as you claim. His military efforts failed, and when Nixon was elected in 1968 he kept up the war, bombed much, much more, incurred many casualties and eventually worked out a phony truce, pulled out and watched the South Vietnamese government collapse to the consternation of the families that gave 58,000 casualties. So it was Nixon, who bombed and killed many more Vietnamese and wound up losing the country anyway.


Clinton is well liked by Black America, and enjoys almost 95% support by them. Rwanda and most of Africa has been dominated by fratricidal tribal conflicts, and the UN has dominated most of the problem solving with strong support by Europeans. The French, British and Belgians had always-strong roles regarding African problems. Clinton's hands were tied by a Republican dominated Congress, and he no power to intervene effectively in Rwanda. Unfortunately the killing went on, quickly almost unchecked and in a relatively short period of time. Meanwhile where is George Bush when it comes to the killing in Darfur, of Sudanese Black Africans? That killing has gone on for years and he has done virtually nothing.


Therefore your conclusions are hasty, immature; reflect a lack of research and reading. Please spend a little more time with the books, read some “real” history and get away from the liberal=conservative blame game. Neither philosophical faction has a monopoly on righteousness and goodness. But your broad brush slanders to defend Bush's bankrupt problems at home and abroad have no traction. Bush's popularity has been sinking not because of liberal criticism. It has been sinking because of 2000+ deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, 15,000 wounded, huge deficits in the Federal budget, cronyism in critical governmental departments, religious-pandering to fundamentalism, corruption in fund-raising, no-bid contracts at home and abroad, tax cuts for billionaires, poor immigration and energy policy, high gas and heating oil prices, bad management, poor court appointments, and the like.


WEBCommentary Contributor
Author:  Christian Hartsock
Bio: Christian Hartsock
Date:  October 9, 2005

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Perfect Weather for Bush-Bashing Bush Blamed for the Forces of Nature

We certainly learned a lot last month. We learned more about God’s readiness and willingness to pull the rug out from under man, thereby compelling him to swallow his pride and exposing him to the implacable uncertainty of his fate. We also learned more about what we can expect from liberals in a time of disaster. We, of course, already got a taste of it when liberals, after just a few weeks of cordiality, responded to the 9/11 attacks by putting the blame on the president. This time around, liberals held him accountable for the forces of nature.

The day Hurricane Katrina’s effects on the Gulf Coast became apparent, August 29, President Bush immediately ordered in the Army Corps of Engineers to work on levee repair, and 300 Coast Guard helicopters to rescue people from rooftops. Later that week, he signed and pushed a $10.5 billion emergency aid package for the Gulf Coast through Congress.

MoveOn.org claimed that the federal effort was “too little, too late,” claiming that the White House blamed the disaster on state and local officials “after they had begged for help.”

Yeah, except, not really. In fact, two days before the hurricane struck the shores, President Bush made a call to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, begging her to order a mandatory evacuation. Blanco neglected to order an evacuation, as did New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Furthermore, it might be noted that they New Orleans evacuation plan makes it a requirement for the city to provide transportation for the disabled as well as those without access to vehicles. Nagin ignored that responsibility as well. (But wait! Mayor Nagin is black! Let’s be careful not to put any of the blame on him, so, God forbid, we don’t come off as racists!)

Democratic bombthrower Harry Reid implied that the president was too preocuppied with his vacation to attend to the disaster. Howard Dean said to the Baptists’ Political and Social Justice Commission, “We must…come to terms with the ugly truth that skin color, age and economics played a deadly role in who survived [the hurricane] and who did not.” Even Mayor Nagin desperately resorted to playing the race card when he said in an interview with the New Orleans Times-Pacayune, “The more I think about it, definitely race played into this.” Rapper Kayne West came to a brilliant, scholarly conclusion regarding the sufferings of people in New Orleans when he enlightened us all by saying, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

Yeah that must be it. In fact, while we’re at it, let’s hold some of the former presidents accountable for their blatant racial insensitivities which were manifested by such negligence as that which George W. Bush is now culpable of.

We can all admit, for example, that Franklin D. Roosevelt clearly was an anti-Semitic, white supremacist Nazi sympathizer, which is why he allowed millions of Jews to be starved, subjugated and liquidated before he bothered to declare war on Germany.

John F. Kennedy, of course, didn’t care about Cubans, which is why he abandoned the Cuban rebels by declining to provide air cover for them during the Bay of Pigs invasion.

And then of course, there was Lyndon B. Johnson, who hated Asians so much that he perpetuated the war with Vietnam by resorting to limited bombing campaigns even after the military assured him that the war could be expedited with the use of overwhelming force.

This is not to mention Jimmy Carter, who cared so little about the Iranians that he abandoned the Shah and allowed the oppressive Ayatollah Khomeini to come to power.

Oh! Did we forget Bill Clinton, who, also hating black people, ignored warnings from the CIA of genocide in Rwanda?

Ever since childhood, liberals have remained accustomed to playground standards. When something goes wrong, they scream, whine, point fingers and shout, “It’s his fault! He started it!” If they can’t react to such a colossal tragedy with dignity and maturity and without automatically politicizing it, how can we expect them to handle the national security disasters they will cause the next time they’re in power?

It’s time for liberals to leave the playground and start living in the real world.

Christian Hartsock
Christian Hartsock

Biography – Christian Hartsock

Christian L. Hartsock, 18, is a screenwriter, videographer and political columnist. His columns have been run in various publications and websites, including Political Vanguard, American Daily, World Magazine, The Dailey-Times Post, The Sierra Times, Free Republic, Newsbull, Banner of Liberty, Free Congress Foundation, Reality Check, and others. A native of Oakland, California, Christian is currently a senior at Piedmont High School and will be attending Brooks Institute of Photography next year, where he will be aiming for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Film and Video Production.

Read other commentaries by Christian Hartsock.

Visit Christian Hartsock's website at http://www.christianhartsock.com

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All Rights Reserved.

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Letter to the Editor 9-27-05 -Bush Apologist accuses Liberals


September 27, 2005


Letter to the Editor:


In a letter to the editor, on Tuesday, September 27, 2005, Ms. Judith Niewiadomski makes a broad-brush attack on the patriotism and competence on liberal Democrats, as if they were un-American. She seems to intimate that all Democrats and liberals believe that racism caused the disaster in New Orleans. I believe that is an insincere and insulting conclusion. She also includes, in her diatribe about Democrats, her evaluation of why people are poor. Her thoughts seem to reinforce the view, that conservatives and many Republicans possess, that the biggest crime in America is being poor. Ms. Niewiadomski seems to want to obfuscate the real issue that most people are starting to believe, that it is George W. Bush who is incompetent and that he reflects the insensitivity of his mother and her cavalier attitude of noblesse oblige. Whether the local officials of New Orleans and Louisiana are competent, or not, begs the issue regarding a delayed and confused response from the Bush administration. The American people seem to want to know why FEMA and other critical agencies have been compromised by the appointment of political hacks, and why George W. Bush and his cronies have been directing billions of dollars towards their wealthy supporters and friends? All the metaphors about hard work and savings do not mask the reality that there are millions and millions of disadvantaged poor people whose lives have been completely disrupted by the hurricanes and that George W. Bush’s faux attitude of concern has been promulgated by political necessity.


Richard J. Garfunkel

2801 Watch Hill Drive

Tarrytown, NY 10591


914-524-8381, 914-261-6587 (cell)

Letter to the Nation and my response 10-6-05

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the liberal media by Eric Alterman

The First Time Was Tragedy…

[from the October 24, 2005 issue]

I spent a beautiful autumn weekend at the Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York, not long ago at a conference of diplomatic historians examining FDR's legacy in conjunction with the opening of a new exhibition–FDR as “Commander-in-Chief”–at the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. The one point of agreement was that FDR's legacy is both ambiguous and inescapable. Steve Gillon of the University of Oklahoma terms Roosevelt “the father of modern America” and argues, “You can't understand America without coming to terms with him and his legacy.” And yet that legacy is one of a “juggler”–in historian Warren Kimball's term–who, as FDR himself put it, “never let my right hand know what my left hand does.”

Roosevelt's masterminding of the battle against Nazism and Japanese militarism is indeed inspirational. His ability to navigate the crosscurrents of leading America industrially, militarily and politically–simultaneously careening among an unreasonable Churchill, a murderous Stalin and later (at Churchill's insistence) a vainglorious De Gaulle–leaves one's head spinning like Linda Blair's in The Exorcist. It was a complex, frequently contradictory, task to maintain what he always insisted was a clear path to victory and a stable, peaceful postwar world. But many of the problems that arose–and ended up killing tens of millions of people in decolonization struggles overlaid with US-Soviet proxy warfare–can be attributed to FDR's unwillingness either to follow through on his announced policies, to place competent people in positions to implement them or to level with the public about what he was trying to do. FDR behaved like a savvy nineteenth-century European realpolitician at Yalta, smartly playing the weak diplomatic hand that battlefield realities had bequeathed him before returning home and pretending he'd achieved a Wilsonian “We Are the World”-style solution. And since he died shortly thereafter, leaving little indication of how he planned to manage the various contradictions he'd created, it fell to an unbriefed and inexperienced Harry Truman to hazard more than a few unhappy guesses. As Walter LaFeber wondered at the conference's end: “How did the Good War end with [such] tragic conclusions?”

I've got my own theories, which is why I devoted so much attention to FDR's Yalta bargain in my book When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and Its Consequences. But the accepted answer of almost all those who attended the conference is that while FDR did many things brilliantly, his belief that he could handle everything by juggling ends and means in ways that he alone understood, together with his untimely death on April 12, 1945, probably undermined whatever chances, however unlikely, there may have been for lasting postwar peace.

Outrageous even by his own considerable standards, George W. Bush has tried to hijack Roosevelt's World War II legacy for his own, most recently at a speech in San Diego commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of V-J Day. The obvious difference between FDR's and Bush's wars is necessity. True, FDR led the nation into war by less than forthright means, but he did so because he knew that Germany and Japan were genuine and unavoidable threats to American security and prosperity. Bush chose war for reasons of ideological fanaticism, coupled with personal pique and historical ignorance rather than any verifiable threat. The Administration's repeated demonstration of dishonesty and incompetence vis-à-vis Iraq helps explain why, despite desperate propaganda efforts–and little Democratic opposition–a mere 33 percent of Americans currently voice support for his handling of the war.

Second, while superpowers fighting wars do a lot of things that most of us wish they wouldn't, FDR managed to do them while advancing the image of America as the world's protector and defender of freedom and democracy. This perception grew tarnished during the cold war, particularly at the time of the war in Vietnam, but never to the point that our allies questioned the fundamental arrangements upon which world security and economic prosperity rested. Bush's war, on the other hand, has destroyed much of the good will that America built up among our allies during two world wars and afterward. In the late 1990s the philosopher Jürgen Habermas, symbol and spokesperson for a humane, social-democratic liberal Europe, told me in unequivocal terms that America's protection of European democracy had been necessary and valuable during the last half-century. (He would not extend the argument into the Third World.) And yet under Bush, America's image has fallen so far, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, that totalitarian China is more admired than we are by most European nations, and we are more isolated than at any time since perhaps the end of slavery.

Bush's ability to deceive the nation into an unnecessary war rested in part on his willingness to lie but also on war agitators' deployment of the discourse of Wilsonian internationalism. Rutgers historian Lloyd Gardner notes that Americans are used to hearing that democracy travels well, that democratic institutions can be established easily, that other people want to be like Americans “once the bad people are removed.” The phenomenon leads LaFeber to term US politicians' linguistic attachment to Wilsonianism less “a policy than a disease.”

Bush has had a great deal of help in this endeavor, from the right-wing punditocracy as well as from politically naïve and ahistorical liberal hawks. Few gave much thought to the likely consequences of “democracy promotion” in Iraq: greater hatred for America and Israel, coupled with a strategic coup for the theocratic ambitions of Iran's medieval mullahs. As the Administration's incompetence slowly transforms Iraq into an ungovernable terrorist training camp, we may be forgiven our nostalgia for a “juggler” who, for all his flaws, had the good sense to address genuine threats with the kind of creativity and competence that right-wing Republicans these days seem to reserve only for criminal enterprise.


Letter to the Nation 10-6-05


I found Eric Alterman's piece “The First Time Was Tragedy…” a strange if not disingenuous comparison between the late President Roosevelt and the current incumbent. President Roosevelt, though considered a “juggler” by Mr. Alterman, was one of the greatest men who has ever lived. A vast majority of us, here in America, and most of the rest of the “Free World” certainly regard FDR as our greatest leader in the time of the world's greatest crisis. At the peak of his powers, Winston Churchill said of him that “He is the greatest man I have ever know.” (After the Casablanca Conference) and one of his most bitter rivals, Senator Robert A. Taft, said at his death, that the late President was the “greatest figure of our time…his death shocks the world to which his words and actions were more important than those of any other man.” 


Of course much more has been said, in the millions of words, about the man who James MacGregor Burns called, “The Soldier of Freedom.” For Mr. Alterman to insinuate that FDR led us into world war with “less than forthright means” knows little of history. FDR, the man who saved our economic system from utter collapse during the depths of the Depression, was the initiator of “Lend-Lease,” the author of the “Four Freedoms” and the “Atlantic Charter,” the leader of the Allied effort to defeat world- wide Fascism, creator the United Nations, and architect of victory. FDR was able to rearm our nation despite the vicious opposition of the America First neo-nazis and xenophobes. It was FDR's vision and ability to mix the public and privates sectors to make us the “Arsenal of Democracy.” FDR did not invite the attack on Pearl Harbor, but he certainly did try to warn a sleepy fearful and isolationist America about the potential threat of world-wide domination by the Fascists and Nazis. Remember also, it was Germany that declared war on the United States on December 8, 1941.


Therefore when Alterman quotes some arcane source that claims, “How did the good war end with (such) tragic conclusions?” he must of forgotten the immense contribution The Soviet Union made with “blood and steel.” Therefore with the vacuum created by the death of fascism, and the end of the eastern European monarchies and dictatorships, the Russians merely certified their rule and influence that their 15 million troops had long established. The Yalta Conference only recognized what the reality of “boots on the ground” meant. In fact, only the right-wing Republicans claimed that Yalta was a sell-out. Later on cooler historical heads understood that FDR gave away virtually nothing.


Lastly FDR's quote about “Never let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” was an answer to Henry T. Morganthau Jr. Morgenthau asked him which hand he was? That statement, made in May of 1935, had nothing to do with WWII, Yalta, or any other foreign policy issue. It was a metaphor said to his friend about how he kept his enemies and friends alike guessing. It had nothing to do with keeping Truman or any others in the dark. FDR understood the power of selective leaks, was able to play different members of his cabinet against each other and was the master of being simultaneously the “Lion and the Fox.” FDR truly was a secretive and lonely man, but out of his strong personality, great self-confidence, abiding faith in mankind and G-d and brilliant understanding and use of the people around him, he was able to forge an unequalled legacy and place in history. Let us not trash his great effort, sacrifice and unique place with the giants of history with any comparisons with the present Lilliputian in the White House.      


Richard J. Garfunkel

Tarrytown, NY



I am only fighting for a free America—for a country in which all men

and women have equal rights to liberty and justice.


I am fighting against the revival of government by special privilege—

Government by lobbyists—Government vested in the hands of those

who favor and who would have us imitate the foreign dictatorships.


I am fighting, as I always have fought, for the rights of the little

man as well as the big man—for the weak as well as the strong,

for those who are helpless as well as those who can help themselves.


I am fighting to keep this nation prosperous and at peace, and to keep

foreign conceptions of Government out of our own United States.


I am fighting for those great and good causes. I am fighting to defend

them against the power and might of those who now rise up to challenge



And I will not stop fighting.


FDR – January 1940