Note on the Gettysburg Address

On this date in 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. (http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/)

My cousin Linda taught high school English. During a discussion years ago she said, “The Gettysburg Address is the greatest speech ever delivered.” I scoffed, and ridiculed the thing, which shocked her. “You have been taught to say that, Linda,” I said. “Have you ever thought about what it says.”

In his “Note on the Gettysburg Address” H.L. Mencken wrote, “The Gettysburg speech was at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history…the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous. But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination – that government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.”

The Legendary Georgia Ironman recently mentioned some of the parents of the Indian children he teaches have asked him why Southern people still harbor ill feelings about a war fought 150 years ago. LM Brian McCarthy moved to south Georgia to teach high school and mentioned something about all the monuments in the small town, something one does not see in yankee land. Some years ago I was at the Highland coffee shop on Bardstown road in Lousiville, Kentucky. During a discussion of the War of Northern Aggression one fellow used the term “we” and it dawned on me that the “we” he meant were the perpetrators of the War Between the States. I mentioned that, being from Georgia, this was the first time I had heard “we” meaning yankees. “You lost. We won. Get over it,” he said. I said, “It is somewhat more difficult to “get over it, sir, when you lose.” He fired back with, “Tough shit!”

A few weeks ago I attended a lecture given by the eminent historian James M. McPherson pertaining to his new book, “Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief.” (http://www.booktv.org/Program/16323/After+Words+James+McPherson+quotEmbattled+Rebel+Jefferson+Davis+as+Commander+in+Chiefquot+hosted+by+James+Swanson.aspx) At the end the author, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his book, “Battle Cry of Freedom,” took questions from the audience. I was standing on the balcony, where I had been conversing with one of the owners of the Eagle Eye bookstore (http://www.eagleeyebooks.com/), so there was little, if any, chance Mr. McPherson could see my raised hand if I had been inclined to ask a question. When he said, “No state has ever had the right to secede,” I was unable to contain myself and blurted, “How can you say such a thing when the right of secession was taught at West Point until the War of Northern Aggression?!” In response to my question the audience roared with approval. The author answered by saying, “I am not aware of that. I have never read that. Can you tell me where you come by your information?” I responded, “It is historical fact, sir. I have read it in many books, including ‘The Real Lincoln,’ by Thomas J. DiLorenzo.” He said only, “That is a discredited book.” I was the first in line to have my book signed and said, “One can learn much by reading everything about a subject in lieu of only reading one version of events.” He looked at me quizzically before signing my book. I added, “You know, Mr. McPherson, I was raised near an Army base named after the yankee General James Birdseye McPherson.” He smiled while handing the signed book to me, but the smile left his face when I said, “Everyone hated the place because it was named after a yankee General, even relatives who worked there. He was killed at the Battle of Atlanta you know. He was the second highest ranking yankee officer killed in the War of Northern Aggression.” He frowned and I smiled when turning to leave. Many of the older men in line stopped me to shake my hand, wanting to talk, but Brian McCarthy was waiting to take me to the Fortress so I made apologies and headed toward the door.

Having been lied to about the causes of the war has not helped Southerner’s “get over it.” The yankee version of history is that they had the “moral” right because slavery, brought to America by these same yankees, was morally wrong. They are correct in this, because slavery is wrong, but it was the law. Should a war which devastated the country have been fought to end slavery, or was there much more to the war than the simplistic reason given?

“Growing up in the US, I too was “educated” (through government-purchased school-books and popular media) to revere Mr. Lincoln as a wise and marvelous president. Later, I ran across quotations of his that seemed to cast suspicion on his real views regarding the institution of slavery. I dismissed these as simply a reflection of the times. Lincoln, I reasoned, as a politician needed to keep peace with constituents in order to pursue a praiseworthy agenda. I was wrong about the agenda.”

“Reading below you will understand that the US Civil War finally resolved a century-old debate between Federalists and Anti-Federalists. It was resolved violently by Lincoln and accompanied by the death of more than 600,000 countrymen.”

“Slavery was ended in 1866 with the Thirteenth Amendment, but at the cost of 620,000 lives; hundreds of thousands more that were crippled for life; and the near destruction of almost half the nation’s economy. By contrast, dozens of other countries (including Argentina, Colombia, Chile, all of Central America, Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay, the French and Danish colonies, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela) ended slavery peacefully during the first 60 years of the nineteenth century. Why not the U.S.?” *
* Thomas J. DiLorenzo
(http://www.bigeye.com/abraham_lincoln.htm)

In “honor” of the date I would like to present a Southern response to the address Dishonest Abe gave 150 years ago today:

Ode to the Confederate Dead
Allen Tate, 1899 – 1979

Row after row with strict impunity
The headstones yield their names to the element,
The wind whirrs without recollection;
In the riven troughs the splayed leaves
Pile up, of nature the casual sacrament
To the seasonal eternity of death;
Then driven by the fierce scrutiny
Of heaven to their election in the vast breath,
They sough the rumour of mortality.

Autumn is desolation in the plot
Of a thousand acres where these memories grow
From the inexhaustible bodies that are not
Dead, but feed the grass row after rich row.
Think of the autumns that have come and gone!–
Ambitious November with the humors of the year,
With a particular zeal for every slab,
Staining the uncomfortable angels that rot
On the slabs, a wing chipped here, an arm there:
The brute curiosity of an angel’s stare
Turns you, like them, to stone,
Transforms the heaving air
Till plunged to a heavier world below
You shift your sea-space blindly
Heaving, turning like the blind crab.

Dazed by the wind, only the wind
The leaves flying, plunge

You know who have waited by the wall
The twilight certainty of an animal,
Those midnight restitutions of the blood
You know–the immitigable pines, the smoky frieze
Of the sky, the sudden call: you know the rage,
The cold pool left by the mounting flood,
Of muted Zeno and Parmenides.
You who have waited for the angry resolution
Of those desires that should be yours tomorrow,
You know the unimportant shrift of death
And praise the vision
And praise the arrogant circumstance
Of those who fall
Rank upon rank, hurried beyond decision–
Here by the sagging gate, stopped by the wall.

Seeing, seeing only the leaves
Flying, plunge and expire

Turn your eyes to the immoderate past,
Turn to the inscrutable infantry rising
Demons out of the earth they will not last.
Stonewall, Stonewall, and the sunken fields of hemp,
Shiloh, Antietam, Malvern Hill, Bull Run.
Lost in that orient of the thick and fast
You will curse the setting sun.

Cursing only the leaves crying
Like an old man in a storm

You hear the shout, the crazy hemlocks point
With troubled fingers to the silence which
Smothers you, a mummy, in time.

The hound bitch
Toothless and dying, in a musty cellar
Hears the wind only.

Now that the salt of their blood
Stiffens the saltier oblivion of the sea,
Seals the malignant purity of the flood,
What shall we who count our days and bow
Our heads with a commemorial woe
In the ribboned coats of grim felicity,
What shall we say of the bones, unclean,
Whose verdurous anonymity will grow?
The ragged arms, the ragged heads and eyes
Lost in these acres of the insane green?
The gray lean spiders come, they come and go;
In a tangle of willows without light
The singular screech-owl’s tight
Invisible lyric seeds the mind
With the furious murmur of their chivalry.

We shall say only the leaves
Flying, plunge and expire

We shall say only the leaves whispering
In the improbable mist of nightfall
That flies on multiple wing:
Night is the beginning and the end
And in between the ends of distraction
Waits mute speculation, the patient curse
That stones the eyes, or like the jaguar leaps
For his own image in a jungle pool, his victim.

What shall we say who have knowledge
Carried to the heart? Shall we take the act
To the grave? Shall we, more hopeful, set up the grave
In the house? The ravenous grave?

Leave now
The shut gate and the decomposing wall:
The gentle serpent, green in the mulberry bush,
Riots with his tongue through the hush–
Sentinel of the grave who counts us all!
http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/ode-confederate-dead

Millionaire Open Downer

Last night I attended what turned out to be a reading at the library by the famous historian James McPherson, who writes about the War Between The States. He is the George Henry Davis ’86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University, and received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for “Battle Cry of Freedom”, his most famous book. The author is on a book tour touting his new book, “Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief.” During a phone call with the Legendary Georgia Ironman, who decided to take a well-earned, and much needed, day off to visit his ladyfriend, the Princess, I mentioned the author read from the book only, until taking a few questions. I was in hopes the author would explain why he decided to write the book and some of the things he learned while writing.

LM Brian McCarthy, up from Butler for the night and next day, was waiting to return me to the Fortress. The first thing Brian did upon entering was plug in his ‘puter and turn on the $,$$$,$$$ Open. He let me know the next game would begin in about a half hour, then went back to the car to bring his other things. I am of the same mind as another chess blogger, Dana Mackenzie, of “Dana blogs chess,” who wrote in his post, “Millionaire Chess Preview,” of October 3, 2014, “Oh yes, I should mention the quirky format of the tournament. The first seven rounds are a normal Swiss system. But then the top four players will qualify for a two-round knockout tournament on Monday. Each round of the knockout will consist of a pair of 25-minute games; followed by a pair of 15-minute games if they are tied; followed by a pair of 5-minute games if the match is still tied; followed by a single Armageddon game.

Anyone who’s read my blog in the past knows what I think of this idea. I think it stinks. Rapid chess is only somewhat like chess, blitz chess is even less like chess, and Armageddon is a completely different game entirely. This kind of playoff is like breaking a tie for the Pulitzer Prize with a spelling bee. For that reason I don’t care who wins. I only care who finishes in the top four.” (http://www.danamackenzie.com/blog/?p=3184)

Because the Big Mac was here I decided to check out the coverage. I had earlier attempted to access the live coverage a couple of times, but every time there was music and a count-down clock informing me the live coverage would begin in twenty minutes. Twenty minutes later there was a count-down clock informing me the live coverage would begin in twenty minutes. I gave up. This time it was live and the game was about to begin. And what a game it wasn’t…GM Ray Robson blundered a pawn in the opening, something most every chess player has done. What made this so bad was that $50,000 was on the line. As poor Ray sat there stewing in his juices, not moving minute after long, torturous, minute, the commentators kept up their inane patter. Suddenly there was a shot of IM Ron Burnett playing FM Kazim Gulamali! I burst out of my room to tell the McAroon, who immediately found the live coverage, but there was no longer any Burnett vs Gulamali coverage. At least we knew our friend was playing on “Millionaire Monday.” I mentioned Lawrence Trent, “The New Voice of Chess”, according to his website (http://www.lawrencetrent.com/), said something about $40,000 on the line, with Kazim needing to win to send it to even quicker games, and “with the look on Ron’s face, it looks like that’s just what’s going to happen.” Having known both players since they were youths, and having been on the road with IM Burnett, while knowing Kazim as he cut his teeth at the House of Pain, I told Brian my heart was with Ron, but my head said Kazim. Here it is the next afternoon and I still have no clue who won…And I am not the only one, because Tim asked me what I knew, and Brian searched, even going to ICC, but still no result could be found. Evidently, we are not the only ones, because Dana has written this on his blog today, “I tried to look up the winner of the Millionaire Open in Las Vegas this morning, and it wasn’t as easy as I expected to find out who won. When I went to chessbase.com, usually my first source, there was nothing about the playoffs. Next I went to the tournament page itself — but that page is a navigational disaster. There was no apparent way to find out who won the tournament!

Finally I had to resort to Google, which took me to Susan Polgar’s blog, which took me to the Chess24 website, which had an excellent article on the dramatic playoffs. The bottom line is that Wesley So, the Phillippine grandmaster who was the #1 seed in the tournament, beat Ray Robson. It was a lifetime achievement for both of them. So earns $100,000, the largest payday ever for a chess player in an open tournament. Robson wins $50,000, which is unbelievable, especially when you see how he earned it.” (http://www.danamackenzie.com/blog/)

We continued to watch, and listen, in hopes that after Robson’s blunder they would go back to showing Ron vs Kazim, or what looked like another game currently underway. But Noooooooooo…Minute after agonizing minute we had to suffer along with poor Ray. Needless to say, we felt his pain in the way people felt the pain of Joe Thiesman when his leg was broken on Monday Night Maimball, while O.J. Simpson added “color” to the telecast. A better example could be when the catcher, Jason Kendall, broke his ankle running to first base when his foot hit the bag awkardly, while he continued to run with his broken ankle flopping like a fish out of water. As poor Ray continued to flop they would still not move to one of the other games. Brian mentioned something about this being “real bad,” because “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” I said, “This is supposed to be the high point of the tournament but it has become a low ebb.”
“Yeah,” Brian said, “what a downer.”

Lawrence Taylor breaks Joe Theismann’s leg on MNF

Chess and the Assassination of Lincoln

I decided to make an exception and post something today because of the significance of the date. One hundred, forty nine years ago on this day, the actor John Wilkes Booth pulled a trigger on his Derringer, sending a bullet into the skull bone, and brain, of Abe Linclon, thus causing his death the next morning. We The People will be inundated with this fact today, but next year, because it will be the 150th anniversary, We The People will be overwhelmed with the government version of the “facts” on the matter. The fact is that, at my age, I may not be around to enjoy the festivities.
Much has been written about the assassination of the Devil Lincoln, little of it true. The prolific author W. C. Jameson, a descendant of the great man, John Wilkes Booth, has written a very well researched book, “John Wilkes Booth: Beyond the Grave.” What sets this book apart is stated best by the author. “Far too much of the existing “history” is little more than a repetition of materials quoted from the works of earlier writers who in turn obtained it from federal files.” The bookshelves are replete with books written by government approved writers such as the plagiarist Doris Kearns Goodwin, the unofficial government hagiographer of Dishonest Abe, and James L. Swanson, who, after beating the dead horse Lincoln assassination for years, turned his attention to the government approved version of events of the JFK assassination. Many of these “writers” are nothing more than CIA assets. To understand why see CIA document #1035-960, CIA Instructions to Media Assets: RE: Concerning Criticism of the Warren Report, on pages 241-245 of “They Killed Our President: 63 Reasons to Believe There Was a Conspiracy to Assassinate JFK,” by Jesse Ventura, Dick Russell and David Wayne, a book every American should read.
Much has been written about the, shall we say, inconsistencies of the “official” government version of the death of the tyrant, Lincoln. W. C. Jameson has poked enough holes in it to make the government version look like swiss cheese. The author writes about, on page 190, what he calls, “The Lewis Payne-Lewis Powell Conundrum.”
“Descriptions of the man called Lewis Payne (or Paine) offered in dozens if not hundreds of publications about the conspiracy and assassination of Lincoln add more disorder and bewilderment to an already confusing and contradicting series of events. Writers have referred to Payne as “lacking mental capacity,” having a “weak and sluggish intellect,” “crazy,” “demented,” “mentally unbalanced,” “insane,” and “illiterate.” Men such as this do not make good conspirators or spies. Conversely, a man sometimes identified as Lewis Powell is described as “almost sophisticated,” “immaculately clad,” “literate,” and a man who played CHESS and euchre in the company of refined ladies. It is clear that the above are the descriptions of two different men.”
Later the author writes, “If Payne and Powell were two different men who were look-alikes, that may, in part, explain many of the discrepancies in the historical record. Payne’s movements were hard to follow during the unfolding of the conspiracy. If Payne was constantly confused with Powell, then it is easy to see how such a thing could happen.”
“Lewis Powell and John Wilkes Booth had been acquaintances for years. Because of Powell’s apparent intelligence and his passion for the theater as well as his involvement in smuggling medicines into the South, it appears as though he could have been a suitable companion to the actor. Lewis Payne, on the other hand, possessed not a single one of the characteristics prized by Booth.”
Read this book and you will learn some of the truth of the assassination of the leader of the northern troops who raped and ravaged the Southern people, committing what are now called “war crimes.” The man captured and killed wearing a Rebel uniform and foisted upon history as John Wilkes Booth was actually a Confederate Captain James William Boyd. This was expedient for some in the Lincoln administration. John Wilkes Booth escaped and lived to be an old man. Today we salute the memory of one of the greatest actors to hit the stage.