A Comment About D-Day, And Trump’s Action Just Yards From Graves

I spent time on the 75th anniversary of D-Day reading sections of some history books on my shelves, watching some of the coverage from France, and then late Thursday watched, once again, Saving Private Ryan.  (The Longest Day is slated for this weekend.)

I would be far less than honest, however, if I did not comment on something which happened Thursday which left me truly sad.  After reading pages from history books I turned on the news and saw something which left me stunned.  I am sure my mouth had dropped open as I watched.

Just yards from the graves of fallen heroes, on the 75th anniversary of this most historic day, Donald Trump gave an interview where he ripped his political foes and called people names.  Speaking to Fox News from the American cemetery at Normandy Trump called special counsel Robert Mueller a “fool” and the Speaker of the House a “disaster.”

I simply stared at the television and just sat silent in the chair.  Sitting silent is not something I often am noted for–ask just about anyone.   But I was simply shocked at what was being aired on television.

Trump gets taken to the wood shed often on my blog.  There are many serious issues which demand feedback from a nation which seems trapped by the one they let in through the front door.  Some readers might think I am once again just piling on.

No one can countenance the lack of morals, ethics, civility, decency, and proper deportment which the world witnessed today when Trump sat in close proximity to the graves of the soldiers, and acted as he did.   I know it is often said on this blog that nothing shocks or registers anymore.  We are becoming immune day by day to the undermining of our foundations and lowering of our institutional standards.

It was just more than we should be expected to accept.

One does not need to be a politico, member of the military, or even an American to grasp what was so terribly wrong about what happened.  One only needs to be human, and raised with only a modicum of parental upbringing to know what Trump did was beneath the dignity of the office he holds,  and utter contemptible given national ideals and standards.

It was an international embarrassment.  A stain on our nation and those who served and died.


Yellow Vests Of France And Mobilizing Voices Of Dissent

Let me first state that the riots and chaos designed to hamstring the French government has been most unfortunate.  An orderly process of registering dissent. and making efforts through a legislative path, is the reasonable way to proceed.  What has taken place over the past months has been an affront to common sense.
While that is my process and governing view, it is also necessary to view what happened with the Yellow Vests in France–and is still festering–from the larger social tumult perspective which has at its roots a very political message.  Today this article in the NYT did a great job of digging down into part of the story.
Before the local gendarmes shooed them away, the Yellow Vests found an unlikely sense of community on the traffic circles where they had gathered to demonstrate. There, people who before had felt alone, looked down upon and abandoned came together.
Yet in Les Andelys, a collection of hamlets in Normandy, as in many other parts of France, the Yellow Vests have now been barred from the roundabouts, denied, quite literally, the common ground to coalesce and talk through what comes next for them.
At least that is what the government seems to hope.
There is no doubt that the virtual space offered by social media was important to the Yellow Vests’ organization, and remains so. But it is no substitute for a place where people can meet one another in person.
Much like the shops and post offices of the past — where people traded stories about their miseries and the microeconomics of their daily lives, the roundabouts provided a physical meeting place.
“Just a couple of decades ago, in every village there were little stores, little services, like the post office, the little grocery store; today the villages are dormitories,” said Bruno Laziou, a Yellow Vest protester in Les Andelys.
“Nothing is open anymore in my little village, other than the mayor’s office,” he said.
The use of the traffic circles as public space speaks to the fragmentation and accompanying isolation that has come to define much of life in the hinterlands of France, where the Yellow Vest movement took hold.

Macron Let Bullies Win

A magazine cover and story that really is one about the need for leaders not to cave in to the lowest common denominators.  James loves to get the mail, and as he handed me the latest edition, reminded me again why we must never let bullies prevail.  

Mr Macron will now be banking that his decision, on December 5th, to cancel the diesel tax rises “for the year of 2019”, will take the heat out of the conflict. This seems unlikely; for a start, the protests have in part now been hijacked by thuggish extremists with an interest in the violent overthrow of capitalism. Many of even the moderate gilets jaunes are demanding Mr Macron’s resignation, or a new parliament. And an earlier diesel tax rise which went into effect last January, has not (yet) been reversed.

France Bans Phones In Schools–We All Should Applaud

This news proves that sound policy can be passed and implemented.

I am continually surprised at how consumed young people are with their gadgets–personal phones.   Since not a single one is dealing in stocks or making plans for international intrigue one then has to ask what has them so captivated.   Granted, the same can be said for adults, too.  But children are still being shaped and molded and should not be allowed to drift off aimlessly into their hand-held devices.

For the record this blogger, and his partner, do not own a cell phone.  There is a paid phone for the long vacations, or day trips, that is placed in the car, but if you ask me to give the phone number for a million dollars I would still be just who I am.   We do not even know how to retrieve messages on that phone or turn on the ringer.  Pressed to use the phone in an emergency I would need to think fast.  That is how removed I am–and willingly so–from the constant need by many to feel always in touch with the world.   We have a land line and check it for messages a couple times a day.    I am tech savvy with my computer but read printed newspapers, books, and still play albums.    Having said that I am thrilled with the news from France.

When school starts up in September, a new French law will ban students ranging roughly from ages 3 to 15 from using smartphones anywhere on school grounds, with only narrow exceptions.

The law is one of the most sweeping attempts yet to address growing concerns among parents and educators that a generation of children is growing up addicted to the mobile devices in their pockets.

“Children don’t have the maturity” for smartphones, said Valérie Paroux, Solal’s mother. “Some adults don’t either.”

France’s education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, says the ban, which applies to the French equivalent of preschool through ninth grade, is intended to remove distractions during class and to encourage children to read a book or play outside during recreation. He says he hopes the law will serve as a symbolic message to both children and adults beyond school.

French President Macron Clears Up Matter About Tree Missing From White House Lawn–It Was Donald Trump’s Fault

The White House would not comment this weekend about a matter many of us where talking about.

Bottom line is that Trump wanted a headline that did not include prostitutes, sex, or Russia and decided to plant a tree too soon–given the requirements that needed to be handled.

PARIS (AP) — The French president’s office says there’s nothing mysterious about the disappearance of an oak tree he planted on the White House lawn.

It was put in quarantine, like other plants or animals brought into U.S. territory.

The sapling was a gift from French President Emmanuel Macron for his state visit to U.S. President Donald Trump last week.

An official in Macron’s office said Monday that Trump insisted on holding a symbolic planting ceremony alongside Macron despite the quarantine requirement. The official said both sides knew all along that the tree would go later into quarantine.

A pale patch of grass now covers the spot.

The oak originally sprouted at the World War I Battle of Belleau Wood in northern France, where about 2,000 U.S. troops died fighting a German offensive.

Sapling Disappears From White House Lawn Five Days After Macron And Trump Planted It

So….what happened?

The tree that  Donald Trump planted with French President Emmanuel Macron is no longer on the South Lawn of the White House, instead there is a patch of discolored grass. 

The sapling, a European Sessile Oak, was a gift during the State visit of the French president and his wife. In making the gift the French president tweeted, ‘this Oak Tree  will be a reminder at the White House of these ties that bind us.’

Macron was referring to the World War I Battle of Belleau which was 100 years ago this June. 9000 US Marines were killed in the battle. 

But now the tree is gone. 

Reuters, on Saturday posted a picture of a patch of uneven, yellowed grass where the planting photo was taken.   

The White House has not commented on where the tree is now. 

France’s First Family Makes For Tasty Treats On Madison Isthmus

What do political junkies and book readers such as James and myself like to enjoy late in the afternoons?  Thanks to our good friend Helena who lives in Ramonville, France we are now able to have a chocolate with a presidential twist.

Helena came to be our friend a number of years ago as she is a descendant of B.B. Clarke, a Madisonian who had a beach/park named for him.  My blog posts about Clarke were a link across the ‘pond’ to Europe.  Her travels to Madison and the conversations which flowed so effortlessly remain fond memories.

A specialty of Amiens, France since the 16th century, the Macaron of Amien was introduced by Catherine de Medicis.  It was awarded Grand Prix status in 1992 in a competition for regional specialties in France.  The current recipe has not changed since 1872.  The Jean Trogneux Company is owned and operated by the family of First Lady of France, Brigitte Macron.


Key To The Bastille Gates At Mount Vernon

James and I were able to see the key to the Bastille gates at Mount Vernon during our trip this spring.  Today is Bastille Day, the common name given in English-speaking countries to the French National Day, which is celebrated on the 14th of July each year.  As such, I want to give the background as to how the key was in the possession of George Washington.

With his military experience from serving during the American Revolution, the thirty-two year old Marquis de Lafayette quickly assumed a prominent role in the opening chapter of the French Revolution. After the Bastille fell, Lafayette was placed in command of a local national guard formed to keep order throughout France.

The Bastille main prison key was turned over to Lafayette shortly after the Bastille was stormed on July 14, 1789 by angry citizens rioting in the streets of Paris. The Bastille was a natural target when violence erupted after severe shortages of bread led the people into the streets. Lafayette was optimistic about the fate of the revolution when he prepared to ship the Bastille key to Washington in March of 1790.

Several months passed before the gift finally arrived at its destination. On the first leg of the journey Lafayette entrusted the key to Thomas Paine, well-known for his participation in the American Revolution. The actual presentation to Washington late in the summer of 1790 was an honor that fell to John Rutledge, Jr., a South Carolinian returning to the United States from London.

The principal key to the Bastille is made of wrought iron and weighs one pound, three ounces. Washington’s prominent display of this celebrated souvenir in the presidential household illustrated his appreciation to his French pupil as well as recognition of its symbolic importance in America. Shown first at a presidential levee in New York in August, the key continued to be showcased in Philadelphia when the seat of government moved there in the fall of 1790.  Shortly before Washington’s retirement from the presidency in 1797, the key was taken to Mount Vernon and given a place of honor in the first floor passage.

Here is the way I saw it at Mount Vernon this spring as I took this photo.