75 Years After Pearl Harbor, There Is No Honor

President Obama is not at Pearl Harbor today to remember the 75th anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack. In May, the president went to Hiroshima, and issued the closest thing to an apology for America winning World War II using an atomic bomb.

Instead, the president will join Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Honolulu on December 27, two days after Christmas. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Obamas vacation in Hawaii every Christmas. It’s not a special trip, or even out of the way for them. It is, however a big deal for Abe and the Japanese.

No Japanese leader has ever visited the site of the attack that brought America into World War II. But don’t expect an apology.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won’t apologize for Japan’s attack when he visits the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor later this month, the government spokesman said Tuesday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that “the purpose of the upcoming visit is to pay respects for the war dead and not to offer an apology.”

Why visit if not to apologize? The Japanese are very big on the concept of honor. It’s why their CEOs resign rather than face dishonor for scandals. It’s why the Japanese have one of the highest suicide rates in the world (behind South Korea and Hungary, and only slightly ahead of Belgium, where doctor-assisted murder suicide has become a national obsession).

Visiting the place where the Japanese Imperial navy did so much damage without a legal declaration of war, and not offering an apology is trampling on honor. But that’s how most of the world operates three score and fifteen years after Pearl Harbor.

And shame on White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

“If I were a World War II veteran who was drafted by the United States military to go and fight for our country overseas in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, I might feel quite embittered,” Earnest said. “And I think it would be a perfectly natural and understandable human reaction to not be particularly satisfied with the words of the Japanese Prime Minister.”

But, Earnest said those people who feel “personal bitterness” should set aside their feelings for the greater good of the U.S.

“And so, yes, there may be some who feel personally embittered,” he added. “But I’m confident that many will set aside their own personal bitterness, not because they’re personally satisfied by the words of the Prime Minister, but because they recognize how important this moment is for the United States.”

If there was an award for being an insensitive ass to 90-year-old men who fought for their country, there would only be one real contender today: Josh Earnest. But it’s not for lack of trying.

Google is famous for “Google doodles” where they celebrate, or at least note, various events, like Finland Independence Day (Dec. 6), or Adb al-Rahman Al-Sufi’s 1113th Birthday (Dec. 7). Here’s what they did for Pearl Harbor Day.

Twitter is always adding neat little emojis to the end of popular or trending hashtags. Here’s what they did for Pearl Harbor.

twitter_pearl

Today, there’s nothing from Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook. There’s a piece in the Washington Post titled “75 years ago, what if Japan never attacked Pearl Harbor?” I’m sure there’s a good way to honor the lives lost at Pearl Harbor, and historical hypotheticals like that isn’t it. Neither is Google’s deliberate ignorance, or Abe’s pointless visit, or Obama’s empty schedule.

Those men, a dying breed, who witnessed the carnage on December 7, 1941, are more and more forgotten by our society. When the president could not be bothered to change his vacation schedule, and the rest of the world acts as if the day is just another Wednesday, we’ve lost the honor due to those men and women who lost their lives 75 years ago today.

We owe them a debt of honor, and today, many of our leaders have defaulted on the payment.

Mike Pence Endorses Nobody At All

The lower half of the Trumppence ticket is “endorsing all GOP congressional incumbents who are seeking re-election,” ABC News reported Thursday.

A spokesman says Mike Pence is endorsing all GOP congressional incumbents who are seeking re-election even as Donald Trump hesitates to support several of the party’s most prominent members of Congress.

The mass endorsement is the latest attempt by Pence to smooth over turmoil within the Republican Party stirred by Trump in recent days.

Announcing a blanket endorsement is like endorsing nobody at all. Especially when the Boss said that Pence asked for his permission to endorse Speaker Ryan.

Pence needed Trump’s blessing to endorse the Speaker of the House, who offered his unqualified support to Cheeto Jesus, while Trump did a shout-out to Ryan’s primary opponent, the nutjob Paul Nehlen.

Pence’s phony endorsement of everybody has got to be the cheapest, weakest sham since Trump’s last comment about anything at all.

When Trump loses in an enormous landslide in November (absent some deus ex-machina), and the entire GOP infrastructure collapses, don’t blame us. We’ve known all along.

President Obama, You Remembered Hiroshima, Do Not Forget Pearl Harbor

The American presidency has developed influence beyond those enumerated in our Constitution. As America’s power and prestige has grown, so has a president’s ability to color world opinion. It’s the bully pulpit that Theodore Roosevelt was fond of referring to. President Obama used the power and prestige of his office this past week to bring attention to Hiroshima, the place where the United States dropped an atomic bomb and hastened the end for Japan in World War II.

Presidents bring a view of America and the world to office with them. President Obama has spent his presidency nurturing his view of America as an oppressive power and has taken every opportunity to make amends for this characterization.

The president danced carefully last week not to advertise his visit as an American apology for our use of atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end that terrible and costly war, but here in New Hampshire, it sure did feel like an apology to me.

President Obama and I are the same age, our birthday only two weeks apart. It has surprised me since I first became aware of the junior senator from Illinois, that his and our view of America and the world could not be more different. I grew up believing that the American people were good and generous and that democracy, free market capitalism, and rugged individualism were the genuine best path to peace and prosperity.

With this year’s Memorial Day remembrance upon us, it is sad that I wonder if our president has any plans to bookend his Japan tour with one to Hawaii to commemorate the 75’th anniversary of Pearl Harbor this December.

World War II became real to our people on the first Sunday in December, 1941. It is an honor and duty for a sitting president to remember and commemorate the heroics and sacrifice demonstrated by our service men and women and citizenry at that time and place.

There are a dwindling number of Pearl Harbor survivors left.

During the 50th anniversary of Japan’s attack, then-President George H.W. Bush offered heartfelt remarks honoring the young men of his generation who demonstrated great valor at Pearl Harbor. He spoke of a “bright Sunday morning” where “thousands of troops slept soundly in their bunks. Some who were awake looked out and savored the still and tranquil harbor”. He spoke of how a far away war becomes real, in “one horrible instant”.

He spoke of the Arizona.

Every 15 seconds a drop of oil still rises from the Arizona and drifts to the surface. As it spreads across the water, we recall the ancient poet: “In our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair against our will comes wisdom through the awful grace of God” With each drop, it is though God Himself were crying.

Only 334 of a full complement of over 1500 officers and crew of the Arizona survived that day. The last surviving officer of the Arizona, Ensign Joseph Langdell, passed in 2014. He was 100 years of age. His obituary said he was born in my home state of New Hampshire. He was born the same year the hull of the Arizona was laid down in the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard.

Mr. Langdell started his career as a junior accountant in Boston before patriotism got the best of him and he enlisted in the navy in 1940 in response to the war raging in Europe. His decision to serve brought him to Pearl Harbor and the battleship Arizona.

You can count on one hand the number of surviving crew of the Arizona.

Last Thursday another survivor passed. Adolph Hengl, an aircraft maintenance officer aboard the Tennessee left us, aged 99. His ship was moored next to the Arizona. As he tells it, he came out to the Quarter Deck as a bomb exploded sending him flying into a metal wall.

Bush concluded in his remarks twenty-five years ago at Pearl Harbor with the following.

The heroes of the Harbor … fought for a world of peace, not war, where children’s dreams speak more loudly than the brashest tyrant’s guns. Because of them, this memorial lives to pass its lessons from one generation to the next, lessons as clear is this Pacific sky.

If I were in the president’s place, I would not have toured Hiroshima last week. Any person with an ounce of humanity would regret the terrible loss of life at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and wish that it were not so. The Japanese Empire acted as the brashest of tyrants leading and all the way through World War II. President Truman ended the war in the Pacific swiftly and saved American lives. That was a moral decision and action.

Mr. President, please do not forget to honor and remember “the heroes of the harbor” with the grace and honor they deserve before they pass from this place.


Photo credit: Steve Berman took the photo from the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor in 2008. It is looking up through the “bridge” over the ship’s sunken hull where oil an oil slick still marks her final resting place. The photo below was taken from the same location on the same day.

oil_slick_arizona

 

New York Knows Best When The Nanny State Reigns

I had a Saturday Night Live, Emily Litella moment.  I misunderstood an ABC story about NYC Commission on Human Rights concerning pregnant women and being served alcohol.  I believed the guidelines prevented expectant mothers from being served at NYC bars.  It turns out the commission guidelines consider it a violation for drinking establishments to single out pregnant woman and not serve them drinks.

This is a part of large decree designed to prevent gender based discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations.  The recently published guidelines act as a legal guidance supporting the New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act passed in 2013.

Well it is interesting that I believed that the liberals of NYC would make it illegal for adult pregnant women to purchase alcohol at a bar or restaurant.  After all the same do-gooders have already regulated soda size and the mayor has advocated a boycott of Chick-fil-A.

The more I thought about these guidelines the less I felt like saying the Emily Litella line, “never mind.”

From my perch in the Live Free or Die state of New Hampshire, these sorts of guidelines are just the latest example of a government solution looking for a problem to solve.  Of course I am not advocating that pregnant women should go on drinking benders.  I am just weary and wary of the creation of commissions, supporting legislation, that set about to live our lives for us.  Can we not be allowed to freely make our own success and failures?  What is the next class of folks that need protection?  Legislate what food an overweight person can purchase at the grocery store?  Individuals can just opt not to do business with establishments that treat them poorly.

This sort of government knows best always starts in the support of something good.

I remember when I became cognizant of the nanny state.  In late 1986 Massachusetts passed its first mandatory seatbelt law.  A grass roots effort repealed that law seeing it as a violation of individual personal liberty.  I wear my seatbelt always.  That is my choice.  New Hampshire to this day does not have a mandatory seat belt law for adults.  No requirement to wear motor cycle helmets either.  People can still choose.

So New York City with their marbled layers of bureaucrats and Democrats have created one more protected class and have served warning to bars and restaurants that the pregnant can do what is already within their rights.  The right to have a glass of wine with dinner has been affirmed in New York City.

It looks like the presidential race will be nanny state New York values versus…itself.

Cheers.


Jay Berman is Resurgent writer Steve Berman’s older, and wiser, brother. He lives in New Hampshire.