Saturday, February 16, 2019

Death of a Stalinist Spy

From The Spectator:
Morton Sobell, whose obituary noting his 101 years appeared this week in the New York Times, spied for Stalinist Russia about 70 years ago. His life’s real misdeed came about a decade ago, when he admitted that, contrary to his earlier insistence and that of his many champions in academia and the media, he did, indeed, commit espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union. 
“Now I know it was an illusion,” Sobell then reflected of his belief in Communism. “I was taken in.” 
Sydney Gurewitz Clemens lashed out at him in 2008 for how his admission “complicated history and the personal histories of the many millions of people, all over the world, who gave time, energy, money and heart to the struggle to support his claims of innocence.” The fact that he served the greater part of a 30-year sentence, and refused to turn on his former confederates, did not seem to mitigate this grievous sin against the narrative. 
Sydney Gurewitz Clemens, Sobell’s step-daughter, illustrated how in this case the ties that bind often referred to ideological rather than familial ones. David Greenglass, the brother of Sobell co-defendant Ethel Rosenberg, testified against his sister and brother-in-law. The Rosenbergs, despite questions about the level of Ethel’s involvement (Sobell confirmed her involvement in the spy ring), stuck to their line at the expense of orphaning their children. And for decades, progressives who championed the executed couple stuck to it, too.

Sobell, who suspiciously fled to Mexico where he used an alias (he characterized the trip as a family vacation) in the wake of the authorities closing in on the conspirators’ activities, played a massive role in perpetuating this mythology, particularly after his release from prison in the late 1960s after almost 18 years served. 
Sobell maintained his innocence in his memoir On Doing Time, and in 1978 PBS aired the WETA-produced Rosenberg-Sobell Revisited, which argued for the trio’s innocence. As late as 2001, Sobell lamented in the Nation that authors “take for granted that the National Security Agency has published a true decryption of the Soviet cables” in writing about the Venona intercepts clearly affirming Julius Rosenberg’s espionage. He adds, “Strangely, I, a bona fide convicted spy, could not be found anywhere among the hundreds of identified spies, but this was not for lack of their trying.” (Read more.)

Friday, February 15, 2019

Bradgate House

From The Tudor Travel Guide:
Bradgate Park was one of two parks belonging to the Manor of Groby. Its history can be traced back to at least the eleventh century, when an area of land encompassing what is now Bradgate Park was given to a loyal compatriot of William the Conquerer, Hugh de Grentmesnil, who fought with William at the Battle of Hastings. 
Our story, though, really begins in the mid-fifteenth century, when the owners of the estate, the Ferrers family, did a spectacular bit of fortuitous social climbing. This began when the younger son of Reginald Grey, 3rd Baron Grey de Ruthyn, married the heiress, Elizabeth Ferrers, in 1427. It was their son, John Grey, who made the spectacular match with Elizabeth Woodville of Grafton in Northamptonshire. Of course, the family’s fortunes were transformed by Elizabeth’s later marriage to King Edward IV. It would be her eldest son from her first marriage to John Grey, Thomas, who would establish a new house at Bradgate, the power-base of the Grey family during the first half of the sixteenth century. (Read more.)

Day of Mourning for Abortion

On February 23, 2019 we will wear black in mourning for the victims of abortion and as a sign of repentance. From The Activist Mommy:
We are calling for a National Day of Mourning and repentance. We are in desperate need for God to move upon the hearts of young and old in our nation. If our hearts do not break over the killing of these little image bearers of God in the womb, we are dead inside! Join us February 23rd for “A National Day of Mourning.”
(Read more.)

Angels of Death. From Chronicles:
 The state of the Union is divided, as we were reminded not only after but during the President’s speech of February 5.  Republicans chanted “USA! USA!” several times in response to lines delivered to elicit the same; Democrats (upon whom the camera lovingly lingered) competed for the honor of “best sour expression/sneer by an elected official,” and the Emmy goes to Kamala Harris.
Most noticeable, also by design, were the color-coordinated white outfits worn by Democratic congresspersons, who sat stone-faced even during benign applause lines.  They were briefly roused—and oh, was it the favorite moment of the entire CNN panel!—when Trump took credit for placing “the greatest number of women in the workplace,” whereupon the handmaidens leapt off their tails and applauded wildly.  It was a “joke’s on you” moment, or at least that’s what the congresswomen intended by their puerile stunt, since Trump’s misogyny is supposedly to blame for their electoral victories.  But then again, if that explanation is correct, they were celebrating the fact that they were elected only because they are women, and they proved it by wearing clothes that match.  Solidarity, sister!  Women are no different from men, except in every way.
What was truly disturbing, however, was the rationale behind the matching pantsuits and blouses.  The memo went forth from the House Democratic Women’s Working Group the week before the State of the Union Address, urging white as an expression of solidarity with the Suffragettes.  In concrete terms, this means exhibiting a commitment to “reproductive rights,” that misnomer which has nothing to do with the right of reproducing and everything to do with infanticide, an issue that came to the fore twice in the first weeks of 2019. (Read more.)

Angel of Bordeaux

From War History Online:
Above everything else, Sousa was a very religious man. He sincerely believed in the might of good deeds. He had a Christian conscience that never allowed him to turn his back on the moral and human principles his religion preached. More importantly, his faith was not based on words only. He knew that he could practice his faith only through his deeds. Because of his beliefs, Sousa put his entire career, and even his life and the lives of his entire family, at stake. 
Now it was mid-June 1940. Germans were everywhere and France was on the verge of defeat. Refugees were running south, many of them through Bordeaux. One night Rabbi Haim Kruger, a Polish refugee, asked Sousa to issue visas to thousands of Jews who had gathered in the city. At first, Sousa only agreed to give visas to Kruger and his family, but the rabbi rejected the offer. It was all of them, or no one, he said. 
After wrestling with his conscience for two days and nights, Sousa decided that he would issue visas to all who needed them. He knew that as a true Christian he could not turn his back to people who desperately needed help. 
The problem was that doing so was in complete opposition to the orders he had received from his government. Even though Portugal remained neutral during the entire war, Prime Minister Antonio de Oliveira Salazar was openly sympathetic toward Nazis and especially Hitler. In order to please Hitler, Salazar issued the notorious “Circular 14” forbidding all Jews, Soviets, dissidents, and stateless persons to enter Portugal. Sousa also received a Circular. Completely aware of all the repercussions, he decided to go with his conscience. (Read more.)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Première rose de l'année à la Chapelle expiatoire

The first rose of the year blooms at the Expiatory Chapel in Paris, the chapel dedicated to the memory of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. From La Chapelle expiatoire:  "First Rose of the year at the expiatory chapel. It is said that the roses of the expiatory chapel bloom every 21 January. In fact, the conditions of exposure (the roses are sheltered in the inner garden) and the variety...'Iceberg'...favours a flowering all year long, even in winter!" Share

More Anti-semitism from the Left

From The National Review:
Representative Ilhan Omar, who represents Minnesota’s fifth congressional district, has chosen an ugly and reprehensible bandwagon to climb aboard. Representative Omar insists that American Jews are paying members of Congress to take a pro-Israel stance in what the ever-gentle Matthew Yglesias of Vox with characteristic boldness describes as some “moderately ill-advised tweets.” Representative Omar specifically cites the actions of AIPAC and, quoting from the noted political philosopher Puff Daddy, insists that it’s “about the Benjamins, baby,” those apparently being Franklin and Netanyahu. 
This is not Representative Omar’s first foray into anti-Semitic tropes; earlier, she accused Jews of “hypnotizing” the world on Israel’s behalf, a statement for which she later apologized after sustained public criticism. Her colleague Representative Rashida Tlaib of Henry Ford’s home state has joined Representative Omar in this anti-Semitic smear campaign, having accused Jewish Americans of having dual loyalties, calling to mind another ancient Jew-hating line of argument. 
The Jewish state divides the Democratic party: The majority of the American public is pro-Israel — but that average includes the 87 percent of Republicans who are pro-Israel and the 59 percent of independents who share that view, which is a minority position among Democrats, fewer than half of whom take a friendly view of the Jewish state. The Left more broadly is increasingly hostile not only to the government of the state of Israel but to Jews per se, and increasingly tolerant of overt anti-Semitism, as in the case of the organizers of the Women’s March and their embrace of the aforementioned Louis Farrakhan, whom even Barack Obama felt obliged to court, albeit shamefacedly. (Read more.)

"I Will Defend"

From Michael Knowles:
On Saturday, the U.S. Navy commissioned the USS Michael Monsoor, a Zumwalt-class destroyer and the most technologically advanced ship in our nation’s fleet. The sublime vessel offers a fitting tribute to its namesake, the late Navy SEAL who gave his life to protect teammates and Iraqi soldiers during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006. The ship’s crest depicts a sword held in the winged hand and arm of St. Michael the Archangel, patron of warriors, after whom the devoutly Catholic Michael Monsoor was named. The ship’s motto reads, “I will defend.”

Throughout his brief and distinguished career, Monsoor did just that. On May 9, 2006, Petty Officer Monsoor leapt to the aid of a fellow SEAL who had been wounded in action and exposed to machine gun fire on the streets of Ramadi, Iraq. With no regard for his own life, Monsoor dragged his wounded comrade to safety while simultaneously carrying a 100-pound rucksack and firing a heavy machine gun to fend off their attackers. This act of gallantry and intrepidity in action earned him the Silver Star. (Read more.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard: Painter of Mesdames Tantes

The years leading up to the French Revolution saw a flourishing of women portrait painters. From The Conversation:
In 1783, after intervention from Queen Marie-Antoinette, Adélaïde was finally admitted into the Académie Royale, at the same session as another brilliant, younger woman, Élisabeth Vigée-Le Brun (born 1755). They were two of only a dozen women admitted since 1648. Over the next six years the two of them would become wealthy, sought-after painters of the royal family and members of its court at Versailles. Labille-Guiard experimented with using matt backgrounds to her exquisite portraits, often eschewing the common practice of surrounding sitters with symbols of their status. The two women were receiving fees of tens of thousands of livres for each portrait at a time when most priests, for example, were paid about one thousand annually. Vigée-Le Brun was the Queen’s favorite, painting her 30 times; instead Labille-Guiard painted King Louis XVI’s aunts, but her best portraits were of an unknown woman, her friend Vincent, and a self-portrait with her prize pupil and close friend Marie Capet. (Read more.)
Madame Adélaïde de France
Madame Victoire de France

Read more about the Aunts and the artists in my book Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars. Share