Emmanuel Bloch Closing Argument in the Trial of Ethel Rosenberg

March 28, 1951, shortly after 10 a.m.:

  • “Dave Greenglass loved his wife. He loved her more than he loved himself . . . and ladies and gentlemen this explains why Dave Greenglass was willing to bury his sister and his brother-in-law to save his wife.” — Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy, p. 165

Granted this may not have been the most persuasive closing argument in the history of closing arguments, but it was heartfelt.

Apparently not content with having sent his sister to the electric chair, in 2001 Dave Greenglass gave an interview to 60 Minutes (!!!!) where he tried to justify his actions (again!) and showed not the slightest remorse.

Here’s the link to a foundation started by Ethel Rosenberg’s younger son, Robert Meeropol. His brother Michael is on the board.

On to the jury deliberations. “The one juror holding out against a death sentence for Ethel was a forty-eight-year-old accountant called James A. Gibbons, with two children of his own.” (p. 169) May his name go down in history.

If self had been on the jury, notwithstanding the terrible incompetence of the Blochs, self would have thought: Hmm, isn’t it strange that the ONLY testimony to this woman’s guilt comes from her brother? He cannot be entirely trustworthy. It’s all his word against hers.

On April 5, the judge handed down his sentence. Julius and Ethel sat there, their faces “chalk-white . . . frozen into grimaces of incredulity.”

The judge went on to sentence the two to death, and probably went home afterwards feeling very satisfied with the day’s work, while Ethel’s brother David — well, who cares what David was feeling. He’s not smart, so he probably felt self-congratulatory, too.

The judge did not just stop at sentencing Julius and Ethel to death, oh no. He drove his point home by singling out and “criticizing Ethel as a mother.” (What about Julius as a father? Did the judge care to say any words about that? Newp)

Before the two were taken back to their respective prisons, Ethel sang a Puccini aria from Madame Butterfly to Julius. AARGH! Which prompted a prison guard to say (p. 174): “Julie, you’re a low-down son of a bitch . . . but you’re the luckiest man in the world because no man ever had a woman who loved him that much.”

That night, the prison matron offered Ethel a sedative, but she refused it. Singing arias to her feckless husband after she’d just been sentenced to death? Then refusing the sedative? God, that woman was strong.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

43 at Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 11 Septemer 2021

As a nation, our adjustments have been profound.

In the weeks after 9/11, I was proud to lead a united, resilient people. So much of our politics has become an . . . appeal to worry, anger, and resentment. I can only tell you that on our day of trial and grief, I saw people reach for their neighbor’s hands and rally to the cause of one another. That is the America I know.

I saw people reject prejudice, and accept people of the Muslim faith. That is the America I know.

This is not mere nostalgia. this is the truest version of ourselves. This is what we have been, and what we can be again.

On 9/11, the terrorists discovered that a random group of Americans is a remarkable group of people . . . They shocked the terrorists. This is the America I know.

Self found it significant that in his speech, 43 mentioned that we “have seen evidence that” we continue to see terrorism today, but on a new front, at home: “In their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit, and they must be confronted.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Help for Afghan Refugees

From the CNN website:

  • As the Taliban increases their grip in Afghanistan, thousands of civilians continue to flee their homes fearing retribution, persecution and general chaos. The refugee crisis there is still taking shape amid growing desperation and uncertainty. Relief workers are scrambling to help. You can assist them through the organizations listed here.

A Southern City

Self is still reading the Prologue of A House in the Sky, which has been stunning.

The detachment of the narrative voice is almost painful, it reads like Marguerite Duras.

Throughout, Amanda Lindhout worries about her fellow captive, Nigel, even though everything she goes through is twice as horrible as what Nigel goes through. She worries about him, because “they had been in love once.”

At one point, we were moved to a second-floor apartment in the heart of a southern city, where we could hear cars honking and the muezzins calling people to prayer. We could smell goat meat roasting on a street vendor’s spit. We listened to women chattering as they came and went from the shop right below us.

Self has been hearing about Amanda Lindhout’s book for years, but she only felt moved to read it when she saw a documentary on TV (It was an almost surreal experience: flipping back and forth between the Olympics to a survivor’s account of being kidnapped in Somalia)

It might make dear blog readers feel better to know that Amanda Lindhout’s mother, not a rich woman, was nevertheless able to scrape together approximately $700,000 (Canadian) and with this amount was able to negotiate for the release of not only her daughter, but Nigel as well.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Kudos to the Tokyo Olympics

It did not turn out to be the super-spreader event that we all feared it might be.

Today, CNN reported that the Olympic Village reported 358 positive corona cases. While not insignificant, when considering the thousands who congregated in Olympic Village, this is an achievement. Kudos to host Japan!

For two weeks, self watched in awe as athletes battled their personal demons and PUT ON A SHOW.

Will never forget:

  • Stanford’s Katie Ledecky, slaying all
  • the courage of the entire US women’s gymnastics team: Suni Lee, Simone Biles, Mykayla Skinner, Jade Carey, Grace McCallum, and Jordan Chiles
  • Bobby Finke’s amazing races
  • Hidilyn Diaz delivering the Philippines’ first Olympic medal ever, and it was GOLD
  • German swimmer Florian Wellbrock losing twice, in the 800 and 1500, then coming back to win the 10k
  • Ukrainian swimmer Mykhailo Romanchuk, losing to Finke in the 1500, still having a sense of humor (photo-bombing Finke during his interview with Michelle Tafoya)
  • Neeraj Chopra delivering India’s first Olympic gold in track, in the javelin

and so many, many other stories, impossible to list all here.

Hidilyn Diaz, Filipina weightlifting champion

AND they even got a Belarussian sprinter her freedom.

Can’t wait for Paris 2024.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

New Photo Challenge: Share Your Desktop

Playing along with Share Your Desktop — March 2021

For the last few months, self’s desktop has been what might or might not be a still from the great TV series The Expanse (based on the nine-book series by James S. A. Corey — Corey is actually the pen-name for two writers: Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). If you haven’t watched, you are missing something. The sixth — and final — season is filming now in Toronto. Air date (on Amazon Prime) TBA.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The Senate Filibuster

Obama explains it all for you on p. 244 of A Promised Land (Amazing: 44 explains the filibuster on p. 244 — Quelle synchronicitĂ©!). Those of you about to expire from boredom because self quotes 44 every day, know that she has barreled through 1/3 of the book in 8 days. She usually picks up her reading pace towards the end, so give her another week or so. All right?

  • This piece of legislative foolishness “isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. Instead, it came into being by happenstance.”

It’s all the fault of Vice-President Aaron Burr, who wasn’t very smart.

Self doesn’t have time to explain what Burr did in 1805, but here’s the money paragraph:

  • It didn’t take long for Senators to figure out that without a formal way to end debate, any of them could bring Senate business to a halt — and thereby extract all sorts of concessions from frustrated colleagues — simply by talking endlessly and refusing to surrender the floor. In 1917, the Senate curbed the practice by adopting “cloture,” allowing a vote of two-thirds of senators present to end a filibuster. For the next fifty years the filibuster was used only sparingly — most notably by Southern Democrats attempting to block anti-lynching and fair-employment bills or other legislation that threatened to shake up Jim Crow. Gradually, though, the filibuster became more routinized and easier to maintain, making it a more potent weapon, a means for the minority party to get its way. The mere threat of a filibuster was often enough to derail a piece of legislation. By the 1990s, as battle lines between Republicans and Democrats hardened, whichever party was in the minority could — and would — block any bill not to their liking, so long as they remained unified and had at least the 41 votes needed to keep a filibuster from being overriden.

The filibuster is the reason why we have legislators like Hawley, Cruz, Nunes and so forth performing shenanigans all over the place and getting away with it. Nevertheless, self is pretty hopeful after listening to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer telling the ladies of The View this morning that, every Monday night, he meets with Democratic party leadership (He mentioned Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Manchin and a few others) and they discuss what needs to be done to get a piece of legislation passed; it’s a cordial group and he has no doubt they will be able to stay united because they are all intelligent and principled people who have the best interests of the country at heart!

In other news:

TODAY WAS MERRICK GARLAND’s FIRST DAY OF WORK AS US ATTORNEY GENERAL.

Woo Hoo! Confetti! Streamers! Mad Clapping!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Getting Through It

It’s been almost a year since the world stopped, plans got thrown out the window, and nothing will ever be the same.

Self thought she’d take a moment to celebrate the things that got her through the past year:

Of course, gardening. Her garden has never looked so great. Every day she watches the oxalis in her backyard get higher and higher. And she just loves it.

Second, books, and her fantastic local library and their curbside pick-up system. She’s been using it since June (Before that, she ordered many books from Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, which is equally fantastic). Also, self would like to thank the AUTHORS of these wonderful books. When self needed to be transported to another place and time, these authors delivered:

Self would also like to thank FREE CONCERTS. The week after everything shut down, St. Bride’s in London began streaming everything. And so did St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, which used to hold free noontime concerts every Tuesday.

She would also like to thank Cal Shakes, whose summertime Shakespeare was a high point of her summer, as long as she was home in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Her first Cal Shakes was Romeo and Juliet. ADAM SCOTT PLAYED ROMEO. Sold!!!) A few days ago, she got a message that they would mount ONE live production this summer (Dates to be announced), with appropriate social distancing, of course: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

Also, FaceTime. Self has actually learned to FaceTime with Dearest Mum. It’s been so great.

And The Economist, which managed to come every week (every two weeks lately, since DeJoy destroyed the USPS)

Finally, she’d like to thank her favorite TV shows, because she’d never have gotten through without them: The Expanse (closing with Season 6), Peaky Blinders (closing with Season 6), The Crown.

A big hand also for Trader Joe’s, for being most sanitary of all the different supermarkets she’s shopped in.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Here It Comes!

SUPERBOWL! Of course self has to observe the day. All her friends are off watching too, so it’s like a big Superbowl party, only . . . in different countries.

She went to the Belmont Farmers Market early this morning and came back with pork buns, which she’s going to have with cold beer. She bought a big bag of chips yesterday, but she ate the whole bag . . . yesterday.

Anyhoo. GO CHIEFS!

Sentence of the Day, 3rd Thursday of 2021

Self is alive! (Confetti! Fireworks!)

Her favorite musical guests from last night’s Inauguration Concert: the original cast of Rent; The Foo Fighters; John Legend; Demi Lovato; Tim McGraw; Jon Bon Jovi.

The sentence of the day is as follows:

If you are promoting a culture of candor on your team, you have to get rid of the jerks.

No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer, p. 34

Corollary, or Sentence # 2: Jerks are likely to rip your organization apart from the inside.

Good advice, that.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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