This Wicked Game 2

She misses Arvid, who is in Washington, DC, on official business for the Ministry of Economics. Every American official Arvid meets in the State Department believes he’s a devout Nazi. The man he pretends to be is a horrible, horrible lie.

Lies spill out of Mildred too.

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, p. 258

Poetry Friday: “Like the Molave” by Rafael Zulueta y da Costa, Written 1940

This poem is epic.

The molave was a Philippine hardwood (said to be impervious to fire), now extinct.

Jose Rizal was the writer of the seminal novels Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. He was tried by the Spanish for inciting a revolution, and shot by firing squad in Manila’s Bagumbayan Field.

Self has not been able to find much about Rafael Zulueta y da Costa. He died in 1990, and apparently this was his only poem. He wrote in English. At the time of writing, the Philippines was still an American colony.

Like the Molave, Part I:

Not yet, Rizal, not yet. Sleep not in peace:
There are a thousand waters to be spanned;
There are a thousand mountains to be crossed;
There are a thousand crosses to be borne.
Our shoulders are not strong; our sinews are
Grown flaccid with dependence, smug with ease
Under another’s wing. Rest not in peace;
Not yet, Rizal, not yet. The land has need
of young blood — and, what younger than your own,
Forever spilled in the great name of freedom,
Forever oblate on the altar of the free?

Not you alone, Rizal. O souls
And spirits of the martyred brave, arise!
Arise and scour the land! Shed once again
Your willing blood! Infuse the vibrant red
Into our thin anemic veins; until
We pick up your Promethean tools and, strong,
Out of the depthless matrix of your faith
In us, and on the silent cliff of freedom,
We carve for all time your marmoreal dream!
Until our people, seeing, are become
Like the molave, firm, resilient, staunch,
Rising on the hillside, unafraid,
Strong in its own fibre; yes, like the molave:

After

Only nineteen of the three thousand transcripts that were eventually declassified and published in 1995 mention Julius or Ethel. Julius was given the code name “Antenna” or, as already seen, “Liberal” in the messages. David was code-named “Kalibr” (Caliber) and Ruth was called “Osa” (Wasp). However, Ethel had no code name and was mentioned only once, and then by her given name.

Ethel Rosenberg, an American Tragedy, p. 223

Self has no words.

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.

Lawyer for the Defense

Self is now about halfway through Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy. Last night, she almost contemplated stopping. It is so painful, in hindsight, to read about Ethel’s fate. Self’s already lost two full nights’ sleep, reading.

Nevertheless.

p. 135: The father-son legal team for the defense are Alexander and Manny Bloch (who have cut their teeth, according to journalist Anne Sebba, representing small bakeries in contract disputes. Seriously?) For the prosecution: ROY COHN, and all the power of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. The charge: treason (Apparently there was a time in America when treason was taken very seriously).

Bloch senior “attempted to separate Ethel from the alleged conspiracy in his opening remarks by describing her as a wife of twelve years’ standing and a mother raising two young sons. “She was a housewife, basically a housewife and nothing more,” Bloch senior insisted. “She did not transmit or conspire to transmit any information to any government . . . she was dragged into this case through the machinations of her own brother and her own sister-in-law, who in order to transfer and lighten their burden of responsibility, accused her of being a co-conspirator.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy, Ch. 3

Chapter 3 of Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy is very, very hard to read.

The strength of this book is that it really puts you inside Ethel’s head. Which means, of course, you will find the end depressing.

We find in Chapter 3 that these two naive young people, Julius and Ethel, were lonely IN their marriage. They were so poor, Ethel had to “occasionally” borrow small food items from neighbors “that she never returned” and everyone just learned to look the other way. The worst thing for her, though, was not their poverty, but the sight of her husband “failing.”

Julius, on the other hand, was lonely because his Russian handler worried that Julius might be compromised and stopped seeing him for eight months. During which time Ethel got pregnant again, probably as her way of reassuring Julius that she had absolute faith in him as a husband and father! While Julius, probably had so much time on his hands after Feklisov stopped meeting with him that he got bored and had nothing better to do! You see, people, this is what happens when you marry a feckless man!

Julius’s handler is eventually called back to Moscow. He feels he must tell Julius in person, so he takes him to a nice Hungarian restaurant. And then breaks the news.

This is the agent, Feklisov, writing from memory six months later:

  • Julius stopped, looking at me wide-eyed. A few long seconds went by. “What do you mean,” he asked. “You’re leaving me? Why?”

Oh God. This is so painful. Self wants to kick Julius for acting like a lovesick puppy. With his newly pregnant wife at home yet.

Stay tuned.

Kyrsten Sinema, Martyr?

Kimberley A. Strassel, Potomac Watch, Wall Street Journal, Friday, 16 October 2021

Like Saturn, the revolution devours its children. And like clockwork, the progressive mob has set on Kyrsten Sinema. Next time the left lectures on unity, women’s rights or Joe Biden’s decency, lock your door.

The Arizona senator continues to infuriate her fellow Democrats, who are frenzied to impose their $3.5 trillion social revolution. Ms. Sinema reportedly has issues with the cost of the package as well as its tax proposals and some programs. She’s conducted dozens of meetings with the White House and key players, though has also made clear she won’t be jammed and won’t negotiate with the public. Her refusal to bow to the left’s price tag and timeline has incensed colleagues and activists alike.

“Progressive mob” — cute, really cute. Is Strassel drawing or trying to draw parallels between the protesters who followed Sinema into a restroom to the Jan. 6 rioters? Try harder, Strassel. There were only three people in that bathroom, as opposed to 1000+ in DC on Jan. 6

Strassel is an apologist for Sinema. Doesn’t fly with self. Self loathes this woman, right? Loathes her. She is no champion of Middle America, as anyone can see from her fantastically twee outfits that only get more tacky the longer the senator stays in Congress.

Strassel’s main complaint is that “the left” (someone please tell self what she means by “the left”) have no manners: they confront Sinema any old place, such as in airplanes. Tough! That’s what she signed up for. It’s not all press appearances and meetings with Big Pharma.

Listen up, Sinema: if you’re so bothered by protesters, suggest you don full-body armor. Or Hazmat suit. Or maybe go full-on ‘Congressional’ and wear a suit. If you did the latter, you’d be unrecognizable. That would be a pretty good disguise!

Stay tuned.

The Noose

Self pulled a switcheroo one sleepless night and decided to read Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy. Something about the prose, something about the hour, something about her mood — she put aside Chris Offutt for later.

The past few days, she’s been reading about idealistic young Ethel Rosenberg, and she hopes her heart doesn’t break too much later, when Ethel is sentenced. It’s bad enough reading about what a hard worker she was, how determined she was to be a good wife and mother, and how all her life she yearned for music and scrimped and saved to buy herself a piano.

Of Julius and Ethel, it is pretty clear that Ethel is probably more intelligent. Definitely, she’s the one more rooted in family (as the woman usually is, even now). So when Julius gets flattered into passing on information to a Russian agent on p. 58, it is quite a gut punch.

Julius Rosenberg to his Russian “handler,” Alexander Feklisov, who was four years Julius’s senior, who’d “been working in New York since 1940”:

  • “I know you may not be aware of it, but our meetings are among the happiest moments of all my life . . . I have a wonderful wife and son whom I adore but you are the only person who knows all my secrets and it’s very important to be able to confide to someone.”

Damn you, Julius Rosenberg and also damn you, Alexander Feklisov!

The Russians expressed skepticism, remarking with cool detachment that his “health is nothing splendid.”

Sentence of the Day, 1st Sunday of October 2021

George Holliday, who recorded the beating of Rodney King, died on September 19th, aged 61.

Lead sentence, The man on the balcony,The Economist Obituary, 2 October 2021:

  • For near on nine minutes, George Holliday stood outside his second-floor windows with his three-pound Sony Handycam clamped to his eye.

It is quite an amazing article.

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.

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