Headed down to DC yesterday to meet Cliff Etheredge, the rattlesnake-hunting, poetry-writing, one-armed Texas wind magnate whom I am privileged to be assisting on a memoir he is writing. Over a very fine lunch of lalibera rib and yesom wot at the Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant on 14th Street (first time with that cuisine for either of us), we spent a very enjoyable couple of hours talking about wind and writing. Cliff is a pretty amazing guy, smart and witty, who has made this rather incredible late career move into wind energy. He was in Washington because Carbon Nation, a documentary in which he is featured, was being shown as the closing feature in the 18th annual Environmental Film Festival in Washington, and after lunch, we went to a reception where I met the director Peter Byck and his wife Christa, and producers Peggy and Henry Sharp, Craig Sieben, Karen Weigert, Artemis Joukowsky and his lovely wife Annie, and Cliff’s fellow doc star, Dan Nolan, and expert in bringing energy efficiency to the military. Being among this group of intelligent, committed, well-heeled activists made one feel like one was among a group of Abolitionists. We then went over to the beautiful Carnegie Institution for Science, where I got to see about half of the very interesting documentary before I had to zip over to Union Station to grab the last Acela back to New York. (See a preview of the film here.)
At The Earth Institute of Columbia University’s State of the Planet 2010 Conference last Thursday, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs (left, photo by Eileen Barroso), the economist, intellectual tummler, and director of said Earth Institute, summed up the State of the Planet as “interconnected, crowded and complex.” Later, he threw in “wondrous” and “challenging,” and nary a one of these adjectives would seem unwarranted. Sachs, like his conference, is wonderfully intelligent and perceptive, but he has a bit of a weakness for the obvious platitude. Well, who among us is perfect. His co-host, Hans Vestberg, the president and CEO of Ericcson communications, threw out some nicely provocative statistics, such as: there are 4.6 billion cell phone subscribers in the world; that five years from now, that number will rise to 6-7 billion, and that 80% of the world will be web-connected; that for every 10% increase there is in connectivity, there is a one percent increase in sustainable GNP (chicken and egg issue here, perhaps); and bu 2050, the world will triplicate, which is the first time I’ve heard this word used outside the context of some kind of form, and though I’m not sure Hans used the word correctly, it sure does make an impression.The third (and last) co-host, Matthew Bishop of The Economist, talked about the need to “revive the spirit of internationalism,” which seems like quite a good thing to do.
Bishop then hosted a panel on Climate Change. Columbia’s Wallace Broecker, professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, was pretty sour on the prospects of humankind solving global warming before things become too dire. “I hope nature turns on the hear to convince people. Not enough emphasis has been placed on basic physics. It’s going to happen.” Mark Cane, also of Columbia, dismissed the Fox News reporters who mocked Al Gore during the recent snowfalls in Washington. “Either they are extraordinarily stupid or extraordinarily cynical.” (Is both not an option?) Johan Rockstrom, Executive director of the Stockholm Environment Institute, agreed. “We are the worst case pathway. We are seeing all the tipping points–rapid acidification of the oceans, sea levels are rising faster. We can no longer exclude a one-meter rise in sea levels this century.” Although Rockstrom was unhappy with the outcome at the recent Copenhagen summit, he was pleased when he saw a photo of Barack Obama and Angela Merkel discussing the issue. “Now, for the first time, this is not just the environmentalists’ problem. It is owned by Big Politics.” Broecker was dismayed that we have had such a lame response. “We have to prepare to do what we’re going to have to do, which is capture and store CO2. Starting that would cost tens of millions, not billions, but we’re not doing it.” The panel then connected to a similar discussion that was being held at Tsinghua University, whose star was (I believe) Qi Ye, a profesor of Environmental Policy, who rather dryly congratulated the US in passing health care reform (“a century-long effort to solve a problem of the last century”) before saying that solving climate change would be the problem for the century to come. “China has a quarter of the emissions of the US,” he told us matter-of-factly. “Chinese emissions are not going to peak before the US.” In other words, we’re going to have to lead, and none of that nonsense about waiting for the developing nations to do the same. Or not. “Maybe we should let China lead,” said Broecker. “They’re going to do so eventually.” (Photo by Eileen Barroso shows New York panelests Bishop, Rockstrom, Cane and Broecker below a satellite feed from China; Qi Ye is third from left.)
A second panel on solving poverty was also quite interesting. Perhaps most surprising was the good news–robust improvement in agriculture in Malawi and Cambodia. Interesting comments from Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, who talked about micro investments, and how improvements in financial infrastructure in the poor countries will have a stupendous effect; a big key, said James Mwangi, CEO of the Equity Bank in Nairobi, will be the ability to structure loans without collateral, or, more properly, with social collateral. Finally, Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the UN’s Environmental Programme, made an excellent point. “We have to get rid of the 20th century myth that makes nature invisible in the equation of value. We have to realize that a tree standing is worth more than a tree cut down. We have to make the economics of biodiversity visible.” (Photo by David Wentworth of Bishop, Vestberg, Columbia’s Upmanu Lall, Columbia’s Glenn Denning, and Princess Maxima, listening to The Economist‘s Jonathan Ledgard from Nairobi.)
For years we’ve thought of Democrats as the Mommy party and Republicans as the Daddy party. A crude division, but useful. Republicans were stronger on defense and fiscal discipline, Democrats were more compassionate and willing to spend money.
Let us recall that one of the big reasons the Democrats won in 2008 because the Republicans did a bad job at being the Daddy party. True, like good daddies, they prevented us from being attacked after 9/11 (although how they dodged even meta-responsibility for it, or for failing to catch bin Laden, I just don’t know), but they got us into a war that they managed disastrously, and they spent all the money Ma Clinton had prudently left in the cupboard–and in a fairly unwise fashion..
Now they’ve spent a full year fighting against a real mommy proposal, health care reform. And they made their attacks partially in a responsible daddy way, saying “We can’t afford this right now.” But as all dads know, when mom says we really need something for the kids, dad can’t just say No. Dad has to produce an option–something now, more when the time is right. Otherwise he appears to be small, mean, selfish and uncaring.
The Republicans also attacked in a Bad Daddy way, mentioning death panels and getting insulting and behaving in the wild, emotional ways Bad Daddies do when they’ve been drinking.
The Republicans may have looked like responsible daddies of they had won, and most people would have dismissed their high strung excesses. But they didn’t. They lost. And yet they continue the mean, uncompromising, wild and insulting Bad Daddy approach.
How do you think that is going to work for them? Especially when the death panels don’t assemble in the town square. Especially with more real moms earning more real money and having more real jobs, while more real dads sit on their unemployed hands. In real life, when Bad Daddy asserts himself too obnoxiously for too long, Bad Daddy moves into short-stay accommodations and maybe looks into a program, until everybody is ready to give Good Daddy a chance again. But the Republicans don’t seem very keen on doing that. They seem to prefer the idea of spending all their time at in the comforting, welcoming environs of Limbaugh’s Saloon.
Writing in <em>Slate</em>, Anne Applebaum looks at Britain’s Tories and warns the Republicans of doubling down:
“After almost two decades in power, the British Conservatives lost in 1997 to Tony Blair‘s slicker, smoother, Labor Party—a party that had accepted the basic premises of Thatcherism and moved on. At the time, the Tories reckoned they would be in opposition for a couple of years at most. All they had to do was return to their basic principles and declare them with greater fervor and more self-righteous anger than ever before. . . .[T]hey ran two angry campaigns that reeked of xenophobia. The result: The Tories have been out of power since 1997. Thirteen years.
After the second, decisive election loss, the Conservatives finally made some changes. They elected a new leader, younger and “modernizing.” They changed their social policies to match the views of the majority, supported the green movement . . . .accepted the basic premises of Blairism, and moved on. Above all, they changed the way they spoke: No more shouting. No more anger. No more arrogance.
And the result? The Tories are once again real contenders. But only barely. The latest polling shows that even now, with Britain ruled by one of the most unpopular prime ministers in recent memory . . . .the Tories’ nasty public image—arrogant, mean, small-minded—is proving very, very difficult to discard.”
Republicans were never so successful as when Ronald Reagan was in the White House. Floating on gauzy kindliness, he managed to enact his hard line. If it turns out that Republicans have damaged the Dad brand beyond recovery, they may have to revive the Grandfather model.
Nobody will accuse Joe Biden of committing oratory, but nobody will accuse him of overstatement, either. When the Democrats in the House of Representatives passed a health care reform bill on Sunday, they did something that was thought to be impossible (after all, presidents since Teddy Roosevelt have sought to accomplish this); doomed by the hard math of political calculus (all year, my friend Lawrence O’Donnell, who as Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan‘s chief of staff was one of those who vainly tried to pass health care reform in 1994, has been saying “I don’t know how you do it”); beyond the reach of a president who was thought to be better at speaking than accomplishing (but see CeCi Connally‘s amazing story in the Washington Post about how Obama closed the damn sale); helpful to a whole bunch of people (see Dave Leonhardt‘s analysis in the Times: “The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago. Over most of that period, government policy and market forces have been moving in the same direction, both increasing inequality. The pretax incomes of the wealthy have soared since the late 1970s, while their tax rates have fallen more than rates for the middle class and poor. Nearly every major aspect of the health bill pushes in the other direction. . . .It is the centerpiece of his deliberate effort to end what historians have called the age of Reagan.”; and ultimately, a great deal of fun (See Maureen Dowd in the Times: “One gleeful and relieved White House aide called the bill-signing ceremony in the East Room, packed with Democratic lawmakers snapping pictures and acting like obstreperous children, “an Old Spice moment.” “You could see it in their faces,” he said. “It was kind of like that Old Spice ad where the guy smacked himself on the cheeks and said, ‘Wow, that feels good!’ It was like they smacked themselves on the cheeks and said, ‘You are a member of Congress and now you can start doing things. Wow, that feels good!’ ””)
Days after the ebullient bill-signing, commentators like Joe Scarborough are still talking about how this bill will cause the Democrats to lose the House this fall. It ain’t going to happen. David Frum has it exactly right: the Republicans put everything they had into stopping this bill, and that included all kinds of over-the-top scare tactics and tremendous anger and meanness. And they lost. The Democrats are like the New York Giants of 2007: bumbling along, playing below their potential, until they woke up against the undefeated Patriots and played a game. Unlike the Democrats, they lost that game, but the way they played made them realize that belonged. And after that, no one could stop them, and they won the Super Bowl. Could this start the Dems on a roll?
The Final Four is in full swing, hockey and basketball playoffs are virtually moments away, and baseball’s Opening Day is in the air. So let’s talk a little football.
This week the NFL meets to discuss changes in the overtime rules. Specifically, they are meeting because they can no longer ignore the complaints that sudden death just isn’t fair. Or, to put it a bit more precisely, they can’t ignore the complains that sudden death, which has always been a bit unfair, has become, in a day and age when teams kick off from the 30 and when field goal kickers are pretty automatic, almost prohibitively unfair to the team that loses the coin toss in the overtime round. In response to this, the league, which doesn’t want to look like a bunch of damn liberals and just mandate that both teams get to possess the ball, is contemplating looking like a bunch of liberals on a congressional subcommittee, and mandating that both teams get to possess the ball, unless the first team to possess the ball scores a touchdown.
Now what in the name of Kill Bubba Kill Smith is going on here? First of all, having been reared on Butkus, Bednarik, Nitschke, Huff, Lambert, the Fearsome Foursome, the Steel Curtain, the Purple People Eaters and the Steel Curtain, I like football where the teams play a little defense. I hated that Green Bay-Arizona shootout in the playoffs this year, where both teams’ defenses resembled nothing so much as a group of pylons. Football is about offense and defense, and yes, it’s an advantage in sudden death to have the ball first, but that why need the defense needs some big fast mean sumbitches who can stop the other guys on third down.
But, yes, it is true that advances in the kicking game have given offenses tremendous advantage–better field position to start, and a shorter distance to cover to reach field goal range. But the answer to the problem needs to be a football answer, not a non-football answer, like acknowledging that defense is a secondary part of the game or that both sides should possess the ball (hey, in a game, neither side is actually guaranteed a possession!)
My answer is simple: eliminate the overtime kick-off. Treat the overtime period the way we three the second and fourth periods, and just play the game from point where the clock ran out. Obviously this will result in games where one team enjoys better field position than the other, but that position will result from the game action that preceded it, not from clean slate kick-off that gives the coin toss winner an advantage. And think of the quandries this will create for the coaches late in regulation–should they try to drive for the win, or punt the ball and set stick the other team deep in its own end?
The highlight of early 2010, namely the class I taught at Marymount Manhattan College, came to an end Thursday night. Called “Writing in a New environment,” we explored blogging, tweeting, and the many changes digital technology has foisted on the word industry. I was joined by a group of students that was small but curious and insightful, and I hope to see them again: from left: Amy Shigo, David Linton, Pamela Pearce and Patrick McCarthy (where did Karen Arfi go when the camera came out?) On Thursday we were joined by Tim O’Connell (left), who is an editor at Vintage and Anchor Books in the Knopf/Doubleday Publishing Group of Random House, thanks be to God (whew!), but who was recommended to me by Gerry Howard, which is all you really need to know. Tim told us all about how publishing is changing in this age of Kindle and the iPad, and I’m happy to say that he was generally full of optimism. He did a great job. Thanks, Tim, and thanks, class, for a great time.
Most of the obituaries of Fess Parker, the actor who famously portrayed Davy Crockett on television in the fifties and who died yesterday, placed him at the center of genuine coonskin fad, part of the crazy quilt of crazes of that period that included Elvis, hula hoops, drive-ins and that made up pop culture during that decade. I prefer to think Fess as being one of the key figures in the fifties and sixties who were entertaining children and adults with stories directly taken from or based on American history.
Consider all these influences which appeared between 1955 and 1965: Parker first played Crockett, one of the first national smashes in the young days of television, and then later played frontiersman Daniel Boone on an NBC series ran for six seasons after its 1964 debut. Parker’s show, The Adventures of Davy Crockett, was produced by the Walt Disney Company, which during this period also made a film version of Esther Forbes‘ Revolutionary War novel Johnny Tremain, and created a TV programs based on the adventures of the Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, starring Leslie Nielsen, of a drummer boy who served at the battle of Shiloh, and of the 7th Cavalry’s only survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn (Commanche, a horse.) Disney wasn’t the only television producer that tried to mine history: in 1961, there was a short-lived television series called The Americans about a pair of brothers from Virginia who ended up on the opposite sides of the Civil War, and in 1963, an anthology series on CBS called The Great Adventure, also short-lived, which depicted key moments in the lives of people like Harriet Tubman, Jefferson Davis, Nathan Hale, Sam Houston, John Brown, Jean Lafitte, Boss Tweed and others (one wonders if this approach was inspired by President Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage.) At the same time, Hollywood, whose longstanding interest in historical epics had ebbed, once again began pumping them out in earnest: The Alamo (Crockett again!), The Buccaneer (Charlton Heston as Andrew Jackson), The Horse Soldiers (John Wayne playing a cavalry officer loosely based as a Union cavalry officer Judson Kilpatrick), The Longest Day, PT 109, The Great Escape, The Bridge Over the River Kwai, and many, many more westerns and World War II adventures (and this wouldn’t include non-American-based films like Cleopatra, Ben Hur, El Cid, Khartoum, Spartacus, Lawrence of Arabia, The Fall of the Roman Empire, Becket, The Lion in Winter, and so on, which fed an interest in history.) On the radio, country singer Johnny Horton had a hit single with “The Battle of New Orleans,” and a hit album that includes songs about the sinking of the Bismarck, Snowshoe Thompson and Jim Bridger. Our bookshelves were filled with Landmark Books, non-fiction biographies and accounts of battles, events and discoveries, and “You Are There. . . ” books, which showed us large historical events through the eyes of child participants. For a lighter read, Topps put out a line of Civil War trading cards, with grisly battle scenes drawn by Woody Gelman, who also drew Topps’ famous Mars Attacks! series. Best of all, we had toys. Toy guns, sure–flintlocks, Winchester repeaters, Colt revolvers, Lugars, .45 caliber automatics, and carbines, but all kinds of playsets full of toy soldiers and accessories that allowed us to imagine for ourselves what the Alamo, Gettysburg, Omaha Beach and the Little Big Horn must have looked like, had they been waged on the colorful linoleum tiles of my mother’s basement.
It’s not that kinds today get no history-based entertainment–American Girl dolls are an obvious example–but kids are far more steeped in fantasy and science fiction. I just think of myself as very fortunate to have been brought up during a very brief period when so much of pop culture enthusiastically communicated and reinforced the idea that the past was place that was exciting, and inspiring, and well worth getting to know.
You don’t have to listen to me; listen, if you prefer, to Karl Rove.
Six weeks ago, I wrote a post that argued that anybody who wants to end the bitter partisanship that has metastasized in Washington shouldn’t direct his or her protests to the White House or to Congress, but should instead address their state capitals. That’s because next year, after the census is complete, the state legislatures will redraw the congressional district lines. If past is prologue, strenuous efforts will be made by whatever party controls any given legislature to create safe Congressional seats–districts where their party enjoys an unbeatable majority. Well, that may be good for them, but it’s terrible for us, and it’s terrible for democracy. It creates districts where the representatives have only to please the hard core of their own party and don’t have to do much if anything to attract voters from the other party. The representatives become hardened in their positions, and strident in their arguments. Compromise evaporates. We end up with a Washington where the parties can’t, don’t and won’t work together, because gaining an edge becomes more important than solving a problem. .
If you don’t believe me, believe Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s resident political genius. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Rove confirms my point, albeit with a quite a different spin: Republicans are focused on winning the legislatures in this fall’s election in order to control this process. “The political world is fixated on whether this year’s elections will deliver an epic rebuke of President Barack Obama and his party,” he writes. “If that happens, it could end up costing Democrats congressional seats for a decade to come.”
As Rove explains, “control of the state legislature matters whether a state loses or gains seats. Take fast-growing Texas, which is expected to pick up as many as four seats next year. Democrats had a 17-13 edge in the state’s congressional delegation after the 2000 elections. Republicans won control of the Texas House in 2002 and redrew the state’s congressional map. As a result, the GOP now controls 20 congressional seats in Texas while Democrats control 12. Similarly in Georgia, following the 2000 census Democrats redrew district lines to give themselves control of the state’s two new congressional seats. . . .To understand the broader political implications, consider that the GOP gained somewhere between 25 and 30 seats because of the redistricting that followed the 1990 census. Without those seats, Republicans would not have won the House in 1994.”
Rove doesn’t bring it up, but that Texas redistricting was an outrageous bit of gerrymandering engineered by Tom DeLay. And the aftermath of that Republican triumph in 1994, for those who have forgotten, has been an attempt by the GOP to shut down the government, a politically motivated impeachment, and a stymied presidential election that turned into a national embarrassment.
The point is, Rove and his Republican colleagues, along with their Democratic counterparts, are going to invest everything they have into drawing those congressional districts their own advantage. But the answer to Washington’s fundamental problem lies not in having the right band of partisans in control, but in having less partisanship. What we need are fewer political monopolies and more open political markets. What we should be insisting is that the legislatures draw competitive districts. (“The average winner of a competitive House race in 2008 spent $2 million, while a noncompetitive seat can be defended for far less than half that amount, ” writes Rove. “Moving, say, 20 districts from competitive to out-of-reach could save a party $100 million or more over the course of a decade.” Yes! Of course it saves the candidates and the parties money! They don’t have to campaign to win!)
Is nonpartisan redistricting a pipe dream? Not according to the people of Iowa, where a nonpartisan Legislative Services Bureau is charged with developing up to three plans that can be accepted or rejected by the legislature. “The plans are criteria-driven, meaning that the bureau draws districts based on clear, measurable criteria,” reports fairvote.org. “The four criteria, in descending order of importance are: 1) population equality; 2) contiguity; 3) unity of counties and cities (maintaining county lines and house districts within senate districts and senate districts within congressional districts); and 4) compactness.” The next time you see your state legislator, demand to know why your state doesn’t deserve a system as fair and as pro-voter as Iowa’s.
In an article on CNET.com called “Why No One Cares About Privacy Anymore,” Declan McCullagh celebrates (I don’t think that’s too strong a word) the changing mores and advancing technology that seem to be turning the idea of privacy into a quaintly passe concept. Noting that the anticipated storm of privacy objections to Google Buzz have simply not materialized, McCullagh suggests that people, particularly young people, just aren’t all that worked up over the idea that the world knows their business. “Internet users have grown accustomed to informational exhibitionism,” he writes. “Norms are changing, with confidentiality giving way to openness. Participating in YouTube, Loopt, FriendFeed, Flickr, and other elements of modern digital society means giving up some privacy, yet millions of people are willing to make that trade-off every day. Of people with an online profile, nearly 40 percent have disabled privacy settings so anyone may view it, according to a Pew Internet survey released a year ago. The percentage is probably higher today.” McCullagh quotes the Judge Richard Posner, a conservative political theorist, who has written “As a social good, I think privacy is greatly overrated because privacy basically means concealment. People conceal things in order to fool other people about them. They want to appear healthier than they are, smarter, more honest and so forth.” The truth about privacy is counter-intuitive, McCullagh concludes: “Less of it can lead to a more virtuous society.”
In many ways, this is certainly true. It always seemed astonishing that homosexuals were denied security clearances during the Cold War because their secret left them susceptible to blackmail. During my parents’ generation, people kept secrets about all sorts of things because social stigmas were attached: a drinking problem, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, mental retardation in the following, a marriage outside of one’s race/religion/ethnic group. People have gotten over most of these things. We feel better because because we can lead lives that are more free and more honest.
And yet, there is still much we would resent having put on public display. Who among the exhibitionists would like to have the details of his finances spread across the globe? And while Tiger Woods, Eliot Spitzer, Mark Sanford and others have given infidelity a bad name, do we really feel that people are not entitled to keep their romantic liaisons to themselves, free from community judgment? But what is really important to realize that we are not always in control of the things we need to be private about. Just last week, Mary Cheney, daughter of the Great Scaremonger Dick Cheney, and an odious person in her own right, spearheaded an effort to attack the Department of Justice lawyers who represented accused members of al Qaeda who were in detention. Now, these lawyers were not performing this entirely professional action in secret, so the parallel is not exact, but all of sudden, here they were doing their jobs in relative anonymity, and now a public rabble-rouser is accusing them helping America’s enemies, which certainly sounds like the definition of treason to me. A perfectly normal, yea, even admirable activity has now been spotlighted and stigmatized, and if you think it’s impossible that a right wng nut will one day take a shot at one of these lawyers, then I envy your peace of mind. It may be a better world that doesn’t require so much privacy, but in the meantime, it’s a pretty good protection against hysteria and malevolence.
I had an amazing reception to my recent post about my uncle, Andy Malanowski. I heard from many of my cousins, which was wonderful, notably Dave Powell, the husband of my cousin Christine Malanowski Powell. He has constructed an impressive Powell family tree which by his good grace (or maybe it’s the grace of Chris) includes a lot about the Malanowskis. Dave not only hipped me to the fact that the Marine Corps had the wrong birthdate for Andy (1915, not 1914), but he also sent me a couple of excellent photos of Andy in his dress blues wearing his sharpshooter’s medal, studio shots thought to have been taken around 1942 (certainly they were after 1940, as we see from Andy’s sergeant stripes).
I also heard from two other readers, the historians Jeffrey McMeans of Simi Valley, California, who has made a study of the battle of Guadalcanal, and from Peter Flahavin, who has visited Guadalcanal many times from his home in Australia, and who maintains an amazing website about Guadalcanal that is full of photographs from his various visits, but also many pictures dating back to the war. One of the things I found fairly mind-blowing is that the very area where Andy and the 1st marines were engaged in combat is today something of a tourist destination, with lovely hotels and a marina and a national museum. Peter sent some photos for orientation:
Above is a WW II vintage photo showing the battle area, with locations of present-day landmarks superimposed. The marines landed just east of where the Mendana Hotel is (just to the right of it.) They then moved across the open area, up the hill through the coconut grove, and onto the ridge where the King Solomon Hotel now stands, which is where the battle with the Japanese began. When teh marines retreated, they did a kind of a reverse bobby pin, and came down to the beach where the Point Cruz Yacht Club is now located. Below is a photo Peter took from an off-shore vantage. The red line drawn from the second box on the left connects to the King Solomon Hotel. “Every time I visit the Canal,” Peter writes, “I stay at the King Solomon, which is built on the side of the Hill 83 where the Battalion was trapped. A cable car goes up to the various room levels. There isn’t a trip I make that I don’t think of Malanowski and his BAR holding off the Japs as the guys retreated to the beach.”
From the description of a clearing between the trees and the beach as the place where Andy made his stand, Peter surmises that Andy died on what is now the grounds of the Solomons National Museum. A stream runs through that area. “It could well be that a Japanese using the stream bank as cover got him,” Peter writes. “It was sort of a natural trench that both sides used in later fighting. One marine writes of finding a dead office in the stream bed in November 1942 surrounded by ten dead Japs.”
Peter shared these emails with some friends, including John Innes, is a historian who has lived on Guadalcanal since 1995, and Ewan Stevenson, a New Zealander who was born on the Canal in 1972 and has extensively dived and explored the place. John wrote an email describing a visit he made to this area with a marine named Stan McLeod, who, like Andy, was a Platoon Sergeant that day, and who eventually became a brigadier general. “ Stan McLeod was a Platoon Sergeant on that mission,” John writes. “He saw the bright orange mortar explosion that killed the Executive Officer. He was walking towards him when the mortar hit. The blast knocked Stan face down facing the other way. Blood over his face from the Coral. Later, under enemy fire as he was helping a wounded officer (who had called out “each man for himself” after the mortar hit!) back down to the beach, he passed Malanowski. Stan said to him `Are you okay, Ski?’ Malanowski said `Yes, Mac, you go on down I’ll just be a few minutes.’ Stan said he could hear Malanowski’s BAR firing as they made there way down, and then stop.” John is of the opinion that Andy was killed on the grounds of the Kitano Mendana Hotel.
In his email, Ewan Stevenson says that just last week he was speaking to a man named Gene Leslie, who is the son Dale Leslie, a marine pilot who flew over the battle site, saw the besieged battalion, saw that they were spelling out “HELP” with theit T-shirts, and radioed news of their dire circumstances to Chesty Puller. “We were talking just last week on the phone, and as often does, we talk about that day 27 Sept. I believe there is a great deal we don’t know about that day, and it’s not a glorious part of USMC history but not all history is glorious. One of the things we talked about was the absolute heroic feat of Malanowski that day. How he did his own last stand and help keep the following Japanese at bay. His actions certainly helped saved many lives, no doubt. ”