Monday, August 31, 2015

Steve 'n' Seagulls

Steve N' Seagulls

If you're interested in hearing Finnish bluegrass bands specializing in covers of ACDC tunes you've come to the right place!  This is Steve 'n' Seagulls featuring Remmel, Puikkonen, Pukki Kaalinen, Hiltumen and Herman performing Thunderstruck.  The boys are having a good time.

And this is their cover of You Shook Me All Night Long.  They're embarking today on a World Tour, including the United States, so if you want to catch 'em check out the schedule at their website.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Election Demographics: 2016

THC came across this interesting 2016 Election scenario calculator published at Real Clear Politics by Sean Trende and David Byler. You can look at the 2012 results and then, for four groups, Non-Hispanic Whites, African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian & Other, see how potential changes in the % vote for each party and turnout assumptions could drive the popular vote and electoral college results in 2016. You can find it here and have some fun playing around with it.

Rep. % Of Vote
Voter Turnout
R Vote (millions)
D Vote (millions)
Non-Hispanic White
60.2
64.1
55.5
36.7
African-American
6.1
66.2
1.1
16.4
Hispanic
27.6
48.0
4.2
11.0
Asian & Other
31.6
49.3
2.4
5.1
Popular Vote


63.1
69.1
%


47.7
52.3
Electoral College


206
332
One thing that jumps out from the 2012 data is the African American vote of which Barack Obama won 94%.  Romney won the remaining electorate (White, Hispanic, Asian) by 9 million votes. The other thing is the extraordinary AA turnout. In most elections, other than 2008 and 2012, AA turnout is usually 6-8 points less than White turnout.

When you play with the calculator tool you find that if AA turnout reverts to its historic norms and a GOP candidate can get 10% of the AA vote, they win the election if they also get 62% (instead of 60.2%) of the White vote and turnout edges up from 64.1% to 65% even if the Hispanic and Asian vote does not change.

If a GOP candidate could ever get 30% of the AA vote (similar to that of Hispanics and Asians) they would win the election even if White, Hispanic and Asian percentages remain the same. That’s why it’s predictable that the more the GOP attempts to court AA voters the more accusations of racism they will face from the D’s and their media allies.

The calculator also reveals some other surprising things. Because of the concentration of Hispanics in a small group of states it takes a lot of positive or negative changes for the GOP to make electoral college inroads based on that vote. In 2012, Romney received 27.6% of that vote. In 2016 a Republican candidate would have to drop down to 8% before another state switches to the D column and would have to capture 48% of that vote to swing one additional state to the GOP.

Though we think of ourselves as a 50/50 nation politically a look at the state specific data reveals a different picture.  More and more of the states are falling firmly into the camp of one of the two parties.  In 2012 only three states had a margin of less than 5% in the Presidential voting - Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Power Shortage

Megan McArdle, whose blog you should be reading, wrote this about a decade ago.  It seems to resonate more with the passing years and regardless of who is in power.

"The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A View On A High Road

This is what road conditions were like in Europe from the fall of Rome until the 19th century.  The painting is A View On A High Road by Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709), a Dutch landscape painter a pupil of the better-known Jacob van Ruisdael.  High Road was the term for a major thoroughfare.  Macadam and asphalt were a really big deal when they were introduced a couple of centuries later (see Forgotten Americans: Jacob de Smedt & Nathan B Abbott).

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/A_View_on_a_High_Road-1665-Meindert_Hobbema.jpg

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Calvary

http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/tinseltalk/files/2014/07/c5.jpg(from patheos)

THC missed Calvary during its theatrical release last year because like so many "small" films it was quickly in and out of the one local theater where it was shown.  The reviews had been quite good and THC finally caught it on cable a couple of weeks ago.  Despite the reviews, he was not prepared for the real subject of the film.  THC could just say he found it moving, but the truth is he was crying during the final two scenes, something he never remembers doing before while watching a movie.

The setup for this Irish-made film is very simple, and occurs in the very first scene.  A priest in rural County Sligo is taking confession when the penitent informs him that as a child he was molested multiple times by a priest who has since died.  After further back and forth, the penitent announces that rather than take any of the alternatives suggested by the priest, it would be a more powerful statement for him to kill a good, innocent priest, rather than a bad priest, so he will murder the priest taking his confession in a week.  While the priest has suspicions about who the penitent is, he does not know for sure.

So it's a whodunit, right?  Well, that's what THC thought based on the reviews and the opening scene but it isn't, though it's a while before it becomes apparent that the filmmaker, John Michael McDonagh who wrote and directed, has something else on his mind.  It's not about who is planning the murder or about any of the flawed and very human members of the Church that we are introduced to in the course of the film.  Calvary is about what it means to be a good priest and the faith required to meet the demands of that role.  Though that burden is one that can be heavy at any time, by situating it in the midst of the terrible abuse scandals within the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, the costs of bearing the weight of that burden become even more significant.  Calvary is a whatwillhedo and whyhedoesit rather than a whodunit.

After watching the film, THC (a non-Catholic) went online to double check his reaction by looking at how Catholic publications reviewed the film, in light of its setting within the Church's sexual abuse scandal.  With the exception of one lukewarm review, they varied from very positive to raves with one commenting that the movie showed "with extraordinary vividness, what authentic spiritual shepherding looks like and how it feels for a priest to have a shepherd’s heart", and Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput called it an "intimate, unblinking, unforgettable film". 

Brendan Gleeson (Braveheart, In Bruges, Gangs of New York) plays Father James Lavelle, a man who came late to the priesthood, joining after his beloved wife died, and who has a troubled adult daughter.   Gleeson, always good, is simply magnificent here, by turns funny, caring, caustic, baffled, questioning, loving and even, on one occasion, violent.  The rest of the cast is excellent - for Game of Thrones fans, Aiden Gillen (Littlefinger) plays a cynical atheist doctor, and the great M Emmett Walsh (THC will always be haunted by his role as Loren Visser, the corrupt private detective in the Coen Brothers debut feature, Blood Simple) appears as an American writer living out his days in the village.  A French-Canadian actress, Marie-Jose Cruze, appears briefly in two crucial scenes to deliver a message of grace and acceptance in the face of an unfathomably awful random event.
http://media.irishcentral.com/images/MI+Game+of+Thrones+Aiden+Gillen+portait.jpghttp://4.bp.blogspot.com/_8k7m4e2TYeU/SmM8-ViRghI/AAAAAAAAFKM/xd4vNQqtIns/s400/walsh2.gif(Gillen in Game of Thrones, Walsh in Blood Simple)

The cinematography makes the Irish countryside look beautiful (perhaps not a hard job) and the screenplay contains a great deal of wit, with lines that would never be allowed to appear in a Hollywood movie today.  The only weakness is a byproduct of the movie's structure.  Many of the characters were more like caricatures and some of the dialogue too cleverly written.  It was only as the story developed that THC realized most of the roles were written deliberately as archetypes and that the priest is the only fully realized character and, in the end, that is all that matters in this thoughtful and moving film that will stay with you.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bad Day In Pompeii

August 24, 79.

Think you're having a bad day?  What about these folks?   Glad they had at least one CCTV camera in place that day.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Fight

What Baseball's Most Famous Brawl Photo Didn't Show You(From Deadspin, Sandy Koufax, far left, Shag Crawford, second from left, #27 Juan Marichal, John Roseboro falling to ground, Tito Fuentes #26)

Today is the 50th anniversary of the most notorious fight in baseball history - notorious because a pitcher, one of the best in baseball at the time, swung a bat at the head of an opposing player.  Leonard Koppett, reporting on the game for the New York Times commented on the startling nature of the incident:
Both teams were left emotionally shaken. Fights that erupt under pennant pressure are not unusual, but they are always fist fights. Players, coaches and managers of both teams here could not recall ever seeing an attack with a bat.
It was the greatest of all baseball rivalries, the Giants versus the Dodgers, both transplanted to California from New York in 1958.

It was Sunday afternoon, August 22, 1965 in Candlestick Park, home of the Giants and the final contest of a four game series.  When the Dodgers arrived on August 19 for the start of the series both teams were in the midst of a heated pennant race.  The Milwaukee Braves led the Dodgers by a half game; the Dodgers in turn were a half game ahead of the Giants while the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies lingered a little behind (3 1/2 and 5 games respectively) ready to pounce if any of the teams above them weakened.

The Dodgers had won two of the first three games and entered Sunday a half game ahead of Milwaukee and 1 1/2 ahead of the Giants while the Reds had closed to only 2 1/2 out.  Both teams had their aces going for them, high kicking Juan Marichal for the Giants with a record of 19-9 and an ERA of 1.73 and Sandy Koufax for the LA team at 21-4 with an ERA of 2.10 (for more on this rivalry read Gibson Koufax Marichal Mashup).  42,807 fans jammed Candlestick to watch.
http://exhibits.baseballhalloffame.org/viva_artifacts/Marichal-Juan-739_800.jpg(Marichal, Baseball Hall of Fame)

The Dodgers jumped out to a lead in the top of the first with bunt single down the 3rd base line by lead off hitter Maury Wills who scored on a double by Ron Fairly.  Koufax struck out the side in the bottom of the first.  In the second the Dodgers scored again when Wes Parker, after doubling, scored on a single by John Roseboro, the Dodgers catcher.  In the bottom of the inning Cap Peterson homered off Koufax to reduce the Dodgers lead to 2-1.  Marichal set the Dodgers down in order in the top of the 3rd.
http://www.ootpdevelopments.com/board/attachments/ootp-mods-rosters-photos-quick-starts/270615d1353507524-1959-starting-lineups-john_roseboro_-1962_dodgers-_2.jpg(Roseboro, ootpdevelopments)

Marichal stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the inning.  Tensions were high.  With two outs in the top of the second, Marichal had thrown high and inside at Wills who dove to avoid being hit.  In retaliation, Koufax threw a ball well above the Giants lead off hitter in the third, Willie Mays.  Although Koufax had no problem throwing retaliatory pitches at a batter's lower body he would not throw at the head and deliberately made sure he didn't hit Mays.  In any event, the next escalation was triggered.  With two out in the 3rd, Ron Fairly who'd doubled off Marichal in the 1st came to the plate and Juan knocked him down with an inside pitch.  Home plate umpire Shag Crawford warned both teams that the next pitcher to throw at a batter would be ejected.
Giants pitcher Juan Marichal (27) swings a bat at Dodgers catcher John Roseboro (8) as Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax (32) jumps in to stop the fight during a game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on Aug. 22, 1965. Marichal was apparently angered when Roseboro threw a pitch too close to Marichal’s head. Photo: Charles Doherty, AP(from San Francisco Chronicle)

The tension went even further back than this game according to the most authoritative account of the fight, The Fight Of Their Lives by John Rosengren (2014).  During the late innings of Friday night's game the Giants thought the Maury Wills unfairly drew a catcher's interference call by stepping back and forcing catcher John Haller's glove to tip his bat.  When the Giants Matty Alou tried the same tactic unsuccessfully with Roseboro catching the Giants bench yelled at Roseboro leading to a angry shouting match between Roseboro and some players including Marichal.



Rosengren also cites contributing factors specific to Marichal and Roseboro.  At the time, Juan Marichal was one of the star young pitchers in the game having gone 25-8 and 21-8 the prior seasons but his behavior in recent weeks had been increasingly erratic with several blowups over umpire calls which the author attributes to concerns over the safety of his family who were caught up in the midst of a civil war which had erupted in the Dominican Republic in May 1965.  Many of Marichal's teammates later spoke of how worried he was that summer and Willie Mays said he wondered whether the pitcher should be playing at all.

The thirty-two year old Roseboro was not a star, but was a highly regarded defensive catcher, a four time All-Star over the course of his career, considered a leader of the Dodger team and known to be both strong and combative.  He was also a resident of South Central Los Angeles an area caught up in the Watts Riot that erupted on August 11, 1965, the first of many urban Northern city riots of the 1960s and which lasted until August 17 leaving thirty four dead and massive destruction in its wake.  On a couple of evenings, Roseboro sat in his home with a shotgun in order to protect it if rioters came.

Roseboro was determined not to let Marichal's throwing at his teammates go unavenged.  Marichal himself wondered if Koufax would knock him down but when Sandy threw his first pitch for a strike he relaxed.  The next pitch was a ball outside and that's when Roseboro took matters into his own hands.  As he later wrote in his autobiography:
"Koufax was constitutionally incapable of throwing at anyone's head, so I decided to take matters into my own hands."  
Roseboro threw the ball back to Koufax as hard as he could whizzing it by Marichal's face and ticking his ear.  Marichal turned to Roseboro, words were exchanged and then Giants pitcher broke baseball's code - fighting is accepted, deliberately hitting anyone with a bat is beyond the pale of acceptable behavior, then and now.

For the blow by blow of the fight read this account by Rosengren.  Marichal hit Roseboro three times on the head but fortunately only opened a scalp wound.  The problem was the wound bled copiously and looked much worse than it was (it did reportedly take 14 stitches to close) and some players thought the catcher had lost an eye.  A furious Roseboro began lashing out at Marichal and anyone else in his path while Shag Crawford wrapped up Marichal to get him under control.  The rookie Tito Fuentes can be seen waving a bat but thankfully Giants catcher Tom Haller eventually dragged him away.

In this fragmentary footage you can see part of the first phase of the fight, though it does not show Marichal hitting Roseboro.  At one point you can see Haller grabbing Fuentes and his bat.
Willie Mays, who had not been involved in the brawl, made his way through the crowd reaching Roseboro, who was one of his best friends.  Mays worried that if Roseboro got to Marichal it would provoke the San Francisco fans to jump onto the field and join the fighting.  He grabbed Roseboro by his jersey and led him to the Dodgers dugout telling him "Johnny, stop it. Stop fighting. Your eye is out."  A photograph by Neil Leifer captured the moment.   You can see the blood flowing from Roseboro's head over his chest protector while Willie leads him away surrounded by Dodgers.
http://sports.cbsimg.net/images//visual/whatshot/Roseboro-Mays-Leifer-2.jpg

A crying Mays sat with Roseboro in the Dodgers dugout while he received medical attention and the players and crowd finally calmed down.  Players on both sides as well as the commissioner of baseball cited Mays's role in preventing worse violence with Dodgers manager Walter Alston saying "Mays was the only player on either club who showed any sense". 

When order was restored and play resumed Bob Schroeder stepped to the plate to complete Marichal's at bat.  Though Koufax struck him out, Sandy seemed rattled.  The next batter, Fuentes, hit a fly out to deep left field and Koufax then walked Jim Davenport and Willie McCovey bringing Willie Mays to the plate.  Mays was in the midst of a record setting month for the National League in which he would eventually hit 17 homers.  He'd already hit a home run in each of the prior games of the Dodger series; two of them with the Giants trailing by a run and the third with the game tied.  He did it again taking Koufax out with a ball hit over the center field fence for the 491st home run of his career putting the Giants ahead 4-2.

After that Sandy settled down and over the next five innings allowed the Giants only one hit.  In the top of the 9th the Dodgers scored to make it 4-3 and had runners on first and second with only one out but failed to score leaving the series even at 2-2.  Even with the fight, the entire game took only 2 hours and eighteen minutes.

Marichal received what in today's game seems unbelievably light discipline being suspended for eight games (missing two starts) and fined $1,750.  Juan never regained his bearings winning only 3 of seven decisions in the remainder of the season and finishing at 22-13. Koufax took a while to steady himself; in his next three starts he lost twice and had a no-decision but then got back on track winning five of his last six decisions (along with two saves) to finish 26-8 and saving the best for last - in his last three starts the Dodgers only scored 10 runs but Sandy gained complete game victories in all three.  In 27 innings he yielded only eleven hits, eight walks and one run while striking out 38.

The Dodgers won the pennant by two games over the Giants and then went on to win the World Series against the Minnesota Twins with Koufax, on two days rest, pitching a shut out in the seventh game.

Juan Marichal would have more great seasons going 86-36 over the next four years and retiring in 1975 with 243 wins.  John Roseboro remained the regular catcher for the Dodgers until traded to the Minnesota Twins after the 1967 season where he played for two years before ending his career with the Washington Senators in 1970.

It was after their retirements that the next phase of their relationship began, recounted in a 2005 article by Gwen Knapp in SFGate.  For both of them the fight was something that fans would never let them forget.  Roseboro's widow recalled:
"People would come up to us at dinner and say 'Please tell us about the fight with Marichal,' "
At some point in the 1970s the two men met at an Old-Timers game, talked about the fight, shook hands and began a friendship that lasted until Roseboro's death in 2002.  Marichal became eligible for baseball's Hall of Fame in 1980 but was not elected in his first two years on the ballot, a failure attributed by many to voters still disapproving of his conduct in 1965.  John Roseboro decided to help out by making it clear that he forgave Marichal, acknowledging his own responsibility for triggering the fight and, at the invitation of Marichal, taking his family to the Dominican Republic and participating in Juan's charity golf tournament.  Marichal was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1983.

In 2002, Juan Marichal was an honorary pallbearer at Roseboro's funeral and spoke at the service, telling the congregation "I wish I could have had John Roseboro as my catcher."

Sandy Koufax speaking later to the congregation turned to Marichal to say, "You would have loved pitching to John Roseboro."  THC says Roseboro was a big man and not just in size.
Marichal Juan Marichal and Johnny Roseboro on 8/19/05 in . / HO MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SF CHRONICLE/ -MAGS OUT
(Marichal & Roseboro from SFgate)




Friday, August 21, 2015

Property Taxes

Interesting chart from the Tax Foundation showing comparative property tax rates in the 50 states.

The states with the highest rates fall into two categories.

States with high income tax rates:
New Jersey (1)
Illinois (2)
Connecticut (4)
Wisconsin (5)
Nebraska (7)
Michigan (8)
Vermont (9)
Rhode Island (10)

States with no income taxes:
New Hampshire (3) (the state does tax dividends and investment income)
Texas (6)

At least two states with high income taxes have kept property taxes under control due to Constitutional amendments passed in the 1970s and 80s:
Massachusetts (18)
California (34)

Property tax rankings for other states with no income taxes:
South Dakota (16)
Alaska (20)
Washington (23)
Florida (25)
Nevada (30)
Tennessee (38) (the state does tax dividends and investment income)
Wyoming (44)


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pressing My Way

http://www.thecapistranodispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Robert-Randolph-and-The-Family-Band.jpg(From capistranodispatch)

Someone finally put on YouTube my favorite version of my favorite tune from Robert Randolph & The Family Band (for more on Robert and the gang go here).  Recorded live (around 2002) on the closing night of Wetlands, a New York City club.  Pressing My Way is a long song but worth the listen.  Some of the most gorgeous, melodic and funky pedal steel guitar you'll ever hear along with an inspirational message; you won't feel down after listening to anything from this band.  The song starts off ballad like but moves into another gear around 3:20.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Cardinals In The Clutch

Hasn't this been a fun baseball season?  Exciting young ballplayers like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, the trio of Mets pitchers, Harvey, Syndegaard, DeGrom, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs, the Astros' Carlos Correa, Randal Grichuk of the Giants and Manny Machado of the Orioles along with all those relievers throwing 98 mph.

You've got teams that have been down in the dumps now among the best in baseball; the Houston Astros and the Kansas City Royals (who in June 2014 when THC saw them play at home looked like a AAA team).  And in the last month two other downtrodden teams have caught fire - the Cubs and the Mets.

The Pirates aren't leading their division but have a stronger team than the past two years when they've made the playoffs as a wild card team.  Which brings us to the team they are trying to catch - the St Louis Cardinals who have the best record in baseball.  The question is why?  Their lineup is good but not great and they've got decent, but not overwhelming pitching, particularly after losing their ace, Adam Wainwright to an Achilles tendon injury in April.

The Cardinals starters:
http://i.ytimg.com/vi/6qm7wu2jAFE/hqdefault.jpg(John Lackey)
http://isportsweb.com/wp-content/uploads//2015/03/carlos.jpg(Carlos Martinez)
http://www.neontommy.com/sites/default/files/Michael-Wacha.jpg?1382389598(Michael Wacha)
http://www4.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Chicago+Cubs+v+St+Louis+Cardinals+1hwxKvvRzCtl.jpg(Lance Lynn)
http://i.usatoday.net/sports/_photos/2011/07/13/Cardinals-sign-pitcher-Garcia-to-extension-1G7L3DK-x-large.jpg(Jaime Garcia)

Over at Grantland, Ben Lindbergh takes a look at the puzzle and comes to some surprising conclusions.  It's all about the pitching.  The Cards staff has an ERA of 2.60 which as of now would be the lowest in the majors since 1972.  But it's not because they are giving up dramatically fewer hits than their opponents; it's that they are historically good in preventing runners from scoring once they get on base - giving up somewhere between 60 and 85 fewer runs than expected given the number of hits and walks they give up; an enormous differential in baseball terms.

The Cardinals relievers:
http://www3.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Trevor+Rosenthal+Los+Angeles+Dodgers+v+St+add0RSqysgOl.jpg(Trevor Rosenthal)
http://www2.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Kevin+Siegrist+Chicago+Cubs+v+St+Louis+Cardinals+K7fCVepjjo_l.jpg(Kevin Siegrist)
http://www.trbimg.com/img-55477cce/turbine/ct-carlos-villanueva-fits-20150504-001/650/650x366(Carlos Villanueva)

Lindbergh shows that the major league average performance is that with runners on base, OPS (on-base % + slugging) is about 40 points higher with men on base or with runners in scoring position (on 2nd or 3rd).  The Cards pitchers allow an OPS in those situation that is more than 100 points lower than average.  Lindbergh shows us the data and concludes:
With runners in scoring position, St. Louis has allowed fewer hard batted balls, made evident by a lower line drive rate, a higher percentage of popups, and (in part because of the popups) fewer fly balls going over the fence.
And, as Lindbergh notes, the sample size is now huge, more than two thirds of the season so it does not appear to be chance.

The next question is why is their clutch pitching so much better than expected and here Lindbergh poses several possibilities all of which he convincingly rejects for lack of evidence: they're better at inducing doubleplays; they throw harder in the clutch; they optimize pitch selection and location; they hold runners better. 

So, for now, let's just sit back and enjoy an historic performance.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Beatles '65

After the initial frenetic rush of Beatlemania subsided by the fall of 1964 and before the "new era" Beatles were launched with the release of Rubber Soul in December of 1965, the boys concentrated on putting out some classic pop songs.  It was a period when Lennon and McCartney seemed like they could churn this stuff out easily song after song.

In December 1964 the band released Beatles For Sale (but only in the UK) while in the same month Capitol Records released Beatles '65 for the American audience which included only 8 of the 14 songs from the UK release while adding a song from A Hard Day's Night as well as the recent single I Feel Fine/She's A Woman.

In February 1965 the Beatles released Eight Days A Week in the U.S only backed by I Don't Want To Spoil The Party which appeared on Beatles For Sale.

In April came the worldwide release of Ticket To Ride from the upcoming movie Help! with Yes It Is as the B-side.

You can read more about Beatles singles in this post.

In June 1965 Capitol released Beatles VI containing the other six tracks from Beatles For Sale, two songs from the soon to be released movie Help!, two covers (Dizzy Miss Lizzy and Bad Boy) recorded specifically for the American market along with Yes It Is.

Finally in August of that year the soundtrack from Help! was released.

It was during this period that gems like No Reply, I'll Follow The Sun, Every Little Thing, What You're Doing, Help!, You've Got To Hide Your Love Away and You're Going to Lose That Girl were released.

Here are two particular favorites, the B-sides to the two singles.  Below are both followed by a video showing how the gorgeous harmonies were done featuring Galeazzo Frudua, half of Two Guys in a Bar in Bologna featured previously on THC.  Galeazzo gives some interesting background on both tunes.

I Don't Want To Spoil The Party

I don't want to spoil the party so I'll go
I would hate my disappointment to show
There's nothing for me here so I will disappear
If she turns up while I'm gone please let me know

I've had a drink or two and I don't care
There's no fun in what I do if she's not there
I wonder what went wrong I've waited far too long
I think I'll take a walk and look for her


Yes It Is 

Please don't wear red tonight
This is what I said tonight
For red is the color that will make me blue
In spite of you, it's true
Yes it is, it's true
Yes it is

Friday, August 14, 2015

. . . And In Today's News

1.  John Kerry in Havana to celebrate re-opening of American Embassy.  As this AP article notes, the Obama Administration is following its Iran playbook - opponents of the dictatorship are not being invited to the event - which, as AP notes, is "vividly illustrating how U.S. policy is shifting focus to its [Cuba's] single-party government" (and just to reinforce who's the big dog in this new relationship, the Cuban government went out of its way to arrest more opponents last week).   Message from Obama to Cuban dissidents: "you're on your own!".

Which, if you remember, is precisely what Obama did in 2009 when the Green Revolution, opposing the Iranian regime's rigged election, was underway. The Administration went out of its way to avoid supporting the aspirations of the regime's opponents while recognizing and reemphasizing on multiple occasions that it recognized the legitimacy and stability of the regime of the Ayatollahs.  The recent nuclear deal only underscores that the regime's opponents are on their own.

Beginning to unthaw relations with Cuba may have been a good idea in the right circumstances, but doing so while giving the regime carte blanche with nothing in return is appalling.  Just remember if you are tempted to spend your vacation dollars there now that travel is easier that the wages of Cubans employed those business permitted to operate by the regime are not paid by those businesses to their Cuban employees.  They are paid to the state which takes everything above the maximum monthly wage of about $20 a month.

As a reminder here are the Top 5 Reasons We Ended The Cuba Embargo.


2.  Over at National Journal liberal journalist Ron Fournier disassembles Hillary Clinton's explanation of the email fiasco, taking apart the talking points of campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri.  A sample:
"… more than 30,000 emails. In fact, she handed over too many  …"

Whoa, if true. Unfortunately, she didn't hand over enough.
More emails were deleted by Clinton than returned to government archives. Under political and legal pressure, she finally gave the FBI her server this week. Her attorney says it has been wiped clean. How convenient.
One thing Fournier left out was that we know the deleted emails included relevant information since when her advisor Sid Blumenthal turned over to Congress the emails he sent to Hillary to Congress it turned out they were not among the select emails Clinton decided to hand over to the State Department.  By the way, did you know that when she turned over the emails she decided not to delete she did not do so electronically?  There were 55,000 pages of paper copies, a tactic designed to thwart the electronic search of the documents.

In legal terms, what Clinton has done by destroying evidence that she was obligated to preserve is called "spoiliation".  When this is done the legal presumption created is that the fact finder is entitled to conclude that the evidence destroyed was damaging.

On the other hand the good news is that the Chinese and Russians can probably provide us with copies of the missing emails!

But for our Democratic readers don't fear if Hillary's campaign is faltering.  HE is coming to the rescue!
0cb992fda13b996c8a9bf72c12833ea0And if that's not exciting enough, here's news from Buzzfeed: Al Gore is considering getting into the race!
Last night Mickey Kaus tweeted about this photo:
Al Gore no longer looks like Al Gore.  He looks like the container for Al Gore.

3.  Unfortunately for those of you who are R's the news is no better, though it at least remains relatively unchanged:

On one side you've got the Jeb Bush/McConnell/Boehner Axis of Ineffectiveness.

On the other you've got Donald Trump; The Bambino of Bombast/ The Sultan of Swagger/The Colossus of Clownishness/ The Jessie Ventura of 2016 

So the question is whether this is more like:
Clowns to the left of me
Jokers to the right
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you
Trying to make some sense of it all, but I see it makes no sense at all
- Stealers Wheel
Or more like Pappy O’Daniel v Homer Stokes?



Thursday, August 13, 2015

Grant's Book

These Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, written as simply and straight forwardly as his battles were fought, couched in the most unpretentious phrase, with never a touch of grandiosity or attitudinizing, familiar, homely, even common in style, is a great piece of literature, because great literature is nothing more nor less than the clear expression of minds that have something great in them . . . 
- William Dean Howells, author of Silas Lapham and known as "The Dean of American Letters"

Grant's book is memoir not history which needs to be kept in mind when reading it.  It is his version of the events as he wanted them, and himself, to be remembered.  Read as history, one needs to be cautious and cross reference with other materials before judging its accuracy.  Another aspect to keep in mind is that Grant was very ill and in great pain during much of the writing and historians have been able to correlate those portions of the memoirs with the periods when he was experiencing the most pain and most heavily medicated.  The result is that some portions of the book, for instance sections describing parts of the Chattanooga and Overland campaigns, can feel rushed and shorn of detail while others like Grant's account of the Mexican war are more leisurely, full and descriptive.

Chris Mackowski's book alerted THC to something he was not aware of - the specific wording of the book's dedication.  As Mackowksi describes it:
On May 23 [1885], Grant decided to pay them the highest honor he could think of. "These volumes are dedicated to the American soldier and sailor" he wrote in his manuscript.  Fred [his son], perplexed when he saw the addition, suggested his father specify "soldiers of the North."

"It is a great deal better that it should be dedicated as it is", Grant assured him.  "The troops engaged on both sides are yet living.  As it is the dedication is to those we fought against as well as those we fought with.  It may serve a purpose in restoring harmony."
While THC certainly enjoys the campaign narrative what he finds himself reading and rereading again over time over the portions where Grant spends some time to reveal himself and his views of matters.  It is there that his prose shines and the clarity of his writing is revealed.

What follows are some excerpts to give you a feel for the book (with apologies for the formatting inconsistencies):

On The Mexican War 

Generally the officers of the army were indifferent whether the annexation was
consummated or not; but not so all of them.  For myself, I was bitterly opposed
to the measure, and to this day regard the war, which resulted, as one of the most
unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. 
 
The occupation, separation and annexation [of Texas] were, from the inception of the
movement to its final consummation, a conspiracy to acquire territory out of which
slave states might be formed for the American Union.

Even if the annexation itself could be justified, the manner in which the subsequent war 
was forced upon Mexico cannot.  The fact is, annexationists wanted more territory than
they could possibly lay any claim to, as part of the new acquisition. Texas, as an
independent State, never had exercised jurisdiction over the territory between the
Nueces River and the Rio Grande.
 
It is to the credit of the American nation, however, that after conquering Mexico, and
while practically holding the country in our possession, so that we could have
retained the whole of it, or made any terms we chose, we paid a round sum for the
additional territory taken; more than it was worth, or was likely to be, to Mexico.
To us it was an empire and of incalculable value; but it might have been obtained by
other means.  The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. 
Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions.  We got our
punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times.
 
Under Spanish rule Mexico was prohibited from producing anything that the 
mother-country could supply.  This rule excluded the cultivation of the grape, 
olive and many other articles to which the soil and climate were well adapted. 
The country was governed for "revenue only;" and tobacco, which cannot be raised
in Spain, but is indigenous to Mexico,offered a fine instrumentality for securing this
prime object of government.  The native population had been in the habit of using
"the weed" from a period, back of any recorded history of this continent. Bad habits
--if not restrained by law or public opinion--spread more rapidly and universally
 than good ones, and the Spanish colonists adopted the use of tobacco almost as
generally as the natives.
 
The war had begun. . . 
There were no possible means of obtaining news from the garrison, and information 
from outside could not be otherwise than unfavorable.  What General Taylor's feelings
were during this suspense I do not know; but for myself, a young second-lieutenant
who had never heard a hostile gun before, I felt sorry that I had enlisted.  A great 
many men, when they smell battle afar off, chafe to get into the fray.  When they say so
themselves they generally fail to convince their hearers that they are as anxious as
they would like to make believe, and as they approach danger they become more
subdued.  This rule is not universal, for I have known a few men who were always
aching for a fight when there was no enemy near, who were as good as their word
when the battle did come. But the number of such men is small. 
The Mexicans have shown a patriotism which it would be well if we would imitate in
part, but with more regard to truth.  They celebrate the anniversaries of Chapultepec
and Molino del Rey as of very great victories.  The anniversaries are recognized as 
national holidays.  At these two battles, while the United States troops were victorious,
it was at very great sacrifice of life compared with what the Mexicans suffered.  The
Mexicans, as on many other occasions, stood up as well as any troops ever did. 
The trouble seemed to be the lack of experience among the officers, which led them
after a certain time to simply quit, without being particularly whipped, but because
they had fought enough.

 
On General Zachary Taylor (a clear role model for Grant)

If he had thought that he was sent to perform an impossibility with the means given him,
he would probably have informed the authorities of his opinion and left them to
determine what should be done.  If the judgment was against him he would have gone
on and done the best he could with the means at hand without parading his grievance
before the public.  No soldier could face either danger or responsibility more calmly than he. 
These are qualities more rarely found than genius or physical courage.

General Taylor never made any great show or parade, either of uniform or retinue. 
In dress he was possibly too plain, rarely wearing anything in the field to indicate his rank,
or even that he was an officer; but he was known to every soldier in his army, and was 
respected by all.
 
I had now been in battle with the two leading commanders conducting armies in a foreign
land.  The contrast between the two was very marked. General Taylor never wore uniform,
but dressed himself entirely for comfort.  He moved about the field in which he was 
operating to see through his own eyes the situation.  Often he would be without staff
officers, and when he was accompanied by them there was no prescribed order in which 
they followed.  He was very much given to sit his horse side-ways--with both feet on 
one side--particularly on the battlefield. General Scott was the reverse in all these
particulars.  He always wore all the uniform prescribed or allowed by law when he 
inspected his lines; word would be sent to all division and brigade commanders in
advance, notifying them of the hour when the commanding general might be expected. 
This was done so that all the army might be under arms to salute their chief as he passed.
On these occasions he wore his dress uniform, cocked hat, aiguillettes, sabre and spurs. 
His staff proper, besides all officers constructively on his staff--engineers, inspectors,
quartermasters, etc., that could be spared--followed, also in uniform and in prescribed
order.  Orders were prepared with great care and evidently with the view that they 
should be a history of what followed.

In their modes of expressing thought, these two generals contrasted quite as strongly
as in their other characteristics.  General Scott was precise in language, cultivated a 
style peculiarly his own; was proud of his rhetoric; not averse to speaking of himself,
often in the third person, and he could bestow praise upon the person he was talking
about without the least embarrassment.  Taylor was not a conversationalist, but on paper 
he could put his meaning so plainly that there could be no mistaking it.  He knew how
to express what he wanted to say in the fewest well-chosen words, but would not sacrifice
meaning to the construction of high-sounding sentences.  But with their opposite
characteristics both were great and successful soldiers; both were true, patriotic and 
upright in all their dealings.  Both were pleasant to serve under--Taylor was pleasant to
serve with.  Scott saw more through the eyes of his staff officers than through his own. 
His plans were deliberately prepared, and fully expressed in orders.  Taylor saw for
himself, and gave orders to meet the emergency without reference to how they would
read in history. 
 
 
On Fearing the Enemy (his first command during the Civil War in 1861)
 
The place where Harris had been encamped a few days before was still there and the 
marks of a recent encampment were plainly visible, but the troops were gone.  My
heart resumed its place.  It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much
afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken
before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards.  From that event to the close of the
war, I never experienced trepidation upon confronting an enemy, though I always felt
more or less anxiety.  I never forgot that he had as much reason to fear my forces as
I had his.  The lesson was valuable. 


On The Relationship Between Grant & Lincoln

August 1, 1864, 11.30 A.M.
MAJOR-GENERAL HALLECK, Washington D. C.

I am sending General Sheridan for temporary duty whilst the enemy is being expelled from the border. Unless General Hunter is in the field in person, I want Sheridan put in command of all the troops in the field, with instructions to put himself south of the enemy and follow him to the death. Wherever the enemy goes let our troops go also. Once started up the valley they ought to be followed until we get possession of the Virginia Central Railroad. If General Hunter is in the field, give Sheridan direct command of the 6th corps and cavalry division. All the cavalry, I presume, will reach Washington in the course of to-morrow.

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
The President in some way or other got to see this dispatch of mine directing certain instructions to be given to the commanders in the field, operating against Early, and sent me the following very characteristic dispatch:
OFFICE U. S. MILITARY TELEGRAPH, WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D. C.,
August 3, 1864.
Cypher. 6 P.M.,
LT. GENERAL GRANT, City Point, Va.

I have seen your despatch in which you say, "I want Sheridan put in command of all the troops in the field, with instructions to put himself south of the enemy, and follow him to the death. Wherever the enemy goes, let our troops go also." This, I think, is exactly right, as to how our forces should move. But please look over the despatches you may have received from here, even since you made that order, and discover, if you can, that there is any idea in the head of any one here, of "putting our army south of the enemy," or of "following him to the death" in any direction. I repeat to you it will neither be done nor attempted unless you watch it every day, and hour, and force it.
A. LINCOLN.
I replied to this that "I would start in two hours for Washington," and soon got off, going directly to the Monocacy without stopping at Washington on my way. I found General Hunter's army encamped there, scattered over the fields along the banks of the Monocacy, with many hundreds of cars and locomotives, belonging to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which he had taken the precaution to bring back and collect at that point. I asked the general where the enemy was. He replied that he did not know. He said the fact was, that he was so embarrassed with orders from Washington moving him first to the right and then to the left that he had lost all trace of the enemy.
I then told the general that I would find out where the enemy was, and at once ordered steam got up and trains made up, giving directions to push for Halltown, some four miles above Harper's Ferry, in the Shenandoah Valley. The cavalry and the wagon trains were to march, but all the troops that could be transported by the cars were to go in that way. I knew that the valley was of such importance to the enemy that, no matter how much he was scattered at that time, he would in a very short time be found in front of our troops moving south . . .
I then wrote out General Hunter's instructions. 

It would be impossible for me to describe the feeling that overcame me at the news of these assassinations, more especially the assassination of the President. I knew his goodness of heart, his generosity, his yielding disposition, his desire to have everybody happy, and above all his desire to see all the people of the United States enter again upon the full privileges of citizenship with equality among all. I knew also the feeling that Mr. Johnson had expressed in speeches and conversation against the Southern people, and I feared that his course towards them would be such as to repel, and make them unwilling citizens; and if they became such they would remain so for a long while. I felt that reconstruction had been set back, no telling how far.
 
 
On The Causes of the Civil War 
 
The cause of the great War of the Rebellion against the United States will have to be
attributed to slavery.  For some years before the war began it was a trite saying among
some politicians that "A state half slave and half free cannot exist."  All must become 
slave or all free, or the state will go down.  I took no part myself in any such view of
the case at the time, but since the war is over, reviewing the whole question, I have
come to the conclusion that the saying is quite true.

Slavery was an institution that required unusual guarantees for its security wherever it existed; and in a country like ours where the larger portion of it was free territory inhabited by an intelligent and well-to-do population, the people would naturally have but little sympathy with demands upon them for its protection. Hence the people of the South were dependent upon keeping control of the general government to secure the perpetuation of their favorite institution. They were enabled to maintain this control long after the States where slavery existed had ceased to have the controlling power, through the assistance they received from odd men here and there throughout the Northern States. They saw their power waning, and this led them to encroach upon the prerogatives and independence of the Northern States by enacting such laws as the Fugitive Slave Law. By this law every Northern man was obliged, when properly summoned, to turn out and help apprehend the runaway slave of a Southern man. Northern marshals became slave-catchers, and Northern courts had to contribute to the support and protection of the institution.

This was a degradation which the North would not permit any longer than until they could get the power to expunge such laws from the statute books. Prior to the time of these encroachments the great majority of the people of the North had no particular quarrel with slavery, so long as they were not forced to have it themselves. But they were not willing to play the role of police for the South in the protection of this particular institution.

I would not have the anniversaries of our victories celebrated, nor those of our defeats
made fast days and spent in humiliation and prayer; but I would like to see truthful
history written. Such history will do full credit to the courage, endurance and soldierly
ability of the American citizen, no matter what section of the country he hailed from,
or in what ranks he fought.  The justice of the cause which in the end prevailed, will,
I doubt not, come to be acknowledged by every citizen of the land, in time.  For the 
present, and so long as there are living witnesses of the great war of sections, there
will be people who will not be consoled for the loss of a cause which they believed 
to be holy. As time passes, people, even of the South, will begin to wonder how it
was possible that their ancestors ever fought for or justified institutions which
acknowledged the right of property in man. 

 


 
 



Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ulysses Grant Finishes His Book

http://i.imgur.com/DDdlYSl.jpg(Grant, Mt McGregor Cottage near Saratoga, NY, June 27, 1885)
My family is American, and has been for generations, in all its branches, direct and collateral.
- first sentence of Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant
"Man proposes and God disposes"
- Preface to Personal Memoirs; written by U.S. Grant, July 1, 1885
The fact is that I am a verb instead of a personal pronoun.  A verb is any thing that signifies to be, to do, or to suffer.  I signify all three.
 - U.S. Grant, handwritten note, July 1885 
On July 20, 1885 Ulysses S Grant laid down his pencil and quietly murmured that there was nothing more to do.  It was his last campaign.  Like his other great campaigns, Vicksburg (December 1862-July 1863) and the Overland (May 1864-April 1865) it had been long, arduous, marred by occasional setbacks but nonetheless achieving its goals and ending in triumph due to its commander's unflagging persistence.  Grant's objective at the start of the campaign in the summer of 1884 had been to provide his family with financial stability after learning that the man he had trusted with his financial future was a con artist and had left he and his family financially ruined and being diagnosed with the terminal throat cancer that would slowly, and painfully, kill him the following year.  The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant sold more copies than any non-fiction book in America during the 19th century other than the Bible, providing his family with financial security and continuously remaining in print for the past 130 years.  It was a triumph dearly purchased as Grant died three days after its completion.

This post was originally going to focus on the contents of the memoirs with a little background on the writing of the book but instead THC's next post will be on the book itself.  With the recent publication of Grant's Last Battle by Chris Mackowski, a brief (127 pages with plenty of photos), lively and touching account of the general's last year we'll first talk about that final campaign using Mackowski's book as a primary source and one THC highly recommends you read.
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51tcoY0UUaL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg(Cover photo taken on day Grant completed his book)

After completing two terms as President in March 1877, Grant and his wife embarked on a world tour during which he was treated as a celebrity everywhere he visited.  Settling in New York City upon his return he began efforts to support his family.  At the time former Presidents did not receive a pension and the general had given up his military pension in order to become President.  His efforts appeared to pay off through his partnership in an investment firm with young financial wizard Ferdinand Ward.  Using Grant's name to raise funds and Ward's investment acumen the firm had great success and Grant and his family prospered.  The problem was that while Grant was the "face" of the firm he had no financial acumen himself, having failed in every other business venture before the Civil War and prior to meeting Ward.  Unfortunately, Ward was running a Ponzi scheme using funds from new investors to pay fabulous returns to older investors.  Think of him as the Bernie Madoff of the 1880s.

It all blew up in early May 1884.  Grant thought he was worth a million dollars; he was actually worth nothing and his adult children lost most of their net worth.  This is how bad it was: in the days before the collapse of the firm, Grant had solicited a $150,000 investment from William Vanderbilt, son of Cornelius Vanderbilt and one of the wealthiest men in America.  When news of the fraud spread, Vanderbilt offered to forgive the debt but Grant refused, offering instead the deed on his luxurious brownstone mansion in Manhattan.  It was only at this point that Grant discovered that Ward, to whom he delegated the handling of his personal finances, had mortgaged the property! Ward eventually served six years in Sing Sing prison and became known as "the best- hated man in the United States".

Although Vanderbilt paid off the mortgage and tried to forgive the debt Grant adamantly refused as a matter of honor until Vanderbilt agreed to take Grant's memorabilia from his Presidency and world tour in payment.  Once the agreement was reached, Vanderbilt promptly notified the Grant family that:
All articles of historical value and interest, shall at the General's death, or if you desire it, sooner, be presented to the government at Washington, where they will remain as perpetual memorials of his fame, and the history of his time.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ce/William_H_Vanderbilt.jpg(Vanderbilt from wikipedia)

To survive the Grants sold their properties in Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia as well as the general's home in Galena, Illinois and his wife's family estate in Missouri.

What happened next showed the high regard many former soldiers and many citizens held for the general.  Donations began to come in from the public, sometimes a dollar or five dollars, sometimes more.  Mackowski tells of Charles Wood of Lansingburgh, New York who sent $500 with a note reading "My share due for services ending about April 1865".   The contributions (he turned some substantial ones down) and reception he received from veterans everywhere overwhelmed Grant.  Wood eventually sent another $1,000 and over Wood's protests Grant repaid it before his death with the proceeds from magazine articles he'd written.  Wood donated Grant's payment to charity.

Before this crisis Grant rebuffed all proposals to write his memoirs.  Now the situation was different and he began writing some articles for Century Magazine while commencing a longer narrative and beginning contract negotiations with the magazine's publisher.  By the summer Grant was writing several hours a day, six days a week, assisted in the editing and organization of source documents by his eldest son and another aide.

While he wrote that summer, the general, who smoked twenty cigars daily, was increasingly nagged by a sore and sometimes very painful throat; swallowing water would sometimes "burn like fire".  Finally, in late October he saw a doctor; the diagnosis was swift - advanced throat cancer, usually fatal.  To the financial pressure to complete the memoir was added the element of time - could it be completed before Grant died?
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Mark_Twain,_Brady-Handy_photo_portrait,_Feb_7,_1871,_cropped.jpg(Twain from wikipedia)

On November 19, 1884 Grant and his son Fred were in the library of their home in New York City about to sign the contract with Century Magazine for the memoir.  There was a third person in the room, Mark Twain, who had become a good friend of the general during the past few years.  Twain, a publisher as well as author, had some acquaintance with the terms proposed by Century and asked Fred to read him the terms of the contract.  After listening, Twain announced he would provide much better terms to publish the book.  Grant resisted at first citing his long negotiations and that he did not want to be considered "a robber of a publisher" but at Fred's urging he decided not to sign the Century contract and consider a proposal from Twain.  Although the contract with Twain was not signed until February 1885 it was so much more favorable financially to Grant that it would eventually provide more than ten times the amount the family would have received from Century.

Even then, Grant refused the $50,000 advance offered by Twain, accepting only a $1,000 signing bonus prompting Twain to write:
It was a shameful thing that man who had saved his country and its government from destruction should still be in a position where so small a sum - $1,000 - could be looked upon as a godsend.
The accumulated weight of the financial pressure (and even more so the personal embarrassment of the fraud itself) along with the cancer diagnosis took its toll and by early December, Grant was in a state of depression and doing little writing.  One of his aides wrote of watching him sit silently in his chair for hours that "It was like a man gazing into his open grave".  But as always before, Grant began to pull himself together as he grimly determined to complete his task.

His spirits were boosted by a visit at Christmastime by his great friend William Tecumseh Sherman.  The close bond they established during the war had last into peacetime.  As Sherman remarked:
Grant stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk, and now we stand by each other.
As the new year dawned, the general was in increasing pain but was back writing feverishly, sometimes up to 10,000 words a day.  It now seemed the book would be completed and Twain was astonished at the quality of the writing, remarking that very few sentences required editing in any way.

Another demonstration of respect for Grant came from the U.S. Congress, probably encouraged by news of the generak's cancer finally reaching the public at the beginning of March, which triggered another avalanche of public attention and letters to the Grant family.  As far back as 1881, former Confederate General Joseph E Johnston, now a congressman, introduced a bill to restore Grant's military pension ($20,000 a year, a huge sum in those days) which had failed.  Now in the waning hours of the Congressional session and just before the inauguration of President Grover Cleveland another bipartisan effort was being made.  In the rush of business it was difficult but on March 2 the House passed the bill and on March 3, after a Senate clerk moved the clock back twenty minutes, the Senate passed the bill just before official adjournment at noon and after his delayed inauguration which had been scheduled for noon President Cleveland signed it as one of the first acts of his administration.

Among those leading the effort was another former Confederate General, Raleigh Colston who wrote Grant that he would:
be gratified to know that those whom he treated generously in the day of their sorrow remember him gratefully in his hour of tribulation.
Grant suffered a medical crisis in late March which reporters were told he might not survive but once again he bounced back.

On June 16 in order to escape the summer heat in New York City he and his family took a train north, eventually arriving at a cottage on Mt McGregor, recently purchased by the industrialist Joseph Drexel who offered it to the family, about nine miles from Saratoga, New York at the southern end of the Adirondacks.  Before leaving, there was one last tribute.  On May 30 the route of New York's Decoration Day parade was diverted to pass Grant's house on East 66th Street.  As the veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic neared, Grant pulled himself up from his chair and slowly moved to the window.  Mackowski writes of that moment:
Grant "slowly and painfully" raised his hand in salute.  A hush fell over the crowed.  The army passed.  Grant watched them go, knowing he was soon leaving them.
By the time he reached the cottage, the general's voice was gone and in the remaining weeks he was reduced to speaking in a soft whisper.  That is when he began communicating by note, including the quote used in the opening of this post.  In those weeks he was doing some final writing (including the preface, the start of which is quoted above) and reviewing and editing galley proofs.  One of his notes regarding the revisions reads:
I have been writing up my views of some of our generals, and of the character of Lincoln & Stanton.  I do not place Stanton as high as some people do.  Mr Lincoln cannot be extolled too highly.
http://www.aboutfamouspeople.com/images/grant002.jpg(Grant cottage, from aboutfamouspeople)
 
As news spread of Grant's new residence visitors began to swarm the area.  Sam Willett, an Army of the Potomac veteran, who had enlisted in 1863 at the age of 45 and who lived in Albany, appointed himself guard for the Grant's and with their approval set up an old army tent near the cottage, put on his old uniform kept the tourists moving along.  Grant's grandchildren often played in his tent.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PbxPuKp1vbA/VKcGoR6Gu5I/AAAAAAAAG7g/Yr37iTxDTT0/s1600/SamWillett.jpgWillett from thehuntforhenrietta)
 
But many visitors did make it in to see Grant.  Twain was there in late June and reported "The old soldier battling with a deadly disease yet bravely completing his tasks, was a figure at once so pathetic and so noble . . . "

Another visitor was Simon Bolivar Buckner an old army friend who, when Grant left the army in 1854 loaned him the money to return to Illinois.  In 1862 they found themselves on opposite sides when Buckner accepted Grant's terms of unconditional surrender at Ft Donelson.  Grant gave Buckner money to help him during his time as prisoner.

On July 9 it was the turn of Charles Wood, who made the large donations to Grant in 1884.  According to Warren F Broderick's article "I owe you this for Appomattox": U.S. Grant's Mystery Visitor at Mount McGregor, Wood was a brush factory owner who did not serve in the Civil War but had two brothers who had, one of them dying in the war.  Wood lunched with the Grant family and the general gave him several notes reading:
I am very sorry that I am unable to converse even in a whisper.  I am reclining in bed as long as it rests me this morning, because yesterday I had a very trying day.  My worst hours, most painful ones, are from 4 to 7 in the afternoon.  Yesterday we had a number of particular friends call and stay through those hours.  I had to converse incessantly with my pencil.

About the close the Mexican editors called in a body and delivered a speech in Spanish that had to be translated and spoken in English.  I replied.  My speech was read in English, then translated and spoken in Spanish.  Then there was a second speech and reply.  By this time I was nearly exhausted.  I am badly off this minute, because the doctor has been dressing my mouth, and that is always painful.

I feel very thankful for the kindness you did me last summer.  I am glad to say that while there is much unblushing wickedness in the world there is a compensating grandeur of soul.  In my case, I have not found republics are ungrateful, nor are the people.
It is hard even at this distance to read of Grant's pain and suffering in his last months but it makes his determination all the more remarkable and the quality of his writing astonishing.  His self-effacement lasted until the end.  As he lay dying in his bed underneath a portrait of Abraham Lincoln hanging above him one of his last whispered remarks was "I don't want anybody to feel distressed on my account".

Grant's funeral procession on August 8 in New York City was witnessed by more than one million people.  There were 60,000 participants in the march, the New York Times reporting:
As far as the eye could measure the avenue were massed the regiments in their brilliant uniforms their guns glistening in the sun, their colors draped, and their slow steps keeping time to the music of many dirges for the dead.
 President Grant's funeral procession(funeral process from pbs)

President Cleveland placed one of Grant's favorite corps commanders, Winfield Scott Hancock in charge of the proceedings. Among the honorary pallbearers were two Confederate generals, Simon Buckner and Joseph E Johnston.

Joseph Drexel offered the Mt McGregor cottage to the Federal government which refused it.  He then turned to the veterans organization, the Grand Army of the Republic which raised funds and kept it open until it became a New York state park.

The first volume of Grant's Memoirs, covering his life from childhood through the Vicksburg campaign, came out on December 1, 1885 and the second volume on May 10, 1886.