Saturday 27 April 2019

Pete Buttigieg - Manufactured U.S. Presidential Candidate

I think that I have something of a head-start over others, including many Americans, so far as the Democratic presidential aspirant Pete Buttigieg is concerned. As one who takes note of a wide range of figures on what is termed the ‘alternative media’, I am quite familiar with the philosophy and the views of E. Michael Jones, a Catholic conservative, who is a long-term resident of South Bend Indiana, which is Buttigeig’s hometown.

Jones has been absolutely scathing about Buttigieg’s persona, as well as his record as mayor. And even if one removes the fact that Buttigieg’s homosexuality is a central reason for Jones’ hostility, there is a coalescence of analysis between the right-wing Jones and the left-wing humourist Jimmy Dore, who is an astute commentator on America’s domestic politics as well as on geopolitical issues.

To Dore, Buttigieg’s image of a down-to-earth, sleeves-rolled-up operator is one sign of a guy who is “trying too hard”. In fact, noted Dore in a recent episode of his youtube show, “he’s trying too hard to make it look like he’s not trying.” But while Dore’s analysis is based on what he can garner from Buttigieg’s performance in the media now that he is in the national spotlight, Jones has over the last few years incessantly spoken in detail about Buttegieg’s record as mayor, during which time he has succeeded in alienating large sections of the population of South Bend.

Buttigieg’s formula of “practical leadership guided by progressive values” has been subjected to devastating criticism by those familiar with his 9-year mayoral record in South Bend.

One example relates to Buttigieg’s decision to phase out the city’s trash collecting regime for cost-cutting purposes. Previously, a two-man team would drive down residential alleys to retrieve refuse bins, but the new design trucks cannot fit through most alleys which means that residents have to put out their garbage in the front of their homes, a situation which has led to bouts of odour infestation and a ‘rough’ looking appearance on collection days. Buttigieg’s decision was not a practical one, given the lack of diligence in researching the replacement trucks. And although more modern in appearance and facility, the laying off of many refuse collectors -many of whom were from minority backgrounds- added to the city’s unemployment figures.  

Buttigieg’s decision to sack South Bend’s popular black police chief Darryl Boykins, is also viewed as a disastrous move. It was a move which he has admitted was his “first serious mistake as mayor”. His claims to have been “troubled” by Barack Obama’s clemency for Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning, who exposed US war crimes, as well as his praise of Israeli security measures as being “moving” and “clear-eyed”, despite the fact that he was on a visit to the country last May when Israeli Defence Force snipers were shooting unarmed Palestinian protesters, do little to convince observers that he can genuinely be called a progressive. Indeed, there is little of the vocabulary or deeds associated with progressive politics in Buttigieg such as relates to social justice and employee rights.

Buttigeig has also been called out for his tendency to narcissism. A measure of his self-obsessed persona can be garnered from the fact that his book Shortest Way Home devoted more words to his recollection of his playing piano on “Rhapsody in Blue” with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra than on the issue of social poverty.

The marketing of American political aspirants has become more sophisticated from the time when strategizing his son John’s campaign for the White House, Joe Kennedy Snr. said “we’re going to sell Jack like soap flakes”. Becoming president not only involves utilising the modern innovations of Madison Avenue, it also entails brokering deals with the establishment who have ensured that whoever is elected as the latest saviour of the nation is nonetheless a captive of their overarching policies. No objective observer, for instance, can fail to note the fundamental continuum by Donald Trump of a foreign policy followed by Barack Obama who carried on from where George W. Bush left off.

To get straight to the point: ‘Mayor Pete’ is a creature of the oligarchs; a so-called ‘progressive’ who is really a hardline conservative on many issues. A man who is being moulded and sold to America by a number of the people who were behind the meteoric rise of a certain senator named Barack Obama.

It will be useful to bear this in mind were Pete Buttigieg to defy the odds by becoming president of the United States.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2019)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Thursday 25 April 2019

Book Review: "Ace Hudkins: Boxing With The Nebraska Wildcat"

Hudkins depicted in a cartoon by the Montana Standard of May 5th 1929.

Ace Hudkins possessed a nickname as befitting of the personal style of any fighter in boxing history.

Consider this excerpt from a newspaper clipping culled from Hudkins’ scrapbook by his biographer:

Ace Hudkins is a showman as well as a fighter.
The tow-head from Nebraska always leaps and
Jumps to his corner after every round. He wears a
Cap turned sideways on his head into the ring -
Showmanship and nothing less.

The sobriquet ‘Wildcat’ summed up his persona inside the ring. One boxing writer even opined that had Hudkins been born a few decades earlier, he would have been a “killer simple and pure”: a gunslinger in the mould of Billy the Kid. Journalistic hyperbole perhaps, but his roughness contributed to his being barred from fighting in New York State by its boxing commissioner.

An often restless and gregarious adventure seeker, Hudkins took well to the challenges offered by the life of a boxer. The blood and guts drama of pugilism along with the frequently peripatetic existence that being a fighter entailed fulfilled his nature-given urges and seeming boundless reserves of energy.

But he was also family-orientated (his brothers Art and Clyde managed him), an aspect which contributed to his ability to deal with the highs and lows of an industry with a copious supply of shysters and leeches.

Born Asa Hudkins in the state of Nebraska in 1905, he entered the professional ranks in 1922 and over the course of a decade fought from the lightweight division through to light heavyweight, and though never winning a world title, acquitted himself well against some of the best boxers of his era.

He was never knocked out.

In Boxing With The Nebraska Wildcat we find Hudkins’ name entwined with those of Lew Tendler, Ruby Goldstein, and Mickey Walker. Each encounter provided evidence of Hudkins’ true pedigree. He scored two points victories over Tendler, a man widely considered to have been one of the best boxers never to have won a world title. His knockout defeat of Goldstein, a talented and very popular fighter known as “The Jewel of the Ghetto”, was a stunning upset which one writer described as “the fight that broke the Jewish banks.” At the time of their meeting, Goldstein had not tasted defeat in his 23-fight career. And his first fight against Mickey Walker was acknowledged at the time to have been unjustly awarded to Walker. “Just another robbery in Chicago” recorded the Lincoln State Journal the day after the referee’s score in favour of Hudkins was obviated by those provided by the two Chicago businessmen who served as ringside judges.

Hudkins was as rough as they came (his bout with Sammy Baker is considered “the bloodiest fight ever seen”), and he ruefully noted the perceptions of some that he was a “foul fighter” so much so that he was considered “too uncouth for New York”. But what he lacked in ring science, Hudkins made up with tenacity and an acumen for inside-fighting. His penchant for brawling, what some today would refer to as ‘Mexican Style’, was not solely due to a natural inclination towards bravado, it was a marketing tool designed because as he acknowledged, it was fighters of this ilk who, in his words, “attract the dough to the box office”. It paid off, because Hudkins reputedly became one of the biggest draws in southern California during the 1920s.

In his prime, Hudkins was written of by the likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs, he sparred with Rudolph Valentino and was friendly with Charles Lindbergh who lived two blocks away in Lincoln when Lindbergh started his flight training in the early 1920s.

Kristine Sader, the great-niece of Hudkins, has consulted many sources including family scrap books and oral history to put together a fascinating document on the life of one of boxing’s neglected characters.

The book is not set out in the form of a conventional biography and instead functions as an elaborate continuum of the multiple scrapbooks created after his career by Hudkins’ partner. It is an assemblage of rare photographs, reproductions of newspaper articles and author text, which not only provides insight into Hudkins the man, but also fits him within the times in which he lived.

It is a heart-warming portrait of a fearless pugilist and is highly recommended to a general readership.

Ace Hudkins: Boxing With The Nebraska Wildcat by Kristine Sader
Self-Published, $25, 290 pages, Paperback, 978-1732852907.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2019)

Adeyinka Makinde is the author of Dick Tiger: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal and Jersey Boy: The Life and Mob Slaying of Frankie DePaula. He is also a contributor to the recently released Cambridge Companion to Boxing.

Monday 15 April 2019

Far From the Cruel Sea: British Destroyer HMS Fife Visits the Nigerian Navy in April 1970

Rear Admiral Joseph Wey in conversation with Captain William David Scott in Wey’s office at Naval Headquarters in Lagos.

There has always been two sides to the depiction of the careers of sailors. The press-ganged, scurvy-enduring man-on-deck who braved the elements and partook in merciless warfare on the high-seas is as imprinted in the popular imagination as is that of the adventure-seeking, hard-drinking sailor who had a girl in every port.

One side of the coin is the gritty realism of war as portrayed in Nicholas Monsarrat’s 1951 novel The Cruel Sea, which was made into a memorable film a few years later. During war there are endless drills, hours of enforced silence in darkness and the constant fear of death within a floating coffin.

But the other side, that of the peacetime navy, is one which can be a very attractive one for both officers and men. The “Run ashores” and “Rum Tots” bear testament to the arcane rites that are part of naval life as well as the rich lexicon of expression.

For Captain William David Scott, the command of HMS Fife, a 6,000-ton county-class destroyer equipped with guided missiles and Wessex helicopter, there were many responsibilities and challenges in a peacetime navy which operated as an integral part of NATO during the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

The vessel was designed to operate in areas of nuclear fall-out. Its three main roles were to serve as an escort, to provide task unit support and to carry out peace time police duties.

But the compensations in observing these duties and remaining in a state of preparedness spoke for themselves. Among the destinations visited by Captain Scott and his 500-man crew during a round-the-world tour between 1970 and 1971 were Hawaii, Singapore, Nigeria, Japan and Hong Kong.

HMS Fife visited Lagos, Nigeria for four days in April, 1970. Nigeria, a former colony of Britain, had been independent for a decade, but had endured a two and a half year civil war that had only ended three months earlier.

Among the visitors to the ship was Rear Admiral Joseph Wey, the Chief of Nigerian Naval Staff who had presided over the Nigerian Navy’s role in enforcing a littoral blockade of the secessionist state of Biafra. Scott gave him a tour of the ship and Wey later entertained him on shore at the naval base. Some of Fife’s crew partook in a football friendly with Nigerian naval personnel.

Fife holds the distinction of being the last Royal Navy ship to issue the rum tot. Photographs of the funeral of the rum tot barrel and others covering Scott’s naval career can be viewed at Maritime Quest dot com. [Click HERE]


HMS Fife was decommissioned in 1987 after 21 years service and sold to the Chilean Navy in which it operated under the name Blanco Encalada. Captain Scott, who was later knighted, retired as a rear admiral. Rear Admiral Wey, who also served as the Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters in Nigeria’s military government was compulsorily retired after a military coup in July 1975, having attained the rank of vice admiral.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2019)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Monday 8 April 2019

Anti-Russia Nuclear First Strike? Poland would need a "Demographic Precaution" Plan

General Waldemar Skrzypczak (rtd)

In a recent interview in the Polish media, retired General Waldemar Skrzypczak spoke of the possibility of NATO launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Russian Federation. His remarks not only serve to remind of the danger of a thermonuclear war between the world’s nuclear powers in the new era ‘Cold War’ -an issue which is disturbingly underplayed in the public discourse on global security- they should also serve to concentrate the minds of the Polish people on the question of the survival of their nation in the event of a nuclear armageddon.

Wlademar Skrzypczak’s comments recorded by the media conglomerate Wirtualna Polska speak of the hardline, anti-Russian attitude of many influential establishment figures in former Eastern Bloc nations who have welcomed NATO’s eastward expansion towards Russia’s borders, as well as the deployment of innovative weaponry such as missile shields.

But the idea of a nuclear ‘First Strike’ has perilous implications for Poland.

It was always understood at the time of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War that Poland would be wiped off the map in the event of a nuclear war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The same can be argued today if a war of similar magnitude developed between NATO and the Russian Federation.

Skrzypczak’s thinking is reminiscent of the dangerous expositions of Herman Kahn who believed in a “First Strike” doctrine and a winnable nuclear war. Yet, if he is truly serious about this, he may have to bear in mind the ‘Demographic Precaution Plan’ suggested by Tadeusz Tuczapski, a senior Polish general during the Cold War. The plan provided that Poland could only be preserved by building a special bunker housing a hundred men and two hundred women who would form the germ of a reconstituted Polish nation after a nuclear holocaust.

Tuczapski, who like many of his counterparts was alarmed at the prospect of Poland having to bear the brunt of a nuclear attack, outlined his theory to Polish leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski at a training briefing in the General Staff:

I stood up and told Jaruzelski, “General, more should be given to Civil Defence so that a good, solid bunker could be built, lock up in that bunker a hundred Polish men, some sort of real good fuckers and two hundred women so that we can rebuild the Polish nation. Give some money for that.”

Jaruzelski was apparently offended either by what he perceived as Tuczapski’s flipancy or the tastefulness of his remarks. Perhaps both. But Tuczapski felt that he was being a realist. Many senior Polish generals were worried that Poland would not survive even a limited exchange of nuclear weapons in a conflict which was often envisaged would start off with conventional battles that were certain to inflict great damage on Poland’s civil and military infrastructure.

Whatever the shortcomings may be of her internal administration, the narrative of Russian aggression does not stand up to objective scrutiny. Indeed, what may be termed as ‘aggression’ has come from the West: NATO’s eastward expansion in breach of agreements reached between the leaders of America and the Soviet Union as a condition of the reunification of Germany, the abrogation by the United States of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces regime, and the deployment of a missile shield system.

Conflicts involving the Russian armed forces near and at a distance from its borders can be persuasively argued to have been reactive rather than proactive in nature: the response to Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the absorption of Crimea in response to the U.S.-backed coup in Kiev which threatened Russia’s security interests in the Black Sea, and the NATO-supported infiltration into Syria by Islamist militias which mirrored covert US support for Chechen Jihadists.

Remarks of the sort made by Skrzypczak were rare during the U.S.-Soviet Cold War because leaders on both sides were careful to seek to diffuse tensions and not intensify them. It is time for the leaders of Poland, the Baltic nations and others to begin speaking in terms of dialogue and diplomacy; not war. Otherwise the Polish nation must begin seriously considering the Tuczapsk Demographic Plan.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2019)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.