Roger’s Rules

May Day, or "You may fire when ready, Gridley."

How do you spell “jurisdiction?” How, for that matter, do you spell “nauseating display of sanctimonious political correctness”? How about “Baltasar,” as in Baltasar Garzón, the grandstanding Spanish judge who on Wednesday opened “investigations” at the National Court in Madird into allegations by four “detainess” (“detainees”: that’s Newspeak for “terrorists”) that they were tortured by U.S. Military personnel at Guantánamo Bay.

The proper response? “Buzz off, Baltasar” about covers it: the same response that ouught to have been toute de suite and right speedily when Garzón attempted to extradite the aging General Augusto Pinochet from Britain on charges genocide.

I thought about this early this morning when a friend reminded me that May Day commemorates not only the pink-tinged political fantasies and joyous vernal enthusiasm, but also the opening of hostilities in the Spanish American War, when Commodore George Dewey’s fleet steamed into Manila Bay at dawn. “You may fire when ready, Gridley,” Dewey famously said to his executive officer.

With a deafening roar, the huge cruiser’s guns erupted. The flagship swung around in a wide circle, and each ship followed, guns blasting as it passed. “We made five trips past the fleet,” a gunner on the Boston wrote.

Just two hours after the beginning of the battle we hauled out and, withdrawing a few miles, the order was given for breakfast. I was exhausted from the heat, loss of sleep, and lack of proper food. I went up on deck. Below the thermometer was at 116°, and the fresh air was a great relief. From this vantage point, I could see the destruction we had wrought.

World front page announcing the victory When the thick, black smoke that had obscured the battle cleared, he saw the Spanish fleet, battered and afire.

That “splendid little war” (as the American ambassador to the Court of St. James wrote to Teddy Roosevelt at the time) lasted about four months and yielded control of the Spanish of Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico, not to mention a perpetual lease of a pleasant spot on the Cuban coast called Guantáamo Bay. Where are chaps like Dewey and the good Roosevelt (I mean Teddy, of course) when you need ’em?