Category Archives: Current events and history

“Let’s hear it for lawyers!”

atticus finch

Atticus Finch:  Old school lawyer who now might say “First thing we do, let’s kill all the clients…“

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Students at Middlebury College shouted down Charles Murray rather than listen to his controversial ideas when he came to speak at their campus in MarchI just read a great piece in the July 13 issue of Time magazine, Free Speech on Campus.

It noted there are some college campuses where a robust freedom of speech still exists.  That is, there are notable exceptions to those college campuses – especially lately – where demonstrations disrupt controversial speakers (As show at left.)

And what are those campuses with freedom of speech still?  They’re called law schools:

 Law school conditions you to know the difference between righteousness and self-righteousness.  That’s why lawyers know how to go to war without turning the other side into an enemy.  People love to tell lawyer jokes, but maybe it’s time for the rest of the country to take a lesson from the profession they love to hate.

Put another way, law schools teach people – and hopefully lawyers as a profession – how to zealously argue the merits of an issue without demonizing their opponentsname calling, or character assassination.  And that’s something we could use in this era of polarized politics.  That is, in this time where “moderate voices often lose power and influence.”

Charles Murray Speaking at FreedomFest.jpegThe article noted the telling example of Charles Murray, shown at right.  He’s a conservative political scientist who argued – for example – “that all social welfare programs cannot be successful and should ultimately be eliminated altogether.”

When he tried to speak at Middlebury College last March 2, he got shouted down.  Rather than listen to his controversial ideas, students chanted “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray, go away” and “Your message is hatred.  We cannot tolerate it.”

Compare that with Murray’s reception at Yale Law School, where Murray spoke “twice during the past few years,” with a different reception:

Students and faculty engaged with him, and students held a separate event to protest and discuss the implications of his work.  But he spoke without interruption.  That’s exactly how a university is supposed to work…   People love to tell lawyer jokes, but maybe it’s time for the rest of the country to take a lesson from the profession they love to hate.  (E.A.)

And speaking of lawyer jokes:  That brings up Dick the Butcher, a character in Shakespeare‘s not-so-well-known play, Henry The Sixth, Part 2 He’s the character who famously said, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”  (The quote is more famous than the play…)

I wrote about Dick the Butcher in On Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher.”  That post from April 2016 noted a number of things about that infamous quote.  But the main point was that maybe people don’t like either lawyers or politicians mostly because they are an accurate reflection of themselves.  (As shown at left;  “Mirror, mirror, on the wall…”)

That is, maybe there are too many nasty-bastard lawyers and politicians precisely because there are too many nasty-bastard clients – and voters – who hire them.  “The problem with lawyers is – after all – that they’re only doing what their clients want them to do.”

Which leads to my better quote:  The first thing we should do is, let’s kill all the clients.”  

Or the nasty-bastard voters who keep electing nasty-bastard politicians to represent them.

But the better course would be to bring back respect for the “professionalism” shown by old school lawyers and politicians.  (The term old school is “commonly used to suggest a high regard for something that has been shown to have lasting value or quality.”)  In this case, it could refer to the kind of professionalism shown by the likes of Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy.

For example, even though they were political arch-enemies, Kennedy admired Reagan:

He [Reagan]’s absolutely professional.  When the sun goes down, the battles of the day are really gone.  He gave the Robert Kennedy Medal, which President Carter refused to do…   He’s very sure of himself, and I think that people sense that he’s comfortable with himself…   He had a philosophy and he’s fought for it.  There’s a consistency and continuity at a time when many others are flopping back and forth.  And that’s an important and instructive lesson for politicians, that people admire that.

Having a personal philosophy and fighting for it with consistency and continuity.  And with professionalism.  What a great idea!  Which brings us back to Atticus Finch.

Even though he’s a fictional character, one law-school professor wrote that “the most influential textbook from which he taught was To Kill a Mockingbird.”  Another wrote that “Atticus has become something of a folk hero in legal circles.”  And no small wonder:

The folk hero often begins life as a normal person, but is transformed into someone extraordinary by significant life events…  One major category of folk hero is the defender of the common people against the oppression or corruption of the established power structure.

It is true that Atticus Finch is a fictional character.  And it’s also true that far too many lawyers fail to live up to the standard of “defending the oppressed” that he set.  But the main truth is that lawyers as a whole have made him the kind of folk hero they try to imitate.  And they are willing to listen to and “engage” with people they disagree with, sometimes vehemently.

People like Charles Murray.  Yale law students disagreed with him, some vehemently.  But they were willing to hear him out, to listen to him and engage with him.  And people like Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy, political arch-rivals who could “fund-raise” together, back in 1985.

So as I noted in closing the post on Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher:”

Now that’s what I would call True Conservativism

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Two lawyer-like political rivals – in the old days when they could “sup with their enemies…”

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The upper image is courtesy of gospelcoalition.org/blogs … atticus finch.  And as to Atticus Finch – the fictional lawyer in Harper Lee‘s To Kill a Mockingbird – a Michigan Law Review article said “No real-life lawyer has done more for the self-image or public perception of the legal profession.”

The full title of the Time article, Yale Law School Dean: Free Speech on Campus | Time.com.  For an opposing point of view, see No, Law School Didn’t Teach Us to ‘Engage’ With Racists, and Yale Students Demolish A Dean’s Weak Argument | Above the Law:

Confronting racism is difficult, but essential, work.  Promoting civility can undermine this work by policing the tone and speech of those who are oppressed, diverting our attention away from efforts to combat ongoing white supremacy.

Re:  The True Conservativism link:  The article linked-to began by saying that in the last 50 years “the word conservative has undergone diverse changes in meaning and value…  in short, a word reduced in quality of character and integrity.”   The writer –  – added this:

…our conservatism is ultimately the moral exemplification of our conservatorship; that the conservative as conservator guards against violations of our reverent traditions and legacy, and is, in fine, a preserver, a keeper, a custodian of sacred things and signs and texts…

All of which led me to the home page for The Imaginative Conservative.  (Which to some people may seem a contradiction in terms.)  The key difference:  That site offers a “conservatism of hope:”

Far too often, those who call themselves conservative offer nothing in the realm of art, literature, or theology, choosing instead to adopt the petty practices of modern American politics, interrupting questioners and hurling epithets at those who dare to disagree with them.  In addition, an essential part of true conservatism … is a commitment to liberal learning.  [“Be still, my beating heart…”]

Another point of view:  “Moderation is the true conservatism.”  See for example, A Conservative’s Case for Moderation | RealClearPolitics.

The lower image is courtesy of www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/08/senator_ted_kennedy.  The caption:  “Senator Edward Kennedy talks with President Ronald Reagan, left, on June 24, 1985, as they look over an American Eagle that graced President John F. Kennedy’s desk during a fund raising event for the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library at McLean, Virginia.  (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi).”  

July 4th: “God save the Queen?”

“American children of many ethnic backgrounds celebrate [July 4th] in 1902 Puck cartoon…”

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Walk, Don't Run.jpgWe know the song better as “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”  (The “lyrics of which were written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831.”)  

But in what was the old country – to most if not all Founding Fathers – the tune was called God Save the Queen.

(In a totally-unrelated side-note, Cary Grant and Jim Hutton sang the first verse – of My Country, ‘Tis of Thee – in the 1966 film “Walk, Don’t Run” – shown at left – “while simultaneously Grant and Samantha Eggar sang ‘God Save the Queen.'”)

There’s more about that incipient dichotomy further below, but first it should be noted that today is July 4th, and that’s better known as Independence Day.

Independence Day [commemorates] the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776.  The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire.

To repeat that last part:  What had been 13 American colonies “were no longer part of the British Empire.”  Which is another way of saying that “things had changed,” and that change was exemplified by our singing My Country, ‘Tis of Thee, not God Save the Queen.

And now a word about Puck, the magazine…

The source of the cartoon at the top of the page – Puck – was the “first successful humor magazine in the United States of colorful cartoonscaricatures and political satire of the issues of the day.  It was published from 1871 until 1918.”

Did you get that last?  Political satire!

Which is another way of saying that any real American will always retain his or her sense of humor, up to and including the ability to laugh at himself.  (Or herself.)  And that’s another way of saying that no real American will ever be too thin-skinned to do his job.  (Or hers.)

Not that that observation applies to current events or anything…  

But before getting back on track, here’s a note for those who think emoticons were literally or figuratively “invented yesterday.”  (Or at least only in this century.)  The illustration at right is from the March 1881 edition of Puck magazine.

Which just goes to show that there’s nothing new under the sun.  But now:  Getting back on track…

Last July 5th, I posted On the Independent Voter.

The key point I made – last year at this time – was the growing refusal to compromise in politics, “and compromise is the keystone of a American democracy.”  That in turn has led to the growth of black and white thinking.  “Psychologists call that splitting, or ‘the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole.'”

And that in turn has led to the growth of the “Independent voter,” and just in time…

That is, there seems to be a growing fallacy – among Conservatives – that they are the only real Americans.  See for example Conservatives Who Believe in ‘Trumpism:”

The number of high-profile conservative commentators who enthusiastically support Donald Trump is relatively small.  But the number of high-profile conservative commentators who enthusiastically support “Trumpism” is higher.  Trumpism is the belief that Trump’s followers constitute the “real America” and that anyone who does not validate their grievances is an elitist who neither understands nor cares about ordinary folks.

Which leads to this “something to think about.”  If the Founding Fathers had been Conservative, we wouldn’t be celebrating the Fourth of the July today, would we?

We’d all be singing “GOD SAVE THE *&^%$ QUEEN!”

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God Save the Queen

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The upper image is courtesy of Independence Day (United States) – Wikipedia.  

Re: Americans’ ability to laugh at themselves.  See the quote from Desi Arnaz at American people have the ability to laugh at themselves:  “American people have the ability to laugh at themselves.  It is one of the things that makes this country the great country that it is.”  See also Why Laughing at Yourself May Be Good for You.

Re:  Nothing new under the sun.  See also Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Re:  Refusal to compromise.  See The Spirit of Compromise: Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It, and/or The Spirit of Compromise.

The lower image is courtesy of God Save the Queen …vantagefx.com.  The link is to an article posted February 23, 2016:  “Brexit Odds and Oil Speculation.”

“There he goes again” – Revisited

No, this isn’t a caricature of Donald Trump.  (But this alligator mississippiensis is smiling nicely…)

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Image may contain: one or more peopleIt’s been tough getting back to blogging on a regular basis.

That’s pretty much what I noted in the last post, dated May 12, 2017:  From 11/8/16: “He’ll be impeached within two years:”

…aside from a “pain in the back,” I’ve undergone some other big  life events including but not limited to a[n eye] surgery … to have a lens put back in one eye [as shown a[bove] right]…  But now things have calmed down a bit, even if only in my own life. Which means I can get back to blogging

Image titled 10852 9Unfortunately, it still hasn’t been easy.  One big reason is my recent life events – “including but not limited to” – included the long, drawn-out process of first Buying a House, then moving out of my old, tiny one-bedroom apartment, and third moving my accumulated junk into a new and relatively-expansive private home.

So now I’m part of the landed gentry

But as I also discovered, this process continues “even to this day.”  Which means that while I’ve moved all my accumulated belongings into the new house, much of that “stuff” remains in boxes or big piles scattered mostly in the farther-back rooms.  But now I have time…

So anyway, to get back in the swing of things, I came up with the idea of looking back at what I was doing about  this time last year.  That led me to “There he goes again,” from May 30, 2016.

Since then the phrase “there he goes again” has taken on a whole new meaning.

SwampWaterPoster.jpgLast year’s “There he goes again” was about my projected June 2016 kayaking trip deep into the Okefenokee Swamp.  This was to be my second overnight-camping trek into the swamp, which “despite it’s fearsome reputation – as illustrated by the lurid movie poster at right … is quite peaceful.”

It turned out to be quite an exciting second trip into the Okefenokee.  Among other things I saw some fifty alligators during the first hour of paddling.  (Then I stopped counting.)

And I camped at the CANAL RUN shelter, “some nine miles in from the Foster State Park launch site.”   And  (Complete with its own in-house resident gator.)  Third, because it was so early in the season the canoe-only trails were much vegetated-over.  Which meant that many times I had to “butt-scootch” my kayak over a barely-sunken log, and sometimes had to stick my hand out, grab another log and finish pulling the kayak only.  The last time I reached my left hand out I saw a patch of white.

It turned out to be yet another gator – though rather smaller than the one shown at the top of the page – and “smiling” nicely at what he no doubt thought was a tasty new snack.

But now back to that phrase “there he goes again” having taken on a whole new meaning.

On a hunch – in writing up this post – I Googled “trump ‘there he goes again'” and got 4,200,000 results.  Of those 4,200,000 posts, many seem to have been dated before the election.  See for example Donald Trump: There He Goes Again | HuffPost:  From July 19, 2016, Trump was quoted as saying that John McCain “is no war hero … because he was captured.”

(For an alternate view see Torture – John McCain – Pictures – CBS News.  Also, the caption for the photo at left reads:  “McCain’s flight suit and parachute, on display in the North Vietnamese museum at the site of the “Hanoi Hilton” Hoa Lo Prison.”)

More recently, from April 5, 2017, there was There He Goes Again:  On NAFTA Trump Fails To Live Up To What He Says, And American Workers Will Pay For It.  The post – written by “Chuck Jones, President, United Steelworkers Local 1999” – noted a local plant shutdown that had “outraged” Trump on the campaign trail, but not a bit since he’s taken office:

President-Elect Donald Trump tweeted his outrage when the shutdown was announced.  But President Trump hasn’t said a thing since…  I could see it coming back in February when, speaking about what he had been calling the U.S.’s “worst trade deal ever,” and a “disaster,” he said NAFTA just needed “tweaking.”

(Jones was referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement.  See the notes for more.)  

And finally, there was this from May 5, 2017:  There He Goes Again… Trump Praises Single Payer Healthcare.  It seems that shortly after celebrating “the 1/3 passage of the American Healthcare Act” – 1/3 because it only passed the House and not the Senate, nor was it signed into law by the President – Donald Trump “sat with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and praised their country’s single payer healthcare system.”

The conservative-bent writer went into detail about the problems confronting what he thought would be positive change to our health-care system.  He also said Trump’s “public concession that single payer healthcare is better than our own is going to do more to damage our effort than Obamacare’s failure.”  (And he noted among other things that Trump’s “misspeaks” prompted Senator Bernie Sanders to burst into laughter and promise “to quote the president on the floor of the Senate when they debate their own version of the bill,” with video.)

The article then concluded:

“…we need the president to just stop talking.  For the love of God, just smile and wave.  Please?”

Which would be a nice change, and brings us back to the photo at the top of the page.

Meanwhile, maybe it’s time for me to go back “back in to the swamp,” back to kayaking in the quiet, peaceful Okefenokee, home of Pogo Possum and his gentle friends:

…despite the discomfort that seems to got along with such efforts, it felt good to finally visit the home of Pogo Possum.  To visit – even for such a short while – the “hollow trees amidst lushly rendered backdrops of North American wetlands, bayous, lagoons and backwoods.”

And speaking of Pogo Possum, here’s a bit of homespun wisdom to meditate…

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Pogo - Earth Day 1971 poster.jpg

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The upper image is courtesy of Alligator – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “American alligator (A. mississippiensis).”  I used that lead image in the post – from May 30, 2016 – “There he goes again.”  The caption used in the post reads:  “An ‘alligator mississippiensis,’ prevalent in the Okefenokee Swamp – where I’ll soon be kayaking…”

The lower image was also featured in the 5/30/16 post, and featured the following:

The lower “enemy is us” cartoon image is courtesy of Pogo (comic strip) – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Pogo daily strip from Earth Day, 1971.”  In the alternative:  “A 1971 Earth Day comic strip written and illustrated by Walt Kelly, featuring Pogo and Porkypine [sic].”  Wikipedia described Porky Pine:

A porcupine, a misanthrope and cynic; prickly on the outside but with a heart of gold.  The deadpan Porky never smiles in the strip (except once, allegedly, when the lights were out).  Pogo’s best friend, equally honest, reflective and introverted, and with a keen eye both for goodness and for human foibles.  

I wondered why I liked him so much…

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Re:  Trump on NAFTA.  See Trump Softens NAFTA Stance | ExecutiveBizTrump Backs Away From Softer NAFTA Stance – IndustryWeekTrump renews aggressive stance on NAFTA | 2017-04-19, and – from yesterday, May 29, 2017 – Trump Softens on NAFTA Stance – YouTube.  (Yet again, it seems.)

“Meet Bizarro Trump?”

Bizarro-statue-620

At least you could easily tell the Bizarro version – seen above – from the real Superman

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Remember “The Name Game?”  It was a popular song by Shirley Ellis, released in 1964.  it hit #3 on Billboard Charts, as a rhyming game that created “variations on a person’s name.”  So if we played the game today – with the name of our new president – the variation would be:  “Donald, Donald, bo-bonald, Banana-fana fo-fonald, Fee-fy-mo-monald, Donald!”

And speaking of parlor games

ClassicBizarro.PNGSome time ago I planned a post on “Bizarro Trump.”  (A name that to some may seem “redundant redundant.”)  The allusion would be to the Bizarro Superman, as shown at left.  But as noted, the project is turning out to be way more complicated than I ever imagined.*

As noted in a previous post, “That’s mostly because it’s becoming increasingly difficult these days to tell which version of ‘the Donald‘ is more weird:  Bizarro Trump or the real thing.”

For example, during the campaign Trump threatened to jail Hillary Clinton if he won.  But once he did win, he changed his mind.  (See Trump flips, now opposes prosecution for Clinton, posted 11/22/16.  See also Statement About Putting Hillary in Jail Was a “Quip.”)  Then there was Trump’s red-meat campaign promise to “kill Barack Obama’s unilateral actions to shield hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation.*”  But then just today – February 21 – he changed his mind again.  (See Trump to spare U.S. ‘dreamer’ immigrants from crackdown.)

So which is the real “Donald,” and which is the “Bizarro Trump?”

In light of the foregoing, here’s another stopgap post while I figure this guy out.

Getting back to the new “Bizarro Trump parlor game…”  The goal in that new game would be to come up with whatever crazy responses, arguments and comments that may pop into your mind.  And which were – or are – the complete opposite of what the real Donald would say.  But as we’ve seen, that’s getting harder and harder to figure out.  But there is one thing this Bizarro Trump could do:  He could blame everything wrong in this country on conservatives.

That would be the “bizarro opposite” of 70 years of hard-line conservatives blaming liberals for everything bad in this country these past 70 years.  (And getting away with it…)  See e.g., Ann Coulter‘s books:  Every Liberal Cause Is Based on a Lie, All Assassins Are LiberalsLiberals are assaulting America.

But Bizarro Trump wouldn’t break a sweat in response.  He’d simply say “No, every conservative cause is based on a lie, all assassins are conservatives, and conservatives are assaulting America!”

See how easy that is?  And conservatives have been doing this for 70 years….

That is, it all seemed to start back in 1947.  Democrats had been in power pretty much since the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, and Republicans had been largely marginalized.  But then came the end of the war, and a strong desire by voters to simply “change horses.”

So for 1947, Wikipedia noted the following transformative events:

On March 12 – “The Truman Doctrine is proclaimed to help stem the spread of Communism.” On May 22 – “The Cold War begins:  In an effort to fight the spread of Communism, President Harry S. Truman signs an Act of Congress that implements the Truman Doctrine.”  Later still – and most ominously – under the heading November 24:

McCarthyism:  The United States House of Representatives votes 346–17 to approve citations of Contempt of Congress against the “Hollywood Ten” after the screenwriters and directors refuse to co-operate with the House Un-American Activities Committee concerning allegations of communist influences in the movie business.  The ten men are blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studios on the following day.

That was followed by a note under “date unknown:”  The already-noted “House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigations into communism in Hollywood.”

In other words, you could say that 1947 was the year conservatives started blaming liberals for everything bad in this country.  And that trend would continue in the election of 1950.  (And beyond…)

That is, 1950 was when “Tricky Dick” Nixon accused his opponent in the California Senate race of being “pink right down to her underwear.” This suggestion that his opponent “sympathized with the Soviet Union” referred to Helen Gahagan Douglas.

As Wikipedia noted, Nixon implied that Douglas was a Communist “fellow traveler.”  The end result?  Nixon won the election with more than 59 percent of the vote, and Gahagan Douglas’ political career came to an end.

Which seems especially ironic given the results of the 2016 presidential election.  (When hard-line conservatives seemed to say it was fine if the Russians affected election results, so long as their candidate won.  And a historical note:  Gahagan Douglas, “in return, popularized a nickname for Nixon which became one of the most enduring nicknames in American politics: “Tricky Dick.”)

But we seem to be digressing…

The idea for this Bizarro Trump came when I remembered an old Seinfeld TV episode, The Bizarro Jerry.  The Seinfeld episode in turn referred to the earlier twin concepts of both the Bizarro Superman and the Bizarro World, as described in by DC Comics.

Bizarro is depicted as having all the abilities of Superman, although these traits are reversed, such as[:]  “freeze vision” instead of heat vision[;]  “flame breath” instead of freeze breath[; and] “vacuum breath” instead of super breath…

In the case of the real Donald, he campaigned as pretty much “the ultimate anti-Obama.”  (Or perhaps the “BIzarro Obama…”)  Which means the reverse-trait Bizarro Trump should be the very model of moderation, cooperation and compromise.  (See “Frankentrump” … Trump [As] Manifestation Of The GOP’s Obstructionism And Extremism.)

But that probably isn’t going to happen any time soon.

Which brings us back to the Bizarro Jerry episode prompting this post.  It showed Jerry, George and Kramer meeting their “weird” – to them – doppelgängersKevin, Gene and Feldman:

Kevin [is] Jerry’s opposite since Kevin is reliable and kind, contrasted to Jerry’s forgetfulness and indifference.  Gene is shown to be quiet, courteous, charitable and well-dressed as opposed to George being loud, obnoxious, cheap and slobbish.  Feldman acts generously to his friends…  He also always knocks on Kevin’s door and waits for him to unlock it[, unlike] Kramer, who constantly takes Jerry’s groceries and bursts through his door without warning.

Now about those doppelgängers.  They’re kind of “bizarro opposites” as well.  For example, Edgar Allan Poe described such a “bizarro double” has having the “sinister, demonic qualities of a pursuer or challenger of the real self.”  Dostoyevsky represented a doppelgänger as an “opposite personality who exploits the character failings of the protagonist to take over his life.”  And in Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Case of Mr. Pelham, the title character “has a paranoid suspicion that he has a double who is slowly taking over his life.”

All of which may sound vaguely familiar to anyone keeping up with politics these days.

In the end, it’s hard to imagine what kind of “real Donald” will emerge over the next four years. (Or less.  See Professor predicts President Trump will be impeached.)  But who knows?  Some day soon we may be treated to a “bizarro” confrontation in politics like the one shown below…

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Kramer, George and Jerry – at right – meet their “bizarro opposites…”

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Notes:

The upper image is courtesy of kotobukiya created a statue that the bizarro version of jerry seinfeld would totally get on board with … dailydead.com:  “Standing eight inches tall, this Bizarro anti-Superman statue is based on DC Comics’ New 52 version of the popular villain and will be released in November [2016].”  (Which is actually kind of appropriate…)

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to the “project [being] more complicated than I imagined,” see the beginning of  the last post, “That which doesn’t kill me…”

Also, as to Parlor games [spelled “p-a-r-l-o-u-r” in the article], Wikipedia defined the term as a “group game played indoors.  During the Victorian era in Great Britain and in the United States, these games were extremely popular among the upper and middle classes.  They were often played in a parlour, hence the name.”

Re: Trump’s promise to “kill Barack Obama’s unilateral actions to shield…”  See Immigration hard-liners angered by Trump’s softer tone “Dreamers.”  

The “Tricky Dick and Pink Lady” image is courtesy of Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady: Richard Nixon vs. Helen Gahagan Douglas …barnesandnoble.com.

Re:  The “old Seinfeld episode, Bizarro Jerry.”  It was the 137th episode, and the third episode for the eighth season.  Originally aired on October 3, 1996, the “title and plot extensively reference the Bizarro (the polar opposite of Superman) and Bizarro-Earth concepts that originally appeared in various comic books published by DC Comics.”

The lower image is courtesy of Bizarro Jerry – WikiSein, the Seinfeld Encyclopediaseinfeld.wikia.com.

“That which doesn’t kill me…”

A portrait of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, by artist Edvard Munch – of whom more later…

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Bizarro-statue-620As noted at the end of the last post,* my next post was supposed to be on the idea of a “Bizarro Trump.” (An idea based in part on the Bizarro Jerry and in turn the Bizarro Superman, one interpretation of which is seen at left.)  

But the project is turning out to be more complicated than I thought.  That’s mostly because it’s becoming increasingly difficult these days to tell which version of “the Donald” is more weird: Bizarro Trump or the real thing.   So here’s a kind of stopgap post.

The theme for this post is that no matter how bad our current political situation may seem now, we will get through it.  And more than that, we’re going to come out stronger.  Or as Friedrich Nietzsche put it in Twilight of the Idols:  “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

And incidentally, the alternate title was “How to Philosophize with a Hammer.”

Will (1982) video tape cover.jpgAnd speaking of philosophizing with a hammer:  Nietzsche’s phrase got some notoriety back in 1977.  That’s when G. Gordon Liddy was released from prison for his role in the Watergate scandal.  And when he was released he quoted the phrase to reporters.  But he quoted it In the original German – “Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker” – which of course caused those reporters to scramble for a translation.

In turn it should be noted that in the movie version of Liddy’s life – as seen at right – the phrase was translated, “What doesn’t destroy me, makes me stronger.”  See Friedrich Nietzsche – Wikiquote. (Which included another timely quote: “Everything the State says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen.”  Depending – I suppose – on which party is in power…)

And now for some background:  Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a “German philosophercultural criticpoetphilologist, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history.”

But unfortunately, Nietzsche’s work came into disrepute after it became indelibly associated with Fascism and Nazism.   Put another way, his “growing prominence suffered a severe setback when his works became closely associated with Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.”

Nietzsche187a.jpgThat is, one key to understanding – or misunderstanding – Nietzsche was his concept of the Übermensch.  In English the term is often translated as “Superman,” but it’s also translated as Overman, Superhuman, Hyperman, or Hyperhuman.  

Ironically, some scholars have seen the term as referring to a person “willing to risk all for the sake of enhancement of humanity.”*  Which of course would be a good thing.  But somewhere along the line the idea got bastardized – by other Germans and at a later time – for pure political gain:

The term Übermensch was utilized frequently by Hitler and the Nazi regime to describe their idea of a biologically superior Aryan or Germanic master race [and] became a philosophical foundation for the National Socialist ideas…  The Nazi notion of the master race also spawned the idea of “inferior humans” (Untermenschen) which could be dominated and enslaved;  [however] this term does not originate with Nietzsche.  Nietzsche himself was critical of both antisemitism and German nationalism.

See Übermensch – Wikipedia.  But there are of course differing points of view.

For example, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker | Psychology Today, which noted the irony that Nietzsche’s own life was ” rather short and miserable.”  (So much for his being a “Superman.”)  Or “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Really?:

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”  Nietzsche, history’s greatest angsty teenage boy, blithely asserted this whopper of an untruth in his 1888 book “Twilight of the Idols…” [But] Nietzsche’s struggle with Syphilis at the end of his life did not make him stronger.  It weakened his body and mind, to the degree that his work was later able to be twisted into Nazi propaganda.

On the other hand, we’re not talking about individuals here.  We’re talking about We the People, the ongoing, undying American entity that survived a bloody Civil War, a Great Depression and two World Wars.  And after each catastrophe, we as a people came out stronger.

And so it will be with our current political situation.  In the meantime there’s this note:  The famous artist Edvard Munch did the portrait of Nietzsche shown at the top of the page.  But he was also famous as the artist who painted “The Scream,” shown below.

Which pretty much sums up how I feel these days, when surveying the current political scene.

(Or after a round-and-round conversation with “Mi Dulce,” but that’s a whole ‘nother story…*)

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The Scream, by Edvard Munch, 1906.

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The upper image is courtesy of Friedrich Nietzsche – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Portrait of Friedrich Nietzsche by Edvard Munch, 1906.”

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to the last post, see Obama was “our president” too.

Re:  “Willing to risk all for the sake of enhancement of humanity.”  See “Nietzsche’s idea of [an] overman [Ubermensch] and life from his point of view.

Re: “Mi Dulce.”  See ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian.

The lower image is courtesy of Edvard Munch – Wikipedia.  See also The Scream – Wikipedia, which noted that  the title was “given to each of four versions of a composition, created as both paintings and pastels, by Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch between 1893 and 1910.”  One critic described the work(s) as “an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time.”  The article further noted that Munch did five versions, two in 1893, two in 1895 and one in 1910.  The most recognizable version is said to be the 1893 “oil, tempera and pastel on cardboard,” and is currently located at the National Gallery in Oslo, Norway.

On Hard hats, Hell’s Angels – and Inauguration Day 2017

Are we in for another “deja vu all over again,” on Inauguration Day, 2017?

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Inauguration Day Clipart | Clipart Panda - Free Clipart ImagesInauguration Day is coming up on January 20.  And here’s a news flash: I Googled “trump inauguration protests” – and got over two million results.

Here’s part of the grab-bag:  Trump rips John Lewis as Democrats boycott inaugurationThe Anti-Inauguration 2017‘Bikers for Trump’ to Form ‘Wall of Meat,’ and The Gathering Storm of Protest Against Trump.

Which leads to the musical question:

“Are we in for yet another “deja vu all over again?”

Kent State massacre.jpgIn this case we can go back in time, to see if history will repeat Itself.  That is, back some 47 years before the upcoming January 20, 2017.  Back to New York City and “a sunny spring day in May 1970.”  There, over a thousand peace activists started a march to protest – among other things – the shooting of 13 Kent State students.  (Four of them died, as shown in part at right):* 

As the Manhattan peace protesters made their way … 200 white, middle-aged, construction workers in hard hats and carrying American flags barred their way and chased the young hippies through the streets beating them with lead pipes and crowbars.  Policemen stood by passively and watched.  More than 70 protesters were injured, and 20 hospitalized.  A few days later president Nixon met with the “Hard Hat Riot” members at the White House to turn a patriotic victory lap. (E.A.)

See Anger Redux | The Huffington Post.  Which – in turn – brings to mind a recent web article: Angels, Protesters and Patriots: What a Long-Ago Skirmish Says About Love of Country.

That article went back to 1965, when a group of Hell’s Angels also staged an attack on an “antiwar protest in Berkeley, one of the first of countless such protests to come.”  (For an ironic note, see “politics make strange bedfellows.”)  But there was a difference:  The president didn’t invite the Hell’s Angels to the White House for a “patriotic victory lap.”

Instead, the president of the Oakland Hell’s Angels decided to end to all future attacks.

That is, on October 16, 1965, a group of Hell’s Angels from the Oakland chapter “attacked a Get Out of Vietnam demonstration at the Oakland-Berkeley border.”  The first clash came at the Oakland Army Terminal, a “shipping point for men and materiel bound for the Far East:”

The Angels attacked…  The existential heroes who had passed the joint with Berkeley liberals [now attacked] the same liberals with flailing fists and shouts of ‘Traitors,” “Communists,” “Beatniks!”  When push came to shove, the Hell’s Angels lined up solidly with the cops, the Pentagon and the John Birch Society.

The protesters had planned to hold another demonstration the following month.  But – fearing further attacks – in the interim a number of liberals including poet Allen Ginsberg – at left – worked to keep the Angels from attacking again.  (Thompson, 244-53)

The result?  According to Angels, Protesters and Patriots, “Oakland chapter leader Ralph ‘Sonny’ Barger … called the protesters a ‘mob of traitors.’”  Nevertheless, he promised to forego further attacks against protesters.  He did so – he said – based on the Angels’ “patriotic concern,” after which he “read a telegram he claimed to have sent to President Lyndon Johnson, volunteering the Angels for behind-the-lines ‘gorrilla’ [sic] duty in Vietnam.”

The article pointedly noted that the “Angels, at first blush, seemed unlikely patriots.”

Which leads to another question:  If the “Bikers for Trump” – shown above – or other Hard hats start beating up Inauguration Day protesters – with lead pipes, crowbars or otherwise – will the new president invite them to the White House for a similar “patriotic victory lap?”

Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds.jpgAnd speaking of patriotism:  The wise – and oddly prescient – Samuel Johnson once said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”  But it should be noted that he wasn’t condemning either true patriotism or patriotism in general.  Instead he condemned “false patriotism:*”

What he’s calling attention to is that scoundrels, when challenged, will often use false patriotism in order to shut up their opponents.

Which brings us back to Richard Nixon.  (The sitting president who feted the construction workers who beat up the offending “peace activists” in 1970.)  In his case, Nixon had – only two years before – committed an act of treason to get elected president.  That treason resulted in the death of 18,506 members of the armed services in Vietnam.  What Nixon had done was scuttle the Paris Peace Talks,” in October, 1968, solely in order to get elected in  November.

That was the point of last November’s Deja vu all over again?  And the point at issue – that Nixon committed treason to get elected – was conceded by as “arch” a conservative as George Will.  (See George Will Confirms Nixon’s Vietnam Treason.)  

A black placard with white text reading: "KTO NIE PAMIẸTA HISTORII SKAZANY / JEST NA JEJ PONOWNE PRZEŻYCIE" / GEORGE SANTAYANA / "THE ONE WHO DOES NOT REMEMBER / HISTORY IS BOUND TO LIVE THROUGH IT / AGAIN" / GEORGE SANTAYANABut we digress.  And I’m not necessarily saying that Donald Trump committed treason to get elected in 2016.  The point here is that – sometimes to a frightening extent – “History Repeats Itself.”  (Or as Santayana put it, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”)  

But in this case, let’s hope not.

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That is, in response to actcs of violence by some of his supporters, Donald Trump has told them to “Stop it.”  But Sonny Barger actually got his “supporters” to stop their attacks.

As Hunter Thompson noted, in the weeks leading up to the second planned march on the Oakland Army Terminal, a group of liberals including Ginsberg and Ken Kesey’s “Merry Pranksters” tried to persuade “Barger and his people not to attack the marchers.”  For one thing, Ginsberg delivered a long speech – in the form of one of his famous poems – at San Jose State College on November 15, 1965.

Barger had second thoughts about attacking a march that Ginsberg “obviously considered a right thing.”  But still – referring to the Vietnam Day Committee – “Sonny considered them all chickenshit – and that was that…  So it came as a surprise when,” on the day before the scheduled second march, the Oakland Hell’s Angels held a press conference.

At the news conference, Barger repeated his disdain for the marchers’ planned “despicable, un-American activity.”  Nevertheless, there would be no further attacks, he said, for reasons including that “any physical encounter would only produce sympathy for this mob of traitors.”

Or, as noted in What a Long-Ago Skirmish Says About Love of Country:

Barger, who would go on to survive cancer and prison … never changed his views.  Those “left-wing peace creeps,” he declared in his autobiography, deserved every bruise they got.

All the same, the Angels never attacked another protest.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Donald Trump could do the same thing with his supporters?

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“The Prez” – Sonny Barger (middle) – saying the Hell’s Angels would no longer attack protesters.

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Notes:

The upper image was courtesy of Hard Hat Riot: Tea Party of yesteryear – Daily Kos.  (Which has since been “removed.”)  The caption refers to two prior posts from this blog:  Last May’s Is this “deja vu all over again,” and last November’s repriseAnother “deja vu all over again?”  See also Hard hat – Wikipedia, as to the literal meaning of the term, and the Collins Dictionary, as to its cultural implications; i.e., “characteristic of the presumed conservative attitudes and prejudices typified by construction workers.”  (See also, Hard Hat Riots.)

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to the 13 Kent State students, see Kent State shootings – Wikipedia, which included the image to the right of the paragraph.  The caption:  “John Filo‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14-year-old runaway, kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller minutes after he was fatally shot by the Ohio National Guard.”  A further caption reads: “Mary Ann Vecchio gestures and screams as she kneels by the body of a student, Jeffrey Miller, lying face down on the campus of Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio.  On publication, the image was retouched to remove the fencepost above Vecchio’s head.”

The “inauguration day” image is courtesy of Inauguration Day  … Clipart Panda – Free Clipart Images. As to January 20, 2017, see Weather forecast for Trump’s inauguration looks gloomy.

The Allen Ginsberg image is courtesy of classics allen ginsberg american …hellopoetry.com.

Re: Samuel Johnson.  For some of his sound-bites on “the real deal,” see The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page: Quotes on Patriotism.  Re: the false patriotism quote, see What does this quote by Samuel Johnson mean: ‘Patriotism,’ etc.

Re: 18,506 service-members killed in Vietnam after Nixon “scuttled the Paris Peace Talks” in October and November, 1968:  US KIA in 1969 – 11,616, 1969 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia;  US KIA in 1970 – 6,081, 1970 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia;  US KIA in 1971 – 0, 1971 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia;  US KIA in 1972 – 641, 1972 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia;  US KIA in 1973 – 168 1973 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia.  (Total = 18,506.)

A green brick wall with a white sign reading "Wer die Vergangenheit nicht kennt, / ist dazu verurteilt, sie zu wiederholden. / (G. Santayana 1863–1953, Philosoph)The “history repeats” image is courtesy of George Santayana – Wikipedia.  The caption: “Santayana’s famous aphorism ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ is inscribed on a plaque at Auschwitz concentration camp in Polish translation and English back-translation (above), and on a subway placard in Germany (below).  The “subway placard” is shown at right.

Re: Donald Trump and his “violent” supporters.  I Googled “trump ‘stop it,'” and got some ten million, seven hundred thousand results.  (10,700,000.)

The Hunter Thompson image is courtesy of Kentuckian Hunter S. Thompsonjohncoxtalks.com.

For another post on Trump vis-à-vis the Angels, see Donald Trump and the Hell’s Angel.

The lower image is courtesy of Angels, Protesters and Patriots: What a Long-Ago Skirmish Says About Love of Country.  Re: Barger as “Prez,” see Thompson’s Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga:

In any gathering of Angels … there is no doubt who is running the show:  Ralph “Sonny” Barger, the Maximum Leader…  To the Oakland Angels he is Ralph.  Everybody else calls him Sonny[,] although when the party gets wild and loose he answers to such names such as Prez, Papa and Daddy.

1999 Ballantine Book edition, at page 10.  (Thompson added that Barger was – by turns – a brawler, a fanatic, “a shrewd compromiser and a final arbitrator.”)  See also Hunter S. Thompson – Wikipedia, and On the wisdom of Virgil – and an “Angel,” in my companion blog. 

And finally, this proviso:  “Any resemblance to actual persons” – that is, and comparison to other actual persons – “living or dead is purely coincidental.”  See Any Resemblance to Actual Persons, Living or Dead, is …, and/or All persons fictitious disclaimer – Wikipedia.

Finally, for a more in-depth treatment of the negotiations leading to Barger’s decision to “stop the violence,” see Thompson’s book, Ballantine edition, at pages 244-53.  Six of those ten pages are taken up by Ginsberg’s poem, “To the Angels,” delivered at San Jose State on November 15, 1965, “before students and representatives of Bay Area Hell’s Angels.”  These pages included two ironic notes, the first that for “reasons never divulged, [President] Johnson was slow to capitalize on Barger’s offer and the Angels never went to Vietnam.”  (To engage in “behind-the-lines ‘gorrilla’ [sic] duty.”)  Also:  

The Angels … are rigidly anti-Communist.  [Which adds a third note of irony, given the events of this last election.]  Their political views are limited to the same kind of retrograde patriotism that motivates the John Birch Society, the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.  They are blind to the irony of their role [as] knight errants of a faith from which they have already been excommunicated.  The Angels will be the first to be locked up or croaked if the politicians they think they agree with ever come to power. (E.A.)

Note that a knight-errant was a “figure of medieval chivalric romance literature.”  Such a knight would “wander the land in search of adventures to prove his chivalric virtues.”  The plural would be Knights-Errant, as seen in Sparkler Monthly. 

Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma?

The answer?  (From last April.)  Yes, there seems to be a new rebel – or Maverick – in town…

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I have to admit I’ve been pretty much stymied since the election, last November 8.  The best I could come up with since then was “Trump is like a box of chocolates.”  (Posted November 13, nine days ago.)

It’s as if the Muses have abandoned me.  On the one hand I want to be fair and not cranky.  (Like so many other people my age.)  But on the other hand I have this deep sense of foreboding

Anyway, one project I’m working on is the recent hubbub about  Mike Pence [being] ‘harassed’ by the cast of ‘Hamilton,’ the Broadway musical.  My point there would be that that was simply an exercise of the First Amendment’s right to petition in the United States:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Another project was inspired by a recent comment from my wacko lady friend.  (See ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian.)  It was about Donald Trump basically saying to Obama, “You’re fired!”  The point there would be that according to her reasoning – “and I use the term loosely*” – the American people will be able to say the same thing to DJT within four years.  (See Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution.)

But both projects are slow-going.

Nick Adams The Rebel.JPGThen I hit on the idea of comparing Donald Trump to “Johnny Yuma,” the original Rebel from the TV show back in the early 1960s.  (1959-1961.)  But first a word about the photo at the top of the page.  

There’s a simple explanation.  I like the top image in any post to be a full column wide.  But the best photo I could find of “Johnny Yuma” was a half-column wide.  See On “Johnny YUMA was a rebel.”

So instead I borrowed a photo from “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?”  That post from last April was about mavericks in general:

Originally the term referred to “Texas lawyer Samuel Maverick, who refused to brand his cattle. The surname Maverick is of Welsh origin, from Welsh mawr-rwyce, meaning ‘valiant hero…”  As an adjective the term applies to someone who shows “independence in thoughts or actions.”  As a noun the term means someone “who does not abide by rules.”  Either that, or someone who “creates or uses unconventional and/or controversial ideas or practices.”

It also asked the musical question:  “Can you say prescient?”

But we digress!   Speaking of Donald Trump, I Googled the words “Donald Trump rebel” and got 46,300,00 results.  Of course some results were about something different than my idea. (Things like Donald Trump Likely to End Aid for Rebels Fighting Syrian Government, and Donald Trump‘s wife, daughters rebel in ‘SNL’ parody.)  But others were more on point.  Kind of…

From June 2015 came this:  Donald Trump’s announcement “refreshing,” “inspiring.”  It was about immigration and “the current situation in Iraq,” courtesy of The Rebel Media.  (The “conservative Canadian online political and social commentary media platform founded in February 2015 by former Sun News Network host Ezra Levant.”)

A Confederate flag for sale at a recent Trump rally in Richmond, Virginia.Another one was How the Rebel Flag Rose Again – and Is Helping Trump.  That title pretty much speaks for itself.

But what about “Johnny YUMA,” the rebel we knew and loved from 1959 to 1961?  That post had two key points, the first being that true rebels tend to die young.  (Think James Dean.)

The second was that we’re fascinated by rebels, a term defined at least two ways.  One says a rebel is a person who “refuses allegiance to, resists, or rises in arms against the government or ruler of his or her country.”  The alternate definition is of a “person who stands up for their own personal opinions despite what anyone else says.”  See Urban Dictionary, which added:

It’s all about being an individual and refusing to follow a crowd that forces you to think the same way they do even if it means becoming an outcast to society.  True rebels know who they are and do not compromise their individuality…

All of which could apply to Donald Trump.

But then there was this observation, from The Rebel | Television Obscurities:

Yuma faced down intolerance, distrust, greed, confusion and revenge.  Despite his rebellious nature, Yuma respected law and order and despised abuse of power.  He stood up for the weak and downtrodden.  He traveled alone and was often forced to work alone because he was the only one willing to stand up to the bad guys. (E.A.)

Which brought up The Establishment.  “Remember that?  Also known as The Man?  Either refers to a ‘dominant group or elite that holds power or authority in a nation.’  And either can also be used to describe oppression, and that seemed to be what Johnny Yuma pledged to face down.”

Which raises the question:  Is “The Donald” a Johnny Yuma kind of rebel?  The kind that Johnny Cash sang about?  (And exemplified himself.)  Or will he be just another version of The Man

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Notes:

The upper image – borrowed from “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?” – is courtesy of Maverick (TV series) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.   “Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to “according to her reasoning – ‘and I use the term loosely:’”  I borrowed that phrase from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, another old TV series.  It aired from 1959 to 1963, for two years concurrently with “The Rebel.”  Mr. Pomfrit – Dobie’s English teacher, played by William Schallert – routinely began his classes by saying, “Students – and I use that term loosely…”  He also referred to them as “my young barbarians.” 

J. R. CashThe lower image is courtesy of popsike.com – JOHNNY CASH – THE REBEL – JOHNNY YUMA … popsike.com.  See also Johnny Cash – Wikipedia:

Cash was known for his deep, calm bass-baritone voice … a rebelliousness coupled with an increasingly somber and humble demeanor, free prison concerts, and a trademark look…  Much of Cash’s music contained themes of sorrow, moral tribulation and redemption, especially in the later stages of his career.