Category Archives: Politics

Didn’t we try this “Wall” thing before?

“Memorial to the Victims of the [Berlin] Wall, with graffiti, 1982….”

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1953 Bowman Yogi Berra.jpgThere’s been a lot of talk – lately and for the last two years – about Donald Trump’s wall(The “colloquial name for a proposed expansion of the fence that makes up the Mexico–United States barrier during the presidency of Donald Trump.”)  Which led me to wonder:

“Isn’t this like ‘deja vu all over again?'”

Which brings us to the Berlin Wall:

[The] guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989…  [S]tarting on 13 August 1961, the Wall cut off (by land) West Berlin from virtually all of surrounding East Germany and East Berlin…  The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, accompanied by a wide area (later known as the “death strip”) … and other defenses.  The Eastern Bloc portrayed the Wall as protecting its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the “will of the people” in building a socialist state

East Germany also called the Wall its “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart,” while the West Berlin city government referred to it as the “Wall of Shame.”  Wikipedia also noted that the East German government took the action because of its “brain drain problem.”

In other words, people who wanted the promise of freedom were kept in virtual prison:

In the West, the Berlin Wall was regarded as a major symbol of communist oppression.  About 5,000 East Germans managed to escape across the Berlin Wall to the West, but the frequency of successful escapes dwindled as the wall was increasingly fortified.  Thousands of East Germans were captured during attempted crossings and 191 were killed.

(Berlin Wall built – HISTORY.)    Which brings up the question:  “Do we really want to be like East Germany?  Do we really want to build a ‘major symbol of oppression?'”

Ronald Reagan – for one – said no.  He – like most if not all presidents before him – bought into the idea of America as a unique “city upon a hill.”  That idea in turn is based on what Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world.  You cannot hide a city that has been built upon a mountain.”  (From His parable of Salt and Light in the Sermon on the Mount, seen at right.) 

To give you some background on the American take on that idea:  In 1630, the Puritan “father” John Winthrop cited Matthew 5:14 at the end of his lecture or treatise, “A Model of Christian Charity.”  That sermon (lecture, or treatise) languished in obscurity for over 300 years.  That is, until the beginning of the Cold War – which included the building of the Berlin Wall.  That’s when “Cold War era historians and political leaders made it relevant to their time, crediting Winthrop’s text as the foundational document of the idea of American exceptionalism.”  (Which included Thomas Jefferson’s seeing America as the world’s great “Empire of Liberty.”)

President-Elect John F. Kennedy quoted the phrase during an address in January 1961:

We are committing ourselves to tasks of statecraft no less awesome than that of governing the Massachusetts Bay Colony, beset as it was then by terror without and disorder within. History will not judge our endeavors—and a government cannot be selected—merely on the basis of color or creed or even party affiliation.  Neither will competence and loyalty and stature, while essential to the utmost, suffice in times such as these.  For of those to whom much is given, much is required.

(Which itself is from Luke 12:48.)  In other words, America is special, and because it’s special, all Americans have unique and special responsibilities.  For one thing, we have a special responsibility not to be “just like other countries.”  We don’t want to build walls, either to keep freedom-seeking people out, or to keep smart people from leaving the country.

Which is pretty much what Ronald Reagan said, over and over again.  And this even though, politically, he was the exact opposite of John F. Kennedy.  But they both agreed on the idea of the United States as a “city upon a hill.”

For example, in his Election Eve address (November 3, 1980), Reagan spoke of his Vision for America:  “I have quoted John Winthrop’s words more than once on the campaign trail.”  Reagan added that Americans – at least in 1980 – were still “every bit as committed to that vision of a shining ‘city on a hill'” as the long-ago people who settled this country.

Finally – in that speech – he said Americans weren’t “white or black, red or yellow;  they are not Jews or Christians;  conservatives or liberals;  or Democrats or Republicans.  They are Americans awed by what has gone before, proud of what for them is still… a shining city on a hill.”

And Reagan repeated the theme yet again in his 1989 Farewell speech to the nation:

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life … a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace;  a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity.  And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.

Which – in its way – mirrored just what Jesus said in John 6:37:  “I will never turn away anyone who comes to me.”  So whose side are you on?  Hopefully, Jesus and Ronald Reagan…

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The upper image is courtesy of Berlin Wall – Wikipedia.

The “farewell speech” link is to Opinion | Ronald Reagan’s Hopeful Farewell – The New York Times, by John Meacham.  Dated January 10, 2019, the piece was sub-titled:  “His last speech as president was about his faith in America and its people.  Our current president could not be more different.”

The lower image is courtesy of Mr Gorbachev Tear Down This Wall – Image ResultsSee also Tear down this wall! – Wikipedia, which included this from the 1987 speech:  “We welcome change and openness;  for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.” 

Donald Trump: He’s no “Virginia Gentleman”

Alexander Spotswood by Charles Bridges (Colonial Williamsburg copy).jpg

A true “virginia Gentleman” – Alexander Spotswood (1676-1740)…

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The last post I did was on December 10, 2018.  (My excuse is the rush of the holidays.)  So here goes:  The first post of 2019.

I just started reading Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, by Stephen Ambrose.  In the process I found a timely passage – relevant to today’s political scene – at the start of Chapter 2.  It described Lewis when he was a young “Virginia Planter,” from 1792 to 1794.  (“Touchstone” edition, 1997, pages 30-31.) 

Some side notes:  Lewis and his co-captain William Clark didn’t begin their famous “Corps of Discovery” expedition until May, 1804.  That came about after his career as an army officer started – and thus after his career as a Virginia planter ended – in 1794.

That “change of life” was a direct result of the Whiskey Rebellion (The “tax protest” in western Pennsylvania, from 1791 to 1794, during the presidency of George Washington.)

That is, in 1794 Meriwether Lewis joined the Virginia militia, to help put down the Rebellion.  In turn he left the family plantation in the care of his mother.  At the end of his term (1795), his mother wanted him back home to run the plantation.  Instead he joined the regular U.S. Army and – In due course – got court martialed.  (For “arguing politics” with a fellow officer.)  He was found not guilty, but had to be transferred to a different outfit.  As it turned out, he joined the “Chosen Rifle Company of elite rifleman-sharpshooters.”  The captain of that company was William Clark,* with whom he went on to explore the Louisiana Purchase.

But we digress…  The point is this:  Ambrose began Chapter 2 by describing the life of a Virginia planter in the mid-1700s.  (“Foaled, not born, Virginia planters were said to be,” in part because riding a horse “was not a matter of sport or diversion but of necessity.”)  Ambrose continued:

A Virginia gentleman was expected to be hospitable and generous, courteous in his relations with his peers, chivalrous toward women, and kind to his inferiors.  There was a high standard of politeness…  Wenching and other debauchery, heavy drinking, and similar personal vices were common enough, but as long as they did not interfere with relations between members of the gentry they were condoned.  The unpardonable sins were lying and meanness of spirit.  [E.A.]

Which led to my conclusion that – whatever else he might be – Donald Trump is not what you would call a “Virginia Gentleman.”  Another aside:  I Googled “donald trump lying” and got 49 million results.  “Donald trump lies” got over 37 million results.  “Donald trump mean spirited” got transformed into “donald trump is mean spirited.”  That got a mere 432,000 results.

Donald TrumpBut among the results from “mean spirited” was a May 2012 piece from Newsmax(The “multiplatform network focused on conservative media…  the most trafficked conservative website,” and – according to one study –  “the number one site for conservatives in the U.S., making it one of the most influential conservative news sites in the nation.”) 

The title of that 2012 article?  Donald Trump [says] Mean-Spirited GOP Won’t Win Elections.  Which made for some interesting reading.

Among the gems:  Trump said he “really doesn’t like to fire people,” a point that was confirmed by a “top aide for 26 years.”  The aide said that “there are two Donalds: the ‘outrageous’ one portrayed on television and the real one only insiders know.”  The private Donald Trump – the aide insisted – is “the dearest, most thoughtful, most loyal, most caring man,” and that “caring side inspires loyalty and is one of his secrets to success.”

But the main Trump point:  “The Republican Party will continue to lose presidential elections if it comes across as mean-spirited and unwelcoming toward people of color.”  Then too:

“The Democrats didn’t have a policy for dealing with illegal immigrants, but what they did have going for them is they weren’t mean-spirited about it,” Trump says.  “They didn’t know what the policy was, but what they were is they were kind.”

But again we digress…  Except to note that the Donald Trump of 2012 seems markedly different than the Donald Trump that we’ve seen as president the last two years…

Getting back to the internet, we’ve seen the Google-term “donald trump lying” got 49 million results, “Donald trump lies” got over 37 million results, and “donald trump is mean spirited” got almost half a million results.  So just to be fair I Googled “donald trump is hospitable,” and got just under 25,000 results.  The term “donald trump is chivalrous” got under 14,000 results.

So there you have it.  “Donald trump is mean spirited” outweighed “donald trump is chivalrous” by a margin of 35 to 1.  And “donald trump lying” outweighed “donald trump is hospitable” by a margin of 3,500 to 1.  Which proves again that – whatever else he might be – Trump is not what you would consider a “Virginia Gentleman.”  (And it’s on the internet so it must be true.)

Bonjour!!!

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The upper image is courtesy of Alexander Spotswood – Wikipedia:

[He] was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army and a noted Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.  He is noted in Virginia and American history for a number of his projects as governor, including his exploring beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains, his establishing what was perhaps the first colonial iron works, and his negotiating the Treaty of Albany with the Iroquois Nations of New York.

Other notes:  “Spotswood Hall,” at the College of William and Mary was named for him, along with “Old Spotswood, a cannon seized during the Revolutionary war,” along with the Spotswood Society.  Spotsylvania County in Virginia is also named for him:  “Spots” + “sylvania” (“woods” in Latin).  The county seat is Spotsylvania Courthouse, the sight of a Civil War battle in May 1864.

Yet another BTW:  “Virginia Gentleman” is also the name of a bourbon, a hot sauce, and a “men’s collegiate a cappella group,” the oldest such group at the University of Virginia,” founded in 1953. 

Re:  Lewis having to transfer to Clark’s rifle company because of a court-martial.  Army regulations at the time forbade officers from either using “reproachful or provoking speeches” to another officer, or challenging him to a duel.  Lewis was charged with “disturbing the peace and harmony of a Company of Officers” by arguing politics.  Not surprisingly, Lewis held “Jeffersonian” views, while the bulk of officers at the time were cherry-picked Federalists.  (Who went on to pass the Alien and Sedition Acts, arguably to quash political opposition.)  When Lewis got thrown out, he challenged the fellow officer – a Lieutenant Eliott – to a duel.  Lewis was found not guilty, in large part because the commander of the “Second Sub-Legion,” Mad Anthony Wayne, thought the regulations were – in a word – stupid:

So the partnership of Lewis and Clark, destined to become the most famous in American history, began because General Wayne preferred to have his officers fight out their differences in a duel rather than in a court-martial and therefore found for the man who had issued the challenge [Lewis] rather than the one who had followed the law and brought charges.

See the “Touchstone” edition, 1997, at pages 45-46.

Re:  The Trump image to the right of the “Newsmax, mean-spirited” graf.  Most recently I borrowed it from the November 16, 2018 post, The Bible says: Blame Trump for “his” mass shootings.

Re:  A Virginia Gentleman being “hospitable and generous, courteous in his relations with his peers, chivalrous toward women, and kind to his inferiors.  There was a high standard of politeness.”  See Cherry-pick[ing] – Idioms … Free Dictionary.  And also Turnabout is fair play – Idioms … Free Dictionary.  To be fair – for example – the term “donald trump is kind to his inferiors” got nearly 13 million results, but those results included Katy Burns:  Trump fumes, and America loses a bit more of of itself, and Donald Trump’s mother asked: ‘What kind of son have I created?’  Another note:  I started typing “donald trump is” and immediately got the primary result, “donald trump is an idiot.”

The lower image is courtesy of Internet Must Be True Bonjour – Image Results.  See the original State Farm “Bonjour” television ad at State Farm® State of Disbelief French Model – YouTube.

Some thoughts on “the Donald,” from two years ago…

An April 2016 post:  Is there a new Maverick in town,” or just another ‘what has been?'”

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called him a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

That’s now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

Nick Adams The Rebel.JPGOn November 22, 2016 – 18 days after he got elected – I posted Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma?  That post borrowed from the earlier, April 16, 2016 post:  “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?”  Which explains the lead photo above, 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.”

That post also asked the “musical question:  ‘Can you say prescient?'”  (That question concerned a candidate for president who – in 1998 – showed “a malignant understanding of how angry words, more than real ideas, can be deployed as weapons of power.”  And it wasn’t Donald Trump.*):

[R]epetition – invoking the same foul claims over and over – can transform outrageous lies into popular understandings.  He blithely changes his facts, positions and personae because he is making it up as he goes along and assumes no one will catch up with the contradictions.  Beneath the mask of conservative idealogue is an amoral pragmatist.

So, we’re now two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, and there are some things all Americans can agree on:  First, that Trump “creates or uses unconventional and/or controversial ideas or practices.”  And second, that he “does not abide by rules.”  But the question remains whether he is a “rebel,” as the old “Johnny Yuma” TV series defined that term:

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.)

It would be hard to say – with a straight face – that Trump “respects law and order,” given his continued insulting of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for example.  (I Googled “trump insults fbi” and got 2,450,000 results.)  And it could easily be said – with a straight face – that Donald Trump personifies “intolerance, distrust, greed, confusion and revenge.”

Woodstock poster.jpgBut we were talking about “thoughts from two years ago.”  And another tidbit from two years ago came in the November 30, 2016 post, “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night.”

I wrote of the irony of Trump being seen as a hero by the average blue-collar worker.  Then I imagined a future folk singer – a “dulcet-toned lass” – comparing Trump to Joe Hill, as immortalized by Joan Baez at Woodstock(“I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night…”)  The post cited a pre-election article saying if Trump lost, the “millions of Americans supporting him will feel more isolated and disillusioned than ever before.”  Which raises the question today, “Are those millions of Americans better off now that Trump got elected?”

[M]illions of Americans [have] looked to Trump to save them.  These folks … the angry, white, blue-collar workers who are outraged or terrified that America has become some topsy-turvy multi-cultural nightmare where a hard-working man cannot make a decent living … will emerge from this circus worse off than before [had Trump not been elected…]

Put another way, has Trump “stood up for the weak and downtrodden?”  Has he delivered the goods for the millions of “angry white blue-collar workers” who looked to him for salvation?

Or – instead – Is this (just)“deja vu all over again?”  (Another post from 2016.  That one noted the “brittle, bitter climate of distrust in national politics today:  the loss of civility amid endless personal accusations, the stalemates that develop on issue after issue when both sides are unable to approach the grounds where reasonable compromise can occur.”  And that was in 1998!)   

And about that name, “the Donald.”  It turns out it got started by Ivana Trump‘s “broken English,” then got a boost – from all people – a writer at The Washington Post.

I noted that nickname in a May 12, 2017 post:  “He’ll be impeached within two years:”

If Trump turns out to be as bad as people expect – based on how he presented himself, both in his campaigns and in office – fully 75% of the country could be strongly against him by the time of the mid-term elections in 2018.  Which could turn out to be a single-issue race.

Seal of the U.S. House of RepresentativesThe prediction – based on analysis by a number of pundits – hasn’t yet come to pass.  Though in some respects the 2018 mid-term elections were a single-issue race, at least for the House.

On the other hand, consider the post, Trump is like a box of chocolates,” from November 13, 2016.

It first quoted Professor Allan Lichtman, who predicted in September 2016 that Trump would win the election.  But he went on to say Trump would be impeached, but not by Democrats.  The Republicans – he said – would much rather have Mike Pence as president, as “far easier to control.”

They don’t want Trump as president, because they can’t control him.  He’s unpredictable. They’d love to have [Mike] Pence – an absolutely down-the-line, conservative, controllable Republican…  “Pence in the White House would put a more trusted establishment Republican in the job.”

That hasn’t come to pass either, but that post went on to ask:  “In light of Donald Trump’s chameleon-like shifting political positions – especially since last Tuesday – will he eventually be seen as an ‘effective elected official,’ or a funhouse showman?”

The jury’s still out on that one…

But the part I remember was the “Gump-like” surprise of the election itself, which led one well-known American icon to ask:  “Are you telling me Donald Trump just got elected president?”

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The upper image is courtesy of Maverick (TV series) – Wikipedia.  See also Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma (From November 22, 2016.)  And “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?  (April 26, 2016.)  

Re:  The “angry words” candidate who wasn’t Donald Trump.  It was actually Newt Gingrich, as detailed in the November 12, 1998 edition of Rolling Stone magazine.  See the May 9, 2016 post, Is this “deja vu all over again?”

Re:  The November 8, 2016 post:  “He’ll be impeached within two years.”  It includes a screwed-up image to the right of the opening paragraph that I wanted to delete but couldn’t figure out how.

Other past posts from 2016 -considered for inclusion herein – included:  From September 15:  Donald Trump and the Hell’s Angel; from November 8:  ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian; and from November 22: Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma?

I wanted to close the post with the Calvin and Hobbes [cartoon] for July 07, 1995, but couldn’t cut and paste it.  The punch line was “enmity sells,” and it seems to have been an on-the-mark foreshadowing of Trump’s style of governing.   (Check it out yourself…)

The lower image is courtesy of Forrest Gump (1994) – IMDb, as featured in “Trump is like a box of chocolates.”  See also Forrest Gump – Wikipedia, and Life is like a box of chocolates – Wiktionary.  The latter indicated that the book “Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, first published in Japanese in 1987, and in English in 1989, has the following: ‘Just remember, life is like a box of chocolates.’”  (I.e., that quote was published some seven years before the movie.)

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 67-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

The Bible says: Blame Trump for “his” mass shootings

2017 featured 345 mass shootings under Trump, compared to 162 in Obama’s eight years…

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Supported by a friend, a man weeps for victims of the mass shooting just a block from the scene in Orlando, Florida, on June Remember June, 2016?  That’s when then-candidate Donald Trump said then- President Barak Obama should resign, after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S.  That is, the deadliest mass shooting up to that point?  You know, the one in Orlando?  (Just to narrow it down a bit.)

Amid reports that a gunman had killed 49 people at a gay nightclub early Sunday, Trump could only respond by bragging that he’d predicted such a thing would happen, and arguing that the attack justified his proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

In plain words, Donald Trump blamed President Obama for the shootings, linked him personally with the shooter, and implied that nothing like that would happen if he were elected president.  Not to mention saying Obama should resign after “his” mass shooting.

Which led me to recently Google “trump obama resign mass shooting.”

That led me in turn to some interesting results:  Not least of all because it led me to Google “mass shootings since trump took office.”  Briefly, there was apparently a “lull in the action” during the first few months of 2017, but then things heated up.  (And not in a good way.) 

For example, on March 18, 2017, a blogger, “Raptorman,” posted What Happened to Obama Era Of Mass Shootings Under the Trump Administration?  Early in 2017 he bragged thusly:

It had been over 253 days since Donald Trump became President of the United States of America with no crazed mass murder shootings until the Las Vegas shooting.  A much longer period of time without a big mass murder shooting than under the previous administration.

shoot4“Raptorman” then posted a chart showing how such mass shootings had burgeoned under Obama.  (From in the low 20s under previous presidents, to 162 under Obama.)  He defined a mass shooting as involving “4 or more people.”  But then came a post on April 16, 2017:  The U.S. Has Had 273 Mass Shootings in 2017 So Far (“And you likely didn’t hear about all of them.”)

That writer –  – also

The nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA) counts 29 mass shootings across the U.S. just in September[?], 255 since President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20, and 273 since the start of the year, while defining a “mass shooting” as “four or more” gunshot victims, not including the shooter.  At the current rate calculated by GVA, 2017 is on track to have more mass shootings than any other year since GVA began tracking gun violence in the U.S.

This was in response to the shooting at the “Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas, killing 50 and injuring more than 400 in the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.”

But since Couts’ post came a mere month after “Raptorman’s,” something didn’t add up.  So, for a more accurate count I checked 2017 deemed America’s deadliest year for mass shootings, posted December 11, 2017.  It said, “According to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that continuously tracks gun-related death and injury reports based on official records, there have been 345 mass shootings in America in 2017 alone.”

So as it turned out, the estimate by Gun Violence Archive – noted by  in April 2017 – turned out to be chillingly accurate.  Which means that under Obama there were 162 mass shootings, while under Donald Trump, there were 345 mass shootings in 2017 alone.

Then came 2018, about which the New York Daily News said – last November 8, a week or so ago (the headline at left is from 1975) – that America’s averaging almost a mass shooting a day in 2018:

There have been nearly as many mass shootings in the United States in 2018 as there have been days in the year so far, according to a nonprofit organization that records gun violence data.  The horrific attack carried out in a Thousand Oaks, Calif., bar on Wednesday night was the 307th mass shooting in America this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which classifies a “mass shooting” in which at least four people are shot, not including the shooter.

So again, under Obama there were 162 mass shootings in eight years. 

Under Donald Trump there were 345 mass shootings in 2017 and 307 in 2018.  (As of November 8, 2018.)  Which adds up to a grand total – for two years, not counting the rest of November and December, 2018 – of 652 mass shootings under Trump so far.  That’s four times greater than Obama’s eight years, in one-fourth the time.  (In a mere two years, for the math-challenged.)

And incidentally, the New York Daily News has been described as “flexibly centrist,” not one of those “fake news” media types complained of by some Republicans.  For example, it endorsed George W. Bush in 2004, Barack Obama in 2008, Mitt Romney in 2012, and Hillary Clinton in 2016.  Which means that a claim of “fake news” would be hard to justify.  (To anyone except the most ardent Trump supporter, to which I would respond, “Fake news?”  Fake brain!)

But we digress.  The point?  All this calculating led me to the October 27 article, Why it’s fair to ask whether Trump is to blame.  Senior political reporter Aaron Blake gave a lengthy analysis, which included this note:  “There is a growing sense of grievance among Republicans about the narrative that Trump might have some culpability for the postal bombs that were sent to many of his high-profile political foes over the past week.”  Or for the spate of mass shootings.

But the Bible – that favorite tool of “Trump-humping evangelicals” – says otherwise.

Which is another way of saying that such a lengthy “Blake” analysis really isn’t necessary.  At least not according to the Bible.  That is, Luke 6:38 provides a much better, much shorter answer:  “The standards you use for others will be [the ones] applied to you.”  Or in a slightly different translation, “The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.”

Which should give “the Donald” some pause for thought

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Donald Trump

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The upper image is courtesy of Mass Shooting – Image Results.  It’s linked to the article, “Las Vegas Shooting Is the 273rd Mass Shooting This Year,” which included these notes:  “The gun industry often uses mass shootings to rally sales, telling consumers that such events may lead to stricter gun laws,” and that “Gun company stocks rose following the Las Vegas mass shooting.”

Re:  Orlando mass shooting.  Somehow I got that one mixed up with the Stoneman Douglas (“Parkland”) High School shooting.  Unfortunately, and as noted, it’s been hard to keep track…

Re:  Trump blaming Obama, etc.  See also Donald Trump’s Response To The Orlando Shooting Was Downright HorrificTrump: Obama Was Maybe Involved in the Orlando Shooting, and Donald Trump Calls On Obama To Resign Over Orlando Shooting.

Re:  “Raptorman.”  He may have chosen his blog-name from a character in the film Full Metal Jacket.  I too thought the Marine photographer was “Raptorman,” but apparently it was “Rafter Man:”

In the book [The Short-Timers], “Rafter Man” got his name because during a striptease show in the mess hall, he got piss drunk and climbed into the rafters for a better view, then fell right onto a front row table of brass, spraying colonels and generals with their own beer.  The highest ranking general picked him up, then pulled up a chair and let Rafter Man sit with him, thereby impressing the other Marines.  The movie kept the nickname but didn’t bother with the back story.

See Full Metal Jacket – Meaning of the names rafterman and Animal Mother.  There is also a book Full Metal Jacket Diary, by Matthew Modine, who played “Joker” in the film.

Re:  Luke 6:38.  I used the GOD’S WORD® Translation in the main text.  Other translations:   “The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you;”  “you’ll be evaluated by the same standard with which you evaluate others;” and in the King James Bible – the one God uses – “For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Then of course there’s also the Golden Rule, set out by Jesus in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31.  In the “negative form of the Golden Rule, or the “Silver Rule” as it is sometimes called,” the rule reads:  “Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.”  Then too there’s Karma

Re:   “Trump-humping evangelicals.”  See “Trump-humping” – and Christians arguing with each other, in my companion blog, featuring the image at left.

The lower image is courtesy of Donald Trump – Image Results.  See also Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian.

“The rope has to tighten SLOWLY…”

Like Joe Friday on the old TV show Dragnet, all real Americans want “Just the Facts…”

*   *   *   *

There’s been a lot of hubbub lately about Donald Trump’s pardon power.  And a lot of Americans worry that he could use that pardon-power so freely that he could avoid any successful prosecution.  (Either against himself or against any of his underlings.)

The first question has already been answered:  He can’t pardon himself.  (See No Donald, you CAN’T pardon yourself.  And even if he could, that “self-pardon” would only apply to federal crimes, not state crimes or civil suits.)  But that still leaves the question:  “If Trump pardons anyone and everyone who could incriminate him, wouldn’t that be the same as ‘pardoning himself?’”

All the president's men.jpgThe answer?  “Not necessarily.”  Which brings us back to the years from 1972 to 1974.  Back to “Deep Throat,” Richard Nixon, the Watergate scandal, and the movie – and book – All the President’s Men.

And for you thinking this is “like deja vu all over again,” it is…  

*   *   *   *

First of all, I wanted to call this post, “The truth will come out…”  (Because that’s what I believe.)  Then I started re-reading All the President’s Men, the 1974 book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.  I was looking for the part where “Deep Throat” lectured Woodward on the importance of building a conspiracy investigation slowly, “from the outer edges in.”  (In an obscure parking garage at 3:00 a.m…)  

I checked out the hard copy from a local library – my paperback is somewhere “lost in my house” – and eventually found the passage in question.  Then I started typing in the lecture, and the phrase “the rope has to tighten slowly” sounded ever so much better.

*   *   *   *

But here we cut to the chase.  Specifically, could Donald Trump use his pardon-power so freely that he could avoid any successful prosecution?  Put another way, what would happen if Trump pardoned all those lower-level minions who could possibly incriminate him?

Just this.  Since those “minions” will have been pardoned, they will no longer face the prospect of incriminating themselves.  Which means they can be compelled to testify.  And if they refuse to testify, they can be jailed for contempt of court.

And once they testify, a prosecutor – or Democratic Congress – can start building a case against Trump for obstructing justice.  For one thing, granting pardons to hide a criminal act is a criminal act itself.  Which brings us to the old saying, “The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.”  (As illustrated at left.)

And today’s antithetical version: “Why is the Mueller investigation taking so long?”  (Note that that complaint was lodged as early as five months after Mueller was appointed.  Which brings up the classic American need for instant gratification, but that’s a whole ‘nother story…)

*   *   *   *

Which brings us back to 1974, and “Deep Throat” lecturing Bob Woodward on the importance of building a conspiracy investigation slowly.  You can read the full lecture – and background – at page 196 of the Simon and Schuster (1974) hardback, All the President’s Men:

“A conspiracy like this … a conspiracy investigation … the rope has to tighten slowly around everyone’s neck.  You build convincingly from the outer edges in, you get ten times the evidence you need against the Hunts and Liddys.  They feel hopelessly finished – they may not talk right away, but the grip is on them.  Then you move up and do the same thing to the next level.  If you shoot too high and miss, then everybody feels more secure.  Lawyers work this way.  I’m sure smart reporters do too.  You’ve put the investigation back months.  It puts everybody on the defensive – editors, FBI agents, everybody has to go into a crouch after this.”

The book added, “Woodward swallowed hard.  He deserved the lecture.”

The point is this:  The Mueller Investigation started over a year ago, in mid-May, 2017.  So far – it appears – it has resulted in 17 indictments and five guilty pleas.  So what happens if Trump starts pardoning more lower-level people?

Simply this:  They lose their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves.  They can be compelled to testify, on pain of being jailed for contempt of court.  The Mueller Investigation might end, but we would begin a whole new series of state criminal proceedings.  As in any state like New York where “The Donald” or his minions have done business.

And the “noose-tightening” would start all over again…

*   *   *   *

Or – like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men – real Americans just Want the Truth!

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The upper image is courtesy of Just The Facts Ma’am – Image Results.  But see also Joe Friday – Wikipedia, which noted that Detective Friday never actually used the phrase:  “A common misattributed catchphrase to Friday is ‘Just the facts, ma’am.’ In fact, Friday never actually said this in an episode, but it was featured in Stan Freberg‘s works parodying ‘Dragnet.'”  See also FACT CHECK: Dragnet ‘Just the Facts’ – snopes.com.

Re: Pardons and the Fifth Amendment.  See Would a full presidential pardon void an individual’s 5th Amendment protection, and Donald Trump Pardons: How a Pardon Could Backfire.  For a fuller explanation of “contempt of court” in such circumstances, see If you’re pardoned, can you be compelled to testify about your crime?

Re:  “The wheels of justice turn slowly.”   See Justice – Wikiquote, under the letter “F,” which noted the saying has “appeared in various forms over the millennia, going back as far as “Euripides circa 405 BCE.”  In other words, the concept was known at least over 2400 years ago.  

Re:  The Mueller investigation starting on or about May 17, 2017.  See Robert Mueller, Former F.B.I. Director, Is Named Special Counsel for Russia Investigation.

Note that the ellipses (“…”) were in the original “Deep Throat” quote in All the President’s Men.

For the guilty pleas and indictments, I Googled “mueller investigation indictments and guilty pleas.”

Note that the change from “rope-tightening” to “noose-tightening” was a bit of creative license.

The lower image is courtesy of Tom Cruz I Want Truth – Image Results.  

“Oh, but for an hour” … of ALMOST ANYBODY!

Oh, but for an hour” … of a president who doesn’t just “curse the stupid darkness!

*   *   *   *

Two years ago – on April 4, 2016 – I posted On Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher.”  The post had over 2,000 words, while the “ideal” word-count for a blog post is half that.  (1,000 words or less.*)   That post in turn was a review of June 2015’s “Great politicians sell hope.”

That post came in just under 1,800 words.

Since then I’ve tried to shorten my posts.  That’s under the theory that the average blog-reader has the “attention span of a gerbil.”  So here’s a short-and-sweet version of those longer, long-ago posts.

To begin with, Dick the Butcher was a character in William Shakespeare‘s play, Henry The Sixth, Part 2.  (Who was in turn “a killer as evil as his name implies.”)  He’s the guy who famously said:

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers…

To that I responded:  The real reason Americans don’t like lawyers – or politicians for that matter – is that they “accurately reflect our own dark side.”  Thus my thought was that the better rule would be:  “The first thing we do is kill all the clients!

The problem with lawyers is – after all – that they’re only doing what their clients want them to do…  Which seems pretty much true of politicians as well.

But the general tenor of both “Dick the Butcher” and “Great politicians” was more positive.

Or at least it was to the point of reminiscing, back to a time when political arch-enemies -like Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill – could and did sup with each other.  And this was true even though they were political arch-enemies, but not when the day’s work was done. 

(In other words, we didn’t have all the political hostility so prevalent these days.)

030618 - Justice Bush on Trump Comparison-picWhich led to this thought:  Donald Trump has done one thing positive.  He’s made  real politicians look better and  better.  (See George W. Bush Reportedly Sounds Off On Trump: ‘Sorta Makes Me Look Pretty Good.’)  Which was pretty much the point of  “Great politicians.”

That post noted that our best presidents – including JFK and Ronald Reagan – were able to “sell themselves” by giving Americans some hope for the future.  It also noted that maybe today’s current crop of nasty, negative politicians simply reflect the nasty, negative voters who make up way too large a part of our population.  

(“The first thing we do is kill all the voters!”)

Which brings us to the idea that it’s better to light a single candle than curse the darkness (See also Better to Light a Candle Than to Curse the Darkness.) 

The quote itself is “often misattributed,” generally to Eleanor Roosevelt or “claimed to be an ancient Chinese proverb.”  But in 1960 John F. Kennedy alluded to the quote in his acceptance speech, after receiving the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party:

We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us thru that darkness to a safe and sane future.

(“Oh, for a safe and sane future…”)  Which brings up the sentiment alluded to in the post-title.

It was first noted in “Oh, for an hour of Truman.”  (From April 2015.)  That post pointed out that the first “Oh, for an hour” harkened back to Andrew Jackson.   And that sentiment was said between the time Abraham Lincoln was elected and when he actually took office.  (On March 4, 1861, not the January 20th swearing-in day of today.  I.e., some 118 days after the election.) 

So anyway, that sentiment was expressed by Democrats, members of the incumbent president’s own party.  (That incumbent president was James Buchanan.  And, “Do you see the irony?)  So here’s the quote on the quote, from “Oh, for an hour of Truman:”

Lincoln found himself armed with nothing but words to stop the South from seceding before he could even take office…   President James Buchanan, nearing 70 … looked at the Constitution and saw his hands being tied by a lack of specific instruction.  The cry went up from frustrated members of his own party: “Oh, but for an hour of Jackson!

Which is a sentiment I find myself alluding to myself, more and more these days.  But now I’m up to about 1,300 words for this post, so it’s time to wrap things up.  (Keeping in mind the average blog-reader’s “attention span of a gerbil.”  And I wonder if Moses had a similar problem?)

One point of “An hour of Truman” was that Harry was open-minded.  (“Willing to listen to ‘what the other fella has to say.’”)  Another was that he was an avid student of history.  As he said:

There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know…   [G]o back to old Hammurabi, the Babyonian emperor…   Why, he had laws that covered everything, adultery and murder and divorce, everything…  Those people had the same problems as we have now.  Men don’t change.

Which is probably true.  (Sometimes unfortunately so.)  And Harry also used to say, “The buck stops here.”  But it seems we now have a president better known for passing the buck(Attributing to “another person or group one’s own responsibility.”)  Which leads us back to:

Oh, but for an hour of Truman (or almost anybody else)…

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President Harry Truman, and the sign he made famous…

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For the upper image I Googled “peanuts cartoon you stupid darkness.”  I found the featured image under Peanuts Cartoon You Stupid Darkness – Image Results, and specifically at and courtesy of Beings Akin.wordpress.com.  See also “You stupid darkness!” and 29 other Peanuts quotes for everyday use.”  It shows the “stupid darkness” cartoon in strip form, rather than “two-tiered.” 

Re: Ideal length of blog posts.  See How long should a post be … YoastWhat is the Ideal Word Count for the Perfect Blog Post?, and/or Blog Post Word Count: Is There a Magical Number?

The Reagan-Kennedy 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).” 

The “W … real politicians” image is courtesy of the Washington Examiner’s April 11, 2018 article:  George W. Bush: Trump ‘makes me look pretty good.’

Re  Passing the buck.  One theory says the term came from poker.  Or consider this:

Another less common but arguably less fanciful attribution is to the French expression bouc émissaire, meaning “scapegoat,” whereby passing the bouc is equivalent to passing the blame or onus.  The terms bouc émissaire and scapegoat both originate from an Old Testament (Lev. 16:6–10) reference to an animal that was ritually made to carry the burden of sins, after which the “buck” was sent or “passed” into the wilderness to expiate them.  

Which sound more like our current “president…”  

The lower image is courtesy of Everyone Is Butchering ‘the Buck Stops Here,’ which said the phrase did not mean a president can be blamed for everything bad that happens on his watch, as used today.  Instead it was aimed at “Monday morning quarterbacking” (also known as “whining“): 

“You know, it’s easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is over.  But when the decision is up before you – and on my desk I have a motto which says The Buck Stops Here’ – the decision has to be made.”

“Point of order,” Pat Buchanan…

Joseph McCarthy.jpg

Tail Gunner Joe” – McCarthy – immortalized the words “Point of order, Mr. Chairman!”

*   *   *   *

Patrickjbuchanan.JPGIt’s time to get back to politics.  That’s because a couple days ago I was reading the AJC – taking a morning break for an iced coffee – when something in a Pat Buchanan column caught my eye.  The column-title asked, Is Trump assembling a war cabinet?

Which is of course a valid question these days.

For once I agreed with what Pat was saying.  Mostly.  (Which is pretty rare for me, when it comes to Mr. Buchanan.)  He first noted that Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis now seems to be the “last man standing between the U.S. and war with Iran.”  Buchanan also indicated that a war with Iran was a “dreadful idea,” then said Donald Trump was nominated precisely “because he promised to keep us out of stupid wars.”  Then – after asking “what is Trump thinking” in apparently assembling such a cabinet – Buchanan wrote this:

Truman and LBJ got us into wars they could not end, and both lost their presidencies. Eisenhower and Nixon ended those wars and were rewarded with landslides.

That’s where the point of order comes in.  That is, a point of order is a rule of parliamentary procedure, by which an objection “may be raised if the rules appear to have been broken.  This may interrupt a speaker during debate, or anything else if the breach of the rules warrants it.”

The irony is that the term “point of order” was made famous – or Infamous – by Senator Joseph McCarthy during his “reign of terror” in the 1950s.  That time in our history spawned the term McCarthyism – illustrated at left – which today refers to the use of “demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations, as well as public attacks on the character or patriotism of political opponents.”  (But apparently the term is not used enough today to refresh our collective memory.) 

One point of order involved Buchanan’s saying that Richard Nixon ended the Vietnam War that Lyndon Johnson “got us into.”  Now, just when the Vietnam War started is a matter of heated debate, but one thing is clear:  Lyndon Johnson wasn’t the one who “got us into” Vietnam.  Another point?  We now know that it could have ended in 1968.  And it could have been ended by Lyndon Johnson, but for Nixon’s intervention.  So it’s hard to say that Nixon “ended” the war that – but for his intervention – could have ended before he became president.  Had he been an honorable man, the war would have ended and Nixon probably wouldn’t have been elected. 

Briefly, LBJ gave Nixon secret information about the Paris Peace Accords, in 1968.  In turn, Nixon twisted the information around so that it got him elected, in the presidential election of 1968.

VNAF Huey full with evacuees.jpgThe cost?  18,000 Americans died in Vietnam between 1968 and 1975 (When the war ended in American humiliation.)  I covered the issue in Another “deja vu all over again?”  That post – from November 2016 – noted that the charge of Nixon’s “treason” is backed by sources including the 2012 book The Presidents Club, and by conservative columnist George Will(See George Will Confirms Nixon’s Vietnam Treason.)

So here are the points of order, Mr. Buchanan:

First, Lyndon Johnson inherited the war in Vietnam from past presidents including – but not limited to – Dwight D. Eisenhower.  And he could have ended it in 1968, but for Nixon’s treason.

And about Harry Truman “getting us into the Korean War:”  The facts – Mr. Buchanan – are that the (North) Korean People’s Army invaded South Korea at dawn on June 25, 1950.  The Truman Administration hesitated to respond at first.  They weren’t sure whether the invasion “was a ploy by the Soviet Union or just a test of U.S. resolve.”

Only after he’d gotten a secret communique “indicating the Soviet Union would not move against U.S. forces in Korea” did Truman next move to the United Nations.

The United Nations Security Council then unanimously condemned the North Korean invasion “with UN Security Council Resolution 82.”  At the time, the Soviet Union could have vetoed both the resolution and the use of UN forces to fight back against the invasion.  (The only reason they didn’t veto the resolution was because they had boycotted the proceedings.) 

In turn, whether Truman would have sent U.S. troops to Korea unilaterally is problematic.  But few reasonable people would say that Truman “got us into” the Korean War.  The North Koreans, the Russians, the Chinese and the U.N. all had a little something to do with it too.

There is one thing we can say, with a reasonable degree of certainty.  Dwight Eisenhower never committed treason to keep a war going just to he could get elected president.

*   *   *   *

Eisenhower speaks with men of the 101st Airborne Division, the day before D-Day

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Joseph McCarthy – Wikipedia.  

Re: McCarthy’s use of the term “point of order.”  See also Point of Order (film) – Wikipedia, about the “1964 documentary film by Emile de Antonio, about the Senate Army–McCarthy hearings of 1954.”

 Re “1975,” and the Vietnam war ending in American humiliation:  The caption of the photo to the right of the paragraph reads:  “A VNAF UH-1H Huey loaded with Vietnamese evacuees on the deck of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Midway during Operation Frequent Wind, 29 April 1975.”

Re:  “President’s Club.”  The full title: The Presidents Club:  Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity, by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.  The quotes from the book are from the “October Surprise” section, from page 236 to 249, about Nixon committing treason to get elected.

Another point?  LBJ couldn’t have won the election anyway.  On March 31, 1968 – seven months before the election – he had already withdrawn from the race “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”  And re:  Harry Truman, as compared to Lyndon Johnson’s – “I shall not seek” – bowing out of the 1968 presidential election.  The search-engine phrase “why didn’t truman run in 1952” indicates that technically he could have run, but had already served nearly two eight-year terms.  That is, he took office on April 12, 1945, with the death of President Roosevelt.  (In other words, 82 days into what would have been Roosevelt’s fourth four-year term.)  The Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution – limiting presidents to two terms – made an exception for Truman, but at the time his approval rating stood at 22%.  See e.g. Why didn’t Truman run for re-election in 1952 – Answers.com, and/or Truman Does Not Run for Re-Election, Eisenhower Elected.  Thus as to the wording of the phrase “both lost their presidencies,” I must say, “Well played, Mr. Buchanan!” 

The lower image is courtesy of Dwight D. Eisenhower – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “Eisenhower speaks with men of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division, on June 5, 1944, the day before the D-Day invasion.”

On George McGovern’s “KMA” buttons…

Unlike many Republicans – past and present – George McGovern actually served his country…

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It’s the Thursday after Christmas Day.  So those holidays are over, and the end of 2017 is near.  Which means it’s time to look back at 2017.  And for me especially, that means looking back at some draft blog-posts that I started this past year, but never got around to finishing.

One of the posts was on George McGovern and his famous “KMA” buttons.  But first a note:  In the 1972 presidential election, only about four people in America – including me – voted for McGovern.  Richard Nixon won in a landslide, but neither he nor Vice-president Spiro Agnew served out their terms of office.  (Agnew resigned in less than a year over allegations he took bribes as Governor of Maryland.  Nixon resigned over the Watergate Scandal in August 1974, illustrated above right.) 

Which means that my vote for McGovern in 1972 is one of the proudest moments of my life.

In case you’ve forgotten, that election in 1972 was famous for Republican dirty tricks.  (Including but not limited to the infamous “Canuck letter” that led to Ed Muskie’s tears of anger.)

But since then I’ve gotten used to underhanded Republican campaign tactics.  Like the fact that some stay-at-home conservatives in 1972 also took issue with McGovern’s service in World War II.  And just for the record, McGovern served in combat with the the 741st Squadron of the 455th Bombardment Group of the Fifteenth Air Force, stationed near Cerignola, Italy.

He was commissioned a pilot in the Army Air Forces and flew 35 missions over enemy territory.  He piloted a B‑24 Liberator that he named “the Dakota Queen,” in honor of his wife Eleanor.  (And won the Distinguished Flying Cross.)  

But my favorite story about George McGovern came much later in his life.  It happened late in the 1972 campaign and involved his confronting a heckler from the Richard Nixon camp.  (Though it was not Donald Segretti):

McGovern was giving a speech and a Nixon admirer kept heckling him.  McGovern called the young man over and whispered in his ear, “Listen, you son-of-a-bitch, why don’t you kiss my ass?”  The heckler confirmed this to an inquiring journalist and the remark was widely reported.  By the following night, “KMA” buttons were being worn by people in the crowds at McGovern rallies.  Several years later, McGovern observed Mississippi Senator James Eastland looking at him from across the Senate floor and chuckling to himself.  He subsequently approached McGovern and asked, “Did you really tell that guy in ’72 to kiss your ass?”  When McGovern smiled and nodded, Eastland replied, “That was the best line in the campaign.”

See McGovern presidential campaign, 1972 – Wikipedia.  And again just for the record, Senator James Eastland was a Democrat – like McGovern – but who supported the Conservative coalition, and was “known nationally as a symbol of Southern support for racial segregation.”  But this was when Southern Democrats were effectively Republicans:

Mississippi was effectively a one-party state, dominated by conservative white Democrats since the disfranchisement of African Americans with the passage of the 1890 state constitution.  The state used poll taxesliteracy tests and grandfather clauses to exclude African Americans from the political system.  Therefore, winning the Democratic nomination was tantamount to election.

But this was also a time when political rivals could “sup with their enemies.”  In the photo at right, Eastland shared a moment with noted northern liberal – and a very young – Ted Kennedy.

You can see this photo – or one much like it – at Kennedy got Senate assignments in boozy meeting (N.Y. Daily News, 9/30/15).  At the time Eastland chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee:

After he slammed three drinks, Kennedy staggered away with the three assignments he wanted the most…   “It’s quarter to eleven, and I’m barely able to get up.  So of course I go back to my office [and] walk in there smelling like a brewery.  Here’s our little senator, 30 years old; he’s been down here two weeks, and he’s stiff as a billy goat at 10 in the morning.”  Kennedy said Mississippi’s Sen. James Eastland poured him a drink as soon as he arrived to the 1963 meeting.  “Bourbon or scotch?” the chairman asked.

But of course Eastland’s legendary drinking – or Kennedy’s for that matter – is a whole ‘nother subject entirely.  The point is that back in the good old days, politicians still had a sense of humor.  (Even to the point of chuckling over an arch-enemy’s “best line in the campaign.”)

And in a very big sense politicians as a group were eminently more likeable than they are today.  (See also On Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher.”)  But the main point I’d like to make is that I wish George McGovern could have hung around long enough to run in the 2016 presidential election.  That way he could have told someone else to “kiss my ass!”

For that alone, George McGovern would have made a great president…

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Donald Trump

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The upper image is courtesy of George McGovern – Wikipedia.  In other versions of the “KMA” story, McGovern was appearing in Battle Creek, Michigan, on November 2, when a Nixon admirer heckled him.  McGovern told the heckler, “I’ve got a secret for you,” then said softly into his ear, “Kiss my ass.”  The incident was overheard and reported in the press, and became part of the tale of the campaign.  See also “George, Heckler Exchange Words”. The Spartanburg Herald. November 3, 1972. p. B8.  For an account of his passing – by Fox News – see Former Senator George McGovern, ’72 Democratic presidential nominee, dies at 90.  

Campaign trail.jpgFor still other takes on the 1972 campaign, see Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘7 – by Hunter Thompson and illustrated at left, The Boys on the Bus – and/or One Bright Shining Moment.  Also, reference was made to Boller, Paul F., Presidential Campaigns: from George Washington to George W. Bush, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 0195167163, at page 340. 

And for one of my takes on Southern Democrats like Eastland , see Blue Dogs and the “Via Media.”  For yet another take on the politicians of yesteryear, see “Great politicians sell hope.”

The lower image is courtesy of businessinsider.com/donald-trump-has-been-fired.  I first used a smaller version in Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher,” but then used the photo as a “parting shot” in the December 15, 2017 post, On “Pyrrhic victories.” 

(There seems to be a trend here…)

On “Pyrrhic victories…”

The Battle of Bunker Hill,” one example of a Pyrrhic victory from our own American history…

*   *   *   *

Doug Jones Flag.jpgLast Monday – just before Tuesday’s special election in Alabama – the term “Pyrrhic victory” came to my mind – for some reason…

On the other hand, late that Tuesday evening – December 12 – you could have knocked me over with a feather(As in, to “shock, confuse, or astonish someone to a point of complete bewilderment.”  In the alternative, the idiom expresses “great bewilderment or surprise.”)  As to why, see Doug Jones beats Roy Moore in Alabama Senate race.

Which is another way of saying that I expected – or was afraid – that Roy Moore would win, possibly in a landslide.  (Because Alabamians don’t like “outsiders” telling them what to do, as my brother Bill predicted a week or so before the election.)   And that is another way of saying that if Moore got elected, it could have turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory for Republicans.

pyrrhic victories, romeThe name comes from King Pyrrhus of Epirus, an ancient Greek state in the western Balkans(Just east of the Italian peninsula.)  His army beat the Romans in two separate battles – one of which is illustrated at left – in 280 and 279 B.C.  But the wins came at a high cost.  While the Romans had more casualties, they also had a far greater pool of soldier-replacements.

Which gave rise to the name of a victory that “inflicts such a devastating toll” that it is tantamount to a defeat.  (The “heavy toll negates a true sense of achievement or profit.”)

You can check out four other such “victories” at 5 Famous Pyrrhic Victories – History Lists.  Interestingly enough, two such battles came in America, both within the last 250 years.  (Compared to the original, nearly 2,300 years ago.)  So maybe it’s time for a third? 

In the American Civil War there was the Battle of Chancellorsville, in 1863.  While often called Robert E. Lee‘s masterpiece, “it came with a massive price tag.”  That is, while the Union army had 4,000 more casualties – 17,000 to 14,000 – it too had a “far greater pool of replacement soldiers.”  (Like the Romans.)  More important, Lee lost his most trusted general, Stonewall Jackson (“Jackson was hit by friendly fire,” and Lee reportedly said “I have lost my right arm.”)

On the other side of the fence – so to speak – there was the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775:

The battle was a tactical, though somewhat Pyrrhic victory for the British, as it proved to be a sobering experience for them, involving many more casualties than the Americans had incurred, including a large number of officers.  The battle had demonstrated that inexperienced [American] militia were able to stand up to regular army troops in battle.

And that brings us back to last Tuesday’s special election.  Just as the Battle of Bunker Hill showed that inexperienced American militia could stand up to the vaunted British army regulars in battle, so last Tuesday’s election proved that a &^%#$ Democrat could get elected to the Senate in  &^%#$ Alabama!!!

Which brings up how that “pigs are flying” victory came about.  Or more specifically, why Roy Moore lost the election in Alabama.  The linked web article said – for one thing – that the “Alabama election was a warning:  appease the Trumpian, populist, nationalist movement at your peril.”  Then there was the article, Analysis: Why Trump will pay the political price for Roy Moore’s loss in Alabama.  As one professor said, “This is the first real evidence that a political backlash might be brewing to Trump-ian Republican politics.”

So maybe last Tuesday’s special election in Alabama wasn’t about Roy Moore at all.  Maybe it was more about Donald Trump and his “particular brand of magic” going stale.

So maybe – just maybe – we could post-date this spiel on Pyrrhic victories to November 8, 2016?

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Donald Trump

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The upper image is courtesy of Battle of Bunker Hill – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “‘The Battle of Bunker Hill,’ by Howard Pyle, 1897.”

The Doug Jones image is courtesy of Doug Jones (attorney) – Wikipedia.

The “two separate battles” image is courtesy of 5 Famous Pyrrhic Victories – History Lists.

For more on such victories, see Urban Dictionary:  Pyrrhic victory, which included this suggestion:

The best example of a pyrrhic victory is in the anglo-zulu war, in which Ntshingwayo Khoza set 22,000 zulu warriors, about 55% of the male population of zululands to attack 1,400 British soldiers in a surprise attack at the Battle of Isandlwana.

See also Battle of Isandlwana – Wikipedia.

The “pigs are flying” image is courtesy of APG 146 – When Pigs Fly?airlinepilotguy.com.  See also Flying pig – Wikipedia, which defined the phrase in pertinent part as “an adynaton—a figure of speech so hyperbolic that it describes an impossibility.”  Note also that I used the image in “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night,” posted on November 30, 2016.  (That post was an exercise in irony.)

The lower image is courtesy of businessinsider.com/donald-trump-has-been-fired.  See also, On Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher,” which included a smaller version of the photo. 

On Roy Moore – and Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde Sarony.jpg

 Oscar Wilde in 1882, before he was sentenced to two years prison for “gross indecency…”

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As a general rule it pays to remember our past history.  That’s good advice even when – and maybe especially when – that history isn’t all that glorious.  As Harry Truman once said, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.”  (See Harry Truman and his History Lessons.)  Which brings up Roy Moore – and Oscar Wilde.

Judge Roy Moore.jpgOne interesting aspect of Moore’s saga involves his weighing legal action against women accusing him of harassment(Other interesting aspects include his being “compared to Jesus.”  Or – in the alternative – to Joseph, who “courted” Mary when she was 14 years old.)

But let’s focus on his weighing legal action against his accusers.  And the fact that “Those who cannot remember the past are [often] condemned to repeat it.”

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In 1895, Oscar Wilde was at the height of his fame.*  But that all came crashing down when he got into a dispute with the Marquess of Queensberry(The same guy who lent his “name to the ‘Queensberry Rules‘ that form the basis of modern boxing.”)  It started like this:

On 18 February 1895, the Marquess left his calling card at Wilde’s club, the Albemarle, inscribed: “For Oscar Wilde, posing somdomite” [sic].  Wilde … against the advice of his friends, initiated a private prosecution against Queensberry for libel, since the note amounted to a public accusation that Wilde had committed the crime of sodomy.

What happened next was a public scandal, and a media circus.

 It seems the Marquess of Queensberry was the father of Wilde’s lover – one of them anyway – Lord Alfred Douglas.  And after Wilde filed the lawsuit, the Marquess was arrested and charged with criminal libel.  So he and his lawyers went to work:

Queensberry could avoid conviction for libel only by demonstrating that his accusation was in fact true…  Queensberry’s lawyers thus hired private detectives to find [supporting] evidence…  They decided on a strategy of portraying Wilde as a depraved older man who habitually enticed naïve youths…

As noted, Wilde filed the lawsuit against the advice of friends, one of whom advised him to “flee to France.”  But he proceeded on, to a trial that “became a cause célèbre as salacious details” began to emerge in the press.  The trial itself began “amid scenes of near hysteria.”

A cartoon drawing of Wilde in a crowded courtroomLater, as the defense produced evidence to support the accusations, Wilde decided to drop the prosecution:

Queensberry was found not guilty, as the court declared that his accusation that Wilde was “posing as a Somdomite” [sic] was justified, “true in substance and in fact.”  Under the Libel Act 1843, Queensberry’s acquittal rendered Wilde legally liable for the considerable expenses Queensberry had incurred in his defence, which left Wilde bankrupt.

But wait, there was more!!!

Even as Wilde was leaving court, an arrest warrant was applied for, against him.  Again friends advised him to take a fast boat to France, but it was too late.  Or as Wikipedia put it:  The libel trial unearthed evidence that led to Wilde’s “own arrest and trial for gross indecency.”

To make a long story short, Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labor.  And when he tried to speak, his voice was drowned out by cries of “‘Shame’ in the courtroom.”

Wilde was imprisoned first in Pentonville Prison and then Wandsworth Prison in London.  Inmates followed a regimen of “hard labour, hard fare and a hard bed,” which wore very harshly on Wilde…   His health declined sharply, and in November he collapsed during chapel from illness and hunger…    He spent two months in the infirmary…   Richard B. Haldane, the Liberal MP and reformer, visited him and had him transferred in November to Reading Prison…  The transfer itself was the lowest point of his incarceration, as a crowd jeered and spat at him on the railway platform.

When Wilde was released from prison – in May 1897 – he sailed immediately to France and never returned to England.  He spent his last three years “in impoverished exile.”  Despite that, and though his “health had suffered greatly from the harshness and diet of prison, he had a feeling of spiritual renewal.”  Among other works, in exile he wrote and partially published De Profundis, a letter “from the depths” based on Psalm 130(Of which more in the Notes.)

So maybe there’s some hope for Roy Moore yet…

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The point is that in a few short years Oscar Wilde went from the highest acclaim to cries of “shame” in the courtroom.  And it all came about based on an ill-advised lawsuit that should never have been filed.  (And of which Roy Moore may want to take notice.)  Further, when Wilde was transferred to “Reading Gaol,” a crowd gathered to jeer and spit at him.

And now he brings tourists to Dublin, the city of his birth…

(Which leads to the question:  Will the same happen to GadsdenAlabama, Roy Moore’s birthplace?)

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The upper image is courtesy of Oscar Wilde – Wikipedia, with the caption:  “Photograph taken in 1882 by Napoleon Sarony.” 

“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 Wilde “at the height of his fame:”  Throughout the 1880’s Wilde was a popular London playwright.  He was noted for his epigrams – his “witty, ingenious or pointed sayings” – and a novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Then there were the plays, including a “masterpiece,” The Importance of Being Earnest.  Also:

He wrote Salome (1891) in French in Paris but it was refused a licence for England due to the absolute prohibition of Biblical subjects on the English stage.  Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London

The “media circus” image is courtesy of Media Circusdavejay.com.

The lower image is courtesy of Wikipedia: “Statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square, Dublin.”  

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A final note:  This post borrowed extensively from a post in my other blog, On Oscar Wilde and Psalm 130.  The following is a summary of the highlights of that post:

Between January and March 1897, near the end of his prison term, Wilde wrote a letter.

The letter was sent from “Reading Gaol to Lord Alfred Douglas.”  The title of the letter was De Profundus.  Psalm 130 is one of the “Penitential psalms.”  In English it begins:  “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!”  The Latin for “out of the depths” is De Profundus, and that’s where the title comes from.  See De Profundis (letter) – Wikipedia

In other words, [Wilde] “lost everything dear to him,” but didn’t blame external forces.  [Take note, Roy.]  The letter quoted Isaiah 53:3  He was despised and rejected by mankind, and [Wilde] came to see “Christ as a Romantic artist.”  In a word, instead of blaming other people, Wilde “rather absorb[ed] his hardships through the artistic process into a spiritual experience.”  See Oscar WildeDe Profundis, and also Voices from Solitary: Oscar Wilde’s Cry from the Depths.

Incidentally, Wilde had to publish his last work, “Reading Gaol,” under an assumed name:

The finished poem was published by Leonard Smithers in 1898 under the name C.3.3., which stood for cell block C, landing 3, cell 3.  This ensured that Wilde’s name – by then notorious – did not appear on the poem’s front cover…   It was a commercial success, going through seven editions in less than two years…

So again, maybe there’s some hope for Roy Moore yet…