Category Archives: Politics

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…”

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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…  

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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.

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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…)

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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…

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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!

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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!”

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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.

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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…

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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…

*   *   *   *

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?)

*   *   *   *

*   *   *   *

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.”  

*   *   *   *

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…

This time last year – 11/8 and 11/13/16

From last November 13:  “Are you telling me Donald Trump just got elected president?”

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It’s mid-November, and so it’s time to start taking stock of the year just past.  (And what a year it’s been!)  Which brings up “last year at this time.”  Specifically, two posts from this time last year:  Trump made me a Contrarian,* and “Trump is like a box of chocolates.”  (Published November 8 and 13, 2016, respectively.)  The “Chocolates” post noted a prediction that – having been elected – Trump would be impeached.  But not by Democrats, by Republicans:

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

That post also asked if Donald Trump would be “the new Simon Legree” – as noted in the Classic Comics image above left – but that’s a whole ‘nother story altogether.

A man is at the center of the image smiling into the camera. He is sitting on a blue crate and has his hands resting on his legs.The “box of chocolates” post further discussed my being turned into a Contrarian – defined in part as a “moderate with a ‘tude” – both by the election itself and the uncertainty as to what kind of president Trump would turn out to be.  And that brings up what Tom Hanks meant when he said “Life is like a box of chocolates:”

When you open a box of chocolates, there is a variety of flavors available.  Problem is, since they are covered in chocolate, you can’t really tell what any given piece of chocolate is going to taste like…  The real lesson:  you take what life gives you and you learn to deal with it, because – as they say – that’s life.

I wondered if Trump might “evolve into something neither his ardent supporters nor his rabid opponents expect.”  I also wondered if “Showman Donald Trump” had actually played his “far-right conservative” supporters “like a piano.”  And finally, I wondered if – given “Donald Trump’s chameleon-like shifting political positions” – he would “eventually be seen as an ‘effective elected official,’ or a funhouse showman?”

It seems the jury is still out on those questions.  (At least to some people.) 

But no matter:  I resolved in the “box of chocolates” post that I would “be a cheerful Contrarian.”  Which brings up the Trump made me a Contrarian post.  I published that on the night of last year’s election – and before the final results came in.

I started off by noting that I used to be all “moderate and nicey-nicey.”  I used to say – or at least think – things like, “Let’s not rush to judgment!”  Or, “Let’s wait until we get all the facts before we say anything that might be taken the wrong way!”

However, when dealing with people like Trump supporters, that “moderate, reasoned, common-sense approach will get you nothing but bowled over.”  (In the sense of hearing something so “whacked” that you are rendered temporarily speechless with disbelief.)

And that’s because they “use the 8-track tape mode of political discourse:”

The thing about 8-tracks was that they never stopped.  You never got to the end.  They used a “continuous loop” system, which is why they didn’t have a rewind option.  As long as you played the tape, you got the same thing over and over again.  The same “data,” the same songs played in the same order over and over again.

Which I thought was much like “trying to have a meaningful conversation” with a Trumpster.  That led to one definition of Contrarian as a former moderate who has to “take a position directly opposite the person we’re talking to just to get a &^%$ word in edge-wise!”

You could also refer to it as having to “out-wacko the wackos.”  And that’s turning out to be a skill that we former “moderates” are definitely going to need in the years ahead.

The good news is that having to “out-wacko the wackos” isn’t all that difficult, and can be fun.  (In a weird, other-worldly sense.)  Which is another way of saying that being a Contrarian means learning how to make a snappy comeback.  But because Trumpsters tend to make the same arguments over and over again, your “moderate” or “Contrarian” snappy comebacks don’t have to be all that snappy.  “You can plan your snappy comebacks way ahead of time.”

Which translates to:  “Bless those Trumpsters and their 8-track political arguments…” 

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“Factory optional 8-track stereo player … between the center console and dash…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Forrest Gump (1994) – IMDb.  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.’”  (Some seven years before the movie.)

“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 “Contrarian” post, the full title of the post for November 8, 2016, was ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian.”  “Mi Dulce” was my pet name for the woman I was dating at the time.  However, that relationship is now defunct, for reasons possibly including her status as a Trumpster, then and since.

The “Legree” image is courtesy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “Simon Legree on the cover of the comic book adaptation of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ (Classic Comics No. 15, November 1943 issue).”  The article added:  “It is unclear if Legree is based on any actual individuals.  Reports surfaced after the 1870s that [Harriet BeecherStowe had in mind a wealthy cotton and sugar plantation owner named Meredith Calhoun, who settled on the Red River north of Alexandria, Louisiana.  Generally, however, the personal characteristics of Calhoun (‘highly educated and refined’) do not match the uncouthness and brutality of Legree.”  

The “Gump-in-uniform” image is courtesy of Forrest Gump – Wikipedia.

The lower image is courtesy of 8-track tape – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “Factory optional 8-track stereo player in a 1967 American Motors (AMC) vehicle mounted between the center console and dash.”  The article added:  “The format is regarded as an obsolete technology, and was relatively unknown outside the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Japan.”

“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).”