Monthly Archives: April 2019

An update on “why I don’t like Donald Trump…”

Reason # 1:  Trump thinks he’s above the law.  (Another thing:  he’s not Winston Churchill…)

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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 Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is 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:

Back on March 20, I wrote about the beginning of Lent, 2019.  And about Lent’s generally including – as preparation for Easter – giving up things, and with doing things like penance, “repentance of sins, almsgiving, and self-denial.”  (See Early kayaking adventure.)

But while for many people Lent means giving up something, “some people choose to add a discipline ‘that would add to my spiritual life.’  (See Lenten disciplines: spiritual exercises or ego trip?)

Like last year I gave up yelling “Hang the sonofabitch!” at every mention of Donald Trump.  This year I did the same thing – for one thing, it netted the UTO some $25 in penalties, at 25 cents a pop.  But this year I felt the need to add something else.

To “add a discipline,” etc.  So for this Lent I’ll be trying mightily to add – i.e., to prepare – a reasoned, careful, logical treatise on precisely why I think Donald Trump’s presidency is a constitutional crisis on par with Watergate, though not yet on par with the Civil War.  (Not yet.)  But beyond that, for my Lenten discipline I will try mightily to understand why some Americans still support him, without saying, “What are you, a bunch of dumbasses?”

That’s going to be the hard part…

So for this year’s Lenten period I added – as I have done before – some serious contemplating (As illustrated at left.)  

And as Wikipedia explained, contemplation means “profound thinking about something…  In a religious sense, contemplation is usually a type of prayer or meditation.”  And there’s this:

Within Western Christianity contemplation is often related to mysticism as expressed in the works of mystical theologians such as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross as well as the writings of Margery KempeAugustine Baker and Thomas Merton.

So in so “contemplating” why I despise the current president so much, I’d be in pretty good company.  (In good company while contemplating like Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross.)

To that end, on March 20 I “dedicated myself to write at least one blog-post on why I don’t like DT” for Lent, although “it may well take more than one such post.”  The problem is that I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to garner much on the subject.  Plus the fact that Trump himself is daily providing such ample fodder that the question becomes, “Where to I begin?”

I did note these thoughts, before March 20; that is, on March 6:

Just this morning (3/6/19) I started listening to the audio version of The Restless Wave:  Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights and Other Appreciations, by John McCain.  And it’s given me some good starting insights.  For example, I don’t mind that Donald Trump never served in the armed forces.  But I do mind that he routinely insults the brave men and women who have served, including but not limited to John McCain himself.

Which is another way of saying Trump has never served “anything greater than himself.”

As time went on I started running out of time.  Then one sleepless night about a week ago, I got up about 3:30 in the morning, got one more beer and started reading the Kindle version of the first volume of Winston Churchill‘s four-volume History of the English-Speaking Peoples.

That put it all together.  It gave me the main reason I don’t like “the Donald.”  The reason?  He think’s he’s above the law.  But the idea that he is not above the law goes way back.

Back to at least the time of the Magna Carta, or 1215.  (Over 800 years ago.)  That is, in his Preface to that first volume – THE BIRTH OF BRITAIN – Churchill wrote about the Magna Carta, the “Great Charter.”  And mostly – he said – the Great Charter was an “agreed statement of what the law is.”  Further, that Charter’s main point was a “broad affirmation of the principle that there is a law to which the Crown itself is subject.”  To which “the Crown itself is subject.”

Which is another way of saying that no man is above the law, or more precisely, No Donald, you CAN’T pardon yourself.  So if there is a law to which “the Crown itself” is subject, how much more does that long-established principle apply to a president who is limited by the Constitution to no more than two four-year terms.  Which is another way of saying that no matter how bad a president he may be, Donald Trump is only temporary.

There will again be a time when Donald Trump is not president…

(And as noted in CAN’T pardon – and aside from the maxim that no man is above the law, also known as the rule of law – there is also the long-established legal maxim that “no man can be a judge in his own case.”  In the original Latin:  “Nemo iudex in causa sua.”  Thus the “no pardon.”)

Getting back to Churchill, he said the Magna Carta affirmed the idea that the “king” is and always should be below both “God and the law.”  In other words, he has his “sphere of action,” but if he “steps outside it he must be brought back.”  And he steps outside the law if he ignores the “ancient Council of the kingdom,” or refuses to take the advice of his “wise men.”  And he steps outside the law if he tries to rule through his “Household” or his favorites;

In other words, personal government, with all its latent possibilities of oppression and caprice, is not to be endured.  But it is not easy to prevent.  The king is strong …  If the Crown is to be kept within its due limits some broader basis of resistance must be found…

For Great Britain, after the Magna Carta one “basis of resistance” became Parliament.  In America, that broad basis of resistance to a “King’s” personal caprice includes – but is not limited to – Congress.  (Which in turn includes but is not limited to the House of Representatives, which alone has the power to impeach.)  Another broad basis of resistance – to “kingly” attempts at personal rule and tyranny – is the Fourth Estate of the Realm; that is, the media.

And contrary to what Trump has said repeatedly, the free press is not the enemy of the people.  Instead it is – and should continue to be – the Fourth branch of government.  As Wikipedia noted, “The derivation of the term fourth estate arises from the traditional European concept of the three estates of the realm: the clergy, the nobility and the commoners.”

Which now brings up two good reasons I don’t like Trump as president.  First and contrary to centuries of ongoing law and tradition, he thinks he is above the law.  And second, despite how the Founding Fathers took such care establishing and protecting the Fourth branch of government, Trump thinks he is too good for probing scrutiny from the press.  See Donald Trump Thinks the Freedom of the Press Is ‘Disgusting.'”  (Except Fox News of course…)  And also All presidents (and candidates) deserve Trump-level scrutiny from the press:

No modern president, save perhaps Richard Nixon, who waged an outright war on the press, earned the scorn and suspicion that Trump has since the day he took office.  Let’s be crystal clear:  Trump deserves scorn and suspicion.  He is a liar and a huckster.  But so too does every person in a position of immense power, because power is inherently corrupting, and because the decisions presidents make impact so many people’s lives.

And speaking of Richard Nixon, he was perhaps most famous for his Enemies List.

The official purpose of that list was to “‘screw’ Nixon’s political enemies, by means of tax audits from the Internal Revenue Service,” and through “litigation, prosecution, etc,”  In further words, it was made to “maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration;  stated a bit more bluntly – how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.”

One noteworthy point:  “The IRS commissioner, Donald C. Alexander, refused to launch audits of the people on the list.”  So here’s to that unsung “Hero of the Realm,” who died in 2009 but kept his honor and integrity.  That is, his opposition resulted in a “string of attempts by Nixon to fire him.  Early on in his tenure as Commissioner, he dismantled the IRS Special Service Staff, which had been used to pursue detractors of the administration and its policies in Vietnam.”  Another noteworthy point, people justly too pride in being on the list:

Newsman Daniel Schorr and actor Paul Newman stated, separately, that inclusion on the list was their greatest accomplishment.  When this list was released, Schorr read it live on television, not realizing that he was on the list until he came to his own name.  Author Hunter S. Thompson remarked he was disappointed he was not on it.

Which brings us back to Winston Churchill, and another noteworthy point he made:

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The upper and lower images are courtesy of Winston Churchill – Image Results.  The lower image accompanies an article, “World war II in Pictures” (World War II in Pictures – Filminspector), on “Churchill, a Man of All Seasons.”  The article noted mainly that Churchill “did more with less.  He bounced back from adversity more often, and to greater effect than anyone else during the 20th Century.  Just for starters, Churchill was the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States.”  Trump on the other hand has done less with more, has never experienced true adversity, and I doubt any country will make him an “honorary citizen.”  (An “honorary comrade,” perhaps…)

Re:  Lent.  See also My Lenten meditation, from my companion blog.

The image “contemplating” is courtesy of Wikipedia on contemplation.  Caption:  “A woman places rosary beads on a devotional image mounted on the wall beside her bed.” Walters Museum.

The Magna Carta image is courtesy of King John Signing Magna Carta – Image ResultsIt is accompanied by an article, “Magna Carta, signed by King John of England:”

The charter was an important part of the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law in the English speaking world.  Magna Carta was important in the colonization of American colonies as England’s legal system was used as a model for many of the colonies as they were developing their own legal systems.

In practice, Magna Carta in the medieval period did not generally limit the power of kings, but by the time of the English Civil War it had become an important symbol for those who wished to show that the King was bound by the law.  It influenced the early settlers in New England and inspired later constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution.

Re:  The “king” and his caprice.  Such rule by “personal government” – as Trump seeks to create – could also be called as a Banana republic, a “pejorative descriptor for a servile dictatorship that abets and supports, for kickbacks, the exploitation of large-scale plantation agriculture.”

Re:  The quote in the lower image.  According to some sources, it came from Victor HugoSee 9 Quotes From Winston Churchill That Are Totally Fake, and also Victor Hugo: “You have enemies?:

You have enemies?  Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed or created a new idea.  It is the cloud which thunders around everything that shines.  Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats.  Do not bother yourself about it; disdain.  Keep your mind serene as you keep your life clear.

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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.

On Oscar Wilde and our “criminal heroes…”

Oscar Wilde Sarony.jpg

As far was we know, nobody yelled out “Shut up, you filthy sodomite” to Oscar Wilde

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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 Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is 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:

I just finished reading the January/February 2019 National Geographic magazine.  I came across this comment from Oscar Wilde, about Americans – and their unique hero-worship.

Wilde was visiting America – specifically, St. Joseph, Missouri – a week after Jesse James was killed.  (By the “coward Robert Ford,” illustrated at right.)  Wilde thus “witnessed firsthand the mad clamor for relics of the outlaw at an auction of Jesse’s household belongings.”  That led him to observe: “Americans are certainly great hero-worshipers, and always take their heroes from the criminal classes.”

(Not that has anything to do with current events…)  

That led me to Oscar Wilde in America – Breaking Character.  I wanted to verify the National Geographic quote, and maybe get some additional background.  Which led me to this:

In Leadville, Colorado he was winched down into the depths of a silver mine and delivered a lecture to the miners on the ethics of art.  “I read them passages from the autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini and they seemed much delighted,” he said.  “[But] I was reproved by my hearers for not having brought [Cellini] with me.  I explained that he had been dead for some little time which elicited the enquiry, ‘Who shot him?’

It turns out that “some little time” was over 300 years.  That is, Cellini (1500-1571) was an “Italian goldsmith, sculptor, draftsman, soldier, musician, and artist.”  (He also wrote the “famous autobiography” that Wilde read to the Colorado miners.) 

And in turns out that nobody shot Cellini…  That is, despite his various escapades – sexual and otherwise, described further below – he lived to a “ripe old age.”

I’ve written about Wilde before in Oscar Wilde and “gross indecencies,” On Roy Moore – and Oscar Wilde, and Imitation Game” – Revisited.  And when I started work on this blog-post, I planned to review those past posts on Wilde.  I also planned to write more about Americans today, VIS-À-VIS their habit of “always tak[ing] their heroes from the criminal classes.”

But as it turns out, Cellini was way more interesting…

For one thing, he was “one of the most important artists of Mannerism.”  (Which includes a variety of approaches “associated with artists such as Leonardo da VinciRaphael, and early Michelangelo.  Where High Renaissance art emphasizes proportion, balance, and ideal beauty, Mannerism exaggerates such qualities, often resulting in compositions that are asymmetrical or unnaturally elegant.”)  And he’s “remembered for his skill in making pieces such as the Cellini Salt Cellar and Perseus with the Head of Medusa.”  (Seen at left.)

But that’s not the interesting part.  The interesting part involved Cellini’s “active social life,” if not his frequent run-ins.

For example, he boasted in his memoirs of killing five people.  There may have been more but no one knows for sure:  He never got convicted.  (He got pardons from various church officials, including popes.)  But he did have to bounce around a lot:  From Rome to Florence to France, back to Florence, then to Venice, and so on.

For an example of that (and other things):  In 1548 – he was 48 or so (being born in 1500 helps) – a woman in Florence accused Cellini of sodomizing her son, Vincenzo.  To escape the charge he fled to Venice.  “This was not the first, nor the last time, that Cellini was implicated for sodomy.”

And this – Wikipedia noted – illustrated his strong homosexual or bisexual tendencies; (“once with a woman and at least three times with men during his life”).  As for penalties:  As a young man “he was sentenced to pay 12 staia (bushels) of flour in 1523 for relations with another young man…  Meanwhile, in Paris a former model and lover brought charges against him of using her ‘after the Italian fashion’ (i.e. sodomy).”  Later still, in 1556 (at age 56):

Cellini’s apprentice … Montepulciano accused his mentor of having sodomised him many times while “keeping him for five years in his bed as a wife.  This time the penalty was a hefty fifty golden scudi fine, and four years of prison, remitted to four years of house arrest thanks to the intercession of the Medicis.  In a public altercation before Duke CosimoBandinelli* had called out to him Sta cheto, soddomitaccio!  (Shut up, you filthy sodomite!)

Cellini described this as an “atrocious insult,” and tried to laugh it off.

But he wasn’t done.  (For one thing, he outlived Bandinelli by 11 years.)  In 1562 – after briefly trying a “clerical career” – he married a servant, with whom he claimed to have five children.  In 1563 he was named a member of the “prestigious Accademia delle Arti del Disegno of Florence, founded by the Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici … under the influence of the architect Giorgio Vasari.”

So aside from being a talented artist, he knew how to make some pretty influential friends.

And finally, when he died in Florence in 1571 he was “buried with great pomp in the church of the Santissima Annunziata.”  As to what caused his death, some modern readers may think that was a result of his lifelong various escapades, sexual and otherwise.

But the fact is that despite all those turmoils, run-ins and escapades, he lived to the ripe old age of 71.  And this was at a time when the average life expectancy was 30 to 40 years(See for example What was life expectancy in the 1500s – answers.com, and/or Life Expectancy From Prehistory to Today.)  And from all this we might glean two points of note:  For one thing, “I’m sure there’s an object lesson here, but darned if I can figure out what.”  For another:

Who says history can’t be fascinating?

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On the other hand – as far as we know – Cellini never got tried for “gross indecency.”

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 I borrowed the upper image from Oscar Wilde and “gross indecencies.”  In turn, the image is courtesy of Oscar Wilde – Wikipedia, with the caption:  “Photograph taken in 1882 by Napoleon Sarony.”  Here’s what Oscar Wilde in America – Breaking Character said about the photo:  

The most iconic images of Wilde we have today [including the image at the top of the post] were actually taken in New York at the studio of Napoleon Sarony at 37 Union Square.  It was in America that Wilde perfected his image, and it’s ironic that this image was the subject of a lawsuit that changed US copyright law forever.  Sarony successfully sued a company that had reproduced 85,000 copies of this picture of Wilde, claiming ownership over the copyright of a photograph for the first time in legal history.

And re:  Wilde’s comment on American hero-worship.  It was on page 88 of the paper edition of the “January/February 2019 edition of National Geographic magazine.”  See National Geographic History – January 2019 Free PDF, for an electronic version, and/or National Geographic (Ebay) for an image of the paperback cover.  Also, the web article Breaking Character” did in fact verify the quote:

Wilde lectured in Saint Joseph, Missouri two weeks after Jesse James had been murdered there and found the whole town in mourning.  “Americans are certainly great hero-worshippers, and always take their heroes from the criminal classes,” he observed.

For more on Cellini, see 13 surprising facts about Cellini – DorotheumArt, How many people did benvenuto cellini kill? | Yahoo Answers, and The Bedevilment of Benvenuto Cellini – EsoterX.

Re:  The “Bandinelli” who called out to Cellini, “Sta cheto, soddomitaccio!”  He was a “Renaissance Italian sculptor, draughtsman and painter” (1488-1560).  He had a “lifelong obsession with Michelangelo,” but was also – according to Giorgio Vasari, “a former pupil in Bandinelli’s workshop” – he (Bandinelli) “was driven by jealousy of Benvenuto Cellini and Michelangelo.”

The lower image is courtesy of Sodomy Trial Oscar Wilde – Image Results.

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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.