About That Militia

Evzones: Traditional Uniform of the Elite Greek Guards

Everyone I know is sick to death of the multiple shootings appearing in the news every day. I look back at the text of the Second Amendment, so beloved of pudgy aged 50+ Texans and Midwesterners, and I wonder how we have come to this. Here is the entire text of the amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Well, I say let them buy guns, but with one proviso: They must form a well-regulated militia, with frequent regular meetings, preferably scheduled during major sports playoffs, bowl games, and championships. Oh, and they must have a uniform. Otherwise, they can’t really be said to be a well-regulated militia, no?

As for the uniform, I prefer that of the Greek Evzones, illustrated above. Now although the uniform doesn’t look butch enough to most Americans, the Evzones were elite mountain and light infantry units that were tested in battle against the Turks in the 1920s and Communist insurgents of the 1950s.

Since I am opposed to cultural appropriation, I suggest that the skirts worn by the pot-bellied gun-toting militia be rainbow colored; and the pom-poms on the shoes should be pink.

The guards in the above photo are serious soldiers, which our NRA-loving militia would not be. But, by God, they would be well-regulated … to the point of complete exasperation and utter abashment.

Keep Him Occupied

Trump Appearing in New York for Another Deposition

Yesterday, I was surprised that Bill Maher on “Real Time with Bill Maher” came out against the 34 felonies with which the Trumpster is charged relating to the Stormy Daniels case. Apparently, he thinks that Americans don’t care about sex-related charges against our presidents, thinking of how Bill Clinton’s popularity soared despite the whole Monica Lewinsky affair.

I say that it is best to keep MAGA Man busy with lawsuits and criminal charges—enough to keep him busy for the rest of his days. This is on the same principle that it is best to keep a toddler busy so that he doesn’t get into more mischief. And here the stakes are considerably higher than mere mischief.

Wear the man out defending himself, looking out for ever more lawyers to stiff. When he is kept busy in this way, there will be fewer incendiary rallies en route to becoming president again. It’s like tying a 100-pound weight to his legs.

If you read this blog, you know I dislike the man. That doesn’t stop me from seeing the humor of the situation.

All these court cases are like the death of a thousand cuts. One can make a case for him being a martyr the first time, but what about the 70th time? or the 7 times 70th time? It may just do the trick.

When He Was Cool

A Young Donald Trump With First Wife Ivana

Now that his karma is finally catching up with him, my thoughts have turned to the young Donald Trump, when he was actually considered to be cool. I am thinking of Trump at Studio 54 being kowtowed as a celebrity. Here was a real estate mogul married to an exotic Czech model named Ivana. He still had a reasonable amount of hair and even looked sort of handsome. This was in the period before he became a reality TV star on The Apprentice in 2004. And definitely before he took aim at the presidency.

The moment Trump came down that gold-plated escalator of the Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, everything turned into a brown and murky covfefe. After ex-wife Ivana died last year, she was interred at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ as part of an elaborate tax dodge. In fact, the golf course had to be consecrated so that the Catholic Ivana could be buried there. As a certain ex-president would say in its nightly tweets, SAD!

As time goes by, there will be a lot more to be SAD about. The current indictment is only the beginning of the ex-president’s troubles. Whatever you may think about him, you wouldn’t like to be in his shoes.

An Attractive Fanaticism

The following paragraph from from a 1949 British mystery novel by Edmund Crispin entitled Buried for Pleasure. In the novel Oxford Professor Gervase Fen is running for parliament, but gets sidetracked by a number of murders and other crimes in Sanford Angelorum. So instead of telling his constituents he no longer wants the job, he delivers the following speech the night before the polling. By the way, he wins.

I shall now tell you the reason why fanaticism of this sort is so attractive to humankind. A contemporary French writer—whose name I shall not mention, since you are probably too stupid either to recognize it or to remember it—has pointed out with unanswerable logic that men adopt ideas not because it seems to them that those ideas are true, or because it seems to them that those ideas are expedient, but because those ideas satisfy a basic emotional need of their nature. Now what emotion—I ask you—provides the chief motive power of the politically obsessed? You do not answer, because you have never given the matter a moment’s thought. But were you to do so, even you might dimly perceive that the reply to my question is the monosyllable hate. Never forget that political zealots are people who are over-indulging their emotional need of hatred. They have, of course, their ‘constructive’ programmes, but it is not these which supply the fuel for their squalid engines; it is the concomitant attacks, upon a class, a system, a personality; it is the lust to defame and destroy. Let no such men be trusted. That they have landed themselves, here and hereafter, in the most arid of all hells as a circumstance which I must confess does not greatly distress me, and with that spiritual aspect of the matter I do not propose to deal.

Bad Faith

Fox News Commentator Tucker Carlson

As if I didn’t have sufficient reason to loathe and distrust Fox News, it appears that many of the right-leaning commentators on the channel continue to back Trump even though they dislike him. In a story appearing on the CNN website, the following appears:

Carlson “passionately” hates Trump: In a number of private text messages, Carlson was harshly critical of Trump. In one November 2020 exchange, Carlson said Trump’s decision to snub Joe Biden’s inauguration was “so destructive.” Carlson added that Trump‘s post-election behavior was “disgusting” and that he was “trying to look away.” In another text message conversation, two days before the January 6 attack, Carlson said, “We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait.” Carlson added of Trump, “I hate him passionately.” The Fox host said of the Trump presidency, “That’s the last four years. We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest. But come on. There isn’t really an upside to Trump.”

And it isn’t just Carlson who has been acting in bad faith by pretending to back the Trump 2020 Election barrage of lies: Other names of Carlson’s colleagues appearing in the Dominion Voting Systems’ suit against Fox News are Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Rupert Murdoch himself. All are on legal record as disbelieving Trump’s election lies yet appearing to back them night after night on the news.

It takes a special kind of person—one with zero moral compass—to be so dedicated to promoting so diligently false news in which they themselves do not believe.

What Are His Subhuman Powers?

One of 45’s New NFT Trading Cards: Only $99 Each!

It is ironic that so many people in America still see our last president not as he really is, but in the way he wants them to see him. His “Big Announcement” of last week was just another attempt to mulct the base by selling trading cards showing a set of highly idealized images of himself as a superhero.

I would like to think that the man’s powers are fading imperceptibly, from week to week, from a figure that purported to be a savior of the forgotten Americans of the Red States, to an extremely high maintenance liability known for shafting everyone who ever cared for him.

Instead of shelling out big money to support the man, I present to you a more realistic image of the 45th President of the U.S., who still thinks he’s President:

Statue of Donald J. Trump in New York

These images don’t cost no $99 either!

The Factions of the Hippodrome

Of late, I have become fascinated by literary and historical antecedents of our present divided political situation. In the United States, we have the Blue States versus the Red States. In a post from December 9 when I wrote about Charles Dickens describing the Blues and the Buffs at a parliamentary election at Eatanswill. One of the most amazing tales on the subject comes from Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire when he describes the racing factions of the Hippodrome during the reign of Justinian in the 6th Century A.D. in Constantinople:

Constantinople adopted the follies, though not the virtues, of ancient Rome; and the same factions which had agitated the circus, raged with redoubled fury in the hippodrome. Under the reign of Anastasius, this popular frenzy was inflamed by religious zeal; and the greens, who had treacherously concealed stones and daggers under baskets of fruit, massacred, at a solemn festival, three thousand of their blue adversaries. From this capital, the pestilence was diffused into the provinces and cities of the East, and the sportive distinction of two colors produced two strong and irreconcilable factions, which shook the foundations of a feeble government. The popular dissensions, founded on the most serious interest, or holy pretence, have scarcely equalled the obstinacy of this wanton discord, which invaded the peace of families, divided friends and brothers, and tempted the female sex, though seldom seen in the circus, to espouse the inclinations of their lovers, or to contradict the wishes of their husbands. Every law, either human or divine, was trampled under foot, and as long as the party was successful, its deluded followers appeared careless of private distress or public calamity. The license, without the freedom, of democracy, was revived at Antioch and Constantinople, and the support of a faction became necessary to every candidate for civil or ecclesiastical honors. A secret attachment to the family or sect of Anastasius was imputed to the greens; the blues were zealously devoted to the cause of orthodoxy and Justinian, and their grateful patron protected, above five years, the disorders of a faction, whose seasonable tumults overawed the palace, the senate, and the capitals of the East. Insolent with royal favor, the blues affected to strike terror by a peculiar and Barbaric dress, the long hair of the Huns, their close sleeves and ample garments, a lofty step, and a sonorous voice. In the day they concealed their two-edged poniards, but in the night they boldly assembled in arms, and in numerous bands, prepared for every act of violence and rapine. Their adversaries of the green faction, or even inoffensive citizens, were stripped and often murdered by these nocturnal robbers, and it became dangerous to wear any gold buttons or girdles, or to appear at a late hour in the streets of a peaceful capital. A daring spirit, rising with impunity, proceeded to violate the safeguard of private houses; and fire was employed to facilitate the attack, or to conceal the crimes of these factious rioters. No place was safe or sacred from their depredations; to gratify either avarice or revenge, they profusely spilt the blood of the innocent; churches and altars were polluted by atrocious murders; and it was the boast of the assassins, that their dexterity could always inflict a mortal wound with a single stroke of their dagger. The dissolute youth of Constantinople adopted the blue livery of disorder; the laws were silent, and the bonds of society were relaxed: creditors were compelled to resign their obligations; judges to reverse their sentence; masters to enfranchise their slaves; fathers to supply the extravagance of their children; noble matrons were prostituted to the lust of their servants; beautiful boys were torn from the arms of their parents; and wives, unless they preferred a voluntary death, were ravished in the presence of their husbands. The despair of the greens, who were persecuted by their enemies, and deserted by the magistrates, assumed the privilege of defence, perhaps of retaliation; but those who survived the combat were dragged to execution, and the unhappy fugitives, escaping to woods and caverns, preyed without mercy on the society from whence they were expelled. Those ministers of justice who had courage to punish the crimes, and to brave the resentment, of the blues, became the victims of their indiscreet zeal; a præfect of Constantinople fled for refuge to the holy sepulchre, a count of the East was ignominiously whipped, and a governor of Cilicia was hanged, by the order of Theodora, on the tomb of two assassins whom he had condemned for the murder of his groom, and a daring attack upon his own life. An aspiring candidate may be tempted to build his greatness on the public confusion, but it is the interest as well as duty of a sovereign to maintain the authority of the laws. The first edict of Justinian, which was often repeated, and sometimes executed, announced his firm resolution to support the innocent, and to chastise the guilty, of every denomination and color. Yet the balance of justice was still inclined in favor of the blue faction, by the secret affection, the habits, and the fears of the emperor; his equity, after an apparent struggle, submitted, without reluctance, to the implacable passions of Theodora, and the empress never forgot, or forgave, the injuries of the comedian. At the accession of the younger Justin, the proclamation of equal and rigorous justice indirectly condemned the partiality of the former reign. “Ye blues, Justinian is no more! ye greens, he is still alive!”

A sedition, which almost laid Constantinople in ashes, was excited by the mutual hatred and momentary reconciliation of the two factions. In the fifth year of his reign, Justinian celebrated the festival of the ides of January; the games were incessantly disturbed by the clamorous discontent of the greens: till the twenty-second race, the emperor maintained his silent gravity; at length, yielding to his impatience, he condescended to hold, in abrupt sentences, and by the voice of a crier, the most singular dialogue that ever passed between a prince and his subjects. Their first complaints were respectful and modest; they accused the subordinate ministers of oppression, and proclaimed their wishes for the long life and victory of the emperor. “Be patient and attentive, ye insolent railers!” exclaimed Justinian; “be mute, ye Jews, Samaritans, and Manichaeans!” The greens still attempted to awaken his compassion. “We are poor, we are innocent, we are injured, we dare not pass through the streets: a general persecution is exercised against our name and color. Let us die, O emperor! but let us die by your command, and for your service!” But the repetition of partial and passionate invectives degraded, in their eyes, the majesty of the purple; they renounced allegiance to the prince who refused justice to his people; lamented that the father of Justinian had been born; and branded his son with the opprobrious names of a homicide, an ass, and a perjured tyrant. “Do you despise your lives?” cried the indignant monarch: the blues rose with fury from their seats; their hostile clamors thundered in the hippodrome; and their adversaries, deserting the unequal contest spread terror and despair through the streets of Constantinople. At this dangerous moment, seven notorious assassins of both factions, who had been condemned by the præfect, were carried round the city, and afterwards transported to the place of execution in the suburb of Pera. Four were immediately beheaded; a fifth was hanged: but when the same punishment was inflicted on the remaining two, the rope broke, they fell alive to the ground, the populace applauded their escape, and the monks of St. Conon, issuing from the neighboring convent, conveyed them in a boat to the sanctuary of the church. As one of these criminals was of the blue, and the other of the green livery, the two factions were equally provoked by the cruelty of their oppressor, or the ingratitude of their patron; and a short truce was concluded till they had delivered their prisoners and satisfied their revenge. The palace of the præfect, who withstood the seditious torrent, was instantly burnt, his officers and guards were massacred, the prisons were forced open, and freedom was restored to those who could only use it for the public destruction. A military force, which had been despatched to the aid of the civil magistrate, was fiercely encountered by an armed multitude, whose numbers and boldness continually increased; and the Heruli, the wildest Barbarians in the service of the empire, overturned the priests and their relics, which, from a pious motive, had been rashly interposed to separate the bloody conflict. The tumult was exasperated by this sacrilege, the people fought with enthusiasm in the cause of God; the women, from the roofs and windows, showered stones on the heads of the soldiers, who darted fire brands against the houses; and the various flames, which had been kindled by the hands of citizens and strangers, spread without control over the face of the city. The conflagration involved the cathedral of St. Sophia, the baths of Zeuxippus, a part of the palace, from the first entrance to the altar of Mars, and the long portico from the palace to the forum of Constantine: a large hospital, with the sick patients, was consumed; many churches and stately edifices were destroyed and an immense treasure of gold and silver was either melted or lost. From such scenes of horror and distress, the wise and wealthy citizens escaped over the Bosphorus to the Asiatic side; and during five days Constantinople was abandoned to the factions, whose watchword, Nika, vanquish! has given a name to this memorable sedition.

The Parliamentary Election at Eatanswill

Illustration by “Phiz” for The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

If you think the political division between the Democrats and Republicans is a new think, you should read Charles Dickens’s The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1837), particularly in the scenes describing the parliamentary election at Eatanswill (“Eat and Swill”), one of the most savage satires by the British writer. Here is his masterful description of the state of things at Eatanswill:

It appears, then, that the Eatanswill people, like the people of many other small towns, considered themselves of the utmost and most mighty importance, and that every man in Eatanswill, conscious of the weight that attached to his example, felt himself bound to unite, heart and soul, with one of the two great parties that divided the town—the Blues and the Buffs. Now the Blues lost no opportunity of opposing the Buffs, and the Buffs lost no opportunity of opposing the Blues; and the consequence was, that whenever the Buffs and Blues met together at public meeting, town-hall, fair, or market, disputes and high words arose between them. With these dissensions it is almost superfluous to say that everything in Eatanswill was made a party question. If the Buffs proposed to new skylight the market-place, the Blues got up public meetings, and denounced the proceeding; if the Blues proposed the erection of an additional pump in the High Street, the Buffs rose as one man and stood aghast at the enormity. There were Blue shops and Buff shops, Blue inns and Buff inns—there was a Blue aisle and a Buff aisle in the very church itself.

Of course it was essentially and indispensably necessary that each of these powerful parties should have its chosen organ and representative: and, accordingly, there were two newspapers in the town—the Eatanswill Gazette and the Eatanswill Independent; the former advocating Blue principles, and the latter conducted on grounds decidedly Buff. Fine newspapers they were. Such leading articles, and such spirited attacks!—‘Our worthless contemporary, the Gazette’—‘That disgraceful and dastardly journal, the Independent’—‘That false and scurrilous print, the Independent’—‘That vile and slanderous calumniator, the Gazette;’ these, and other spirit-stirring denunciations, were strewn plentifully over the columns of each, in every number, and excited feelings of the most intense delight and indignation in the bosoms of the townspeople.

Mar-a-Lardo in 2024?

The Neverending Election: So Boring Your Ears Will Bleed!

It is now official. Donald J. Trump will run for president in 2024. He plans to bore us into submission with his endless rambling disconnected speeches, complete with antediluvian dance moves and fist pumps. When his announcement to run was made at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday, his mostly sympathetic audience was so fatigued that they tried to leave the room—but Trump had ordered the doors to be locked to prevent that from happening.

Isn’t that against the law? What if there were a fire? I would have called the local fire department from the floor of the auditorium. But then I am no friend of the Trumpster Dumpster.

Missing from the audience were Don Junior, who “missed his flight” and Ivanka, who has decided to remove herself from politics and Papa’s bedroom eyes

Compared to his announcement in 2015, when he came down the escalator like a god descending from Heaven, this was a low-energy event. The 2022 midterm elections have hurt the Trump brand, but he refuses to give it credence. Is he going to claim the 2024 election was stolen if he gets only a tiny percent of the vote?

You know, Americans are mighty fickle, and could it be that all the stuff Trump stands for is fast becoming passé? Maybe democracy will ultimately be saved because the 45th President is yesterday’s news.

Urban vs Rural

Do You Want Rural America to Set Your Priorities?

Looking at the coverage for the 2022 Midterm Elections, I find myself appalled by the decisions made by voters in Rural America. Although I am pleasantly surprised by the many failures of Republican candidates (as opposed to what pundits had predicted), I wonder by rural voters vote the way they do.

When the Founding Fathers decided on what sort of government the former British colonies would have, they saw the new nation as a union of states. That led, among other things, to the infamous Electoral College which gave the edge in Presidential elections to rural states. The very fact that all states, irrespective of population, have two senators meant that the least populous state, Wyoming, with 580,000 residents, had as much clout in the senate as California, with 39.24 million residents.

The way the Electoral College works is that, for each state, one adds the number of U.S. senators (two per state0 to the number of members of the House of Representatives. That means that Wyoming has 3 electoral votes, whereas California has 53. That doesn’t look so bad at first, until you realize that California has roughly 78 times as many people as Wyoming, not 19 times as many. That distortion is caused by the addition of Wyoming’s two senators.

I don’t get a good feeling about the voters who live in rural America. They’re not all sturdy independent farmers: More likely, they’re living from hand to mouth and are bitterly opposed to us city folks. I also get the feeling that theirs is primarily an “F—k You“ vote.

We have to be aware of the fact that rural voters can get into an awful snit and sink the Ship of State for no good reason.