Elagabalus

Elagabalus (AD 203-222)

It is generally accepted that the worst of the Roman emperors was Elagabalus, also known as Heliogabalus, who reigned from 218 to 222, when he was assassinated by the Praetorian Guard at the tender age of eighteen. My thoughts tend to turn in his direction when I consider the current occupant of the White House and various other Trumpf properties. Read what Edward Gibbon has to say about him in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

A rational voluptuary adheres with invariable respect to the temperate dictates of nature, and improves the gratifications of sense by social intercourse, endearing connections, and the soft coloring of taste and the imagination. But Elagabalus, (I speak of the emperor of that name,) corrupted by his youth, his country, and his fortune, abandoned himself to the grossest pleasures with ungoverned fury [Italics mine], and soon found disgust and satiety in the midst of his enjoyments. The inflammatory powers of art were summoned to his aid: the confused multitude of women, of wines, and of dishes, and the studied variety of attitude and sauces, served to revive his languid appetites. New terms and new inventions in these sciences, the only ones cultivated and patronized by the monarch, signalized his reign, and transmitted his infamy to succeeding times. A capricious prodigality supplied the want of taste and elegance; and whilst Elagabalus lavished away the treasures of his people in the wildest extravagance, his own voice and that of his flatterers applauded a spirit of magnificence unknown to the tameness of his predecessors. To confound the order of seasons and climates, to sport with the passions and prejudices of his subjects, and to subvert every law of nature and decency, were in the number of his most delicious amusements. A long train of concubines, and a rapid succession of wives, among whom was a vestal virgin, ravished by force from her sacred asylum, were insufficient to satisfy the impotence of his passions. The master of the Roman world affected to copy the dress and manners of the female sex, preferred the distaff to the sceptre, and dishonored the principal dignities of the empire by distributing them among his numerous lovers; one of whom was publicly invested with the title and authority of the emperor’s, or, as he more properly styled himself, of the empress’s husband.

Perhaps what this country needs is a Praetorian Guard detachment.

 

Serendipity: ¡Viva La Muerte!

Some of the Issues from the Spanish Civil War Seem Very Contemporary

I am currently reading the First Edition of Hugh Thomas’s The Spanish Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1961).  Many issues between the Nationalists (Franco’s Fascists) and the Republic (very like our Democratic Party) seem to ring equally true for today’s overcharged political environment. On August 15, 1936, the Nationalists adopted the flag of the Spanish monarchy and made a number of speeches. After Generalissimo Francisco Franco and Gonzalo Queipo de Llano y Serra, there was a third speaker:

Next to speak was [José] Millán Astray, a man from whom there seemed to be more shot away than there was of flesh remaining. He had but one leg, one eye, one arm, few fingers left on his one remaining hand. ‘We have no fear of them [the Leftists],’ he shouted, ‘let them come and see what we are capable of under this flag.’ A voice was heard crying‘¡Viva Millán Astray!’ ‘What’s that?’ cried the General, ‘no vivas for me! But let them all shout with me “¡Viva la muerte! ¡Abajo la inteligencia!”’ (Long live death! Down with intelligence!). The crowd echoed this mad slogan. He added, ‘Now let the Reds come! Death to them all!’ So saying, he flung his cap into the crowd amid extraordinary excitement. [Page 272]

Fascist General Millán Astray

How like the Fascists to praise death and downgrade intelligence. “Don’t think too much,” they seem to be saying. “Just follow orders!” The Spanish left was like our Democrats: A Circular firing squad. There was the CNT (Anarcho-Syndicalist Trades Union), the FAI (an Anarchist secret society), POUM (Trotskyites), PSUC (the United Catalan Socialist-Communist Party), and UGT (the Socialist Trade Union). On the Left were militias, propagandists, the International Brigades from all over Europe and the Americas, and a whole plethora of irreconcilable beliefs and opinions. On the Right was the Spanish Army led by Franco and supplies and manpower from Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy.

The Internet Erupts … or Does It?

The Internet Is Bigger Than You or Me

One of the most common “fillers” on news websites is the reaction of the Internet to various news stories. Often this is accompanied by a triumphant tone, such as the recent story that Tomi Lahren, even as she excoriated Obamacare, was enjoying the benefits of Obamacare. The news story usually sounds like this: “The Internet erupted when it discovered that ….”

Except for one thing: The Internet per se does not erupt. Those who hate Trumpf may do a happy dance; but hard-core Trumpf-followers just don’t care. They might even think more of her for her hypocrisy in taking advantage of a program she was attacking, thus helping in a strange way to bring about its demise. I am sure that Tomi Lahren, Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer, the Mooch, Kayleigh McEnany, and other Trumpf spokespersons do not believe more than a fraction of what they announce to the public. Let me go further: Even Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and other highly paid news-like “entertainers” may very well believe in their heart of hearts what most of us believe, but they have learned that there is big money pandering to fools.

So do not be too heartened—or disheartened—by what you discover on the Internet. It’s just another minor bump on the road hat could, on one hand, be a seaming pile of turds or the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

How To Be Hateful

Martin Shkreli As Seen By Court Artist

Some people have a unique ability to be hateful. Perhaps the most obvious example is one Martin Shkreli, who is quite possibly the most hated person in America today. A corrupt entrepreneur, Shkreli is perhaps most famous for raising the price of a vital medication from $13.50 to $750.00 per pill. That, however, is not why he was brought to justice: Rather it was his securities fraud violations of SEC procedures while running MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare. Now it appears that his behavior during and after the trial might result in a heavier legal penalty when the court reconvenes.

The court artist portrait of Shkreli above makes him look like an ogre from a fairy tale. Or look at this depiction:

Gollum + Shkreli


Only in the case of our current president have I seen someone who is so determined to be widely hated. There is one problem with that type of provacative behavior: One usually pays for it in the end.

Up-Yours-Ism

Promise Them Anything, But Give Them the Finger

It has not taken long for Americans to find out what they have in President Trumpf. During the campaign, a number of different positions were taken. Let’s face it: Many of them were contradictory. What we ended up with was lots of promises, few of which were kept. Our Presidente is not a particularly bright man whose political philosophy appears to be Up-Yours-Ism.

Unless you are either a billionaire or a tyrannical dictator, you are probably a pathetic loser. So, basically, Up Yours! Remember that famous White House Press Dinner at which Barack Obama lambasted Trumpf, who sat glowering in the audience, resolved to completely undo everything his predecessor ever did. (And he’s still trying to prosecute “Crooked Hillary.”) This is a man who wants to get even with everybody who ever mocked him—and that includes most of the American people. They don’t like me? Then, Up Yours!

Funny thing, though, it’s not always a good thing to have all your wishes come true. Look at the stories of Croesus and Midas. Trumpf lives all by himself in the White House, which he thinks is a dump, probably because it doesn’t have gold plumbing fixtures. His wife doesn’t want to live with him. He doesn’t trust anyone for more than the lifetime of a fruit fly. His only out is golf at various clubs he owns around the world. Plus, he must be aware that the wolves are gathering in an attempt to put an end to his presidency. But that only feeds the troll, to which his inevitable response is: Up Yours!

This is a new experience for the American people, being treated as a bunch of losers by a self-styled billionaire. How does he feel about those ever-declining poll numbers. Wait, never mind! That’s just fake news. Up Yours!

 

The Dumpster Fire Spreads

There’s a Lot of GOP Hotfoots in Washington Today

The Trumpf Administration (it’s actually funny to think of it as an “Administration”—more like a dumpster fire that just got out of control) is so ridiculously beleaguered that it’s almost funny. Except that it’s happening to each and every one of us. We escaped having a health program that would have demised several million Americans rather unceremoniously.

But there will be other chances, what with the other pending items on the GOP agenda. After today, though, I can’t see ol’ Turtleface McConnell smiling with any degree of sincerity.

And, as more Trumpf insiders become outsiders, I can see more embarrassing stories bedeviling the man from Mar-a-Lago. Such as the time the Presidente called in Reince Priebus to the Oval Office for the sole purpose of killing a fly.

It Started Small but Grew to Engulf a Whole Nation

It looks now as if Trumpf has enemies in both major political parties. Do you suppose that eventually, someone will develop the spine to remove this chucklehead from office?

Reckless Driving—With Impunity—At Least, So Far!

A Crazy Man Is Behind the Wheel. When Will We Apprehend Him?

After some six months in office, President Trumpf is turning out to be the cray man I thought he would be. I still remember the worst night of my life, watching the election returns coming in while I was twisting and turning in a hotel in Quito, Ecuador. (Note: Although I was not in the U.S. at that time, I had voted before I left on my vacation.)

It is time to bring the Trumpf to account for his many crimes—and his “you can’t catch me” attitude. What are we waiting for? Child pornography on his computer? Goosing Brigitte Macron in front of her French President husband? An executive order to have Liberals castrated?  Sodomizing Hillary and Chelsea Clinton in front of Congress? Banishing Barack Obama to Kenya? Regardless what he does, he can continue to rely on his core supporters, consisting of the 40% of eligible voters who don’t give a sh*t what happens to our country, especially to the city slickers on the East and West Coasts.

I think we have to be created. Perhaps we should pass out free Oxycontin and other opioids in those states that voted most heavily for him. Those voters should not be immune from sharing in their President’s horrible fate, whatever it might be. Since Trumpf hates Iran so much, perhaps the ancient Persian form of execution known as “The Boat,” or Scaphism, would be appropriate:

The intended victim was stripped naked and then firmly fastened within the interior space of two narrow rowing boats (or hollowed-out tree trunks) joined together one on top of the other with the head, hands and feet protruding. The condemned was forced to ingest milk and honey, and more honey would be poured on the victim to attract insects, with special attention devoted to the eyes, ears, mouth, face, genitals, and anus. In some cases, the executioner would mix milk and honey and pour that mixture all over the victim. The victim would then be left to float on a stagnant pond or be exposed to the sun. The defenseless individual’s feces accumulated within the container, attracting more insects which would eat and breed within the victim’s exposed flesh, which—pursuant to interruption of the blood supply by burrowing insects—became increasingly gangrenous. The individual would lie naked, covered from head to toe in milk, honey, and his own feces. The feeding would be repeated each day in some cases to prolong the torture, so that fatal dehydration or starvation did not occur. Death, when it eventually occurred, was probably due to a combination of dehydration, starvation, and septic shock. Delirium would typically set in after a few days.

In case you didn’t know, I really don’t like the man.