The Royal Siblings

Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Anne

Of the four children of the late Queen of England, I do not think the best possible successor is Charles. There was always something clumsy about the new monarch. I believe he is well-intentioned, but I do not think he has made good choices in his life, witness Diana and Camilla. Unlike most people, I regard Diana as someone who could not be happy in marriage with anyone.

If we were to pass on Charles, that leaves the next three siblings, in order of succession, namely: Andrew, Edward, and Anne. Andrew, of course, has led too scandalous a life to be anything but a salacious footnote (Stripper Koo Stark and Jeffrey Epstein). About Edward, I know very little. He appears to be the shrinking violet of the family.

Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward at St. Giles in Edinburgh

I think the most talented of the four is the current Princess Royal, Anne. When threatened with a kidnapping by a lone gunman in 1974, Princess Anne refused to cooperate, commenting only “Not bloody likely!” She was a noted equestrian who participated in the Olympics and looks decades younger than the tormented Charles.

Her peppery personality is, I feel, what the monarchy needs. But then, the actual tale of successions after the deaths of kings and queens has yielded up many weak sisters of both genders. For all the gory details about who is in line to succeed Elizabeth, click on Line of Succession to the English Throne 2022.

He Showed Us What He Was Made Of

Two Josh Hawleys on January 6, 2021

Missouri calls itself the “Show Me” state. In yesterday’s session of the Congressional January 6 Insurrection Investigation Committee, it took only a few minutes to show that senator from Missouri was, after all, just another whiny little bitch with delusions of grandeur.

Early in the day, he was photographed giving a fist pump to rile up the demonstrators who were listening to the former president urging them to march on the Capitol Building. Yesterday, we saw the true Josh Hawley, fleeing from the mob he had encouraged, while the Capitol Police had to stand by to protect him and his like from the forces he helped set in motion.

As time goes on, I see the marchers and their supporters as people who are damaged into different ways. So many of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers still lived with their parents and were unable to hold down a job. Today Steve Bannon was declared guilty on two counts of Contempt of Congress and will be sentenced in October—all because he believed that he was protected by “executive privilege.” I don’t recall that argument ever working before, especially inasmuch as only guilty people seem to cling to it.

So far I have seen three of the televised January 6 congressional committee meetings. They have given me some hope that, perhaps, Mar-a-Lago Fats and his confederates will end up in the pokey.

I keep thinking of Latin American avenues and squares being named after calendar dates, such as the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires and 20 de Noviembre all through Mexico. Perhaps the access road to some of our Federal Prisons should be renamed to Avenue January 6.

A Criminal Mind

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JULY 19: Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan on July 19, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)

Today, for the first time, I watched the January 6 Congressional investigation of the January 6 insurrection. While I have never confessed to liking Donald J. Trump, I now view him with utter disdain. This is an individual who clawed his way to the top using chicanery, corruption, outrageous lies, and a total lack of moral compass—with the help of a particularly sleazy set of attorneys, beginning with the notorious Roy Cohn and continuing to Rudy Giuliani.

Trump’s unrelenting plot to steal the 2020 election by forcing his Vice President, Mike Pence, to commit illegal acts, and then raising a mob to threaten his life shows the polluted sludge in his veins, shows him to be successful only as a criminal. Certainly not as a leader of the American people.

Unfortunately, there are still millions of American voters who are 100% behind Trump and his political party. We have not seen the end of the MAGA mobs, nor will we until Oxycontin and Heroin have thinned the herd and their mothers have turned them out of their basement digs.

Long before Trump is re-elected to any office, I am sure that a regiment of demons from the uttermost pit of Hell will have reclaimed their golden boy.

Now You Tell Me!

AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File

I was reading the last short story in a collection by Marshall N. Klimasewiski entitled Tyrants, when I came upon this quote by an Arctic explorer (via hydrogen balloon) from Sweden named Salomon August Andrée. It struck me right between the eyes.

The conservatives are always more active in their own behalf than liberals. The reason is that the liberals or progressives feel sure of the ultimate triumph of their cause because they know they are supported by the law of evolution, while the conservatives feel themselves constantly threatened and are therefore busy protecting themselves.

New Uniforms for the Uvalde TX Police

Yes, Pink Tutus Would Be Perfect!

As the NRA has claimed so often, the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun (BGWG) is with a good guy with a gun. Well, the cops in Uvalde, TX were supposedly good guys with guns (GGWG), but instead of breaking the door down, they cowered in safety while a BGWG wiped out a classroom full of elementary school students plus two teachers for good measure.

Well, it’s time to get new uniforms for the Uvalde cops. How about pink tutus with a matching pink cowboy hat? Maybe their squad cars should also be painted pink. Mind you, I have nothing against the color pink, but I think those gentlemen would—and it would make them think. (Hell, I could have thrown in a yellow stripe down the back, but pink and yellow don’t match).

After listening to the right wing media blame everything but guns for the shooting, I seriously wonder whether the NRA enthusiasts of Texas have a screw loose in their noggins.

Why I Dread Elections

On Tuesday, June 7, California will hold a primary election. It used to be that primary elections were relatively boring affairs. No more! It seems that every candidate, every proposition is fought à l’outrance (to the death). Now that it seems that Trumpism is at war with reasonable governance, it seems that all of civilization is at stake, even in elections of judges, school board members, and dog catchers.

Every day for the last six weeks, my mailbox has been stuffed with four-color political puff pieces printed on card stock. The biggest offender is billionaire developer Rick Caruso, who is running to replace termed-out mayor Eric Garcetti, who is currently in limbo regarding Biden’s selection of him as ambassador to India. Not that I liked Garcetti, who was much too comfortable with real estate interests. And if I didn’t like Garcetti, I should vote to replace him with a real estate developer. Gack!! Ptttui!

If the onslaught were limited to my mailbox, it would be half tolerable. But now my phone rings several times a day with a SPAM RISK indicator, mostly either politicians, political groups, or so-called opinion surveys—none of which I answer.

If American politics winds up being a months-long assault on the patience of voters, no wonder I feel a sense of dread when elections are in the offing.

Naturally, the 24/7 news media are also affected by this intense combativeness. In addition, there are all the negative political TV and radio ads, which succeed only at increasing the sense of malaise. I know that we spend an inordinate amount of money on our elections. I would propose adding another expense: mailing every voter a supply of barf bags.

Doubling Down

Russian Troops in Ukraine

The term comes from the card game Blackjack when a player doubles the bid in exchange for one more card to be drawn. Politically, it means to become more tenacious, zealous, or resolute in a position or undertaking, particularly if it is risky. It seems to be ever more common, as if everyone is deathly afraid of backing down, even if the road ahead is full of traps.

I have made a number of mistakes in my life, but I have rarely been persistent in my errors. True, I might have become a soulless millionaire instead of a mere survivor. But, in my book, surviving is a good thing.

For people like Vladimir Putin or Donald J. Trump, surrender is never an option. Trump may well wind up in prison, and it is entirely possible for Putin to be forcibly escorted out of the Kremlin. But for the time being, they will remain resolute as if they were immortal and all-powerful—which they aren’t.

Stupid in Their Straightforwardness

Scene During the Siege of Sarajevo, Bosnia

Ethnic hatreds have in the last hundred years led to some of the most barbarous episodes in European history. I have just finished reading Brian Hall’s account of the beginning of the fragmentation of Yugoslavia into independent republics, The Impossible Country: A Journey Through the Last Days of Yugoslavia. Again and again, he is brought up short by the mutual hatred of Croats, Serbs, Muslims, and the other peoples of that sad Balkan land. Toward the end of his book, the author muses:

It had now become a truism among journalists, including veterans of Vietnam, Angola, Cambodia, and the Gulf War, that Yugoslavia was the most dangerous assignment any of them ever had, the principal reason being that the Serbs seemed to be deliberately targeting them. Croats and Albanians had a history of getting what they wanted by ingratiating themselves, sometimes shamelessly. with one or another of the great powers, and so, by extension, their natural inclination was to seduce journalists. But the Serbs, used to relying on themselves, felt such calculation was beneath them, so at first they had simply shut western journalists out, while Croats and Albanians had taken them to dinner…. Then, when the Serbs perceived in western newspaper reports what any fool could have predicted, namely a Croatian and Albanian point of view, they could only conclude that journalists were enemy agents, and the only response they could think of was to start shooting. In short, of all the elements of the Serbs’ self-serving self-image, the truest was that they were stunningly stupid in their straightforwardness.

The weird thing was that Croats and Serbs spoke the same language—Serbo-Croatian—though they insisted that Serbian and Croatian were separate languages. Croatians were mostly Catholic, and Serbians were mostly Orthodox. The Croatians used the Roman alphabet, while the Serbians used the Cyrillic alphabet.

Frank Gorshin in the “Let That Be Your Last Battle” Episode of Star Trek

I am reminded of the famous “Let That Be Your Last Battle” episode of the original Star Trek, in which space aliens whose faces were black and white were in a life and death struggle with those whose faces were white and black.

The Serbs were ultimately the biggest losers in the Yugoslav breakup because they constantly whined that other people did not understand them; at the same time they acted in such a way that nobody could side with them. The defining moment of their history is their loss to the Turks at the battle of Kossovo in 1389 AD—very much like many Southerners see their defining moment as their Civil War loss to the Union.

So beware of ethnic, racial, religious, and cultural prejudices. When they continue unchecked, violence is the inevitable result.

Manageable Chaos

A Hindu devotee shows his painted back with a message stating “GST (Global Service Tax) – A new boon or a lasting burden?” ahead of the rollout of the new tax in India, during the annual Rath Yatra, or chariot procession, in Ahmedabad, India 2017. REUTERS/Amit Dave

According to sociologist Ashis Nandy, writing in 1990:

In India the choice could never be between chaos and stability, but between manageable and unmanageable chaos, between humane and inhuman anarchy, and between tolerable and intolerable disorder.

I am currently reading V. S. Naipaul’s book India: A Million Mutinies Now (1991). It is the last of the late author’s three books on India. The others are An Area of Darkness (1964) and India: A Wounded Civilization (1977). Born in Trinidad of Indian ancestry, Vidia Naipaul was a British citizen who kept trying to understand the land of his forebears.

India is a land of multiple languages, multiple religions, multiple political factions, multiple ethnicities. In a word it is a land of multiple multiplicities. And it is becoming ever more centrifugal as time goes on. Hardly a day passes without news of massacres, rapes, terrorism, and murders directed at the other guy.

V S Naipaul (1932-2018)

In trying to understand India, Naipaul has helped all of us see more clearly what is an increasingly shattered society, yet one that manages to soldier on despite everything. I, who am so despairing of the split between the Trumpists and everyone else in the United States, am truly amazed that India is able to manage its own chaos so well. For now, anyway.

Following the Funnies

I have always loved reading the comics page in whatever newspaper my family or I ever got. Oh, I would scan the news first, and even the editorial page, but it was always the funnies that got my closest attention. You see, the news stories were to my mind, more subject to distortion than the funnies. The funnies are a clear indication what people are really thinking, but the news stories are typically designed to keep readers tense and upset.

On December 3, the Los Angeles Times got into my bad books by canceling one of my favorite strips, “9 Chickweed Lane” by Brooke McEldowney. It was replaced a couple weeks later by “Lu Ann,” which is considerably more tepid in every way.

And what excited the ire of some woke nincompoop leading to the decision? It was the following pane from the December 1 offering:

Huh? Pen Sallywright shoots down a Jap zero, commenting, “He was in the wrong hemisphere. He had it coming if you get my drift.” Now this is all part of a fantasy involving an RAF officer named Charge Chucker, and a mysterious, sexy Polish (and possibly space alien) spy who wears a ray gun holstered to her thigh. You can tell it’s a fantasy because Pen Sallywright shoots down a Zero with a hand weapon, and because she’s like from outer space.

I really do hate people who are too effing woke for their own good. I still read “9 Chickweed Lane” on a website which can be accessed here.

There used to be some awfully boring comics years back when “Gasoline Alley,“ “Mary Worth,” and “Rex Morgan MD” were running. But there were some great strips as well, such as “Pogo” and “Barney Google and Snuffy Smith.” Ah well, times change.