Ophelia’s Flowers

 Ophelia John Everett Millais 1851-2

John Everett Millais

In a large rectangular room in the Tate Britain Museum, a modestly sized painting draws the eye among all others.  A beautiful young woman floats in a stream surrounded by a dense, fecund growth, drifting silently down a quiet stream, surrounded by  flowers of florid color and variety.  But this is not a scene of serenity. A  pall lights her features, her eyes see nothing but madness and impending death. Her hands are held in a pose of complete surrender, grasping but not feeling a bouquet of violets, nettles and daisies, which cascade into a floating pool of withered stems on her shimmering waterlogged gown.  She is Ophelia, Hamlet’s scorned love, driven to madness and suicide by the dark Prince of Denmark.  And Ophelia is the signature painting of John Everett Millais, that announced the arrival of a brotherhood of British artists known as the Pre-Raphaelites, heralding  a full blown romantic movement in 19th century art.

In 1848, a group of young artists determined to shake the art world through a conviction that art had become statuary, overblown, and disconnected from the natural aesthetic of the world of creation. The group  of seven – John Everett Millais,  Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, Frederick Stephens, Thomas Woolner, and James Collinson – declared their disdain for the accumulated artifice of contemporary art, and harkened back to a time prior to the revolution of art propelled by Raphael and his acolytes.  For inspiration, they left the subject matter of fawning portraiture of royalty and idolatry, and defined a list they referred to as the “Immortals,” a disparate list of historical figures such as Jesus and King Arthur, diverse literary scions such as Shakespeare, Browning, Poe  and Shelley.  They set four basic rules for the Brotherhood of the Pre-Raphaelite.  1) To have genuine ideas to express 2) To study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them 3) To hold sympathy with what was direct, serious and heartfelt in art prior to the Raphaelite school and, most importantly, 4) produce throughly good and beautiful paintings and statues.   The sentinel evocation was Millais’ masterpiece of Ophelia, and the art world was stunned and even disturbed with what they saw.  Prior romanticism was held privately between the pages of a book.  Ophelia pulled the viewer into a world of intense feelings of pathos, pity, the world of mental derangement, and an intimate voyeurism that left many uncomfortable.  In the age of Victoria, the public acknowledgement of baser human feelings and passions were not a socially acceptable norm.  The popularity of what propelled from the seven artists suggests however, that the contemporary norms veiled a simmering intensity that had found a vehicle for expression.

The pre-Raphaelites formally cooperated only until 1854, then broke apart into various art directions. The intense romanticism of the paintings inspired a whole school of art and literature focused on the simple aesthetic of beauty as found in both human form and nature.  In literature, the Aesthetic Movement emulated the artistic strokes through writers such as Oscar Wilde and stylized through physical crafts such as furniture and pottery, the so called “art for art’s sake” of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The painters Rossetti and Waterhouse expanded the art form into overarching portraiture of idealized human beauty that bordered on sensual in a time of contracted public emotional expressions.   John William Waterhouse’s  Hylas and the Nymphs extends the flower symbolism into the realm of the human sensual, with the pure water lily painted along side nymphs that symmetrically reflect the lily’s youthful beauty and purity,.  They are colorized by the artist as a reflection of the lily in human form, peerlessly white skin, languid lines, but with a hint of danger as they, like the lily, float above a dark murk and intend a dangerous attraction for Hylas, who is mesmerized by their ethereal beauty.  The flower allegory pulls the intense power of nature and its primordial instincts through the painting that prevent it from becoming a vehicle that could suggest leering without the balance.

Hylas and the Nymphs John William Waterhouse

Hylas and the Nymphs
John William Waterhouse

The focus on beauty as an artistic expression pushed into the twentieth century but became mired in excess and repetition that left the world ready for the bound away from realism through the light show of Impressionism and inevitably the distortion and evocativeness of the genius that was Picasso.  Beauty, like flowers in bloom , appropriately is transient and comes against the harsh realities of life.  Shakespeare’s masterpiece Hamlet, presented an anti-hero to the world and evoked the pitiful fragility of beauty and innocence through the brief but unstable vision of Ophelia.  John Everett Millais achieved the core of Shakespeare’s expression through his alliteration on canvas of Ophelia in a stirringly poetic and faithful representation of the tragedy of Ophelia, so masterfully evoked by Shakespeare through Queen Gertrude’s beautiful eulogistic soliloquy:

There is a willow that grows askant the brook,  that shows his (hoar) leaves in the glassy stream.                                                                There with fantastic garlands did she make                                       Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,                           That liberal shepards call a grosser name,  but our maids do “dead man fingers” call them.                                                                 There on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds Clam’ring to hang, an envious silver broke,                                                          When down her weedy trophies and herself fell in the sleeping brook.                                                                                                                  Her clothes spread wide, and mermaid like awhile they bore her up, which time she chanted snatches of old lauds,  as on incapable of her own distress.                                                                         Or like a creature native and endued unto that element.  But long it could not be till that her garments, heavy with their drink,   pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay                   To muddy death.

There is a willow that grows askant the brook,   that shows his leaves in the glassy stream.   There with fantastic garlands did she make.  John Everett Millais captured the moment for  us all to glory in, the majesty and beauty of life, so fragile and so capable of madness and sorrow that comprise humanity.


One can see Ophelia and the many other masterpieces of the Pre-Raphaelites at the Tate Britain Museum.


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Poor King George III

King George III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

King George III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

I have had a long respite from the challenges of maintaining an interesting blog, spending a goodly portion of time traveling to London and the surrounding countryside, storing up wonderful memories and visuals I cant wait to share with you.  For an amateur historian like myself, the journey was a veritable feast.  A city and country chocked full of the magnificence of 2500 years of people, places, and events that form so many of the cornerstones of western thought and civilization.  But then, you knew that already.  I will do my best to resist a tired litany of the stops that you can get from any travel guide or commemorative. Sometimes, unassuming things you note on your travels have a more profound effect  upon you then the more illustrious sites.  And certainly can make for more interesting writing.

For instance, I was struck by this beautiful statue of King George III under a pleasant tree on the east end of Pall Mall, the thoroughfare extending along St James Park, from St. James Street projecting towards Trafalgar Square.  The statue, dedicated in 1836, sculpted by Matthew Coates Wyatt, is a magnificent equestrian statue showing a confident and intelligent sovereign aboard his powerful steed Adonis.   One can certainly not say that the statue’s location is not situated among the most prominent street addresses in London.  But as statues go, it is quite isolated from the nation’s most honored heroes, from Nelson soaring over Trafalgar Square to Prince George, Duke of Cambridge on Whitehall to the brooding Churchill gazing upon Parliament.  The Boulevard of Whitehall the perfect scale for pageantry and prestige. And George III?  Under a tree off of Pall Mall.

I’m sure I’m making too much of the statue’s location but it works into the psyche that the location is the subtle reference to this king having done something not associated with the other glamorous statuary subjects.  George III lost some serious empire.  And the nation memorialized the monarch in a respectful but not quite forgiving location.

George III ascended to the throne in 1760, and for the next 59 years served his nation with the longest reign of any male monarch in British history.  By the time of his death in 1820, George III had presided over an epic period of history with both spectacular triumphs and ignominious defeats that have few equals in that nation’s annals. A descendant of the Hanover line of kings that had ruled Great Britain from 1714 to rescue the country from the succession crisis that resulted from the end of the House of Stuart as a provider of sovereigns.  Despite being associated with German royalty, George III was a complete breath of fresh air when he first ascended the throne.  This king was the first of the Hanoverian line born in England, proud of his englishness in speech, and a true son of the Enlightenment.  He spoke multiple languages, was a religious and ethical man,  immersed himself in science and other scholarly pursuits, and ruled the country with an eye on transforming the island nation into the most modern and powerful of nations on earth.  Fortuitously in 1763, just three years into his reign, he stood astride a colossus that had just defeated its mortal enemy France in a world war, that resulted in England gaining a huge swath of the North American continent.  The fragile english colonies on the eastern seaboard of North America could now look over two thousand miles of common language, law and commerce without the competition of a hostile French periphery.  The new King could define himself as ruler of one of the great empires in human history.

Oh, to be King.

The problems started almost immediately with victory.  The huge debt incurred in achieving the massive military victory had to be paid, and the King was not so enlightened when it came to the relationship of sovereign to subject.  The Americans, who had gained security and spectacular opportunity with the expulsion of the French, were expected to help pay for their home country achieving such bounties for them.  It would take the form initially of the Stamp Acts, means of deriving revenue from the Americans to help pay for the war that all had benefited from.   Which takes us back to the Enlightenment, which brought new ideas from people like John Locke that influenced the American colonists to the point of confrontation with their king.  Taxation without representation, however imprecise in the actual actions of the British parliament and king, was an intolerable act to the colonists.  By 1775, the pressure cooker exploded into armed violence, and the king was faced with real insurrection.  Kings and insurrection don’t go over well, and George III was not about to allow such affronts to his absolute authority.

How serious was the King?  Ever so serious.  Great Britain, so recently involved in worldwide conflict and stretched financially, determined through the will of its King to raise the largest amphibious force to that time assembled, and move over 35,000 fully trained and armed troops across the ocean to crush the rebellious colonists and their ragtag army.  The idea that a set of colonies orders of magnitude larger than the homeland would be allowed to separate was absolute anathema.

Yet, in one of the truly amazing outcomes in history, the underdogs managed to beat their masters in an 8 year long struggle.  The King was forced to release through treaty millions of square miles of the North American continent so soon after previous triumph.  The humiliation so great, King George III was willing to abdicate as a testimonial to his acceptance of his role in the debacle.  That’s how you end up under a tree in an obscure corner of  a park.

But the saga and pathos of course don’t end there.  Under George III’s rule, the loss of portions of North America propelled a sequence of events that culminated in the overthrow of the monarchy in France, the very real danger of an invading republican army from France, and progressively the crisis propagated by the rise of a military genius dictator on the continent named Napoleon Bonaparte that threatened the very existence of the monarchy.  True to form, King George III once again marshaled his forces, and under the epic triumphant heroism of Horatio Nelson at Trafalgar and the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo, Great Britain reigned supreme.   Guess where their statues ended up.

Crushing Louis XV and gaining half a continent. Crushing Napoleon and gaining an empire.  One might see a good reason to place poor King George III more among the pantheon of national heroes.  But losing to Americans, that just proved undigestible.  King George III steadily buffeted against mental illness, and by the time of the triumph of Waterloo, was in no position to reorient  people’s opinions.

The record would suggest one of Britain’s more substantial monarchs, and the peerless gift he made to the nation of a library befitting of an enlightened world power is still seen today in the masterful library of King George III in the British museum.


As an American, I am certainly glad that King George III was the rigid foil upon which a great nation was able to birth and overcome.  But a little bit sympathy and respect is in order to someone who on the basis of one loss has seen forever tainted his role in his nation’s  greatness.

I’m not saying move the statue, but maybe when you’re in a rush to see all the other paeans to winners, remember old George didn’t do so bad himself.



















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Trump Ceiling, Clinton Floor, People Basement


The national election of one of the world’s great democracies is now two months away and our moment of truth is soon upon us.  On November 8th, 2016, the American people will take on their Constitutionally granted duty and select among perhaps the two worst candidates ever nominated by the major parties for the job of Chief Executive.  Horrors.

The seeming ease for those of us most resolved to stand back and not in engage in the misery was but a month ago a Hobson’s choice.  The supposed competent Criminal was going to beat the incompetent Clown like a screen door in a hurricane.  Well, the  political competence of the Criminal has proven to be – not so competent.  The polls now suggest the election has tightened to the point where we might all go around on November 9th and hear those immortal, nightmare inducing words of 2000 – how do you count a hanging chad?

The swing states of Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Colorado are now swinging because the Orange One has managed to get his mojo together and show some real prescience and discipline, and the Ethically Challenged One has managed to be herself.  The establishment media, which is used to parroting lockstep the meme that will reinforce the good guy liberal  bad guy conservative story to an effective conclusion in November, has struggled mightily with the seeming disinterest of the public in what they have to say.  The media obviously has not been helped by the chosen one’s incredible weakness as a candidate to the point where it appears she may have to be physically carried across the doorstep to victory.

Hillary Clinton’s aversion to the truth and obsession for secrecy to obscure her lies has proven to be genetic.  William Safire so many years ago nailed her persona precisely.  She lies to prevent real malfeasance from coming to light, and we have let her off the hook each and every time.  The latest blizzard is connected to the bottomless pit of lying she has performed regarding the never ending email saga.  Every remark she has ever made about it is a lie, and every lie she tells, attempts to cover a lie she told.  Now that’s a real liar.  Many might say, so what, we all lie a bit as our reality is often less sexy or self enhancing.  But as our mothers all once admonished us, lying will make you sick.  For Hillary, whether its the lies that making her sick, or the lies about her real sickness, the two devastating blows to her character are showing a rickety and sagging floor in her voter’s enthusiasm for her, and it might be terminal.  Even a party like the Democrat Party, which has such voting discipline when it counts that one might rename it the Hold Your Nose Party, is struggling mightily with this Clinton.  You don’t need enthusiasm for New York, Illinois, and California – those states are so long gone to rational debate that Mrs. Clinton could abdicate and she would still beat her opponent.  You do need it however in the large swath of the country that still foolishly believes an election should be a debate about the future, and there,  the Clinton screen door is banging loose from its hinges.

Then there is Donald Trump, who was supposed to have a real ceiling of enthusiasm, and oh boy what a rigid ceiling.  Its bad enough having the Democrats decrying your blissful ignorance regarding every conceivable policy debate, but what do you do when at least a quarter of your own voters think you are a knucklehead?  Well, maybe its not a quarter of the republican vote any more.  Trump’s last month of simply avoiding every single cow pie of his own making, has made him looking like, dare I say, the competent one.  The apparent ceiling of 40 % of the voter’s who would vote for  Mr. Moose  to effect change is now a ceiling no more.  Mr. Trump is in a statistical heat with Mrs. Clinton and it is reflecting not only on swing states but even the supposed lock down states like Michigan and Nevada that Mrs. Clinton’s union brigades were going to bring home for her.  The adage that 60% percent of the country couldn’t possibly vote for a clownish, completely unprepared figure like Trump for our nation’s most complex political position, is abutting the realization that 55% may not be able to vote for the alternative. Trump has helped the perception of a rising ceiling with a heretofore unrevealed discipline to follow the script of competence, even if his id wants to drive him into nonsensical ‘lookatme’-ism.

So here we, the American People,  stand in the basement, the ceiling above pushing on the floor below, just waiting for the whole unstable pile to crash down on us.  From our dim perspective the future does not look very bright, but what it is definitely looking like more and more, is unpredictable.  The first debate comes at the end of September and we will all be drawn to watch like moths to a flame.  Can Hillary stand on her feet for a half hour under bright lights without collapsing?  Can Donald Trump go five minutes without stepping in a cowpie so huge even his own hugeness can not extricate himself from it? Can a formative debate occur where literally no one is capable of telling the truth about anything?  Are we so beaten down that we can’t any longer discern the difference?

Don’t lie. You want to watch.  Reality television has become – reality.


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15 Years

September 11, 2011 abcnews.go.com

September 11, 2001


We are 15 years removed from one of those seminal events in history when a shared recollection is seared into our consciousness for all time. The shock of the first impact on the North tower on one of the most serenely beautiful September mornings. The confusion as to how such an accident could happen, only to be followed shortly later by subsequent second strike to the South tower, with the agonizing realization of the premeditation. Then a brutal morning of accelerating chaos and death. A third plane strikes the Pentagon in Washington DC. The immolated south tower of the World Trade Center collapses. A hijacked fourth plane headed to destroy the nation’s capitol is driven to the ground by brave passengers in a field in Pennsylvania. The North tower of the World Trade Center collapses.

It has been 102 minutes since the onset. Thousands are dead. The nation is paralyzed. Air traffic is grounded. The President of the most powerful country in the history of the world, is sequestered in Armageddon mode.

Fifteen years has not been long enough to remove fully the memory of the raw emotions of helplessness as one watched in real time the unfolding horror. The confusion, the fear of potentially more events, and the slowly building outrage that over the next weeks fused the nation’s will to act are equally memorable.

The great sacrifices of that morning, the indescribable courage, and the subsequent responses are known more intensely and personally to the families of those directly involved. The passenger brigade that selflessly chose communal suicide to stop the terrorists who planned to use Flight 93 for further horrible destruction. The police and firemen who went into the burning towers to rescue as many as they could before the sequential collapse took many of their own lives. The pilots of unarmed fighter jets preparing to take down through impact any plane that remained in the air as a potential terrorist weapon against Americans.

All are remembered as the indications of the national character. What is less remembered because it does not fit for some the political narrative for some is the performance of the nation’s government to identify the ringleaders and hunt them down, eliminate the terror cells at their source in Afghanistan, and most impressively, for eight years prevent any further terror events on the nation’s soil.

The great coming together through national calamity has been clouded over the distance of fifteen years by a progressive sense of detachment, despite multiple events of recent revealing the ongoing and very real present danger that has percolated from the death cults of radical Islam. We are somehow anesthetized to the concept of struggle and what is at stake. We accept “events” as workplace violence or mental illness, when the perpetrators clearly announce their motivations. We stand in long security lines to travel, to attend public events, losing our own freedoms to pretend to protect us against ourselves, when the evil is before for all to see. We have been hacked, Snowdened, even bullied by our own government to reveal our most personal information as a side effect of the death cult piggybacking itself upon modern technology. Most devastatingly, we have begun to reject actual history for made up narratives that impugn the leaders who responded that day, and the decisions that led to enormous sacrifice of treasure and our nation’s finest people in conflicts borne from the violence.

In New York City this morning, at a remembrance ceremony, two candidates desiring to lead this nation through future challenges, two candidates who are commissioned to help this great nation stay the course in a sea of danger and threat, were present to attempt to suggest they were up to the job. Two old, tired, and reactionary candidates. One could not even get through the entire event without having to be helped from the public stage. Our full history is not yet written from the calamity of 09/11/2001, and the reality of sclerotic leaders must make America look to her enemies as a very vulnerable and wounded prey.
Fifteen years is a long time, but in the tides of history an eye-blink. We must try to hold on through our time of inwardness and sclerosis to remember what it is that they hate about us, and what is at stake. Ideas that are eternal, and eternally young. Freedom. Liberty. Opportunity. Civility. Justice.

A world that remembers such things, and treasures such things, will ultimately triumph. No death cult can long weather the illumination of ideals of such innate human power.  We shall be strong.

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People We Should Know #30 – Kayla Mueller

Kayla Mueller - 1988-2015 "For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal"

Kayla Mueller – 1988-2015
“For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal”

A very ancient practice in humanity is veneration of those that come before.  In the catholic church, the process of veneration occurs after a person is gone, and the sum total of their life experiences upon reflection appear in retrospect to have elevated them beyond others who have lived as exemplary in their sanctity or in their living example to others. They are canonized, and venerated as saints for their faith and godly inspiration. Sometimes the saintly life is witnessed by tens of thousands, and the acts appear miraculous and possessing power beyond the mortal coil. Others, the life, no less inspirational, touches very few over a brief interlude, and is buried in the obscurity of every day tragedy and suffering.

Kayla Mueller is a young woman who lived in obscurity and whose good works are reproduced by thousands of people every day who see their life’s calling as selflessly helping others.  She is brought to our attention only by the dark misery of her final months on earth brought about by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Examples of saintliness, often whispered, however have the power to break through the  15 minutes of  focus our attention crazed culture will willingly allot to any one event.  The story of Kayla Mueller, a young woman who stayed true to her convictions through the darkest and most unholy of circumstances, simply grows in stature since her death.  Through the witness of others, Kayla Mueller lives on as an example of the power of faith and goodness steeped in our western civilization, and a oh so worthy venerable Ramparts People We Should Know -#30.

Kayla’s brief but exemplary life was not unique in its path.  Young people imbued with intense idealism have always decried the world for its realities, and strove to do their part to elicit change.  Whether the young monastic voyagers who preserved civilization in the 8th and 9th centuries as they proselytized the concept of permeable monasticism and set up centers of learning across Europe, to the missionaries of the nineteenth century across the world who expanded the Word, and with it the concepts of hygiene, education, and sustainable farming.  The twentieth century was flush with organizations inspired by idealism regarding poverty, environment, refugees, and health that sought to apply these universal concepts of civilized humanity across borders.  Young people flush with the desire to help have been drawn to Catholic Relief, Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Peace Corps and many other institutions that seek to reduce suffering no matter how chaotic the environment.

It was to this world, the world of helping others as a foundational element of her own existence,  that Kayla was drawn.  When she left college, she knew that a routine life that she had grown up in, of marriage, children and a comfortable life in a small town in Arizona were not her calling.  Her idealism tightly interwoven with her faith pointed her in a far different direction:

“For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal”                                   Kayla Mueller

She traveled the world – to India, the Middle East and Tibet – to seek out human misery and do what she could to bring attention to, and in her own small way, alleviate suffering. Typical for a millennial activist, she was cause driven – hunger, poverty, human rights-and was often offended and idealistically desensitized to the very real politics and conflicting forces that created such conditions of poverty and suffering.  This desensitization led her to make mortal mistake, when she ignored her Syrian boyfriend’s repeated advice that she stay out of the hyper-dangerous world of war torn Syria.  Desiring to see first hand the calamity rather than deal with refugees across the relative safety of the Turkish border, she talked him into letting her accompany him on a job at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, one of the epicenters of the conflict.  The August 3,2013 day trip became calamitous when she and three other aid workers were abducted by ISIS on the car ride back to Turkey.

The following 18 months can only be described as an ungodly hell.  The perverted cult defined by the inner circle of ISIS saw Kayla as a particularly valuable form of chattel compared to her other miserable hostages, given her American passport and her Christian faith.  She was subjected to torture, repeated rape, isolation, and humiliation in a monstrous effort to subjugate her.  Her value was apparent to the king gangster, the Abbadon known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS crackpot who took her as his personal sex slave.  She was forced to watch the beatings, rapes, and execution of her fellow hostages, and mercilessly, the release of others while she stayed captive.  Her horrified parents in Arizona did what they could to bring her home, from working towards a demanded ransom of millions of dollars, to pressuring the US government to do something to change the brutal fate she faced.  The 18 months of hell was only brought to an end on February 6, 2015, when it was declared by ISIS she had been killed in an American bombing, though those close to nightmarish story professed doubt regarding the exact circumstances of her demise.

Kayla would have been simply another of the tragic stories of innocents caught in the trap of another manmade historical hellhole, were it not for a steady and increasing witness to the very special nature of this nondescript woman.  On such witness, saints are recognized.   Two characteristics are common to every shared survivor of that hellhole that managed to escape Kayla’s fate. Kayla Mueller, under murderous pressure and torture, never renounced her faith and humanity, and selflessly sacrificed for others whenever she could. In the hellish world where her chief captor was ‘Jihadi John’, the sick masochist seeking fame through media recorded beheadings, the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot, and the forced sex slavery of Yazidi women and massacre of Yazidi men, Kayla was reported as directly denying Jihadi John’s boast to other hostages that she had converted to Islam, when this example of defiance most surely led to more beatings and sexual assaults.  When given a once in a lifetime chance to escape with two Yazidi captive girls, Kayla selflessly declined, telling them they would have a better chance if not in the company of a western woman.  While those around her achieved rare freedom, in what must have been for her unbearably painful to remain behind, she never lost her dignity in front of them and held on to her faith that god would find an answer to her suffering, much as she always hoped to bring to others.  Witness after witness, the same story of the American woman who maintained her faith and dignity, and reinforced their belief in humanity, through the worst that humans can offend.

Kayla Mueller ended up triumphing despite her despair and horror, and through her suffering and martyrdom did more to bring resilience to the fight against evil than any of her previous actions.  She is the purest of martyrs, not to be remotely compared to those pathetic posers who immolated themselves in service of a death cult and their own hoped for cartoon glory.

The politicians have reminded us that real world politics remain the dirty business of near scoundrels.  The US government, as responsible as any for giving the murderers of ISIS the foothold they needed in the Syria and Iraq to live out their perverted fantasies, told the Muellers in their desperate attempt to pay a ransom to gain her freedom, informed the parents it was against the law to pay ransom to terrorists.  The merits of such a law apparently had no sway on the administration recently when it recently paid 400 million to Iran in immediate proximity to release of hostages, a ransom by any other name.  I guess it just depends whether someone’s legacy is directly at stake.  Whether blaming an innocent man’s video for the death of Americans in Benghazi or paying non-ransoms for hostages, its pretty clear,  politics is a dirty business indeed.

C.S. Lewis once tried to explain the incredible power of faith that provided the rock that allowed Kayla Mueller an average, flawed person to triumph supernaturally over evil:

Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

Kayla wanted to tell the story of her life as if the afterlife depended on it, but not in the delusional way that current death cult drives its followers, an afterlife of dominance and personal reward for those who have been pathetic in this one.  Kayla’s reward was always in her mind of living a fulfilled life in the service of others. “For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal.”  Her desire to live her life in a way true to her faith rather than true to her comfort, is her triumph, not her martyrdom.  Whether anyone would have ever heard of Kayla Mueller had she stayed out of Syria that fatal day and remained anonymous, her faith and selfless acts assured that her God had heard.  She knew this desire, a yearning which no mundane experience in this world can satisfy, and in the depths of her despair, recognized she would ultimately triumph.  On the shoulders of such giants, we flawed mortals must stand back in awe.  For living her brief life always with the intent to bring meaning and alleviate suffering, Kayla Mueller is Ramparts  People We should Know #30.

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Pivots, Principles, and Pundits

Is Donald Trump now A-OK?

Is Donald Trump now A-OK?

In one of the most dispiriting contests for leadership of a great nation since Otho displaced Galba, the 2016 election continues along its unmerry way.  In a not so epic battle between an implacable prevaricator and a self amused charlatan, the nation sheds its weary tears.  2016 could be the epochal election where whoever wins, the nation is the biggest loser.

The prevaricator Clinton, firmly in the lead, recognizes the safe thing to do is to say nothing.  That is to say, nothing true.  Caught in a blizzard of lies regarding her impossibly stupid and criminal use of a private e-mail server for the highest level of government secrets, she continues to do what she does best – lie as only liars can lie.  Confronted with never telling the truth, she states she has always been truthful about lying.  When the media attention, so minuscule compared to any similar event in a candidate’s life not wearing a democratic party mantle, becomes the least bit focused, she manages to lie stating that former Secretary Colin Powell suggested she maintain her own server.  See? Everybody did it, so how bad could it be?  Not so fast! declares the fastidious Powell.  The turd-nado that would normally accompany such a cascade of untruths is nowhere to be found – just the gentle drizzle of sure she’s a liar, but how could you possibly vote for the dangerous crazy orange guy?

The self amused charlatan, Trump, otherwise known by the media as the dangerous crazy orange guy, has firmly re-enforced the notion that he might be dangerous crazy.  Propped up by an alternative right crowd that is even more dangerous crazy then he is, Trump has continued the drumbeat against his election foes with aplomb- Ted Cruz and his father, the Gold Star Khan parents, the New York Times, and those who ousted Saddam Hussein. This laser focus on the immaterial has had its inevitable response in the mid-August polls.  0 for 23.  Generally not a good predictor of victory.  The captain of the ship responsible for the course directly into an iceberg, did what wayward captains in such circumstances do – he fired his iceberg averse crew and hired new crew who aren’t afraid of hitting icebergs.

And then, out of nowhere, a deliberative Trump produces two consecutive speeches that carry the perfect balance between the nation’s problems and thinking that gets to the core of those problems. First the foreign policy speech that lays out in clear, concise fashion that difference between the inherited middle east of Obama – Clinton and the tattered calamity that has been left in the wake of their policies:

Libya was stable.
Syria was under control.
Egypt was ruled by a secular President and an ally of the United States.
Iraq was experiencing a reduction in violence.
The group that would become what we now call ISIS was close to being extinguished.
Iran was being choked off by economic sanctions.
Fast-forward to today. What have the decisions of Obama-Clinton produced?
Libya is in ruins, our ambassador and three other brave Americans are dead, and ISIS has gained a new base of operations.
Syria is in the midst of a disastrous civil war. ISIS controls large portions of territory. A refugee crisis now threatens Europe and the United States.
In Egypt, terrorists have gained a foothold in the Sinai desert, near the Suez Canal, one of the most essential waterways in the world.
Iraq is in chaos, and ISIS is on the loose.

The media so engrossed in the meme of the age of “smart” foreign policy brought as a gift to America by the twin geniuses Obama and Clinton, was put aback by the Trump’s precision artillery, and his brazen willingness to expose the Potemkin village of supposed successes of the “intellectuals”  running the country.  And then like a championship prize fighter, not the drunken brawler he had been, Trump came immediately back the next night with an even more provocative spot on speech, a take down of the myths associated with race baiting, and the democratic stranglehold on urban centers in the United States fomenting the devastating outcomes that have resulted in perpetual poverty for its poorest citizens:

There is no compassion in allowing drug dealers, gang members, and felons to prey on innocent people. It is the first duty of government to keep the innocent safe, and when I am President I will fight for the safety of every American – and especially those Americans who have not known safety for a very, very long time. I am asking for the vote of every African-American citizen struggling in our country today who wants a different future.

It is time for our society to address some honest and very difficult truths.  The Democratic Party has failed and betrayed the African-American community. Democratic crime policies, education policies, and economic policies have produced only more crime, more broken homes, and more poverty.

Let us look at the situation right here in Milwaukee, a city run by Democrats for decade after decade. Last year, killings in this city increased by 69 percent, plus another 634 victims of non-fatal shootings. 18-29-year-olds accounted for nearly half of the homicide victims. The poverty rate here is nearly double the national average. Almost 4 in 10 African-American men in Milwaukee between the ages of 25-54 do not have a job. Nearly four in 10 single mother households are living in poverty. 55 public schools in this city have been rated as failing to meet expectations, despite ten thousand dollars in funding per-pupil. There is only a 60% graduation rate, and it’s one of the worst public school systems in the country.

1 in 5 manufacturing jobs has disappeared in Milwaukee since we fully opened our markets to China, and many African-American neighborhoods have borne the brunt of this hit.

To every voter in Milwaukee, to every voter living in every inner city, or every forgotten stretch of our society, I am running to offer you a better future.

For the first time, this Donald Trump did not simply cut to the chase as to what the real world was like compared to the liberal narrative.  This time he started to identify and suggest solutions that could appeal to people directly caught in the violence and poverty vortex:

The Democratic Party has run nearly every inner city in this country for 50 years, and run them into financial ruin.   They’ve ruined the schools.    They’ve driven out the jobs.   They’ve tolerated a level of crime no American should consider acceptable.   Violent crime has risen 17% in America’s 50 largest cities last year. Killings of police officers this year is up nearly 50 percent. Homicides are up more than 60% in Baltimore. They are up more than 50% in Washington, D.C.

This is the future offered by Hillary Clinton. More poverty, more crime, and more of the same. The future she offers is the most pessimistic thing I can possibly imagine.

It is time for a different future.   Here is what I am proposing.

First, on immigration. No community in this country has been hurt worse by Hillary Clinton’s immigration policies than the African-American community. Now she is proposing to print instant work permits for millions of illegal immigrants, taking jobs directly from low-income Americans. I will secure our border, protect our workers, and improve jobs and wages in your community. We will only invite people to join our country who share our tolerant values, who support our Constitution, and who love all of our people.

On trade, I am going to renegotiate NAFTA, stand up to China, withdraw from the TPP, and protect every last American job.

On taxes, I am going to give a massive tax cut to every worker and small business in this country, bring thousands of new companies and millions of new jobs onto our shores – and make it very difficult for our businesses to leave.

I am going to reform our regulations so jobs stay in America, and new businesses come to America to hire workers right here in Milwaukee. Every policy my opponent has sends jobs overseas. I am going to bring trillions in new wealth back to the United States.

On education, it is time to have school choice, merit pay for teachers, and to end the tenure policies that hurt good teachers and reward bad teachers. We are going to put students and parents first.

Hillary Clinton would rather deny opportunities to millions of young African-American children, just so she can curry favor with the education bureaucracy.

I am going to allow charter schools to thrive, and help young kids get on the American ladder of success: a good education, and a good-paying job.

On crime, I am going to support more police in our communities, appoint the best prosecutors and judges in the country, pursue strong enforcement of federal laws, and I am going to break up the gangs, the cartels and criminal syndicates terrorizing our neighborhoods. To every lawbreaker hurting innocent people in this country, I say: your free reign will soon come crashing to an end.

On healthcare, we are going to get rid of Obamacare – which has caused soaring double-digit premium increases – and give choice to patients and consumers. Aetna, just today, announced they are dropping out – as are many of the major insurance companies.

On government corruption, I am going to restore honor to our government. We’ve seen the corruption of Hillary Clinton, the mass email deletions, the pay-for-play at the State Department, the profiteering, the favors given to foreign corporations and governments at your expense. We’ve seen a former Secretary of State lie to Congress about her illegal email scheme, risk innocent American lives, and bring dishonor onto our government.

In my Administration, I am going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law.

I am going to forbid senior officials from trading favors for cash by preventing them from collecting lavish speaking fees through their spouses when they serve.

I am going to ask my senior officials to sign an agreement not to accept speaking fees from corporations with a registered lobbyist for five years after leaving office, or from any entity tied to a foreign government. This is all just the beginning.

We are going to make this a government of the people once again. This is our chance to take back power from all the people who’ve taken it from you. The reason you see the establishment media lining up behind my opponent is because they are scared that you, with your vote, can take away their power and return it to your family and community.

As the week closed, the self amused charlatan suddenly looked like the guy with the ideas and the other candidate the poster child of more of the tired, failed lies we tell ourselves.

The pundits of the media class pontificated that this was clearly the “pivot to presidential” that for months they had breathlessly claimed would appear as soon as Trump had escaped the partisanship of the primaries.  From my standpoint 48 hours of laying out some clarifying rationales that define the difference between two opposing political views does not a pivot make.  Does any candidate that has determined to lead a great nation require a pivot if the reason for running in the first place was a long pondered and vetted set of principles and beliefs that define them?  Trump’s epiphany may be that he finally realized that neither candidate had any principles, and that a principles vacuum existed. A principled Trump could provide some separation.  Can Trump stand in front of a mirror long  enough to stop admiring himself, and consistently begin to look within himself?  The data to this point in time would suggest we will be back to a large dose of demagoguery lickety split.

If instead the miraculous has happened and someone has gotten to Trump, to remind him he is our reflection and not his own – maybe, just maybe we could have ourselves a real election.


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The Dog Days of August

My boy sleeping off the dog days of August

My boy sleeping off the dog days of August

The blessed gift of summer, warm, long days and star filled nights, with the nature’s bounty in full bloom, is brief but treasured paradise for every midwesterner.  August then arrives, and the buildup of heat begins to linger, with more muggy humidity and flying bugs, more  substantial thunderstorms, and the first hint of the etherial nature of warm pleasantries in a northern clime.  These are the dog days, and even the dogs know it.  The energy lags.  The baseball team is going nowhere.  The world is skittish about the number of unhinged people with grievances looking for a violent moment in the sun. The political scene is an unadulterated mess.  The Olympics are sliding into the politically correct abyss.  Maybe its best to just curl up in a ball, and sleep it off.

Historian Andrew Roberts in the UK Telegraph reminds us August, named for the most dominant of Roman Caesars, has been notorious for being the month of great upheaval.  The calamity known as World War I was triggered in August 2014 when massive  mobilizations across Europe triggered the inevitable initiation of direct conflict between million man armies. World War II was seared to a close in the dropping of the two atomic bombs on August 6th, and August 9th 1945 in a fitting close to the Armageddon of World War II, launched on August 31st, 1939 by the Nazi dictator who fondly dreamed about Gotterdammerung. The Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein decided August 2nd 1990, was an appropriate time to attempt to take over a third of the world’s oil with an invasion of Kuwait and in all probability the Arab Gulf States, until the United States and its allies  determined to upset his fantasy of untold wealth and power over the next 6 months. Caesar Augustus would likely have been offended that the violent month would be associated with the man who brought the world Pax Romana.  Not so much the violent part, just the fact that leaders were unable to instill the iron discipline that prevented upstarts from starting conflagrations threatening the order of things.

The world is drifting into muggy somnolence this August.  Polls have suggested a waning interest, particularly among youth, for the engagement,  hard work, and need for compromise, that sustains democratic rule.  Despite the abysmal records of socialist top down governments, there is a growing comfort with the idea of a “strong” leader to go above the heads of legislatures where nasty differences in opinion have to be worked out, and have the efficiencies of decisions that are determined to be in our “best interest”.  The United States, with almost a perfect process of checks and balances to prevent the development of  a supreme leader, finds that its current President has used extra-legal means to secure his agenda, and nothing is done about it.  To secure a treaty with the arch enemy Iranian mullahs, Obama made an agreement that didn’t require Senate approval as demanded in the Constitution, and flaunted the laws placed to prevent paying ransom for hostages, making Americans everywhere at risk for the long arm of terrorists.  So much for the checks and balances. Its current candidates for the executive office, Hillary Clinton, the felonious sieve of our nation’s security, continues in a pattern typical for her entire public life, to lie and deceive with the intent to exhaust ear, and eventually the rectitude of the voter.  The water canon Donald Trump, spews out conflicted concepts unburdened by circumspect thought, suggesting only The Donald is capable of solving an infinity of national problems.  Not with solutions, mind you, simply the power of extra-constitutional will. Sounds pretty “strong man” to me.  The two party system that propelled these two anti-democratic poseurs has made a shambles of the idea of principled  democracy.  It will not be enough to simply roll up in a ball.  We are going to need a significant shower to wash off the rhetorical dung.

Out there exists more of the same.  A disconnected populous takes selfies to record their own existence, not their society’s accomplishment.   People carelessly give up their unique identity more and more to nefarious software parasites that steal identity like they used to steal jewels, destroying the trust in the marketplace, the concept of citizenry, and the power of the vote.  Athletic contests are tainted with doping and  men are running as women to defeat women running as women, to alter artificially the concept of competition, and more fundamentally the idea of envisioning the accomplishment of an outcome based on the concept of effort, dedication, and equal opportunity.  Judges seek to actively overrule laws that offend their political senses, not their training, regarding the process of law and the importance of rule of law in a democracy.  The somnolence extends to the “governmentalizing” of health care, where life prolonging decisions will be made on politically correct behaviors, not by practitioners and patients objectively dealing in a private way with disease and mortality.

Oh, the dog days.  Its hard to look at them as anything other than something to be tolerated rather than overcome.   A nice secure place to roll up in a ball and sleep it off seems to definitely have its merits.  Of course, at some point, we are going to have to wake up, stretch, look around, and get to work and start fixing this mess.

Not today.  Maybe tomorrow.



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Exit the Strong Man, Enter the Bearded Lady…

Behind Scenes Circus Oz H4eWPyvufXEl

The dog days of July are upon us, and the traveling circus that is American politics are trolling the summer circuit.  The tent has been packed up in Cleveland, and the carnies and animal acts are on their way to Philadelphia.  The nation, as much as it has pressing worries, cannot take its eyes off the fantastical world of the circus and its farcical, somewhat foreboding characters.  After several decades of lousy and boring acts representing America, the citizens have turned toward a much more entertaining spectacle.  Unlike the fortnight of most circuses, this one, come November 8th, 2016, is scheduled like it or not for an extended, painful run.

In the past when the Republican circus has come to town, the more spectacular venues have typically been outside the tent.  The staid Republicans have attracted. like flies to a picnic, the more exotic carnival acts.  A motley crew of communists, race baiters, environmental globalists, and animal rights activists have typically coalesced into a street production designed to feed off the national audience tuned into the acts of the main tent. Violence, miserable hygiene,  police taunts, and the throwing of bodily fluids and worse have been part of the demanding side show..  For some reason, however,  this time the sideshow was intimidated by the main tent presence  in Cleveland of a larger than life circus act, and did little to disturb the event.  When in the presence of the real deal, I guess side shows lose their clout.

In the main tent in Cleveland, the strong man Trump ruled supreme.  His major feat of strength was the near miraculous taking over center stage of a party that in its heyday would have swept him aside like a 40 pound weakling.  This strong man, wearing the costume of a man of real heft to hide an oversold muscular persona and paunchy intellect, managed to steal the show.  The audience got a series of introductory acts that included a soap opera star, an extreme fighter and pretty much every family relation that could read a script.  But every strong man needs a foil,  and our strong man has found his in the Dastardly Ted Cruz character that exists, like the old Washington Generals, for a scheduled butt kicking.  Dastardly Ted tried to play it too cute by half, securing the role of defender of the ramparts while not endorsing the identified man of strength at his own circus.  Lifting a few weights of past shows like freedom, conscience, and respect for the Constitution, Cruz hoped to impress the audience.  But this audience got free tickets to enter from the reigning strong man,  and trump made sure their would be no alternative spotlight.  The red meat audience descended with boos and catcalls on schedule, thus saving all the oohs and aahs for Trump himself.

The strong man Trump then trained all spotlights upon himself on the final night.  Having already used cloud machines and strobe lights with a previous entrance, Trump was determined to show the audience that he could be a closing act as well.  Trump stood serenely before the audience both in the tent and watching from home, and, in the voice  of a carny barker,  described the feats of strength reserved for only the truly strong.  Terrorism would be defeated, and fast.  Law and Order would be restored, and fast.  Trade agreements that had been agreed to by weaker men would be thrown aside, and competitors would quiver and yield better deals once in the presence of a real strong man.  Fellow allies would pay their fair share to defend the world, or somebody was going to be sorry.   Immigrants, the right ones, would be welcomed in, but the wrong ones, oh, would they be sorry they were the wrong ones.  Elites would learn about the new power in town, and stop in their tracks their life of being the bully to the little guy – the bully in chief guaranteed it.  Jobs would rise. Debts would fall.  Enemies would surrender.  The crooks would face justice.  The ultimate feat of strength, achieving  agreement on who was the strongest of the strong in the first one hundred days.

One couldn’t tell if the audience, bludgeoned over 76 minutes, was entertained or bewildered.  No matter, they had gotten a free ticket, and that was entertainment enough.

Philadelphia now presents as the traveling show, and the bearded lady is the act to see.  The audience will stare, somewhat embarrassed that they are drawn to look and can not avert their eyes at such unpleasant exotica.  The bearded lady Clinton is a real carny act, living a life of victim status, while in real life being on the lam from the law for four decades.  Each time the law closes in, she changes her appearance and talks about events in the past as if they happened to someone else.  The democrat party activists, so used to carnival acts,  may be able to muster an audience, but applause is likely to be wanting.  When Clinton presents upon the final day of her convention expecting her due, it will not surprise in the least if the real show will be on the streets of Philadelphia, and the a half baked audience somnolently stares and wonders, how such an act managed to get into the center ring.

Nobody in the world wants to participate in a circus run by a has-been bearded lady, but is anybody ready to have the strong man take over, when it’s relatively clear, the one muscle he has never exercised is his intellectual muscle.  When the carnival closes and the show moves out of town, we will be left with having to decide between the two as to who will become leader of the most powerful country on earth.  It’s not a show certainly I would have hoped for, and one wonders if the rest of the world, dying on the vine, can survive either.  The greatest show on earth, it will definitely not be.

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The Rule of Law on the Endangered List


When the Constitutional Convention met between May and September 1787, the delegates hoped to codify substantial improvements in the previously governing Articles of Confederation that would create a national consensus of governance.  The weaker Articles had led to poor decision making and conflict resolution structure, and lack of vision and resources to face the future.   A carefully debated and perfected set of checks and balances were devised to provide limitations to the power of centralized government, so recently faced at great peril and barely overcome with so much blood and treasure. The delegates wanted to make sure the aristocratic impulses that are promulgated in the coalescence of power were blocked by a division of capabilities.  The Legislature elected by the People would propose laws of the land and secure their passage, and provide the means for their investment.  The Executive would use his office to faithfully execute those laws.  The Judiciary would adjudicate and secure that both the intent of the laws and their execution would be consistent with delineated and limited capabilities of government specified in the Constitution.  Balanced between democracy and forbearance, the document known as the Constitution of the United States was a miracle of its time, and of all time.

The classical liberals of the time of the revolution were, however, not satisfied with the extent of the document to protect  the hard won liberties for individuals that had been the causal impulse of the revolution itself.  In order to secure the passage of the Constitution by the states required for its entry as the new government of the land, amendments codifying the Unalienable Rights of individual citizens were insisted upon as a price for constitutional support.  The passage of ten amendments to the Constitution ratified by the states in 1791, collectively known as the Bill of Rights when passed through the newly formed House of Representatives, secured the rights of the people to liberty,freedom of expression, assembly and worship, self defense, due process and equal protection under the law, and to the states any rights and duties  not reserved specifically for the national government.

And there the two pillars of the concept of law have stood since the beginning of the nation, buffeted and strained by events, the bizarre duality of the existence of slavery in a land where all men were created equal and the expunging of that stain by the calamity of civil war, the dangers of unfettered capitalism creating oligarchies, the risk to republican concepts in the dark days of depression, and the existential risks created by world war.  Through all, the incredible strength provided by such documents prevented the dissolution of the country, and the unrivaled opportunity for all who came to her shores.  Here was a land where the entitled and the indigent, the strong and the weak, the native and the immigrant, the old and the newly born all could assure themselves of their codified protection and rights secured in a rule of law and equal justice that resisted the emotions of the time.

Now we are at a time of similar danger to the concept of the rule of law, but unlike other times, the number of people who understand what is at stake appear to be a rapidly diminishing herd.  The nation that used to see as its cornerstone,  the education of its youth and newly arrived immigrants in the study of civics, setting this country uniquely among others, now faces an utter ignorance from its own citizens and an arrogant disdain from its  governing officials that puts rule of law on the endangered list.

The past weeks, with overt abominations, equivalences, and violent, deadly altercations suggest potentially fatal wounds to the country’s psyche and institutional confidence.

Though the examples are diverse, the threat to the rule of law as the honest arbiter of conflicts and eliminator of corruption is the underlying meme.   Exhibit number one is the email security scandal of the former Secretary of State of the United States.  The Congress, in order to protect the people of the United States against enemies of the country gaining access to information that put the nation or individuals at risk, passed laws to guard against such damage being done, either willfully or through deceit or negligence.  The rule of law secures both the protections of the people and uniform compliance of the law for all that would come under it:

Title 18 Section 793 (F) of the US Code of Law  :Chapter 37 Espionage and  Censorship            (f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

The clarity of the language is not oblique as to the responsibilities of any individual entrusted with such information, from the lowliest clerk at the Pentagon to the President of the United States.  Equality under the law secures both the rights and responsibilities that guarantee both the freedoms and potential penalties prescribed by law are independent of a person’s station in life.  Without such guarantees, the nation is helpless against the corrupting influence of the powerful to set one standard for themselves, and one for all others.  President Nixon was not impeached for ordering a break in or even creating the incitement for it.  He was positioned for impeachment for using the tools of government to obstruct the achievement of equal justice under the law, and the Constitutional principles he had sworn to protect.  Secretary of State Clinton took a similar oath of office to faithfully execute the laws of the land and the duties of her office.  She had reached the cabinet position after a lifetime of interactions with the concept of law and its role in society.  She was a lawyer who had in fact participated on the house Judiciary Committee Congressional Council staff that was charged with investigating President Nixon’s possible crimes, was the lawyerly wife of a President Clinton who was himself impeached for perjuring himself under oath, and had been a Senator involved in committees that vetted sensitive information.  Such intimate association with ethics stained events and forty years of law had certainly prepared her for the importance of understanding the rule of law and the role it plays in securing the rights for all in society.

Positioned at one of the most powerful and most sensitive positions in government, and having lived a lifetime of intimate interactions with those who had run afoul of their sworn responsibilities, there was probably no one individual in the entire government who should have been more aware of the importance of fealty to the law.  It is therefore a travesty of justice, when the implication was made this week that although her actions regarding maintaining a private unsecured server for all her governmental communications outside of accepted security was clearly from her specific direction, the exposure of multiple secrets and sensitive information represented only “careless” activity, not the gross negligence specified in the law as felonious.

The FBI investigation into Clinton’s server insanity identified lies and actions that would have prevented any other individual from receiving any job in the federal government, most companies, and given the realities of the damage done, an indictment and likely trial for crimes against the United States.

She lied when she said she did not send or receive any classified emails.  She lied when she said she turned over all pertinent work related emails. She knowingly routed sensitive and secret government information through a private server she knowingly set up against all policy, servers that did not have, as expressed by the director of the FBI, even the simplest level of  security to hackers offered by G-Mail.  She lied when she stated her E-mails were reviewed by her team of personal lawyers to assure all pertinent information be turned over to the investigating authorities and brazenly ordered the scrubbing of any potential evidence of her servers to guarantee no one could ever gain access to the actual undoctored information.

When the extent of the negligence is so appalling, and the evidence of willful intent to manipulate both evidence and the appropriate investigation of her actions so clear, how is it possible that the Director of the FBI could make the ludicrous statement that no “reasonable” prosecutor would find reason for indictment?   It is because we are becoming comfortable with the idea that people who represent our views are to be forgiven  their infidelities, regardless of the damage it does to objective justice and the protection of rights through the rule of law. The FBI Director was more concerned that the determination of guilt be adjudicated by an election, not a court of law.  Doing so, he flouted the role that the legislature plays in determining our laws, the executive plays in faithfully  executing those laws, and the judiciary’s role in securing justice for all, regardless of position of influence.  This careful system of checks and balances assures the objective removal of corrupt processes, before they can do damage to the principles that secure the country as a functioning republic.  He brought to risk all individuals responsibility for being faithful to, and respecting law.  He provided precedence that laws are contextual only, and that our highest officials may provide their own interpretations, different from those the commoner must face.

It was such context and arrogance toward law that led the nobles of England to secure from King John the delineated principles of the Magna Carta in 1215, assuring that the rule of law be common to the rulers and their subjects.  Hillary Clinton has led a life that at almost every turn suggested the rules of society are for the little people, and our establishment has grown impotent to do anything about the single minded destruction she brings to our most basic principles.  From flaunting the privacy considerations of the Watergate committee in order to insert her political views into the investigation, colluding to hide documents from investigators from her revealing her billing actions with the Rose Law Firm,  assuring the destruction of Whitewater fellow investors in order to protect her involvement with savings and loan shenanigans, and devastating attacks upon the character of women who were harmed by her husband, Clinton has used her position of power to protect and enrich herself at the expense of any who unfortunately touched upon her sordid moral compass. It has been  a lifetime built on the altar of lies, amorality, and personal gain.  Now the FBI Director, to avoid being accused of denying her what unfettered democracy may yet provide her, ultimate power, has stained himself and a lifetime of work serving justice, joining the many others who have been thrown under the Clinton bus.

A society that would put her in such an ultimate position of power has a dead soul, and the hard won miracle of a classless society based on equality under the law, collaterally damaged perhaps beyond recognition.  Our choice this fall is the fool’s bargain.




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My Country, ‘Tis of Thee…

American flag blowing, close-up

The most disconcerting realization for elites that had assumed the outcome in the Brexit vote to be inevitable and a ringing confirmation of the globalist view of the modern world, was the fervor of such a large segment of the British public to the quant notion of country.  The idea that people would be willing to risk the security of being part of a supranational economic superpower for vague notions of freedom and self determination based on  cultural roots, seemed absurd on its face.  After all, the modern world had done all it could to blur cultural distinctions, remove historical uniqueness, and equalize outcomes for all.  What possible residual value could be discerned for the concept of country to any modern person other than a few “bitter clingers”?

It turns out that the concept of history and country has not yet died the pauper’s death.  As the Fourth of July approaches for America, the Brexit push back against subordination to a world determined by others, has brought a little renewed shine to a holiday that celebrates the epitome of “just say No”.   A country is still an ideal as well as a geography, as much as the elites have attempted to eliminate the education of the cultural codes that bind us, and differentiate us.

On July 4th, 1776, a declaration of independence was announced by thirteen former colonies of Great Britain, forming spontaneously a country of United States of America.  The geography and people had not changed; the cultural roots were determined to be sufficiently unique to require the untethering of two similar cultures destinies, by force if necessary.  The declaration stated the ideals of nationhood that required this devolvement:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

On July 3rd, 1863, two great armies met upon an open field in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, sharing the same hereditary and cultural roots, but variant concepts of country.  Both saw themselves as representing freedom and self determination, but both felt the need to express themselves as to country to the point of self sacrifice for the larger concept. To the confederate, country required an acceptance of an individual’s rights to commerce and property, and a state’s representation of the circumstances of society without an overbearing federal enforcing power determining their destiny without their consent.  The Unionist saw secession as an unlawful rebuke to the shared sacrifices of the original union and an attempt to distort the ideal that all men are created equal and protected under constitutional law that bound them together.  Both were willing to travel hundreds miles from their home, and if necessary, die upon an arbitrary field of battle, to defend their concept of country.  For one brief moment, all notions of country fell to General Lewis Armistead’s 57th Virginia Infantry who clashed against Winfield Hancock’s Second Corps 69th and 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry at the Angle. Having driven as part of Pickett’s Charge across a deathly blizzard of artillery and musket fire by the mass of the Union army, Armistead’s men had managed through incredible courage and will to reach the angled stone wall, beyond which lay the vulnerable rear of the Union position and the probable destruction of the Union cause.  In a moment of time, the Union line was briefly breached, but Confederate destiny was forever quieted by direct blows from the last of two residual Union canon, commanded by Wisconsin native Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing, and the Union line held.  The breach led to Armistead’s and Cushing’s simultaneous death, in mutual sacrifice to the concept of country in which they held no particular personal advantage in either outcome.  Armistead died a hero to a lost cause. Cushing, sustaining an extremity injury, kept his battery firing through the torrent. He  received a second injury to his abdomen and groin, but refused to leave the field of battle, and propped up by fellow soldiers ordered his battery to continue to fire into the maelstrom until a third bullet silenced him through the mouth and out his head killing him instantly.  Cushing received his country’s belated recognition 151 years later, when he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, on November 6,2014.

On July 4th, 1976, 100 Israeli commandos reminded the world that the concept of country, and the importance and willingness to defend a cultural identity,  transcended geography.  An Air France Jet with 248 passengers and 12 crew, traveling from Tel Aviv to Paris, was hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists after leaving a stopover in Athens, flown to Benghazi, then Entebbe, Uganda, where they were welcomed into hostage status by the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.  The real purpose of the hijacking, the Israeli Jews on board, became apparent when the hijackers separated the jewish passengers, and allowed the other passengers to leave.  The brave Air France crew determined to stay with the residual hostages despite the obvious dire risks. With additional guards provided by the Amin’s military, the hostages were threatened with death unless a list of terrorists in Israeli and other jails were immediately released.  Four years after the death of Israeli hostages at the Munich Olympics, the ominous destiny of the hostages was only too clear to the Israeli government.  But what could possibly be done when hostages were being held under Ugandan military protection, 2200 miles from Israel?  On July 4th, 1976, the bicentennial of the American expression of the rights of man and country, the world awoke to the incredible news that an Israeli commando team had traveled the 2200 miles, eliminated the reaction capacity of the Ugandan military, killed the terrorists, extricated safely all but four of the hostages, and returned safely to Israel.  The amazing raid on Entebbe has taken special historical poignancy as the only special forces commando killed in the raid was its commanding  officer, Yonatan Netanyahu, the older brother of current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.  Israel had shown the world that citizens of its country were the nonnegotiable reflections of its very existence, and the country would defend to the death regardless of risk or difficulty, threats to its citizenry, no less than the land itself.

On July 4th, 2016, we will celebrate this country’s 240th anniversary of its independence. Of no small coincidence to the Captain of the Ramparts of Civilization, this July 4th will also celebrate the sixth anniversary of this little blog, dedicated to the defense of those ramparts.  In our own humble way, the willingness through the power of free expression to stand up for the great concepts that define the western ideal is a small but distinct contribution to those who through the years have accomplished so much more through their genius and sacrifice.  To all the worldwide defenders of the Ramparts, from the distant past to the most recent Brexiters, we salute you.  To Ramparts of Civilization, Happy Birthday.  To the United States of America, Happy Independence Day.  To this great country and the ideals it represents, many many more bountiful and freedom filled years…

My country, tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers die
Land of the pilgrims pride
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring.

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