Monday, May 1, 2017

The Decline.....

When I was a kid, I couldn't read enough about history. I loved the lives that were. I wanted to know why Archduke Ferdinand was shot and how the slaves in Egypt really lived. The woman who would become my 5th grade teacher, upon hearing about me brought me a book to read over the summer.  "I hear you've already read GODS, GRAVES, and SCHOLARS," I assured her I had. Several times. "Then you will like this." And she gave me the second book that would change my life, TUTANKHAMEN: Life and Death of a Pharaoh.  I still have the copy Miss Myrus "lent" me, and my dad found a copy of G,G,&S for me years ago, and I still have (and treasure) both.

I won't bore you with a recitation of my years of studying archeology and anthropology and that protracted and difficult decision to let my college diploma read Bachelor of Science, Theater, not Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology. My love of history has never changed.

My dad had a complete set of Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and we read it together. It's not exactly a light and fun read. But we talked a lot about leaders and what good leaders do. And what bad leaders do. Those conversations never left me, and as I got older and took to reading biographies over histories, Decline and Fall became the yardstick by which I measured other encounters on the page.
Trajan was ambitious of fame; and as long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of the most exalted characters.                                                                                                                                                                                 Volume 1
Whilst Gibbon drew comparisons between guys like Diocletian and more contemporaneous monarchs like Charles V,  one cannot help but see how different eras yield different, yet fundamentally similar, comparisons. 

The short version is that if you don't pay attention to history you get to repeat it. See World War I and World War II for recent examples. 

It bothers the stuffings right outta me when people play fast and loose with history. Good history is not opinion. Sure, there might be opinions about what's important or reasons for occurrence, but you cannot say the South won the Civil War. Along those same lines, you cannot say the crowd standing outside at 45's inauguration was the biggest crowd ever because it wasn't. To say otherwise is delusional. 

To be the leader of a nation and not to know its history is deplorable. To stand at a microphone to talk on topics you know nothing about is foolhardy. 
I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later you wouldn't have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart,
He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, "There's no reason for this."
People don't realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why?People don't ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?

To say something completely and utterly moronic like President Andrew Jackson was upset about the Civil War, and that he, a slave owning individual, could've negotiated a solution is not merely despicable, it's completely, totally, and unquestionably without foundation...especially since Jackson had been dead 16 years when the war happened. To dig oneself in deeper by saying this is his opinion, is skating along the edge of an abyss. 

Then, there's the CBS interview from Face The Nation. Watching it was unsettling enough. Reading it almost pushed me over the edge:

On Kim Jong-un:
 I really, you know, have no comment on him. People are saying, "Is he sane?" I have no idea. I can tell you this, and a lot of people don't like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He's dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others. And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie. But we have a situation that we just cannot let -- we cannot let what's been going on for a long period of years continue. And frankly, this should've been done and taken care of by the Obama administration. Should've been taken care of by the Bush administration. Should've been taken care of by Clinton.

On Congress:
Just a system. It's just a very, very bureaucratic system. I think the rules in Congress and in particular the rules in the Senate are unbelievably archaic and slow moving. And in many cases, unfair. In many cases, you're forced to make deals that are not the deal you'd make. You'd make a much different kind of a deal.
You're forced into situations that you hate to be forced into. I also learned, and this is very sad, because we have a country that we have to take care of. The Democrats have been totally obstructionist. Chuck Schumer has turned out to be a bad leader. He's a bad leader for the country. And the Democrats are extremely obstructionist.
All they do is obstruct. All they do is delay. Even our Supreme Court justice, as you know, who I think is going to be outstanding, Justice Gorsuch. I think that it was disgraceful the way they handled that. But, you know, I still have people, I'm waiting for them to be approved. Our chief trade negotiator. We can't get these people through. 

Let's not even talk about health care and pre-existing conditions. My head would just simply explode. 

And now, he invites Rodreigo Duterte of the Philippines for an official visit to the White House. A guy who compares himself to Hitler, who is working to suspend civil rights, who orders wholesale murder of his people. And they're gonna throw him a dinner.

Are you seeing a pattern?

Power is the name of the game. Civil rights, human rights, those things don't matter. The only ones getting any cred in the White House are totalitarian-authoritarian-dictator-wannabes. These are the role models, people. Look and learn. 

The new affront is the desire to restructure how Congress operates. Now, we all know Congress is a slow moving behemoth, but it's a constitutional one and one that, when allowed to function, does an okay job of protecting We, the People from ourselves. That's what checks-and-balances are all about. 

They are in jeopardy.  

But here's the thing. 45 did not realize how hard this job really is. We, the People seem to be more okay with that than one might think. According to Gallup, 41% of voters approve of 45's job performance on May 1st, 2017.

The transparency we were hoping to get in this government not only isn't there, the veil has been drawn on things we have been used to tax returns. 

I know it's not possible for everyone to be activist, but everyone must do something to keep from being run over by this juggernaut of lies and misdirection. Pick up the phone. Call your representatives, state, local, or federal. Send postcards. They work. One postcard added to a pile does make the pile bigger. Find your voice. 

I keep hearing the phrase coup d'etat. The right keeps saying that's what the left wants. But that's stupid. The left doesn't want a coup....but the right does. And it will be subtle. A rule change here, a filibuster there. It will be subtle.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Nice People don't protest. They don't picket. They do nothing. And they stand by when the government is disbanded. 

Don't be nice.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you missed Colbert going after 45 for being a jerk on CBS, 

It was brill.

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