The Watering Hole; Th/Fr December 1 and 2, 2016; “Thou, Whoever Art Above . . .”

I’ll admit it. I’m DISGUSTED!

I know I’m not alone in this, but I can say with heavy duty authority that in the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential (s)election, my disgust has peaked at levels I’ve never known before, levels that, until November 9, I would have never guessed attainable, much less even possible. But it happened. Somehow, the most narcissistic, egomaniacal, misogynistic, xenophobic, bigoted, racist, fascistic and ego-driven presidential candidate in American history has been (s)elected (at least via Electoral College terms), and will become POTUS on January 20, 2017.

My initial reaction was to rant (which I did), then attempt to listen to those voices of ‘moderation,’ those voices that try to convince us “radicals” that hey, this is America where the voice of “the people” — not of the tyrant — is heard, is determinative of the nation’s (and the world’s) future. Those voices of moderation are, of course, nonsensical in that they ignore the obvious consequences that invariably occur when the entire government of a nation is turned over to what is, effectively, a far right wing politic, a Fascist majority. And sadly, that is precisely what ‘we the people’ did on November 8, 2016; we “elected” a Fascist president, and left in place right wing majorities in both the Senate and the House along with a vacancy on the Supreme Court which will now be filled by an extreme right wing appointee, thus granting control  of the entire of our federal government to the American Fascist Movement.

That should be the point that causes any salient mind to rant and rave for hours on end about electoral national destruction, but then again, to the “salient” mind, what would be the point? As Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar noted, “The die is cast.” Besides, it does one no good at all to imagine being down in the pit, surrounded only by idiots, white supremacists, Republicans, Fascists  — assuming there’s a difference. There are, after all, other places — peaceful and quiet places, places brimming with ‘salient’ life forms — places that are far better, that inspire rather than denigrate one’s imagination.

Here’s an example: a six line poem by longtime colleague and friend T.R. Nissle, words which he penned some 40 years ago in response to a few photos I managed to ‘snap’ during my frequent and solitary sojourns “out there” on some then relatively undisturbed corners of the Sonoran Desert in southwestern Arizona. Six lines with six photos (the top three ‘inspired’ the poem), together offer a refreshing look at the living world — though not expressly through human eyes.

THE PRAYER OF THE CACTUS

ca-1972-cave-creek-wasjh-praying-saguaro

▲Thou, whoever art above, hear me die –▲

ca-1973-white-tanks-old-sentry

▲Hear my silent, lonely prayer –▲

ca-1975-mcdowells-saguaro-backlit-350pxl

▲For tongueless creatures everywhere;▲

003s▲We neither savage, jest, nor boast of soul –▲

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA▲But flower unmaliciously –▲

2004-january-sunrise-ove-salt-river-valley-022f▲Disjoin us from Humanity.▲

Those six photos are of the Sonoran Desert’s most unique life form, the Giant Saguaro Cactus, in various stages of both life and death. Curiously enough, the Saguaro’s longtime scientific name Cereus giganteus (Britton & Rose) was, in recent years, changed to Carnegiea gigantea in honor of renowned wealthy industrialist-become-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who, in his last years prior to his death in 1919, donated (as 2015 share of GDP) some $78.6 Billion (approx. 90% of his accumulated wealth) to charities, foundations, and universities. I suppose it could simply be my naivete, but I seriously doubt that any of today’s billionaires will ever wind up with a signature cactus named after them. Trumpissonia gigantea? Probably not.

The bottom line remains: If humans would take a moment and agree to (1) abolish all war, (2) disallow greed,  hate, and irrational fear, (3) abandon their never-ending savage quest for power, and (4) agree to never again boast of soul — but flower unmaliciously, the world would fast become a livable place for all its creatures, big or small. Including even ourselves.

I remain filled with doubt, however; human history has yet to suggest that humans are uniformly capable of being earth-friendly in any context. More than two centuries ago, for example, William Wordsworth  noted that though . . .

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
the earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;–
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

To which I can only add, in MY voice to all of earth’s creatures everywhere:

Disjoin US from “Humanity.”

2005-mar-brittlebush-encelia-farinosa-022s-sharper

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OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, 11/30/16

THE PRINCE

CHAPTER XXII

CONCERNING THE SECRETARIES OF PRINCES

The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.

There were none who knew Messer Antonio da Venafro as the servant of Pandolfo Petrucci, Prince of Siena, who would not consider Pandolfo to be a very clever man in having Venafro for his servant. Because there are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates what others comprehended; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good, the third is useless. Therefore, it follows necessarily that, if Pandolfo was not in the first rank, he was in the second, for whenever one has judgment to know good and bad when it is said and done, although he himself may not have the initiative, yet he can recognize the good and the bad in his servant, and the one he can praise and the other correct; thus the servant cannot hope to deceive him, and is kept honest.

But to enable a prince to form an opinion of his servant there is one test which never fails; when you see the servant thinking more of his own interests than of yours, and seeking inwardly his own profit in everything, such a man will never make a good servant, nor will you ever be able to trust him; because he who has the state of another in his hands ought never to think of himself, but always of his prince, and never pay any attention to matters in which the prince is not concerned.

On the other hand, to keep his servant honest the prince ought to study him, honouring him, enriching him, doing him kindnesses, sharing with him the honours and cares; and at the same time let him see that he cannot stand alone, so that many honours may not make him desire more, many riches make him wish for more, and that many cares may make him dread chances. When, therefore, servants, and princes towards servants, are thus disposed, they can trust each other, but when it is otherwise, the end will always be disastrous for either one or the other.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Tuesday, November 29th, 2016: God vs Country

ICYMI, yesterday the Huffington Post had a story about a Republican member of the Electoral College from Texas, Art Sisneros, and his agonizing over how to cast his vote on December 19th. Apparently, Mr. Sisneros refuses to cast his vote for Trump, but also refuses to do what’s best for the country because, well, GOD.

Torn between voting his conscience and dutifully casting his ballot for President-elect Donald Trump, a Republican member of the Electoral College said over the weekend that he would resign his post.

“I believe to resign is to honor the intent of the pledge as it relates to the people of my district,” Texas elector Art Sisneros wrote in a blog post. “Since I can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump, and yet have sinfully made a pledge that I would, the best option I see at this time is to resign my position as an Elector.”

Sisneros’ decision to step aside comes as some members of the Electoral College face mounting pressure from voters and advocacy groups to flip their votes against Trump, even if he won the popular vote in their states.

In his post, Sisneros argued that casting his vote for Trump would “bring dishonor to God,” and said that political parties and “winner-take-all” states destroyed the original intention of the Electoral College. Sisneros said in August that he was considering voting against Trump if the real estate mogul were to win the popular vote in Texas. But he told Politico Monday that he would instead resign.

The rest of the country’s 538 electors will choose Sisneros’ replacement when they convene on Dec. 19 to officially elect Trump as the next president. All of Texas’ 38 electoral votes are expected to go to Trump, who beat Hillary Clinton in the state by more than 800,000 votes.

“The people will get their vote,” Sisneros wrote. “I will sleep well at night knowing I neither gave in to their demands nor caved to my convictions. I will also mourn the loss of our republic.”

[emphasis mine]

I have no idea how ANYONE could “sleep well at night” and at the same time “mourn the loss of our republic.” The idea that someone could view this horrendously important Electoral vote as a choice of “conscience” between serving his god or serving his country is totally beyond me. But obviously Mr. Sisneros strongly believes that, because he took what he now calls a “sinful” pledge to the GOP that he now regrets, he can only make himself right with his god by abdicating all civic responsibility.

From Sisneros’ blog post:

“The heart of this issue now is, does honoring the pledge cause me to sin?…
“…Aren’t Electors elected to represent the people? Yes, they absolutely are. That only begs the question, what does it mean to represent the people? This is where our understanding or lack thereof of a representative form of government comes into play. As an elected representative head, I am to speak on behalf of and in the interest of the CD36. It is my conviction that the greatest danger to my district is not a Hillary or Trump Presidency, but it is the judgement of God. If we continue to disobey His clear commands, we can expect to receive His judgement. If being a “Faithless Elector” means standing alone on principle in the hopes that God would continue to grant patience on our district, then it is worth any political future, threats to my safety, and whatever else may come my way.”

This isn’t just about YOU, Mr. Sisneros–what comes your way is nothing compared to what will happen to our nation. Get it through your head: God doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your district, Mr. Sisneros, any more than he gives a rat’s ass about our country – which should be obvious based on the fact that Donald J. Trump is now the President-Elect. And your resignation, Mr. Sisneros, is just one more step in greasing the wheels on that handbasket we’re all going to hell in. I hope that you never “sleep well” again, you chickenshit.

This is our Open Thread–have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 28th, 2016: Warning Signs of a Dictatorship

From November 23rd in Foreign Policy Magazine, “10 Ways to Tell if Your President is a Dictator”, by Stephen M. Walt, here’s a brief [believe it or not] summary. (You’ll need to register in order to be able to read the entire article. Registration is free, and allows you access to five articles per month.)

An excerpt from the opening:

“…if you live in the United States, what you should really worry about is the threat that Trump may pose to America’s constitutional order. His lengthy business career suggests he is a vindictive man who will go to extreme lengths to punish his opponents and will break a promise in a heartbeat and without remorse. The 2016 campaign confirmed that he has little respect for existing norms and rules — he refused to release his tax returns, lied repeatedly, claimed the electoral and political systems were “rigged” against him, threatened to jail his opponent if he won, among other such violations — and revealed his deep contempt for both his opponents and supporters. Nor does he regret any of the revolting things he did or said during the campaign, because, as he told the Wall Street Journal afterward, “I won.”[**] For Trump, it seems, the ends really do justify the means.

[**Tweet from WSJ: “When asked if he thought his rhetoric had gone too far in the campaign, Donald Trump told WSJ: “No. I won.”]

“Given what is at stake, one of the most important things we can all do is remain alert for evidence that Trump and those around him are moving in an authoritarian direction. For those who love America and its Constitution more than they love any particular political party or any particular politician, I offer as a public service my top 10 warning signs that American democracy is at risk.”

1) Systematic efforts to intimidate the media.

A free, energetic, vigilant, and adversarial press has long been understood to be an essential guarantee of democratic freedoms, because without it, the people in whose name leaders serve will be denied the information they need to assess what the politicians are doing.

If the Trump administration begins to enact policies designed to restrict freedom of the press, or just intimidate media organizations from offering critical coverage, it will be a huge (or if you prefer, yuge) warning sign.

Trump has already proposed “opening up” libel laws so that public figures can sue the press more easily. This step would force publishers and editors to worry about costly and damaging lawsuits even if they eventually win them, and it would be bound to have a chilling effect on their coverage.

His administration could deny access to entire news organizations like the New York Times if they were too critical of Trump’s policies or just too accurate in documenting his failures. Just because the First Amendment guarantees free speech doesn’t mean some parts of the media can’t be stampeded into pulling punches or once again indulging in “false equivalence.”

2) Building an official pro-Trump media network.

“…While trying to suppress critical media outlets, Trump could also use the presidency to bolster media that offer him consistent support. Or he could even try to create an official government news agency that would disseminate a steady diet of pro-Trump coverage.

In Trump’s ideal world, Americans would get their news from some combination of Breitbart, Fox News, and the president’s own Twitter feed…”

3) Politicizing the civil service, military, National Guard, or the domestic security agencies.

“One of the obstacles to a democratic breakdown is the government bureaucracy, whose permanent members are insulated from political pressure by existing civil service protections that make it hard to fire senior officials without cause. But one can imagine the Trump administration asking Congress to weaken those protections, portraying this step as a blow against “big government” and a way to improve government efficiency.

But if the president or his lieutenants can gut government agencies more or less at will, the fear of being fired will lead many experienced public servants to keep their heads down and kowtow to whatever the president wants, no matter how ill-advised or illegal it might be.

And don’t assume the military, FBI, National Guard, or the intelligence agencies would be immune to this sort of interference. Other presidents (or their appointees) have fired generals who questioned their policy objectives, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did during George W. Bush’s first administration when he removed Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, who had the temerity to tell a congressional committee that the occupation of Iraq was going to need a lot more people than Rumsfeld had claimed. Other generals and admirals got the message and stayed out of Rumsfeld’s way for the rest of his disastrous tenure as defense secretary. There have also been fights in the past over control of the National Guard, but a move to assert greater federal authority over the guard would give Trump a powerful tool to use against open expressions of dissent.”

4) Using government surveillance against domestic political opponents.

“This step wouldn’t be entirely new either, insofar as Nixon once used the CIA to infiltrate anti-war organizations during the Vietnam War. But the government’s capacity to monitor the phones, emails, hard drives, and online activities of all Americans has expanded enormously since the 1960s.

As far as we know, however, no one has yet tried to use these new powers of surveillance to monitor, intimidate, embarrass, deter, or destroy political opponents.

…an ambitious and unscrupulous president could use the ability to monitor political opponents to great advantage. He would need the cooperation of top officials and possibly many underlings as well, but this only requires loyal confederates at the top and compliant people below. The White House had sufficient authority, under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, to convince U.S. government employees to torture other human beings.”

5) Using state power to reward corporate backers and punish opponents.

“A hallmark of corrupt quasi-democracies is the executive’s willingness to use the power of the state to reward business leaders who are loyal and to punish anyone who gets in the way. That’s how Putin controls the “oligarchs” in Russia, and it is partly how Erdogan kept amassing power and undermining opponents in Turkey…

…I know, I know: Corruption of this sort is already a problem here in the Land of the Free —whether in the form of congressional pork or the sweet deals former government officials arrange to become lobbyists once they leave office — so why single out Trump? The problem is that Trump’s record suggests he thinks this is the right way to do business: You reward your friends, and you stick it to your enemies every chance you get.”

6) Stacking the Supreme Court.

“Trump will likely get the opportunity to appoint several Supreme Court justices, and the choices he makes will be revealing. Does he pick people who are personally loyal and beholden to him or opt for jurors with independent standing and stellar qualifications? Does he pick people whose views on hot-button issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and campaign financing comport with his party’s, or does he go for people who have an established view on the expansiveness of executive power and are more likely to look the other way if he takes some of the other steps I’ve already mentioned? And if it’s the latter, would the Senate find the spine to say no?”

7) Enforcing the law for only one side.

“…given the nature of Trump’s campaign and the deep divisions within the United States at present, a key litmus test for the president-elect is whether he will direct U.S. officials to enforce similar standards of conduct on both his supporters and his opponents.

If anti-Trump protesters are beaten up by a band of Trump’s fans, will the latter face prosecution as readily as if the roles were reversed? Will local and federal justice agencies be as vigilant in patrolling right-wing hate speech and threats of violence as they are with similar actions that might emanate from the other side?…If Trump is quick to call out his critics but gives racists, bigots, and homophobes a free pass because they happen to like him, it would be another sign he is trying to tilt the scales of justice in his favor.”

8) Really rigging the system.

“…given the promises he has made and the demography of the electorate, Trump and the GOP have every incentive to use the next four years to try to stack the electoral deck in their favor. Look for more attempts to gerrymander safe seats for House Republicans and more efforts to prevent likely Democratic voters from getting to the polls in 2018 and 2020.”

9) Fearmongering.

“Stoking public fears about safety and well-being is a classic autocratic tactic, designed to convince a frightened population to look to the Leader for protection. Trump played this card brilliantly in the campaign, warning of “Mexican rapists,” foreign governments that “steal our jobs,” “scores of recent migrants inside our borders charged with terrorism,” and so on. He also hinted that his political rivals were somehow in cahoots with these various “enemies.” A frightened population tends to think first about its own safety, and forget about fundamental liberties, and would be more likely to look the other way as a president amassed greater power.

The worst case, of course, would be an Erdogan-like attempt to use a terrorist attack or some other equally dramatic event as an excuse to declare a “state of emergency” and to assume unprecedented executive authority. Bush and Cheney used 9/11 to pass the Patriot Act, and Trump could easily try to use some future incident as a — with apologies for the pun — trumped-up excuse to further encroach on civil liberties, press freedoms, and the other institutions that are central to democracy.”

10) Demonizing the opposition.

“Trying to convince people that your domestic opponents are in league with the nation’s enemies is one of the oldest tactics in politics, and it has been part of Trump’s playbook ever since he stoked the “birther” controversy over Obama’s citizenship. After he becomes president, will he continue to question his opponents’ patriotism, accuse them of supporting America’s opponents, and blame policy setbacks on dark conspiracies among Democrats, liberals, Muslims, the Islamic State, “New York financial elites,” or the other dog whistles so beloved by right-wing media outlets like Breitbart? Will he follow the suggestions of some of his supporters and demand that Americans from certain parts of the world (read: Muslims) be required to “register” with the federal government?

Again, these are the same tactics Erdogan and Putin have used in Turkey and Russia, respectively, to cement their own authority over time by initiating a vicious cycle of social hostility. When groups within a society are already somewhat suspicious of each other, extremists can trigger a spiral of increasing hostility by attacking the perceived internal enemy in the hope of provoking a harsh reaction. If the attacked minority responds defensively, or its own hotheads lash out violently, it will merely reinforce the first group’s fears and bolster a rapid polarization. Extremists on both sides will try to “outbid” their political opponents by portraying themselves as the most ardent and effective defenders of their own group. In extreme cases, such as the Balkan Wars in the 1990s or Iraq after 2003, the result is civil war. Trump would be playing with fire if he tries to stay in power by consistently sowing hatred against the “other,” but he did it in the campaign, and there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t do it again.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“This list of warning signs will no doubt strike some as overly alarmist. As I said, it is possible — even likely — that Trump won’t try any of these things (or at least not very seriously) and he might face prompt and united opposition if he did. The checks and balances built into America’s democratic system may be sufficiently robust to survive a sustained challenge. Given the deep commitment to liberty that lies at the heart of the American experiment, it is also possible the American people would quickly detect any serious attempt to threaten the present order and take immediate action to stop it.

The bottom line: I am by no means predicting the collapse of democracy in the United States under a President Donald J. Trump. What I am saying is that it is not impossible, and there are some clear warning signs to watch out for. Now, as always, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Or to use a more modern formulation: If you see something, say something.”

 

This is our Open Thread – feel free to talk about whatever you want.

The Weekend Hole, Sat-Sun, Nov 26-27, 2016: Have You Read The 25th Amendment?

In his series “The Resistance” (formerly known as “The Closer” until the election of Donald J. Trump), Keith Olbermann spells out how Republicans in Congress can remove Trump from office without going through the process of an impeachment. And it’s all perfectly legal and constitutional, because the procedure is spelled out in Article of Amendment 25, Section 4,of the US Constitution. It reads as follows:

4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

So how would this work? Well, upon returning from the swearing-in ceremony, Vice President Pence and a majority of the heads of the cabinet departments (and it could be the ones still in office on January 20, or even the ones who act as heads of the departments should the heads all have resigned effective at noon that day) could write a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and President Pro Tempore of the Senate Orrin Hatch (the President Pro Tem is the oldest serving member, not the Majority Leader) simply stating the Donald is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. They don’t have to give a reason. They don’t have to prove anything. No hearings. No nothing. Just a letter.

Now, of course, the Donald could fire back a letter within minutes (and I’d bet he’ll have such a letter pre-written, ready to go) saying no such inability exists. Within four days (in case there’s a holiday weekend in there), Pence and his department heads could fire back another letter (again, they should have this one written along with the first because it would be needed) saying the inability does still exist. Then the matter would go to the Congress. It would require a two-thirds vote of both the House of Representatives and the Senate to remove Trump from power permanently.

I can only hope the Republicans in Congress recognize the danger of having Trump be POTUS and take the legal, constitutional path to remove him from being able to do damage. He could keep the title, since I’m sure that’s all he really wanted out of it, but he wouldn’t have the authority to do anything. Not that I would be much happier in a Pence administration. Unlike Pence, I actually like women and want to see them have the autonomy over their bodies that men take for granted. That’s even less likely to happen under Pence than under Trump, but at least Pence knows something about governing. Trump does not. In fact, based on his comments on the campaign trail, I’m convinced Trump doesn’t understand how government works at all. He talked as if the POTUS had powers he doesn’t really have. In fact, at times it sounded like he thought a POTUS was a dictator, possibly because a lot of Republican citizens think he is. That’s just projection on their part.

And while it is perfectly constitutional to remove Trump from power (if not office) in this matter, it’s actually harder than impeaching him. Invoking Article 25, Section 4, requires two-thirds of both Houses to remove him. But to impeach him (for Treason, Bribery or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors) would require only a simple majority of votes in the House of Representatives. It would still require a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove him. But you’d have to produce actual charges and conduct an actual trial for that process to work. And while Trump will be in violation of the Constitution at 12:01 PM EST on January 20, 2017, it will not be because of a crime. Instead, and possibly among other reasons, it will be because he had a group of foreign dignitaries come to his hotel in Washington, DC, and encouraged them to stay there when they visited the United States. In other words, he would personally profit from his job beyond what the Congress provides as compensation. (It’s called an Emolument, and its definition depends on what the Framers took the word to mean, not what it may have come to mean since.) Unless, of course, he lets them and their entire staffs stay there completely free of charge, including meals. Then he might argue that he’s not receiving any emoluments. But does anyone believe a man driven by the lust for money, who campaigned on a bigoted platform designed to make white people feel good about themselves, would let foreigners stay at his hotel completely free of charge? I don’t. And I wouldn’t believe a word Trump said about whether or not he was making any money on it. He’s a billionaire because he says he is. He’s the one deciding how much his properties are worth, not an independent auditor. There is very little that Trump says that can be taken at face value. And that’s one of many reasons why he should never be allowed to be POTUS. Also, he’s a bit of an asshole, but there’s no law against that. Otherwise I’d be in a lot of trouble, too. 🙂

This is our weekend open thread. Feel free to discuss anything you wish.

The Watering Hole; Th/Fr November 24/25; Election 2016, A Poetic Summation: “After Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes”

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
an’ foolish notion . . .”
(Robert Burns)

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THANKSGIVING(?), 2016

In 1862, Emily Dickinson wrote a three-verse 72-word poetic ‘essay’ on death, a poem which for some odd reason reminded me of an event that occurred here, in Amurkkka, exactly two-weeks-plus-three-days ago. That was, of course, the day of America’s 2016 Presidential Election in which, somehow, the candidate who lost by at least 2 million votes was actually declared the winner — an event which seems to demand a somewhat poetic summary, maybe?

I suppose most of us could write for a week, maybe a year, on the probable consequences of said electoral event, but for me (since, at my age, time is at a premium), I decided to settle instead for a joint poetic project in consort with Emily Dickinson! (don’t I wish)! Below are the three verses of Dickinson’s 1862 poetic “essay” on death, intermingled with a pair of my own sonnets [the first was prev. posted, post-convention, in August, the second is post-election new].

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Miss Emily begins:

After great pain, a formal feeling comes —
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs —
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

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Candidate DONALD J. TRUMP and His Egomaniacal Persona

Democracy allows a boundless sprawl of mindless thought.
One brief glance today unmasks a nominee who deems to
Ne’er dismiss his savage spiels, hoping they’ll all soon be taught
As “brilliant” memes. Whilst he himself wears masks of learned view,
Lengthy rhetoric from this vapid candidate reveals
Dismal platitudes, each expressed as if nonsensical
Judgment of those who are more sane, of those whose soul appeals
To wisdom, not to ignorance of issues topical.
Racial bigots find curious relief in hate and fear
Until they sense themselves dismissed by grand impassioned dreams;
Misogyny as well embraces minds that aim to smear
Perspectives based on common goals of life – with bogus schemes.
Deliv’rance of this nation’s soul and heart is thus on hold
Till egomania’s greed and sloth are either bought — or sold.

******

The Feet, mechanical, go round —
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought —
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone —

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GOODBYE, AMERICA
A Trump-Inspired National Elegy

Greed and Sloth have once again prevailed, their
Onerous goals retained by vulgar vote;
Once again America’s soul stands bare,
Delib’rately exposed as addled moat
Beneath her people, once defined as great.
Yet there remains a choice; to quote Voltaire,
Écrasez l’infame” (Crush the furtive ‘State’)
And grant Relief to all from hate’s despair
Made manifest by sophistic fear. Still,
Exercise of faux imperiousness
Results in cultural demise of will
In all but those possessed by mindlessness —
Calumny (as Trump, our President-Elect)
Assigns ALL Truth — to PERFIDY-Select.

******

This is the Hour of Lead —
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow —
First — Chill — then Stupor — then the letting go —

******

So now, we as a nation are forced to contend with white nationalism, with neo-Nazis and racism at every level, with misogyny, xenophobia, immigration, immigrant deportation, registries, internment camps(?); also destruction and/or sale of Public Lands for either fossil fuel mining/drilling/fracking or for private profit, for development; also with the “Chinese Hoax” of climate change and the global destruction therein implied; also with the final transfer of all remaining American monetary “wealth” to the already wealthy elites; plus the privatization of Public Education . . . plus maybe a war or two or three, just because this here’s Amurkkka and we really like to do that, to kick ass as necessary. . . etc., etc., etc.

Whereto from here? How much further is it to the bottom of the pond? Is there still a musterable opposition to national demise available out there? Somewhere?

“Those who can make you believe absurdities
can make you commit atrocities.”
(Voltaire)

Dare we hope we’re not there . . . yet?

******

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The Watering Hole, 11/23/2016

THE PRINCE

CHAPTER XXI

HOW A PRINCE SHOULD CONDUCT HIMSELF SO AS TO GAIN RENOWN

Nothing makes a prince so much esteemed as great enterprises and setting a fine example. We have in our time Ferdinand of Aragon, the present King of Spain. He can almost be called a new prince, because he has risen, by fame and glory, from being an insignificant king to be the foremost king in Christendom; and if you will consider his deeds you will find them all great and some of them extraordinary. In the beginning of his reign he attacked Granada, and this enterprise was the foundation of his dominions. He did this quietly at first and without any fear of hindrance, for he held the minds of the barons of Castile occupied in thinking of the war and not anticipating any innovations; thus they did not perceive that by these means he was acquiring power and authority over them. He was able with the money of the Church and of the people to sustain his armies, and by that long war to lay the foundation for the military skill which has since distinguished him. Further, always using religion as a plea, so as to undertake greater schemes, he devoted himself with pious cruelty to driving out and clearing his kingdom of the Moors; nor could there be a more admirable example, nor one more rare. Under this same cloak he assailed Africa, he came down on Italy, he has finally attacked France; and thus his achievements and designs have always been great, and have kept the minds of his people in suspense and admiration and occupied with the issue of them. And his actions have arisen in such a way, one out of the other, that men have never been given time to work steadily against him.

Again, it much assists a prince to set unusual examples in internal affairs, similar to those which are related of Messer Bernabo da Milano, who, when he had the opportunity, by any one in civil life doing some extraordinary thing, either good or bad, would take some method of rewarding or punishing him, which would be much spoken about. And a prince ought, above all things, always endeavour in every action to gain for himself the reputation of being a great and remarkable man.

A prince is also respected when he is either a true friend or a downright enemy, that is to say, when, without any reservation, he declares himself in favour of one party against the other; which course will always be more advantageous than standing neutral; because if two of your powerful neighbours come to blows, they are of such a character that, if one of them conquers, you have either to fear him or not. In either case it will always be more advantageous for you to declare yourself and to make war strenuously; because, in the first case, if you do not declare yourself, you will invariably fall a prey to the conqueror, to the pleasure and satisfaction of him who has been conquered, and you will have no reasons to offer, nor anything to protect or to shelter you. Because he who conquers does not want doubtful friends who will not aid him in the time of trial; and he who loses will not harbour you because you did not willingly, sword in hand, court his fate.

Antiochus went into Greece, being sent for by the Aetolians to drive out the Romans. He sent envoys to the Achaeans, who were friends of the Romans, exhorting them to remain neutral; and on the other hand the Romans urged them to take up arms. This question came to be discussed in the council of the Achaeans, where the legate of Antiochus urged them to stand neutral. To this the Roman legate answered: “As for that which has been said, that it is better and more advantageous for your state not to interfere in our war, nothing can be more erroneous; because by not interfering you will be left, without favour or consideration, the guerdon of the conqueror.” Thus it will always happen that he who is not your friend will demand your neutrality, whilst he who is your friend will entreat you to declare yourself with arms. And irresolute princes, to avoid present dangers, generally follow the neutral path, and are generally ruined. But when a prince declares himself gallantly in favour of one side, if the party with whom he allies himself conquers, although the victor may be powerful and may have him at his mercy, yet he is indebted to him, and there is established a bond of amity; and men are never so shameless as to become a monument of ingratitude by oppressing you. Victories after all are never so complete that the victor must not show some regard, especially to justice. But if he with whom you ally yourself loses, you may be sheltered by him, and whilst he is able he may aid you, and you become companions on a fortune that may rise again.

In the second case, when those who fight are of such a character that you have no anxiety as to who may conquer, so much the more is it greater prudence to be allied, because you assist at the destruction of one by the aid of another who, if he had been wise, would have saved him; and conquering, as it is impossible that he should not do with your assistance, he remains at your discretion. And here it is to be noted that a prince ought to take care never to make an alliance with one more powerful than himself for the purposes of attacking others, unless necessity compels him, as is said above; because if he conquers you are at his discretion, and princes ought to avoid as much as possible being at the discretion of any one. The Venetians joined with France against the Duke of Milan, and this alliance, which caused their ruin, could have been avoided. But when it cannot be avoided, as happened to the Florentines when the Pope and Spain sent armies to attack Lombardy, then in such a case, for the above reasons, the prince ought to favour one of the parties.

Never let any Government imagine that it can choose perfectly safe courses; rather let it expect to have to take very doubtful ones, because it is found in ordinary affairs that one never seeks to avoid one trouble without running into another; but prudence consists in knowing how to distinguish the character of troubles, and for choice to take the lesser evil.

A prince ought also to show himself a patron of ability, and to honour the proficient in every art. At the same time he should encourage his citizens to practise their callings peaceably, both in commerce and agriculture, and in every other following, so that the one should not be deterred from improving his possessions for fear lest they be taken away from him or another from opening up trade for fear of taxes; but the prince ought to offer rewards to whoever wishes to do these things and designs in any way to honour his city or state.

Further, he ought to entertain the people with festivals and spectacles at convenient seasons of the year; and as every city is divided into guilds or into societies,[*] he ought to hold such bodies in esteem, and associate with them sometimes, and show himself an example of courtesy and liberality; nevertheless, always maintaining the majesty of his rank, for this he must never consent to abate in anything.

[*] “Guilds or societies,” “in arti o in tribu.” “Arti” were craft or trade guilds, cf. Florio: “Arte . . . a whole company of any trade in any city or corporation town.” The guilds of Florence are most admirably described by Mr Edgcumbe Staley in his work on the subject (Methuen, 1906). Institutions of a somewhat similar character, called “artel,” exist in Russia to-day, cf. Sir Mackenzie Wallace’s “Russia,” ed. 1905: “The sons . . . were always during the working season members of an artel. In some of the larger towns there are artels of a much more complex kind– permanent associations, possessing large capital, and pecuniarily responsible for the acts of the individual members.” The word “artel,” despite its apparent similarity, has, Mr Aylmer Maude assures me, no connection with “ars” or “arte.” Its root is that of the verb “rotisya,” to bind oneself by an oath; and it is generally admitted to be only another form of “rota,” which now signifies a “regimental company.” In both words the underlying idea is that of a body of men united by an oath. “Tribu” were possibly gentile groups, united by common descent, and included individuals connected by marriage. Perhaps our words “septs” or “clans” would be most appropriate.

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