The Watering Hole, Wednesday 8/24/16

THE PRINCE

CHAPTER VIII

CONCERNING THOSE WHO HAVE OBTAINED A PRINCIPALITY BY WICKEDNESS

Although a prince may rise from a private station in two ways, neither of which can be entirely attributed to fortune or genius, yet it is manifest to me that I must not be silent on them, although one could be more copiously treated when I discuss republics. These methods are when, either by some wicked or nefarious ways, one ascends to the principality, or when by the favour of his fellow-citizens a private person becomes the prince of his country. And speaking of the first method, it will be illustrated by two examples–one ancient, the other modern–and without entering further into the subject, I consider these two examples will suffice those who may be compelled to follow them.

Agathocles, the Sicilian,[*] became King of Syracuse not only from a private but from a low and abject position. This man, the son of a potter, through all the changes in his fortunes always led an infamous life. Nevertheless, he accompanied his infamies with so much ability of mind and body that, having devoted himself to the military profession, he rose through its ranks to be Praetor of Syracuse. Being established in that position, and having deliberately resolved to make himself prince and to seize by violence, without obligation to others, that which had been conceded to him by assent, he came to an understanding for this purpose with Amilcar, the Carthaginian, who, with his army, was fighting in Sicily. One morning he assembled the people and the senate of Syracuse, as if he had to discuss with them things relating to the Republic, and at a given signal the soldiers killed all the senators and the richest of the people; these dead, he seized and held the princedom of that city without any civil commotion. And although he was twice routed by the Carthaginians, and ultimately besieged, yet not only was he able to defend his city, but leaving part of his men for its defence, with the others he attacked Africa, and in a short time raised the siege of Syracuse. The Carthaginians, reduced to extreme necessity, were compelled to come to terms with Agathocles, and, leaving Sicily to him, had to be content with the possession of Africa.

[*] Agathocles the Sicilian, born 361 B.C., died 289 B.C.

Therefore, he who considers the actions and the genius of this man will see nothing, or little, which can be attributed to fortune, inasmuch as he attained pre-eminence, as is shown above, not by the favour of any one, but step by step in the military profession, which steps were gained with a thousand troubles and perils, and were afterwards boldly held by him with many hazardous dangers. Yet it cannot be called talent to slay fellow-citizens, to deceive friends, to be without faith, without mercy, without religion; such methods may gain empire, but not glory. Still, if the courage of Agathocles in entering into and extricating himself from dangers be considered, together with his greatness of mind in enduring and overcoming hardships, it cannot be seen why he should be esteemed less than the most notable captain. Nevertheless, his barbarous cruelty and inhumanity with infinite wickedness do not permit him to be celebrated among the most excellent men. What he achieved cannot be attributed either to fortune or genius.

In our times, during the rule of Alexander the Sixth, Oliverotto da Fermo, having been left an orphan many years before, was brought up by his maternal uncle, Giovanni Fogliani, and in the early days of his youth sent to fight under Pagolo Vitelli, that, being trained under his discipline, he might attain some high position in the military profession. After Pagolo died, he fought under his brother Vitellozzo, and in a very short time, being endowed with wit and a vigorous body and mind, he became the first man in his profession. But it appearing a paltry thing to serve under others, he resolved, with the aid of some citizens of Fermo, to whom the slavery of their country was dearer than its liberty, and with the help of the Vitelleschi, to seize Fermo. So he wrote to Giovanni Fogliani that, having been away from home for many years, he wished to visit him and his city, and in some measure to look upon his patrimony; and although he had not laboured to acquire anything except honour, yet, in order that the citizens should see he had not spent his time in vain, he desired to come honourably, so would be accompanied by one hundred horsemen, his friends and retainers; and he entreated Giovanni to arrange that he should be received honourably by the Fermians, all of which would be not only to his honour, but also to that of Giovanni himself, who had brought him up.

Giovanni, therefore, did not fail in any attentions due to his nephew, and he caused him to be honourably received by the Fermians, and he lodged him in his own house, where, having passed some days, and having arranged what was necessary for his wicked designs, Oliverotto gave a solemn banquet to which he invited Giovanni Fogliani and the chiefs of Fermo. When the viands and all the other entertainments that are usual in such banquets were finished, Oliverotto artfully began certain grave discourses, speaking of the greatness of Pope Alexander and his son Cesare, and of their enterprises, to which discourse Giovanni and others answered; but he rose at once, saying that such matters ought to be discussed in a more private place, and he betook himself to a chamber, whither Giovanni and the rest of the citizens went in after him. No sooner were they seated than soldiers issued from secret places and slaughtered Giovanni and the rest. After these murders Oliverotto, mounted on horseback, rode up and down the town and besieged the chief magistrate in the palace, so that in fear the people were forced to obey him, and to form a government, of which he made himself the prince. He killed all the malcontents who were able to injure him, and strengthened himself with new civil and military ordinances, in such a way that, in the year during which he held the principality, not only was he secure in the city of Fermo, but he had become formidable to all his neighbours. And his destruction would have been as difficult as that of Agathocles if he had not allowed himself to be overreached by Cesare Borgia, who took him with the Orsini and Vitelli at Sinigalia, as was stated above. Thus one year after he had committed this parricide, he was strangled, together with Vitellozzo, whom he had made his leader in valour and wickedness.

Some may wonder how it can happen that Agathocles, and his like, after infinite treacheries and cruelties, should live for long secure in his country, and defend himself from external enemies, and never be conspired against by his own citizens; seeing that many others, by means of cruelty, have never been able even in peaceful times to hold the state, still less in the doubtful times of war. I believe that this follows from severities[*] being badly or properly used. Those may be called properly used, if of evil it is possible to speak well, that are applied at one blow and are necessary to one’s security, and that are not persisted in afterwards unless they can be turned to the advantage of the subjects. The badly employed are those which, notwithstanding they may be few in the commencement, multiply with time rather than decrease. Those who practise the first system are able, by aid of God or man, to mitigate in some degree their rule, as Agathocles did. It is impossible for those who follow the other to maintain themselves.

[*] Mr Burd suggests that this word probably comes near the modern equivalent of Machiavelli’s thought when he speaks of “crudelta” than the more obvious “cruelties.”

Hence it is to be remarked that, in seizing a state, the usurper ought to examine closely into all those injuries which it is necessary for him to inflict, and to do them all at one stroke so as not to have to repeat them daily; and thus by not unsettling men he will be able to reassure them, and win them to himself by benefits. He who does otherwise, either from timidity or evil advice, is always compelled to keep the knife in his hand; neither can he rely on his subjects, nor can they attach themselves to him, owing to their continued and repeated wrongs. For injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that, being tasted less, they offend less; benefits ought to be given little by little, so that the flavour of them may last longer.

And above all things, a prince ought to live amongst his people in such a way that no unexpected circumstances, whether of good or evil, shall make him change; because if the necessity for this comes in troubled times, you are too late for harsh measures; and mild ones will not help you, for they will be considered as forced from you, and no one will be under any obligation to you for them.

OPEN THREAD

August 9, 2016

Seventy-one years ago today in Nagasaki Japan, this:

Tens of thousands of innocent people were killed instantly, tens of thousands more died in months to come, from radiation. Three days earlier, the city and people Hiroshima had the same horrors visited upon them. Proof of our “greatness,” some have said, some still say.

Nonsense.

Are we, as humans, willing to let it all happen again, and on a scale thousands-fold larger? It’s been reported that Donald Trump, in a meeting with foreign policy experts and advisors, three times asked them the question why the United States shouldn’t use nuclear weapons. We have them, after all, why not use them?

Just last year, the argument was put forward that the United States spend one trillion dollars over the span of 2-3 decades to “modernize” its nuclear arsenal.

Why? Are we nuts? (I know, answer obvious). Apparently we’ve learned NOTHING in 71 years, other than how to destroy cities, elect fools and waste money. Too bad we can’t find the money to pay for researching the means to destroy fools instead.

I know, dream on.

R.I.P. Nagasaki victims.

******

The Worldly hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes – or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face,
Lighting a little hour or two – is gone.
(Omar Khayyam, ca. 1100 A.D.)

 

 

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 8th, 2016: Looney-Toons

Okay, just because the American Psychiatric Association doesn’t want their members to publicize ‘armchair’ diagnoses of the Presidential candidates – meaning Donald Trump, of course – doesn’t mean that we non-psychiatrists can’t do it. And, although “Looney-Toons” isn’t the most clinically accurate ‘armchair’ diagnosis, it at least allows for a little humor to start the week.

Bugs Bunny in Hair, er, Herr Meets Hare
Herr Trump seems to have been given a lot more unearned medals than just that poor guy’s Purple Heart.

Can't even rule his own herr, er, hair
Herr Trump can’t even rule his own hair.

"Victory Thru Herr, er, Hair Power"
“Hmm..”Victory Thru Herr Hair Hare Power”!?”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX2GABT “Look at this – my hair’s a mess!  Can’t anyone help me?”

you're so next “Can’t you see you’re next?”
DonaldTrumpShrug1 “Okay, why not?”

daffy holding signrabbitofseville33“I’m not sure what’s in this, but if it dissolved that thing on his head, that’s a step in the right direction.”

rabbitofseville64“Flowers?! Are you kidding? I can’t even comb them over!”

Although it could have been worse, i.e.:
duckamuck40...The blow to his vanity was just too much, pushing him over the edge.  His self-image as “Donald J. Trump, Billionaire” was destroyed. 

donald-trump mansionHe began to dress in a bunny suit, repeating over and over, “My name is Elmer J. Fudd, Millionaire.  I own a mansion and a yacht.”

elmer2elmerbunny

bugs_elmer-rabbit
Longtime friend and co-worker Daffy Duck describes a recent visit:
daffy not crazy

He “may be crazy, but” he’s not going to the White House!

This is our daily Open Thread. Please feel free to discuss anything you like – or dislike.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday August 2, 2016

Hard to top Wayne’s cute animal post from yesterday, but I’ll follow with a gorgeous places one to see where it goes. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Image result for world's most beautiful places

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Canada

 

The World’s Most Beautiful Places

Seljalandsfoss Falls, Iceland

 

The World’s Most Beautiful Places

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

 

The World’s Most Beautiful Places

Pangong Tso Lake in the Himalayas

 

Notice the water theme?

Open Thread.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 23, 2016: Ego

The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of ego:

Noun:

1.      A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance

1.1    Psychoanalysis The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity

1.2    Philosophy (In metaphysics) a conscious thinking subject.

Synonyms: self-esteem, self-importance, self-worth, self-respect, self-conceit, self-image, self-confidence;

Now, let’s take a brief look at Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s ego:

1. Trump’s self-esteem? Off the charts–his self-descriptions include being “the greatest” this, the “best” that, the “most” whatever. Anyone who claims otherwise is just “wrong” or “stupid”, or has some imaginary personal beef against Trump, because in no way will Donald Trump admit to any ignorance, mistake, lie, or out-and-out wrongdoing. Which leads to…

1.1 Trump’s ego cannot “mediate” between the conscious and unconscious. Reality testing?! Trump’s conscious and unconscious create their own reality, and it’s a reality that he seems to feel no need to test. His “reality” is part-and-parcel of his personal identity, and it is impenetrable by truth, facts, and even Trump’s own previous words or deeds.

1.2 While Trump may be “conscious” in the literal sense of the word, he is not a “thinking” subject.

With his penchant for superlatives, Trump might possibly think that he has a “superego“, but the OED’s definition of superego leads me to believe that Trump’s ego vanquished his superego a long time ago:

Noun:
Psychoanalysis The part of a person’s mind that acts as a self-critical conscience, reflecting social standards learned from parents and teachers

“Self-critical”?  Rarely and barely.  Hell, Trump told evangelicals that he didn’t feel the need to go to confession, since he doesn’t think that anything he does is wrong.  And I learned things like manners, respect and intellectual curiosity from my parents and teachers, apparently unlike Trump.

Trump has a dysfunctional relationship with the truth. According to Politifact, only 8.4% of Trump’s statements have been factual.  Their review of Trump’s statements shows that a whopping 70% of Trump’s statements are rated “Mostly False”, “False”, or “Pants on Fire.” Here’s one of the “Pants on Fire” stories:

“The day after the 2016 Republican National Convention, Trump said his vanquished Republican rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, had never denied that his father was in a 1963 photo with Lee Harvey Oswald, who went on to assassinate President John F. Kennedy that November.

Trump said: “All I did is point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now, Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead he said, ‘Donald Trump.’ I had nothing to do with it. This was a magazine that frankly, in many respects, should be very respected.”

[The idea that ‘the National Enquirer should be very respected’ should rate a “Pants on Fire” of its own.]

Politifact gave Trump the “2015 Lie of The Year” award to The Donald.  An excerpt:

“…a little hyperbole never hurts,” Trump wrote in his 1987 best-seller The Art of the Deal. “People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

[Ah, and that explains “Trump University.”]

Next, here’s a glib, almost superficial, and often sickeningly fawning article from the Washington Post, by AP “reporter” Nancy Benar, titled “For Trump, it’s about America’s ego — and his own.” Some key excerpts:

“Almost every deal I have ever done has been at least partly for my ego,” the billionaire declared in a 1995 New York Times piece titled, “What My Ego Wants, My Ego Gets.”

“The same assets that excite me in the chase often, once they are acquired, leave me bored,” he told an interviewer in 1990, as his boom years were sliding toward bust. “For me, you see, the important thing is the getting, not the having.”

Trump,[sic] stresses his Ivy League education and revels in juvenile jabs, labeling his adversaries “stupid,” ‘’dumb” and “bad.”

“I know words,” he declared at a December campaign rally where he criticized the Obama administration. “I have the best words. But there’s no better word than stupid, right?”

Wrong, Mr. Trump. As a Presidential candidate, now nominee, some of the “best words” that you should memorize the meanings for are:  honesty, integrity, class, civility, respect, humility and responsibility. I know that these terms and ideas are foreign to you, but you should familiarize yourself with them – there might be a quiz between now and November.

This is our daily Open Thread–feel free to talk about this or any other topic.

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 18, 2016: An Unfunny Trainwreck

Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee and Narcissistic Mendacious Carnival Barker Donald J. Trump and his choice to be his running mate, Indiana Governor and anti-Woman, anti-LGBT, pro-Christian-and-no-other-religion department store female underwear mannequin, Mike Pence, sat down with CBS 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl for their first joint interview since the announcement was made. You’d think they just met in the hallway. It did not go as well as the Republican Party might hope, unless their hope was that Trump would forget to rein in his ego even a little bit and Pence would forget that his political career is coming to an end this November.

See the interview and a great summary of why this was a complete and total trainwreck here. While you’re there, count the lies Stahl allows Trump to Gish Gallop into his comments. Lies such as that he was against the Iraq War from the beginning, that Hillary Clinton “invented ISIS with her stupid policies,” and many others. And his refusal to directly answer questions like “How are you going to declare war on ISIS?” are very scary. This man is a buffoon, and there is absolutely no rational reason to believe he is competent in the least way to handle the responsibilities of being president. You cannot convince me otherwise. Go ahead. Try.

This is our daily open thread. You are free to discuss any topic you wish.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 16th, 2016: ICYMI – The Only Good News This Week

Not only will Bill Maher be covering the Republican National Convention, but we’ll also have the king of political comedy, Jon Stewart, joining Stephen Colbert to cover both the RNC and the DNC. IMHO, this is the best news in a long time, and I’m looking forward to (hopefully) having some good laughs before weeping at the terrible decline of this nation on ugly, garish display.

In the meantime, I collected some happy gifs that commenters at Raw Story posted. Enjoy!

colbert and jon stewart drink tea

colbert popcorn

jon stewart popcorn

colbert yes nice you like

jon stewart happy moves

calvin and hobbes happy dancing

the doctor oh yes

This is our daily Open Thread, so go ahead and talk about stuff.