In the last few millennia, I have to admit, I’ve seen a few things that weren’t funny, true, or worthwhile the first time around, but keep repeating:
– Emperors or other leaders making promises they will never keep.
– People being surprised by such broken promises.
– Sycophants who line up to serve the current emperor;
the same sycophants who served the previous emperor, who had a totally different
set of values;
and who will line up before the next emperor, regardless of his values.
– Emperors and their advisors who sit in their towers to determine what is best for
others, without ever consulting with them, and having never experienced their lifestyles or challenges.
It falls upon philosophers and teachers to attempt to warn of such issues; the issues that damage societies and eventually destroy them. Such was the fate of Greece, Rome, the monarchies of Europe, and the explorer nations.
Unfortunately, over the same millennia, none of the rich, the powerful, or the elite have paid the tiniest bit of attention to any of our warnings. I am not surprised, but my greatest desire is that some day I will be–at least once.
Pardon me for not writing much lately because everything seems so contentious, so I avoid writing anything that might be offensive to the President, Congress, any City Council, or PTA, anywhere.
It’s not as if I don’t like writing about politics and presidents. With my love of history–considering I’m a historical figure myself–I naturally, I find them fascinating. However, I’ve decided to limit myself to politicians from the 19th century or earlier, one of the most fascinating of whom is John Tyler, our tenth president.
Originally a Democrat, he became a member of the Whig political party (gotta love the name–and it has nothing to do with hair!). The Whigs did not have a platform, choosing instead to campaign against Martin Van Buren and the Democrats, blaming them for the poor economy that had begun three years before the election.
The Whig’s candidate, William Henry Harrison was elected president in 1840 with John Tyler (“Tippecanoe and Tyler, too” was their slogan) as his vice president. Harrison died of pneumonia 31 days after being inaugurated, and before the cabinet could declare Tyler as “Acting President,” he assumed the title of “president.” He was derided, behind his back, as “His Accidency.”
As president, he was often at odds with the mainstream members of his party; he was a fan of tariffs and frequently vetoed bills–even those from his own political party. His reason was that he believed the president–not Congress–should set policy. Members of his cabinet resigned and a number of his nominees for the cabinet were rejected by Congress. There was talk of impeachment, and the Whigs expelled him from his own party. One of his major efforts was to annex Texas to protect it from Mexico, although Texas statehood did not occur while he was in office.
After the attack on Fort Sumter, Tyler signed Virginia’s Ordnance of Secession in November, 1861 and was appointed to the Confederate House of Representatives. He died before the first session in February 1862.
Tyler was the only President of the United States whose casket was draped with a foreign flag (the flag of the Confederacy). He was also the only president who was named an “Enemy of the State.”
Today, 800,000 federal civilians are working without pay and 380,000 are furloughed. A small (about 2 percent ) pay raise was planned for all federal civilian workers, but this was frozen by President Trump.
But not to worry.
Senior political employees in the White House will get raises, including Vice-President (does that mean he’s president of vice?) Pence will be getting about a ten thousand dollar pay raise. No longer will Vice-President Pence have to struggle to make ends meet on $230,7000 (plus expenses), but will have his pay increased to $243,000 (plus expenses).
That’s the 21st century version of “taking one for the team.”
Today, pride and self-promotion are the primary driving forces; in other words, today’s philosophy is, “It’s all about me.” This cannot lead to good things for the nation in either the short term or the long term.
As the White House uses and discards people, there is no lack of others eager to step into those positions. These same people, last week, last month, or last year, were condemning the very administration to which they now bow and scrape for a piece of the action.
Power is that seductive; these glory seekers contradict their own statements without apology. John Adams told us that “Facts are stubborn things . . . ,” but many people are far more stubborn than facts.
The revolving door in Washington, DC will continue to spin. Ambitious people will step in—regardless of qualification or commitment—willing to do anything (and I mean ANYTHING) to wrap themselves in prestige, even if it’s only for a short while.
*“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
John Adams, ‘Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,’
December 1770, US diplomat & politician (1735 – 1826)
Since I lived quite a few centuries ago, I don’t have to worry about paying taxes any longer. Nevertheless, thrift being a virtue and because I have areputation for being obnoxious, here are a few suggestions.
The White House should start labeling offices for cabinet members with those yellow stickies; they also could be used for organization charts.
Even better, if the White House used a temporary employment agency for cabinet members, the taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay for benefits and a replacement could be found in a matter of days.
Is it coincidence that given the current world situation there’s a trend for governments to make marijuana legal–or is it a survival mechanism?
In any case, being dead for hundreds of years has its advantages, at least for me
On December 8, 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt began with these words; he ended with his request for Congress to declare that a state of war existed with Japan, as is consistent with our Constitution.
Over sixteen million Americans served in the military in the Second World War, with 405,000 dying—292,000 killed in battle. Throughout the world, 1.9 billion people served in various armies, air forces, navies (including coast guards), and marines resulting in 72 million deaths.
The Japanese had not signed the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war, killing, torturing, or enslaving Americans and their allies.
Nazi Germany established a series of efficient death mechanisms, including death factories (camps) to systematically murder over 6 million Jews, along with the handicapped, Roma (calling them gypsies is like using the n****** word), Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other innocent people who the Nazis considered unworthy or inconvenient.
How times change. That was the last war in which Congress passed a Declaration of War.
We won, and to the victor belongs the spoils, so by tradition, we could take whatever we wanted from those we vanquished. Instead, America provided aid to our allies and many of our former enemies so they could survive, recover, and rebuild.
This was not a business decision, it was a moral decision and the right thing to do. This was a long-term investment, which would cost the “greatest generation,” but benefit the children and the grandchildren of those who took the moral high ground. Many of these countries have worked together, with America as a senior partner, toward common goals, for decades. Together we have grown morally, intellectually, and economically. There is competition, of course, and we don’t agree on everything, but for over 70 years we’ve been able to resolve disagreements with these nations in western European and with Japan without a single shot fired in anger.
Today, if you ask people about the Second World War, many cannot tell you when it was fought, who we fought, or why. As the last veterans of that war die, is the knowledge and wisdom dying with them?
Although the United States has had military troops in combat more often than not since 1945, Congress has not enacted a declaration of war since 1941. They’ve avoided making a decision, but as was said in the 1960s, “Not to decide is to decide.”
This great nation of ours that broke the bonds that held them to King George III has, over time, allowed each president to assume more unilateral powers; to make the executive order as powerful as law—and if they’re not careful—as powerful as the constitution.
So, where are we? Without our leadership, other countries who once “had our back” are following our example and more concerned about how their nation can prosper regardless of the consequences.
In 1775 it was “Give me liberty or give me death!” In 1836, “Remember the Alamo!” In 1864, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” In 1898, “Remember the Maine!” In 1918, “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” In 1941, “Remember Pearl Harbor!”
Today, it’s “I want mine.”
Unfortunately, December 7th didn’t live in infamy and its lessons are barely remembered.