1.25.2023 – President has more

President has more
absolute executive powers
than any ruler

The important words that I could not hammer into place in this haiku are, “… in theory.”

Today’s haiku was adapted from a paragraph in Nelson’s History of the War (Vol. IX) (Thomas Nelson, London,  1915) by John Buchan where Mr. Buchan worked towards explaining The American Philosophy of Politics on the chapter titled, THE STRAINING OF AMERICAN PATIENCE.

(GOSH, 9 Volumes already published as of 1915 and three more years of war to go? BTW, it does run to 24 volumes all together!)

Mr. Buchan wrote:

These reasons decided public opinion, and, since in America public opinion is the true sovereign, President Wilson was loyal to his master.

The President of the United States has in theory more absolute executive powers than any ruler in the world.

But he is bound to an unseen chariot wheel.

He dare not outrun the wishes of the majority of the citizens.

His pace is as fast as theirs, but no faster, or he courts a fall.

A true democracy is a docile follower of a leader whom it has once trusted.

But an incomplete democracy such as America demands not a leader but a fellow-wayfarer who can act as spokesman.

Hence it was idle to talk of President Wilson’s policy as if it were the conclusions and deeds of an individual.

It was his business to interpret the opinion of America at large, and there is no reason to believe that he erred in this duty.

I have heard this explained more than once, in more than one book, in more than one lecture, by more than one writer or Professor.

The most important job any President has is to EDUCATE THE PEOPLE, one of favorite Professors pounded into my brain.

Once educated, the people will understand what the President means to do.

Once the people understand that, they will also support what the President means to do.

Search on YOU TUBE for FDR’s fireside chat on February 23, 1942.

The White House would ask the Newspapers to print a World Map so that listeners could follow along with the President as he traced around the world and focused on trouble spots and where American military forces were in action.

I always thought to myself, can it be this simple?

How can it be this simple?

How can it be this simple and still almost impossible to do?

How can it be this simple and still almost impossible to do today?

Then I re-read that paragraph I quoted today.

There is that one word in there.

The word at the end of this sentence.

A true democracy is a docile follower of a leader whom it has once trusted.

Trusted.

Trust.

So simple.

And I do love that line that reads, “But an incomplete democracy such as America demands not a leader but a fellow-wayfarer who can act as spokesman.

I have been watching these reports of everyone taking Top Secret documents home as home work, I guess, and I see that these folks look to live in some really nice homes.

Not like much anything like most of my fellow-wayfarers get to live in, but I digress.

1.23.2023 language certainly

language certainly
infelicitous surely
makes its purpose clear

I had to look infelicitous up.

I had to look infelicitous up, but I really really like the word.

Notice is that the word looks to be very close to inflection or the modulation of intonation or pitch in the voice, but the word is infelicitous.

It is an adjective that means unfortunate or inappropriate.

As in the sentence I read today that started; While the language is certainly infelicitousthe historical context makes its purpose clear.

The best part of the sentence is that part where I substituted the ellipsis.

The entirety of the sentence as used in the opinion piece, The Constitution Has a 155-Year-Old Answer to the Debt Ceiling, by Mr. Eric Foner, is:

While the language is certainly infelicitous (surely Congress could have found better wording than declaring it illegal to “question” the validity of the national debt), the historical context makes its purpose clear.

I have to admire any optimist.

And anyone who feels that surely, Congress could have found better wording.

Congress?

Our Congress?

The Congress of the United States?

Surely, The Congress of the United States could have found better wording rather than using wording that was unfortunate or inappropriate?

That, dear reader, it what I call optimism.

Not wanting to be infelicitous but I am reminded of Sir Humphrey Appleby when he said, ” … the traditional allocation of executive responsibilities has always been so determined as to liberate the ministerial incumbent from the administrative minutiae by devolving the managerial functions to those whose experience and qualifications have better formed them for the performance of such humble offices, thereby releasing their political overlords for the more onerous duties and profound deliberations which are the inevitable concomitant of their exalted position.”

Infelicitous my butt.

1.12.2023 – secret of life is

secret of life is
honesty and fair dealing
fake that, got it made

Based on the Groucho quote, The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

And y’all thought I was going to comment on the Congressperson from New York.

Too late, the fellers is in Congress.

As Mr. Twain said, “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”

Mr. Twain also said, “There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”

It seems like it Will Rogers who worried about comic material running low if Congress adjourned.

It is what it is and we are stuck with it.

12.9.2022 – and each day has the

and each day has the
potential to influence
ones that come after

something can be weak
and considerable force
is compatible

Adapted from:

… and each day has the potential to influence the ones after.

Something can be weak and a considerable force in politics or culture at the same time; someone can be losing and influential at the same time.

These things are compatible.

In the article Donald Trump Is Weak. And Powerful. Now What? by Katherine Miller, who is a staff writer and editor in Opinion page of the New York Times.

12.8.2022 – when the shoe fits it

when the shoe fits it
pinches one wearing it which
about says it all

Which gets to the larger question that supersedes all the ins and outs of the maneuvering over the Republican presidential nomination and the future of the party: How, in a matter of less than a decade, could this once-proud country have evolved to the point that there is a serious debate over choosing a presidential candidate who is a lifelong opportunist, a pathological and malignant narcissist, a sociopath, a serial liar, a philanderer, a tax cheat who does not pay his bills and a man who socializes with Holocaust deniers, who has pardoned his criminal allies, who encouraged a violent insurrection, who, behind a wall of bodyguards, is a coward and who, without remorse, continually undermines American democracy?

The closing paragraph of the Guest Opinion piece, Trump Is Unraveling Before Our Eyes, but Will It Matter? by Thomas B. Edsall.

I have no comment to make on this remarkable sentence, and notice it is one sentence, but instead I turn to familiar old idioms:

If the shoe fits …

AND

only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches …

I think the above sentence is truly fitting to a certain person.

I also think that those who might complain about what the sentence says about that person know too well why it fits.

Overall, I end with another idiom, ’nuff said!’

11.28.2022 – how can that creepy

how can that creepy
guy be a hero to you
all in big trouble

Commenting on the ’60s and Lyndon Johnson, Doris Kearns Godwin writes in her book on LBJ, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, that:

“How in the hell can that creepy guy be a hero to you?” Johnson asked me after we saw The Graduate in the movie theater on his ranch.

“All I needed was to see ten minutes of that guy, floating like a big lump in a pool, moving like an elephant in that woman’s bed, riding up and down the California coast polluting the atmosphere, to know that I wouldn’t trust him for one minute with anything that really mattered to me.

And if that’s an example of what love seems like to your generation, then we’re all in big trouble.

All they did was to scream and yell at each other before getting to the altar.

Then after it was over they sat on the bus like dumb mutes with absolutely nothing to say to one another.

Don’t know why but I never imagined LBJ watching The Graduate.

Now that I know, I am not one bit surprised by his reaction.

The scary part, now in my 60s, I am not sure that I don’t disagree.

What was the quote sometimes attached to Mr. Churchill?

To be 25 and not be a liberal is to have no heart.

To be 50 and not be a conservative is to have no brain.

10.30.2022 – He literally

He literally
willed what was in his mind to
be reality

He felt that victory required belief.

As a boy, friends recall, “he was always repeating” the salesman’s credo that “You’ve got to believe in what you’re selling”; decades later, in his retirement, he would say: “What convinces is conviction. You simply have to believe in the argument you are advancing; if you don’t, you’re as good as dead.

The other person will sense that something isn’t there.”

And Lyndon Johnson could make himself believe in an argument even if that argument did not accord with the facts, even if it was clearly in conflict with reality.

He “would quickly come to believe what he was saying even if it was clearly not true,” his aide Joseph Califano would write.

“It was not an act,” George Reedy would say.

“He had a fantastic capacity to persuade himself that the ‘truth’ which was convenient for the present was the truth and anything that conflicted with it was the prevarication of enemies.

He literally willed what was in his mind to become reality.”

He would refuse to hear any facts which conflicted with that “reality,” to listen to anyone who disagreed with him.

(Robert A. Caro. The Passage of Power (2012). Knopf. Kindle Edition.)

Is there something in the water at the White House?

Or in Washington, DC, overall?

The author Jim Harrison once wrote something along the lines of asking that when you consider the buildings and such in Washington, DC, how could elected officials NOT become pompous?

Mr. Harrison recommended turning the Capitol into a museum and setting Congress up in a pole barn in Anacostia and then watch how long it took for the Government to make things happen.

I second the notion with the added stipulation of no air conditioning.

.

10.26.2022 – do what they think in

do what they think in
faithful disinterested
judgement what is right

In a 1955 document titled, Modernisation of the House of Commons – First Report, contributed to by Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, Mr. Churchill said that:

The first duty of a member of Parliament is to do what they think in their faithful and disinterested judgement is right and necessary for the honour and safety of Great Britain. The second duty is to their constituents, of whom they are the representative but not the delegate. Burke’s famous declaration on this subject is well known. It is only in the third place that their duty to party organisation or programme takes rank. All these three loyalties should be observed, but there is no doubt of the order in which they stand under any healthy manifestation of democracy.

Let me put that in bullet points.

  • The first duty of a member of Parliament is to do what they think in their faithful and disinterested judgement is right and necessary for the honour and safety of Great Britain.
  • The second duty is to their constituents, of whom they are the representative but not the delegate.
  • It is only in the third place that their duty to party organisation or programme takes rank.

All these three loyalties should be observed, but there is no doubt of the order in which they stand under any healthy manifestation of democracy.

Let me, repeat part of that last line.

But there is no doubt of the order in which they stand under any healthy manifestation of democracy.

Change Parliament to Congress is easy.

But then you also have to change the last line to read, There is no doubt of the order in which they stand under this current un-healthy manifestation of democracy.

10.25.2022 – men make their history

men make their history
do not make it as they please
chosen by the past

Adapted from, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte by Karl Marx  between December 1851 and March 1852, and originally published in 1852 in Die Revolution, a German monthly magazine published in New York City and established by Joseph Weydemeyer. 

According to Wikipedia, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon discusses the French coup of 1851 in which Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte assumed dictatorial powers. It shows Marx in his form as a social and political historian, treating actual historical events from the viewpoint of his materialist conception of history.

The title refers to the Coup of 18 Brumaire in which Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in revolutionary France (9 November 17s99, or 18 Brumaire Year VIII in the French Republican Calendar), in order to contrast it with the coup of 1851.

Mr. Marx wrote, “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.

Commenting on the changes brought on by the coup attempt, Marx writes:

” … fanatics for order are shot down on their balconies by mobs of drunken soldiers, their domestic sanctuaries profaned,

their houses bombarded for amusement –

in the name of property,

of the family,

of religion,

and of order.

Finally, the scum of bourgeois society forms the holy phalanx of order and the hero installs himself in the Tuileries as the “savior of society.”

Of course, that was then in the 1850’s.

It would never happen here.

It would never happen now.

History doesn’t repeat itself but historians do, still it seems like what goes around comes around.

10.22.2022 – crisis on top of

crisis on top of
crisis – crises cheaper
when you buy in bulk

I started this blog and daily haiku as a salute to words, usage and the English language.

That it has turned into my rant platform over the current state of affairs, political and otherwise in this country is not my plan nor my fault.

I just want to say that I start each day looking for that bit of unique wordplay in life that makes me want to say something about the writers writing.

That this often turns into a political rant … well, I guess that is where the best writing is going these days.

Like something close to what Michael Corelone said, “… every time I think I am out, they keep pulling me back.

And as Will Rogers said, “All I know is what I read in the papers.”

That being said, I read in the paper this morning:

The USA is in a political crisis layered on top of an economic crisis, which itself has needlessly exacerbated an already dire cost-of-living crisis.

The idea that the answer to a single part of this horror show is to bring back a morally degenerate financial incontinent who broke his own laws is something that tells you everything about the terminal sad-sacks who are so much as thinking of it.

The formal investigation into the last truth-aborting period in office is about to begin; if it ends up censuring someone for misleading Congress on January 6, as is perfectly likely, then we’d be in a constitutional crisis too.

Maybe crises are cheaper when you buy in bulk.

So I lied.

I didn’t read this this morning.

What I read was the article, Tories on their knees – and here comes Boris Johnson. Dear reader, look away by Marina Hyde this morning in the Guardian.

What she said was:

The UK is in a political crisis layered on top of an economic crisis, which itself has needlessly exacerbated an already dire cost-of-living crisis. The idea that the answer to a single part of this horror show is to bring back a morally degenerate financial incontinent who broke his own laws is something that tells you everything about the terminal sad-sacks who are so much as thinking of it. The formal parliamentary investigation into Johnson’s last truth-aborting period in office is about to begin; if it ends up censuring him for misleading parliament over the No 10 lockdown parties, as is perfectly likely, then we’d be in a constitutional crisis too. Maybe crises are cheaper when you buy in bulk.

I changed a few nouns to adjust for Greenwich Mean Time and there we are on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

It was Oscar Wilde who wrote, “We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.

I think of how in my parents time, the two countries shared Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

It’s just not fair.