Category Archives: Progressive?

Advice for Assassin Wannabes

While it’s kind of shocking that some idiot in Virginia opened fire on a
bunch of legislators playing baseball, sudden gun battles and maniacs with
weapons blazing are hardly an uncommon occurrence for many Americans.

Now, suddenly, for those lawmakers caught in the crossfire, they get it.
This is what it’s like to have innocent fun turn deadly because some
unrelated third party decides they have a grievance that just has to be
ameliorated by blood sacrifice. This is what it’s like for many inner city
dwellers who have to navigate free fire zones all the time.

One can only hope that, having come so abruptly face to face with mortality,
our congress will clean up its act a bit. Be a bit more civil. Stop the name
calling and hate speech. (Ya could do with a few less conspiracy theories
too, you right wingers.)

And, not to be unsympathetic to all the shooters-to-be out there, but, if ya
feel you just gotta shoot someone–how about starting with yourself?


A Solution for Arkansas

There’s an obvious solution to Arkansas’ problem finding a humane drug to execute its death row inmates. Jeez, it’s all over the news these days. And it’s one people voluntarily take for their own amusement, so it can’t bee too cruel.

How hard would it be for Arkansas to score some heroin on the street and just use that? Seems like a win, win to me. If taking human life can be considered a “win” that is.

Cheap, easy to obtain, no manufacturers’ complaints, and humane.

No, no, don’t thank me Arkansas. You should have thought of this yourselves.

Mercy or Vengeance

Diarmat Mac Murchada (Dermot) King of Leinster, had been dispossessed
by the High King of Ireland.  He sought assistance from Henry II, King of
England to regain his kingdom.  Henry gave his knights permission, if they
wished, to join Dermot’s cause.  Richard “Strongbow” Fitzgilbert De Clare,
Earl of Striguil took him up on it.

Dermot even threw his daughter Aoife overboard, metaphorically speaking;
as an incentive, he gave her as wife to Strongbow.  There is a famous painting
in the Irish National Gallery, “The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife”
which depicts this event.

In 1170 Strongbow sent an advance party of ten men-at-arms and 70
archers, led by Raymond le Gros, to Ireland.  Near Waterford, at Dundonolf,  about 3,000 men of Waterford engaged Raymond’s small band and, due to the
inopportune tactics employed by the Irish, amazingly, Raymond’s contingent won the day.  It was a long fight and Raymond and his men grew so weary of cutting people down with their swords that they finally resorted to just throwing the Irish off a cliff into the sea where they drowned.

But they also captured 70 Irishmen and there was a public debate about
what to do with the captives.  The noble Raymond pleaded eloquently for their lives, but a more practical knight, Hervey de Montmaurice, was of another mind.  The debate is relevant and apropos today, given the issue of terrorism and the war on it.  Here is how the debate went.

Raymond’s Speech
“RAYMOND, contending earnestly for the liberation of the prisoners, spoke
thus :”
…Their enterprise was honourable, and they are not to be treated as thieves,
insurgents, traitors, or freebooters.   They are now in such a position that
mercy ought rather to be shown them for example’s sake, than cruelty to
torture them. …
…Let our clemency, therefore, procure for us the noble distinction that we
who have conquered others can conquer our own fury and wrath. …
…How worthy is it of a great man, in the midst of his triumphs, to count
it for sufficient revenge, that vengeance is in his power? …
…It is the part of a brave man to consider those as his enemies with whom
he is contending for victory, but to consider the vanquished as fellow-men;
that while courage brings war to an end, humanity may add to the blessings
of peace.  Mercy is, therefore, much more worthy of a noble man than
victory; the one is a virtue, the other the effect of fortune. …
…but as they were made prisoners, their lives were granted, and they have
been readmitted from the rank of our enemies to the common fellowship of
men, it would be a great stain on our honour, and bring us to great disgrace,
if we were now to inflict on them the punishment of death.

“His discourse…was received by a murmur of applause from the people”

Then Hervey had a go at it.
Hervey’s Speech
…Was that the way by which Julius Caesar and Alexander of Macedon
conquered the world ?  Did the nations voluntarily flock together from all
parts to such spectacles of mercy, or were they not rather compelled to
submit to the yoke by force of arms and the terrors of cruelty? …
…Raymond argues with wonderful mildness, as if we had already
subjugated these nations, and we had only to do with treating them kindly,
or as if our enemies were so few, that, with such valour as ours, it matters
not that we augment their numbers, whereas the whole population of Ireland
are leagued for our destruction, and not without reason. …
…Tell me, I pray you, whether Raymond’s acts are not inconsistent with his
words. Let him answer me whether, if the enemy should advance to storm
our camp, and by any chance should succeed, they would deal mercifully
with us. …
…We must so employ our victory that the death of these men may strike
terror into others, and that, taking warning from their example, a wild and
rebellious people may beware of encountering us again. …

How did it work out?

“Hervey’s opinion was approved by his comrades, and the wretched
captives, as men condemned, had their limbs broken, and were cast
headlong into the sea, and drowned.”

So much for “The quality of mercy is not strained”.

The account is taken from The Conquest of Ireland, by Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales), a 12th century historian and tutor to  two kings, Richard the Lionheart and his brother, John.

How William II Duke of Normandy Became William I King of England and England Became French Because of Two Vikings

Back in the day, well, in 1051 or thereabouts, Edward “the Confessor” King of England named William II, Duke of Normandy to inherit his title, for reasons that are not entirely clear.  (Edward wasn’t married at the time and had no kids.)

At the same time there was a powerful family of Earls of Danish extraction,  Godwin pater et fils.  Harold Godwinsson’s dad was the Earl of Wessex and when he died in 1053 after choking to death at the King’s table, Harold inherited the title.  To avoid getting bogged down in family pedigrees, let’s skip to the point which is that Earl Harold Godwinsson was a powerful warrior with great connections.

Now at this time in Europe warriors made war.  All the time.  They just couldn’t help themselves and besides, if you didn’t make war against someone, someone would make war against you.  It’s what they did.  I think they just didn’t like hanging around the house, or castle/palace, because their wives got on their nerves.  They needed an excuse to get out and about soooo…war it was.

In 1063 Earl Harold Godwinsson had been busy murdering every Welsh male who crossed his path, including Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, King of Wales.  Harold, in fact, carried Gruffydd’s head to Edward the Confessor, kind of a gruesome present but…hey, it’s what they did, back in the day.  Gruffydd’s widow Ealdgyth, who was supposedly very pretty, then married Edward the Confessor (apparently she wasn’t the sensitive type).  But they had no children either.

Then in 1064 Earl Harold was shipwrecked off the coast of Normandy and captured by Guy of Ponthieu.  William II Duke of Normandy ordered Guy to release Harold and in no time William and Harold were best buds.  They used to go hunting together.  Harold had agreed to support William’s claim to the throne of England.  But Edward (the Confessor) in 1066, on his deathbed, decided to name Earl Harold his successor instead of William.  Harold had been busy at the time, routing his brother Tostig’s army and killing off the bro.  (Now that’s sibling rivalry!)  Harold, pitching William overboard (metaphorically speaking) in a heartbeat, seized the English throne for himself.  He’s there, it ‘s empty, whatta ya gonna do?

When he heard about this Duke William, whose four greats grandfather  BTW, was Rollo the Viking–so he and Harold were actually both of Viking extraction–was hunting in the park of Quevily, near Rouen.  William stormed off, totally pissed off!  He was sulking and pouting, huffing and puffing in his great hall.  “He spoke to no man, and no man ventured to speak to him.  Crossing the Seine in a boat, he entered his palace and sat down moodily on a bench in the hall, covering his face with his cloak and leaning his head against a column.” (J.R. Planche, The Conqueror and His Companions, Vol. 1.)

Just then the Duke’s Dapifer/Steward/Seneschal, bold William FitzOsbern, enters the hall “humming a tune” and advises the Duke that he should just invade England and take that damn crown.   (Not only had it had been promised by Harold Godwinson, he and William had sworn oaths on it, on holy relics, which was a big deal back then.)  Then FitzOsbern the Dapifer goes around to each of Duke William’s most influential supporters & best warriors schmoozing them to support William in invading England.

They were all against it and asked FitzOsbern to speak to the Duke on behalf of the whole group and point out that they were not bound to support him anywhere except in Normandy and that they really didn’t want any part of such an enterprise. So then, having gotten himself appointed spokesman, FitzOsbern “with the greatest effrontery” goes to the Duke and assures him that he has the unanimous support of all, “That to advance him they would go through fire and water. They would not only cross the sea, but double their service.”.

When the chieftains found out how he’d misrepresented their position they were all furious and there was a near-riot among them. “The barons were as indignant as astounded at this unwarrantable declaration.  Many openly disavowed him; all was tumult and confusion.  No one could hear another speak; no one could either listen to reason or render it for himself” (from Wace’s Roman de Rou).  Now that’s some onions!

The rest is history.  Duke William et. al. invaded England 10/14/1066 and it became Norman,  not Saxon via the two warring Viking descendants.  (BTW, the Saxons were by no means originally locals, they’d invaded Britain back in the fifth century, but nobody seemed to remember that and spoke of Saxons as if they were natives since, well, forever.)

Ya just gotta love FitzOsbern for being so bold.  And duplicitous! And changing our history.

What Would Mexicans Do?

Sometimes when presented with instances of seeming double standards it’s useful to reverse roles and see how that works.

So after watching protesters rioting in the street, under the Mexican flag, burning our American flag, and beating Americans up after a Trump rally in San Jose last week I tried that–flipped the participants’ roles.

Folks may remember that groups of protesters were violently assaulting people leaving the Trump event.  In one case a group of men cornered a young woman, shoving a Mexican flag in her face, spitting on her, pelting her with eggs
and in general committing what appeared to be felony assault (as police looked on and did nothing).  Soooo brave of those men.

Now I have no strong feelings about Donald Trump one way or the other.  I also do not harbor xenophobic views about Mexicans, and, in fact, have no particular opinions about them one way or the other either, since generalizing about an entire group seems illogical.  Besides, I know virtually nothing about Mexico after the reign of the Emperor Maximillian.  So there’s no factual basis for me to have any opinion about the country or its citizens.

Since the rioters were waving Mexican flags it seems reasonable to assume they were Mexican.  So my question is; what would happen if a crowd of Americans, under the American flag, rioted in Mexico, burned the Mexican flag and violently assaulted Mexican citizens while trying to disrupt a Mexican presidential candidate’s campaign rally?  There’d be hell to pay and those rioters would not be treated gently.  They’d get their butts beaten is my guess.

What about the media’s coverage of the assaults?  Oh the media whores seemed to think it was entirely appropriate.  One self-identified latina commentator opining on a talk show discussing the incident, said that waving the Mexican flag was just the rioters’ way of showing their latino pride.  No kidding.  Violently assaulting and degrading a woman for having the temerity to attend a Donald Trump rally, while waving a foreign flag and burning ours, on our soil, was “their way of showing their latino pride”.   (And the ever-so-cosmopolitan media wonders why the American public dislikes them so much.)

Aside from the question of what Mexicans would do if the roles in this incident were reversed, what’s the root of the obvious media bias against Trump and Bernie?   Hmmm, what could it be?  Oh, right– media providers of “news” coverage are mostly owned by large corporations.  Bernie won’t peddle his ass to them.  Donald Trump won’t be controlled by them.  They’re pretty sure that Hillary can be bought for the equivalent of a chicken dinner.  What’s the ROI on a quarter million bucks to purchase an unscrupulous pol who will run interference for those corporations?

End of conversation.

No Disaster Aid for Texas

Not too long ago Texans were once again seen on TV blowharding about wanting to secede from the Union. But now there have been images of some pretty bad flooding in Texas in the past few days and I predict a change in their loudmoth tune.  Just watch–those treasonous assholes will have their grubby paws out
looking for disaster aid in a New York minute if they haven’t already done so.

They want to secede and be independent?  Then let them take care of their own disaster relief.  Why should the rest of us pay for it?  There are plenty of other things we could spend those funds on that don’t entail giving aid and comfort to our enemies–of which Texas has declared itself one.

Screw them!  I say freeze all their assets, cut them loose from the Union and then get out the popcorn and watch Mexico’s army roll across the Texas border and take their land–but only after we take all their stuff.  I guess we’d have to keep their oilfields somehow but haven’t quite figured that part out yet.  Yeah, there’s always a fly in the ointment somewhere.  But still–it’d be worth losing the oil to get rid of those folks.


So You Think You Have Marital Strife and In-law Problems?

Here’s an illustrative tale about marriage and family life in the fractious Middle Ages during the Age of Chivalry.   Marcher Baron William deBraose, lord of Abergavenny, was born around 1204.   He was the qunitessential A-lister.  Wealthy, well-connected, well born–what could go wrong?  The Welsh called him “Black William”.   Now before he came along the Welsh already hated his family, the deBraoses, who were, collectively, a powerful marcher lord family (of Norman origin of course) with a history of abuses of the Welsh. His grandfather, William deBraose, 4th Lord of Bramber, was known as the “Ogre of Abergavenny” (“the Ogre”) because in 1175 he invited several Welsh princes to Christmas Day festivities to settle their differences and had all of them and their entire retinues murdered.  Ho, ho, ho and Merry Christmas indeed!

The aforementioned Ogre had also been suspected of being complicit in the disappearance of Arthur of Brittany, at one time  heir-designate to the English throne, chosen by Richard Lionheart instead of his brother, John.   Arthur’s father  Geoffrey was a son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and a middle brother between Richard Lionheart and youngest son (eventually king) John.

Arthur of Brittany was no peach.  He had revolted against his uncle King John in 1202 and besieged his grandmother Eleanor of Aquitaine, who John had to rescue.  It was for these acts that John captured and imprisoned him the same year, leaving the aforementioned Ogre in charge of the captive.  In 1203 Arthur disappeared, never to be heard of or from again.  It was widely assumed that his uncle, King John was responsible and it was said that he and/or the Ogre had bumped off Arthur, whose body was found by a fisherman.  It had supposedly been weighted down and dumped in the Seine but became entangled in the fisherman’s net.

Subsequently the Ogre/4th Lord of Bramber, alas, had a falling out with King John and had to flee for his life, escaping England disguised as a beggar and leaving behind his wife, Maud de St. Valery de Braose and his eldest son William, both of whom John threw into prison, where they were eventually believed to have been starved to death after being walled up somewhere within Corfe castle.

Compared to that, Black William could be considered only mildly delinquent.  Reginald, Black William’s far less notorious dad, was a son of  the Ogre but William was the one who took after his grandfather.

Against this backdrop of familial dysfunction, Llywelyn the Great (Prince of Gwynedd who eventually ruled most of Wales) was married to Joan, the illegitimate daughter of King John, (The Pope later legitimized her. I think money was involved.)  During a visit to Llywelyn’s castle Black William was caught in Llywelyn’s bedchamber with Joan.  Llywelyn had him hung publicly (by one account naked) on 2/5/1230.  William was only 26 and he’s still infamous, so I guess you could say he carried on the family tradition.

Yesterday though, I came across an interesting bit of trivia about that event. After hanging his wife’s frisky lover Llywelyn graciously sent a letter of apology to the wife, Eva Marshall (one of the five daughters of Sir William Marshall “the best knight who ever lived”) for having hung her husband.  His excuse was that his fellow Welsh nobles hated her husband and his family so much and  were so outraged at this public disgrace that he, Llywelyn–basically to keep up appearances–had to avenge/revenge the scandal/offense of  banging the queen and getting caught.  Amusingly (sort of) Llywelyn and the Marshall family had already arranged a marriage of one of Eva Marshall’s daughters to his only legitimate son.  He made some reference in the letter to that contractual arrangement, which went forward despite one of the in-laws having hung the father of half of the bridal couple.  The wedding feast must have been awkward.

Lywelyn seems like a polite guy.  As we all know, you should send your hostess a note after a social engagement gone awry.  Does his letter to Eva  count as socially progressive? Maybe pragmatic?  I guess that’s what passed for being sensitive back in the days of chivalry.

Eva? She inherited all of her husband’s lands, titles and wealth, and became the direct ancestor of all the English monarchs after Henry VIII and several before him.  One suspects she wasn’t all that heartbroken at Black William’s demise.

In view of all this, perhaps the Clintons aren’t really all that high on the family dysfunction scale.  How’d you like to argue with some of these folks at Thanksgiving dinner?