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Hegel and our times.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was thinking the other day about a number of different things when driving back from having lunch with the AirMarshal in DC. During lunch the AirMarshal stated that he didn’t think that Ronald Reagan’s historical legacy will be as glowing as the recent outpouring of funeral tributes would have us believe. Your Maximum Leader disagreed. But it caused him to think some more about it.

Recently Jonah Goldberg wrote a column on NRO discussing how in retrospect certain actions look more important to us now than they did at the time they happened. Goldberg mentioned Reagan’s pullout of the Marines from Lebanon as one of these actions. At the time it seemed like the reasonable thing to do. But in retrospect, it may have shown Arabs that the US didn’t have the resolve to fight when confronted by terror. Goldberg quoted historian R.C. Collingwood’s assertion that each generation must redefine its own history.

This caused your Maximum Leader to think about Hegel and his musings (if a German philosopher can be properly said to “muse” about anything) on history. If you remember, Hegel wrote, in his treatise “The Philosophy of History,” that history is an upward cycle of progress through a form described as thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. (That is to say an idea arises - the thesis, its opposite arises - the antithesis, and the conflict between the two causes a new thesis - the synthesis to be created. Hegel does not use this terminology, but instead refers to the Aristoliean dialectic.) History is a cycle by which the “World Spirit” evolves over time in what Hegel supposes we would define as progress. The ultimate goal of history being the realization of the “Spirit;” which is Freedom.

Hegel saw the world as progressing from days when the world spirit was limited by ignorance, despotism, and the constraints of religion. But, with optimism uncharacteristic of a German, Hegel saw that the spirit was manifesting itself in his time more greatly than in any previous epoch. He likely assumed that this progress would continue into the future.

In 1992, Francis Fukuyama wrote a controversial book in which he declared an “end to history.” Of course, if people had read more than the title of the book on the dust jacket they would have not thought the work to be so controversial. Fukuyama is a Hegelian. In his book he theorized that since anglo-western liberal democracy had triumphed over communism/fascism in the battle of ideas commonly called the 20th Century we had reached an “end of history” in the sense of a new synthesis had been developed and we were entering a new age. A new age, in a Hegelian sense.

Of course at the time it was hard to guess what the antithesis of the triumphant thesis of anglo-western liberal democracy was. We still may be too close to our present world situation to adequately identify the antithesis Fukuyama was looking for.

This is the point that your Maximum Leader has been pondering. Is Islamo-fascism the antithesis to anglo-western liberal democrcy. And if it is, does the world risk falling back into a new dark age. Made more sinister by the likes of theocratic Nazis?

Unless your Maximum Leader missed something, the goal of people like Usama Bin Laden, Al-Zharqawi, and their ilk is to redress the grievances suffered by Islam and restore the true faith to its place atop the world stage. Restoring a lost time when Islam was the beacon of the world.

So the choice on is asked to make is one between liberal western democracy, or Islamic fascism. Humm… What a choice.

If the antithesis of liberal anglo-western democracy is in fact near-eastern Islamofascism it would seem, if we viewed things like a Hegelian, that the world-historical forces advancing the Spirit would be destined to win. But assuming that advances in the Spirit (remember, the Spirit is human freedom) are not inevitable, doesn’t that mean we must soberly examine the courses we must take in our actions.

By this your Maximum Leader means shouldn’t we carefully examine our national foreign policy (among other things) and see how we must act.

This now brings your Maximum Leader on to the subject at hand, Iraq. Wow! Did you catch that handover of power today? Who’da thunk that we’d be so sneaky and give them control over their country two whole days early? What does this transfer of power mean really?

Not much for a while. But it is an important first step. Iraq is now one of the primary battlefields in the war against Islamic extremists. It is a battlefield that was created by the US liberation. How we proceed now, and how the Iraqis proceed is of outmost importance. We must continue to fight against our enemies in Iraq. We must go into Fallujah and the other cities that we have allowed to descend into a Hobbesian state of nature and crush the resistance there. But we must also continue to work with sensible Iraqis (and the interim government seems to have enough of them) to help them advance the world-historical Spirit against forces that would shackle them to a past that did not exist the way our enemies think it did, and shouldn’t be allowed to come into being.

Carry on.

down with censorship!

I just sent a letter to a bunch of bloggers, and cc’ed it to a couple news organizations, and also made sure it would reach the South Korean MIC (Ministry of Information and Culture). One possible consequence is that the MIC will start hunting down proxy sites; then again, they might be doing this already. Be warned. This fight might see several twists and turns before it’s over.

My letter:

Fellow blogger,

I am sending this message to the bloggers on my blogroll (and a few other folks) in the hopes that some of you will print this, or at least find it interesting enough for comment. I’m not usually the type to distribute such messages, but I felt this was important enough to risk disturbing you.

As some of you may already know, a wing of the South Korean government, the Ministry of Information and Culture (MIC), is currently clamping down on a variety of blogging service providers and other websites. The government is attempting to control access to video of the recent Kim Sun-il beheading, ostensibly because the video will have a destabilizing influence. (I haven’t seen the video.)

Many Western expat bloggers in Korea are in an uproar; others, myself included, are largely unsurprised: South Korea has not come far out of the shadow of its military dictatorship past. My own response to this censorship is not so much anger as amusement, because the situation represents an intellectual challenge as well as a chance to fight for freedom of expression. Perhaps even to fight for freedom, period.

South Korea is a rapidly evolving country, but in many ways it remains the Hermit Kingdom. Like a turtle retreating into its shell, the people are on occasion unable to deal with the harsh realities of the world around them. This country is, for example, in massive denial about the atrocities perpetrated in North Korea, and, as with many Americans, is in denial about the realities of Islamic terrorism, whose roots extend chronologically backward far beyond the lifetime of the Bush Administration. This cultural tendency toward denial (and overreaction) at least partially explains the Korean government’s move to censor so many sites.

The fact that the current administration, led by President Noh Mu-hyon, is supposedly “liberal”-leaning makes this censorship more ironic. It also fuels propagandistic conservative arguments that liberals are, at heart, closet totalitarian. I find this to be a specious caricature of the liberal position (I consider myself neither liberal nor conservative), but to the extent that Koreans are concerned about what image they project to the world, it is legitimate for them to worry over whether they are currently playing into stereotype: South Korea is going to be associated with other violators of human rights, such as China.

Of the many hypocrisies associated with the decision to censor, the central one is that no strong governmental measures were taken to suppress the distribution of the previous beheading videos (Nick Berg et al.). This, too, fuels the suspicion that Koreans are selfish or, to use their own proverbial image, “a frog in a well”– radically blinkered in perspective, collectively unable to empathize with the sufferings of non-Koreans, but overly sensitive to their own suffering.

I am writing this letter not primarily to criticize all Koreans (I’m ethnically half-Korean, and an American citizen), nor to express a generalized condemnation of Korean culture. As is true anywhere else, this culture has its merits and demerits, and overall, I’m enjoying my time here. No, my purpose is more specific: to cause the South Korean government as much embarrassment as possible, and perhaps to motivate Korean citizens to engage in some much-needed introspection.

To this end, I need the blogosphere’s help, and this letter needs wide distribution (you may receive other letters from different bloggers, so be prepared!). I hope you’ll see fit to publish this letter on your site, and/or to distribute it to concerned parties: censorship in a supposedly democratic society simply cannot stand. The best and quickest way to persuade the South Korean government to back down from its current position is to make it lose face in the eyes of the world. This can only happen through a determined (and civilized!) campaign to expose the government’s hypocrisy and to cause Korean citizens to rethink their own narrow-mindedness.

We can debate all we want about “root causes” with regard to Islamic terrorism, Muslim rage, and all the rest, but for me, it’s much more constructive to proceed empirically and with an eye to the future. Like it or not, what we see today is that Korea is inextricably linked with Iraq issues, and with issues of Islamic fundamentalism. Koreans, however, may need some persuading that this is in fact the case– that we all need to stand together as allies against a common enemy.

If you are interested in giving the South Korean Ministry of Information and Culture a piece of your mind (or if you’re a reporter who would like to contact them for further information), please email the MIC at:

webmaster@mic.go.kr

Thank you,

Kevin Kim
bighominid@gmail.com
http://bighominid.blogspot.com
(Blogspot is currently blocked in Korea, along with other providers; please go to Unipeak.com and type my URL into the search window to view my blog.)

PS: To send me an email, please type “hairy chasms” in the subject line to avoid being trashed by my custom-made spam filter.

PPS: Much better blogs than mine have been covering this issue, offering news updates and heartfelt commentary. To start you off, visit:

http://marmot.blogs.com/korea/
http://jeffinkorea.blogs.com/
http://aboutjoel.com/
http://oranckay.net/blog/
http://kimcheegi.blogs.com/
http://gopkorea.blogs.com/flyingyangban
http://rathbonepress.tblog.com/
http://blog.woojay.net/

Here as well, Unipeak is the way to go if you’re in Korea and unable to view the above blogs. People in the States should, in theory, have no problems accessing these sites, which all continue to be updated.

PPPS: This email is being cc’ed to the South Korean Ministry of Inormation and Culture. Please note that other bloggers are writing about the Korean government’s creation of a task force that will presumably fight internet terror. I and others have an idea that this task force will serve a different purpose. If this is what South Korea’s new “aligning with the PRC” is all about, then there’s reason to worry for the future.

_

Lewinsky Speaks Out

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been waiting all week for the “other shoe to drop.” Now it appears as though it is dropping. According to the news wires, Monica Lewinsky is “was really upset” about what Clinton is saying about her in his book and all over TV.

Now your Maximum Leader hates to be the one to break this to you Monica, but you shouldn’t be surprised. He didn’t treat you particularly well (at least by your Maximum Leader’s standards). You were essentially an object into which he could put is libidinous needs. Did you expect to be treated well? If you did, sadly you were about the only one.

Ah well. Live and learn, eh Monica?

Carry on.

Jane Goodall eat your heart out.

Greetings, oyal minions. Your Maximum Leader scorched his sensitve nasal pasages reading the following piece from INDC. Your Maximum Leader presents, “Moonbats in the Mist.” for your reading pleasure.

Carry on.

Dr. Rusty makes us laugh

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader tries to read Dr. Rusty’s site every day. This post gave your Maximum Leader a chuckle.

Of course we know that Dr. Rusty must not be terribly fluent with his translation. The first censored line that the good Doctor renders as “What up G-Dawgs?” should really be rendered as “Shoutin’ out to my peeps.” Not that your Maximum Leader is going to make an issue of it. Vernacular after all.

Carry on.

Another sign…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader hasn’t been blogging much of late. He has been taking care of family business at the Villainschloss and enjoying it. But, he thought he would submit the following item from the news wires. In case you hadn’t seen it. U.S. Dominance of Skies May Wane.

Perhaps the AirMarshal would care to comment.

Carry on.

A little election humor

From an e-mail I received:

“This a case of a “good” idea not really thought out very well.

“The backstory is as follows: earlier this month, the web site for the Bush-Cheney campaign - the real one, paid for by MBNA America and Richard Scaife - featured a “create your own banner” tool, where you could enter your own slogan and print out your own poster, with the Bush-Cheney logo, and a note at the bottom - “paid for by Bush-Cheney 04, Inc.”

“Democrats, of course, couldn’t get enough of this. The original sloganator accepted everything, then it started censoring profanity and words like “Hitler,” “dictator,” and “evil.” Nevertheless, many clever folks exploited the sloganator to their own ends before its sad demise only a couple of weeks after its birth, and its mourners assembled some of the best for the slideshow.”

Just a few laughs between election opponents provided by your Minister of Propoganda, who urges you to vote FOR the Geneva Conventions in ‘04.

Believe.

Ferguson’s essay/ Europe

Ferguson essay on an apolar world is very interesting. History seems to be a series of peaks and valleys. Our recent concept of progress, and a constant state of improvement, is a relatively new concept. The peaks seem to get higher and higher as we build on past achievements, and the valleys seem lower and lower by comparison. Ferguson speaks more eloquently about this, and the global situation than I can, so I’ll leave it to the reader to come to his or her own conclusions.

As for Europe emerging as a world power… Hah. The foundation of European power has been colonization, and bringing in revenue from around the globe. Now, Europe has no colonies, a dwindling and aging population, and little relevance outside it’s own continent.

Europe is like the old Grandmother who won’t stop talking at a family event. People will let her rant on out of respect for her, but noone really pays attention to her or cares what she says. Yes, Grandmother may have been beautiful, and relevant in her day, but her day is long gone. Grandmother doesn’t care about younger people, or today’s issues. She talks about films released 50 years ago, news stories from WWII, and people who lived the better part of a century ago. And periodically she’ll tell you about her latest health oncern. Still, you listen to be polite. Inside you hope she’ll either shut up, or learn to listen, but you know that won’t happen.

Europe thinks she’s the matriarch still deserving to run the family. The reality is quite different.

And on the subject of the European Union, I’ve always wondered what the foundation for power for the EU is. In America, we believe that power flows from the ground up. “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed“. Where’s the power base for the EU? It seems to have a top down philosophy. That power comes from the governments themselves. This bothers me. A logical extension of this would be that rights are things to be given to the citizens, by the government. This has profound implications.

Something to boost your morale…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was trying to catch up on the day’s readings when he started to review the Opinion Journal site. Your Maximum Leader read Niall Ferguson’s latest there.

Your Maximum Leader recently received a copy of Ferguson’s new book, Colossus. Alas, he hasn’t started it yet, but from the introduction (and from other articles Ferguson has written), it looks to be a thought provoking read. Not at all unlike the Opinion Journal piece.

Your Maximum Leader hasn’t really given much thought to an apolar world. Mainly because your Maximum Leader has always assumed that China or India would fill in the other superpower status (recently vacated by the late Soviet Union). Your Maximum Leader has never believed that Europe would act as a counterbalance to the US, or even gain superpower status. It is an odd collective. Certainly not the Borg, but then again hardly even a Confederacy.

So what happens to the world if the US retreats from its world power status? Would an apolar world develop? One ruled by theocratic impulses like in the 10th Century? Would we devolve into isolated polis? Well, probably not isolated polis… But Ferguson does paint a rather bleak picture of an apolar world.

Is this one of those times when historical analogy might not apply?

Carry on.

Churchill Inspires.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader and his loyal Minister of Agriculture spent a little time together yesterday. We went to the Library of Congress to see the Churchill and the Great Republic Exhibition.

It was a fascinating exhibit. Mostly papers and written artifacts of Churchill’s life. Among the highlights were some of the letters Churchill wrote to his father and monther; to his wife; and to political friends. Also of great interest were a number of his most famous speeches. The speeches were ditctated by Churchill to a secretarial pool (normally at night). The secretaries then typed up the speech, and gave it to Churchill for revision. On exhibit were his famous speech to the House of Commons on June 4th, 1940. The speech contains the lines:

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender,…

It was so interesting to see the corrections and additions to the speech written in Churchill’s hand.

Among the interesting articfacts that your Maximum Leader will surely possess for himself in the MWO is a 10 Shilling Note. The note is signed by Churchill, FDR, George Patton, Louis Mountbatten, Ernest King, and others. Your Maximum Leader saw it and coveted it immediately. Your Maximum Leader was also covetous of a place-card signed by Churchill, FDR, and Stalin.

Anyway…

Your Maximum Leader and his Minister of Agriculture were reading a cable from Churchill to Anthony Eden (his Foreign Secretary) about the Holocaust. In the cable are the following lines:

“There is no doubt that this is probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world, and it has been done by scientific machinery by nominally civilised men in the name of a great State and one of the leading races of Europe. It is quite clear that all concerned in this crime who may fall into our hands, including the people who only obeyed orders by carrying out the butcheries, should be put to death after their association with the murders has been proved…. There should therefore in my opinion be no negotiations of any kind on this subject. Declarations should be made in public, so that everyone connected with it will be hunted down and put to death.”

After reading these lines the Minister of Agriculture turned to your Maximum Leaderand said, “We should make a statement like this about the people who killed Paul Johnson.”

Your Maximum Leader agrees wholeheartedly, even enthusiastically. While not wanting to appear too bloodthirsty, he does want to make sure the murderous thugs who did this are hunted down and put to death. There can be no negotiations with these people. They are not rational actors capable of keeping any agreement they enter into. They are only deserving of death.

Carry on.

Unapologetic and Shameless

At first I thought that the lack of connection between Saddam and al Quaeda was old news, but then Bush continues to make up a story about it. Bush’s Iraq failures are massive, and yet he continues to blame everyone else. Even retired military officials, who normally avoid public political statements, are speaking out.

Voting for Bush is an endorsement of his failures. Whatever course President Kerry follows, it will not be a radical shift of policy (Democrats in this day and age, after all, want to be the new Republicans). A “regime change,” however, will allow us to conduct the national debate we should have had before the war. Bush is unrepentent. He should take that attitude straight back to Texas. There has been much talk lately about how Reagan made America feel good again about itself, and W, wants to assume the same mantle. Leaving Reagan’s legacy aside, is G.W. Bush really the guy we’d want to make us feel good?

America is the world’s only superpower: we are the only nation with both global power and global reach. I’m a patriot and I’m proud of what our nation has achieved. I served in our military and  love what our military can accomplish. However, I would actually prefer to live in a country that accepts that awesome responsiblity with humility and caution; a country that perhaps expresses a little self-doubt before it acts rather than a country that follows an emotional course of action and then rallies unrepentently around it’s mistakes. When you have true power, you don’t have to constantly prove it. If you have the authority to discipline someone at work, for example, you can afford to be gracious in it’s execution — humilitating or embarrassing your subordinate is an unnecessary personal indulgence. Understanding that difference is called leadership, and that’s something that the Bush administration is never going to get.

Believe.

Health Insurance

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been thinking about something he heard on NPR for a few days now. On June 4th your Maximum Leader was driving about in the Villainmobile and wanted to raise his blood-pressure some by listening to NPR. That day they played one of the few token commentaries aimed at people of your Maximum Leader’s political tendencies. The commentary (audio link from NPR.org) was by Dr. Merrill Matthews of the Institute for Policy Innovation.

In case you are not planning on listening to what Matthews had to say, allow your Maximum Leader to summarize the key idea. Health insurance is, by and large, an employer benefit extended to workers. This grew out of an IRS ruling stating that corporations could deduct health insurance costs from their corporate income taxes. Matthews went on to say that this system may have well suited us in the 1950s-1970s when American workers didn’t change jobs often. But now that workers change jobs with some frequency, we ought to consider new ways of approaching private health insurance. Matthews suggested that organizations and interest groups provide health insurance for their members. He cited how the AARP grew in the 1960s because it provided health insurance for retired workers before the creation of Medicare. Matthews suggests that people, who are likely to change jobs frequently, are not as likely to change the organizations to which they belong. For example, you may change jobs, but you will likely belong to Greenpeace or the NRA for a long time. Why not allow Greenpeace or the NRA to be your health care insurer?

Your Maximum Leader is fascinated by this idea. Your Maximum Leader, for one, would prefer to get his health insurance through some organization with which he wants to affiliate. The NRA is a fine example. If you agree with the goals and aims of the NRA, and they offered you a health plan that would meet your needs why wouldn’t you go with them? The NRA is a larger organization than most businesses. (Since most of American businesses are small businesses.) They would have more organizational buying power than would most businesses. They could fight for lower costs, and win.

Using this method might also allow you to buy health insurance that believes in the things you believe. Let’s say, for argument, that you are a Roman Catholic man. And you adhere to most of the teachings of the Catholic Church. You might prefer to be covered through the Knights of Columbus. The Knights policy might not offer coverage in health-related areas that are not in accord with Catholic theology. For example, any sort of birth control for your wife (or daughter) might not be covered.

But what if you’re not a traditional Catholic man? Suppose you want birth control covered? And elective abortions? Well, if you are a woman, you might want your health insurance covered through the National Organization for Women. (And if your Maximum Leader is not mistaken, men may also join NOW. But your Maximum Leader would be surprised if they chose to cover Viagra prescriptions.)

Of course, this type of plan is fraught with potential problems. The first and foremost would be the most self-evident. Would corporations pay wrkers in salary the amount they are now paying for health insurance? Especially since that salary isn’t tax deductible any more. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you are executive assistant to a VP in your company. You currently earn $19.23/hr (or about $40K/year) before taxes. Your fully-loaded cost to the company (salary and insurance) might be closer to $25/hr (or about $52K/year). Would your employer, if he did not provide health insurance under the plan we are discussing, actually pay the worker $25/hr?

Your Maximum Leader is inclined to believe most small businesses would gladly pay workers the money to save themselves the headache of managing their own health insurance plans. (A non-employer-based plan may be fairer to small business owners who are prohibited from participating in their own company plans - but would not be prohibited from joining an organization.) Big corporations (GE, IBM, Microsoft types) might be disinclined to do so. Although one would have to see how much savings they could realize by eliminating the huge departments that currently administer their employee health insurance plans.

The next big problem would likely be the tax status of the organizations that choose to offer insurance. How would the NRA be classified if in addition to being a not-for-profit interest group and (potentially) one of the largest providers of health insurance in the land?

There are many vexing issues here. But these are ideas that ought to be explored further. This idea is one that could provide less-expensive comprehensive medical care to most Americans. It also might help to fight political apathy among many Americans. If you get your health insurance statement and it also included a list of Bills before the Congress that relate to issues in which you’re interested, wouldn’t you pay closer attention to what your Congressman was doing? Would you like a helpful notice indicating that your prescription co-pay for Lasix is going up; but if your state legislature passes HR-1234, ammunition for your .45 will be cheaper and you can more easily afford to lower your blood pressure by shooting off a few rounds at the range?

Fascinating subject. Your Maximum Leader will attempt to find some other White Papers on this subject and read over them.

Carry on.

Many gracious thanks.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader thanks each and every one of you who wished him a happy birthday. Special thanks must go to the Poet Laureate and the AirMarshal for their birthday posts.

For the record, everything in the Poet Laureate’s post is true. And only part of what the AirMarshal wrote is… Heh…

In case you were interested, Yahoo provides a completely meaningless listing of facts associated with your Maximum Leader’s birthday. The History Channel also has such a page.

All in all, the day has been a good one. Among the tribute received by your Maximum Leader were some books, some DVDs, and a record. The Villainettes informed their sainted father that he would be receiving a photo of Ronald Reagan to be framed and matted with the Laying-in-State card he got at the US Capitol. So that is something which will be greatly anticipated.

Of course, what your Maximum Leader didn’t get was a photo (or even a photoshop forgery) of a beautiful female reader wearing a Nakedvilainy Thong or T-shirt (or both). Sadly that gift will have to wait for another time… (Female minions, remember! Any day you send a photo of yourself to your Maximum Leader is a good day for your Maximum Leader.)

Now we must all await the arrival of the wee Villain. Which should happen at any moment now…

Carry on.

Happy Birthday to the Dude Man Himself

Well, I wrote a Friar’s Roast type of post slamming good old MaxLdr, but in light of his Alcoholism, Upcoming obscenity trial, and failing health, I thought I’d just take a stroll down memory lane.

Althought I’ve known him since 1982 or so… he’s only been cool since 1986, so I’ll start there.

- Summer 1986. ML enlists our help to aid in his parent’s move to another townhouse.

- Winter Spring 1986/87. ML, myself and another friend appear twice on It’s Academic on TV. The first time, we trounce two other teams. The second time we get trounced by Catholic High School girls. Didn’t help that one was playing footsie with ML under the podium

- Spring 1987. ML organizes a high school trip to New York for a Model United Nations. The rest of us party it up and try to sabatoge it. He takes it seriously. His loss. For the record, it was I who threw the butthole surfers tape out of the 14th story window. It was also I who sent threatening messages to the South African ambassador.

- Also Spring of 1987. ML makes an English teacher cry. Just to show that he can.

- Summer 1987. ML enlists our help to aid in his parent’s move to another townhouse.

- Thanksgiving 1987. ML comes home from college dressed like something out of Miami Vice. (”Friends” makes fun of this in flashbacks FYI… with Chandler and Ross). ML also has a mustache about 3 years before he should have even tried to grow one. It looked like Chocolate milk on his upper lip. Coupled with the wrinkled flannel jacket with the sleeves rolled up, he’s a vision of the 80’s. After absorbing a decade’s worth of abuse from us in one night, we never, ever see the outfit again. He refuses to shave though.

- Summer 1988. ML enlists our help to aid in his parent’s move to another townhouse.

- Summer 1989. ML’s parents finally BUY a damn townhouse. ML enlists our help to aid in his parent move to said townhouse.

- Summer 1989. Boasting how he never got sick on alcohol, ML spent a night in Blacksburg puking his guts out after polishing off a fifth of Glenfiddich and playing SuperMario brothers. I have since heard him boast of never getting sick on alcohol. Uh huh. Sure.

- Summer 1989. Running by the GOP Governor’s headquarters prior to a Grateful Dead concert, ML and I run into the late Lee Atwater. ML stutters like an idiot, but later will recount to listeners how at that meeting, he gave Atwater the strategy for the 1992 campaign. Atwater’s brain then explodes, and Clinton becomes president.

- Summer 1991. After five years as a leech on friends with cars, ML is finally forced to learn to drive due to a job. He uses my new car to take the test, and promptly buys a manly little red civic. He gets a vanity tag though, to protect his macho ego.

- Late December 1994. After watching Peyton Manning dismantle my Va Tech Hokies in the Gator Bowl, we have a fun filled day in DisneyWorld. Amazingly fun road trip.

- Summer 1995. Recuperating from major knee surgery (no joke) after seriouly blowing out my knee while rollerblading slowly on a straight and level surface (no joke), ML and BigHo come to visit me and spend the weekend waiting on my every whim and need.

- Late Summer 1995. ML and I take a cross country roadtrip including stops at Graceland (where I refused to enter), The Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas. It was in Vegas where ML vanished for four hours in the middle of the night. I noticed we had to stop by a pharmacy for some penicillin the following morning, and that cold sore took forever to go away.

- September 1997. In my Blacksburg appartment, I et a phone call from ML from the hospital. He’s holding his newborn baby girl in his arms and blubbering about how beautiful his baby is. I’ve never heard him so sentimental, emotional, and heartfelt. I teased him about it for a while. Then in April 2001, holding my new baby girl in my arms, I finally understood what he was saying, and I have teased him no more. About this instance, that is. I tease him all the time about everything else.

- Spring 1999. Serving as Godfather to ML’s second daughter, I had visions of the Christening being a somber occasion as in the film “Godfather” where we exacted revenge upon our enemies while renouncing satan. Two problems. We have no real enemies, and neither one of us really felt like renouncing satan. The other problam was that baby E puked all over my wife.

- May 2001. Being an Agnostic married into a quasi-psycho Catholic family, religion is a challenge for me, and the Christening of my daughter was an especilly tough day. ML and especially Mrs. Villain did a phenomenal task of making the day easier on me. The priest delivered a homily in which he told the parish they didn’t have the right to think or read scripture for themselves, and then he got mean. I remember feeling sick to my stomach, looking over my shoulder at ML, and another close friend who both gave me looks that were at once sympathetic and absurd. It made the day a little easier.

- May 2004. ML agrees to be the Godfather for my soon-to-be born daughter MH (due in July). I hope that she returns the favor and pukes all over him…all will have come full circle…

in honor of the Maximum Leader’s BIRTHDAY (June 15)

I write you now in my capacity as Poet Laureate of the Mike World Order. Today, fellow minions, we celebrate the holy birth of our Maximum Leader, and as you do every year on this most auspicious day, you gather outside the awe-inspiring Villainschloss, rain or shine, and listen with rapt attention as I recite vignettes from the adventurous life of our Maximum Leader.

BIRTH

Your Maximum Leader was born of two great cosmic forces: Time and Struggle. He shot like a lightning bolt out of his mother’s eye socket and declared, “I am prophet, sage, lover, and leader of you all.” All the creatures in the cosmos sang with joy and paid the Maximum Leader obeisance, bestowing on him the Crown of Might, the Shield of Justice, the G-String of Cleverness, and the Codpiece of Eternal Glory.

But the dwarves did not do obeisance, and they brought no gifts, and for this they were cursed to be forever and roundly beaten by the Maximum Leader and all his loyal minions. In time, the dwarves repented of their stubbornness, but to this day the Maximum Leader does not forgive tem their primordial transgression.

ADOLESCENCE

The Maximum Leader had been out spearhunting all day. It was during a period of rest that he happened upon a beautiful, perfectly circular lake inside a volcanic crater, and he decided to bathe. All the creatures in the cosmos were curious, for they had never seen their Maximum Leader in his majestc nakedness before. But it is forbidden for all but the Maximum Leader’s betrothed to behold him in his pristine state. The creatures gathered around the lip of the crater, straining to see what no mortal had ever beheld, and when the Maximum Leader removed Codpiece and G-String, they were struck blind and overcome with mortal agony. As all the creatures writhed about in pain, they screamed,

Praise Him!
Though we be struck blind,
and unable to find our way back to our homes,
though we be likely to die horrible deaths
from starvation and simple neglect,
all praise and honor unto our Maximum Leader!
He taketh away our sight
But our loyalty remaineth steadfast!
Lo, the pink-nippled virgins sit at their lyres
a loveliness we cannot behold
singing sweet rhapsodies in honor of His blinding glory!
Praise Him!

EARLY ADULTHOOD

It was during the Maximum Leader’s many hunts for wild boar (the symbol you see on the banner of Naked Villainy) that he met his friends, who in time became the Ministers of the Mike World Order.

To the Minister of Propaganda, the Maximum Leader bestowed the Horn of Naysaying and Contrariness.

To the Foreign Minister, the Maximum Leader bestowed the Righthammer.

To the Minister of Agriculture, the Maximum Leader bestowed the Cow of Plenty.

To the Air Marshal, the Maximum Leader bestowed the Missile of Priapism.

To the Poet Laureate, the Maximum Leader bestowed the Golden Anus of Chaos.

Since those glorious days, the Horn, the Hammer, the Cow, the Missile, and the Anus have stood as symbols of the munificence and magnanimity of the Maximum Leader’s reign. Every child is branded with at least three of these symbols, one brand upon the sternum and two upon the buttocks. And every child’s shriek is a shriek of praise for our Maximum Leader.

THE MAXIMUM LEADER BEDS HIS BETROTHED

How famous is the tale of the Maximum Leader’s seduction of his woman!

Cleverly hiding his manhood inside a bouquet of flowers, the Maximum Leader invited his loved one to choose her favorite from among them. Of course, she chose the largest and veiniest purple flower in the bunch, struck by its strangeness. “It has a terrible aspect,” she whispered, “I shall pluck it and keep it in my chambers as a symbol of the changing fortunes of this world.” But she proved unable to pluck the flower, no matter how she tried, and the flower grew larger and larger still with each successive attempt.

Soon the ruse could no longer be sustained, and the bouquet was destroyed by the flower’s sheer massiveness. And because she was the chosen of the Maximum Leader, she was not blinded by the sight of it, but instead rode it for all it was worth. Her words during her moment of climax have been preserved for all time:

“FILL ME UP, YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD!”

And these are the sacred words we recite in prayer before every breakfast and every supper, to remind us that indeed we are all filled with the Maximum Leader’s goodness and beneficence.

THE MAXIMUM LEADER HEARS THE CRIES OF HIS PEOPLE

It was in the aftermath of one of the worst storms to strike the realm that the Maximum Leader stood upon the highest parapet of the Villainschloss and surveyed the plight of his people with the eyes of an eagle. Maddened with grief by what he beheld, he threw several dozen dwarves off the tower, and they fell to their doom, shouting, “Praise Him!” all the while.

The Maximum Leader was too impatient to allow his many able-bodied minions to assist in reparations. Straightaway, he ran down the parapet, Codpiece glinting in the torchlight, and burst out the front gates of te Villainschloss to assist his stricken people in any way he could.

One woman, whose young son was trapped beneath an overturned carriage, cried, “Save my child!” With a single flex of his mighty buttocks, the intrepid Maximum Leader forced the carriage off the child, then claimed the child as his own and took him forthwith to the Villainschloss.

On that day, the Maximum Leader saved over twenty thousand of his people through various buttock-flexes, penis-pushups, and cleverly applied cunnilingus– the latter technique producing the loudest cries of “Praise Him!”

But the Other Kingdom saw the realm’s strife as an opportunity to attack. While the Maximum Leader’s people busied themselves with repairs and rebuilding, the soldiers of the Other Kingdom stormed into our glorious realm. None of our fighting men were ready to defend hearth and home.

And in truth, all would have been lost that day, had it not been for the Maximum Leader, who faced that evil horde with only his Ministers at his side. With a great cry, the Maximum Leader charged forward. He and his loyal Ministers were only six against an army of fifty thousand, and yet they prevailed.

The silver-tongued Minister of Propaganda duped whole battalions of the enemy army into believing that there was no real danger, that this was not, in truth, a war. As they sat docilely, the Minister of Agriculture came upon them with his fierce and noble Cow of Plenty, who inundated the battalions with a horrifying torrent of equal parts milk and dung.

The Foreign Minister stood his ground, and with every blow he smashed dozens upon dozens of the enemy with the Righthammer, which always knocked opponents to the left of the wielder. The Foreign Minister waded through the army, granting a quick and merciful death to all who came too close.

The Air Marshal summoned flying steeds and rained death onto the armies from above, his Missile of Priapism causing massive arousal– and subsequent immobility– in the army of the enemy. His flying steeds dropped clusters of screaming, explosives-laden dwarves, decimating untold numbers of soldiers.

The Poet Laureate leapt, spun and dodged among the enemy, his Golden Anus of Chaos sowing confusion and disgust in an ever-widening circle of death. A single clench of that golden sphincter imploded the heads of the enemy army’s generals, and the path was then clear for the Maximum Leader to challenge the King of the Other Kingdom to a one-on-one duel, for the King himself was leading the battle against our realm.

The ensuing combat was terrible to behold. At several points the loyal Ministers begged to come to their Maximum Leader’s aid, but with a scowl and a stern warning, the Maximum Leader commanded his Ministers to stay back. The battle lasted seven days. The earth trembled, demons fled, and smoke rose from great fissures that suddenly appeared in the ground. But the outcome was never in doubt. The Maximum Leader fought with all the cleverness of his G-String, all the might of his Crown, all the justice of his shield, and all the glory of his Codpiece. In the end, the King of the Other Kingdom was beaten. He dropped to his knees, and the Maximum Leader yelled, “Close your eyes!” to his faithful Ministers, whereupon he beheaded the King with a single swipe of his ponderous manhood. Only I, your Poet Laureate, refused to close my eyes, and I beheld the terrible event by staring at the shadows on the ground. The evil King’s head rolled to a stop in front of me and recited its death poem:

Felled was I by phallus-foe
My soul now flees to realms below
Truly hast thou beaten me
Hang my body on a tree
Leave me there for all to point
With my blood your folk anoint
Be at peace, this realm divine
What was my Kingdom, now is THINE!

A cry arose from the people, and they rejoiced at this great victory. I tell you, many a dwarf was beaten in celebration that evening.

And from that day to this, the realm has enjoyed boundless peace and limitless prosperity. That is why, on this day, this auspicious Day of All Days,we gather in celebration of our Maximum Leader’s birth– child of Time and Struggle, Protector of the Realm, Vanquisher of the Other Kingdom.

Praise Him!

_

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