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Totalitarian Gothic update

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has discussed “totalitarian gothic” in the past here on this site. The first time was back in 2006, and again earlier this year in reference to the Martin Luther King Memorial.

On the balance your Maximum Leader has a soft spot in his heart for totalitarian gothic. In the right situation he likes it… In this stream of thought… Your Maximum Leader has often thought that if he was going to build a huge skyscraper in a dense urban area he might build something similar to the Moscow State University or the Warsaw Palace of Culture.

Speaking of the Warsaw Palace of Culture, it turns 55 this year.

Your Maximum Leader didn’t realize that the Warsaw Palace of Culture was still up. He sort of figured that it was torn down after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Surprisingly it was not, in fact now it is a protected historic site. Your Maximum Leader can’t speak to the feelings of Poles about the building. He suspects that the population is split on the building (as the linked article suggests). Your Maximum Leader knows that if he was oppressed by a foreign power for 50 years he’d be disinclined to want to preserve such a huge symbol of that oppression. As an outside observer it seems like a nice building (with a high degree of utility) to keep around…

Carry on.

Did I ever mention how much I love the Gurkha Regiment?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, a good anglophile, is a fan of the good ole days of the British Empire. He is also a fan of the various regiments who’s long and illustrious history is wrapped up with the tales of Empire.

Your Maximum Leader has always been a fan of the most kick-ass regiment of soliders ever in the history of the world, the Gurkhas. If you knew your Maximum Leader many moons ago while he was in high school you’ll know that he lived for tales of Gurkha prowess on the battlefield. (Way back when he seems to remember writing a letter to the British Ambassador to the US expressing outrage that the UK was considering eliminating the Gurkha regiment.)

Anyhoo…

It is a sad day for the Gurkhas, for Britain, for lovers of freedom and for all who dare to stand up for what is good and right in the world when a private in the Gurkha regiment is punished for doing what his regiment has been doing for over a hundred years - namely kicking-arse.

It pains your Maximum Leader to say it, but perhaps the terrorists HAVE won…

To wit: Gurkha ordered back to UK after beheading dead Taliban fighter. Sadly, the private in question beheaded the Taliban fighter only after the Taliban guy was dead. Your Maximum Leader would have preferred that the private beheaded the Taliban guy in order to cause his death…

So here is the jist of the story…

A Gurkha soldier has been flown back to the UK after hacking the head off a dead Taliban commander with his ceremonial knife to prove the dead man’s identity.
The private, from 1st Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles, was involved in a fierce firefight with insurgents in the Babaji area of central Helmand Province when the incident took place earlier this month.
His unit had been told that they were seeking a ‘high value target,’ a Taliban commander, and that they must prove they had killed the right man.
The Gurkhas had intended to remove the Taliban leader’s body from the battlefield for identification purposes.
But they came under heavy fire as their tried to do so. Military sources said that in the heat of battle, the Gurkha took out his curved kukri knife and beheaded the dead insurgent.
He is understood to have removed the man’s head from the area, leaving the rest of his body on the battlefield.
This is considered a gross insult to the Muslims of Afghanistan, who bury the entire body of their dead even if parts have to be retrieved.
[…]
The incident, which is being investigated by senior commanders, is hugely embarrassing to the British Army, which is trying to build bridges with local Afghan communities who have spent decades under ­Taliban rule.
It comes just days after a rogue Afghan soldier murdered three British troops from the same Gurkha regiment.
If the Gurkha being investigated by the Army is found guilty of beheading the dead enemy soldier, he will have contravened the Geneva Conventions which dictate the rules of war. Soldiers are banned from demeaning their enemies.
The Gurkha now faces disciplinary action and a possible court martial. If found guilty, he could be jailed.
He is now confined to barracks at the Shorncliffe garrison, near Folkestone, Kent.

So, let your Maximum Leader make sure he gets this… Gurkhas were attacked by the Taliban and three Gurkhas were killed. Three days later Gurkhas go out and do what they are ordered to do, namely kill a Taliban baddie. While taking fire from other Taliban baddies the private in question cuts off the mission (accomplished by the way) target’s head and high-tails it out of the fire-fight with proof of the mission’s success. For that the private in question could be jailed?

Great Jeezey Chreezey! What the hell is this world coming to? Your Maximum Leader would give that private a medal, promotion to corporal, and a nice whetstone to keep his kukri sharp as shit.

To all the Taliban who are offended by the fact that they cannot bury their scumbag buddy intact your Maximum Leader says: Reap the whirlwind muthafuckahs! Attack our cities and pay with your heads! War is hell arseholes!

If they convict this poor private of anything your Maximum Leader will officially say that we should just give up. We should just start having our women wear burkas, destroy our distilleries, re-consecrate our churches as mosques and just become subervient wussies who can give up all Western Civilization.

By the way… Your Maximum Leader has a replica kukri. One day he hopes to do something worthwhile enough to deserve the honor of a Gurkha (or former Gurkha) giving him a real one…

Of course, he could just go and buy one from here he supposes…

Also, your Maximum Leader doffs his bejeweled mylan cap to Wonder Woman for the pointer to this story, which he regrets missing in the first place.

Carry on.

Platonic Baseball

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been full of opinions and anxious to spew them forth into the ether of the interwebs. Sadly, this week has not been condusive to doing such. It is hard to explain just how strangely this week has in fact progressed. Very strange indeed.

Thanks to Robbo your Maximum Leader found this wonderful article by David Hart at First Things: A Perfect Game. Hart is a little over the top in some of his platonic analysis of baseball, but all in all he does capture some inchoate feelings your Maximum Leader has felt towards baseball for some time now. Robbo quoted a portion of the article near the beginning. But this one struck your Maximum Leader:

Now, of course, when I speak of baseball’s “idealism,” it is principally Platonism I have in mind: Greek rather than German idealism. But I have to admit that, as I have just described it, much of the game seems to speak not only of the finite’s power to reflect the infinite but also of a kind of fated, heroic human striving against the infinite. There are few spectacles in sport as splendid and pitiable as the batter defiantly poised before all that endless openness. We know that even the most majestic home run is as nothing in its vastness, that even the greatest hitter is a kind of Sisyphus, proudly indifferent to the divine mockery of that infinite horizon; and it is precisely this pathos that lends such moving splendor to those rare Homeric feats that linger on in our collective memory: Babe Ruth in Detroit in 1926, Frank Howard in Philadelphia in 1958, Mickey Mantle in New York in 1963, Frank Robinson in Baltimore in 1966 …

Good stuff… (NB: Although your Maximum Leader will admit that the Homeric feat of Frank Howard in 1958 is lost on his collective memory. Your Maximum Leader seems to recall that Frank Howard (of the Washington Senators) had a great home run streak in 1968 (when Hondo hit something like 13 home runs in 20 at bats). Perhaps there is some other Frank Howard tale from 1958 with which your Maximum Leader is not familiar.)

Of course this essay by Mr Hart is made more wonderful by the fact that the Washington Nationals were able to pull out a win against the Red Stockings of Cincinnati this afternoon…

Carry on.

I can see!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is pleased to report that he can now see clearly again. As he reported earlier in the week his glasses got screwed up. We think that they got exposed to some heat somehow and got tempered. This tempering caused very small “waves” to form on the lens. When your Maximum Leader put the glasses on, he got the feeling like he was looking constantly through those heat waves you see coming up off asphalt during the summer. It made him sick to his stomach after a few minutes.

So your Maximum Leader tried to trot out his old prescription and get a new set of glasses. Sadly, since the prescription was three years old no one wanted to fill it. So, your Maximum Leader went over to his eye doctor and got a check up. He was clear. No signs of bad deseases of the eye. No deterioration of his vision either. In fact his eyes were unchanged in 3 years. That is a good thing.

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader has new glasses and can see just fine now.

Your Maximum Leader hasn’t blogged much this week because of the glasses issue (which really wasn’t resolved until Wednesday) and a desire to get some of the books off his nightstand. You see your Maximum Leader can read without his glasses. In fact his vision at book-reading distance is quite good. So he read a lot. He is nearly done with two baseball books he recently received as gifts. The books are George Will’s “Men at Work” and Jason Turbow’s “Baseball Codes”. Your Maximum Leader highly recommends Will’s book to any baseball fan. It is certainly one of the best baseball books out there. Turbow’s book is a fun read. Your Maximum Leader can’t say that he learned much from the Turbow book, but it is filled with so many entertaining baseball yarns that it was a quick read.

Now your Maximum Leader is going to try and knock out Lord Norwich’s “Travellers Companion to Venice” and Christopher Moore’s “Lamb” before too long.

Your Maximum Leader is also going to try and get rid of all the old programming on his DVR and free up some space on that hard drive. Last night your Maximum Leader and Villainette #1 finished the last two episodes of Joss Whedon’s ill-fated series “Dollhouse.” The penultimate episode was okay, but would have been better if it had been the last episode. The final episode was disappointing from the perspective of the story. It seemed rushed, badly edited (in fact it felt like it was 3 hrs long when shot and only 1 hr long when it aired), and just thrown together. The best thing about the final episode was the Whedon was able to throw in a few of his favorite actors from previous outings (like Felicia Day from “Dr Horrible” and many members of the “Firefly” series).

For your intellectual curiosity, you should go and read one of the latest installments of FLG’s posts on time-horizons and their connections to politics/economics/world-view. FLG is probably on to something with this line of thinking.

That is all for now.

Carry on.

It is certainly Monday

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader isn’t in a particularly good mood right now. Where oh where to begin?

First off, your Maximum Leader is having a tough time seeing straight. That isn’t really true. He’s having a hard time seeing. Something happened to his glasses yesterday and they are causing him to have headaches if he wears them for more than a few minutes (as opposed to every waking minute - like normal). He went by the eye doctor to check up on his prescription and perhaps get some new lenses, but the eye doctor reminded your Maximum Leader that it has been 3 years since his last visit. It hardly seemed possible. Normally your Maximum Leader goes to for an eye exam every two years, but apparently the doctor’s office forgot to call and set up an appointment. Anyhoo… Your Maximum Leader will have to muddle through tomorrow without proper corrected vision. This is a pain in the arse.

When his eyes weren’t bothering him, his beloved Washington Nationals were bothering him. Sadly, they were bothering him right in front of his very own eyes (which were seeing just fine at the time).

Your Maximum Leader stopped blogging about the Nationals a few weeks ago. Around the same time he determined that he also would not view games on TV as religiously has he had from April on. He was going to try and be more casual about his fan-dom. Guess what happened then. The Nats actually would win games that your Maximum Leader wasn’t watching on TV, and they would lose games he was watching on TV.

As you surely know, baseball is a game of rhythms and streaks and superstitions. Your Maximum Leader determined that perhaps HE was the cause of some of the Nationals’ distress on the field. If he stopped watching then they might be better. That worked for a few games here and there, but that little streak came to an end. Then came this past weekend. Your Maximum Leader loves his baseball, but he rarely goes to games on consecutive days. This past Saturday and Sunday were the first time, in a very very long time that your Maximum Leader went to games on consecutive days.

Of course the Nats lost both games against the Giants of San Francisco. (Your Maximum Leader pointed out to his children that the only World Championship of Baseball won in the City of Washington DC was won by the Washington Senators over the then-Giants of New York.) The Saturday game was a real hard one. The Nationals led for most of the game 5-0. Then they started playing sloppy and giving up hits and then runs and next thing you know, they lose 10-5. Yesterday’s game got out of hand early (with a run in the first) and it was no looking back for the Giants. The Nats lost 6-2.

Oh yeah… Not only did the Nats lose, but your Maximum Leader got a sunburn. You might have seen him getting a sunburn on the TV actually, he was sitting just a few rows beyond Ryan Zimmerman. Mrs Villain (who was not attending yesterday’s game) mentioned that she thought she saw your Maximum Leader and Villainette #2 on the TV.

So let us recap a little shall we?

Glasses have had something go wrong with them and your Maximum Leader is having trouble seeing.

Your Maximum Leader has a sunburn.

The Nationals keep losing.

That just about covers the weekend situation.

Oh yes… One more thing… Although he doesn’t know how he did it, apparently your Maximum Leader has pulled a muscle in his back and it is causing a dull, yet constant, aching.

He’ll stop bitching now and let you get back to whatever you were doing.

Carry on.

They moved

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that Ellison & Joan has moved their respective blogs. Your Maximum Leader is a big fan of both and suggest you change your bookmarks - if you have them…

Ellison is here.

Joan is here.

That is all.

Carry on.

World Cup Finals

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that it is Spain versus The Netherlands in the final of the World Cup. It should be a good match. (To the extent that soccer has good matches.)

Of course, this matchup is, in your Maximum Leader’s mind, something of a grudge match between these two ancient combatants. In a way this soccer match is going to be just another skirmish in the wars that go back to the Thirty Years War and the Dutch Revolt.

Your Maximum Leader will be rooting for the Bourbon Dynasty - since it doesn’t seem possible to root for the Hapsburgs in this one.

Carry on.

Fish them to extinction

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, while not considering himself an environmentalist exactly, does believe in sensible stewardship of our natural resources. Normally he wouldn’t find himself encouraging something as villainous as fishing a particular species to extinction. But these are extreme times my friends.

Apparently the lionfish is destroying reefs and fish populations all the way from Florida to Maine. The lionfish is not native to our Atlantic coast. Now environmentalists, chefs and foodies are going to try and do their part to eradicate the lionfish. According to the Washington Post there is a full-fledged movement afoot to get people to eat the little buggers and remove them from our coasts.

Apparently the major hurdle to widespread ingestion of the lionfish is availability. This is to say availability for purchase. The little buggers are out in the water if you want them, it takes some work to catch them. Did your Maximum Leader say catch them. He is wrong, they need to be speared. Spearfishing is the only way to get the lionfish to market.

Here is a solution to this problem. Take many of the unemployed Americans out there and give them some snorkeling lessons and a spear and see how many lionfish they can take in a day. If people were paid by the fish you could likely put a serious dent in the lionfish population in no time. (How many unemployed former autoworkers from Michigan would enjoy relocating for a summer to the warm and sunny south and get to spend some time snorkling and killing lionfish? It is like a fishing vacation that you get paid for…)

Your Maximum Leader will look around for places where he can get lionfish. He’s all for eating a species to extinction…

This species at least…

Carry on.

LiLo, or whatever they call crackhead flops nowadays

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader must admit a slight interest in gossipy things. He enjoys a quick perusal of two dens of salacious anti-culture on the web and one on TV. (He visits WWTD and The Superficial in addition to watching Chelsea Lately from time to time.)

So… Because he’s been perusing the gossip pages he’s heard that Lindsay Lohan is going to jail for… well… for being eggregious in just about every way possible. Lindsay can serve up to 90 days in jail.

Lindsay Lohan is a sad case. She had (past tense) some real acting talent. Talent aside, she is so self-destructive that she seems to be unemployable in Hollywood. Not completely unemployable, she might still get a gig or two as a token “celebrity” at a party at a sorta-swanky nightclub for which she’ll collect some apperance fee. It is a little sad to see her squander her opportunities.

Just a little sad of course. Lohan’s decline and fall into the abyss of self-destructiveness may have opened the door to some other talented actress who might not have gotten another look. Your Maximum Leader can’t name who that lucky actress might be; but she is likely out there somewhere in some film your Maximum Leader’s not seen.

(NB: At what point does just reading Pajiba actually become as substitute for going to the movies? Your Maximum Leader thinks he’s at that point.)

Frankly, your Maximum Leader is happy that Lindsay is going to spend some time in the poke. Perhaps she’ll learn something and sober up a little bit. Then again she might become some large butch lesbian’s love-toy for her stint in the hosegow. Even if Lindsay doesn’t learn anything perhaps her situation could dissuade some other young star’s bad behaviour.

On second thought, there isn’t much to learn from Lindsay’s situation. She violated the laws of the land. She took every opportunity given her to avoid jail (and there were many) and still wound up in jail. There isn’t anything to learn from this, except to say that judges in Southern California must be pretty lax.

Your Maximum Leader wonders if Lindsay will ever do any serious acting again. He doubts it. He doesn’t think she’ll straighten herself out. The first step down her future path is behind bars. Then she’ll be released in 25-90 days. Upon getting out she’ll revert to her strung-out ways. Then he figures she’ll be in some Cinemax (Skinemax!) after-dark special within a year or two. After a year or two of the soft stuff, she’ll become too strung out and unemployable by soft-core porn she’ll eventually wind up in some inter-racial gang-bang video just to afford more cheap vodka and cigarettes.

Ah well… Arrivederci Lindsay. It was fun. Okay, it really wasn’t, but you just go on thinking that it was.

Carry on.

Flat top Americans

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader attended a memorial service over the weekend for a friend of our family. Our friend was 90 and lived a great long life.

During the reception after the service there was a slide show playing on a video monitor. The majority of the photos were of our friend in the majority of his life before we knew him. It was interesting to see him as a younger man in the 1950s and early 60s. He had a flat top hair cut, crisp suit and narrow tie.

At one point your Maximum Leader looked around the room and realized something interesting. There were three other men in the room who still wore flat top hair cuts. Who still wore crisp navy suits. Who still wore narrow ties. The three men were likely all in their 80s.

Your Maximum Leader worked the room a little and found out about these other men, or directly struck up conversation with them. They were a former airline pilot, a former civil engineer and a former chemical engineer. They spoke of knowing our friend at various stages of his life. We shared our thoughts and memories and then went our own ways.

On the drive back to your Maximum Leader’s in-law’s house it occurred to your Maximum Leader that these men are directly responsible for so much that is America today. These men built the modern United States. They came home from a war where they had saved the world and proceeded to change their nation and the world.

Your Maximum Leader couldn’t help but wonder how their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are squandering their work. He lamented to himself the decline of American manufacturing. He was saddened by the coarseness of our popular culture. He was absolutely crushed by the whining that punctuates any discourse about affairs of the day.

This is not to say that your Maximum Leader wants to return to a 1950s that was all Ward Cleaver-esque. He doesn’t. And please don’t think that your Maximum Leader is unaware of the idealized 1950’s and early 1960’s. He holds no illusions about that period - for good and ill.

What he is saying is that the spirit of doing, and making, and building and progressing is lost in our time. We don’t build things. Sure we innovate and invent, but we rely on others to do the actual producing (and in many situations that is fine - but shouldn’t we have some domestic industrial capacity?). We hardly seem capable of maintaining a national infrastructure that was largely the vision and work of those men with flat top haircuts. We don’t seem willing to work for much when we can coast on reputation and good fortune.

Sadly, reputation changes and good fortune changes to bad suddenly.

Your Maximum Leader was struck by a deep pathos on a holiday weekend that is his favorite of the year. If a pollster had contacted him and asked the most inane of inane (yet frequently repeated) pollster questions he would have said that our nation is “on the wrong track.” Sadly the right track doesn’t seem like a possible path for us.

Say we were able to take some of the flat top haircut Americans we have and put them to the task of energy independence, what would result? Probably little. You see, in order to get from here to there we would need to transition. This transition period (one that might require more domestic oil production, and more coal and more natural gas to get us “over the hump”) is so objectionable to so many people that it hardly seems possible that we will be able to move forward. Frankly this is the stage at which we’ve been stuck for 30 years. Myopia is the problem we have in our nation, and it is the bane of the flat top American. When so many can’t see more that what is right in front of them you can’t really have a vision of the future. What is worse, when myopic leaders (who are legion and of all persuasions) articulate a “vision” it is nothing more than a series of short term (myopic) goals strung together; because these people can’t think in other terms.

Your Maximum Leader wants his children to grow up and be the descendants (spiritually, as well as literally - we have quite a number of family photos blessed with many flat top haircuts) of those Americans who changed the world seventy years ago. He hope that they can accomplish great things. He hopes they will not have to be he suspects that they will be the ones that will have to save this nation, if it is to be saved. He also hopes that if they do turn out to be the flat top Americans of the future that their spirits will not be crushed by short-sighted idiots who don’t have the ability to conceive of that it was the work of American with flat top haircuts that made it possible for them to become short-sighted idiots in the first place.

Carry on.

Oh to be a Steinway.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that the platonic object of his affections, the talented and lovely Lola Astanova, has just posted a new video of a rehearsal in which she runs through Liszt’s Transcendental etude No. 10 in F-minor. Her skill and talent are amazing. Here you are if you wants to watch:

Oh to be a Steinway piano…

Your Maximum Leader will now calm himself…

Carry on.

Independence!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is going to sign off here and spend a little time with his in-laws on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. There he will cook out some. He’ll steam some crabs. He’ll likely drink a bourbon drink or two. He will enjoy small-town fireworks. If he is lucky he’ll steal a glance at some hotties in bikinis enjoying the hot weather.

Of course, none of this frivolity would be occuring at all were it not for some brave men who were willing to pledge their lives to make this great Republic a reality and not a Locke inspired abstraction debated in 18th Century drawing rooms in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Williamsburg.

Remember the Founders and the values they held and how those values should be at the forefront of our political debates today. For your reading edification, the Declaration of Independence. (And just to show that we are still learning about the Declaration, check out this article about a spectrographic examination of one of Jefferson’s drafts of the document and how he crossed out some words. Or go to the Library of Congress site itself to see the images yourself.)

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
hen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Have a great Independence Day.

Carry on.

The Rick’s of Kabul closes.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is something of a sucker for the light news in newspapers. This isn’t to say that he likes the myriad “fluff” pieces you see on TV news (stuff like surfing dogs, and squirrels that “sing” or anything like that), he doesn’t like those pieces on TV. But you find cool articles in newspapers that are worth reading and are light compared to straight news.

For your reading pleasure in the Washington Post: ‘Casablanca Rick’s Bar of Kabul’ serves up its last drink.

Money quote: “All non-muslims smell like this.”

Go thee and read.

Carry on.

Michael Vick’s new troubles

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader mused yesterday that he should, perhaps, give up the third person blogging style he’s employed here for just shy of 7 years. Our good friends Buckethead and Polymath suggested that we not give up the third person blogging, but instead add more villainy. In the immortal paraphased words of Larry the Cable Guy, “I don’t care who you are. That there is a good idea.”

So, in the interests of pleasing both Buckethead and Polymath let’s have a little villainy.

Most of you out there know who Michael Vick is. He was the standout quarterback at Virginia Tech who was drafted (1st overall) by the Atlanta Falcons. Vick was always the most entertaining player to watch on the field on any team. He would scramble and run and keep plays alive that one was sure were dead on arrival.

Then came the dogfighting.

Vick was involved in a dogfighting ring at one of his homes in Virginia. Many of his childhood friends were implicated in the dogfighting ring as well.

Now, as a particuarly old-fashioned villain, your Maximum Leader doesn’t object in principal to bloodsport. He does watch football afterall. He prefers his bloodsport of the gladiator type, not the animal type. Your Maximum Leader is a dog man, so he is actually quite put out by dogfighting and those who support dogfighting. Vick was found guilty of the dogfighting charges brought against him and served time in prison. Your Maximum Leader would have forgone prison for him and thrown Vick in a pit with a few of the hungry and maltreated dogs he bred for fighting to see how he liked it. But the American justice system just doesn’t do things the same way as your Maximum Leader.

Well… Upon getting out of prison Vick got a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles and a very short leash from football commissioner Roger Goddell. Many people thought that Vick would be able to stay clean and behave himself.

Of course, “many people” are not your Maximum Leader.

Your Maximum Leader was pretty sure that a stint in prison and some faux contriteness (coached by Tony Dungy - a man of whom your Maximum Leader repects) hadn’t changed Vick. He was going to be in trouble again. Your Maximum Leader was sure that we’d all see Vick’s name associated with something bad fairly soon.

Well… It is good to be right. Vick is denying that he was involved in a Virginia Beach area shooting that took place at a birthday party held in his honor.

According to the piece Vick is claiming that he left the club where the party was held before the shooting took place. The shooting victim is alleged to be one of Vick’s friends who was also convicted in the dogfighting incident. Apparently video shows Vick leaving the club and heading in the direction of the shooting about 3-4 minutes before the shooting took place.

Now… Your Maximum Leader isn’t going to hold Michael Vick up as an example of villainous behaviour. Vick is at best a talented henchman. To use a Shakespearian turn of phrase, Vick should be a pack-horse in the affairs of a great villain. To give you all the villainous breakdown of the best possible explanation of this incident… Vick needs a clean break with the past. He needs all the hangers-on and old posse members to disappear. But at the same time he needs some credibility on the street. He needs a repuatation. If he played his cards right (which your Maximum Leader doubts by the by) he was able to “convince” some wanna-be hanger-on that the former associate needed to be “dealt with.” The wanna-be took the hint and waited until Vick conveniently left the club do “deal with” the former associate.

From a villainous perspective, this is amateurish. If Vick really wanted to have this go down better he should have taken a page from history… He should have followed the example of Henry II of England… This is how it should have gone down. Vick should have been having a quiet get-together many miles away and days removed from the scene of the crime. At this quiet get-together Vick should have flown alternately into a rage and then into distraught anxiety all the while declaring that his former associate was the root of his emotional problems. Then he could muse aloud, “Oh if only something would happen that could rid me of this terrible problem I have.” At this point the wanna-be (who should have been carefully pre-screened for having a murderous temperament, lack of self-control, and shown a penchant for bad judgement - but no prior criminal record) would get a clue and later run off and do what needed to be done.

Sadly, Vick is just a thug and has no sense of history, drama or even self-preservation. Vick wouldn’t make the cut as a second-tier thug for your Maximum Leader…

Carry on.

Some random thoughts on July 1

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader will share some disjointed thoughts with you today.

As this blog approaches its 7th anniversary, your Maximum Leader wonders if he should drop the 3rd person schitck. Perhaps only for a little while. He might need a break from it.

Your Maximum Leader was speaking with someone here in town about goings-on. The person mentioned some vice busts in the area and pointed out some photos of the alleged “Johns” and the prostitutes. One of the prostitutes wasn’t a bad looking woman. But every one of the “Johns” was pretty damned ugly. Your Maximum Leader mused for a moment on how prostitution might be a good example of equal treatment in the marketplace. He also found himself wondering if the prostitute felt sorry for herself for having to have sex with some really ugly men…

Your Maximum Leader is excited about the 4th of July holiday. As he’s mentioned in this space many times, the Fourth is the best holiday on the calendar. (Let him explain why in a base way: Bikini-clad hotties, cook-outs and fireworks!) He will go out to the Chesapeake Bay to his In-law’s house and enjoy the water, fishing, some crabs, a little bourbon, and the aforementioned hotties, cookouts and fireworks.

Your Maximum Leader sees that according to some bogus poll of 238 “scholars” produced by Siena College, FDR was America’s greatest President. Theodore Roosevelt was number 2. Abraham Lincoln was #3. George Washington was #4. Thomas Jefferson was #5. Obviously these “presidential scholars” are idiots and deserving of only scorn. Any “greatest presidents” list that does not begin with either George Washington or Abraham Lincoln is pretty much crap. Your Maximum Leader is content with Lincoln and Washington and then all other comers. A very strong case can be made for FDR and TR as 3 & 4. But this crap being peddled by Siena College is just wrong. In case you want a real list of great presidents you can read your Maximum Leader’s greatest list from this past February. Let him close this matter with a plug for JAMES KNOX POLK as the greatest overlooked president in our history.

For now that is all.

Carry on.

UPDATED: Your Maximum Leader looked up the press release from Siena College in the hopes that he’d get their whole list and methodology. Well, here is what they are releasing out to the public. (NB to Polymath: Apparently the presidents worse than G.W. Bush are: F. Pierce, W. Harding, J. Buchanan and A. Johnson.) Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure of the first to categories in which the presidents are rated. They are “Background” and “Imagination.” Without some guidelines as to what those actually mean it is hard to judge what the hell someone means by saying that (for example) Thomas Jefferson had a better background than John Quincy Adams. Frankly, in terms of having the right “background” to be president (assuming - as your Maximum Leader does - that background means past experiences before becoming president) he can’t think of a reason why Thomas Jefferson would be ranked number one? Over John Qunicy Adams?! Okay, Jefferson was Ambassador to France and Secretary of State. But he was a crappy Governor of Virginia. (And he shouldn’t get credit for writing the Declaration.) In your Maximum Leader’s opinion the two men most qualified to be president by virtue of their background are John Quincy Adams and George Herbert Walker Bush.

Anyhoo… Siena College’s criteria (and hence their results) are suspect (and worthy of derision). Stick with your Maximum Leader’s assesments and you’ll go places.

Carry on again.

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