A Lesson Learnt

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is at the Villainschloss with his two daughters. Mrs. Villain and the Wee Villain (who isn’t so wee anymore as he is nearly 5 ft tall at 10 yrs old) are in the greater Boston area right now.

You see, last month, Mrs. Villain’s uncle died. He had been battling cancer, and finally succumbed. It was our family plan to change our vacation plans to Canada and divert to Boston for the funeral. But, the funeral was postponed until this weekend to accommodate the attendance of more relatives. Sadly, due to the beginning of the school year and some anticipated financial outlays, not all of your Maximum Leader’s family was going to be able to attend the memorial service/funeral which occurred earlier today. We determined early on that Mrs. Villain had to go. We bought a plane ticket and made arrangements. The Villainettes were, in a way, glad not to be able to go. Funerals aren’t their thing.

And that is what is prompting your Maximum Leader to write. Funerals aren’t their thing. To be honest, they have not faced much death in their short lives. Your Maximum Leader had dealt with more death in his family than they have at the corresponding time in their lives. The girls have developed something akin to a fear of death. It is your Maximum Leader’s pet theory that they have gotten this from their lovely mother, your Maximum Leader’s beloved wife. She has a fear of death. She doesn’t like to discuss death. When your Maximum Leader jokes about his own mortality - something he thinks he does only to poke a little fun at while at the same time annoying his lovely wife - she gets upset. His daughters may have a degree of fear of death that your Maximum Leader doesn’t have.

This isn’t to say that your Maximum Leader doesn’t have a healthy respect for death, or seeks it. He doesn’t. But he has come to peace with the idea that death is inevitable. And when one considers the randomness of the universe, it is something that can come unexpectedly and in a way that one cannot control. Your Maximum Leader feels (rather strongly) that we in the West have done our best to isolate, or perhaps better said - insulate, ourselves from death. As recently as 75 yrs ago people routinely died at home. With their family. In multigenerational homes grandparents regularly shuffled their mortal coils in the presence of their grandchildren. It just happened. Today people die in hospitals, or nursing homes. They often die without their extended families near. We have become, culturally, Louis XIV who banished the dying from Versailles so that he did not have to deal with his own mortality.

So. The Villainettes while not “happy” to miss their great-uncle’s funeral, weren’t all that upset to have to stay home.

But surprisingly, the Wee Villain was upset to stay home.

You may recall that a few short lines ago your Maximum Leader said that the Wee Villain was in Boston with his mother at the funeral. This was an ad hoc decision - to have him go. For a the past two weeks the Wee Villain would keep mentioning that he wanted to go to the funeral. Mrs. Villain and your Maximum Leader for a time thought that this was because the Wee Villain thought he’d be getting a trip to Boston out of it and might get some good food and catch a Red Sox game. After a few times mentioning it, your Maximum Leader took his son aside and asked him why he wanted to go to the funeral so much. His answer surprised your Maximum Leader.

He said, “I want to see our cousins and be there for them.” That answer wasn’t too surprising. But when your Maximum Leader pointed out that there wouldn’t be time for fun or pizza or baseball, the Wee Villain said “Civilized people bury their dead, and I need to help.”

Your Maximum Leader immediately recognized those words… Last summer, we traveled to New England (Boston & Rhode Island) for vacation; but also to bury Mrs. Villain’s grandmother (the mother of her uncle who just passed). She passed early last year, and again for ease of getting people together, the funeral was delayed. At the burial at the family plot, after the minister gave his remarks all were invited to place a shovelful of dirt into the grave. Your Maximum Leader’s children looked at him in horror as he held the shovel up and motioned for one of them to take it and place dirt into the grave. Your Maximum Leader walked up to his children and said, “Civilized people bury their dead. It is a sign of respect and I will not have you all shirk your duties in this. You will do it today for Great Nannie. One day I hope you will do it for me.” The first of his children to take the shovel from him was his son. All three of his children did what your Maximum Leader expected/told them to do.

Apparently, the lesson was really learnt by one of his children.

After his response, your Maximum Leader made arrangements for him to go to the funeral. He was there today, doing what civilized people do and burying his dead.

Your Maximum Leader is also told that there were lobster rolls and some baseball among cousins after the memorial service.

And that is good.

God bless you Bill. Requiescat in pace.

Or as they say in the land of our ancestry: Gus am bris an là

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader

Richard the Third - RIP (next March)

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader asks that you remember Richard III, King of England (as he does this time of year). (NB: This is mostly a repost of that which appears here year after year.) He was killed in battle at Bosworth this day in 1485. He fought valiantly, if not triumphantly. He was the last Plantagenet to rule England. He was the last King of England to die in battle. And his death marks the generally accepted end of both the Wars of the Roses and the medieval period in England.

richard_iii_of_england.jpg

It is from Shakespeare’s play Richard III that the name of this site is taken. The important lines come in Act One, Scene III:

But then I sigh; and, with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.

Richard is, in your Maximum Leader’s opinion, one of the most maligned kings in all history. Shakespeare’s play, while vastly entertaining, is far from an accurate portrayal of history and the man as we now know him.

Your Maximum Leader, out of habit, will republish the famous Rex Stout New York Times obituary for King Richard:

“PLANTAGENET — Richard, great king and true friend of the rights of man, died at Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485. Murdered by traitors and, dead, maligned by knaves and ignored by Laodiceans, he merits our devoted remembrance.”

For those of you interested in learning more about Richard you might try the following links: Battle of Bosworth Field from Wikipedia, or the general Wiki on Richard.

GENERAL UPDATE: Since the recent exhumation of the remains of Richard the Third we have learned so much about him. For instance, he liked indulged in rich foods and wine while King. (Which frankly should be a perk of kingship.) He was brutally killed in combat. (Which we knew but now have evidence of.) And now we know that he will be (re-)buried next March in a rather handsome tomb in Leicester Cathedral.

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader

Something great is going on in Washington

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is very excited about something great going on in Washington right now. But he fears that commenting on it will jinx it.

He doesn’t want a jinx. He should just say that he will continue to drink dark & stormys and watch TV in his bedroom every night while watching MASN sports network.

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader

Middle East Diatribing

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been paying a lot of attention to the news of late. There is so much going on it is hard to get it all into a single post. He will try to get some highlights of his thoughts together in this post as his thoughts relate to the Middle East.

Let your Maximum Leader begin with the easiest part of the Middle East. That part is Israel. Your Maximum Leader isn’t saying that the whole Arab-Israeli conflict is the “easy” part of the Middle East. It isn’t. For your Maximum Leader, Israel is the easiest place to start his discussion. Allow him to start thusly. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that is fully deserving of full and robust US support. Frankly it is the only country in the region worthy of the support of any rational person who supports Western Civilization in any meaningful sense. Israel is a fully functioning Western Democracy, born of the Western Tradition, with civil society and political institutions that would be familiar to any American. They are a rational actor in an irrational region.

This is not to say that Israel is perfect, or blameless, in how it conducts its affairs. It is not. But a rational and reasonable person can understand why Israel reacts the way it does and should be able to support Israel.

Has Israel treated the people of Gaza badly? Yes. Do the Gazans (of all factions, Hamas, PLS, Hezbollah, etc) have a legitimate beef with the heavy-handed Israeli blockade of Gaza that has gone on for years? Yes, they actually do. But on the other hand (the hand that your Maximum Leader puts more weight on right now to be clear), the Gazans are committed to the destruction of Israel. The Gazans are not good neighbors. The Gazans have consistently shown that they are unwilling to govern themselves in a civilized manner and show that they are undeserving of an independent state.

Hamas, a faction that has enjoyed wide and deep support among Gazans for a long time, wants to revert the area that is now Gaza, Israel, the West Bank and other territories to a single political entity in which Jews can be eradicated (and probably Christians too after Jews are gone). They are not looking to establish a tolerant, or moderate state. They are looking to create exactly what exists in the territories controlled by ISIS.

Frankly, when Hamas started launching rockets at Israel, your Maximum Leader thought Israel started off by being very restrained. They didn’t march in right away. They didn’t start retaliating right away. Frankly your Maximum Leader would have. He knows it’s a tired cliche, but if Canada started launching rockets from Toronto to Buffalo (or Vancouver to Seattle or Windsor to Detroit - yes even Detroit) or Mexico started launching rockets from Tijuana to San Diego or even if Minneapolis started launching rockets at St Paul; your Maximum Leader would be calling up reserves and bombing the crap out of the aggressor.

Your Maximum Leader will speculate on a few items here. 1) Does the perception of “disproportionally” offend some in the US and the West and make those offended people anti-Israel? This is to say that because the losses are so much higher on the Gazan side there is some perception of “unfairness” and these people can’t abide the perception of “unfairness?” This is a serious thought. Are some people turned off at seeing that there are thousands of dead Gazans for a few tens of dead Israelis they they just think Israel needs to be stopped? Your Maximum Leader thinks this does describe a number of those who are anti-Israel. 2) Is being anti-Israel or anti-Zionist just veiled anti-Semitism? Your Maximum Leader thinks that this is the case among many Europeans and a fair number of Americans. 3) Do some people project their own national guilt onto Israel and want to roll back time to assuage the guilt? This is a uniquely American position. Your Maximum Leader wonders if some Americans think that the creation of Israel is actually the root cause of the problem and if Israel were “uncreated” everything would be okay. The sublimated national guilt here is the “we took America from the Indians” guilt. People who feel guilt at the taking of America from the natives don’t want to uncreate the USA and displace themselves but would feel a whole lot better if they could uncreate another country and displace some others who shouldn’t be there anyway.

That last one is a little far out, but some conversations your Maximum Leader’s had recently do make him think that it could be plausible.

So… Let your Maximum Leader take up a point he made a moment ago and do a little segue. The Gazans have shown themselves incapable of being an independent state. Do you know who else has shown themselves to be incapable of being - or at least running - and independent state? Just about every nation in the region that was part of the “Arab Spring.”

Can we name the nations where the Arab Spring has turned out okay? Hummmm… Algeria…

Okay. That is it. Algeria. (And Morocco to a lesser extent in that the Arab Spring promoted constitutional reforms in the existing framework of the government.)

Where have “liberation movements” in the Arab world failed? Egypt. Libya. Lebanon. Syria.

You know. Back in the day when rational, intelligent, and grown-up behaving people “ran” the world there was a way of distinguishing “your bastard” from “the other guys bastard” from “a pack of murderous rabble.” Your Maximum Leader is thinking back to places like Chile under Pinochet. Yes, Chile could be a very unpleasant, dangerous and deadly place for people who didn’t support the Pinochet dictatorship. But the Pinochet dictatorship provided security and a free economy. Also, Chile was on “our” side in the Cold War. Pinochet was our bastard, so to speak. Sure many liberals didn’t like that the US supported Pinochet for all those years, but in the end, Pinochet was eased out. Chile became free politically. And there was no bloody civil war resultant from that changeover.

(NB: BTW, isn’t it funny how many liberal/progressive people who couldn’t stand the Pinochet regime are more than pleased with China. Isn’t China effectively the same type of nation? Political dictatorship with a secure and stable society with a reasonably free economy. Interesting…)

Anyhooo… Your Maximum Leader will posit to you all that we were better off - and frankly the citizens of many of the nations where the Arab Spring has failed were better off - with the dictators. Quadaffi was an evil murderous bastard - but is Libya better off now without him? Egypt’s military pulled the plug on their experiment with reform. Your Maximum Leader is glad they have. He actually had high hopes for Egypt. He thought that the moderate educated Egyptians who seemed to be the major protest force would somehow couple with the Army and create a secular moderate Arab Republic. Too bad they had to decide to rely on a democratic process that put Hamas in charge.

Syria is still fighting it out.

Let us think of Syria for a while here. Is there a sane human being out there that believes that Syria will be better off completely throwing off the yoke of Assad?

Okay. Let your Maximum Leader say it. He doesn’t. He is, at this point, hoping that Assad pulls this out and GOES BACK TO BEING THE BRUTAL DICTATOR HE WAS IN THE PAST. The key here is going back to the way he was. If he does win and crush the various rebelling factions assailing him and then decided to be a different kind of brutal dictator then we have a different problem. The whole House of Assad are evil men who do terrible things. But they are (or at least have been in the past) secular and rational. They act in their own self-interest, which is known and can be dealt with. They are not the (largely religious) crazies that are running Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS among others.

So… Now we get to ISIS. Or the Islamic State. Or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Or whatever they are called. Your Maximum Leader will go with ISIS for now (although it offends me because he doesn’t see why he would want to besmirch the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis in any way).

ISIS is what you get when you mix religion, organization and civil unrest. Your Maximum Leader was surprised when they appeared out of nowhere and suddenly controlled a territory larger than most US states. He was even more surprised when they were able to beat the pants off the Iraqi Army. He is now not surprised by anything ISIS is doing. They are a motivated, organized, dedicated and now well-equipped force. As much as it is repulsive to your Maximum Leader, the “state” ISIS is creating is more of a functioning state than either Syria or Iraq have been for a few years.

Your Maximum Leader can see how ISIS could take root in Syria. But he thought that Iraq would put up more of a fight. That Iraq is not able to defend itself or possibly even remain a viable state itself is due to the United States. To channel Colin Powell… We broke it. We broke Iraq. The good ole US of A. Your Maximum Leader was in favor of breaking Iraq. Let him be honest. He was for it. He wasn’t for it in exactly the way the Bush Administration was; but he wanted to see Saddam Hussein gone and he wanted to “shake up” the region.

Guess what. That was a monumentally stupid fucking call.

Your Maximum Leader, would take a completely different approach now. This is, of course, only with the benefit of hindsight. Seeing what is becoming of the area. Seeing how the Arab Spring has turned out. Seeing how unrest in the region leads directly to what can only be called Islamic theocracies with a murderous and expansionist bent. He would be happy to continue to contain Saddam Hussein and let the miserable bastard stay on.

But we didn’t and now we are paying the price.

So… What to do? Well… If you are President Obama you don’t have a lot of options. He can’t go back into Iraq because his whole foreign policy was to get us out of Iraq. He doesn’t have lots of tricks to use except airpower and arming groups to fight ISIS. Your Maximum Leader is all for arming the Kurds and letting them declare their own state. Sure it will piss off everyone else in the region; but at this point the options are all bad, we’re only trying to find the least bad options out there. Letting the Kurds fight for their own nation makes some sense. One supposes that we will do as much as we can from the air to support the rump Iraq. Perhaps in supporting a rump Iraq we might wind up getting a little closer to Iran - who one suspects will help the Shias in southern Iraq.

Again… There aren’t lots of options out there. And the ones that are there, all of them are bad. Your Maximum Leader is open to being educated to options he doesn’t see. But there is a whole lot of blame and criticizing and not a lot of presenting options out there. All your Maximum Leader has he’s put out here. Here it is again in case you missed it: Support Israel. Support the Egyptian military government. Don’t stand in the way of Assad taking back control in Syria. Arm the Kurds. Airstrike the crap out of ISIS. Hope a rump Iraq can make it.

That is pretty much it. And it sucks quite frankly…

All this, and your Maximum Leader hasn’t even touched on Russia, Europe and Ukraine… Or Ebola. Or healthcare. Or the impending US elections.

Ugh.

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader

When the world is running down.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has much to say, but hasn’t been making the time to say it. There is so much to say about Israel and Gaza. (Your Maximum Leader comes down squarely for Israel; but admits that Israel makes mistakes that should be addressed.) There is much to say about Ukraine. (Where your Maximum Leader is sympathetic to the plight of Ukraine; but does wonder what exactly we can do there that would be constructive.) There is much to say about ebola. (Calm down everyone. No really. Calm down.) There is much to say about the trial of Bob McDonnell, former Governor of Virginia. (Which your Maximum Leader thinks is just sad all around.)

All these subjects and more that call for comment… But are met with silence here.

Your Maximum Leader’s kids will be out with grandparents this weekend… Perhaps he’ll write…

Maybe he’ll tell you about his recent trip to Canada… (Yes… He visited with Skippy!)

Oh yes… Happy Birthday wishes to your Maximum Leader’s mum… Today is the big day…

Carry on.

    About Naked Villainy

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