Saturday, 25 February 2012

This Day in History

It is a woeful tale.....an event that occurred today in history.

This guy, who happened to be a Congressman from Maine.....Jon Cilley....got into an aggressive bit of behavior.....speaking out about a bribery accusation on the Congressional floor.  Guys could say just about anything they wanted in those days, and without TV or radio.....you usually got away with it unless some idiot was standing there....wrote the quote down, and then blabbed it to the insulted guy.

Well....in this case.....a southern Congressman....Bill Graves of Kentucky.....was the insulted party.  Bill wasn't exactly a guy to stand down.

In these days of 1838, things were a bit different.  Guys tended to drink excessively....all day long.  We don't know the drinking status of Bill or Jon that day....but I'd make an educated guess that both sipped some beverages and probably were a bit more reactive than you'd like.

There was no willingness on Jon's part to own up to the insult, so Bill decided a duel had to be necessary.  In this period of American history....duels were pretty accepted.  There various choices of weapon in a duel, with varying degrees of outcome.

Naturally, you were supposed to duel around the District area.  That was considered in bad taste.  So they crossed the river over into Maryland. The kindly folks over in Maryland....had created the Bladensburg Duelling Grounds....where you could professionally duel with other folks.  The history folks say over fifty duels occurred at Bladensburg during it's period of usage.

So Jon....who wasn't much of an expert with weapons anyway....shows up.  Bill shows up.  And there is this shooting match.  Bill basically shoots Jon in the leg pretty severely, and blood is pumping out rapidly....with Jon dead in 90 seconds flat.  Other than covering the guy with a horse-blanket in the moments after his death....there's not much you could offer to the guy.

Word gets out about this duel and upsets folks greatly.  So the kindly folks at Congress....Republican and Democrat....finally decide on a joint resolution.  No more duels.  You couldn't issue an invitation to a duel....nor could you accept an invitation.  Course, the wording was typical Washington....it only meant for threats given or received in the District.  If you got insulted in a regular state....then all bets were off.

The curious thing about this whole thing....a week later, the funeral occurs, with the President in attendance.  You can imagine this scene...a funeral with various party members....all in a state of shock of the duel and it's impact.

Dueling between political figures came to an end after that.  And if you were guessing....yeah....Bill was a Republican and a gun expert.  And yeah, Jon was a Democrat, and mostly known for no gun skills at all.

Your Orientation

When I joined the Air Force in 1977, they had this business of asking me about various personal things.....to mark me correctly in their database.

They wanted to know if I was white.....which I kinda confirmed.  They wanted to know if I had any Indian blood in me, and I hinted I might be one sixteenth.....but they said that wasn't enough to be a real Indian.  They wanted to know my religious preference, which I responded that I really didn't have a big preference. They didn't like that answer, and demanded a more firm answer.....and I just said Baptist....although it wasn't much of a preference for me.

As the years went by.....they added onto their list of things they wanted to know.  There was the smoker status, the drinker status, and the educated status.  I think by the time I retired, there were fifteen different status blocks that they had filled out.

Today, there was a memo sent out to all California judges and justices.  The Administrative Office of the Courts for the state of California....wants to know what each guy or gal's sexual orientation is: gay, lesbian or straight.  This is apparently being done to make sure enough gays are adequately represented on the judicial bench of the state......or so they say.

This kinda leads to this awkward situation where there's a judgeship up, and Karl from the Administrative Office calls up the Governor, and says that this has to be given to a lesbian, or a straight gal, or a gay guy, or some regular straight guy.  Course, then you have to figure in the black, Latino, Asian status with this.  You might accidentally discover in the whole state of California.....for an expert guy to be sitting on the state supreme court.....there's only one Latino Lesbian in existence in the state.

I can imagine some judge being approached and he responds that he likes aliens....gets into extreme bondage.....and rarely wears clothing.  The Administrative Office will say to get serious....and he'll respond that he is absolutely serious.

Frankly, once you get around to this kind of marker on your record.....your grades in college and your common sense level won't matter much.  We will eventually require a Latino lesbian midget gal, who smokes and is pro-tattoo.

The Burdens of Being an American

"That’s the kind of balance you need.  Why is that the case? Because if you don't try to generate more revenues through tax reform, if you don't ask, you know, the most fortunate Americans to bear a slightly larger burden of the privilege of being an American, then you have to.....the only way to achieve fiscal sustainability is through unacceptably deep cuts in benefits for middle class seniors, or unacceptably deep cuts in national security.

----White House Finance Expert Timmy Geithner

Yes, even though Mr Goodman (your junior high history teacher), Mr Brown (your high school history and civics teacher), and Professor Carlise (that government studies professor in college) never mentioned any real burdens to being an American citizen.....there are apparently burdens.

I sat and paused over this.  A moment of pondering.  The "more fortunate Americans"?  I grew up with folks in Bama, who still live in the same rural environment and make $25k a year.  Frankly, they aren't exactly unhappy or in any discomfort.  They do an occasional Saturday job for $300 under the table, help some neighbor paint their barn in exchange for 200 lbs of frozen beef steaks, and sit on the front porch discussing the Baptist revival from last week.

If you went up to this guy, and said he was the lesser and more unfortunate American.....he would look at you for a minute and question if you'd been drinking or smoking some good weed.  He'd admit he wasn't making that much, but frankly.....he didn't care much for some government guy handing out free coupons, free gifts, free stimulus funding, or funding some solar company in the richest neighborhoods of southern California.

The misled logic with "more fortunate Americans"?  After you've come to them for two years and grinned as you talked about the extra ten percent they needed to pay.....you'd eventually reach a point with a zero-growth economy and no solution yet to the home crisis, and start talking about the next version of the "more fortunate Americans".  You'd lay out the next ten percent growth in taxes and remind everyone of what it takes to be a good American....more burden.

Two or three years would pass, and your friends would arrive at the door and talk about a stalled economy, and you had to take up the slack.....as the "more fortunate American", and own up to more burden....another ten percent.  They'd grin as they suggest this.

Eventually, you'd greet them at the door and then suggest that as you opened it and they were trying to explain the "more fortunate American" deal and the burden issue.....that you were now a burden issue for them.  Your fortunate status had turned unfortunate.  Their grin would slip away.

They'd be looking at each other and trying to think of who the next "more fortunate American" would be, and how his burden would translate into something.

We almost need some special class to attend.....showing us how our lives have been shaped by our burdens.  I'd like to think that I had just really small burdens.....but for some reason, I suspect others may be worried about me, and want to talk over my burden status.  You can imagine this scene at a BP station out in a rural piece of Texas....where five guys discuss their burden status at length, and each saying the other folks have a bigger burden than themselves.  Eventually, you'd get some burden score from the IRS, and then go into a fit when your burden measured slightly more than your neighbors.

Man, this burden business......is a big burden.