Monday, June 24, 2019

Game of Thrones is Over So Who was Actually a King or a Queen

This is for people who have seen the series Game of Thrones in its entirety.  For those of you who did not this is your only warning…Spoilers… Spoilers… Spoilers… Spoilers… Spoilers… Spoilers… Spoilers… Spoilers… Spoilers… Spoilers… Spoilers… Spoilers… Spoilers… Spoilers… Spoilers… Spoilers.

So the hit series Game of Thrones has come to an end and the fans are up in arms to the point one starts to question if they actually liked the show.  I have to admit the end was kind of disappointing.  I thought it was either going to be Jon kills Daenerys and takes the Iron Throne to rule as King Aegon VI returning the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros to their glory days or Daenerys was going to kill Jon and rule as a Queen of the Kingdom of Ashes.  The first is the ending I wanted but the second I thought we were going to get and deserved.   Of course I thought when Ned Stark went to the scaffold I was about to witness a dramatic rescue scene.   

The ending we got something I was completely not expecting.  The most important part involved the two primary charters that the series seemed to have centered around. Daenerys still died at Jon’s hands but instead of assuming the Iron Throne Jon went the back to what was left of the Wall and then, as far as I can tell, went to go live with the free folk north of the Wall.  For the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros the North breaks away and the remaining six are suddenly transformed into the Holy Roman Empire.   Yes, I did not see that last part happening.   

On this blog I normally review history books and every now and again give a political opinion about something.  However since George R.R. Martin bases so much of his fictional world, stories, and characters on real historical events and people it might be fun to take a look at Game of Thrones from that perspective.  Throughout the series several characters laid claim to have been a king or a queen, the question I thought to answer would be how many of those characters would actual history books view as having been such?  Who would make the official list of monarchs of their various kingdoms when professional historians, students, and armatures looked back at events centuries later?  With that said let’s take a look.

Robert Baratheon
First claimed to be King: Prior to series start
Historically recognized: Yes

King Robert Baratheon was far and away the most successful king in the series

             Robert Baratheon was first born son of the Lord of Storms End, a position that was one of the great lords paramount of Westeros.  As a Baratheon he was closely related to the Targaryens.  Robert’s  ancestor Orys Baratheon was the bastard brother of Aegon the Conqueror and more recently his paternal grandmother was a daughter of King Aegon V.  Robert inherited his father’s title while he was still a boy when his parents were killed in a shipwreck.  Lord Robert then went to live with the Jon Arryan, the Lord of the Vale, as a ward to learn from him how to be a great lord.  There he met Eddard Stark, second son of the Lord of Winterfell, who became his lifelong best friend.

             When his attended Lyanna Stark ran off with Rhaegar Targaryen Lord Robert believing that she had been kidnapped, or refusing to believe the truth, rebelled against King Ares II.  Known as the Mad King, Aerys II had killed Rickard and Brandon Stark making Ned Stark the Lord of Winterfell.  Jon Aryyan joined an alliance with his former wards against their King.  Robert never gets Lyanna back but he kills Rhaegar and wins his rebellion.  With the Mad King dead by Jamie Lannister and the Mountain killing Rhaegar’s family Robert ascends to the Iron Throne. 

             Robert’s claim is one of the greatest.   It is even superior to that a king’s first-born son.  It is the claim my big army beat your big army.  What was won by King Aegon I can by lost by King Aerys II.  Although King Robert did not like to see it that way,  in his mind the rebellion was not his fault but a natural reaction to events where he as the victim.  King Aerys II and the rest of the Targaryens feel from power naturally and he was the rightful heir being a great-grandson of Aegon V.  Of course discovering Aerys’s other two children were still alive killed that narrative and he started to plot murder. 

            A good real life example is England’s King Henry IV.  He overthrew his tyrant cousin King Richard II and claimed the throne for himself.  Like Robert, Henry saw the rebellion as being not his fault but rather he was the victim of events.  And also like the fictional Robert, the real Henry tried to pretend that he was the natural heir to the throne, but in the end he really ruled by right of conquest.
 
King Henry IV of England the real life Robert
           In the entire series Robert is the strongest and most secure king.  He reigns for almost two decades; he successfully puts down counter rebellions or secessionists, and all former houses that stood for House Targaryen have had to make their peace with him.  At the time of his death King Robert I was the undisputed ruler of the Seven Kingdoms and clearly on any historians list.

Viserys Targaryen
First claimed to be King: Prior to series start
Historically recognized: Yes
The story of Viserys Targaryen: Woulda Coulda Shoulda

Old Pretender by rights should have been the King of England and who Viserys reminded me the most of
             This one might surprise people and I myself had to wait to very last episode before making this call. Now the first reaction might be “but this guy never really ruled how can he possibly be on any list”?  True many would/should have been kings typically do not make any official list just look at the Old and Young Pretenders.  However history has seen some would be rulers recognized as legitimate monarchs; a great example is France’s King Louis XVII.  Louis XVII was a child whose parents, King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, were overthrown and killed during the French Revolution.   He himself never ruled and died in the custody of the revolutionaries.  After the fall of Napoleon the dead child’s uncle re-claimed the French crown.  The new King called himself Louis XVIII, thus recognizing his nephew’s legitimacy.

King Louis XVII of France, never on the Throne but on the list

             Born the second son of King Aerys II, Viserys spent his early childhood as a prince and the spare heir to the Kingdoms.  When his brother fell before Robert and King’s Landing was about to fall, his father the King declared Viserys his heir and sent him with his mother, Queen Rhalle, to be smuggled out of Westeros.  The Queen crowned Viserys when they heard of the death of his father.  She died giving birth to his sister Daenerys, and the two children lived as beggars on in off in Essos. Viserys survives, makes friends, and even has allies strong enough to arrange a marriage alliance for his sister.  However time in exile causes him to crack and become abusive towards his sister. In the end he is murdered by his own brother in law.

            Like little Louis, it the success and the establishment of another relative, in this case his sister (see Daenerys section), that keeps Viserys III on a historians list of Westeros monarchs.    
    
Balon Greyjoy
First claimed to be King: Prior to series start
Historically recognized: No
Balon Greyjoy, first in line a losers
            First the Greyjoys were never kings.  Even back when the Iron islands had their own independent monarch it was not the Greyjoys.  The last true King of the Iron Islands burnt in castle he built in Riverlands when Aegon the Conqueror torched it.  That wiped out the last ruling family and the Targaryens eventually allowed the Iron Islanders to select a new lord.  They chose the Greyjoys.   


           When Robert Baratheon overthrew the Targaryens, Balon wondered whether they should be loyal to the Iron Throne with a different family now controlling it.  Balon declared independence for the Iron Islands and crowned himself king.  Then Robert Baratheon showed up with his army and navy and kicked the snot out of him.  Towers were torn down and his older sons were killed and his youngest sent to live with Ned Stark.  Balon survived because he bent the knee to King Robert reestablishing the Iron Islands' connection of the Iron Throne. 

           As civil war breaks out among Lord Balon sees this as an opportunity to assert his independence again.  Once more proclaiming himself King of the Iron Islands he is approached by his long lost son Theon.  Theon offers him an alliance with Robb Stark against the Iron Throne.  Balon wants to pay the iron price for his independence and learning nothing from his previous mistakes he convinces Theon if he truly wants to be iron born he must turn on the North.  He sends his last son on a mission that was pointless where Theon got captured and his dick was cut off.  That ended the ability for Balon to continue the family through a male line.  He still had his daughter Yara who he liked better anyway, but she left to go find her brother. 

           After the war Balon is somewhat independent but that is just because no one is paying attention.  His own brother shows up and throws Balon's worthless self of a bridge.  At the end of the series Yara Greyjoy is in left in charge of Iron Islands but not as an independent queen but a lieutenant for a greater ruler.  Without the ability to establish his own independent kingdom, Balon goes down in history as a petty lord who thought he was a king.     
          
Mance Rayder
First claimed to be King: Prior to series start
Historically recognized: Maybe
Mance Rayder, one of history's great kings if Wildlings learn to read and write

            I hate to sound really mean here but this one totally depends on how literate the free folk are.  Mance Rayder a former member of the Night’s Watch who defected to the wildlings and ultimately united the tribes to earn himself the title “King Beyond the Wall.”  The thing is though does anyone know how many Kings beyond the Wall they have had?  It seems the only ones who may ever recognize Mance as a king may be the descendants of his adversaries to south.  Maybe Jon Snow taking the title at the end might help change some things up north of the Wall in regards to literacy?  Sam is not there though  so I doubt it.

Daenerys Targaryen
First claimed to be Queen: Season 1 Episode 6
Historically recognized: Yes
Queen Daenerys, everyone's favorite until those last few episodes

             For eight years the fans of Game of Thrones got to watch Daenerys Targaryen go from scared exiled princess to young kalessi to strong queen to mad tyrant.  That last one was a little hard for most of us to take.  I did not mind the result just the execution at the end was far too rushed. However was she a true queen?   The answer is yes.  For one she was indisputably the Queen of Meereen.  A second harder question is should she have been recognized as a Queen of Seven Kingdoms?   There is an argument for her not to be.  You can point out that she died so shortly after winning everything that she never had time to really be the queen.   However there are two things one needs to consider.  The first is she did, however briefly, rule it all.  The second is she made a couple of appointments that would outlive her reign: Yara Greyjoy and Gendry Baratheon.
Appointed Lady of the Iron Islands

            After losing the Iron Islands to her uncle Yara Greyjoy bends the knee to form an alliance with Daenerys in order to win them back.   With House Baratheon now extinct Daenerys decides to legitimatize King Robert’s bastard and give him the family titles.  Houses Targaryen and Baratheon were very close in the beginning and marrying in a number of times after.  Yet Baratheons betrayed the Targaryens usurping them and depriving them of the Iron Throne they had built and sat on for centuries.  Ironically Daenerys death and Jon Snow not accepting his legacy the Targaryens are now extinct but the Baratheons were saved by one the two acts of Daenerys. 
Appointed Lord of Stroms End

            When the Great Lords met at the end of the series Lord Gendry and Lady Yara were both among them and recognized by them.  And by acknowledging the legitimacy of those two they were by default acknowledging the legitimacy of Daenerys Targaryen.
         
Joffrey Baratheon
First claimed to be King: Season 1 Episode 7
Historically recognized: Yes
Joffrey Baratheon the child of evil

           As much as it may pain me to say it yes Joffrey would be historically recognized.  I know I can hear the cry “but he is an incestuous bastard.”  However some facts need to be taken into consideration.  First legally speaking he is the son of Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister for a husband always has presumed paternity over his wife’s children.  During his lifetime King Robert never challenged his presumed paternity over Joffrey and his siblings.  Also there is no way to really prove it short of public confession from Cersei or Jamie.  There is no such thing as a DNA test in Westeros.  Ned Stark’s recognition that “Joffrey is a blond Baratheon” may have been right but only a broken clock sense seeing it is actually a stupid argument.  His mother’s family is predominately blond.

           After his ascension Westeros plunged into civil war.  However that war was won and when the dust settled Joffrey was left sole ruler.  Despite his mother’s so called “Queen Regent” title Joffrey did primarily as he pleased as one could see with Ned Stark’s execution.  In the end the only way he could be removed was with an assassin’s poison.  
   
Stannis Baratheon
First claimed to be King: Season 1 Episode 8
Historically recognized: No
Stannis Baratheon, why did anyone like him?

            Yes I know he didn’t show up on screen to season 2.  But he been calling himself king the moment he got the raven from Ned Stark.  However he never really becomes king.  He has an army and he tries to become king but he never does.  Stannis never controls any part of Westeros outside of Dragonstone was far as I can tell.  He just keeps losing men and resources until he doesn’t have any anymore and Brienne of Tarth does him a favor and puts him out of his misery. 

             It is a good thing that he did not become king because Stannis wouldn’t have been a good one considering he is religious nut who lights people for not having the same religion, even his allies and relatives.   And since his is a minority religion he would be burning a lot of people.   

            Some might consider him a rightful king considering the true parentage of Cersei’s children, however as I said there was no way to really prove that.  Also being the rightful heir doesn’t really mean much just ask the Bonnie Prince Charlie or Viserys Targaryen. 
The Young Pretender AKA The Bonnie Prince Charlie could tell Stannis how useful it was to be the rightful heir


Renly Baratheon
First claimed to be King: Season 1 Episode 7
Historically recognized: No
Renly Baratheon, the right and wrong choice at the same time

             Renly was the only one of his brothers who had the right head to be a good moral king.  Unfortunately he lacked the ruthlessness of his brothers to succeed in the world of Game of Thrones.  Lord Renly should have arranged an assassination of his older brother Stannis the moment he heard that King Robert was dying.  Without such ruthlessness he looked like a fool who had no real claim to the Iron Throne as he was trying to seize it.

            Nevertheless it almost worked out for him, he kind or reminded me of gay version of England King Henry I, the youngest son of William the Conqueror who through great political skill ended up in control of his all the dominions of his father.   However Renly was killed by a shadow creature before he could really rule anything. 
King Henry I of England like Renly without being fictional, gay, and killed by shadow creature

Robb Stark
First claimed to be King: Season 1 Episode 10
Historically recognized: Yes
Robb Stark, we will never be over that episode

           Despite the untimely end to a fan favorite character I have to stay he would be historical recognized.  This is true even though his bid for the Northern Independence ended in betrayal and his murder as well as several more murders.  King Robb certainly earned the right to be historically recognized through his great military prowess, but in the end that was not what did it.  Like Viserys Targaryen, a man who earned no braids[i], it was actually they success of little sister who gets him on the list.  Since Sansa is an independent Queen in the North at the end of the series Robb status as a historical King in the North is secured. 

Tommen Baratheon
First claimed to be King: Season 4 Episode 2
Historically recognized: Yes
Tommen Baratheon, worked hard to get people to miss Joffrey

           After we happily saw Joffrey die we never thought we would miss him.  But then this weak loser made it clear that removing Joffrey was such a mistake.  As bad as Joffrey was he would not have allowed his fear of violence, as he had none so long as he was in control, to prevent him from crushing a fanatical religious movement that ultimately kidnapped his brother -in-law, wife, and mother.  Stand by and do nothing while they are tortured and humiliated.  Nor would Joffrey had given in to said movement like Tommen even though it continued to harm those he cares for and put his mother in a desperate position.   When Cersei finally struck back it killed more people than would have died if King Tommen had just crushed them the moment the sparrows first tried to block his path.

          Best thing this loser ever did was throw himself out a window.

Yara Greyjoy
First claimed to be Queen: Season 6 Episode 5
Historically recognized: No
Yara Greyjoy hit her head on the iron glass ceiling

             When we first meet Yara we do not know who she is and Theon hits on her before being told she was his sister.  When he meets his father it is clear to Theon that Yara has replaced him as heir in his father’s eyes.  To earn it back Theon betrays the Starks and goes on a mission for his father that ends in his literal emasculation. 

             Theon returns to partial recovered and more mature chooses to support his sister’s claim, only to watch his sister hit the iron island glass ceiling.  Despite everything that happened the Ironborn were willing to have Theon as their leader over his sister, which means everything he went through was completely pointless!   When Theon throws his support to Yara their uncle Euron shows up, and despite him having murdered the previous leader, is elected ruler.

            Yara does eventually does get the Iron Islands.    However she does so not as an independent power but rather an agent of Queen Daenerys Targaryen and after her King Bran Stark.  So Yara goes down in history as the Lady of the Iron Islands not a queen.

Euron Greyjoy
First claimed to be King: Season 6 Episode 5
Historically recognized: No
Euron Greyjoy might have been the best Greyjoy but still a Greyjoy

            This is one is rather easy.  After taking control of the Iron Islands and proposing a possible marriage alliance with Cersei Lannister he could have possibly become a real king.  However the winners write history and Euron, like all the Greyjoys, was a loser.  Granted he was the most impressive member of his family and had some high moments but, like a Greyjoy, a failure in the end. 

Cersei Lannister
First claimed to be Queen: Season 6 Episode 10
Historically recognized: I don’t know maybe?
Queen Cersei was interesting to the end

             During the course of this series I often said that Cersei Lannister could be considered the greatest political player in the game of thrones if the world ended at the gates of Kings Landing.   Unfortunately for her Westeros was a continent.  

             Now Cersei is undoubtedly a queen consort as she was married to King Robert for number of years.  She played the role of queen mother for both Joffrey and Tommen.  Although she called herself “Queen Regent” that was a joke, she was never Regent over anyone seeing as Joffrey did whatever he wanted and Tommen did whatever other people wanted.   Now was she truly a Queen Regnant that is a queen who rules in her own right?

             Succeeding Tommen on the Iron Throne was somewhat questionable to begin with because I am not sure what lawful claim she had to it.  Also I am not sure how widely it was recognized.  After Tommen’s death Highgarden, Dorne, and the North were in full rebellion.  Daenerys controlled Dragonstone and also the Stormlands it would appear.  So it seems just the Crown Lands and Casterly Rock recognized Queen Cersei.  Eventually the Iron Islands when Euron came to town.  Jamie took Highgarden but they had to trade Casterly Rock, which may have been a good trade but then Daenerys took Highgarden right back.  Yara also took back the Iron Islands.  So where was Cersei queen but Kings Landing? 
  
Jon Snow
First claimed to be King: Season 6 Episode 10
Historically recognized: Yes
Jon Snow he really did no nothing including his own name

           Well we didn’t get to see Jon publicly recognize his lost heritage and become King Aegon VI of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.  However, as Jon Snow, he was proclaimed by his people to be the King in the North.  Granted it was a title he only held for a minute before bending the knee to Queen Daenerys, but with young sister/cousin becoming Queen in the end he will be recognized in the Northern Kingdom as one of their kings.  Also he might also now be King Beyond the Wall, again historical recognition for that may dependent on the Wildlings ability to read.

Sansa Stark
First claimed to be Queen: Season 8 Episode 6
Historically recognized: Yes
Sansa Stark, winner in the end

            Once upon a time Sansa was the one Stark I could not stand.  Yet watching grow from pawn to queen was one of the great arcs of the series.   I did think it was odd that the moment they made her brother king she decides that the North is seceding.  I would have thought the one thing to keep the North in their royal union would be Stark on melted throne.  But as Eddard Stark’s last son ascends Sansa says “we are out”?   However at the end of the series we see Sansa on her throne the established Queen in the North. 

Bran Stark
First claimed to be King: Season 8 Episode 6
Historically recognized: Yes
Brandon Stark Holy Roman Emperor, I mean King of the Six Kingdoms

          Who has a better story than Bran the Broken?  Someone whose story does not involve riding on the back of Hodor whose running through a forest as they search for a tree.  A story so exciting that it was left out of an entire season.  Which is okay is because know everything that happened to him that season. 

          "Hodor"
          "No, that is not the right tree."
          "Hodor"
           "No, that is not the right tree, either."
           "Hodor"
            "I know this is forest but we need the right tree not just any tree!" 

             I cannot think of another character whose storyline was more boring.  If given the choice between going over Bran’s story again or reading his uncle Edmure Tully’s autobiography A Search for Respect: One Lord’s Journey, with a forward written by the late Theon Greyjoy, I would learn more than I ever wanted to know about the Lord of the Riverlands.

             Brandon Stark AKA King Bran the Broken gets a reduced union of kingdoms, demoted from seven to six.  The broken king gets a broken nation when his own homeland shows it's faith by leaving.  Since we are told Bran cannot have children the remaining Kingdoms transform into a Westeros version of the Holy Roman Empire, with Bran as the first elected monarch.

HONORABLE MENTION
THE NIGHT KING
The Night King, I was hoping he would win

             He won’t count historically because I am quite certain zombies do not count their kings, despite that he grew his own crown.  However you do have to hand it this guy.  Think of all great moments the Night King had.  

The time where after defeating Jon Snow and the Wildlings on their retreat he takes all the enemy dead and raises them.  


The time where he took down a dragon with a single spear shot that he threw and later used that same dragon to bring down the Wall.  


The time where it looked like Daenerys was going to turn him into the Night Ashes but showed not only was he immune to fire but could stand in it and remain fully dressed.  (It was that last one that actually drove Queen Daenerys in sane.  Realizing that after all this time she did not have to go streaking though the fire was too much.  She burned Kings Landing just to see any clothing survived the onslaught and if so to make her into her new outfit.)


   

   It is true that he had terrible end but really who on show had a good one?



[i] Season 1 Reference.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

SOMEONE MIGHT WANT TO TELL TRUMP THAT A PARDON IS A CONFESSION

Recently Americans have been hearing rumors that President Trump may choose to pardon himself and if he does not pardon himself may pardon members of his family (say his oldest or his son-in-law) or friends (Michael Flynn).  This has triggered a debate in the media if a president could pardon himself and his family.  Or it was causing a debate until the President decided he would go harass transpeople who were trying to serve their county and thank the Boy Scouts of America for voting for him.   Now to if he has the power, I would actually say he does just because the President’s power of pardon is not limited in any way in the Constitution; and considering the Founding Fathers’ concern with checks and balances it is a surprising omission.    

However what Trump is probably not aware of, and how could he be with this lack of knowledge of the US Constitution; US Government; or US history, is that a pardon can be problematic for another reason.  A reason I first learned when reading Bob Woodward’s Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate.  That accepting a pardon is a kin to admitting guilt.  How so?  Read on. 

President Richard Nixon decided not to take a chance on pardoning himself and the inevitable Supreme Court challenge that would create.  Nixon did not have a lot of luck with Supreme Court challenges of late.  So he waited on a pardon from President Ford.   At the time Woodward was angry about the pardon, but over time came to the same conclusion as the historical consensus that the pardon was the right thing.  Nevertheless, he still had an objection to the execution of the pardon.  Woodward felt that Ford should have insisted on a public confession and apology from Nixon.  That may have actually quieted down the uproar that followed.   
Nixon thought about pardoning himself

President Ford pardoned Nixon because the issue had become a distraction and made it difficult for him to govern.  Ford knew Nixon would not accept a public shamming session so the show would go on if Ford chose the path that Woodward would have liked.  Ford did have one trick up his sleeve, or more so his pocket.  Ford carried around with him a copy of a Supreme Court decision from the time of Woodrow Wilson.  The decision was Burdick v. United States.  In this case poor Mr. Burdick was as a local editor was being squeezed by Federal prosecutors to reveal his source in leaked information from the Treasury department.  Mr. Burdick pleaded the fifth and refused to answer[1] on the grounds of protection from self-incrimination.   So the prosecutors contacted the White House and Mr. Burdick was handed a pardon by President Wilson.  Now he could longer plead the fifth.  Mr. Burdick still refused and the case went to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court ruled that Burdick did not have to testify because he had the right to reject the pardon.  Because a pardon was an act of forgiveness and by accepting a pardon he is in fact confessing to what he was being pardoned for.  His Fifth Amendment rights allowed him to refuse. 
Ford, by pardoning Nixon, got him to confess

Ford offered Nixon a pardon.  Nixon accepted the pardon.  Nixon had confessed, and that had satisfied Ford’s personal morals even if it did not win over the American public. 

If Donald Trump tries to pardon himself he is confessing to the world that he is a criminal. 

If Donald Trump Jr. accepts a pardon from his father he confessing to the need for a pardon and considering the content of his emails we know what the pardon is for.

If Jared Kushner accepts a pardon he is a crook just as big as his father. 

If Michael Flynn accepts a pardon then we can write the Russian Espionage case as a fact in the history books with Flynn being a modern day Alger Hiss.  The only question would be is the Republican controlled 115th Congress a group of integrity and character enough to do the right thing?  Or are they worthless weasels and we will have to wait for the 116th?

{Video is a clip from CNN}


[1] It is interesting he plead the fifth and not the first but these were different times. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

JOEY AND BOBBY EXPLORE TRUMP’S AMERICA


(I saw an internet meme similar to this and I thought I would expand on it. I tried to find it again but with all the election stuff going on it proved difficult.)

2014

Joey: I can’t believe Donald Trump is thinking about running for President.  What is our country coming to when men like him are having their names seriously considered?

Bobby: Joey, you worry too much man!  He said he was going to run both  2012 and way back in 2000. Nothing ever came of it.  He is just trying to promote viewers for his dippy TV show.  Have a little more faith in America.

2015

 Joey: He’s doing it, he is actually doing it! Donald Trump is running for the Republican nomination.  He even seems to have a large following.

Bobby: So we have a bunch of over excited Apprentice fans.  Trump is clown.  Did you see him in the debates when talking about his hands? He is an exposed fool and is going nowhere.

"Big Hands"

2016

Joey: This election is getting very tight.  He bombed the debates but he isn’t slowing down.  I was originally going to vote for Stein because I couldn’t vote for Sanders.  But I think I have to vote for Hilary now, I don’t want Trump.

Bobby: Look at the polls, Trump doesn’t stand a chance.  He is going to get his butt handed to him.  I refused to be scared to vote for a candidate that I don’t really like.  We need to vote our values, Trump won’t win anyway.  Look at the polls. 

Keeps talking even if it isn't his turn.

2018

Joey: I don’t like what’s going on here it’s like the President is in pissing contest with other world leaders.  In his last speech he says he’ll fire the nukes if he doesn’t get compliance.  President Trump said the he will fire the nukes!

Bobby: President Trump may be a jerk but he is not insane.  He is just talking tough.  Everyone knows how bad it would be if he were serious.  No one is nuking anyone.

Nukes

2025

Joey: I thought living under a nuclear winter was bad, barley any sunlight and always food shortages.   But now we have nuclear mutated talking giant lizards.  Those lizards are smart.  I can’t believe not only are we fighting for our existence but it looks like we may no longer be the top species on the planet!    

Bobby: Last we’re going to do is take orders from giant lizards who just learned to talk!  We’re humans we’ll get through this.  We may have messed up a lot of things but we’ll always have our freedom for this planet is ours!

2029

Joey: {crying}  
 
Bobby: Joey, lighten up.  I’m glad you got here early I need some help cheering everyone up.  Now listen guys there are a lot of nasty rumors floating around.  So I want to make some things very clear.  I know my Giant Lizard Master loves me.  As I am sure yours loves you.  They would never do anything to hurt us.  That is why they have a veterinarian for humans, to take care of us.  Now I know our Lizard overlords would never castrate us in order to keep our population under control.  That is not what a loving master does.  Our masters need there workers reproducing.  We have nothing to fear.  Joey you were the first one here this morning tell we have nothing to fear.

Joey: {cries harder} I should have voted for Hillary.
 
Your Lizard Master!


On Tuesday go out and vote for Hillary Clinton.  In doing this you will save humanity, and if your a guy, also your balls. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE DEBATE (TO ME)


As a reluctant supporter of Hillary Clinton, due to the fact that my preferred candidate never got in the race, I was very concerned going into Monday’s debate.  This is because I know Donald Trump was the more likable of the two.  This is part of what made him such successful media and ultimately reality TV personality.   It is this charisma that allows him to go on several racist rants, such as questioning a judge’s ability to be impartial because of Mexican ancestry or insulting gold star parents who lost their son, without the normal social consequences that would typically befall a candidate.   No matter what he says a good portion of his supporters brush it off like they would some random statement their crazy uncle made.  “He may be politically incorrect but at least his heart is in the right place.  He is not really racist he just says occasionally things that men of his generation say.”[1]   

                American presidential election history has shown when a more likable candidate goes against a person who perceived to be more experienced they have a built in advantage.  They don’t have to win the debate; all they have to do is look presidential and the voters will go with who they like.  Examples include Kennedy vs. Nixon in 1960 and Bush vs. Gore in 2000.  In both cases the more likable John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush were able to strengthen their candidacies against the incumbent Vice President, Richard Nixon and Al Gore[2].   In both years the incumbent party was coming off a popular presidency and they were expecting triumphant victory but what they got was a close race and the White House going to the challenger[3]

                So I was concerned that Donald Trump would follow this pattern.  Fortunately America ended up seeing the worst debate performance in presidential history, surpassing even 1976 when Gerald Ford seemingly forgot the Iron Curtain existed.   

                For me, the most important part of this debate was not Trump admitting he doesn’t pay taxes, his frequent interruptions of Clinton when it was her turn to speak, admitting he didn't pay taxes, or coming unhinged while claiming he had great temperament.  To me the issue was his birtherism, and how he is so proud of himself for creating enough noise in the media to get Obama to release his birth certificate. 

                The reason I find this so important because I remember it when it first happened.  Trump flew in down in one of this Trump helicopters stood in front of reporters and announced how deeply proud of himself that he had harassed the first African-American President to the point he had to show his papers.  Here is a video of that day.



                When this memory was triggered another memory immediately popped up.   Trump’s replaying his pompous pride of his birther roots brought back not only the memory of his foolish helicopter press conference, but a more pleasant memory of national nightmare ending when in less than a week after Trump’s prideful announcement  President Obama announced this:



                He was dead.  The number one of the United States of America in the 21st century, Osama Bin Laden was dead.  U.S. Seal Team 6, acting under the orders of the President, went into Pakistan and killed him.  Just as then-Senator Obama had promised to do during the 2008 campaign. 
Bin Laden

                So while Donald Trump was looking in Hawaii for a birth certificate for a man whose birth was announced in the local newspaper nine days after he was born, our President was hunting down the most horrific terrorist in U.S. history.  He wouldn’t stop with Bin Laden either.

So talk about priorities!  While Trump worked on his TV show and mounted a campaign saying one hurtful remark after another, President Obama was making America safe from its enemies by crippling the organization of al-Qaeda by killing off all its leaders.  It was quite an improvement over the previous president who vowed to bring them to justice but got lost in Iraq.  President Obama took the fight right to the enemies by, in his words, “using a scalpel not a hammer” to solve problems.
                
            Donald Trump was proud of himself for his work as birther, I however am proud of my President.

{Rule on comments any comment that doesn't directly refer this post will be deleted.}


[1] Those are the least scary of his supporters, the worst ones are those who hear his bigoted statements and get excited by them.
[2]  To be fair both Nixon and Gore also made serious errors in their respective debates.  Nixon refused to wear makeup not understanding how that would reflect on his appearance on television and Gore kept sighing and going on about his “lock box.”
[3] Although in Gore’s case he won the popular vote. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

ADAM (My Tribute to my Fallen Cousin)

                 

                  It is summer time in the very early 1990s; my sisters and I are spending the night at our Aunt and Uncle’s house in Bridgeton, Maine.  My cousin Heather and I are the same age (well she is a few months older but we were both born in 1981) and her brother Adam was born in 1986 right in-between my sisters Mia (1985) and Juliann (1987).  My sisters are staying in Heather’s room and I am staying in Adam’s.  Basically, Heather gets to see what it’s like to have little sisters, while I have opportunity to see what it would be like to have a little brother.  Which is great, we spent most of the day playing Ghostbusters and GI Joe, and the best part was he never asked if I wanted to play with Barbies.  As I lay there half way between being awake and asleep I hear his voice.

                “Jeremy.”  Adam calls to me.

                “What?” I ask.

                “I have to go the bathroom.”

                “Okay. Go.”

                “I can’t I am scared”

                “Why?”

                He didn’t answer so I said, “Okay come on.  I’ll show you there is nothing to be afraid of.”

                We get up and walk to the door in his room.  He looks out the door left and right. “Oh” he says. “I thought as soon as I walked out the door all the objects in the room would get up and start flying at me.”

                Now very much relieved, he heads downstairs by himself to the bathroom and am left in his room wondering what movie he watched that led him to believe this silly thing.  
The family in 1990. Adam and I are on the right next to our grandfather. Our fathers are in the center back in front of our mothers. 

***
                 It is now 1996, Adam and his family have come visit mine here in Windham.  One of the things we typically do during his visits is take my dog Rex, a springier-basset, on very long walks.  Normally, when by myself, I walk around the block with my dog two or three times.  However, when Adam comes over my dog gets excited because he knows we are not only going around our block but we'll also explore the next three neighborhoods as well.   Adam comes from a cat family so walking and interacting with a dog excited him a little more than most people. 

                During these walks we discuss all the interesting things a fifteen year old and ten year old would normally discuss.  Such as differences between middle school and elementary school or what TV show was popular that we both liked.  Adam was also into POGs that I feigned interest just to amuse him.  (I was trying to be a good older cousin.)  During this walk Rex was proudly marking his spot almost every two feet.  This led Adam to have a sudden observation.   

                “Jeremy, I have come to a conclusion.  I think dogs must be made of Ninety percent piss.”

                “Yeah, that’s about rate.” I responded. “At least Eighty-Five.” 
My boyhood dog Rex, whose desire to pee on everything during walks convinced Adam dogs were made mostly of urine. 

***
                It is 1998.  I am enjoying a Rotisserie chicken from Hannaford.  Adam is over with his father; Adam, who is a vegetarian, looks at what I am eating and says, “Hey Jeremy, are you enjoying your carcass?”

                “Yes.” I respond rather bluntly.

                He then went on a rant about the moral virtues of vegetarianism.  Adam also stated how he and his fellow vegetarians are discriminated against by society.

                “How?” I ask rather bluntly.

                “Well, yesterday at school we had hamburgers for lunch.  So I went up and asked ‘what is the vegetarian alternative?’  And do you know what they said?  They said, ‘chicken!’”

                I start to lose it laughing.

                “Hey, that is NOT funny.”

                “Yes it is.”
      ***
                In the summer of 1999 we are at the camp my family rents in Denmark, Maine.  Adam’s family has come over to spend a night with us.  My father has seen on multiple occasions big frogs consuming little frogs.  We decide this is something we want to see so we take the canoe out and paddle along the shore line to see if we can see it happen.  When this does not occur we decide to force the situation.  We capture a big frog and two little frogs and place them in the canoe with us.  We then paddle middle of the pond and stare at them waiting for nature to take its course.

                We learned some important things.  The first is that captivity and voyeurism don’t inspire cannibalism.  That was disappointing.  The second lesson was harder.  Since they weren’t going to eat each other we decided to test how long it would take them to get the shore. So we released the smallest one and tried to follow it. We quickly lost that frog so we tried the other small one.  While we were following it we made too sharp a turn and I still remember the look on Adam’s face as he, myself, and the big frog all went into the water.

                Panicking we pushed the canoe to the opposite shore line of camp.  We then tipped the boat to empty the water in it.  I looked out and saw our paddles floating so I swam out to get them.  Once we got the water out and made sure we had all the life jackets we headed back.  At Adam's suggestion we should apologize to our parents for what happened so they wouldn't be angry and prohibit us from going in the future.  We found our fathers sitting on the porch and we did as Adam suggested. Their response was simply to laugh themselves stupid.    
  
                The next day Adam said to me, “Jeremy, last night I had a strange dream.”

                “About what?” I asked.

                “We were in the canoe and..”

                “Tipped the boat, yeah that was real.”

                “Not that.  What happened was we were in the canoe out on the middle of the pond and giant frog emerged from the water.  He said he was going to eat us for our crimes against frogs.”

                “Did we get eaten?”

                “No, it said before it ate us it wanted to have its favorite snack: little frogs.  He wanted to know if we had any and I pointed him in the right direction.  He turned to find some and we hurried back to the camp.”

Adam and I at Christmas with Nana

       ***
                It’s July 4, 2001. Most of the family is at Nana and Papa Perron’s place having 4th of July meal of steak and corn on the cob.  Adam’s just having corn on the cob and a veggie burger.  As it turns to evening we want to go see fireworks, rest of the family are hesitant because it might rain.  But at this point in my life I have a license and a car, Adam and I took my 1985 Chevrolet Caprice all the way to Naples for the fireworks show along the Songo River.  And rain it did!  In fact it started to storm, the fireworks were cut short and people started to leave.  But Adam and I decided it would be good fun to run out to the dock screaming at the storm like Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump

                Then things got kind of weird.  It started to hail in the middle of July.  One piece of hail hit Adam so hard it broke the rim of his glasses.  We decided the storm won and we retreated to my car. When we got in I turned the heat on, something I have never done in July before or since.  As we headed home I lost my focus and forgot to turn my high-beams off at points when I should have.

                “Jeremy you just beamed that guy.”

                “That’s okay Adam.  The guy before beamed me and that makes it even.”

                “I don’t think that’s the way it works.  In fact Jeremy, you have an awfully odd way at looking at the world. Do you think there is a world committee tracking you and keeping score? Jeremy vs. the World, the score 1-1. ”  
Oct 2001 cousins photo: Adam's in the front, I'm in the back, and we're separated by our sisters.

       ***
                It is June of 2003.  Our uncle Peter Perron, our fathers’ brother, had been killed in car accident and we’re at his funeral sitting there in the middle row of the seats.  The service hasn’t started yet, and our parents are at front discussing it.  We are wondering what will come of our aunt and how she will cope with this.  Peter had been full of life and we are overcome by the suddenness of death.  
Our Uncle Peter Perron who we lost in 2003

     ***
                It’s 2008.  Adam is no longer a vegetarian.  Since High School, he fell in love with a farm girl named Beth.  I affectionately nickname her the “Chicken Killer” since her family raised their own live stock.  Adam’s favorite food now is a good steak and he has a hunting license.  We’re both still nerds but I am history buff while he is a science geek.   This is great because we are both experts that can educated the other one.  I tell him things, he tells me things, and we both learn a lot from each other.  On Christmas he gives the book “A Short History of Nearly Everything*” That I have reviewed for this blog.
***
The Family as it was Easter 2010 (You can see my head poking up in the very back behind my mother.  Adam is to the left of me and his wife Beth is right in front of him.
                It’s July 31st, 2010.  Adam and Beth are getting married.  I tried to tell them to do it February 27th.  That is my sister’s birthday; two weeks ago Mia married her husband Francis on Adam's birthday (July 17th) exactly.  Mia became vegetarian like Adam use to be and had vegetarian wedding.  The food was not pleasing to me.  Fortunately the Chicken Killer’s family didn’t let me down.  They made plenty and lots of left overs. I was eating steak and chicken all day!
       ***
                It’s 2012; I lend Adam and Beth my Deadwood DVD collection to give us something more to talk about.  They watched in record time and like me hated the ending, but loved the series.
       ***
                It’s 2013 New Years.  I am with Francis and Mia as a guest at Beth and Adam’s.  We spend the night playing the Settlers of Catan.  Beth is very good at this game.  Seriously good, if there a professional Settlers of Catan League she would be their Tom Brady.  One of their dogs (they have two dogs now) ate one of my red roads.  This causes my brother in law to lose his mind. (Francis is a very serious Catan player, but not as good as Beth) Adam then makes a new red road out of match stick. It is now the favored piece in that Catan set.   
        ***
                It’s September of 2014.  Adam and Beth now have a daughter.  Abigail Katherine Perron was born on September 6.  I came up to see them a week after and I brought Pizza so they wouldn’t have to make dinner.  I met the baby and I was the first of their extended family to come visit.  When I arrived I was first greeted by their two dogs. I asked Adam when it clicked emotionally he told me this:

                “I felt an emotional bond immediately.  However, the moment I felt profound change is when we brought her home and closed the door and at that moment I knew my life had now changed and this was going to be my new reality.”
        ***
                While my own career in Education had fizzled out I was proud that he was able to become a successful teacher at Lake Region Middle School.

                Then on April 20, 2016 a horrible thing happened.  This time things did go flying at him as a box truck slammed into his car.  The only good thing—if there can be—, unlike when he was a child, he wasn’t scared.  He couldn’t be, there was not enough time.  It didn’t matter, the damage was done and he was gone.

                I was at their house the day before yesterday.  His daughter was napping; when she woke she was upset.  Her mother brought her out and there was a crowd of people, Abby looked around the crowd but the person she was looking for wasn’t there.  For he is gone.

                In coming weeks, the local police will try to put together exactly why the truck turned the way it did.  As I go to his funeral today no doubt there will be people there looking find some sort of meaning to why he died.  But I won’t and I hope most won’t either.  For there is no meaning in death, it just is.  I read a lot of biographies and that is the way the story always ends.  Our meaning is in life.  It is what we do with our time that matters.  Adam’s life was cut short before he could complete three decades but not a moment was wasted.  I can’t say that about most people, especially myself.

Rest-in-peace, dear cousin.