June 22, 2022
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Rags and Bones

by Jonathan Wallace jw@bway.net

As a very occasional exercise in trivial fun barely worth mentioning (I am a Nerd), all of this month's topics are taken from one issue of the New York Times,Saturday, June 11, 2022.

President Ramaphosa

This one is truly amusing, the Ethical Spectacle of the Month. South Africa's President accumulated six or eight million dollars in bribes, which he hid in furniture in his home. A domestic employee spotted the money, recruited a team, burgled the house and stole it. Ramaphosa could not officially announce what had happened or ask the police to look into it, but had a security official run a private investigation which captured the burglars. The only extraordinary piece of this story is that they were bribed rather than executed-- South Africa is not that murderous a kleptocracy yet, apparently, or, more likely, this particular crime was too high profile and too close to the president to permit the killings that would likely have ensued otherwise. The Moral of the Story is that Nelson Mandela's long walk to to freedom has come to Nothing, as Gorbachev's Glasnost did. Yeats sang: "The beggars change places, but the lash goes on".


If I have any intelligence, it is a Connection-Making one. Here is a conection which leapt from the newspaper's pages and hung burning in air. On page 7 is an article, "'Our concentration camp'", about Russian soldiers locking Ukrainian civilians in an airless basement for a month, the youngest a baby and the oldest a 93 year old. A tiny hole in the wall admitted air; everyone shared a bucket as a bathroom. People died and their bodies were not removed for days: "[J]ust next to the corpses, we were boiling the water that we drank".

The other article is on page A9: "[C]ountries that have declared themselves neutral in the conflict includ[e]...Israel".

Stonewall Jackson

The battle to restore the name of a Virginia high school is emblematic of several things. One is our self delusion on the left, our constant unfounded optimism about cultural shifts which then are reversed as little as three or four years later. General Jackson, after all, fought for a murderous kleptocracy, and therefore it doesn't matter if he was personally a Walter Scottian hero of chivalry, nice to his friends or his canary, any more than it matters whether Martin Bormann was. All the things we thought we had gained since 2008, including trans rights, Me Too, Black Lives Matter, and decreasing police funding, are being erased in a wave of murderous kleptocratic fury. The other Punchline I will never tire of repeating: we do not belong in the same country with those people. There is no bridge.

Carl Paladino

....Is a New York Republican running for Congress, a former gubernatorial candidate who once said on the radio that Hitler is "the kind of leader we need today". 1976, right, when he was barely out of his teens and had no idea? No, he said it last year. MAGA Republican Elyse Stefanik, no. 3 in the House hierarchy, supports him. Its Hell in a Handbasket.