Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How to save the Confederate statues

Dear People Who Think Removing the Lee Statue in Charlottesville is Erasing History in the Name of Political Correctness,

Fine. Let's keep the statue. But let's also help it do a better job of teaching history. As it is, it's really, really awful at doing that. I mean, even you have to admit that. It's Robert E. Lee in a uniform on a horse. With his name on the pedestal. Not even a tendentious, florid Daughters of the Confederacy inscription. The statue itself has no intrinsic historic value. It only dates from the 1920's. Nostalgia, I'll grant. Just don't call it history.

But I hear you. I love history. I believe in the value of history. I think the history of the Confederacy is readily, fully, and completely available to anyone in the world in America's libraries and museums -- not to mention on the manicured battlefields so lovingly maintained for both Union and Confederate by none other than Uncle Sam, including as many statues of General Lee as anyone with a sound mind could reasonably want.

All these books and exhibits and Little Round Tops and Missionary Ridges give you what the Lee statue in Charlottesville lacks completely, and which history requires: context. Without it the past cannot be revivified in any meaningful way. There is no history without it. No history can provide it all, but all history must provide some.

The Lee statue, as it is, is worthless as history. However, that does not mean it cannot be saved by being rendered into a more contextual, meaningful installation. Here are a couple of ideas:

1. Submerge the statue in an aquarium and surround it with a ring of shackled slaves. (Yes, this rips off another statue, just like a general on a horse rips off a thousand other statues since the days of ancient Rome.) Robert E. Lee betrayed his pledge to the nation he served as a soldier in order to establish a nation founded on African slavery, which was a centuries-long hecatomb for Africans and Americans of African descent--as was the war that Lee's rash betrayal abetted.



2. Surround the statue with diaphanous screens showing 1. the names of the slaves of the Custis estate whose enslavement was unnecessarily extended by Lee's execution of the Custis will and 2. a picture of recently freed slaves freed by the war and living on the grounds of Arlington, the Custis-Lee estate.



Something along these lines would help alleviate the currently abysmal showing of the Lee statue as a purveyor of anything historically meaningful.




Sunday, August 13, 2017

Capo Trump's gangland code

Once again the Tweeter in Chief has bared his soul by something he didn't tweet. Where was the condemnation of the neo-Nazis of Charlottesville? He couldn't do it. He has a gangster's animal sense of loyalty, and the fascists, after all, supported and voted for him. Moreover, he would be unable to abjure their chant "blood and soil" because it exposes the ideology behind "Make America Great Again": Trump understands the United States of America to be a nation of land and certain acceptable types of people (i.e. non-Muslims). In other words, it is not a nation of laws. I doubt that he could define the United States if asked to do so in a debate. And please don't give him the answer, Donna Brazile.

Monday, August 7, 2017

I'm fisking a hole where the little green footballs get in

Dana Loesch and NRATV refreshed their offensive against the NYT on August 3 by tweeting a clip extracted from a longer April video. The clip became controversial because of Loesch's use of the arcane word "fisk"--which people (including NYT reporter Adam Goldman) heard as "fist"--as something the NRA was going to do to the NYT. The tweet and the clip seem to have been removed, but the original can still be seen (e.g. in the body of this article describing the whole dustup).


Full disclosure: I'm hearing impaired, so don't ask me what she actually says. It sounds like "fix" to me. The full version from April has closed captions, which say "Fisk," with a capital "f," giving a nod to the name that negatively inspired this eponym, that of British journalist Robert Fisk, something about whose writing prompted bloggers to reach for new heights of scathing rebuttal.

The best definition I could find is preserved in the Internet FAQ Archives:
fiskingn.
[blogosphere; very common] A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or handwaving is considered poor form. Named after Robert Fisk, a British journalist who was a frequent (and deserving) early target of such treatment.
Unsurprisingly, Loesch's supporters on Twitter enjoyed taunting her critics for their ignorance of the word, but their prescription seemed a bit off: "read a book maybe." I read lots of books, and it was a new word to me. It was also a new word to the six very literate members of my family (one Silent Generation, two boomers, three millennials)--five masters degrees and a juris doctor--who talked about this with me the other night. Five out of the six are big book readers, and the sixth reads widely online. The term was born on the Internet; it isn't too long a bet to say that it only exists there, and not at all in books.

Some things from the early 21st century blogger argot entered general use; many did not. Tracking the roots of "Fisk," I located a legacy document that lists and categorizes locutions popularized by the website Little Green Footballs. It is revealing to examine: many of the ones that originated outside it are very familiar to me--asshat, Islamofascism, LOL/ROFLMAO/STFU, etc.--whereas I knew none of the ones that originated or potentially originated (like "Fisking") within this community.

But after all, as Dana Loesch the proud pajamarine would like the whole world to know, the NYT is just the moonstream media not to be distinguished from the Krazy Kos Kidz, a bunch of blue-diaper demonrats whose LLL just serves the interests of the Aloha Snackbars and the splodydopes and the Koranimals.

"What u haven't heard those words before? read a book maybe."






Monday, July 24, 2017

Trump's rendezvous with Destiny

The French ambassador visits President Trump at the White House:

Good morning, Mr. President.

Good morning, Mr. Ambassador. Where's Destiny?

She couldn't make it today, sir. She's with another client.

A shame. I always look forward to her visits.

Yes, sir, I know you do. In fact, she's what I need to talk to you about.

Destiny? Is there something wrong?

Well, you see, sir, it appears that her grasp of French history is a little, shall I say, tenuous?

Why do you say that?

Well, how shall I put this ... so, I'm sure you recall your recent visit to Paris?

How could I forget! Bada-bing! Bada-boom! Bada-Bastille Day! Destiny told me all about how you French say that! I tried it out on Emmanuel while he was holding my hand. He pretended to know nothing about it! Funny man!

Yes, in fact, monsieur le président did mention that.

Did Emmanuel tell you that I attracted the largest crowd ever to the Eiffel Tower? I mentioned that in the interview with The Failing New York Times. Not even they could spin that!

Right you are! More people than had ever come to see a six-month American president eat dinner on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower with a French president who has been in office only nine weeks! It was indeed a unique occasion in our history! Which brings me back to what I need to talk to you about. Destiny, you see ...

She's such a good teacher! I mean, did you notice in the interview with The Failing Times that I knew all about Napoleon? People might have thought that Emmanuel told me that stuff, but I guess it's okay to tell you that when we went to the tomb, I just kind of tuned out, you know? I mean, Emmanuel's a sweet man and everything, but his American accent needs a little work, plus I'd gone a whole day without a hamburger. So when I was talking to The Failing, I just fell back on what Destiny had told me.

Yes, well, Mr. President, monsieur le président felt a bit of responsibility at having appeared to have given you a version of French history that was a bit, er, condensed and, um, elliptical?

I'm not sure I follow. I never said anything about an exercise bike.

No, no, no, to be sure! It's just that--to cut to the chase, as your American filmic argot has it-- Napoleon didn't leave for a one-night stand and come back the next day to find his army flash-frozen on the Russian steppe.

No? Look, he was a military guy like me, though, wasn't he? I mean, I was a draft-dodger five times for Vietnam, but now I've got the military and the vets eating out of my hand, so I'm right up there with Napoleon! Might as well accept it on Russia: I'm right and you're wrong. It's like that in Russia. In the winter in Russia you can take a piss and it freezes before it hits my face. Pissicles, is what Destiny says they're called. The French army left so many of them. They turned away from the fire to take a leak and their front sides froze while their back sides got grilled. Kinda funny to think about. And so true!

Of course, Mr. President. But did you also know that Napoleon did not design the avenues of Paris? His nephew, Napoleon the Third, had something to do with that, but not Napoleon the Great.

Nope, nope, nope. You're just playing me for a fool, Mr. Ambassador. It was Napoleon's idea, which he passed along through Junior, who passed it along to Three. And did you know about Napoleon that, after fooling the English that he had died in the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, he was frozen and secretly shipped to Baltimore, where he is alive and pretending to be a Democrat and fraudulently voting hundreds of thousands of times all by himself. I've heard he and Peter Thiel are best friends and share cryologists.

Let me guess: Destiny told you that?

You're smarter than you look, Mr. Ambassador! I couldn't have asked for a better French teacher! And it was such a surprise for Melania the other night when I finally tried it out on her. Melania, of course, knows French. I've been wanting to surprise her, which of course is why you've been sending me Destiny. Anyway, I asked Melania for a kiss--in French--and she lit a candle and tried to burn my testicles. I was wanting to ask Destiny about that when she came today, but I guess it will have to wait.

Mr. President, please! You need to know that Destiny is teaching you bogus French history on purpose, and the language you are learning isn't French. Destiny turns out to be an Iranian agent, and she's teaching you Persian.

Thank goodness! And I thought it was just my bad accent! Really, now, Mr. Ambassador, you surely don't think that I didn't know the truth about Destiny? Not only is she Iranian, but she's also working for Putin, except when she's working for me, so that her dear grandmother will be able to get a visa to come to America. She's a moth to a flame, Mr. Ambassador: Destiny is a moth, and America is the flame. History? The past? It's an irrelevant foreign country with a dead language, which nobody, not even The Failing New York Times, seems to understand. Why do you think Napoleon wants to live in Baltimore and commit voter fraud in between kale smoothie lunches with Peter Thiel?

Do you really want to know, Mr. President, or are you just being rhetorical?

Well, Mr. Ambassador, I already know everything, even the things I don't know, so I guess it's as you say: I'm just being rotorical. Everything that goes around comes around.


 


















Monday, July 17, 2017

The White House Librarian Visits the Oval Office: A Fable Within a Fable

The White House Librarian knocks on the door of the Oval Office.

"Not now! I'm tweeting!" comes a presidential voice from within.

"Mr. President! I have a book for you to read!" says the White House Librarian.

"A book? I don't read books! Go away, whoever you are!" answers the presidential voice.

"I'm the White House Librarian," says the White House Librarian.

"There's no such thing! That's fake news! Go away!" commands the presidential voice.

"But, Mr. President, this is from Fox News!" says the White House Librarian.

The door flies open. "Fox News?" President Trump, appearing presidential, demands clarification.

"Well, sort of," hems the White House Librarian. "It's a book of fables by Aesop. There's a bit about a fox in here that might be of some use."

"Fables?! What are you, some kind of nut?! Even if I did read, I wouldn't read made-up crap that's written for kids," spits the President in the most presidential of sarcastic tones with a healthy, dripping dollop of entitled, plutocratic scorn.

"Ah, well, Mr. President, that's just it!" says the White House Librarian optimistically. "They were originally written for adults! To provide guidance on important ethical subjects!"

"Ethical subjects? Look, smartass," snarls the President as only a President can, "if I ever develop a taste for ethics, you'll be the first to know, I promise you that. Now get out of here!"

"Please, Mr. President? Maybe if not for you, then at least for Junior?" pleads the White House Librarian. "Him being such a good boy and all, he might have some interest. It's the story of a fox who tries to talk a hen down out of a tree by saying that their families have decided to bury their differences and live together in amity, and won't the hen come down so the fox can embrace his new friend? The hen replies, 'Don't I hear dogs?' which makes the fox--deathly afraid of dogs--run away."


The President stares steely at the White House Librarian with a made-in-the-USA steely stare. "Look, I don't know who you are, but if you ever come around again and try to convince me that I can be friends with a chicken Democrat, I will personally see to it that you turn up in a Clinton body bag, am I understood?"

"B-b-b-but," stammers the White House Librarian, "I'm afraid you've confounded the moral of the story!"

"Don't talk to me about morals! Look, you soft-boiled egghead, there's just one moral around here, and that's ME!" The door to the Oval Office slams with a presidential slam that resounds all the way to CNN.

The White House Librarian walks away dejectedly, regretting the lost opportunity of being able to follow the money by charging a million dollars per hour in overdue fines to the most presidential of 2020 campaigns.

The moral of the story is: 398.2452, or, if you're a liberal deep-state bureaucrat, PZ8.2.A254.





Monday, July 10, 2017

Coup de tata: The Trumpnosis

So, how're you feeling now, Mr. President? Pretty mellow, huh? Those gummy bears were pretty yummy, weren't they? And pretty funny too! That's the cannabis indica kicking in, which ... hahaha it does sound funny, doesn't it, Mr. President? You might not want to let on to Mr. Sessions about those words. It would put him in a bad mood and make him hard to deal with, and I know you don't like that.

"Pretty Boy"? Is that who I'm going to be, Mr. President? Okay, not a problem. I've been called worse.

So I thought maybe now that you're chilled out we'd play a little game where I give you a few instructions and you just do what I say. You good with that? Haha, yeah, I know, it's usually you giving the orders! That's what makes this so funny, you know? Pretty Boy is going to tell Mr. President what to do.

Don't worry about Ivanka and Mr. Bannon. I just put a little something in their drinks to help them with a nap. How hard they're working! A much-needed rest for them!

Who am I anyway? I'm Pretty Boy! You decided that yourself, Mr. President! I'm just a friend of Ivanka's. I introduced her to my new line of bathrobes last year. She thought they were fabulous, of course, because they are fabulous, but then I told her that I wanted to open a factory in Tennessee where Americans can make them and then sell them to the North Koreans for all kinds of money. I know! It is hilarious! She thought I was joking too, but I wasn't! I was serious! I am serious! I told her I wanted to meet you, and she said, "Are you serious?" And I said, "Me, serious? I'm always serious! Do you have any idea what a boost your dad could give to my bathrobe factory?" And she just said, "Sure, Pierre, you can come meet him. He will love you! And you will love him!"

Have I been vetted? Oh, extremely vetted! By Ivanka herself! She was so extreme that it made me vet the bed! Get it? No, you don't get it. You're just hooting and rolling on the floor remembering those Russian hookers, you naughty boy! I bet they did vet the bed! And yes, "Putin" does sort of sound like "pooting." So is your book about him going to be "Fart of the Deal"? Sorry, sorry, c'mon, c'mon sir, get up off the floor. Yes it was very hilarious, just not that much. And no, Pretty Boy doesn't want to meet Bad Vlad. Not unless he will endorse my line of bongs called "Vlad the Inhaler." Oh no, no, no, please Mr. President, it wasn't that funny and you're too heavy for me to be trying to pick you up. Come on, now, Mr. President. Get up off the floor. Please. Yes, Mr. President and Pretty Boy are having a good time, and Ivanka and Mr. Bannon are taking a good nap. Here, have some water. Those gummies dry you out, don't they?

Nepotism is so cool, isn't it, Mr. President? Ivanka is so nice, and she's such a weak link! Haha, you're right: she just let me sashay right in here, in my bathrobe. Which, remember, Mr. President, I want Americans to make to be sold to North Koreans! As Mr. Perry says, just make the supply, and the demand will follow! It's "not-rocket" science! Get it? Air quotes? "Not-rocket" science?

Okay, so not that funny. Off we go then! You're back at your desk and you do look presidential, I must say. And thank you, sir; I'm glad you think I'm pretty for a guy, but really I think it's those gummy bears talking. So why not let me do some talking here. You just take a comfortable position. Put yourself where you feel comfortable. Put yourself on a Trump trademark all-rights-reserved golf course. Focus on the mellowness that you feel inside your head. Inside your head. The floating. The golf ball in the water hazard. Float float float all by itself all the way through the water over to the green, now over to the hole. You are the ball. A self-actualized golf ball. You have floated through the water and over the green and are at the lip of the cup and you ease yourself over and are now going down down down the 18th hole that by your self-actualization you've just birdied and helped Mr. President beat his handicap. Down down down and down. It is so dark, but you are not afraid. You don't have to do anything. You are already perfect, amazing, and wonderful. All you have to do is open your eyes and see through the darkness.

What you are seeing is Western Civilization, Mr. President. You are seeing what it actually, really is. Those are ancient Greeks, Mr. President, those are Roman republicans, Renaissance Italians, they are Enlightenment Brits and Americans, and what are they doing? Right! Nothing! They're doing nothing. Well, actually, they're thinking. It just looks like they're doing nothing! Funny how that works, isn't it, sir? How can nothing actually be something? Well, there are these invisible things called ideas that all these people have in their heads and now they're looking at you because they're sure you want to have the same thing in your head, which you do, don't you, Mr. President?

See that look on their faces? That says, "the conscience of the individual is inviolate." And look, that one says, "the conscience of the individual is free." Oooh, and how about "government by the governed, laws by the legislated." But this one is my favorite: "the commonality of citizenship." All those looks. Looking at you, Mr. President. Knowing how deeply you agree.

And more! How cautionary they are! Look, some biggies: "Western civilization is not Western culture." "Western civilization is not capitalism." Look at this: "Western civilization is not Christianity, which shapes the entire world even as it transcends it." Wow, that didn't jostle your state of unmind. I'm impressed, Mr. President. All those looks. Looking at you. Knowing how deeply you agree: "Mind the gaps."

That's the stream, Mr. President, so now we can take it back, and back, and back, back up the hole, back across the green, streaming back into the water, back through the water, up out of the water, streaming back through the air, back back back to WHACK! Good drive, Mr. President!


Welcome back! Who am I? I'm Pretty Boy, remember? With the bathrobes for the North Koreans? Vetted by Ivanka? Say what? Wake up Mr. Bannon? Why? You want to get McConnell and Schumer and Ryan and Pelosi in the room right now? What? Fire the kids? What, you mean Ivanka and Eric and Don, Jr.? Legislation to make voting universal and safe from meddling? A commission to promote need-based and merit-based immigration, regardless of religion or ethnicity? Legal recognition of the value added by labor? Standing down the standing army and the militarized police and replacing it with a citizen militia of all adults?

Say what? How many shopping days 'til Merry Christmas? Oh well, can't win 'em all.

But what about legal cannabis gummies, Mr. President? What? What? You need to ask Mr. Sessions? Noooooo!










Sunday, July 2, 2017

John Adams melts oligarchy on game show

[Opening titles roll with soundtrack playing Grand Funk Railroad's We're an American Band]

"Welcome to Well Actually, the show that melts clichés! I'm your host, Alix Q'beck, sitting next to my trusty melting pot, all ready to melt some clichés! And here with me to fuel the pot with some particuarly leaden ideés reçues well deserving of being returned to a fluid state is John Adams, the second President of the United States, the Founder whose face never made it onto any currency! Welcome, John!"


"Thank you, Alix! I could say I'm happy to be here, but, as an empty platitude, that wouldn't get things off on the right ... " [Buzzer sounds]

"Ah, John, were you going to say 'foot?'"

"Well actually I was just trying to strike the right ..." [Buzzer sounds]

"'Tone'! Way to go, John! That's twice right out of the ... " [Buzzer sounds]

"You were going to say 'gate,' weren't you, Alix! Two can play this ... " [Buzzer sounds]

"'Game?' John? Well actually, not like that you can't. Hahaha! So here we are already with three wonderful clichés ready for the pot. [Sound of conveyor belt rollers] And here they are. [Q'beck holds up three lead-type blocks spelling out the three buzzed phrases and shows them briefly before dropping them into a pot.] What might I say now, John, as they start to melt?"

"I don't know, Alix. Care to give me a clue?"

"The Scottish Play?"

"Keep going."

"Witches?"

"Oh! Macbeth! 'Bubble bubble toil and trouble!'" [Buzzer sounds]

"That's it, John! Shakespeare is such a wonderful source of clichés!"

"Right, Alix, but you know, thereby hangs a tale. [Buzzer sounds] Hey wait, there's a method in my madness! [Buzzer sounds] Come on, now, this is setting my teeth on edge." [Buzzer sounds]

"Wow! John Adams! A trifecta of Shakespearean clichés!"

"What?"

"Those three phrases you just spoke: all were from Shakespeare!"

"Well actually, I did it completely by accident. I'm trying to move the show along to something a little more substantial."

"Oh, you mean like clichés from the Bible?"

"Well actually, I'd like to talk about ideas that have become clichés. It's one thing to use hackneyed, overworked expressions that have lost their metaphorical meaning, but it's quite another to think ideas just because you've inherited them, especially when they're wrong."

"Give us an example."

"Let me try one out on you, Alix. I meet a lot of USA people in the Aftershave who think they know the difference between a republic and a democracy. Can you tell me what the difference is?"

"A democracy is when you make laws by direct vote. A republic is when you elect representatives to make laws. So the USA is a republic, not a democracy."

"Well actually, Alix, that isn't the case--at least not the way we used those words back when we got the ball rolling. [Buzzer sounds] Oh please, may I continue? In the year before the U. S. Constitution was drafted I wrote a study of all the constitutions there had ever been. One of my sources was an Italian named Portenari, who took the usual three types of government--monarchy, aristocracy, and republic--and elaborated them into three good types that were countered by three bad types. Thus the good form of monarchy is countered by tyranny; the good form of aristocracy is countered by oligarchy; and the good form of republic is countered by democracy. A republic no less than a democracy is, to use his words, 'the dominion of the multitude, composed of all sorts of citizens, rich and poor, nobles and plebeians, wise and foolish.' When all the people work together so that everyone has what is necessary to live well and happily, that is a republic. When any group is able to pervert popular government to its own purposes so as to oppress another group, that is democracy."

"With all due respect, John, nobody thinks that now."

"Because a clichéd idea replaced the actual, true one. Have you ever heard the saying 'Bad money drives out good'?" [Buzzer starts to sound, but stops after a blip] Yes, right, thank you, not a cliché, but a fact. The same is true with ideas. Here's another one: I understand in my 2016 conversations in the Aftershave with such luminaries as Glenn Frey, Paul Kanter, Maurice White, Merle Haggard, and Prince that the USA is now an oligarchy. Is that what you would say?"

"I would say that, yes, the USA is an oligarchy ruled by entertainment celebrities and paid political lobbyists."

"Well actually, Alix, thank you for obliging me with your clichéd thinking."

"Dammit, John, why couldn't you say, 'thank you for stepping into the trap.'?" [Buzzer sounds]

"That bleeding buzzer's why! And, well actually, I expected you to say, 'A lot of people say that, but I've never really examined the subject.' So I have to admit that you're a bit of a lazy thinker, Alix, which is okay, because most people are. Par for the course. [Buzzer sounds] We're really getting the lead out here, aren't we? [Buzzer sounds].

"Anyway, Alix, to explain: it's really quite simple. If oligarchy is the bad form of aristocracy, as Portenari avers, that can't be the US, now can it? What the US is actually experiencing right now, given the definitions above, is that it is becoming a democracy of the wealthy: the wealthy are using the popular will to oppress the poor and middling sort. They are not acting like good republicans--working for the good of all--but are using the popular vote to aggrandize the rich at the expense of everyone else. What is surprising about this is that we--meaning my fellow Founders--only thought the vilest vulgar poor would be capable of this, but now we are seeing the vilest vulgar rich do it!"

"John, I must say: no one in the 21st century will understand things this way."

"Well actually I think they will, once we've melted the cliché. Especially since the imputation that the US is an oligarchy is nothing new. John Locke himself, who had a more benign view of oligarchy than Portenari, might have looked at the form the Federal government took and called it thus. The British radical Cobbett railed against America as an oligarchy of lawyers in 1802: "oppression such as despotism never dreamt of, to all which the people submit like spaniels," I think his words were. Ah, the cliché that could have been! Even in the US, senators early on felt that allowing Federal judges to remain on the bench except for malfeasance--that is, not subject to removal by Congress--created an oligarchy. But all those unsystematic opinions don't make it a fact."

"The Aftershave certainly has not mellowed you, John!"

"Ah, but it is astringent, Alix! It is indeed good not to shrink from death, because death certainly will shrink you! Haha!"

"If only we could buzz that one! Wouldn't you say, though, that the ability of a small number to enact public policies that diverge from the opinions of the majority, as divined in surveys and polls?"

"Well actually I would say that the reality of voting and actual, organized political effort should be preferred to the fantasy of surveys and polls. What you are seeing is a symptom of the disease of democracy that the republic appears to be succumbing to. I noticed in my study of constitutions that basing a government on broad public participation has certain, er, pathological tendencies. In San Marino, for example, where the constitution required citizens to attend the law-making assembly or pay a penalty, it developed that many preferred to pay the penalty rather than attend. Allow me to quote myself: 'A general or too common disinclination to attend leaves room for persons and parties more active to carry points by faction and intrigue, which the majority, if all were present, would not approve.' What people are calling an oligarchy is actually a tendency within a republic to, shall we say, shoot itself in the foot." [Buzzer sounds]

"Which causes it to bleed to death?"

"Well actually, Alix, I'd say the republic stanches the flow of blood by wrapping its foot in a filthy rag. It then develops gangrene: the skin changes from red to brown to black, pus-filled blisters form, a fever comes on, and crackling comes from the affected area when you press it. When that happens, you can pretty well bet that your poor little republic has come down with democracy. And in the 21st century it appears to be a democracy of the vulgar rich."

"Crackling? Do you hear crackling now, John?"

"Oh, very clearly, Alix. Mostly on Independence Day."

"You mean July 4th?"

"Well actually, Alix, it's supposed to be July 2, when the Memorable Epocha was actually achieved. Back then I called for it to be celebrated with shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, but now I'm not so sure. Now all I can think of is those poor, frightened dogs cowering in the basement and barking in fear like the world is coming to an end as the benighted vulgar delight in the sound of exploding gunpowder without a thought to the duties that every one of us, as individuals, owes to the commonwealth, among which are civic participation through informed voting, jury duty, and service in the citizen militia."

[Alix laughs uproariously] "A citizen militia? In the 21st century? You are a relic, John Adams! Besides, July 4th is all about being free!"

"Well actually, Alix, as I've tried to demonstrate, freedom isn't free. [Buzzer sounds again and again and again] Freedom isn't even freedom unless everybody pays."

"Very good, John! We've generated a bunch of clichés today on Well Actually! Time for the final meltdown! [Sound of conveyor belt rollers; Q'Beck drops lead stereotype into a pot; sound of bubbling; Q'Beck pours melted lead into bullet molds; Adams freshens himself with aftershave; closing titles roll with soundtrack playing Grand Funk Railroad's We're an American Band.]