I never got a chance to write the Wednesday warm-up, cool-down, or whatever it was going to be called yesterday, so I don’t know what this is. Something. A lot is rattling around what I laughingly call me mind, which is one reason I had trouble sleeping, I guess.
One thing I wanted to mention about yesterday, perhaps because I’m still thinking about Alexander Hamilton’s fatal duel with Aaron Burr on July 11, is that it probably marks the first recorded instance of an Old West show-down. On July 21st in 1865, Wild Bill Hickok, a rare genuine gunslinger who was a dead shot with a pistol, killed Dave Tutt in the street in Springfield, Missouri. Tutt drew his weapon first and missed, whereupon Wild Bill calmly took aim. Tutt died of a bullet in his chest a second later. By the standards of the time, this was an unusually ethical shooting. Most men were not good shots and didn’t want to risk finding out that the guys they had a quarrel with were, so fatal gun battles tended to be ambushes or a nasty surprise to the loser. (Wild Bill himself was murdered when he was shot in the head from behind while playing poker.)
Because I worry about such things, I wonder how many Americans under the age of about 40 know who Hickock was. Like most of the Wild West icons, his real life exploits paled in comparison to his legend, but once upon a tim, he was a well-known figure in popular culture. Guy Madison played him as a clean-cut good guy in white in a 50’s TV series pitched to kids (its sponsor was Sugar Pops). This was strange, since Hickock was famous for his long hair, buckskins, floppy hat and long mustache. Bill’s major contribution to U.S. lore was his poker hand when he was shot: two pair, aces and eights, all clubs and spades. This was known ever after as “The Dead Man’s Hand” and reputed to be bad luck. Director John Ford included the portent in every movie he could: if a character was doomed, there was a glimpse of his poker hand, and it was always aces and eights.
1. No self-respecting woman should accept an appointment like this. No responsible President should make one, either. Victoria Reggie Kennedy is Biden’s nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Austria. She’s no dummy, but the only reason she is getting this plum is because she was married to Ted Kennedy. In the press release, her credentials are inflated by all the honorary degrees and other goodies she got as organizations sucked up to Ted or his too influential family. Such an appointment is lazy and insulting: is there anyone cognizant who doesn’t see this as what it is, symbolic ring-kissing for Democratic Party royalty? Moreover, it is one more example—the fact that Biden is President is another— of how the party’s vaunted feminism is more mirage than real. There must be thousands of women who have better arguments for being the U.S. Ambassador to Austria than “I was the second wife of a U.S. Senator who was only elected because of his brothers and whose greatest accomplishment was getting away with negligent homicide.” If Victoria had any integrity, she would have asked Biden to appoint one of those women.
2. I’m not sure how this connects to ethics...honesty and courage, perhaps…but long-time Boston Globe reporter Jack Thomas has written what seems like a sincere and thoughtful column upon learning that he has only a few months to live. He seems convinced that he will have an afterlife, which may contribute to his upbeat reflections, and if that helps him through what he calls “the hell to come,” fine. He concludes his essay,
“As death draws near, I feel the same uncomfortable transition I experienced when I was a teenager at Brantwood Camp in Peterborough, New Hampshire, packing up to go home after a grand summer. I’m not sure what awaits me when I get home, but this has certainly been an exciting experience. I had a loving family. I had a great job at the newspaper. I met fascinating people, and I saw myriad worldwide wonders. It’s been full of fun and laughter, too, a really good time. I just wish I could stay a little longer.”
3. House Democrats are apparently determined to run the January 6 “insurrection” narrative into the ground, even though the eventual report by the newly assembled “select committee” to investigate the Capitol riot cannot possibly be anything else but partisan anti-Trump hit job, and is designed to be one. After Speaker Pelosi rejected two of the five Republican members nominated by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, he announced that the GOP would refuse to participate—except for rogue GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, whose position on Trump and the events of January 6 have been made throbbingly clear. This is an example of Congress being completely obsessed with political theater at the expense of the public interest. The report will please no one who hasn’t made up his or her mind already about the episode; its conclusions will have no credibility; and anyone who can’t write down what the findings of the kangaroo committee will be with 90% accuracy couldn’t beat Joe Biden in a game of Boggle.
4. I’m shocked—shocked!—to find that there is flagrant hypocrisy in the Roman Catholic hierarchy! The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to approve a document that would prevent politicians like President Biden who have supported pro-abortion measures from receiving the holy sacrament. The General Secretary of the USCCB, Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill was the official who read the voting results to the conference last month. After cell phone data revealed that he has used the gay dating app Grindr and regularly visits gay bars, Burrill resigned.
5. Prediction: The Britney Spears saga will not end well. The 39-year-old pop singer was allowed to drive a car by herself for the first time in 15 years as she gained the sympathy of the public, lawyers and courts in her pleas to “get her life back” after an oppressive conservatorship. She was then photographed holding her cell phone and apparently looking at it while behind the wheel of her $155k Mercedes Benz. Her ordeal and transformation into a profitable performing zombie began with photos of Spears engaging in dangerous conduct behind the wheel; one would think that as she finally is given an opportunity to prove she can take care of herself, she would be vigilant about such things. But no, and this is because she is not well, and probably can’t take care of herself. But as an American, she has a right to try. The fact that a lot of people count on Britney functioning as their cash cow does not justify allowing them to run her life.