Today’s Phrase for Latin Lovers

Rex in Regno suo superiores habet Deum et Legem.

Translation:
The King in his Realm hath two superiors: God and the Law. -- Henry Care (1646-1688) on English liberties and the Magna Carta

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Ancient History

|Campaign 2016 | Political Prudence

In the GOP Primary Odyssey, Trump Is the Cyclops

The cyclops Polyphemus is perhaps the most famous villain in the ancient epic The Odyssey. He’s a giant, rude and violent ogre with one eye, and he could very well be the death of the hero and his companions.

Let me recount the tale for you, and as I do, keep in mind, there’s a newfangled version of it playing out in the GOP primary right now—although we don’t know yet whether, at this pivotal moment, our modern warriors will take the same actions to free themselves or will be gobbled up. (I’ve put our contemporary cast of characters at the bottom of this post, and linked them in the story as footnotes for your convenience.)

TrumpCyclopsWide

The Tale of Polyphemus

On their long, horrible voyage trying to get back home1 from the Trojan war, Odysseus2 and his dwindling band of men3 land on the island of the creatures known as the cyclops. The men are in need of food supplies. A scavenger group leaves their battered ship and comes upon a cave stocked with sheep and milk and cheese. Before they gather up the groceries, however, the hulking cave dweller comes home. It’s Polyphemus4. He’s hideous.

Now in ancient Greece, hospitality was highly prized. If someone showed up to your party without an invite, you were still expected to offer them all the best you had, no questions asked—at least until the stranger had his fill of your wine and roasted meat and perhaps a nap. To do otherwise was gauche.

But Polyphemus wasn’t much for hospitality. In fact, he did the most ill-mannered thing possible. Instead of offering a meal, he snatched up a couple of Odysseus’ men, bashed their heads in and made a meal of them instead.

Unfortunately for the rest of the guests, when Polyphemus came in, he had rolled a massive boulder in front of the cave door. There was to be no escape for Odysseus and his men. The cyclops was going to simply eat them, two by two, until there were none left.

So our conquering hero devises a plan. They must attack Polyphemus, but they don’t want to kill him, because they need him to open the door for them. It’s the only way they can all get out. (Even with their combined strength, the Odysseus crew cannot budge the boulder. They are trapped inside the nightmarish hovel.)

The next morning, Polyphemus awakes and breakfasts on two more of Odysseus’ men. They are frantic with fear. But they watch as Polyphemus rolls the boulder out of the way to let his giant sheep5 out before sealing the door shut again to keep his remaining human quarry inside.

Aha! The best way out is to pretend to be sheep going out to pasture in the morning. But even with just one eye, Polyphemus will be able to see that they aren’t giant sheep. They need to blind him. So they find a giant timber, work one end into a sharp point and stash it away until the opportunity to use it arises.

Polyphemus comes home that night from a day in the fields and feasts on another pair of men. It’s time, urgent time, to put the plan into action.

Odysseus had brought along some undiluted potent wine on their scavenger trip, so he offers the wine to Polyphemus as a gift to wash down his revolting dinner. The cyclops enjoys the wine and actually becomes a little friendly with Odysseus, asking what his name is. Odysseus replies, “Nobody.”

Once Polyphemus passes out, the hero and his men retrieve the hidden timber and harden its point in the fire until it becomes a red-hot poker. Then they muster all their strength, surround the cyclops and plunge the fiery stick into his sleeping eye.

The plan could have all gone awry then, when the neighborhood cyclops6 hear Polyphemus screaming bloody murder. They rush to the boulder at the cave door and ask, “What’s going on in there?” Polyphemus cries out, “Nobody is stabbing me in the eye! Nobody is stabbing me!” The other cyclops all shake their heads and laugh. What a loon that guy in there is, they think, and they leave.

When the blinded cyclops passes out again, Odysseus ties each of his men to the belly of sheep, and in the morning, Polyphemus rolls the boulder out of the way and blindly feels the top of each departing animal to make sure it’s a sheep and not a man.

Once all the men have escaped, they race back to the boat. Their party can set sail and leave the cyclops behind, taking his sheep with them. Phew!

But that’s when Odysseus’ pride takes over, though. He can’t leave well enough alone and be satisfied they had escaped with their lives. When they sail past the blinded Polyphemus, the hero wants his name to be known. He can’t resist letting Polyphemus know that it wasn’t Nobody that defeated him. It was Odysseus!

Bad move. The ancient Greeks disliked hubris, and it turns out that Polyphemus’ father was the powerful god of the sea, Poseidon, who soon takes revenge on the men for his crippled son. But that’s another story. One that the GOP will preferably avoid, happy instead to just be sailing off towards home.

Present-day Cast of Characters

1 Home The White House ↩Return to Tale

2 Odysseus Ted Cruz, of course, in my version, but feel free to make whatever candidate you like to be the hero of the tale. He crafts the plan and executes it, even when lesser men are going weak in the knees. ↩Return to Tale

3 The men The other candidates beyond our hero. It takes all the men to pitch in to defeat Polyphemus. There’s no one hanging back in the corner, thinking he’ll wait it out until all the other guys get eaten and then somehow escape on his own. No, cowards die. There will be no “kleos,” no glory if you don’t get in there and fight. ↩Return to Tale

4 Polyphemus Donald Trump, blustering, boorish, nasty and vicious. Doesn’t have great depth perception of what policies it will take to Make America Great Again. More of a monovision type of guy. Limited, but gets the job done. ↩Return to Tale

5 The sheep The voters that the cyclops shepherds. We need them to escape with the candidates. ↩Return to Tale

6 The other cyclops The media and entertainment wing. They’ll laugh now, write it up later. They are excited about the fabulous ratings, clicks and cocktail party invitations the latest news of that wacky Polyphemus will bring them. ↩Return to Tale

Fast Forward to Texas Debate Night

Men have been eaten. Their bones litter the stage. Each candidate has a collection of shivs carefully prepared by their staff. There’s not many left to have the combined strength to climb up on Polyphemus and incapacitate him!

But wait. What’s this? Oddly, some of the men seem to be eyeing the other men, looking to take down the hero. Oh no. What foolishness is afoot.

Will they come to their senses and free themselves and the cyclops’ voters in time?

Stay tuned.

Special thanks to SooperMexican for the TrumPolyphemus image.

|Campaign 2012 | Political Prudence

The Candidates All Get Prettier at Closing Time

Ah. What a relief that the presidential candidacy announcement season is over. I’ve been acting like one of those guys who sits at a table with a bevy of beautiful women but still can’t help scanning the room to check out all the other tables.

As one of those who has been finicky in looking over the crop of GOP candidates, I’ve felt something, someone, has been missing, but I couldn’t say specifically what or who.

I’ve anxiously watched Chris Christie being wined and dined out of the corner of my eye. I say anxious, because no matter how much I adore his no-nonsense approach to combating naysayers, I have little faith that a Republican governor of New Jersey can be anything other than a centrist. (His endorsement today of Mitt Romney rather proves my point.)

Christie’s lurking presence distracted me not because I hoped he would saunter over and take a seat at my table, but because I worried he would. So I breathed a sigh of relief when Christie gave his final “no” and walked out of the room.

I’ve also watched people trying to drag Marco Rubio into the room by his arm. The Tea Party managed to select and elect a stalwart group of young conservatives that can form a powerful core to lead the legislative branch back to sanity. I do find Rubio a very attractive presidential possibility, but we can’t have our true conservatives abandon the Senate before we even gain a majority there.

Fortunately, the freshman Florida Senator put the kibosh on that, eloquently declaring last week that he wouldn’t even accept a VP offer for 2012. Bless him for that.

And then, there was the one I had been awaiting. As my dining companions have jostled for my attention, I kept rudely craning my neck every time Sarah Palin walked by. Here she comes! Maybe she’ll take a seat this time. Aw, there she goes. But she did wink as she passed! Here she comes again. Aw, there she goes. And so on.

The poor candidates already at the table vying for my affection could do little more than talk a little bit louder, be a little bit quippier, move a little bit righter, to try to get me to focus on them.

Therefore, it surprised me that I wasn’t as disappointed as I thought I would be by Palin’s announcement that she would not run this time. She would make a superb president. But oh, what a battle that would have been.

The frenzy that the media would have gone into immediately to rip her to shreds would have been massive and passionate. The internecine war between the Tea Party and the Establishment GOP would have gone nuclear.

The 13-month fight to get Palin over the finish line would have been exhausting, and it would have sucked much of the oxygen out of the down-ticket races. Yet, with Palin now in the midst of the crowd with us instead of up on the debate stage, we have an exciting, unpredictable weapon in her to push for electing true conservatives.

All three, Christie, Rubio and Palin, seem to have found the right path for themselves and for us. With their announcements, they cleared the room of all the stragglers and re-considerers.

Now it’s just me and my table. The night is growing late. There’s no one left to distract me from giving my dining companions my full attention. It’s finally time to pit them against one another and choose my favorite from among them. They’re not all beautiful, but each does have attractive qualities.

With the 2012 election deciding the fate of our country, I don’t want to make a mistake and pick the wrong candidate. Therefore, I’m going to give them all a chance again, even those I’d previously knocked out of consideration (hint, hint, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Gary Johnson).

Herman Cain and Rick Perry will be under extra scrutiny now, because if they stay at the top of the pack, there’s no one new that can swoop in and bump them off the hill. I do hope that Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann can make a strong showing in the debate and move up in the set field. I think they got dismissed too early. It didn’t matter so much before because I was still hoping the perfect candidate would enter the race. But in the post-Christie, post-Rubio, post-Palin world, they might hold the best balance of qualities those candidates would have brought.

And if my wandering eye gets to itching, it turns out I can give a once-over to a bunch more declared GOP presidential candidates I’ve never heard of or have forgotten: Fred Karger, Andy Martin, Jimmy “The Rent Is Too Damn High” McMillan, Tom Miller, Buddy Roemer (yes, the former Democrat Governor of Louisiana) and Vern Wuensche.

So the Dartmouth debate will be a very important date. Each candidate has another chance to woo me. I’m looking to avoid the “dud” from the old board game Mystery Date.

I want a long-term plan, not some short-term stimulating fling. I’m not interested in someone who will beguile me with gifts and flattery or whisper sweet nothings in my ear. That’s how we got to where we are. I want a commitment to honesty and straight talk. No gamblers need apply. Baby does need a new pair of shoes, but rolling the taxpayer dice isn’t the way to get them.

All right, candidates, sweep me off my feet. I’m ready to be taken off the candi-date market. Let’s hear your best proposal.

Bonus: If the website links and debate performances still leave doubt on who is the best candidate, Reason Magazine has just hung out a matchmaker shingle to act as e-Harmony for the GOP with its Find Your True Love quiz.

|eCOnoMICS | Prudence Potpourri

Ryan, Rubio and Prudence on the Medicare Crisis

The Democrats are despicably attempting to lie to and mislead the public, especially senior citizens, about the Medicare adjustments included in the budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and voted for by the House GOP. It’s purely political, thinking if they can tell people Ryan’s plan will end Medicare (it doesn’t), voters will think Republicans are trying to take their health care away and reward the liars for their lies by reelecting them.

Unfortunately, overhauling Medicare is complex and not soundbite friendly. While Democrats ran an outrageous ad showing a Ryan lookalike pushing a granny in a wheelchair off a cliff (an utter lie), it’s going to take more to explain the Ryan proposal. [Whatever happened to the outcry over putting crosshairs on maps? How did we go from that to having it be fine, if not funny (according to MSNBC hosts–especially Joe Scarborouh) to show actually killing someone?]

I’m actually not all that in favor of the Ryan 2012 budget. I don’t think it goes far enough in immediately reversing the course of government and our national debt. But it’s a helluva lot better than the nonexistent budget put forth by the cowardly, yellow-belly Democrats or the laughable budget that Obama put forth, which was voted down in the Senate 97-0 (not one Senator, even socialist Bernie Sanders [I-VT], would vote for the thing).

So before the Democrats’ maligning and lying about the Ryan Medicare plan starts taking root around the country, here’s what Ryan and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have to say about it. Spread these videos far and wide.

Here’s Ryan’s explanation of the Medicare crisis:

Here’s Rubio, taking a bold step ahead of his party, informing his constituents on the realities of the Ryan Medicare plan before his opponents have a chance to lie about it. [See the Daily Caller for a transcript]:

And, hey, GOP, how about coming up with your own clever ad to show what the Republicans are wanting to do.

Here’s quick script I whipped up for one. Surely you could come up with something as good or better. If not, use this:

FADE IN on GRANDPA MEDICARE in a hospital bed, hooked up to beeping machines and tubes.

Grandpa starts struggling on bed, while his concerned FAMILY looks panicked.

LITTLE GIRL jumps off her chair and runs to DEMOCRAT DOCTORS standing in corner of room, laughing and talking with each other.

Little Girl grabs the hand of one of the doctors.

LITTLE GIRL: (pulling on hand of one of the doctors) Doctor! doctor! Won’t you please save him?!

DEM DOCTOR: (sipping a martini) Don’t worry, don’t worry. He’ll be fine. (nudges her away and goes back to laughing)

A group of REPUBLICAN DOCTORS rushes in and immediately gets to work. They switch out ancient machines with sleek new ones and replace cumbersome tubing and mask with simpler, freer ones.

Grandpa quickly comes back to life.

Little Girl: (leaping onto bed) Grandpa!

FATHER tries to pull girl back out of concern for Grandpa’s health.

GOP DOCTOR motions to Father it’s okay and Little Girl scampers into smiling Grandpa’s arms.

GOP Doctor: You gave us quite a scare there, Mr. Medicare, but you’ve got a whole new lease on life now. (tousles happy Little Girl’s hair)

NARRATOR: The Democrats in Congress are willing to let Medicare die as long as they can get reelected before it does. Help your Republican Congressmen save Medicare. [insert call to action.]