"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

We’ll Miss Donald Trump–But The Circus Years Have Taken Their Toll On Conservatism

I have loved the last four years! Donald Trump has been the kind of outrageous American president that the country has needed.  No more of the quiet, religious, sanctimony of Jimmy Carter.  No more of the ‘I am the first black President, Cabinet that looks like America’ crown of thorns Bill Clinton.  No more of the macho, arrogant aircraft carrier landing strut ‘I won the war’ Bush II.  

Donald Trump was finally America’s President, the real thing – lowbrow, arm candy, Las Vegas, Hollywood, NY real estate bully, and one of us.  No fireside chats, warm, worn sweaters, cigarette boat, Vineyard sailing pretentions.  Trump was crass, tinseled, over-the-top and grandiose.  He wanted nothing to do with the Washington Establishment, the powers that be, and least of all with progressive sanctimony and comic book Utopianism.

Image result for images donald trump at beauty contest

He has been a man of the people – not like the humbly born and raised Truman, Nixon, or Reagan, but of the reality TV generation, the generation of make up, Botox, stiletto heels, and Las Vegas faux glamour and sexual innuendo. He was a hero to the trailer trash, gun-toting, church-on-Sunday, flag-waving, patriotic crowd which had no chance for his yachts, resorts, and beautiful women but who never resented the fact that he had them.  Wanting these glitzy, showy, fancy things is at the very heart of the American dream.  Donald Trump unapologetically  tapped into this back country, hillbilly, cracker mentality, and his constituents loved it

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He laughed at progressive sanctimony, gender politics, inclusivity, and multicultural absurdity,  He had no problem with the originalist idea of a heterogeneous society, but excoriated the absurdity of the Left’s exaggerations – a gay, transgender, black, feminist America.  He lambasted progressives for their na├»ve, moralistic assumptions, their disregard and dismissal of righteous middle Americans, and their vain hopes of Utopianism.  He was not a man of faith bun never one to gutterize it like the Left.  God or no God, religion will always have a prominence and essentiality far beyond political venality

He was a snake oil salesman, a carny barker, and vaudevillian.  No one but the progressive Left took him seriously.  He was a master prestidigitator, a circus clown, and the ringleader of a three-ring circus.  He was a borscht belt comedian, a late night talk show provocateur, and a TV jolly

As much as I have loved the bombast and  circus hijinks of the Trump presidency, from a strictly political perspective, it is better that The Donald is out of office.  Although he has championed important conservative principles – lower taxes, a rollback of the progressive juggernaut, a focus on immigration, a restoration of the place of religion in American life, and a strong foreign policy – he has done more to erode their saliency and importance than to promote them.  By his bombast, arrogance, ad hominem attacks, and complete, hostile intemperance he has energized the Left whose positions, if enacted, will erode American sovereignty, status, and influence,

I have been a champion of Donald Trump for two reasons – first because of his solid conservatism and the second because of his personality, character, and downright in-your-face rejection of progressive cant and righteousness.  Unfortunately the latter has damaged the chances of the former, but I am unrepentant.  The last four years have been truly American – outrageous, populist, and happily far more Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the mean streets of New York than the desuetude of liberalism.  Donald Trump is the first truly American president.  We are middle class, Walmart and Target shoppers, fans of daytime TV, lovers of glitz  and arm candy.  Donald Trump is our President not only because of his defiant stance against transformative liberalism but because of his embrace of popular culture.

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With Biden we will revert to a more predictable, run of the mill presidential polity.  More sense and sensibility and far, far less fun.  While Biden and his progressive coteries abhor notions of individualism, heterosexuality, and value-based performance, their promotion of inclusivity and multi-culturalism will undermine the Hamiltonian principles of individualism, personal freedom, and enterprise.  

Biden and his progressive claque are not socialist in the Soviet-era sense of the word, but more profoundly communalist in social outlook than any Communist.  If they have their way, they will neuter America’s individualist spirit and defame individual expression.  America is a country of absurdity and wild exaggeration.  It is a place, for better or worse, where social outliers can find a home.  We are a nation of anti-vaxxers who believe that Armageddon and The Last Judgment will occur within our lifetime.  We believe in alien invasion, brainwave altering Russian technology, the insidious, treacherous insult of fluorides, and the one-world Jewish conspiracy. Any belief, no matter how cockamamie, has a place here. 

Donald Trump is the best spokesman for American eccentricity and real American exceptionalism that we have ever had.  He is anathema to the Upper West Side liberals who insist on the existence of one, universal, undeniable truth, and a champion of those for whom one anything is nonsense.

With Biden we will once more be beholden to ‘logic’, that fanciful supposition touted by the Left.  We will be shepherded, corralled, and hogtied to a  faux notion of ‘civility’.  We will be denied our bourgeois, lowbrow, idiocy.  We will be what the Coasts think we should be.

Having said this, and believing that an important, seminal era is about to end, I am concerned about the future of conservatism – the philosophy whose set of core principles and values are inherent in the Constitution, eroded over time, and restored by William F Buckley and Ronald Reagan.  Small government, low taxes, individual freedom, private enterprise, equality of opportunity, the centrality  of religion, a respect for self-discipline and authority, and a strong, Machiavellian foreign policy.  

Ronald Reagan espoused and promoted these values and was successful in stemming the liberal tide begun by Roosevelt.  He was a revered leader, disliked by  the opposition for his conservatism, but applauded by most for his principled, reasonable stance.

Image result for Images Ronald Reagan

Donald Trump, because of his vaudevillian act and three-ring circus presidency has set back this agenda by decades. Few people other than his passionate base take him seriously, and therefore dismiss his political agenda.; so it is unclear whether there is the leadership to organize and mount a serious loyal opposition. If not, the gender-bending, redistributive economic, pusillanimous, vain Utopian, exclusively secular policies and programs of Democrat progressives will reign for at least four years.

My appreciation for Trump’s bourgeois Americanism, his vaudevillian exceptionalism, and his comedic hilarity – the real President for all America – has been assumed to be an endorsement of his supposed immoral positions concerning women, minorities, and gays.  Far from it.   The enemy has not been Donald Trump but sanctimony, political arrogance, self-righteousness, and elitist patriarchy.   Trump’s in-your-face calling out of liberal cant has  been a welcome roadblock to the dangerous progressive juggernaut.

So, I will miss Trump’s roadshow, but fear for the marginalization of conservatism.  Who will step up in his place to more temperately and reasonably defend core conservative principles.  Is there a Ronald Reagan or William F Buckley in the wings?

Monday, December 28, 2020

Black Lives Matter, Core Whiteness, And A Discordant African Love Affair

A lot is made of ‘diversity’ these days, and those communities characterized by a mix of races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations are considered highly desirable.  Yet in most cases even the most progressive-minded young adults after a few years of social experimentation end up with their own kind.

A boy like that who'd kill your brother,
Forget that boy and find another,
One of your own kind,
Stick to your own kind!
A boy like that will give you sorrow,
You'll meet another boy tomorrow,
One of your own kind,
Stick to your own kind! (West Side Story)

Image result for Images West Side Story

Separatism is only natural, and it is an effort for a Nordic to marry a Congolese – too much history, too much racial baggage, too much physical, social and cultural difference.  It is one thing to subscribe to the progressive notion of inclusivity, racial harmony, and universal compassions; and another thing altogether to live in an unfamiliar hot, tropical, uncomfortable African noon.

Gunnar Svensson, a first generation Swedish American  had met Sephora Kasongo on a trip to Kinshasa.  He was a loan officer for the World Bank and she was a doctor at the Tschombe Adventist Hospital.  Theirs was not a conventional love affair because he had a predilection. What would  a black, African woman really be like? Beyond the Black Lives Matter movement, progressive ‘inclusivity’, and racial integral harmony, Sephora would be the real thing.  Making love in a floating river boat on the Niger making their way  slowly through the clogged, scented, tenacious water hyacinths, to the beat of drums on both sides of the widening river, and to the whining of mosquitos on the deck of the ‘Congolese Trader’ was as it should be – the realization of diverse inclusivity.  

How many of Gunnar’s friends could display such credentials?  They might be on the front lines of BLM and on the racial barricades of Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, arrayed against the white, racist, capitalist manipulators of humanity; but they were not in bed with a dark, full-bodied African woman floating into Conrad country. They were neophytes, pretenders, intellectual wannabees. It was he who smelled the rank rot of Niger vegetation, felt the swell and ebb of the river, and made love to his Congolese lover in such a darkness that she was indistinguishable from the night around them.

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Their love was sincere and serious.  There was indeed a personal intimacy between them.  They had found what they thought was a convenient, happy middle between North and South, a union of likeminded if intellectually different people.  Sephora had studied in Brussels to complete her medical training, but she had never wandered far from surgical gowns, anesthesia, and recovery rooms.  She had been in Europe but in so cloistered a quarter that it might have been Siberia.  She returned to Kinshasa to respect and professional promise, but as African as ever.  

Gunnar loved her for this incidental Europeanism, her dutiful respect for Jesus, her religious flirtation, and for her profound African sensuality. In Africa there were no age limitations on sexuality, no prim and proper conventions of propriety. Although in Belgium sex had been neutered by Flemish Puritanism, and despite the attempts of Flemish friars to convert their colonial charges, Puritanism never took.  Congolese might have been outwardly dutiful, praying to Jesus, but inwardly animist, dismissive of colonial, regressive European religion, morality and traditions.

Image result for Images King Leopold Belgium

Gunnar and Sephora returned to America and were married in a Universalist ceremony presided over by a luminary of the black church – the Reverend Anatole Hiram Johnson, pastor of the Sixth Baptist Church of Louisville, frontline soldier in the armies of Martin Luther King.

The couple were celebrated, feted, and honored.  They were the love children of the progressive movement, a totemic image of cross-cultural and bi-racial harmony.

However the blush soon faded from the bloom of the rose, and they fought like any other couple, but because of their diverse cultural backgrounds, they could never find the right, final coup de grace.  Her virulent insults challenging his masculinity and will were like sonnets in the Summer breeze.  His blatantly racist damnation of her pagan, primitive, unremittingly tribal past went unnoticed, mere caterwauling like the howls of the jungle griots in her native village. It was an unwinnable marital battle, a cinematic War of the Roses without common ground.  Gunnar and Sephora ended the day tired, worn, depleted, and exhausted.

Husbands and wives fight all the time, night and day, years on end.  They put up with nonsense, insult, and injury for no good reason other than ‘the  children’, longevity, or some indefinable socio-religious notion of duty; but there is nothing to compare with the violent recriminations of a completely odds-on cultural argument. Sephora invoked demons, horrible ancestors, the spirits of Evil and the malevolence of cousins; and Gunnar attacked her with irony, insult, and high-toned but low-blow spite and venomous recriminations 

So this was what multiculturalism was all about, Gunnar reflected.  No mutual respect, no consideration of alternative values, no compassion, and certainly no giving in.  Sephora was unevolved. Gunnar was an emasculated, will-less, baby; an infant with a stiff dick, an insignificant cipher.

Image result for images book the heart of darkness

‘Perhaps I should have been more modest in my aspirations’, Gunnar opined.  ‘Black, but transplanted, Americanized, malleable, understandable woman of color’.  

I overreached”, he concluded.  “I should have stuck with women of my own kind, of radical intentions and ecumenical tastes.”  The motherlode, the heart of darkness, the impenetrable dark African interior was too much to chew.  Better home cooking first.

Gunnar’s progressive friends dismissed his African adventures.  The fight was here and now, Selma, Trump, and the Pettis Bridge.  A Congolese woman whose forbears were slave traders and whose heart lay desultorily in Europe and the white world was irrelevant, a supernumerary in the struggle, a non sequitur. 

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Gunnar and Sephora settled in Oakland and had two children.  He, despite his multiculturalism had hoped that genetic sequencing would be short-circuited and that the babies would come out looking at least something like him, but when they turned out African to the core, he realized the mistake he had made.  Of course San Francisco  was generous, accommodating, and accepting; but he was not prepared for progressive censure. 

He had spent most of his adult life condemning systemic racism and the nefarious white, elitist, capitalist oligarchy, so he was nonplussed at the slights of patronizing friends.  They, white parents of blonde, blue-eyed children, felt no incongruity in their insular privileged world and their championship of minorities.  When it came to one of the movement who had put his money where his mouth was,  they were diffident, disinterested, and indifferent.

He and Sephora agreed on nothing, collided on most everything. There simply was no way to reconcile the yawning divide between the offspring of griots, witch doctors, and shamans, and Scandinavian, thin lipped, righteous pastors 

She moaned and howled in Lingala, swore in it, invoked gods and goddesses of the jungle in it, but made her demands in English.  Gunnar was to toe the line, although he was unsure of which  toe and which line.  Diversity fell apart on their wedding night and never recovered.

“Multiculturalism has its limits”, he admitted to his critical friends.  “Look for the soft, giving, middle ground”, for which he was ridiculed and censured.  Stay within the Upper West Side, he thought, make it down to Washington for an occasional march, and fly the flags of BLM, just don’t dip too deeply in dark waters. Best leave black people to fight their own fights, spend a few nights in their trenches, but keep your distance and your own counsel

Image result for Images Flags BLM

Marrying a Congolese woman, Gunnar thought, would be his ticket to the top progressive spot; but little did he know that cross-racial marriage was looked down upon by the American Left just as it had been 100 years ago.  It is one thing to support the cause of civil rights, to march over the Pettis Bridge, to sit in in Selma, and to get gassed in Meridien; another thing to marry into it.  One must keep one’s own racial counsel.

Sephora left Gunnar, took the children and whatever she could fit into two steamer trunks, and left on Air Afrique for Kinshasha.  Good riddance, Gunnar said to the surprise of his friends. Politics were one thing, but personal delinquency and illegality quite another.

He never considered Sephora or his children his own, he realized, ‘Diversity’ and ‘Inclusivity’ had cheated him

Because of Sephora’s flights into Eastern Congo and her resulting total anonymity, Gunnar knew that he would never be hounded with child support or alimony.  He was free and clear; and before long he married  Bente Pedersen, a Danish beauty, and within a year had reddish-haired twins

Friday, December 25, 2020

Joe Biden And Cabinet Appointees Looking Like America–No Double Dipping! And The Nonsense Of Identity Politics

“No double dipping”, said one of Joe Biden’s senior advisors, seeing too many black women on his list of possible Cabinet appointments.  “It’s all about traction and mileage”, he suggested.  “We need numbers, different strokes for different folks, and there is no need to jam up one box.  LaBette Williams, he advised was black, female, and gay; and outspoken advocate for transgenderism and violent civil disobedience – a queer, black Washington cocktail, a good Cabinet choice on the basis of any one identity, but all three made her a Capitol Hill powerhouse.  The problem, Biden’s advisor went on, is that “our bases will get confused with a potpourri.  We need clarity and definition.  A ball-busting, tough as shit white feminist and a radical black ghetto king separate and equal.  Spread it, don’t crowd it.  Let the candidates sing!”.

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“Let’s make it simple, Joe. Make a list, and check it twice”, he said, and vet and cull rudely and efficiently.  Check one box per nominee.” Easier said than done of course because progressives tend to be all jammed up with causes in the first place – i.e.  in the big tent it was almost impossible to find someone of just one ilk.  The double- and triple-dipped were high in the progressive pantheon.  LaBette Williams was but one highly visible example; but there were many more.  

Bruce Billings, for example, had come out of the closet early and often – shamed by his parents, he went back in, came out when he fell in love with a college classmate, turned coat and had a religious epiphany, and finally settled down in San Francisco with his husband.  There, he found that his struggle reflected the gay community’s desire to energize other causes, and soon became an advocate for the environment. “This is what happens if we all don’t pull together”, he shouted, pointing to a black, charred landscape of frightening devastation and hopelessness on the screen behind him.  “I know all too well”, he said, “about dereliction of social responsibility, a lack of caring and compassion, and a closet mentality”.  He was a two-sport standout.

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White Wolf Patterson, a member of Congress from Oklahoma, was a direct descendant of White Wolf, the great Comanche Chief.  S. C. Gwynne, author of Empire Of The Summer Moon about the Rise and Fall of the Comanche, wrote that no tribe in the history of the Spanish, French, Mexican, Texan, and American occupations  had ever caused so much havoc and death. None was even a close second.  There was a ‘demonic immorality’ of Comanche attacks on white settlers, the way in which torture, killings and gang-rapes were routine. 

The logic of Comanche raids was straightforward.  All the men were killed, and any men who were captured alive were tortured; the captive women were gang raped. Babies were invariably killed. One by one, the children and young women were pegged out naked beside the camp fire. They were skinned, sliced, and mutilated, and finally burned alive by vengeful women determined to wring the last shriek and convulsion from their bodies.  Not only were the Comanche specialists in torture, they were also the most ferocious and successful warriors — indeed, they become known as ‘Lords of the Plains. They were as imperialist and genocidal as the white settlers who eventually vanquished them.

“Now, this guy”, said Biden’s advisor, “is our go-to choice for Secretary of the Interior.  He has impeccable credentials.  Not only will he be a representative of all Native Americans, but of the white-hating minority collective”.  Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder had resisted all efforts to change the name of his football team because of ‘Native American pride’, but agreed that some people might think the Redskin name insulting.  He removed the name, and the team is now, temporarily at least, known as The Washington Football Team.  

Snyder has been inundated with new names elegiac of the Capital’s iconic image as the heart of American democracy and expected pull-from lists of black, female, and Latino leaders; but reportedly the name he favors are the Washington White Wolves.  Although the word ‘white’ is a problem, the selection of the heroic Comanche chief to represent the team would be perfect.  It would satisfy those who have advocated Indian rights and cultural rehabilitation, minorities who applaud white racial cleansing, and those who see Westward Expansion as an anti-capitalist, anti-colonialist hegemonic landgrab.

“If our side of the aisle wants an Indian in the Cabinet, let’s give them a real one”.

Image result for images white wolf comanche chief

The advisor was very successful in his search for nominees of ‘singularity’, influential one-issue candidates.  ‘Real’ feminists, gays, blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans.   Selection was not hard on the black front because African Americans had for decades poo-pooed esoteric, namby-pamby issues like Saving the Whale; and, still proud of their machismo and street creds, wanted little to do with white feminists.  For all other categories choice was complicated and obfuscated by progressive blending.  Brenda Fein had been an educator and standout of the American Federation of Teachers.  She had been on the frontline of the movement to rid primary school curricula with the Three R’s and replace them with race-gender-ethnicity protocols.  

She was an initiator of the movement to revise American history curricula according to more accurate depictions of American capitalist exploitation, racial injustice, and minority oppression.  While she double- and triple-dipped, she never lost sight of her primary intention – to reform the entire educational system according to proper progressive principles.  As importantly, she had been instrumental in forcing the DC government to accept the labor demands of teachers, and thanks to her efforts no teacher could be censured, penalized, or dismissed because of ‘inadequacies’.  The principle of inclusivity was  based on the assumption that there is no such think as a bald mistake.  Every errancy could be explained by the exploitation of management, political conservatives, and anti-union fascists.

Image result for Primary School Inclusivity

Barry Popper was a doctor, patient advocate, and irresistible force for a single-payer health system.  He was not only an admirer of the Canadian health system, but in love with it.  The Canadians could do no wrong and had for decades been on the righteous, moral side of public health history.  His race, ethnic origin, and sexual orientation were secondary to his passionate evocation of a truly just social health system.  Besides, given the Biden advisor’s unrelenting stand against double-dipping, the Cabinet would have plenty of gays, blacks, feminists, etc.

A minor worker on the Biden Cabinet search team had the temerity to challenge the advisor on his singularity approach. “Shouldn’t we have a straight, white male on the list?”.  Whoops, hollers, jeers, raspberries, and catcalls. How could he be so stupid, so irrelevant, so clueless?  White men?  “I’m enough”, Biden said, “and I am an example to older Americans as well”, letting the advisor know that he did not have to worry about factoring in ageism.   “All the old white Jews in New York and Miami voted for me”, he said, “  No problemo”.

All of which reminded the advisor that he really should put some Jews on the list just to show no hard feelings; but the whole Israel thing was out there, so better stay away.  An Italian would be a better, safer bet, like one of the Cuomos. A  selection of one of them could serve as a stand in for all the other old-fashioned, old world ethnicities like the Irish, Poles, Slovaks, etc. “Can’t hurt”, said Biden. “See what you can find”.

Only one trick remained – how to match checked boxes with responsibility.  Although it was natural to put an Indian as the head of Interior, it might seem racist, so better put White Wolf Patterson in HHS or Energy.  A woman former teacher as Education Secretary might suggest misogyny and low-level radar positioning.  Women have always been teachers and nurses, so better watch out for that insinuation.

All this will be moot, of course, if the Republican candidates in Georgia win the January Senatorial by-election and the Senate remains solidly Republican and conservative.  GOP senators have already let it be known that identity candidates will be raked over the coals.  No one will be approved on the basis of race, gender, or ethnicity, not if they can help it.  The progressive juggernaut has to stopped someplace, and the Republican-controlled Senate will be the first and last bulwark.

As we speak, the Biden appointment list is being winnowed and the advisor is happy with the President-Elect’s choices.  Finally, the four long years of ignorant bombastic racism are over, and a new world is dawning – or however Biden’s speechwriter is crafting his inauguration speech.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Genetic Destiny–The Past Always Repeats Itself Always In The Most Unpleasant Ways

A few decades ago before Watson, Crick, and DNA, there was a feeling that people would grow up, learn their lessons, and behave.  The message of perfectibility, progress, and Utopia was true for bad boys and bad countries.  There was hope, after all, that with a little structure, discipline, faith, and will, the world would become a better place.

Image result for Images DNA

Mandy Phillips wondered, however, how exactly her troublesome son could be such a chip off the old block – not her husband’s but Pop-Pop Burleigh Fundy, her own reprobate grandfather who had been born morally defective and whose moral cracks and fissures simply widened with time.  

How and why Pop-Pop had ever enticed Mary Potter to marry him was always a mystery and stuff of family lore.  He was a dashing lover, the story went, and women were willing to overlook his flaws and misdemeanors, feeling, as women do, that he would improve once settled down in their care. 

They were married in Gloucester, Massachusetts, an old New England whaling town known for its storms, fearless seamen, and hopeful brides who would stand on the widows’ walks of seafront houses waiting for their husbands to return home.  That history alone should have been enough for Mary Potter, as clear a sign if there ever was one that her husband was bound for elsewhere and would never return.

He left his bride not long after their marriage but not before she was pregnant with Mandy’s mother.  He eventually returned to their home in New Brighton but only long enough to embezzle thousands before taking off again.  Reports of him surfacing in Tahoe, St. Petersburg, and Wheeling were largely unfounded, but somehow his surmised exploits became legend.

He was a swashbuckling hero, unchained and free, a man of liberty, excess, and adventure.  In any case there was not an honest bone in his body, and whatever epic stories were told and retold at Aunt Treble’s Easter dinner, Pop-Pop was simply no good.  His Errol Flynn reputation notwithstanding, he was dismissed by those close to him as an irresponsible vagabond, and Mandy’s memories, colored by her mother, were of an emotional deviant.

Image result for images 19th century gloucester ma

So, you can imagine her surprise when her son, Peter, turned out turned out to be a clone of her grandfather.  He was the spitting image of the old man from the time he was born and as a spoiled child, as disrespectful as an adolescent, and as dishonest and devious as young adult Burleigh himself.  

“Impossible”, Mandy said to her husband, but was nonplussed at the thought of him showing up again in the family and incensed that he would have chosen Petey as his incarnated home.  She had suffered along with her mother while Burleigh drifted in and out of their lives, a step ahead of the law, flush or broke, and totally indifferent to them; and now endured the very indignity of him returning from the grave in which he had been unceremoniously buried.

This visitation would have been bad enough, but Mandy, influenced by the bad example of her grandfather – never again - and the sound, moral principles of her mother, a devout Presbyterian and politically engaged communitarian, had become a beacon of New Brighton progressivism.  Despite Petey and the unpleasant, unavoidable lesson that nature trumps nurture, that the sins of fathers inevitably are visited upon their sons, and that the world itself was populated with more Burleighs and Peteys than it deserved, she remained committed to the idea of a better world.

As much as she hated her grandfather, she stubbornly kept a portrait of him over the mantelpiece.  

Reminiscent of Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables, a story that took place very near Gloucester, and in which the portrait of the Pyncheon paterfamilias, a man as devious, dishonest, and immoral as Burleigh Fundy, remained prominently displayed for decades despite his malevolence, there was Old Burleigh in all his cavalier showmanship, peering down at all comers.  Just like Hepzibah Pyncheon, Mandy wanted a permanent image of her ancestor to remind her of the retrograde male that she and her progressive allies wanted to remove from society.

Image result for images colonel pyncheon portrait house of seven gables

The portrait, unfortunately, elicited just the opposite reaction.  Like it or not, Burleigh was a handsome, impressive man – the kind of devil-may-care bad boy so appealing to women – and since Petey’s resemblance to him was so striking, New Brighton women fawned over him like a lover and wondered at Mandy’s frustration and obvious disappointment. 

Petey of course, true to his genetic destiny, had a wonderful life.  Never being moored or tethered to any particular moral or ethical code, and gifted with the looks, charm, and a silver tongue of his grandfather, Petey travelled the world without a care. He was offered positions he should never have had, quit them as quickly as he secured them, was a frequent guest at the palace of of the Maharani of Jaipur and her Bollywood beautiful daughter, signed on and signed off to contracts, agreements, and partnerships, fathered many children, and, like his grandfather, kept just enough paces ahead of the law to avoid capture or even censure. 

 He was like Julien Sorel, the hero of The Red and the Black, favored by mistresses high and low, but unencumbered by Sorel’s ambition.

 Image result for images 19th century maharani of jaipur

He was indifferent to politics and had no articulated political philosophy; but his life of individualism, freethinking, contempt for social routine, and refusal to capitulate to prescribed notions was the diametric opposite of his mother’s idealism. Life was to be lived without encumbering consideration.  Dying young was an inconsequential result of a life well-lived .  He had no interest in legacy, impact, or recognition.  He flew under everyone’s radar, noticed only by those who mattered to him. 

True to form he was uninterested in either his great grandfather or his uncanny resemblance to him.  Life was full of unexpected happenings and consequences, and he was fortunate to have been dealt a very good hand.  Those who were attracted to him did so because of his seductiveness and allure, not his forebear’s.  His destiny, his fortune, and his lot were entirely his own; and so the portrait of Burleigh Fundy was lumped along with the family silver and Chippendale chairs in a public auction following his mother’s death.

Petey had not a whit of remorse or regret at his mother’s passing; and even less for the end of family era.  He had as little interest in history or inheritance as Old Burleigh. So there was no portrait of him to replace the old man’s, no storied legacy, no figuring in family history or tales.  One Burleigh was enough, and although aunts and uncles often wondered what had become of him, he was unaware, unconcerned, and uninterested.