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

Monday, October 30, 2023

The Legend Of Amanda Longworth - The Madam Of Foreign Travel For Desperate Housewives

Amanda Longworth grew up in a small town in the Midwest, and never left the prairie until she was seventeen and a graduate of Baldwin College.  Baldwin had been one of the first schools in Iowa to accept women, a promise made and kept by the Reverend Jacob S. Pickens who had been raised by two loving aunts, an older sister, and a grandmother. 

His uncles worried that the boy would become a sissy, what with all this woman-handling, but everything turned out just fine.  Jacob had Sassy Martin in the woodshed at thirteen and a variety of chocolate- and coffee-colored quadroons at Mme. Landry’s Palace of Earthly Delights on Bourbon Street not many years later.

Shortly after returning to Iowa after one of his many sojourns in the Quarter and after a particularly steamy night with Blanche de Castille, la crème de la crème of Mme. Landry’s establishment and as a result with a newly appreciative understanding of women’s vast, imponderable beauty, he opened the doors of Baldwin to two serious young women, one the grandaunt of Amanda Longworth. 

Of course given the tenor of the times education had made these young women even less marriageable than they had been before, and although the doors of Baldwin were now open to intelligent women, the farmhouse was still not. Quoting Shelley (a favorite of Reverend Pickens who had read his verses to Fanny LaCroix amidst paper flowers and scent on a four-poster Mallard bed) was prima facie evidence of an unsuitable wife; and the two matriculates ended up sour old maids.

After graduation from Baldwin, Amanda found that her newfound love for learning and especially for the Romantic poets, a legacy of the Rev. Pickens and his New Orleans epiphany, didn’t get her very far in feed stores, granaries, tractor outlets, and large animal veterinaries.  Onomatopoeia, iambic pentameter, and metaphor were frilly women’s things in a man’s world of overalls and gum boots, and after a year of notions and incidentals, she left Barker’s Variety for France on a church-sponsored tour of ‘enlightenment, faith, and culture’.

The young woman was transformed by the experience; and after only a day in the city, the drab, grey, and dismal reaches of the prairie were forgotten, lost in a whirl of fashionable women, elegant men, and a culture of easy sophistication. Far from the centerpieces of the tour they were supposed to be, Notre Dame, St. Sulpice and St. Eustache were but distracting obligations. The city itself was the main attraction – the cultural Northern Lights, an epicenter of romance.  No book by Fitzgerald or Hemingway could have prepared her for such a vision – there was not only life beyond the prairie,  but a sophisticated, desirable world of impossible probability. 

She returned to Iowa in a state of bliss, emotionally born again, delirious with ambition and hope. She would find a way to return to Paris and leave leather, bits, and troughs; feed, fertilizer, and the barnyard far behind.  It would be her Second Coming, her visitation, her defining moment.

Little did she know that what was for her an event of some proportion was the common dream of millions of women caught in the same track of predictability – women plowing, furrowing, seeding, and gathering with little hope of escaping the dreariness and boredom of married life.  For respite, these women had only romantic novels which they bought by the pound and read after the cows were milked, the chickens fed, the table cleared, and the men were out in the fields.  Theirs was a dismal, forgotten lot, marked only for birthing, obedience, and routine, dogged sex. They had never been aroused by their humping, dull, and plodding mates; never been courted, charmed, or pursued. 

Amanda Longworth was the very image of the entrepreneurial American, touched by an idea, sensing the tenor of the times and the market, attuned to collective desire, and aware of the disposable income to satisfy it.  She would take these women to Europe and beyond, to the Taj Mahal, Luxor, the Coliseum, and the Black Forest. Travel would be an elixir, an existential tonic.  In her hands Paris would be an affair not a destination.  

There would be no confounding, irritating churches to remind the women of duty and responsibility; no ponderous studies of history. Kings and courtiers would be seen dancing the minuet. There would be no wars, palace coups, doctrinal secession, or incestuous ambition.  Amanda’s remaking of the past would be consistently romantic, beautiful, and attainable.

Travel for Americans has always been an escape from the dreariness of a life of low-brow ambition.  America, for all its economic power and international influence is still a cultural rube.  It never had a Louis XIV, no Imperial Russia, no majesty, courtliness, or manners.  It was a dull if prolific place.  

Taking a cruise up the Rhine or down the Dnieper with stops at chateaux, palaces, and country estates was more than just exploration.  It was an expedition to imagined places, a confirmation of fantasy, the assurance that there really was a world beyond Bethpage or Dubuque, and a better one. 


Even with Amanda’s magical sleight of hand, her meticulous planning, and cultural insights, her tours would never have been the emotional releases she had planned them to be without Americans’ love of what could never be but which still might be. Tourists who travelled to see the Blue Mosque, the Alhambra, Chartres, The Winter Palace, or the Palace of Versailles photographed them, archived them, and soon forgot them.  They had never become incorporated, organic or relevant.  Incidental expenditures, trophies that everyone has, fragments embedded in the memories of missed connections and disappointing food. Amanda's tours would be different, sexually alluring, and personally satisfying. 

Tourism was both an ambition and a satisfaction – a dual prize for the shut-in.  The image of Notre Dame, as familiar as the Mona Lisa, had already worked its magic.  It had to be better and more spiritually exciting than imagined because it was always there alongside conjugation and vocabulary in French I grammars.  The illusion had already taken hold by the time the tourist stood in front of the real church.

How Amanda satisfied these unhappy housewives was a mystery, a work of alchemy and secrecy. Was The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone a real possibility? Was sex in the 7th or the Bois de Boulogne a reality? Was Amanda simply an international madam with a canny intimacy with the inner life of her clients? 

Tourism alone could never have been so successful.  It is nothing but a predictable, tedious, repetition of docents and obligatory stations; an itinerary easy to remember and easier to recall.  Painful hours in front of altars, icons, statues, and oils, all out of context, memorialized only because of their currency, otherwise ciphers.

Amanda’s tours would simply have to be more satisfying and more revealing about tourists than sights, something between Mme. Landry's boudoir and the Count de Valmont - an escort service individualized to suit the shy, the tentative, and the hungry.  A no-questions-asked sexual liaison with no consequences except unforgettable memories of pleasure.  A weeklong tryst in the gardens of Versailles, the Tuileries, and in the dining rooms of the Grands Magasins. To be squired if not bedded, to be treated royally if not by royalty; to be a woman again. 

It was all thanks to the Reverend Pickens and his love of Romantic poetry.  Without Keats and Shelley to stir up the sexual embers in Amanda Longworth and give her ideas, she might be only be a tour guide to the Washington monuments. 

Thursday, October 26, 2023

The Rise Of A Capitol Hill Politician - How Money Is Always To Be Made From Disorder

Clement P. Seamen had been elected from one of Iowa’s most liberal districts.  It was still corn and soy country, but diversified by a town which had lured a high tech firm from Silicon Valley during COVID – in the office, work at home made no difference in this quarter of Iowa where there was nothing but pigs, overalls, and combines. The company paid well and offered its employees rapid advancement, and before long other firms from the software corridors of Boston and Washington had come out.


The town, thanks to this influx from the most liberal centers of the country, became the anomaly – a deep blue district surrounded by a sea of red. and Clem Seamen was proud to represent it.

Of course he, being home-grown with simple tastes and affections, knew little about the Eastern agenda of transgenderism, the avenging black man, global warming, and the oppression of women.  He had been brought up Methodist, Rotary, and feed store.  He knew no blacks or gays, and most married women stayed at home to tend to the garden, the chickens, dinner, and children.

By rights he should have been conservative, or at least Republican; but he had no political philosophy to speak of, took only desultory interest in the electoral process, and voted this way and that depending on kinship or club membership. What mattered most was his political savvy – a brilliant ability to know which way the wind was blowing when it was only a breeze, how strong the current was before it joined the river, and most importantly what men wanted even before they admitted desire to themselves.  In short, he was a natural politician.


Like all politicians born or made, Clem was ambitious and saw a seat in Washington an opportunity to make money, have women, and if re-elected enough, to sit forever in a safe seat, and have a very easy ride.

On the stump he said just the right things, weaving agriculture with AI, stroking liberal egos while courting corn row farmers.  With ease and grace, he was someone for everyone, a shoo-in, a local hero. After his election and at the covered-dish supper-cum-sushi bar event on the parade ground of the county seat, San Francisco gamers and schoolteachers shared their enthusiasm for good ol’ Clem, man of the hour who would put them and Iowa on the map.

When he arrived in Washington, Congress was a mess.  The House, always a wooly, untamed lot of crackers, bayou bait, and city slickers, had become even more of a side show.  Infighting, browbeating, hectoring, and playground bullying had erupted like never before.  Congress was never expected to be a reserved, thoughtful place. Alexander Hamilton two hundred years before knew exactly what this unwashed, mad lot of populist pashas would be like and insisted on a body of intelligent, respectful intermediaries, Senators, to calm the roiled waters of the hoi-polloi.  He would be smiling down on Clem and others as he saw his chickens come home to roost in an unparalleled display of venality, excess, and sheer ignorance.


‘In every crisis there is opportunity’, said economic sage and Iowan hero, Alphonse Diggins; and Clem Seamen knew that this time was it. Once the overturned tables and chairs were put back in their legislative place, ripped flags and broken flagpoles replaced, stained carpets cleaned, he would be a friend to all.  He had an uncanny way of making everyone think he was their friend and ally. Complete with silver tongue, sharp intelligence, and a canny way of sniffing out weakness and desire, he could pick up the pieces of the broken and discredited body of legislators and make a beautiful, secure, political home for himself.

Things did quiet down as they were bound to.  Money was to be made from doing the nation’s business, and it was time to get back to it.  After a lot of harrumphs, sincerity, and mime shows of caring and renewed moral vigor, Congressmen and women took their seats.  Clem, although seated on the Democratic side of the aisle was often seen on the Republican one so agile and deft was he in working both sides of the street.  Yes, he voted with them, but his heart is with us, said his Republican counterparts, and given such inclusion, he could mine the lode until its seams ran out.

He knew when to keep his head down, and when to peer out of his foxhole; when it was time to speak, and when to keep his own counsel.  He became a master of House rules, protocol, and manners – an acolyte, a doer, and a dutiful member of his august institution.

As such, no one paid any attention to his dalliances and came to admire his squiring of the nation’s most beautiful women.  Seen with Hollywood starlets, singers, and runway models, he was the envy of his colleagues. He had done it all with impeccable taste, a latter-day JFK and never with the lowbrow, glitz and glitter of Donald Trump.  As with everything he did, Clem was as much admired by the Rittenhouse Square, Beacon Hill, and Park Avenue as he was in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans where black men loved him as one of theirs, a stud horse in a thoroughbred stable.

And money was definitely to be made.  Clem learned quickly how to turn an entitlement to his Iowa districts into spare change in his pocket. Deals were made, creative Wall Street instruments added, cost-overruns planned, and millions siphoned to Iowa via contractors, investors, builders, landscapers who never forgot their benefactor, Clement P. Seamen.

The ride was, as Clem had anticipated, a long one.  He was reelected every two years  each time with an even greater share of the vote than before  He was and would always remain Iowa’s hero.

Yet with his coffers full and his belly satisfied, it was finally time to leave; and so it was that this still relatively young man was seen in St. Tropez, Aspen, and Gstaad, as at home with Europe’s literati and aristocratic sophisticates as he had been with his American admirers. He was indeed a man for all seasons, living proof that glibness, agility, and most of all moral independence were the keys to the kingdom.


"I Want To Be Black!" - The Sad Whiteness Of Joe Biden

Bill Clinton said he was the first black president, and he indeed came as close as they come.  He loved fried chicken, collard greens, and the blues.  He loved hanging out with black men on the stoop, sharing stories about poontang and moonshine.  He liked the Reverend Al Sharpton, and the aging coterie of Martin Luther King.  He said that he felt for the plight of black people – it was a personal, emotional thing with him, not just a political one.  Even more than LBJ who did more for the black community than any president since Lincoln, Bill Clinton’s empathy was heartfelt.  He was moved to tears over a poor black child, fist-clenching angry over reports of lingering Jim Crow and continuing denial of black rights.  

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Black people loved him, apparently.  They loved his warmth and good-natured camaraderie, and felt that his friendship was above and beyond ‘the black vote’.  He was a friend to the black man, and they would never forget it at the polls. The fact that he drew the line at black women – his preferences were uniquely white – gave some blacks pause.  If he were really one of them, he would be courting their women.  Ordinarily black men were angered at white sexual trolling – for that was what it was, sexual adventurism which never amounted to anything; and worse, white men never settled for anything less than the high-toned, sassy, and best black women, emptying the gene pool of the best.  Yet, they forgave Clinton for his white women.  He meant well, but how could an Arkansas cracker ever get above high-gloss nail polish, tight skirts, and cheap beauty parlor hair?  He was as black as a white man could get, but still as white as an Easter lily.

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Joe Biden in his private moments wanted to be even more black than Bill Clinton.  He wanted to truly breach the divide between black and white, make the racial promise of America reside in him.  He wanted to walk, talk, and act as black as the men whom he secretly admired.  He was no Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas fan.  They had been laundered, bleached, and whitened beyond recognition.  If you shut your eyes when they spoke, you would swear that they were white.  No, he wanted the true black experience, but didn’t know how to get it.

Of course, growing up in Delaware, he had no chance to associate with black people let alone become like them.   The 40s and 50sin Wilmington were still socially segregated; so he played ball with white classmates in white neighborhoods, went to a white church and white schools, and  never saw a black person except through the windows of the crosstown bus.  Bill Clinton’s South was a very different place.  

While assumptions of racial inferiority persisted in the South – the legacy of slavery, Reconstruction legislatures packed with illiterate former slaves, and the autocracy of the Freedmen’s Bureaus lingered – it was far more integrated than the North ever was or could be.  In small towns of Mississippi white, middle class neighborhoods abut poor black ones; whites and blacks crisscross, greet each other, and are cordial; nothing like neo-apartheid Washington DC where east of the Park is all black, and west of it all white.  The races in Washington only meet in the federal government or at the DMV.

Bill Clinton came by his racial tolerance naturally.  It wasn’t necessarily that he thought blacks were equal to whites – such distinctions were never in play in the quiet corners of the South were both races were in their place – but that he knew that their overwhelming demographic proportions in the Southern states could mean victory for him.  To be fair, Clinton was a naturally, inherently social person.  He was always comfortable in a crowd, whatever its complexion.  It was just as easy for him to be with black people as white. Joe Biden, for all his Congressional gregariousness never had the personal intimacy of Clinton.  His smile was always fixed in place signaling bonhomie and welcome but little more; but such empty political camaraderie got him perennially reelected in his small state where everyone knew him.

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The black ‘thing’ was therefore new to Biden.  For most of his political career he had supported liberal causes and civil rights was one of them; but unlike Clinton, he could never think black, nor even imagine any part of the black experience.  Despite his liberal political agenda and his longstanding progressive commitment to the black cause, he always felt removed – not exactly a poseur or dilettante, but far from the action.

Being Obama’s Vice President didn’t help at all.  To Obama’s credit he never went black, talked black, or acted ghetto.   He was half-white, educated in traditionally white schools, and was part of the Eastern Establishment elite.  The white electorate celebrated his presidential victory, hoping that his accession signaled the beginning of the end of racial tensions in America.  Of course they were as ignorant as Joe Biden about black inner city communities where persistent dysfunction, culture of entitlement, and lack of personal responsibility increased their segregation.   When blackness exploded in the form of radical, organized, angry demonstrations orchestrated by Black Lives Matter, these former moderate Obama supporters were surprised, frustrated, and not a little angry.  What did these people want?  They got a black president.

So, by the time Joe Biden sat in the White House, racial tensions and hostilities were at their height; and he, a good, lifelong progressive, wanted to put things right.  But he was not Clinton or Johnson, Southerners with an instinctive sense of race; and as much as he kept a political silence about the destructive rampages after the deaths of black men during police arrests, he was nonplussed.  As a child of the temperate, homogeneous, righteous, white 50s, for all his political solidarity, he couldn’t understand the chaos, nor the inner city culture from which it came.

No one who followed Biden’s career in political office every suggested that he was a leader.  He was at best a man of compromise, moderation, and good will – a dutiful follower, a responsible advocate for his constituents and little more.  The Vice Presidency was the perfect office for him.  It required nothing.

Unfortunately this sense of dutiful following and generous compromise coincided with diminished mental acuity.  He couldn’t quite frame an issue the way he used to, got confused when asked to sort through variables and proximate causes; and turned his affairs over to his Vice President.  Moreover she, being black herself, would certainly be able to calm the racial waters and by example show the young men of the inner city that they too could rise to power and prominence.  Of course she was just about as black as Condoleezza Rice, Obama, or Colin Powell,  and so was far removed from the inner city; but Biden was proud that he had selected her as a running mate and immediately put her out front with the black community.

Still, this didn’t do the trick for the President.  Thanks to the radical liberal leanings of the media and especially Hollywood, there were black actors, black-themed dramas, and racially charged scenarios far out of proportion to the small percentage of blacks in the population.  Any foreign visitor watching American prime time television would think that black people were at least fifty percent of the population, not the bit more than ten that they were.  The more Biden watched, the more he wanted to be black – authentically black, ghetto black, rap, pimped, bejeweled black.  How sad and sorry was his white-bread, prayerful, duty-bound, responsible life.  White privilege? Hell, no.  Whiteness was an unhappy lot.

Yet, now almost 80, he knew that he would always be just a black wannabee.  No hot, black women in his bed, no malt liquor on the stoop on hot summer nights, no spinners, pimped out rides, and fur coats.  It was a sorry consignment.  Worse, the whole White House thing looked like a charade.  He had plugged racial types into his Cabinet like pegs, entertained young black Congressional radicals with a smile, talked up Black Lives Matter, condemned systemic racism and championed Critical Race Theory; but felt he was a stick figure propped up in the middle of a bad soap opera.

In other words, he had been duped just like millions of other white liberals who were conned into thinking that whiteness was a bad thing, blackness was a higher good, and that radical racial reform – expunging and erasing America’s past; lionizing minority culture and dumping Socrates, the Sun King, and the Renaissance; dismantling capitalism and embracing a New Social World Order – was America’s future.

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“Turn that music off!”, shouted Jill to Joe, snapping his fingers to Lil Uzi Vert. “I’m trying to sleep”.  

Image result for Images Lil Uzi Vert. Size: 204 x 204. Source: www.themodestman.com

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Allure Of Absolute Rule - Putin Envy In A Fractious Society

 “You can say one thing about dictators”, said one of Joe Biden’s White House aides, “they keep the peace”.

The aide had spent what he considered his halcyon years  in Haiti under the Duvaliers, a time of peace and quiet.  It was a romantic idyll, and he would have felt no sense of intimacy without the voodoo drums, the scent of jasmine growing in the gardens of the estates above the hotel, or without the rancid smell of the port that drifted up from the city in the early morning when the air pressure and the direction of the breeze changed. 

He danced in Carrefour, spent weekends in cabanas on the beaches of Les Cayes and Macaya, and drove up north to Gonaives and Cap Haitien; but his love affair would never have happened if they had he and his lover met across the mountains in the Dominican Republic. Haiti was their go-between, their matrix, their enabler.

They never talked about Haiti, Duvalier, the Tontons, or voodoo.  They talked only about other things, things which had varied content but were all told within the context of Haiti. Their home towns of New Brighton and Fort George would always  be remembered as not Haiti. Not hot, tropical, gingerbread, threatening, ominous, passionate, and violent.

It was not surprising that the Haitian love affair continued only as long as the lovers met in Haiti. Neither ever suggested that they meet in Boston, New York, or Miami; and when her summer internships were over and his last contract delivered, they knew that their affair was over.  Their friendship was uniquely, irrevocably Haitian.

Papa Doc Duvalier and his son were the enablers of the affair.  They had assured that Haiti remain an idyll, an irresistible mix of voodoo, Africa, and La France d’Outre-Mer. The Tonton Macoutes, henchmen of the Duvaliers, secret police more brutal and threatening than Savak or Stasi ever were, maintained order, enforced loyalty, and kept the island a secure redoubt of Duvalierism. 

The White House aide and his lover went everywhere without a second thought – dancing in Carrefour, dining at the best restaurants in Petionville and Kenscoff, spending weekends in the cabanas of Cormier Plage and Port-Salut. The anger, resentment, and civil violence which were to erupt after the Duvaliers were gone were unseen and unspoken.  There were only pleasures, the assumption of idyll, the complete exercise of romance.  For the foreigners who visited, that is, who stayed at the Oloffson, who dined at Cote Cour, Cote Jardin, who ate lambi creole and bouillabaisse by the port, and who slept with their verandah windows open.

After the Duvaliers Haiti became a violent, dysfunctional, ungoverned and ungovernable place to be avoided.  Its poverty was miasmic, its civil disobedience unruly and dangerous, its prospects nil.  The idyll of the Duvaliers was gone forever.

Dictatorship is the rule in Africa.  Its ‘big men’, presidents for life, have amassed great wealth and absolute power, have welcomed billions of dollars in foreign aid from donors anxious to keep African countries friends of democracy in perpetuity, and have ruled with impunity. The guarantee of civil order, fondness for the West, and a continuing supply of energy, rare earth materials, and precious gems have been enough contractual security for the United States and the EU.


Where dictatorship has broken down, civil war has broken out.  Ethiopia and Somalia once under militant dictatorships, have been in a state of perpetual conflict for decades. 

Africa is not alone in this phenomenon.  Thanks to Soviet support and his own bullying, intimidating character, Marshal Tito gained absolute control of Yugoslavia.  Not surprisingly when the Soviet Union disintegrated and Tito’s power was no longer absolute, civil war broke out between and among the former republics of Yugoslavia. Autocrats and dictators keep the lid on dissent and unrest until they are gone.

Modern day autocrats are many, powerful, and immovable.  Putin in Russia, Xi in China, Kim in North Korea, Erdogan in Turkey, and the imams and mullahs in Iran rule with absolute power and authority.  While recent events in both Russia and China have shown the vulnerability of autocrats – history has shown that it will take more than ill-advised military adventures or ham-handed civil rule to depose them.

Democracy is of course a recent phenomenon, often dated in 1789 and the French Revolution.  Although the subsequent Terror of Robespierre turned out to be more brutal than the rule of the monarch they deposed, it was short-lived; and although Napoleon was no democratic model, his Empire was relatively benign.  

The British tried their hand at democracy under Oliver Cromwell, but monarchists returned to power shortly thereafter with the Restoration.  The rule of the public – the masses – was never popular. Even in America’s new democratic republic, there were notable dissenters.  Alexander Hamilton was opposed to Jeffersonian ideals of democratic rule and was sure that the unwashed had no place in governance.

Before the French Revolution since the very beginnings of Western and Eastern civilization, autocratic rule was the only rule. Roman emperors, Persian shahs, Popes, Japanese shoguns, Chinese mandarins, and European kings ruled by legacy and divine authority.  Although democrats condemn these millennia of history for their elitist, privileged, harshly authoritarian rule, it was these monarchs who were responsible for the expansion of empire and the arts, science, philosophy, social structure, and architecture that they sponsored.

China is a good example of a successful modern autocracy.  Chinese leaders since the revolutionary Deng Xiaoping in the late 70s have been unequivocal about their vision and ambitions – only with a strong central leadership, the fidelity, political support, and loyalty of citizens can poverty be eliminated and the country restored to its historic greatness.  The success of this policy has been obvious.  

In a few short decades China has risen from an impoverished failed state to one of the world’s great powers with economic, political, financial, and military strength.  Dissent, American style, China’s leaders have professed, will only delay the progress of social and economic reform.  The country cannot be delayed by bickering and sniping, both of which lead to  disorder and dysfunction.


The Chinese look at America not as an ideal political model, but an example of the worst kind of governance.  It is a country sorely divided over nonsensical social issues.  Its previous unity, patriotism, and common ethos have been corroded by demands for gay birthday cakes, horrific surgical interventions to change sex, uncontrolled, disruptive immigration, and irresponsible government spending.  China owns America and its ownership will become more complete the more its administrations borrow to spend.

So while President Biden may whine and carp about China, it is a most worthy and threatening adversary.  In times of crisis, there is no doubt that the Chinese citizenry would rally around the government.  Such solidarity and fidelity goes beyond temporal politics.  China is on its way to restoring its past Imperial glory, its rightful place in the world.   The United States is now nothing but a hopelessly fragmented, lost, and unsure country.

There is no American president who has not bridled under the demands of democracy – the childish antics of Congress, the disputatious governors, the fickle and ignorant public all militating against what he knows is the truth and the right ways – and Joe Biden cannot be any different. While he has capitulated to the insistent demands of the progressive Left and contributed to divisiveness and public anger and distrust, he must certainly be an admirer of Xi and his presidential predecessors who built a modern empire out of relatively  nothing in less than 50 years. 

How can he look at the Palace of Versailles, the ruins of Persepolis, the Taj Mahal, the conquests of Genghis Khan and Ancient Rome, the Parthenon, and the Winter Palace without some wince of envy.  Emperors and kings built civilization, and now America, in the throes of democratic excess and chaos, is doing its best to erode it. 

History has also shown that while history always repeats itself thanks to human nature, its aggression, territorialism, and self-interest,, the expressions of each era are always unique.  Kings and queens come and go.  Empires grow and fade.  Social experiments, like socialism, communism, and democracy come and go, succeed and fail in spurts but never last.  The only certainty is the persistence of authoritarian rule, bred out of human nature, the legacy of history, and the increasingly intense competition among nations.