Reflections on the Politics of Character Assassination and Personal Destruction: Yesterday’s, Today’s and Tomorrow’s

The Deep State’s relentless efforts to destroy Mr. Trump remind me of several other instances of successful destruction of once popular populist leaders. The link is populism but “populism” defined, not in the pejorative manner now being used by the corporate media and deluded academics, but in the sense of democracy unrestrained by the institutional fetters that make it little more than an illusion, a concept useful for those who really control the reins of power, but nothing more. Of course, populism comes in many flavors and some are not only wrong, but horribly wrong. That is the nature of real democracy, and of liberty, and of pluralism. None are inherently good or inherently evil. What the four media orchestrated Deep State campaigns I have in mind have in common is only that they involved populist rebellions against the status quo, and that they were, in their time, and even now, singularly squashed. Given what is happening with Mr. Trump today, I ask myself, as I frequently have with respect to others in the past, how much truth is there in what we have been taught and in some cases, why have contrary opinions been criminalized. In my experience, criminalization of thoughts and opinions almost always (perhaps always), means that something meaningful is being hidden. Probably something that might again resonate among the deprecated masses as it had before.

Of the four personages to whom I refer, the first was Napoleon Bonaparte, now to some extent, if not rehabilitated, at least the subject of some historical perspective. Not only was there an organized and well financed attempt after his final defeat to assassinate his character, successful for a time, but he was in all probability actually assassinated as well. Perhaps because Latin Americans, especially in Chile, perceived him as a possible champion and leader. Still, he is remembered for his military prowess rather than for having developed the modern legal and educational systems. And populism in his case, while it started in the context of a democratic revolution, “The” revolution, morphed into a non-democratic variant, as dis the second on my list.

The second shall remain nameless as any attempts to view him in more than one dimension is punishable as anathema, an abomination and perhaps, if society has its way, always will be. Perhaps deservedly so but, for those interested in unabridged truth, perhaps we’ll never know. Yet seemingly, like a zombie, his echoes refuse to stay dead although, who can know whether those who still admire him admire naught but the golem created by his enemies. Kind of like “Satanism”, a straw man creation of the Catholic Church all too useful as a means of maintaining control.

The third person, the one I think about most frequently today, was former United States president Richard Millhouse Nixon. In light of what is happening before our eyes, perhaps he deserves another look. But what a successful hatchet job was done on him, novel then, not so much today. He cursed, like so many political leaders then (and probably now), was racist and perhaps xenophobic, but certainly no more so than his predecessors, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson. Nor, … if he was corrupt, … any more corrupt than either of them and certainly less corrupt than his successors: William Jefferson Clinton, Barrack Hussein Obama and Joseph Biden. Indeed, the “Watergate scandal that thrust him from office was tame compared to the machinations of the Obama administration in the elections of 2016, but then, times have changed (albeit old perceptions have been cast in stone). I lived through the Nixon era and remember it well, and I recall how much the Deep State hated him, not for the foibles attributed to him, but for having broken the “solid South”, for having ended the War in Vietnam and much more for his unforgiveable opening to China and rapprochement with the Soviet Union, for having ended the military draft and succeeded in obtaining the vote for eighteen year olds. For having proposed not only universal healthcare but also a guaranteed minimum income (something he referred to as the negative income tax). For having established the Office of Management and Budget, the Domestic Council, the Environmental Protection Agency and for having signed the Clean Air Act of 1970, the initial Clean Water Act (although he vetoed the second) and the Endangered Species Act of 1973. While portrayed as a racist and closet segregationist, he desegregated more schools than all previous presidents combined, approved a strengthened Voting Rights Act, developed policies to aid minority businesses and supported affirmative action. He promoted passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act which established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as well as the Consumer Product Safety Act. Finally, at least with respect to this reflection, he also endorsed the never passed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. Hmmm, hardly the monster the Deep State, Democratic Party and corporate media have imbedded in the national conscience and in our history books, but Hell, he was a trouble maker with no respect for the status quo. He was horrible in a bipartisan manner in Latin America, especially with reference to a real 9/11, the one that took place in Chile in 1973, but the Deep State was much more than fine with that, and with the War on Drugs, but those bipartisan accommodations were not nearly enough. And he is dead, finally!!!

So, about the fourth person on my list, the Donald (as he perhaps likes to perceive of himself). It’s hard to believe that the Deep State and its minions would launch a campaign more virulent than that launched against former president Nixon but yet, here we are. I do not support his policies, they treat symptoms and not causes, and his personality, pompous and abrasive, is off putting to say the least, but then again, in context, perhaps no more off putting or abrasive than that of the leaders of the Democratic Party or of the corporate media. It is clear that the populist nerve he touched with his astoundingly unexpected triumphs in 2016, not only in the presidential election but in the GOP primaries, terrified the powers that be in both the Republican and Democratic Parties. Contrasted with the ruthless efficiency with which the Democratic Party destroyed its own populist insurgency and turned its leadership into tame puppets, it is no wonder that the Deep State came out of the shadows and did whatever it took, unrestrained, to destroy Mr. Trump in a scorched earth, no holds barred, damn the costs campaign, one that did not end with the manipulated if not necessarily “stolen” elections of 2020. Another truth we’ll never find.

Now, as in the case of the other three subjects of this analysis, political defeat is not enough, destruction is essential, and as in the case of Napoleon, assassination, if necessary, does not seem out of the question. That is at least as true among traditionalist Deep State Republicans as it is among Democrats, after all, he is the instrument through which the populist Tea Party movement wrested control of the Republican Party from the Deep State, and they are terrified that, even having helped overthrow him, they are unlikely to regain control, and if they don’t and he returns, there’ll be Hell to pay. So you have where we are today. Without any good options at all, not that there have been any since … hmmm, I don’t seem to have a “since” in real American History.

As in all four cases, truth today is utterly irrelevant, hypocrisy a positive rather than a negative, and consequences, well they’re something to be dealt with when the populist problem, both from the left (the Sanderistas) and from the right (the Tea Party) has been put to rest and the masses of the Bernie Bros and the despicables utterly defeated. The obvious fear that these four persons enjoyed popular support too widespread to be tolerated needs to be assuaged so that the denizens of the Deep State and their elitist masters can continue to feed in peace. Still, like weeds, their sort keeps popping up.

An interesting observation is that, as in the case of the Trump policies, ruthless as these tactics and strategies are, they only treat the symptoms that give rise to populism, leaving the causes, like the roots of weeds, all too alive and ready to sprout anew. Causes like institutionalized inequity and injustice, institutionalized income inequality, minimized welfare services and rare opportunities for real upward mobility. Causes like the manipulated divide and conquer polarization caused by identity politics that exacerbates rather than resolves social ills such as racism, misogyny, xenophobia and sexism: the causes, issues and realities that give rise to populism on the left as well as on the right, and keep its dying embers alive.

Of course, perhaps “give rise to populism” is an incongruous phrase in a purportedly democratic society. Perhaps, in a non-virulent strain like that found once upon a time among the left wing of the Democratic Party led by the likes of Tulsi Gabbard and Dennis Kucinich, populism might still provide hope. But that hope is safely and helplessly mired in the Democratic Party quicksand that keeps its populists immobile and prevents the development of a viable left wing populist movement in the United States.

I wonder what Tulsi Gabbard plans to do next?


© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Reflections on Alex

It’s a pretty day in late January, but in a world largely devoid of joy, full of hate and fury, injustice and deception joyfully triumphant, the future shrouded in malodorous mists.  But still, … rays tinged in amber shades of joy break through.

I’m plodding my way through Norton’s anthology of English literature, Volume 2 after fifty or so years, I’m only on my second Poet, William Blake, someone deeply inspired by religion but who contrasted innocence with reality’s depravity, and as so often happens with almost anything, it made me think of my second son, Alex.  Ironic given Alex’s current views, But Alex, unlike so many now, is still open to other views.

Nothing in my life has ever been as beautiful as Alex as a young child.  Generous, full of love, and reveling in delight at the smallest things, almost no matter what.  A cry so beautiful no music compared in stirring my heart and motivating me to succeed.  So sharing and generous he set an example for me which I’ve always tried to follow.  His faith in me, the greatest reward I ever received.  He is very far away and I love and miss him very much.

He’s grown and changed a great deal, at least externally.  He’s a father now, and a husband, and an aspiring author.  His writing is mostly of battles and monsters and gore but I wonder if somewhere there isn’t a beautiful fragile flower full of hope waiting to be born.  Little Alex is still there, not all that far from the surface.  I wonder how he’d enjoy writing poetry instead.  Not in verse, he’s too free, too independent for that.  But his empathy has saved many a friend, and sometimes, a dad as well.

I recall that little children always loved him, and animals did too.  And friends always trusted him even if they’d once been antagonists and treated him poorly.  It’s hard not to come to love Alex: ask Salo and Paula, and now Missy too.  Layers upon layers and dreams upon dreams.  Trials upon trials I wish I could have spared from him, but life’s like that, the best laid plans too often go astray.  But still, Alex is Alex and nobody else, which is as it should be.

Reflections and dreams, rays of sunshine on bitter days, memories to warm the heart.  That was, is and always will be, … Alex to me.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Thoughts on a Terrible Day in January, 2021

Incoherence and hypocrisy seem in total control today. Truth has been vanquished, at least for now. Intolerance in the name of tolerance is the order of the day. Censorship in the name of liberty has become the rule.

Sigmund Freud, perhaps in the throes of depression, seeking solace once wrote “in darker times there was a person who thought as you do”. In the United States these are clearly such darker times and it is time to take stock as to who the real antagonists are.

The civic crisis in the United States today is not between purported fascist right wing extremists and radical leftist communists. That is the scenario that has been drawn to divide and polarize us by those who seek to maintain complete control over us. Today’s battle pits the populist wings, both left and right, against the Deep State and its minions, and, as should now be obvious, there is nothing the Deep State will not do, is not doing, to grasp and maintain power. It does so through Identity Politics which politicizes serious social ills, not in order to resolve them but as a tool to distract us and set us at each other’s throats, to divide us, to divide our families, to generate hate and vanquish empathy. Empathy leads to discourse, to open minds and to solutions, and that is intolerable to the Deep State.

The portion of our populace involved in empowering the total takeover by the Deep State is magnified by its minions, but they too are victims, manipulated emotionally by a constant barrage of propaganda where truth has no place, nor does constancy nor logic. Hypocrisy rules. The sane still exist, they exist on the left and on the right wings of the political spectrum, differing as to policies but with a profound faith in democracy and dialogue. Things seem hopeless today but the United States is not the whole world, nor is today eternity. If we on the left and on the right, those who have woken to the reality that the government is not our friend and that the major political parties, like the corporate media, are all too efficient tools of the worst among us, if we keep dialogue open and seek what unites us instead of what divides us, someday we may prevail and this dark night will witness a new dawn.

To many who have been deluded by centuries of propaganda presented as history, perhaps the injustice they face today, the frustration and impotence in the face raw power, will lead to a metamorphosis in our dealings with the world at large, with recognition that tolerance for differences and the choices of others in other societies must be respected and not merely eradicated. That while terrorism exists, those whom we have labelled terrorists are merely desperate people who have been flagrantly denied access to justice and served up hubris instead. Like the hubris we face today.

Let us not be like those enthralled with power who believe they can change minds through ridicule and belittling while keeping their own minds tightly shut. Today is their day but it needn’t last forever. Don’t isolate and withdraw. Find those with whom you do not agree and with kindness and diplomacy and reason and examples, engage in dialogue; willing to listen as well as to preach, and someday this too will be behind us.

“Someday”, as the beautiful African American anthem proclaims, “We Will Overcome”.


© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Reflections on a January Morn as 2021 Spreads its Sullied Wings

Bald eagles tear at white doves, they always have and seemingly always will.

Pandora’s Box has been open for a while now and its contents, for a time useful, at least to some, are now inconvenient.  Tides turn, shoes are exchanged; perceptions change seemingly overnight.

“What’s good for the goose is [not] good for the gander”! “Do as I say, not as I do”!  “Close the damned barn door, all the horses have already left”!

“Shut the damn lid on that terrible box!”  Wishful thinking as roosters come home to roost.

“A nation divided against itself cannot stand”, at least until it’s been taken apart and rebuilt and the divisions healed, … Or perhaps just “eliminated”. 

“Eliminate them all, the lying treasonous bastards” echoes from all sides.

From the grandstands and especially the press box, cheering and laughter eggs the bloodied players on as from deep within the bowels of Hell, Caligula laughs.

“I see” exclaims the blind woman as her deaf mute neighbor ripostes “you obviously lie” and life moves on, the blind led by the deaf and dumb into tombs that once served as echo chambers for deluded mobs.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

The Nevermore

Tis the morning of the night before
and I wake to memories that never were.

Stillborn echoes of inchoate dreams
so certain once but now,

lost in the nevermore,

calling like the ache
of a phantom limb still dreaming
of being restored.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Christmas Eve, 2020, in the City in the Sky

It dawns in this city nestled high in the middle range of the Colombian Andes, always beautiful in diverse ways, whether brightly lit in amber rays of light or covered in low lying clouds or drizzling amidst chilly breezes, but always a shade of spring.

Holidays and special days always seem melancholy and nostalgic for me. As always I miss my sons and friends back in my other homes, Ocala and Charleston and New York and Fort Lauderdale and Charlotte and Miami, but I’m grateful for my friends and family here in Manizales. Christmas Eve, once a day of delightful anticipation, no matter how poor we then were, now a day for memories and reflections. And gratitude for the life I’ve been privileged to live, regardless of how often I’ve wallowed in self-pity.

The world seems awful today but it almost always has, with evil (purportedly lesser) in charge, evil setting us against each other, dividing friends and families in fruitless fights over which party will abuse, deceive and steal from us least, driving us to expend energies better spent in savoring the delight of those around us, in helping each other cope, in creating a more equitable and happy world instead of expecting someone to hand it to us on a holiday platter.

It’s been decades since I was comforted by our holiday myths, times when I believed that the Prince of Peace would soften our hearts and open our eyes, and his rotund emissary would bring the gifts I’d been promised while sitting in his lap in a crowded and happy shopping center, bills be damned. But still, hope that goodness is tangible and real survives somehow, just out of reach, as if we were in a nightmare from which we could not yet escape but already knew it for a dream and were fairly sure we’d soon wake.

A few friends will gather here tonight, seven of us, sharing food and drink and memories and aspirations. This will be a quite Christmas in the midst of a pandemic that may or may not be as serious as described but which is serious enough to require us all to take care. I’ll be thinking of Billy and Alex and Edward. I’ll be wondering what magic Candice and Paula have cooked up. And I’ll be imagining the delight that Rosey and Melissa will be feeling as they look at wrapped presents under beautifully decorated trees with mature Salome looking on indulgently; my sons, their wives and my grandchildren.

I’ll be remembering old Christmases when I was the child and my mother and stepfather and brother and sister reveled in that special day in small apartments in Miami, or Queens, or with my grandmother and aunts here in Manizales. Old Christmases when I was the father with my sons and their mother in Fort Lauderdale and Hendersonville and Belleview and Ocala, when Santa’s deer sometimes left hoof prints on our roofs, and when, whether we had plenty (usually) or very little (once) we were as happy as it was possible to be because we were together.

I’ll be wondering what the memories I make today will taste like in some future far away.

I’ve shared so much love with so many people across the years, my family and friends, lovers with whom I’ve lost touch and lovers who’ve always remained nearby (at least spiritually), my classmates and former students at the old Eastern Military Academy and my class mates and ever growing chain of brothers at the Citadel. My colleagues and former students at the several universities in Manizales with whom I’ve been involved during the past thirteen years as well as the civic leaders, journalists and artists with whom I’ve developed strong bonds. I’ve had and am having a wonderful life, one that even Jimmy Stewart and Satchmo, somewhere on the other side of the veil with many others I’ve loved and treasured, might find enviable.

I miss my mother and grandmother and Aunt Carola, who left too early, at least for my tastes, and Pop and my Uncle Pacho who were the first to go. And those of my classmates and friends who have gone on to join them. I’ll be thinking of them today too, and reliving memories, the best of presents when one stops to think about it, gifts that really keep on giving. Christmas, 2020, a terrible year in too many ways until we stop and remember those closest to us, and then, it really is a special time of year.

Merry Christmas to all, or Saturnalia, or Yule, or Chanukah or Festivus or Solstice (winter or spring depending on where you find yourself). May peace finally find a home among us, and equity and justice and tolerance and respect, and may honor and honesty prosper someday soon, at long last.

And may the legends and myths with which we seek comfort bring us together rather than split us apart.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Response to the Latest Criticism of VMI by the Corporate Media in a Case a Bit too Close to Home: The expulsion of a black cadet, the son of a Citadel graduate, for violating the VMI Honor Code

On December 21, 2020 Ian Shapira published an article in the Washington Post entitled “A Black VMI cadet was threatened with a lynching, then with expulsion”. 

The article dealt with the expulsion of the son of a Citadel graduate for having been “adjudged” to have violated the Virginia Military Institute’s (VMI) Honor Code.  I am a 1968 part-Hispanic graduate of the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina and the article hit very close to home in a very conflicted manner because the young man involved is the son of a Citadel graduate and VMI is in many aspects the institution most similar to my own alma mater. 

The first part of the article dealt with racism at VMI.  Racism, that scourge that has afflicted us since Europeans first set foot in this hemisphere and which, like xenophobia and misogyny, has no place in our society or our culture but which cannot merely be erased from our history by destroying its indicia or by setting us at each other’s throats.  The incident seems to have been appropriately dealt with, the guilty student was suspended for a year after admitting his misconduct and apologizing to the black student involved for it, and then elected not to return to VMI, an institution at which he did not belong.  The second chapter is significantly more complicated, it dealt with the eventual expulsion of the black cadet involved in the racist incident for a violation of VMI’s Honor Code in a totally unrelated matter initiated by a faculty member, not another cadet.  Read the article.  Although it appears somewhat biased against VMI which the Washington Post seems to have targeted for extinction, the facts are there and they seem clear.

I wrote the following in response to letters circulated to my former Citadel classmates by Chris Hoffman, our class representative.  One of those letters was written by our former classmate, Michael Barrett, a long-time Citadel history professor and also for a long time the faculty advisor to the Citadel’s own Honor Court.  The letters circulated by Chris called the incident to our attention and asked that we reflect on what it means to us, to our beloved institution, and to the other institutions that make an honor system a treasured core value.  The honor system at the United States Military Academy at West Point has also recently been shaken by a large scale violation of its Honor Code on which ours was originally modeled but to which we have managed to remain true, not being subjected to the same political pressures as are the service academies. 

The reflections Chris called on us to make are certainly timely in these very troubled times.  The Honor Code used at the Citadel, VMI and the service academies is short and simple, it should be easy to understand if not to live by.  It provides as follows: “A cadet does not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do”.  My message to my classmates in response to the letters circulated by Chris was essentially as follows:

Honor systems are trying.  My second son elected not to attend the Citadel because he took it seriously and decided that while he could easily respond for his own actions, he did not feel he could turn in a friend.  I was disappointed that he did not follow the path I and his elder brother had “sowed” for him but very proud of his integrity.  Honor systems such as those adopted at the Citadel and VMI are for the very few and as difficult to administer as they are to live by.  That is something too many of today’s journalists cannot understand but that does not mean that they are always wrong, even when they may lack empathy and objectivity in their reporting.

This particular situation is sad because it reflects on the institution most like ours, one experiencing troubled times, and at the same time, it deals with the son of one of our own.  I am pleased to know that our honor system seems superior not only to that employed at VMI but to those used in the service academies.  It is among the aspects of our alma mater we hold most dear and which permits us, as Pat Conroy once wrote, to entrust the keys to our homes to anyone who wears the ring, whether we know him or her or not (although admittedly we have our own bad apples and malcontents).

These are trying times when truth for far too many has become an abstraction and irrelevancy.  When hypocrisy is the order of the day.  But we are each among those most fortunate because of the traditions woven into our being during our four years together at a place we love, even if she sometimes seemed a harsh mistress.

Hopefully, at some point in this sad case, the truth will out and justice will be served, but as the Boo[1] taught us through his own experiences, that is not always the case, and it is when injustice prevails that our mettle is truly tested. 

When to our own selves we must most be true.

Honor should not be a difficult concept to grasp but it is, especially today.  It is disappointing that politics has diluted its rigor at the service academies, something which I believe those sworn to abide by its terms in those historic institutions do not support, but honor and truth seem irrelevant in a society where almost all news is challenged as fake by one side of the political spectrum or the other.  Real heroes, which we desperately need, seem in short supply, although they are probably abundant and merely unrecognized.  All of our systems of justice seem to be failing us having become terminally politicized, but systems of justice, as in the case of honor systems, are as difficult to administer as they are to live by.  Hopefully VMI, the service academies, my beloved Citadel, and the other institutions that take honor systems seriously will avoid their pitfalls, improve them, and continue to produce the very best among us.

No one today really knows whether the black former VMI cadet, the son of a fellow Citadel alumni whom, although I do not know, I would trust with everything I own, committed an honor violation or not. Except for him.  But it appears that some modifications to the manner in which adjudications are arrived at in VMI’s honor system should be considered, albeit not its rigor, and that the service academies should either discard their honor systems if they deem them anachronistic or return to the rigor that once made them so useful in producing principled leaders. 

Honor systems are pretty much black and white and, even if they involve long grey lines, do not work in shades of grey.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.


[1] Lt. Col. Thomas Nugent Courvoisie, known by most as “The Boo”, was the assistant commandant of cadets in charge of discipline at the Citadel during the 1960’s and ironically, probably the person most beloved by its corps of cadets because of his fairness, integrity, humor and sense of honor.

Stray Thoughts on an Ides in December

The Ides of March in the year 44 was a bummer, at least for one Senator.
Interestingly, the next day was probably the date set for Bacchanalia. Probably a somber one that year.

But today is the Ides of December and the year 44 is 2044 years in the past, or perhaps 2043.

Mithras’ birthday is now ten days away. A day now celebrated by his adversaries as that of their own divinity. Poor Mithras, most of his attributes appropriated by the once-almost-Hebrew-king.

Siddhartha’s birthday is not as easily defined although it’s said to fall in the late spring.

Mithras, now faded into myth, perhaps joining Isis, once his rival, there. And Rome? Rome is gone but still here, the village on the Tiber grown to Empire, shrunk to parish and now? Rome. Now what?

An idea and a city and a sheath for the Vatican. The Vatican, interestingly once Caligula’s playground.

The Ides of December. I wonder what Gaius did on that date during late 45 when years counted down instead of up, although those living then were not aware of that oddity.

Of course, neither were those who lived in the temporal vacuum at the turn of that millennium.

Yeshua ben Miriam (or ben Yosef, or ben Adonai) would have been about four then. He’d probably been told he’d been born in the spring with the other lambs.

I wonder if he’d have been surprised that his birth was to be transposed to coincide with Saturnalia.

But I guess Bacchanalia was not really more appropriate, although there was the connection with wine, and of course, with bodies.

Come to think of it, it’s almost Saturnalia now.

Time for masters and slaves to trade places and for chastity to be set aside. Interesting that Chanukah and Saturnalia sometimes coincide. And that Saturnalia ends just in time for Christmas to start.

Ides and Nones and Kalends, where are they now?

Perhaps somewhere in time with Mithras and Isis and sox and handkerchiefs that mysteriously disappear through that interdimensional, intertemporal portal we refer to as a washing machine (or is it the dryer).

Hmmm, Saturnalia. Is it possible we misinterpret what Santa is bellowing when he says “Ho ho ho?


© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Of Linus and Lucy: a sad almost love story

Lucy and Linus on a field of green, gazing at a goal post, wondering what it was that was about to happen.

Neither new for sure.  Perhaps they both had faith that this time it’d be different but, when crunch time came, Lucy couldn´t help herself, and Linus, already head over heels, once more found an empty space where he’d expected much more and fell head over heels some again.

Lucy, outwardly smirking, inwardly asked herself: “now why did I do that?  Again?  And how many times will it happen before I lose him for good?”

Linus was just sad and confused and befuddled, vowing not to keep falling for the same old trick, but knowing he would. 

At least for a while.

And they both wondered: what then?

And then “what then” happened. 

Unexpectedly albeit not inexplicably. 

And what might have been, what should have been, vanished in a puff.

Very much like that football so often had.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

On Entropy and Evil and Harbingers of Hope

Silly similes, awful metaphors and pseudo allegory abound, wrapping us in fetid mists, trapping our senses which gasp for metaphorical breath.  Trying to swim we find ourselves drowning in quicksand and the more we struggle the deeper we’re bound as if by the Chinese handcuffs of our vanishing youth. 

Emotional entropy seems to be getting the best of many of us.  Unfortunately, probably the most decent among us, but that’s been evil’s plan all along. 

To wear us down. 

Lying and distortion and manipulation are fun: no truth to be bound by and defend, no coherence or consistency required, just perpetual attacks no matter what.  Free to be feckless, unbound and free to parody and calumny and betray, all interest free.  And the result is that some of us are subverted and join the party, while others, despairing, just withdraw. 

And evil wins.

Again.

As it seemingly almost always does.

Still, Sigmund Freud, he of analytical sexual mania, once urged us to recall that when things seem hopeless “in darker days there lived a man who thought as we do”, a harbinger of hope, and these are indeed “darker times. One wonders where that man (or woman) was, … or will be?
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.