Daily Pics, My Comic, and The Times
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My wife bought a talking parrot, but returned it to the pet store a week later.

“This parrot hasn’t spoken a single word.” She complained.

“I haven’t had a fuvking chance to!” Replied the parrot.


My friend was changing a tire when the car dropped on his foot.

Now he needs a toe.



If you haven't found all your Easter eggs, no worries. Give ‘em a couple of weeks in the sun and it'll be easy.

I'm trying a new all-egg diet. Could be healthy, if they weren't Cadbury eggs.

According to a new survey, 7% of Americans are not connected to the Internet. When asked why, most responded with, "Because I just don't trust America Online."

I'm old enough to remember when "Did you get the Corona?" meant, "Did you remember to get the beer at the store?"

The city of Seattle says they will not allow homeless camp sweeps on camps that have formed on school grounds, saying it would teach the wrong things to kids about the homeless. In a related story, they've also banned teaching the definition of ‘trespassing' and ‘vagrancy.'

That volcano in Iceland has released its third lava stream. Observers say it's streaming even more than you do at home during work hours.

You know, the other night I tried to watch that "Godzilla versus King Kong" movie on HBOMax and I realized: "Oh, my God-I've grown up!"

Yes, it's Friday, but it's not like I NEED Friday. I'd be fine if this was Saturday, too.


The wife thinks I'm a lazy cunt, just because I've hired a secretary at work.

"What do you mean, lazy?" I protested. "She's only going to be dealing with my mail."

"Bob, you're a fucking postman."


What's worse than raining cats and dogs?

Hailing taxis.

Quote of the Times;
Last time I checked you were still a forever being with as many second chances and new romances saved up as there are stars in the night sky; whose thoughts fly on wings, whose dreams become things, and for whom all the elements bow. In case you were wondering. – Bruno

Link of the Times;

Issue of the Times;
American Exodus by Angelo M. Codevilla

Don’t wait for the oligarchy to let you in. Just walk away.

When Machiavelli wrote, “in order to know Moses’ virtue it was necessary that the people of Israel be slaves in Egypt …,” he was pointing to the truth that knowing what one is up against is a powerful incentive for dealing with it intelligently. Genesis tells us that only in Moses’ time did the Egyptians make clear how harsh was the alternative to the Exodus by deciding to kill their longtime slaves’ baby boys.

Today, the oligarchy that controls American society’s commanding heights leaves those who are neither its members nor its clients little choice but to marshal their forces for their own exodus. The federal government, the governments of states and localities run by the Democratic Party, along with the major corporations, the educational establishment, and the news media set strict but movable boundaries about what they may or may not say—on pain of being cast out, isolated from society’s mainstream. Using an ever-shifting variety of urgent excuses, which range from the coronavirus, to the threat of domestic terrorism, to catastrophic climate change, to the evils of racism, they issue edicts that they enforce through anti-democratic means—from social pressure and threats, to corporate censorship of digital platforms, to bureaucratic fiat. Nobody voted for this.

What forces can and can’t this oligarchy bring to bear? We have a hint from Time magazine’s Feb. 4, 2021, valedictory of “a vast, cross-partisan campaign” by leaders of business, labor, and the media, in cooperation with the Democratic Party, that “got states to change voting systems and laws” for the 2020 presidential election in contravention of black-letter constitutional law. Rulings by judges in Michigan and Virginia that changes to those states’ absentee ballot laws were blatantly illegal matters not one whit.

Why not? Because the coalition of masters controls the levers of the state and the press. As Time reveals, they “helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time. They successfully pressured social media companies to take a harder line against disinformation and used data-driven strategies to fight viral smears.” Because these elites realized that “engaging with toxic content only made it worse,” they decided on “removing content or accounts that spread disinformation and by more aggressively policing it in the first place.” Instead of answering facts and arguments with which they disagreed, they would ignore their substance and smear whoever voiced them.

The boldness and novelty of these as well as of unmentioned tactics delivered the desired electoral result, and power heretofore unimaginable: Americans in 2021 are being fired or “canceled” from society for whatever anyone connected with the oligarchy finds objectionable—even for asking for evidence of the oligarchy’s assertions. Yet Time tells us that because the process of defeating Donald Trump’s voters angered them further, these oligarchs worry that they gained only “a respite.” Hence the united oligarchy must seek, as The New York Times’ Jamelle Bouie put it, permanent “national political dominance.”

Though that dominance seems at hand, the general population’s compliance with it is not. That is because isolating and alienating anybody, let alone half the country, is the proverbial two-edged sword. Anytime you isolate and alienate someone else, you do the same to yourself. The boundaries that the oligarchs have drawn, are drawing, separate them from the American people’s vast majority, whose consciousness of powerlessness and defenselessness clarifies their choice between utter subjection and doing whatever it might take to exit a system that no longer seems to allow for the prospect of republican self-government.

Composing the differences between traditional America and our new woke oligarchy is impossible because their conflict is asymmetric. The American Revolution, the Constitution, and two centuries of custom endow traditionally minded Americans, conservatives and others, with the preference and habit of living as they please and letting others do the same. They understand concepts like virtue, righteousness, and leadership in terms of the duty to live exemplary lives themselves, not to force others to do so. The enlightened oligarchy and its elite servant classes follow Woodrow Wilson’s progressive dogma: “If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself.”

By this century’s second decade, the oligarchs who occupy the commanding heights of American life had ceased trying to persuade. Self-government has declined as corporations have wielded public powers with private discretion. America’s ruling class—bipartisan, public and private—grew to disdain the rest of America’s religiosity, patriotism, and tastes. But until our own time, most Americans either had not noticed their loss of status as citizens or assumed that they could vote to regain it. But the rulers inspired no confidence and ruled by pulling rank.

In 2014, Pat Caddell’s study of public opinion, which he titled “We Need Smith,” found that:

Eighty-six percent of all voters believe political leaders are more interested in protecting their power than in doing what’s right for the American people. Eighty-three percent believe the country is run by an alliance of incumbent politicians, media pundits, lobbyists, and other interests for their own gain. Further, 79% believe that powerful interests from Wall Street banks to corporations, unions, and PACs use campaign and lobbying money to rig the system to serve themselves and that they loot the national treasury at the expense of every American. … Ninety-two percent say we must recruit and support for public office more ordinary citizens and fewer professional politicians. Not surprising when you consider that 81% believe both political parties do what’s in it for them rather than fix our nation’s problems.

Such figures bespeak neither conservatism nor liberalism, but widespread alienation and disdain among people who understand themselves to be subjects of a selfish power to which they have no personal connection and that exists beyond their collective control. Hence, in the runup to the 2016 election, the bipartisan ruling class entirely lost control of right-leaning voters and failed to hold on to nearly half of left-leaning ones. Opposed by both parties’ hierarchies, Donald Trump won the presidency more as a social rebel than as any kind of recognizable economic or political conservative, by appealing to people whose personal style and opinions on any number of subjects deviated from what was being presented as “mainstream”—including any number of people who had previously voted for Barack Obama and for Bernie Sanders.

Trump won in 2016 as the candidate who would lead the country class out of the clutches of the ruling class—as a caricature of Caddell’s Mr. Smith. The ruling class—Wall Street, K Street, Washington grifters, the educational establishment, the media, and the corporations—saw the alienation that Trump embodied as the mortal threat that it is to their own power and positions. Unable and unwilling to change their way of governing, or the system of heavily bureaucratized crony capitalism from which they so massively benefit, these people resolved to secure the votes of Blacks, Hispanics, women, and the young by encouraging them to make war on whites, men, and conservatives. “Hate thy neighbor and stick with us!” was their program. Hence the four-year campaign leading up to the 2020 election was all about hating Trump and beating down his voters on the basis of race, sex, the Russians—anything to divert from what the rampant oligarchy was doing to the rest of the country.

Hate-as-identity was key to the ruling class’s victory in the 2020 election. For the elites, indulging sentiments of moral superiority, promoting hate, and rubbing “deplorable” faces in the dirt is a means to secure and mobilize supporters, which itself is incidental to securing the material benefits of power. For those who deliver the votes, indulging hate is affirmation of identity.

Ruling people by insulting and harming them is problematic, and not reversible. The use that the oligarchy made of the COVID epidemic added to insult and injury, as well as to its power, in a manner previously unimaginable. Boldly dismissing without argument the fact that viral infections cannot be stopped from running their course once they have taken root in a population, they asserted that acquiescing to indefinite cessation of social and economic activities they deemed to be nonessential would stop the disease’s progression. The ensuing lockdowns, mask mandates, and other measures made life for most Americans worse in every way. But these strictures also crippled the sectors of American society independent of and resistant to the oligarchy—religious institutions and small businesses. They isolated people and limited what they could hear from and say to each other, leaving them prey to one-way propaganda narratives backed by nightly threats of mob violence.

Correctly, however, the American oligarchy, which resides these days in the Democratic Party, feared that the weaponized, mutually validating narratives with which it had bombarded the population could not guarantee that the American people would vote differently in 2020 than they did in 2016, widespread public dislike for Donald Trump notwithstanding. Not a few suspected that the COVID heavy-handedness had increased resentment among people who had learned to be suspicious of pollsters, reporters, and opinion-samplers.

Ordinary credulity was never enough for swallowing the narrative that universal vote by mail, coupled with drop boxes for ballots and ballot harvesting by self-proclaimed civic groups, plus the reduction or elimination of verification of signatures, would do anything other than transfer electoral power from those who cast votes to those who count them—that is, to the oligarchy and its party. Even so, the ruling class’s victory depended on tens of thousands of votes out of 156 million, in some of the most corrupt counties in the land. In Pennsylvania, the vast majority of all mailed ballots were for Biden. The oligarchy sealed the victory as brazenly as they gained it: by meeting demands for transparency with ad hominem accusations backed by threats of social ostracism and enforced by control, which itself was attained in part by issuing naked threats backed by legislative and bureaucratic power—all over partisan, monopoly digital platforms which eventually participated in censorship.

The oligarchy’s power over American institutions public and private, however, does not change the fact that it rests on near universal voluntary compliance. The irrevocable alienation of and from at least half of Americans has canceled much of the oligarchs’ moral legitimacy and left them obliged to rule by further alienating and punishing—to rule a house that they divided against itself. Hence, the unprecedented power it gathered will prove less significant than the manner in which it did the gathering.

In the first few months of 2021, it is clear that widespread compliance with institutions and leading personages on which the American system of government has long rested is no longer possible. The oligarchy exercises all earthly powers. Its theophobia dismisses heaven’s. It substitutes “narratives” for truth. Because its members internalized the assumption that reason is simply what Hobbes called a scout for the passions, what Marx said is superstructural to material reality, and what the woke call “logism,” it has placed itself beyond the reach of argument. It can neither admit those it deems deplorable to real citizenship— never mind to society’s commanding heights—nor can it set bounds to the next round of exactions and humiliations that, having ditched persuasion, it must visit upon them.

The deplorables plainly stand no chance of dismantling the new American system. Corporate executives, not legislatures, governors, or presidents are the ones who decide what happens to the trillions of dollars created jointly by the Federal Reserve and Wall Street. They are the ones who regulate speech and attitudes, who for the most part decide who rises and who does not. And they are the part of the oligarchy most insulated from republican institutions.

New laws may be most useful for reviving old ones, such as the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act. But the problem lies in a century’s accretion of administrative arrangements, court rulings, and above all, of self-serving practices. Nor would it be possible for these elected officials to restore the republic that was founded in 1776-79, even if an economic recession or act of Providence were to deliver solid electoral victories in the Senate, House, and presidency to a party of the country class (were one to come into being). That is because the republic’s substance withered over a century, and its husk collapsed over the past five years.

In our time, millions of people have grown up or been educated no longer to want or be able to live as citizens of what had been the American republic. Partisans in mind, heart, and habit, their support of the oligarchy’s partisan rule has left the United States with two peoples of opposing character, aspirations, and tastes within its national borders. The government bureaucracies are led by persons selected and habituated against the deplorables. The same can be said of the educational establishment and corporate boardrooms. What sort of dictatorial power would it take to purge them? Were the deplorables to struggle for the partisan power to oppress the others, they would guarantee dysfunction at best, war at worst. That is why it makes most sense for them to assert their own freedom.

Some sort of mostly peaceful exodus is within our powers to achieve. A very bad imitation of Mr. Smith was able to convince 75 million to rise against dangers that were still largely theoretical in 2016. Better imitators can lead many more to act against present ones, and to live within institutions of their own making. We can withdraw our compliance, go our own way, and build anew.

Separation from our oligarchy requires stripping it of its claims of legitimacy. Their means of control—from making and breaking careers to control of institutional machinery—are daunting. Individuals may be penalized easily. But every bit of this power vanishes in the face of mass resistance. The oligarchy is frightened of this, with good reason. Nor can they stop an exodus by using force, sensing that they might well lose the ensuing civil war.

In the American republic, legitimate political power flowed from the voters through their elected representatives. The oligarchy’s claim to rule by superior knowledge and morality dissolves the public’s moral obligation to obey. The oligarchy, illegitimate in republican terms, now rules through threats and fear. But for the solvent consequences of illegitimacy to follow, the falsehood of claims to superior knowledge and morality must be asserted and explained, at the same time as acts of collective disobedience physically defy fear.

Our American exodus won’t be led by a Moses. The Republican Party, with the exception of a few national-level personages, may be as useless as ever. But politics is a collective activity, and the lack of top-down leadership notwithstanding, our exodus is already in progress, thanks to Americans’ legal structures and traditions of state and local autonomy, as well as our Tocquevillian taste for organizing ourselves into ad hoc groups for the common benefit.

Already in the winter of 2021, 33 states, pressed by their voters, are introducing bills to prevent the kind of executive and judicial manipulation of election procedures that occurred in 2020. Ordinary citizens who are oppressed by COVID-inspired overregulation have also organized themselves to take advantage of the fact that safety in numbers is the first rule of civil disobedience. Thus, hundreds of California restauranteurs jointly defied the governor’s order to keep them closed, and sued him. Joint action is also the key to transforming what the authorities want to treat as disciplinary or criminal matters into political ones.

Important as spontaneity is, the substantive and exemplary importance of what elected governors and legislatures can do is even greater. Because Govs. DeSantis of Florida, Noem of South Dakota, Kemp of Georgia, Abbott of Texas (to a lesser extent), and others defied the directives first of the Trump, then of the Biden administration regarding COVID restrictions, their states compiled an incontrovertible record that proves how intellectually wrong, substantively disastrous, and politically malevolent those directives were and are. This is a touchstone for impeaching the oligarchy’s legitimacy on other matters as well, and proof—if any further be needed—that for good and ill in the 21st century, the 50 states need not fear to do pretty much as they please. Nullification has been a fact of U.S public life since Colorado and California rewrote drug laws. There is no reason why it should or can stop there.

It is no less necessary for Americans to subtract themselves from big companies that exercise public powers with private discretion. Stricter application of antitrust laws and ones upholding privacy can help. So can organized boycotts. Sometimes, action does not have to be organized at all. When the Gillette company aired an ad on toxic masculinity, nobody had to tell millions of its customers to shave with other razors. Record low numbers of Americans are tuning in to the Oscars, the Grammys, and other national awards shows, in part because they are sick of being fed an endless diet of contemptuous political rants by self-described “activists” in place of entertainment. They naturally go elsewhere to be entertained.

The exodus requires more, very much including leadership at the national level. Likely, as the national elections of 2022 and 2024 approach, competition for votes will produce persons who answer the call of constituents to affirm their values and defend their ways. The next generation of House and Senate candidates already bears little resemblance to former ones. Around them a coherent movement may well coalesce to end oligopoly in the media, to free Americans from the reign of political correctness, to reaffirm ordinary citizens’ interest in equality under law and in the primacy of nature over politics, to cancel the partisanship of U.S. government agencies—especially law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and the military—and to return American schools to the work of educating our children. Because contending notions of legitimacy are at stake, actions undertaken to such ends must be accompanied, at local and national levels, by relentless explanation about facts, truth and lies, right and wrong.

Once a majority of Americans understand that Google, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, the Times, and Gannett are partisan instruments—that they use lies, censorship, and insults to subjugate us to a form of oligarchical totalitarianism—a substantial portion of their customers will begin to patronize alternatives, and their power over information will cease. That is because their power depends on the public accepting the pretense of objectivity and neutrality that these platforms still see fit on occasion to wear after sucking the life out of 20th-century American media. Stripping them of this borrowed pretense, and highlighting their overtly manipulative partisanship, must be every action’s proximate objective.

Unleashing the tort bar against the media giants while stoking the public’s anger may well do to them what it did to the tobacco industry, to the manufacturers of asbestos, and to the Boy Scouts of America. The states of Florida and Texas are in the process of trying to make the social media giants criminally liable for censoring citizens on their platforms, and civilly liable to individuals who may feel that they have been wronged by acts of censorship or slander. Other states are sure to follow. No doubt the tech cartel will appeal state-level judgments to the federal courts, citing the Communications Decency Act, Section 230. But its language, as Philip Hamburger has shown, by no means self-evidently exempts these companies from liability for censorship or for harm. Surely, proceedings about the giants’ withholding, falsifying, and censoring information would disenchant millions of people who had become their customers in search of a neutral means of communication, and lead them to patronize alternatives actually committed to that goal.

What to do about the media’s banning or restricting the circulation of ideas with which it disagrees, including the distribution of books and movies, is a major issue of national politics. Without shame, medically unqualified “fact checkers” censor the writings of physicians on medical matters, while defining their own beliefs about gender and race as “science.” Letting such pretenses stand also ratifies the negation of the First Amendment. Overcoming them requires ending the exercise of what amount to governmental powers, indeed of police powers, by nongovernmental persons and entities.

Not so long ago, government power was the only threat to the First Amendment. But oligarchy’s essence is precisely the blurring and blending of public and private power in a partisan manner. Hence, media malpractice must be dealt with as part of a bigger political problem, namely expanding the Bill of Rights’ coverage to ostensibly private entities.

What is to be done about private companies that subject employees to training aimed at convincing them that there is something wrong with being white—or at least pretending to convince them? Or that they must abide by the oligarchy’s preferences? To be sure, state governments may outlaw such training within their borders, as part of their general police power. But big employers may object to such laws as contrary to their own freedom of speech, while asserting that the employees’ attendance at those sessions is voluntary. Even if courts back them up, governors and mayors don’t have to listen and can impose their penalties. Public figures, or brave employees, can organize many if not most employees to stay away and to explain just how wrong it is to racially stereotype. Management can’t fire them all. Yet republican self-government can return to at least some Americans only if and when a bloc of major states puts itself in the position of dictating what will and will not happen within their borders.

It’s not as if we, the Smiths, were not warned. As our collective republican grandfather, President Dwight Eisenhower, was leaving office, he told us that “a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity,” that “domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is … gravely to be regarded,” and that “public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.” The outsize power of the military-industrial complex he knew too well was but one of the consequences of our abandoning due caution about those who rule by virtue of their qualifications. Ike would not have been surprised at the attempted dictatorship of self-interested pseudo experts.

Leave aside that pretenses of expertise prove hollow as often as not. Even if those who pretend to rule on behalf of “science” had earned their status by examinations as rigorous and competitive as those of France’s Third Republic bureaucrats, their expertise would not negate the inalienable interest that the rest of us have in living our lives as we see fit—in our own freedom, pursuing our own interests, according to our own lights. “Who the hell do they think they are?” is the core of every Smithian complaint, and republican government’s bedrock argument.

Not all of Americans share it. Some really believe that controlling the Earth’s climate, and facilitating every manner of sexual gratification while exacting racial vengeance, must trump the freedoms of whomever objects. For them, rule by groups, each upholding its ideological and material stake and bargaining behind closed doors—that is, oligarchy—is fine.

But the Smiths notice that the schools are teaching their children less than they had been taught. They have been mortgaging the house to pay for college. Their children’s student loans mortgage their future. But the colleges have produced mostly worthless degrees while credentialing a generation of oligarchs who pretend to control other people’s lives. Remedying this is high on the Smiths’ to-do list, and more within their power than most other things.

Around the country, Americans are fleeing public K-12 schools as fast as they can. This exodus accelerated during the COVID affair as parents observed online the poor quality if not outright dysfunctionality of much that the schools teach. The teachers’ unions stimulated it by showing their priority for their material and ideological interests. Only because most Smiths don’t have the resources for private education or for home schooling is that exodus not accelerating faster.

The Smiths are increasingly open to tying school financing to school choice. Securing for parents a voucher in the amount that their public school spends per pupil, cashable at any school or applicable to the expenses of home schooling, would open a spigot at the bottom of the K-12 industry’s barrel. Merely campaigning to do it would unseat countless oligarchic officials. Though school choice is irrelevant to quality in principle, it frees each set of Smiths to rise or fall to the educational level they choose for their children. Let parents who care about intensively educating their children in science and math or the Greek and Roman classics or the Hebrew Bible to reap the consequences, good and bad, of their own choices. Let parents who want to teach their children that there are an infinite number of genders or that skin color is the all-powerful determining force in their lives or that biology is a human invention bear similar responsibility, without imposing their own beliefs on others.

The issue of quality and the question of what education means in today’s America lead us back to considering the role that reputation for expertise plays in the struggle between republic and oligarchy. We emphasize “reputation” because, as those now in charge of our institutions have rested their authority on “expertise,” they have also downgraded or eliminated objective standards about what that is. The oligarchy similarly perverts “merit,” having declared competitive exams to be out of fashion; in fact, Stanford Law School now decrees “meritocratic” grading policies to be forms of “state-sponsored racial segregation.”

Until recently, graduation from highly selective colleges seemed to certify their graduates as better for having been admitted, and doubly so for having learned more than students at lesser schools. But for a generation, the Ivy League, Stanford, and others have made a point of admitting many students with lower scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test rather than students with higher ones. In general, and with the exception of physics, chemistry, and pure math, the more highly rated the college, the less work it expects from its students. And since learning is inherently proportionate to studying, graduates of these academic peaks often know less than kids out of Podunk State. Yet they give their students something of supposedly greater practical value than knowledge: prestige, pretentiousness, and access to enviable careers.

Which leads one to ask why the nation’s most powerful consulting groups, private equity firms, and big banks hire Ivy League types and pay them so much. They are not necessarily all that bright or knowledgeable. Why then are they so valuable? Not because of what they know, but who they are: junior members of the oligarchy, identically chosen, trained, and confirmed to defend its interests, to communicate its priorities, and preserve its hierarchy. How come the public-private oligarchy was able to use the COVID challenge to crush independent business, thus transferring massive wealth to itself? Because its various parts are staffed by interconnected people who, whatever their differences, instinctively trump the Smiths’ priorities with those of their own class.

Of all the oligarchy’s parts, the educational establishment’s power most depends on prestige. But under the academic regalia, it has no more clothes than the proverbial emperor. The humble Smiths can cut the problem off at the roots simply by ceasing to credit the sources of prestige. The moment that the Smiths cease to think of Harvard and Stanford products as “smart,” and instead think “pretentious,” they deprive the oligarchy of much of its legitimacy. The moment that they realize that most colleges sell expensive four-year vacations from responsibility, they can stop supporting them, and ask instead where and at what price they may best obtain the combination of knowledge and credentials they seek. The Smiths can also urge those choices on whomever they elect at all levels of government.

The oligarchy’s cancellation of most ordinary people out of its desired America leaves the latter with the choice between helotry and exodus. But since submission to inconstant, inept masters is impossible, common sense suggests counter-canceling: limiting involvement with the oligarchy to minimizing its interference on individuals who don’t share its aims and preferences.

The oligarchy’s cancellation of ordinary working people—of those who actively participate in forms of organized religion, and are otherwise attached to the common norms and values that prevailed in America and shaped the civilization in and by which most of us live—signals an alienation deeper than that between citizens of different but friendly nations. Asking how this cultural chasm has come to be detracts from the hard task of understanding its depth and making the best of it. Like married couples who have lost or given up what had united them, trying to work through irreconcilable differences only drives Americans’ domestic quarrels toward more violence.

That is why going one’s own way, while paying no more attention to the woke than is absolutely necessary, should be the agenda of the country party, which in this case includes all of those who still feel an attachment to the ideals of republican citizenship that we once shared in common as Americans.

News of the Times;
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, landed a real job at a Silicon Valley life coaching firm as the new Chief Impact Officer.

Going from doing fuvk all, to doing fuvk all shouldn't be too much of a stretch.


"Mom, what's dark humor?"

"Do you see that guy over there without arms? Ask him to clap his hand"

"But mom I'm blind..."



An old woman accidentally drops her fake teeth at the park while walking her dog.

She can’t find the teeth anywhere in the tall grass. A man spots her bending over and asks what she lost. “I dropped my false teeth somewhere around here.”

“Oh,” the man says, “that’s no big deal. Here, try this pair on.”

He hands her a set of teeth that are too big for her mouth. He hands her a second set of teeth that are too small. Finally, the third set fits just right.

“Thank you so much,” the old woman says. “Do you have a business card? I’ve been looking for a good dentist for some time.”

“Oh, I’m not a dentist,” the man replies. “I’m an undertaker.”


Roman authorities are investigating controversial religious leader Jesus of Nazareth for violating the Empire's clear "stay in tomb" order. After crucifying him and laying him in the tomb, Roman guards put Him under strict orders to stay there and not come back, rising victorious over sin and death.

But Jesus, answering to a higher authority, refused to stay dead and busted out of the tomb, establishing a kingdom that would never end -- again, in clear violation of the government's orders.

"Jesus is a dangerous rebel, refusing to bend the knee to Caesar and not abiding by the law of sin and death," said one Roman official. "He clearly broke the law by leaving the tomb, and we're going to be issuing a citation and placing him under mandatory quarantine for these crimes."

After coming into contact with many large groups over the course of approximately 40 days, Jesus ascended into heaven and is currently thought to be reigning on high.

Authorities are also investigating Him for planning to gather with a large multitude of every tribe, tongue, and nation. He says he currently has no plans to obey any earthly king on the matter, pressing ahead with the gathering of those who believe He died and rose again and trust Him alone for their salvation.


Netflix writers have so many different shows to deal with…

They obviously have trouble keeping all their characters straight.

Quote of the Times;
The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools. – Thucydides

Link of the Times;

Issue of the Times;
The Real Climate Crisis: A New Ice Age from the Accumulation of Snowflakes by Andrew I. Fillat and Henry I. Miller

Crisis, yes. Climate, no. The problem is the accumulation of snowflakes, by which we mean the growing number of younger adults who have come of age believing they have a right to never be offended. It makes no difference to them whether the offender had any malicious intent, knew they existed, or had a legitimate reason to use the offensive language or take the objectionable action. In fact, these snowflakes often seem to go searching for reasons to be offended because victimhood has become fashionable (and indeed, advantageous).

We have no scientific explanation for how the gene pool mutated to produce skin of such exquisite thinness in these generations. Perhaps they inherited some of it from their parents, many of whom were themselves introduced to the joys of victimhood over the last few decades. But the most important causes of this trend are social media and the rampant narcissism it provokes. The snowflakes feel compelled to expose as much of their lives and persona as possible to establish and maintain relationships and a public image, but in the process they create an indelible record that can be scoured for the minutest of offenses. Sadly (for them), this makes them vulnerable if they leave behind something objectionable in a moment of thoughtlessness or rebellion. While some snowflakes are oblivious, others grow perpetually fearful of exposure.

The association is seldom made, but we believe it is the appearance of snowflakes that gave rise to the “cancel culture.” When a person is acclimated to feel outrage or anger from any expression even slightly uncomfortable, disagreeable, or demeaning—regardless of the intended target—those feelings are then typically directed at the source, regardless of how remote he or she may be. Add to that the lynch-mob tendencies of many on social media, and the result is neverending, bloodthirsty, vigilante justice that can be as draconian as destroying a target’s livelihood.

We are in a conceptual ice age where actions and speech are too often frozen by the fear of being canceled. Older people at least have the advantage of not having comprehensively documented the inevitable offenses of their lifetimes. Have many of us ever made disparaging remarks or repeated jokes about blacks, Hispanics, Brits, blondes, Irish, Italians, Jews, Catholics, WASPs, Native Americans, et al.?

Of course, but most often those remarks have no deeper implications or consequences whatsoever. Should we expect, over many decades of adult life, absolute purity of thought, the complete absence of irrational hostility toward anybody, ever, and the innate ability to understand the life experiences of people of every color, gender, and ethnicity? Sadly, it seems that the snowflake generations apply that impossible standard to others willy-nilly, even while it is highly improbable that they themselves comply.

Real life provides constant examples of the excruciating punishment meted out to offenders who fail to meet the standard, even if they are complete strangers whose life experience is unknown. Television shows offer it in living color.

Most recently, this could be seen on “The Bachelor.” The primary character seeking love, Matt (a mixed-race black bachelor), saw his relationship with his chosen mate, Rachel (a white woman) disintegrate because viewers unearthed pictures of her with friends at an “antebellum”-themed party three years earlier. What followed was a soap opera-esque succession of apologies, on-air angst, and a host suspended for the sin of asking for a measure of forgiveness for Rachel. The denouement featured a cloying, tearful discussion of how any hint of racial insensitivity was incompatible with a sincere, empathetic, intersectional relationship.

But does that imply a societal obligation for everybody to fully understand a priori the experiences of persons who differ from them? Isn’t dealing with differences a part of growing in any relationship? Do we expect everyone to appreciate what it is like being Asian? Or transgender? Or to have had ancestors who experienced the Trail of Tears? Or whatever?

This is not to deny the value of empathy for any identity-associated challenges, but rather to say that expecting extensively shared experience to be the basis of every intersectional relationship is wholly unrealistic. Other common interests and goals must drive them. And the ability to identify with every identity group is not necessary in order to treat people as individuals without regard to identity and with a focus instead on character, merit, and achievements—a threat to tribalism that progressives seem to find objectionable.

Most, if not all of us have some history of actions or comments that in 20/20 hindsight are regrettable. How futile is life if nothing can be forgotten or forgiven? It is simply impossible for us to frame every action or expression with perfect foresight of its future interpretation or context. Thankfully, only a very few of us will experience repercussions from imperfect foresight by being humiliated on national television. But on “national” social media? Many, many more surely suffer.

The current rampant obsession with identity has opened up a vast new universe of potential “serious” offenses that can force us to walk on eggshells. It has upended standards that have underpinned this country since its founding, and even the messages of renowned proponents of minority and civil rights such as the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., thereby turning eggshells into land mines. Less well understood is how this intolerance of imperfection has spawned the cancel culture by extending the reach of perceived offense and ensuing retribution far beyond an individual’s immediate circle of relationships. Snowflakes well trained in victimhood and oversensitivity will only continue to make this worse.

There should be a Nobel Prize in Medicine to whoever can devise an elixir for growing thicker skin that can be administered before school age.

News of the Times;
I just had a near sex experience.

My wife flashed before my eyes.


Wife: Are you just going to walk around all day without a shirt on?

Me: Just giving you a show.

Wife: Can I change the channel?


I walked into the house and said, "I'm having myself a "fuck off" whisky."

As she watched me pouring, my wife said, "That's an extremely large whisky! You do know that alcohol is bad for you, don't you? Anyway, why do you call it that?"

"Fuck off," I replied.


I was planning my wife's funeral after her horrific car crash when she walked in and asked what I was doing.

"Oh nothing love, just some paperwork for next week," I replied.


My wife says and does the nicest things.

Just this morning she said, "I'm leaving you and taking the kids."

Quote of the Times;
Do you REALLY have free speech if you're terrified to use it?

Link of the Times;

Issue of the Times;
Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s Easter Messages Reveal Everything You Need to Know About the Presidents by Kyle Becker

Donald Trump and Joe Biden gave messages to Americans on Easter, the Christian religious holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The 45th President of the United States gave the salutation “Happy Easter” and then decried that he lost the U.S. election.

“Happy Easter to ALL, including the Radical Left CRAZIES who rigged our Presidential Election, and want to destroy our Country,” Trump wrote.

This follows on Trump blasting the companies criticizing Georgia’s election integrity laws in a statement he delivered on Saturday.

“For years the Radical Left Democrats have played dirty by boycotting products when anything from that company is done or stated in any way that offends them. Now they are going big time with WOKE CANCEL CULTURE and our sacred elections,” Trump said. “It is finally time for Republicans and Conservatives to fight back—we have more people than they do—by far! Boycott Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS, and Merck. Don’t go back to their products until they relent. We can play the game better than them.”

Joe Biden, on the other hand, delivered an Easter Message that preached about the coronavirus, mentioning it 7 times, but failed to mention Jesus Christ even once.

“We share the sentiments of Pope Francis who said that getting vaccinated is a moral obligation, one that can save your life and the lives of others,” Biden said. “By getting vaccinated and encouraging your congregations and your communities to get vaccinated, we not only can beat this virus, we can also haste the day when we can celebrate the holidays together.”

The coronavirus pandemic is gradually dissipating in terms of daily deaths due to the combination of herd immunity and vaccinations. The CDC recently clarified that vaccinated people do not spread COVID-19, which conflicts with its insistence that people should wear masks and social distance even after being vaccinated.

President Trump is currently blocked by most social media platforms from issuing a fuller statement to the American People on Easter Sunday. When he was allowed to deliver video messages on social media, he went into the meaning of the religious holidays of Passover and Easter, such as in 2018.

“During the sacred holiday of Passover, Jewish families around the world give thanks to God for liberating the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt and delivering them to the promised land of Israel,” Trump said.

“For Christians, we remember the suffering and death of God’s only son and his glorious resurrection on the third day. On Easter Sunday, we proclaim with joy, ‘Christ is risen.'”

“In America, we look to the light of God to guide our steps, we trust in the power of the Almighty for wisdom and strength, and we praise our heavenly Father for the blessings of freedom and the gift of eternal life.”

That is quite the remarkable contrast with what Americans saw from President Biden today.

News of the Times;
Okay, it’s over, it’s done.

No more jokes about that ship stuck in the Suez Canal.

That ship has sailed.


The school phoned me today and said, "Your son's has been telling lies."

I said, "Tell him, he's bloody good. I don't have any kids”


Upon hearing that San Diego teachers were providing instruction to migrant children but not American citizens, many clever parents began disguising their kids as illegal immigrants in hopes that their kids could finally see the inside of a classroom.

"OK, Aiden, remember - if they ask you what your name is, just say, 'No hablo ingles,'" said one parent as she dropped her kid off near the Mexican border in Chula Vista. "And don't pick at your fake mustache; it'll fall off. Don't forget your poncho!"

"I packed you a burrito and some quesadillas for lunch! Love you!"

After waving goodbye to the kids, the parents peeled out in their minivans as they experienced their first taste of freedom in over a year-- the kids happily being taught by teachers as the moms went out and got mimosas for brunch.

Unfortunately, the kids do have to sleep in cages with foil blankets now, but the parents say it's a sacrifice well worth making.


The Times:

Researchers have found a 14,000-year-old piece of flatbread in Jordan. How do they know it was 14,000-years-old? It had a pull date of 12,000 B.C.

Beware the person who says they're on your side. So is appendicitis.

As of last year, plastic straws are now illegal in Seattle. If you live there, it's now impossible to break a camel's back.

South Korea has officially cut its workweek from 68 to 52 hours. Slackers.

A new study has linked coffee to a longer life. Or maybe, waiting in all those lines at Starbucks just makes it seem longer.

Johnny Depp says that his spending problems are actually worse than reported. Then he stuttered, "Oh, wait. No, I meant my movies."

A report says coca production in Colombia is at a record high. Not surprising, so are their customers.

A New Jersey town is changing its streets design to make it safer for people who are walking and texting. I believe the town's name is Coddle and it's located in Enabling County.

Planters’ Cheez Balls are coming back, 12 years after disappearing from the shelves. Or, maybe they just found a few cases in the back room. Either way, they’re back.

Puerto Rico is introducing a bill seeking statehood by 2022. The person in charge of arranging the stars on our flag yelled out, “Noooooo!!!!!”


Reasons to Go to Work Nude

1. Your boss is always yelling, "I wanna see your ass in here by 8:00!"

2. Can take advantage of computer monitor radiation to work on your tan.

3. "I'd love to chip in, but I left my wallet in my pants."

4. To stop those creepy guys in Marketing from looking down your blouse.

5. You want to see if it's like the dream.

6. So that with a little help from Muzak you can add "Exotic Dancer" to your exaggerated resume.

7. People stop stealing your pens after they've seen where you keep them.

8. Diverts attention from the fact that you also came to work drunk.

9. Gives "bad hair day" a whole new meaning.

10. No one steals your chair.

Quote of the Times;
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class - whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy. - Herbert

Link of the Times;

Issue of the Times;
Nobody believes China by Stephen L. Miller

Except the World Health Organization and the US media

The World Health Organization now says the virus ‘most likely came from animals.’ But everybody knows that the WHO is heavily influenced by China, and China is not a reliable source. Everybody, that is, except large and important sections of the US media.

Before the WHO’s latest report, Feng Zijian, the deputy director of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, claimed the virus spread after a bat infected a human — or the virus initially went from bat to another animal or mammal species, which then jumped to humans or that shipments of frozen food from Europe or even the United States spread the virus throughout the province of Wuhan. It’s always the West’s fault, the way Beijing tells it.

The other possibility is the one that China, their allies in the WHO and even in the American media are quickest to denounce — that the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. This is called a conspiracy theory. But the former CDC director, Robert Redfield told 60 Minutes this weekend that the scenario of a lab leak is the one he believes. Members of the intelligence community including US senators and the former secretary of state have stated the same. CBS News and the New York Times were quick to denounce Redfield this weekend. He worked for the Trump administration and therefore his expertise is not credible.

China itself, capitalizing on the murders in Atlanta and the media narratives that have sprung up from it, has gone as far as to even suggest the lab leak theory is racist. Indeed, any acknowledgement of China’s role in kickstarting this global pandemic is hateful and therefore problematic — or is it problematic and therefore hateful?

But State Department cables released last year warned of safety issues at the Wuhan Institute, based on reports of lax safety guidelines. This is not about racism. But it’s strange that the American media and China seem so eager to work together to say that it is.

Earlier this year, as also reported on 60 Minutes, a team of WHO investigators were allowed into China to investigate the origins of the virus but were under strict monitoring by the Chinese government, they were not allowed into the institute (and were only allowed to interview staff who were guaranteed to have been coached prior).

The WHO allowed China to dictate the terms of the investigation; who was allowed in, and what the final finding would state. It was China who ruled out a lab accident and no one else, and anyone repeating this talking point in the media or anyone at the WHO who fails to note that fact is, quite simply, doing China’s bidding.

According to 60 Minutes, China had veto power over which experts were allowed into Wuhan, which the WHO agreed to. The WHO even ceded investigative authority over to the Chinese government and then simply just shared the findings of China’s own report. Putting it bluntly, the WHO report stinks. It was not a real fact-finding investigation and the results should be taken with the utmost skepticism by the public and by the American media.

One of the first things Joe Biden did as President was rejoin the WHO, which was greeted with much media cheering. As part of the organization, America could have much more influence than it did under Trump’s ‘isolationist’ approach. But the latest WHO ‘findings’ only underscore the point that it cannot present the evidence fairly. The media’s role is more mysterious. Why are so many pundits so quick to debunk the opinions of intelligence agencies and health officials? Is it just because such talk sounds a bit Trumpy? There is a large amount of circumstantial evidence regarding the lab theory and to dismiss it out of hand seems a lot like confirmation bias.

At worst, it suggests that media outlets with millions invested into the Chinese media market do not want to jeopardize their bottom lines with even the mere suggestion that China’s COVID conclusions simply do not add up. Beijing has not acted like a government that is interested in transparency.

If it were, why would it have blocked a proper independent investigation? That’s something Candidate Biden insisted he would demand, but President Biden seems to have forgotten all about. It must be that dementia we keep hearing about.

News of the Times;
How do Welsh farmers count their sheep?

"305, 306, 307, hello darling, 309, 310..."


For Sale:

Dead Bird.

Won't go cheap.


The Navy stands on the shoulders of great traditions, none greater than the ability to thrust its very essence into the hearts of the nation’s enemies, which may include (but is not limited to) other boats, docks, beaches, and, you know, stuff on the water.

For one, it just sounds cool when a ships’ captain calls for the crew to "Prepare to ram!" Think of how many movie scenes have benefited in the past a from such moments. By bringing that order back, every future Navy film will be that much more incredible.

Like the future movie about the inevitable clashes with the US and China in the South China Sea. There could be at least two, maybe even three ramming opportunities there.

Or the whole thing with Iran. They use those tiny little boats. Bumper cars will have nothing on an aircraft carrier that just goes all “YOLO!” over those little Iranian speed bumps.

The possibilities are endless. The military options are also practically infinite.

Anything good enough for von Tegetthoff at Lissa in 1866 is good enough for the Navy today. Which is why the Navy needs to bring back “ramming speed.”


Top 5 Worst Names for a Celebrity Fragrance:

1. "Was that the dog?"
2. "Unscented"
3. "Hayfever"
4. "Bean Dip"
5. "Incontinence"


ME: Honey, it's really muggy out today.

WIFE: If I go outside and all our mugs are on the front lawn, I'm leaving you.

ME: *Sips coffee from bowl.*

Quote of the Times;
If the shooter is a white supremacist, the event is an indictment of all white people and America. If the shooter is an Islamist, it is a completely individual act that has nothing to do with ideology. – Harsanyi

Link of the Times;

Issue of the Times;
Tripoli Pirates Foiled by Anthony Brandt

Among the many words we might use to describe Thomas Jefferson, bellicose is not the first that springs to mind. Eloquent, enlightened, statesmanlike, sometimes wise, often enigmatic, yes, but not bellicose. During the American Revolution, as governor of Virginia, he was famously ineffective at raising troops and defending the state. In 1798, as vice president under John Adams, he opposed the Quasi-War with France, which came to blows in the Caribbean when French and American frigates fought two separate battles stemming from a dispute over American neutrality in the conflict between France and England. In the 1790s Jefferson and the Republican Party he headed opposed the arming of America that the Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, strongly favored.

However, when it came to the four so-called Barbary states of North Africa—Tunis, Algiers, Morocco and Tripoli—Jefferson was bellicose indeed. He had wanted to wage war against the quartet of city-states since 1785, and when he became president in 1801 he went into action against them without asking the permission of Congress. This first of two Barbary wars created the first military heroes of the new United States of America and went a long way toward giving Americans a sense of national identity as a people with a role to play in the world.

The Barbary states, nominally subject to the Ottoman Empire, were essentially free to do as they wished, so long as they paid their annual tributes to the rulers in Istanbul. The states lived on piracy; for centuries they had been preying on European shipping in the Mediterranean and outside the Strait of Gibraltar in the eastern Atlantic, and they had seized the ships of American colonists as early as the 1640s.

In 1662 England had been the first to make a deal with the pirates, believing it would prove cheaper in the long run to make annual payments to the Barbary rulers than to wage war upon them. Most other European powers followed suit. What resulted was an inherently corrupt system, little more than bribery legalized by treaty. But cold economic calculation—the costs of marine insurance; the actual loss of ships, crews and goods; and the pirates’ demands for ransom in exchange for white Christian captives—tipped the balance in favor of simply paying them off.

The system was subject to continual slippage, as the Barbary rulers thought of treaties not as inviolable contracts between states but as pawns in a game. If they thought they could get a better deal, they swept them from the board. Their sense of honor did not extend to Christians. Jefferson— minister plenipotentiary to the French court, sent to negotiate trade agreements with France and other European powers— discovered this during a March 1785 meeting in London with John Adams, then representing the United States at the Court of St. James, and Tripoli’s ambassador at large, who had recently declared war on the United States. Preparing to negotiate the usual treaty to set the rate of the annual tribute, the two Americans asked the ambassador about the “grounds of their pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury?”

The ambassador answered that it was “written in their Koran that all nations which had not acknowledged the prophet [Muhammad] were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave.”

Jefferson would hear from one of those slaves, Richard O’Brien, master of the Philadelphia merchantman Dauphin, taken in July 1785 by Algerine pirates off the coast of Portugal. O’Brien wrote Jefferson the following month, begging his intervention with Congress for “our speedy redemption.” Algerine pirates had also seized the Boston schooner Maria, en route to Spain. Between the two ships, 21 American sailors had been enslaved by the dey of Algiers, whom O’Brien called the “King of Cruelties.” (As the Algerines seized more ships over the next decade, the number of enslaved American sailors would reach 122.) The pirates, wrote O’Brien, had stripped the captives of their clothes and provided them “nothing to exist on but two small cakes of bread per day, without any other necessary of life.” The shipmaster was certain he and his men would starve.

They did not, but over the next five years six of them died of plague. The men lived in terrible conditions and were tortured for infractions and attempted escape, and the dey assigned them as laborers or rowers on his galleys. O’Brien himself lived under the protection of a European consul, which was customary for high-status captives, and became the spokesman for the entire group, writing often to Jefferson, George Washington and members of Congress.

O’Brien’s efforts were almost entirely in vain. The dey demanded vast ransoms for his captives, refused even to open foreign diplomatic appeals not accompanied by lavish gifts and constantly complained of his need for more slaves. Not until 1795, during Washington’s second term, did America finally buy back the surviving sailors of Dauphin and Maria, and the ransom, plus the price of a treaty, cost the government close to $1 million. The cost of annual tributes to the Barbary states, after Congress finally negotiated treaties with them in the 1790s, ran to 10 percent of the entire U.S. budget.

From the beginning Jefferson found such negotiations with the pirate states dishonorable and humiliating. He preferred war. In August 1785, the month he received O’Brien’s first letter, he wrote old friend John Page, “If we wish our commerce to be free and uninsulted, we must let these nations see that we have an energy which at present they disbelieve.” A year later he wrote Adams in London, “I very early thought it would be best to effect a peace thro’ the medium of war,” repeating the same sentiment more forcefully to James Monroe: “The [Barbary] states must see the rod.”

But in 1785 and 1786 there was simply no way to put such a policy into effect. The United States was the weakest of nations, still living under the Articles of Confederation with no executive branch and no judiciary, governed only by a Congress that had no power to levy taxes, did not have or want a navy and sometimes could not raise a quorum for months on end. John Adams opposed the whole idea of going to war with Algiers and kept silent when Jefferson tried to put together a consortium of countries to attack the Barbary pirates and put an end to the tribute system once and for all. England refused to participate; it was not in London’s interest to rid the Mediterranean of pirates only to see it opened to American merchants and seamen. The French, the Spanish and the Dutch were also content with their deals with the Barbary states. Jefferson’s diplomatic initiative thus came to nothing; the United States, once it had a Constitution and an operating government, fell in line and paid up like the rest.

Such was the situation Jefferson faced when he took office in March 1801. It was an embarrassing situation for him. He had won the election of 1800 promising to cut costs, waste and personnel throughout the federal government, but especially in the Navy. Jefferson believed the latter an unnecessary expense, as he saw America’s destiny in westward expansion and agriculture, not in shipping and commerce. By 1801 the nation did have a fledgling Navy of some 49 ships—most converted merchant vessels, though there were also six frigates built specifically as warships. (Adams had ordered the frigates during his presidency, to stand up to the French in the 1798–1800 Quasi-War.) Jefferson sold most of the merchant vessels, keeping his pledge to reduce taxes, and ordered all but six of the warships laid up “in ordinary”—stripped bare of rigging, stores and anything else movable.

But Jefferson also believed strongly in waging war on the Barbary pirates. Nine days after his inauguration he heard from the U.S. consul in Tripoli, James Cathcart—one of the men enslaved by the Algerines in 1785—that the Tripolitans wanted a better deal. Jefferson would have no part of it, and in June 1801 he sent a Norfolk-based squadron of four U.S. Navy ships, including President, one of the six frigates built for the Quasi-War, to the Mediterranean to protect American shipping and, if necessary, to engage Tripolitan ships. Necessary it became, as Tripoli cut down the flagstaff at the American consulate, nullified its treaty with the United States and declared war.

The conflict’s first battle occurred on August 1, when the American schooner Enterprise, under Lieutenant Andrew Sterrett, encountered a 14-gun Tripolitan corsair and in a three-hour battle killed dozens of its crew with no American casualties. Sterrett cut away the enemy ship’s masts, threw its guns overboard and let the survivors limp back to Tripoli under a jury rig. Tripoli’s enraged Bashaw Yusuf Karamanli had his defeated commander beaten, then paraded through the city seated backward on a donkey, the entrails of a sheep draped around his neck.

In January 1802 a relief squadron under Richard Valentine Morris sailed to replace the first squadron, which returned to the United States for repairs. Morris based the squadron in Malta, seldom left port and showed little interest in blockading Tripoli. In fact, setting up a blockade of the city presented some difficult problems. The coast outside the city was uncharted and littered with shoals, the entrance to its harbor narrow and difficult to navigate. Tripolitan warships were small, swift and of shallow draft and could slip into and out of the harbor and along the coastline, where the bigger, deeper-draft U.S. frigates could not follow. In winter the Mediterranean storms and accompanying powerful northerlies threatened to drive the American warships ashore. Given the situation and Morris’ do-nothing attitude, this too was a kind of quasiwar, and it lasted until September 1803, when Morris’ superiors recalled him and threw him out of the Navy for his utter lack of initiative. The United States, meanwhile, was not exactly impressing Europe or the Barbary powers with its military prowess or resolve.

That changed under the next commander, Commodore Edward Preble, a tough, sea-hardened captain famous for his temper and disciplinary rigor. In July 1803 he left for the Mediterranean in command of another of the original six frigates, Constitution, which had been refitted for the occasion. His first act was to show up off Tangier; the Moroccans had shown signs they, too, hoped to make a better deal with the Americans, abrogating a 1786 treaty and taking the American brig Celia, only to be run down by the frigate Philadelphia. The appearance of a 44-gun U.S. warship off Tangier rapidly dissipated the incipient crisis. Preble then sent Philadelphia to blockade Tripoli harbor much more closely than Morris had ever bothered to do.

Commanding Philadelphia was Captain William Bainbridge, like Preble a tough disciplinarian and an aggressive, accomplished seaman. But luck wasn’t with Bainbridge. His first act on arriving in Tripoli was to chase down a Tripolitan sail heading toward the harbor. Wary of the shoals, he put men in the bow to cast the lead, and they reported depths of between 7 and 10 fathoms; Philadelphia drew something under 3 fathoms, so Bainbridge must have thought it safe to continue the pursuit. It was not. The ship ran hard aground, and all efforts to free it, including casting the ship’s guns and anchors overboard to lighten it, failed. Tripolitan gunboats attacked as soon as they realized Philadelphia’s predicament. After four hours Bainbridge struck his colors, and Karamanli added the frigate to his collection of warships, plus 307 American slaves.

Tripolitan sailors managed to float Philadelphia free, and divers retrieved the anchors and most of the cannon. Philadelphia’s captured officers were housed in the former U.S. consul building, but its sailors were jammed into quarters fit only for rats, tortured for even minor infractions and forced to labor on public works projects.

The First Barbary War might have ended there had it not taken months to get news to the United States and for fresh orders to reach U.S. commanders in the Mediterranean. America had ransomed sailors before, paying for peace. The ransom this time would be extremely high, but the cost of warships was also extremely high. In any event, Jefferson reacted strongly to the news and would not sue for peace. He wanted reinforcements sent abroad. Just as eager to see the war through, Congress promptly gave him what he asked. The American public, unwilling to be pushed around by “infidels and barbarians,” was also eager to carry on the fight. Newspapers, particularly those that supported Jefferson, called for war.

In the absence of orders from home, Preble did the right thing. He sailed to Tripoli, seized a Tripolitan ketch carrying African slaves to Constantinople and took it back to his base on Malta. At the suggestion of one of his junior officers he conceived a plan to use the merchantman to slip into Tripoli harbor late at night, board Philadelphia and destroy her. To command the raid he chose 25-year-old Lieutenant Stephen Decatur Jr. It would prove a perfect match between man and mission.

The son of a naval officer, Decatur was well educated, tall and goodlooking, so resplendent in his uniform that young women were said to faint when he entered a room. He was also uncommonly brave. Decatur took an assault force with him on the captured Tripolitan ketch, renamed Intrepid and disguised as a Maltese merchantman flying British colors. He sailed into Tripoli harbor on the night of Feb. 16, 1804, drifting in on a slight breeze to within hailing range of Philadelphia. His Maltese pilot called out in Arabic, explaining to the guards aboard Philadelphia that the merchantman had come to acquire livestock for the British garrison on Malta but had lost her anchors in a storm. The pilot asked the guards if the ketch could tie up to Philadelphia for the night. With permission granted, the raiders towed Intrepid over to the frigate and slid in beneath the anchor chains; then Decatur yelled out, “Board!” He and his men clambered up the sides of the ship and in through the open gun ports. Using only swords and knives, they took the ship within minutes.

It took only a few more minutes to fill the ship with combustibles and fire her. Decatur was last to leave the burning Philadelphia. Intrepid then fled under small-arms fire. Cannon at the bashaw’s castle also opened fire but inflicted no damage to the fleeing American vessel. Philadelphia ultimately burned to the waterline. The mission had been a stunning success; Decatur had lost not a single sailor, and only one man had been wounded. Britain’s Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson called it “the most bold and daring act of the age.” Decatur earned promotion to captain, the youngest U.S. Navy lieutenant ever to achieve that rank. He also became the nation’s first military hero since the Revolution. Five American counties, four cities and seven towns are named after him.

Though Decatur’s raid did not bring the First Barbary War to an end, it was the conflict’s signature event and defined it for the American people. The war itself went on for another year and a half. Reinforcements arrived from the United States in the spring of 1804, and Preble devised a new plan, to enter Tripoli harbor with small gunboats and backed up by Constitution and a number of brigs. On August 3 he set his plan in motion. The action was fierce as American boarding parties swarmed the decks of the Tripolitan ships. Decatur later remarked that “hand to hand is not child’s play—’tis kill or be killed.” His brother, James, died in this action, felled by a gunshot wound to the head. Decatur pursued the enemy boat that had delivered the fatal shot, boarded it and, in a bloody fight, his 10 Americans killed all but three of the vessel’s 24 occupants. Preble, meanwhile, brought the larger ships into action, and Constitution moved in close to pour cannon fire into the bashaw’s castle. One volley brought down a minaret.

More battles followed, with Constitution repeatedly bombarding shore batteries, wearing down Tripoli’s defenses in a war of attrition. In a final action Preble sent a fireship into the harbor, hoping to destroy the bulk of the remaining Tripolitan gunships, but it exploded prematurely, killing all hands.

Not all the action was at sea. William Eaton, the U.S. consul in Tunis, devised a plan to arm Karamanli’s exiled brother, Hamet, who would then march a force across the Libyan desert to take Tripoli by land. Receiving tentative approval for the scheme, Eaton sailed to Egypt in 1805, found Hamet and assembled a force that included 250 Bedouin, 90 of Hamet’s followers, 63 mercenaries and nine U.S. Marines (whose presence was later commemorated in the Corps’ hymn by the verse “to the shores of Tripoli”). The 500- mile journey across blistering desert caused tempers and ethnic tensions to flare, and the Bedouin demanded more money. When the ragtag army reached a scheduled rendezvous with an American supply ship, the vessel was not there. It soon arrived, however, and the army marched on to Derne. Eaton demanded its surrender. When refused, he attacked, breached the walls and in hand-to-hand fighting took the city, later defending it against a largescale counterattack.

Eaton’s spirited defense of Derne was undercut somewhat by news that the war was already over. Jefferson had sent a seasoned diplomat, Tobias Lear, to Tripoli to negotiate a deal that Yusuf Karamanli, threatened by land and sea, had readily accepted. For $60,000 and the return of 100 Tripolitan prisoners of war, Karamanli signed a new treaty and released Philadelphia’s 296 survivors. Eaton and his Marines were hustled out of Derne, while the other members of Hamet’s ragtag force were left to fend for themselves.

America launched the Second Barbary War in 1815, this time against Algiers, but it did not amount to much of a conflict. Decatur commanded the 10-ship squadron sent to fight it out with the Algerines. He quickly seized the flagship of the Algerian fleet and drove another ship aground, taking some 500 prisoners, then parked his fleet in Algiers’ harbor, guns trained on its defenses, and dictated the terms of a treaty. He did the same in Tunis and Tripoli, ultimately capturing 27 Barbary ships. So ended North African piracy against American shipping. It was clear to all that America had become a naval power.

In his second inaugural address, in 1805, Jefferson proposed a massive expansion of the country’s maritime defenses and the building of more ships for the Navy, including huge 74-gun ships of the line. In the 1820s American merchant shipping in the Mediterranean grew by a factor of four. More important, the two wars against the Barbary pirates had given America a new confidence in itself. Though hardly a world power, the United States had clearly established it did have a role to play in the world—and the means to play it.

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