|Decisive Battle at Nuuanu by Herb Kane|
MIAMI HERALD BAKES A FAREWELL CAKE FOR MAYOR PHILIP LEVINE
The report of a decline in bribery is fake news
By David Arthur Walters
AS THE PRESS SPINS
March 31, 2017
“MIAMI BEACH Bribery attempts drop, but they still happen,” declaimed the headline at the top of the front page yesterday.
That was followed by the subheading: “A survey reveals that 22 percent of Miami Beach public employees say they’ve been offered a bribe at some point in their career.” The employees were not asked if they accepted bribes. Pray tell.
That percentage does not jibe with a subsequent statement about the December 2016 survey that of “218 employees in departments most likely to be targets of bribery… 100 reported having been offered a bribe as some time in their career.”
Well, 100 divided by 218 is 45.9 percent, not 22 percent, but never mind that because the timing of “sometime” makes meaningful comparison impossible, and so does the rest of an incomplete hodgepodge of statistics from several years of surveys instead of a straightforward table of side-by-side statistics for all categories.
The employees were not asked if they accepted bribes, and the report does not say whether employees who said they received offers were asked to identify the persons who offered the bribes so an attempt could be made to corroborate their statements or law enforcement alerted to keep an eye on them.
Of course there is a difference between a free lunch and a cash donation, and lunch will probably be declined.
What is clear is that the report takes the cake, that it is a liberal propaganda piece bidding Mayor Philip Levine—a wealthy media mogul who was himself disgraced for soliciting campaign contributions from developers of city properties—farewell forever because his political career has been washed up with the defeat of his great friend Hillary Clinton.
The “Get It Done” mayor’s vainglorious demeanor and censorious conduct alienated honest reporters to begin with. What followed turned many of his followers against him, although he certainly is not to blame for everything that has gone wrong.
Haste makes waste: “King” Levine’s “prime minister,” city manager Jimmy Morales, is partly to blame for bad planning and thuggish rush to completions resulting in massive public disturbances, costly overruns and stalled projects.
Exposure of public corruption is improbable because the parties to it are unlikely to confess to it unless someone rats them out or law enforcement gets something else on them and offers them a deal.
The administration has made that more difficult, for example, with its software upgrades, making it inconvenient for delators to confidentially access online building permit and inspection records, requiring them to identify themselves and obtain permission from the owners. And that is not all to show that the often advertised “increased transparency” is a canard in respect to some crucial records.
The administration has also replaced municipal magistrates or “special masters” who hear code violation cases with virtual stooges who provide no meaningful review for the discriminatory policymakers who are their masters.
The city has in the past refused to adopt a county whistleblower ordinance to encourage informers to come forward.
The county ethics commission, a retirement farm for prosecutors, is a joke on Miami Beach taxpayers despite its randomly correct findings. Just prior to the last wave of arrests, its director, Joe Centorino aka “Sleeping Joe” declared at a meeting with bloggers that Miami Beach had cleaned itself up, and when a reporter noted that, bullied him by email. The Miami Herald has ignored numerous reports of inadequacy of that commission as well as allegations of Miami Beach corruption, not to mention the commission’s egregious violation of public disclosure law when its commissioners were filmed whispering behind folders at a meeting.
The result of the ethics commission’s recent “investigation” into allegations made by one Antonio Halabi damned the commission to infamy for its lack of due process: the commission forwarded his allegations, including evidence that the city manager had raised himself above the law, to city officials. The accused naturally responded in the negative; the commission took their word for it and dismissed the case without offering Mr. Halabi an opportunity for rebuttal.
That is not all that demonstrates the incompetence and selective enforcement of the ethics commission and the bullying attitude of its director when his investigations are criticized.
Now here we have another condignly unbalanced report from the Miami Herald, representing the so-called fourth branch of government that is in actually part of the real fourth branch, the bureaucracy, posing as news in a way that suits the very definition of “fake news,” false inferences from survey facts that do not really indicate facts at all.
The city is congratulated for taking an expensive ethics course run by the county ethics commission, a notion that was scoffed at by the likes of Commissioner Ed Tobin, because even a moron knows what corruption is. Or maybe not, because when wrong is done long enough, wrong seems right.
Mayor Levine and the majority of commissioners he sponsored waived the city’s ethics requirements so that Commissioner Tobin could apply for the police job while sitting on the commission. Levine lauded Tobin, and said he would like to similarly waive the ethics code for himself. But when the commissioner crossed him, he accused him of being unethical, leaving us to wonder why the commissioner failed to pass the ethics test given under the purview of the mayor’s new police chief, forcing him to get at police officer job on the mainland with the City of Miami,
Mr. Levine may be one of the most ethically challenged mayors to sit on the dais since the notorious Mayor Alex Daoud. Just for example, millions were paid by the city for the air rights above the Sunset Harbour shopping center owned beneficially by him and his great friend and partner Scott Robins, and then, while mayor, he attempted to push through zoning to his advantage; the ludicrous premise handed down by the state ethics commission was that the advantage to him would not be immediate. This time, however, the county ethics commission did not put its nose where there is no sunshine.
The city also is applauded for the allegedly improved morale of its employees, who “felt” they have better whistleblower protection. The mayor naturally “thinks” there has been “a tremendous change in culture” under his tenure.
Please “think” and “feel” again, because thinking in itself is not knowing, neither are self-congratulatory feelings.
Critical thinking is indeed useful, so think again about what deposed Mayor Matti Bower said after Mr. Levine was crowned a strong mayor over his court of faux reformers as his prime minister bragged about the number of people fired, leaving key people around in honey pots such as the problematic Building and Code Enforcement departments for years, yet now saying key staffers were replaced.
City workers, averred Madame Bower, a grandmotherly politician who was friendly with scores of employees, reported they said they had been cowed by the new regime. That is, fear and intimidation was the rule.
We all know the corporate drill: you had better have a good attitude and be positive about us or you had better find another job.
Here is something else to “think” about: The “indicative” statistics quoted by the Miami Herald are meaningless in terms of “indicating” facts. South Florida is by virtue of its Third World influences perhaps the most corrupt region in the United States. Federal law enforcement is charged with curbing corruption of the local, county and state police power in all departments, but with a deliberately limited staff. Economists have even declared that a certain degree of corruption is good for business. Republicans led by President Trump may desire to cut the FBI staff in half. Miami Beach is a drop in the bucket. Arrests there come in intermittent waves as a handful of investigators work priorities from place to place. When Miami Beach is hit, corruption may decline for awhile, and lessons are learned as to how to avoid detection.
Now the Miami Herald also reports that the $3.5 million recently plundered from city coffers, an event that led to the departure of finance department staff, “remains unsolved and under investigation.”
The mayor’s wealth sidekick on the dais, Commission Rick Arriola, told the Huffington Post that the matter is under investigation, that the city will get back every penny. and that “audits are the responsibility of the city’s outside auditors and the city’s CFO.”
What a ridiculous statement that is, for the problem is that the finance department and auditors did not bother for ages to reconcile cash balance on books to cash in bank, a routine bookkeeping procedure.
Mr. Arriola would surely fire his controller and bookkeepers for failing to detect the imbalance in a month if not in a day given the modern software relations between banks and their clients. Since he is so sure of recovery, he should personally guarantee it, as the amount is rather miniscule for him given his good fortune.
By the way, the attack pieces of the Huffington Post were so imbalanced that I was tempted to rebut them and give the mayor some little credit for the hundreds of millions allocated for the war against global warming. At least we are not wading around in knee-deep water in South Beach.
Yet it is high time that a major media outlet took the mayor and his ilk to task despite more threats of SLAPP libel suits. It is safer to do so now that his great friend Hillary Clinton has gone down in flames.
But the Miami Herald must “feel” sorry for the mayor, and “think” that it has a duty to boost from time to time the official sources needed bolster its sales. Therefore we have this astonishing farewell cake baked for Mayor Philip Levine
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH SHUTS DOWN ONLINE BUILDING PERMIT SEARCH FOR GENERAL PUBLIC AND HINDERS ACCESS TO RECORDS BY REQUIRING PUBLIC RECORD REQUESTS AND FEES AS A RESULT OF EMBARASSING DISCOVERIES BY PUBLIC INFORMERS
“CAN I VIEW PERMIT HISTORY ONLINE?Permits issued for any property in the City of Miami Beach from 1990 to 04/26/2016 are available through Velocity Hall Online Permitting.
Click here to access permits before 04/26/2016 Velocity Hall Online Permitting
Permits and other processes transitioned to the City’s new software can be obtained via the Citizen Access Portal at https://eservices.miamibeachfl.gov/EnerGovProd/CitizenAccess/Site/Public/Main
Note: If you are not either the owner, contractor, engineer, architect or owner representative, you will not be able to register at the Citizen Access Portal and therefore; may submit a public records request to the Building Department’s Records Management Section. Click here to download the Records Request Form
THE MARQUIS DE CONDORCET’S TECHNIQUE FOR PROGRESS
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
The Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794) was the youngest and only philosophe of note who played a major role in the French Revolution. He was already a celebrated mathematician when he took up politics and became a member of Voltaire’s Enlightenment clique. Opposed to the sentimental approach of Rousseau to human nature, Condorcet employed mathematical language, extending differential calculus and the theory of probability to moral and social behavior, employing statistical methodology to analyze sociological phenomena.
Condorcet is best known for pioneering perhaps the first modern theory of progress. The social scientist presumes that human behavior like the rest of nature is subject to certain laws which he might discover through the careful observation of phenomena and reflections thereupon, leading to the formulation of hypotheses for experimentation.
Human evil, he believed, was largely due to the miscalculation of human interest. In sum: evil outcomes are due to errors in judgment. Humans are natural-born gamblers: they instinctively weigh the chance of one result against another. To obtain better results, a scientific method is needed to eliminate error; to wit: the social calculus of probability.
The application of mathematics and political arithmetic to social science provides us with a quantitative degree of certainty about what outcomes will obtain when conditions are manipulated. Presumably social scientists conduct their studies for the benefit of society, that society may improve or progress. Condorcet is best known for pioneering perhaps the first modern theory of progress.
So the social scientist presumes that human behavior like the rest of nature is subject to certain laws which he might discover through the careful observation of phenomena and reflections thereupon, leading to the formulation of hypotheses for experimentation.
Nature including humankind is undoubtedly subject to laws, but human beings, endowed with the power of reasoning, have the ability to modify the application of natural laws to their personal and mutual advantage. The ability to reason is natural, therefore so is progress. Reasoning may be employed to ascertain logical means to measurable progress. For instance, probability theory employs symbolic logic to determine what course of action is most likely to succeed. Hence progress in is augmented by a precise language grounded in facts of sense.
It follows that human progress is entirely up to us, that it is not dependent on the miraculous intervention of transcendental forces beyond our apprehension and comprehension. Therefore Condorcet was “anti-Christian” as Christianity was then conceived. He was raised by Jesuits, who apparently had a knack, at least when confronted with rebellious young minds, for cultivating brilliant “atheists,” especially in France.
Human beings, he asserted, progress from conditions of brute enslavement, including enslavement to their own passions, towards mastery over those conditions. Mastery is achieved by the removal of certain obstacles to the ultimate perfectibility of humankind, such as elitism, tyranny, popular prejudice, ignorance. The impediments to progress can be removed from the progressive highway by scientific and technological advances, and political revolution.
The goal of progress is freedom, but absolute freedom from restraints, absolute power, is impossible, not to be had except in Chaos. Relative freedom, on the other hand, is possible, and is always from an evil towards a good. The perfectibility of man, however, which is indefinite, is by no means assured. National and class inequalities may be eventually reduced, and the lot of individuals improved via the historical movement is towards equality; not absolute, totalitarian equality, but the equality of rights, the equality of freedom without regard to race, color, creed or sex (Condorcet was an advanced feminist).
Wherefore Condorcet advocated freedom in order; freedom under law; freedom legally constituted with a constitution, preferably that of a liberal democracy.
He was enthusiastic about the outbreak of the Revolution, but he did not conceive of Reason as a raving lunatic or murderous fanatic. His independent adherence to reason instead of the bloodthirsty mob would cost him his life.
Condorcet had considerable influence in England. For instance, his thinking had an impact on an eccentric inventor and English radical by the name of Charles Stanhope (Lord Mahon). Stanhope, the son of a mathematician, was like his father in important respects. Joseph Priestley, a man very much admired by Condorcet, dedicated his third volume of ‘Experiments on Air’ to Charles Stanhope’s father.
Condorcet also admired Stanhope’s associate, Richard Price, an important adviser to the fledgling United States of America. Price pioneered actuarial methodology for mutual aid societies, devising sinking fund schemes to fund social security and reduce the national debt.
Practically all radicals worth their roots were enthusiastic about social mathematics and political arithmetic. That is not to say they were cold-hearted, calculating, mean-minded men. An emphasis on reason may be compensation for underlying passion. Condorcet, despite his romantic temperament, was wrongly depicted as an arid, heartless man.
Condorcet lost his life attempting to thwart the Jacobin movement. He had been “proscribed” by the Jacobins, meaning that he was to be decapitated, so he went into hiding. He eventually disguised himself and left the house he was hiding in because he feared for the safety of the painter’s widow who had insisted on harboring him there despite his protests. After wandering about for three days with a tattered copy of Horace, he walked into a tavern where he was pointed out and arrested.
On the day of his imprisonment, while awaiting the guillotine, he died, some say by self-administered poison he allegedly kept hidden in his ring. Suicide would have been a fitting end, for he always said that even there are laws regulating the universe, man has the natural power to modify their application for his own benefit, and that is the very nature of his freedom.
Condorcet circumspectly warned his daughter against unregulated passion shortly before he died, highly recommending reason as passion’s proper guide. And he wrote his incredibly optimistic essay on the history of progress under the shadow of the guillotine.
No doubt he had his doubts in dire circumstances, but he still enjoyed a degree of certainty he called “hope,” hope not for his own fate but for man’s movement into the next epoch along the long road of indefinite perfectibility. He eschewed the opposite, pessimistic perspective on probability that considers the long-term disadvantage, that the house always wins in the long run, because if something can go wrong it eventually will.
No, the Marquis de Condorcet was certainly not a cold-blooded, heartless being. He was an enthusiastically human being.
THE SOUTH BEACH MOTHBALL POISONER
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
“What is that awful smell?” I asked my next door neighbor when I reached the outdoor landing to our apartments on the second floor.
“I put mothballs on the ground around my motor scooter,” she said, pointing to her scooter next to the mailboxes downstairs.
“Why? It is nauseating.”
“So the cats will go away. The manager of the building over there said it is a good idea. She will do it too.”
“I thought you liked cats. You were feeding them up here by your door.”
“They peed here,” she motioned to her doorway, “and they peed on the cover of my motor scooter downstairs, so I put the mothballs all over.”
“What kind of mothballs? Some are poison to humans.”
“I don’t care.”
“I don’t care. I have to protect myself. They peed on my cover and I got a rash when I handled it.”
“I am getting a headache,” I declared, and went inside, where I did a little research, and texted her.
“I shall see if I can find another way so the landlord does not get fined and people don’t get sick. There must be something else.”
“Find something good because I need to take care of myself with the cat urine.”
“I shall try. There could be big fines and you might get sick too.”
“I’m already sick with cat urine.”
“Should I have Animal Control call you?”
“You call them and tell them about the cat. I do not want to be involved. Please.”
“See if your mothballs are marked SAFE for humans.”
She did not reply to that text, so I linked her to Florida’s animal cruelty statute Section 828.08 providing up to a year in jail for putting poison out in public areas, and informed her that I did not want to call Animal Control because the police might be called in to arrest her.
I also linked her to an article on mothballs and how they can harm children—a little girl often visited her father in the apartment right above the area she had poisoned.
“I feel like you are mad at me. I just try to protect myself.”
“I’m not mad. I am trying to protect you. It is a crime.”
“Whatever. Everything is a crime. If you care you call Animal Control and deal with that. My life is busy. I have no time for that.”
I then linked her to an article on using cayenne pepper to keep cats out of gardens.
“Cats HATE cayenne powder,” I texted. “Cayenne makes them sneeze, run away. I tried black pepper once. Only cayenne works.”
I went to the Publix grocery store and purchased some cayenne for her to use.
“I put cayenne bottle on your door, I texted. “If it works we can buy big bottle. Put some also around door landing.”
When I went outside, I found she had thrown the bottle on my doorstep.
“You don’t want it? I can make soup,” I texted. I did, and I felt like a pressure cooker as blood rushed to my head.
The horrible odor diminished. The cats were still around, including the black-and-white cat I call Sylvester because he is a very smart cat, careful to avoid strangers, especially anyone carrying a cage.
The cats walked right by the mothballed area, but eventually stopped coming around so often. The neighbors in the downstairs area said the cat excrement and urine around their doors was indeed a nuisance.
I sent the poisoner an image of a pregnant tawny cat perched on a window air conditioner—the no-maintenance landlord refuses to fix the central air conditioners. I joked that Castro might drop mothballs from planes onto her homeland.
Landlord refused to fix central air conditioners and replace appliances
I was watching my favorite cop show, Da Vinci’s Inquest, a month later. I became nauseated, and not at the sight of the bodies. I had my window open because the landlord had refused to fix the ground air conditioner that serves my studio.
I stood up, was dizzy on my feet, and then I realized that mothball fumes were wafting in my window. I went outside. The smell was such that it might knock a man down if he stayed a few minutes. White mothballs were all around the poisoner’s scooter and the mailbox area.
Not realizing that the poisoner was at home because at that hour she usually works at the health center nearby, and my taps on her door went unanswered, I texted her as follows:
“Too much poison making me sick. I have no AC and need windows open.”
I waited, and I received no reply. She had been warned, and she obviously did not care about anyone but herself. For some people there is only one number, Number One, around which the world turns, and all the other numbers are of no consequence if they do not serve Number One.
I called the police, informing the operator of the situation, and saying that I was reluctant to call because the landlord might evict me if he is fined, but the poison is dangerous and making me sick.
I evacuated the premises. Several men drinking beer out front scrambled when I told them the police were on the way to deal with the poison.
“Whew, I can smell it out here,” said Officer Garcia, Badge 705, as she stepped out of her patrol car. “You are lucky. I happen to be the department’s only animal cruelty officer.”
“I was watching my favorite cop show and was poisoned.”
“Now you can watch real cops.”
A towering cop, a quiet and very serious looking fellow, got out of another squad car to accompany her. He agreed that Da Vinci’s Inquest is a very realistic cop show.
I showed her my texts to the cat poisoning woman.
“You know your stuff,” she said.
I stayed on the street, nearly vomiting as the officers went and repeatedly banged on the poisoner’s door. She was indeed at home. A loud conversation ensued. She lied, and said she had not put the mothballs out before, and that she put them out because raccoons with rabies were around, and that no children lived on the premises.
A neighbor from a back unit happened to come by, and said that she had been sickened by the moth balls a month prior, and had to visit the doctor.
The officers made the poisoner pick up every mothball. Officer Garcia gave her a thorough education on the law, and made arrangements for Animal Control to come out and care for the cats. The neighbor in back promised to care for the pregnant tawny cat.
The fumes lingered after the mothballs were removed. When you smell the fumes, your lungs are actually being poisoned. I asked Officer Garcia if the fire department should come over and wash the yard down. She said that should not be done because the poison would stay in the soil. She said she had a headache from being near the poison.
Officer Garcia noticed the broken lock on the front gate, and I mentioned that neighbors bring their dogs onto our yard to defecate.
I stayed in front for quite awhile, then went inside and kept my windows shut although it was very warm due to the unusual winter heat wave in South Florida this year.
Three days after the police visitation, the neighbors got together and fixed the locks on the gates at our expense because the landlord had refused to do it for several years hence the yard is overrun by undesirables.
I advanced the poisoner’s share for the keys because she was not home, and is not liked by the neighbors because she calls the police on everyone for making the slightest noise, which is fine by me because I like peace and quiet although I offered to speak with them so she would not have to call the police.
She did not repay me for the keys, and I said nothing, just smiled and greeted her pleasantly when I saw her. But she is not speaking, and passes me by stone-faced without a glance. I supposed that her ex-husband was correct when he told me that she loves to make enemies.
I am an understanding fellow, bear her no malice, and would prefer to be a friendly neighbor, which is rather untraditional in this old crackhood in chic South Beach. But what can one do? I warned her four times, she had made two people sick, she actually asked me to call the authorities, we refused to bring criminal charges against her, and now she treats me like poison.
WHEN TRUTH IS DEFAMATORY
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
“Defamation” generally means using words to hurt the fame of a person (de bona fama aliquid detrahere: “to hurt his good fame.”) A person’s fame is his common or widespread reputation.
Spoken words may be easily forgotten, whereas writings may be preserved and referred to indefinitely. Defamatory words when spoken are slanderous, and, when written, libelous, although that legal distinction has been rendered obsolete in jurisdictions such as Australia. Indeed, the legal definition of defamation varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Presently, in the United States, the scandalous words must be false, or, if true, must have false implications. So it is said that the perfect defense against a defamation suit is truth. Elsewhere, depending on time and place, hailing back even to ancient Rome, statements injurious to reputation may be either true or false. That is, true statements can be defamatory, sometimes with the exception that they are allowed if justified as necessary to protect the public.
Some persons are more famous than others. The public order may depend on the good reputation or majesty of its leaders, especially when the leader happens to be a virtual god, say, a Roman emperor, or a king, say, of England, who rules by divine right, notwithstanding that any singular god is apparently both good and evil despite theodical caviling that attempts to explain how a presumably absolutely good and omnipotent god can countenance evil.
To publish a detraction of a majestic sovereign who claims to be the supreme or divine representative of the people would be a seditious libel whether its propositions were true or false, providing that the sovereign powers deemed it threatening to the peace of the state.
Some sovereigns have thinner skins than others, especially when envious nobles i.e. “known” or famous persons including “equals” are vying against one another and their ruler for fortune and power. Today, where the people are sovereign, seditious libel involves the publication of words designed to incite the violent overthrow of government.
Tiberius Claudius Nero, the emperor who ruled the Roman Empire as a virtual dictator from 14 AD to 37 AD, allowed that almost any offense against the law was an offense against his majesty and therefore treasonous. That allowed common informers known as “delators” to aid and abet rivalries and thus obtain wealth and titles by accusing or informing on people against whom they or advocates would bring action in the Senate, ostensibly presided over by the emperor. Tacitus relates (or delates) in his Annals that:
“If anyone impaired the majesty of the Roman people by betraying an army, by exciting sedition among the commons, in short, by any maladministration of the public affairs, the actions were matter of trial, but words were free. Augustus was the first who used to take cognizance of libels under pretence of this law, incensed by the insolence of Cassius Severus, which had prompted him to asperse distinguished persons of both sexes by coarse lampoons. Soon after, Tiberius, when Pompeius Macer, the praetor, consulted him ‘whether trials should be had under this law’ answered,’ said ‘that the laws must be executed.’ He also was exasperated by the publication of satirical verses written by unknown authors, exposing his cruelty, his pride, and dissensions with his mother.”
Of course experienced advocates or lawyers were more likely to be successful in taking a denunciation to trial, and senators disgraced themselves by acting as delators, exposing even one another and their own families to depredation, banishment, and death.
“This was the most pestilent calamity of those times, that the first men of the senate performed the office of the meanest informers: some openly, many in secrecy; nor could you observe any distinction between kinsmen and aliens, friends and strangers,—whether the acts imputed were recent, or fetched from the obscurity of past times : equally for words spoken in the forum,—at entertainments,—upon whatsoever subject,—the speakers were accused, according as everyone hastened to get the start and point out the culprit : some did it for their own protection, but the generality infected, as it were, with the malady and contagion of the times. “(ibid)
A prominent, reputable person and his family might be defamed and ruined by a charge that would be considered trivial today, such as consulting with an astrologist or palm reader for advice as to what a judge will decide in a pending case. They were banished or executed and their estates confiscated. Suicide prior to judgement was for a time a way to save family and fortune. Tacitus tells us of a case brought under the imperium of Nero:
“A charge of recent date involved the daughter in her father’s (Soranus) peril: it was, ‘that she had distributed sums of money among the magi.” Such was the fact, it must be admitted; but it arose from the filial piety of Servilia, for that was her name, who out of affection for her parent, and with the simplicity natural to so young a creature, had merely consulted them “on the safety of the family: whether Nero would be disposed to mercy, and whether the investigation before the senate would issue in anything of a formidable nature”…. The accuser then questioned her, “whether she had not sold her bridal ornaments, and even the chain off her neck, to raise money for the performance of magic rites?” At first she fell prostrate upon the floor, and continued for a long time bathed in tears and speechless; afterwards, embracing the altar and its appendages, she said, ” I have prayed to no malignant deities: I have used no spells: nor did I seek aught by my unhappy prayers than that you, Caesar, and you, fathers, would preserve this best of fathers unharmed. With this view I gave up my jewels, my raiment, and the ornaments belonging to my station; as I would have given up my blood and life, had they required them. To those men, till then unknown to me, it belongs to declare whose ministers they are, and what mysteries they use; the prince’s name was never uttered by me except among the gods. Yet to all this proceeding of mine, whatever it were, my most unhappy father is a stranger; and if it is a crime, I alone am the delinquent.’ …. Thrasea, Soranus, and Servilia were indulged with the choice of their mode of death….” (ibid)
The reader should keep in mind when reading Tacitus that he tended to repeat what amounted to gossip, that his accounts of Tiberius were frequently contradictory and at variance with other historical narratives. The reader may consult The History of that Inimitable Monarch Tiberius (1811) by Reverend John Rendle for a scholarly exposé of Tacitus’ history and the elevation of Caesar Tiberius into virtual sainthood. Of one thing we can be sure, the empire was pestered and plagued by common informers.
Anyone who reads the law at length today might notice that the law especially case law or casuistry is irrational, and he might therefore resort to an astrologer for advice on cases. Americans prefer their laws in writing, but then lawyers i.e. licensed delators plead cases for fees, judges interpret it for salaries. The adjudications add to the vagaries of the “unwritten” or common law, which they all are wont to say is perfectly reasonable, protecting a profession that virtually rules every walk of life.
The more sophisticated Roman delators developed some rather absurd but winning arguments at trial to prove their cases. One interesting plea, a charge of defamation, is related by Tacitus, who as a historian is a sort of common informer or denunciator since his every writing constitutes an indictment of the ruling elite of the age. He certainly was interested in defaming emperors, who were creatures of their time and culture, some of which seems to persist to this day as the Cosa Nostra or what is popularly called the Mafioso.
Here is the legal tactic: Good can be found without evil in every man and the gods he projects. When prosecuting someone for slander, testify that he pronounced all the known faults of a person, not mentioning the virtues. People who know the person will believe those things were said about him because they are true.
“Granius Marcellus, praetor of Bithynia, was prosecuted for high treason by his own quaestor, Cepio Crispinus; Romanus Hispo supporting the charge. This Cepio began a species of avocation, which through the miserable times and the daring wickedness of men afterwards became very common and notorious; for, at first needy and obscure but of a restless spirit, by creeping into the good graces of the prince, who was naturally cruel, by secret informations, and thus imperiling the life of all the most distinguished citizens, he acquired influence with one, but the hatred of all, and thus exhibited an example, by following which men from being poor became rich, from being contemptible became formidable. and, after bringing destruction on others, would perish by their own arts. He accused Marcellus of “holding defamatory discourses concerning Tiberius,” a charge which it was impossible to repel, when the accuser collected all the most detestable parts of the prince’s character, and framed his accusation with reference to them; for because they were true they were believed to have been spoken. To this Hispo added,” that the statue of Marcellus was by him placed higher than those of the Caesars, and that having cut off the head of an Augustus, he had in the room of it set the head of a Tiberius.” At this (Tiberius) flew into such a rage, that breaking silence he cried out, that “he would himself, in this cause, give his vote openly, and upon oath,” that the rest might be under the necessity of doing the same. There remained even then some faint traces of expiring liberty. Hence Cneius Piso asked him, “In what place, Caesar, will you give your opinion? If first, I shall have your example to follow; if last, I fear I may unwittingly dissent from you.” Deeply affected by these words, and by how much the more indiscreetly he had let his passion boil over, by so much the more submissive now from regret that he should have committed himself, he suffered the accused to be acquitted of high treason. “(ibid)
So Tiberius shamed himself, and the truth set Marcellus free. But that did not have to occur. If the sovereign had not acted so shamefully as a person at the trial, Marcellus might have been convicted of insulting the sovereignty itself, strangled and hurled down the infamous steps to rot; and likewise anyone who begged askance or who loved him enough to shed tears. By the way, the other charge, that of peculation, was referred to a court of justice with jurisdiction.
DIRTY SECRET Fiction by David Arthur Walters The Underground Man is back with a vengeance Considering the circumstances, I must exist, therefore I exist. I am as I am circumscribed, a…
HOW TO BE HAWAIIAN
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
A man from Hawaii who lives in Oregon misses Hawaii dearly because he has for some reason not returned for a dozen years. He believes he is no more than fifteen-percent native Hawaiian, yet that percentage is tugging at his heart. To that I said his home is where his heart is wherever he may be, and if his heart is in Hawaii, then so is he, just as Zion is wherever a Jew might be.
I myself am not descended from the Polynesians who originally inhabited the Sandwich Islands, now called Hawaii, the name of the biggest island, an island I grew to love most of all when I lived there.
There is something about Hawaii, its Aloha or loving spirit, its Ea or rising spirit, constantly chanting for our return wherever we may be. My father said he met people from Hawaii during and after the WWII, and that every one of them longed to return. Some not killed in the war stayed on the Mainland afterwards because they found work there and married, but “they always longed for Hawaii with tears in their eyes,” he said.
If you have had the real Hawaii experience, you can leave Hawaii, but Hawaii will never leave you. Part of you is always Hawaiian whether or not Polynesian blood runs in your veins.
The being of Hawaii is heartfelt although it is not clearly defined. It does need to be clarified because Hawaii, despite its reputation for happy-go-lucky natives strumming ukuleles and tolerant multiculturalism, is troubled by underlying historical issues evident in the current politics of resentment.
Suffice it to say that history is a mistake, for otherwise improvement would be impossible. The people who love Hawaii suffer an identity crisis, a special occasion of the underlying crisis or hypocrisis between actual existence and ideal being. The islands await the return of Lono to reconcile the differences, in Being Hawaiian.
“Don’t ever leave Hawaii,” a tourist at Kealakekua warned me. But I left Kona and the woman I loved and I flew to Manhattan because I thought my life was almost over and that there was something crucial that I was supposed to do on the Mainland. I learned that I was a fool for leaving Hawaii to suffer a new beginning in New York, and I have no regrets for the lessons learned. One day I passed by a temple on West 86th Street, and noticed a sign announcing regular classes: HOW TO BE JEWISH.
Now there should be a regular class starting in Hawaii: HOW TO BE HAWAIIAN. We would find the usual cultural courses, but something besides the regular offerings to tourists, although tourists would be welcome to participate in learning, for example, how to make two hundred leis for the luau, chant a positive affirmation with a hula, grow kalo and make poi, speak some pidgin, deconstruct and reconstruct a heiau, unload frozen tuna at the docks, and learn the real reason why one should not forget to put an `okina in front of the word `okina, and so on.
Yes, something even higher is needed, a ritual that ascends to the spirituality of being Hawaiian, and even to mystical unification with Being-in-itself in a nondenominational, climactic reconciliation of all organic differences.
Needless to say, everyone regardless of race, gender, creed, and national origin would be eligible for Being Hawaiian. Kahunas would provide the requisite courses and issue certificates throughout the world. There would be no Hawaii residency requirement, especially since it would be impossible for all Hawaiians to fit into Hawaii at any one time. Yet one pilgrimage to Hawaii every five years, or such time period that would not result in overcrowding, would be recommended if not required to maintain Being Hawaii status.
Being Hawaiian is a state of mind grounded in our feeling for Hawaii. We shall never forget Hawaii, wherever we may be, because Hawaii is with us, wherever we are.