• Wednesday 26th February 2020

The profound, the profane and the rotten

  • Published on: January 16, 2018

  • BY M. R. JOSSE
    MRJ 1TAMPA, FL: Back home, things seem to be unraveling at a serious lick even as the ecstasy of the polls evaporates, replaced by the miasma emanating from the political and judicial realm.
    Nowhere was this better illustrated than in the hearing on a contempt of court contention centred on Govinda K.C’s accusation that Chief Justice Gopal Prasad Parajuli had doctored his age and academic credentials to secure his position.
    While K.C. was released on bail, the Supreme Court division bench conducting the consideration demanded proof of the CJ’s age and educational qualifications – despite his having being subject to pre-appointment scrutiny by a parliamentary committee and the judicial council!
    As Yubaraj Ghimere said in The Indian Express, it was equally bizarre that the erstwhile Maoist, Baburam Bhattarai, and NC’s current idol, Gagan Thapa, expressed solidarity for KC standing barely 100 meters from the Supreme Court – despite the issue being manifestly ‘subjudice’.
    Recalling how an incumbent Chief Justice, Khil Raj Regmi, was foisted on as chief executive – blowing to bits the hoary democratic tradition of separation of powers – heading a non-party government to conduct the second constituency assembly elections, today’s weird aberrations shouldn’t really shock.
    With the judiciary – and a panoply of state organs – being transformed into pliant appendages of political parties, it is only a matter of time before hugely destabilizing convulsions rock the still-to-be-consolidated body politic.
    Very clearly – with apologies to Shakespeare’s Hamlet – there is ‘something rotten’ in the state of republican Nepal!
    Last week, it was Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” on President Trump’s alleged inability to function effectively – and sanely – that captured the headlines and was the focus of multiple talk shows and the staple for much heated media commentary.
    This time, it is the firestorm kicked up by Trump’s reportedly racist remarks at a White House meeting on immigration, observations that he has since repeatedly refuted, being supported on TV in his contention by, among others, two Republican Senators: David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
    As initially reported in the media, Trump, referring to immigrants from Haiti and Africa, rhetorically queried: “Why are we having all these s…hole countries come here?”
    Whatever the truth about this controversy is, the Washington Post traced this interesting thumb-nail “history of presidential profanity from the White House”, which I now present:
    Abraham Lincoln: “There is nothing to make an Englishman s… quicker than the sight of General George Washington.”
    Harry Truman: (To Time magazine’s query why, exactly, he had fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur): “I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a b…., because he was, but that’s not the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.”
    Lyndon B. Johnson: (Asked why he didn’t take one of Richard Nixon’s speeches more seriously when he was Senate majority leader and Nixon was vice-president):
    “Boys, I may not know much, but I do know the difference between chicken s… and chicken salad.”
    Andrew Jackson: His gray African parrot which at his funeral in 1845 was so riled by the crowds that the bird, which had apparently soaked up some of the president’s choice phrases, “let loose perfect gusts of ‘cuss’ words” that so many people were “horrified and awed at the bird’s lack of reverence.”
    According to the Rev. William Menefree Morment, who presided over the funeral, “Before the sermon and while the crowd was gathering, a wicked parrot that was a household pet got excited and commenced swearing so loud and long as to disturb the people”. In the end, the bird refused to shut up and “had to be carried from the house.”
    A false missile alert panicked Hawaii – before it was revoked nearly 40 minutes later, leading people around the world to wonder why it took that long to do so. Though human error has been blamed for this egregious blunder, it was pretty gratifying – not only to the 1.4 million people in the Hawaiian islands – that a new procedure has been put in place requiring two-step authentication before any such alert is issued.
    As the New York Times put it, “the false alert was a stark reminder of what happens when the old realities of the nuclear age collide with the speed – and the potential for error – inherent in the Internet age.”
    Fortuitously, it was deemed not the work of hackers or a foreign government, though it was timed when tension between the United States and North Korea, centering on the latter’s nuclear/missile programme, is on a steep trajectory.
    Notably, the alerting system was in the hands of state authorities; it was the military – not Hawaiian officials – who were the first to come out and declare that there was no evidence of a missile launch.
    Meanwhile, the Washington Post informed that “a leaked draft of the Pentagon’s forthcoming nuclear weapons review shows that senior defense officials are keen not only to modernize the ageing U.S. arsenal, but add new ways to wage nuclear war as Russia and China and other adversaries bolster their own arsenals.”
    Separately, days earlier in a full-blown interview by President Trump to the Wall Street Journal, he said he saw a “good relationship” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, adding that the recent opening of talks between Seoul and Pyongyang might represent Kim’s attempt to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul.
    Incidentally, in the same interview, Trump praised China for its help in trying to pressure North Korea to end its nuclear programme, while adding, “they can be much more.” He went on to declare: “President Xi (Jinping) has been extremely generous with what he’s said, I like him a lot. I have a great relationship with him, as you know I have a great relationship with Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe of Japan.”


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