Call it the irony of the ages, but as voters in five critical states head into today’s primaries, civilization observes one of the most infamous political treacheries of all time, the slaying of Julius Caesar in the Roman Senate in 44 B.C., ostensibly to prevent him from becoming a tyrant and destroying the Roman Republic.
Caesar’s death 2,060 years ago occurred on the “Ides of March,” which translates to March 15. Instead of preserving the Republic, doing away with Caesar resulted in something of a civil war. The Republic became the Roman Empire. History has recorded how that worked out for the Romans.
Another way to look at it is that political insiders in Rome wanted to preserve their cushy positions of privilege and power. One might suggest that seems rather familiar ground in today’s political climate, with reports of the so-called “establishment” doing whatever it can to derail front-runner Donald Trump, who seems unstoppable in his campaign for the GOP nomination. Weekend demonstrations trying to shut him down have only resulted in a sympathetic surge for Trump, and a backlash against those who tried to squelch his populist message.
Before digressing too far into Shakespearean drama, Trump doesn’t wear a purple robe, and to date, nobody has placed a crown on his finely combed noggin. But there have been various reports that the Republican “establishment” is alarmed at his campaign success so far, and his popularity with the people. If Trump wins Florida today, Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign may as well fold its tent. If he wins Ohio, it could essentially end Gov. John Kasich’s effort, and that would make it a two-man contest: Trump facing Sen. Ted Cruz.
But if Kasich wins Ohio and does well in Illinois, and Rubio wins in Florida, and Cruz does well in Missouri and North Carolina, not even Shakespeare could create more political intrigue. By 9 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time tonight, the country should have a clear a picture of what is on the political horizon.
If things work out today as the Trump camp anticipates, the Ides of March could be a blue ribbon day for the real estate mogul. Those who tried to hurt his campaign over the weekend better pack up their togas and head for the hinterlands.
MEANWHILE, the Seattle Times is reporting this morning that Steven Blacktongue, known as “Poncho,” was a convicted felon who had done time in prison for assault. Blacktongue was shot at least twice Sunday morning by an armed private citizen who was at the convenience store having coffee. He died at the scene.
Yesterday, this column spoke with Susan Svensk, whose cousin was married to Blacktongue. After noting via email that her cousin “has children who are deeply affected by the loss of their father,” Svensk said in a telephone conversation that “Poncho’s” death, while it came as a shock, did not come as a surprise.
“This has been an on-going problem for many years,” she stated.
Svensk initially offered her perspective Monday morning in an on-the-air call to KVI’s John Carlson. This column was later able to hook up with Svensk, first via email and then by telephone for more insight.
Blacktongue, she said, had a history of trouble with drugs. When he entered the 7-11 in Boulevard Park at 5:45 a.m. Sunday, he was wearing a mask and without saying a word, began swinging his hatchet. It proved to be a fatal error. A customer in the store had a legally-carried handgun, and used it. The incident was caught on security video.
Before the gun prohibition lobby tries to seize on the fact that Blacktongue used a hatchet by proclaiming that he probably couldn’t get a gun because of background checks, there’s a more accurate perspective. Just because he didn’t have a gun did not prevent him from trying to commit mayhem, perhaps murder, with a weapon for which there is no background check. Anybody can purchase a hatchet, and you don’t even need to produce identification.
But Svensk didn’t just talk about Blacktongue. She criticized state and federal government agencies and lawmakers for what she sees as a breakdown of the mental health and judicial systems.
“There are people on the street that are mentally ill, addicted to drugs,” she observed. “They’re ordered by state to do something about that but the state doesn’t do anything about it to enforce that.”
She talked about people with similar problems, noting that “any one of those people could be a Poncho.” And Svensk added, “The state doesn’t want us to be able to defend ourselves against people like that.”
Svensk contended that when an incident like this happens, many state and federal authorities “have this knee jerk reaction.” Instead of disarming and punishing offenders, she contended, gun control proponents decide what must be done is to take away everyone’s ability to defend themselves.
“They treat us all like criminals,” Svensk observed.
The Washington Post yesterday raised this issue in its coverage of the convenience store shooting. The story has gained international prominence. The Post noted, “The incident near Burien, Wash., about eight miles south of downtown Seattle, probably will add to the ongoing debate about concealed weapons and their effect on crime…Concealed-weapon ownership has skyrocketed in recent years as more states have moved to allow it. The percentage of Americans who believe owning a gun will protect them and others also has risen steadily.” This column noted yesterday that more than 525,000 citizens have active Washington concealed pistol licenses.
Turning her attention back to people with drug and emotional problems, she said, “These people have a story. Like it or not there’s something behind what they do. When you hit the bottom without treatment, this (what happened to Blacktongue) is the bottom.”
Svensk said there are lots of people like Blacktongue, “who desperately needed treatment, and probably should have gotten a heavier sentence” when he went to prison for the earlier assault.
She said there needs to be “enforced treatment (for drugs and/or mental health problems) and if you can’t enforce it, there needs to be stronger sentencing.”
As for the man who fatally shot her cousin’s husband, Svensk had this observation: “These people (at the convenience store) would have been dead if that guy hadn’t been there.”
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