Saturday, March 28, 2009

Help us, Emperor Norton--you're our only hope!

Norton I, Emperor of These United States (and later, Protector of Mexico), flourished in San Francisco between 1859 and 1880. He slipped a mental gear after losing all his money and decided he was Emperor now, thank you very much. I was thinking about him recently because it occurred to me that even though he was nuttier than Aunt Ethel's fruitcake, he made a lot more sense than our current President. Only consider the following edicts:

-Banning Congress: "...fraud and corruption prevent a fair and proper expression of the public voice; that open violation of the laws are constantly occurring, caused by mobs, parties, factions and undue influence of political sects; that the citizen has not that protection of person and property which he is entitled..." (hasn't changed much, has it?)

-Banning the Democratic and Republican parties:"being desirous of allaying the dissensions of party strife now existing within our realm"

-Fired Virginia Governor Henry Wise for executing John Brown: Norton did not at all approve of Brown's actions at Harper's Ferry, but stated "the said Brown was insane and that he ought to have been sent to the Insane Asylum for capturing the State of Virginia with seventeen men." (Snerk.)

Now, just like the current occupant of the White House Norton was prone to printing money to pay off certain pressing debts, but the money was quite pretty, he didn't abuse the privilege, and it is still worth something. Norton didn't do any harm, and by all accounts did some actual good (supposedly once defusing a potentially fatal anti-Chinese riot). He took his Imperial duties seriously, and when he died 30,000 people lined the streets to pay their final respects.

If we have to have a crazy person in charge, why can't we have a *nice* one?


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