Continuing Signs of the Decline of Civilization

One responsibility we take quite seriously here at the Valise is to report on the continuing signs of human devolution. Much like natural scientists who look for signs of Global Warming, we feel that it is our obligation to ferret out the evidence that we, as a species, are becoming less civilized, less intelligent every day. There are those doubters who look at each piece of evidence and are unable or unwilling to see the obvious pattern as it unfolds. We have finally reached the conclusion that there is no way to reach the IDs (Idiocy Deniers). In fact, their denials are simply more evidence of the inevitable unfolding of human stupidity.

So, here are two brief data points in today’s news (only two and brief so that we don’t lose any readers):

1. St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of the poor. This week, the Mayor of Assisi announced that he was banning begging in the city;

ROME (AFP) — Assisi, home of Saint Francis, the 13th century patron of the poor, has banned begging, an Italian newspaper reported Sunday. Right-wing Mayor Claudio Ricci has stopped people seeking handouts, lying down or sitting on the ground within 500 metres (yards) of town churches, other places of worship, squares and public buildings, La Repubblica said.The mayor of the town in northern Italy, told the newspaper his ban was designed to “preserve the sacred character of Assisi without damaging its welcome.

B. There was a time when you could expect something interesting (and funny) to happen at the Annual White House Correspondence’s Dinner. Those days are over.

President Bush put forward mock excuses on behalf of the Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as to why they were not in attendance. Taking a jibe at controversies which have dogged their campaigns, he said: “Hillary Clinton couldn’t get in because of sniper fire and Senator Obama’s at church.” He was referring to Mrs Clinton’s “mis-speak” when she erroneously claimed she faced sniper fire on a trip to Bosnia in the 1990s; and Mr Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who criticised America in fiery sermons. The president admitted to being a “little wistful” at his final dinner, and video clips of his previous performances were broadcast. He finished by conducting the US Marine band in a medley of patriotic marches.

The commentary from the podium could not have been nearly as funny as the conversations that likely took place among the guests.

The White House Correspondents’ Association presented its annual awards during the dinner on Saturday in front of a crowd of VIPs, including author Salman Rushdie, singer Ashlee Simpson and actors Ben Affleck and Pamela Anderson. Mr Bush’s appearance at the event continues a tradition begun by US President Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

The small talk between Salman and Ashlee had to have been priceless. Given the choice, I would much prefer to have been invited to the first gathering in 1924. “Silent Cal” was arguably our funniest and most quotable president. See here and here

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