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The City of Political Distinction by Ambrose Bierce

JAMRACH the Rich, being anxious to reach the City of Political Distinction before nightfall, arrived at a fork of the road and was undecided which branch to follow; so he consulted a Wise-Looking Person who sat by the wayside.

“Take THAT road,” said the Wise-Looking Person, pointing it out; “it is known as the Political Highway.”

“Thank you,” said Jamrach, and was about to proceed.

“About how much do you thank me?” was the reply. “Do you suppose I am here for my health?”

As Jamrach had not become rich by stupidity, he handed something to his guide and hastened on, and soon came to a toll-gate kept by a Benevolent Gentleman, to whom he gave something, and was suffered to pass. A little farther along he came to a bridge across an imaginary stream, where a Civil Engineer (who had built the bridge) demanded something for interest on his investment, and it was forthcoming. It was growing late when Jamrach came to the margin of what appeared to be a lake of black ink, and there the road terminated. Seeing a Ferryman in his boat he paid something for his passage and was about to embark.

“No,” said the Ferryman. “Put your neck in this noose, and I will tow you over. It is the only way,” he added, seeing that the passenger was about to complain of the accommodations.

In due time he was dragged across, half-strangled, and dreadfully beslubbered by the feculent waters. “There,” said the Ferryman, hauling him ashore and disengaging him, “you are now in the City of Political Distinction. It has fifty million inhabitants, and as the color of the Filthy Pool does not wash off, they all look exactly alike.”

“Alas!” exclaimed Jamrach, weeping and bewailing the loss of all his possessions, paid out in tips and tolls; “I will go back with you.”

“I don’t think you will,”, said the Ferryman, pushing off; “this city is situated on the Island of the Unreturning.”


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  • James O'Neil January 17, 2021, 10:04 AM

    Here’s a link to Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce’s works in project Gutenburg: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/search/?query=Ambrose++Bierce&submit_search=Search

  • talgus January 17, 2021, 10:14 AM

    and when “this city is situated on the Island of the Unreturning.” becomes a state in the Union of states, the Union of states is undone.

  • ghostsniper January 17, 2021, 2:50 PM

    A nation of grifters, thieves, parasites, murderers, the meek, the cowardly, and the seethers.

  • Dirk January 17, 2021, 3:46 PM

    Many,”Shall unreturned ” Kinda how I see, what’s to come.


  • Auntie Analogue January 17, 2021, 5:44 PM

    How about . . . City of Political Distinct Shun.

    Because that’s what it does to us, to the American people.

  • Lance de Boyle January 17, 2021, 6:43 PM
  • ghostsniper January 17, 2021, 6:44 PM

    For the retards
    I understand it is tiresome to hear me repeatedly tell people to shut up and stop trying to think because their arguments are too stupid and ignorant for me to entertain. Imagine how much more tiresome it is for me to listen to the retarded moanings that they actually think pass for substantive arguments. But, in the interest of education, why don’t we refresh everyone’s memory concerning the National Guards.

    The National Defense Act of 1916 made significant changes to National Guard readiness, structure, and mobilization.

    The law increased and standardized training and personal standards. Congress required Guardsmen to fulfill 48 days of drill and 15 days of annual training at federal expense; this doubled the number of drill days and tripled the annual training requirement. In addition, the Department of War now administered annual inspections, and the Army required Guardsmen to meet uniform physical fitness and eligibility tests.

    As a federal reserve military force, Congress increased funding for personnel and equipment. Plans increased National Guard end strength to 425,000 Soldiers over a five-year period and provided missing equipment to units.

    Standardization of the National Guard brought visible changes. All state militias were renamed as National Guards, and Guardsmen would wear the U.S. Army uniform. This visual identity proved important by demonstrating the unity of active-duty and reserve forces and signifying Guardsmen as military professionals.

    The law redesignated the Division of Militia Affairs as the Militia Bureau. This title placed War Department as the immediate supervisory agency and placed the Chief of the Militia Bureau as the lead officer of the National Guard. This provision aligned the Bureau under the stricter drill and training standards.

    The Department of War would bestow federal recognition to National Guard units that passed the inspections administered annually along with training improvements. This control established more clear objectives for the entire organization, which furthermore would be subject to federal laws governing the active duty Army when called into federal service.

    The law codified the dual state and federal mission of the National Guard and required new Guardsmen to swear allegiance to both the Constitution of the United States and their state of record. The president of the United States could now federalize the National Guard in time of declared federal emergency and provided for expeditionary service.

    Now, before you keep babbling about your simpleton hypotheses, let’s see if you can pass the following test.

    Is there a declared federal emergency that covers Washington DC?
    Who commands the National Guard when it is federalized?
    Who is the current President of the United States?
    Who, therefore, must have given the orders for the 25,000 National Guardsmen currently occupying Washington DC to perform their expeditionary service there?
    This doesn’t mean that the chain-of-command hasn’t been subverted or that there aren’t a panoply of nefarious plans to disrupt whatever President Trump is intending. But the correct application of Occam’s Razor suggests that President Trump ordered the National Guard to occupy Washington DC as an integral part of his plan to defend the Constitution and the Republic against the foreign interference in the 2020 election.

    Which, of course, is why the smarter people on the other side are all terrified. Such as CNN’s Legal and Security analyst from Georgetown University:
    “Hope I’m wrong but a few indicators pointing toward significant declassification for political purposes in next three days. We shouldn’t underestimate the damage Trump can do to national security in remaining time left. He should have been removed from office or forced to resign.”
    Translation: it sounds as if she knows that we’re all going to learn a lot about the very bad things some very bad people have done this week.


  • Alexandria January 17, 2021, 7:46 PM

    Oh my! What writing. What a story. What truth. I’ve heard of Ambrose Bierce in the past, but as far as I know, until now, never read him. Thank you James for the link to his books at Project Gutenberg (I downloaded four of them for my Kindle) and ordered one of his books from my local library. I was surprised at how many of his books they have.

  • Casey Klahn January 18, 2021, 12:11 AM

    Hrummm. hummf. Clears throat. The slow descent of sack was temporarily paused when an active veteran deemed it needful to school the honored present on the history of the National Guard. Sonny boy, when the US Army celebrates its youth annually every year in June, the guardsman smiles and toasts them but knows his branch began 139 years before the green machine you call the regular army.

    Guardsmen are busy people; they hold down jobs, in normal times, and drill once or more a month and encamp for 2 weeks and more annually.
    History, my friend? Takes a long, slow sip of straight Monkey Shoulder, and glares over his glasses. Who fired the shot heard round the world? Where were you when Chamberlain saved Little Round Top? What about the Virginians who went in on D Day in Normandy in division strength? I raise my glass to all marine present. Did you know more beaches were crossed by federalized nasty girls than armymen or than marines in the Pacific theater? harumph.
    As far as readiness is concerned, it is the American rifleman who dons the monkey suit with the US ARMY chest tape on that weekend drill. On his right and left are the combat veterans of the recent wars.

    Now that all that is straight, let’s talk about the substance of your post Ghostie. Absolutely true the president ordered the ng into DC. I haven’t heard, from the mouth of the acting SecDef, nor the Chief of NGB, Gen Milley or anyone any detailed objective. “Protect the capitol from (fuking retarded phantom threats that the ‘FBI’ supposedly reports).” Has anyone here heard it from the horse’s mouth?

    The lack of news is chilling. I recall night land navigation at Fort Benning; no lights whatsoever, full Georgia leafy canopy overhead, pitch fukn dark like the evacuation port on your fat inlaws…ok, that about describes it as dark. There are 12 foot or deeper cuts or washes in the earth, 8 feet wide and your only hope when you pitch into one is that the Kudzu vines will wrap around your ankles and stop your head before it smacks the ground. This is where one learns the Fear of God. This national guardsman did it enough times that my last score on that course was an unheard of 100. But, I’m just a nasty girl. Ahem.

    All of that to say fear is a palpable thing when you face the darkness. We are news and information absolute darkness right now. It sukin fux. The theory and very rational argument that Trump is in charge is air-tight, in theory. Nothing is air tight in actual reality. I’m done making guesses because my last 2 were run through with the lance of shit called events. I won’t say Trump will not prevail, but momentum is not his at this point in time.

    Cheers. I would fill your glasses, each one of you bastards, if I could.

  • Anonymous January 18, 2021, 1:38 AM


    I’ve read this too

    So when exactly does all this magically kick in? Eleven fifty nine and fifty nine seconds and nine hundred and ninety nine trillion nanoseconds?

    You may now resume your public mental masturbation.

  • Casey Klahn January 18, 2021, 8:05 AM

    I read it, anon. This is the same guy who gave us the vapors for an insurrection act hat trick last week.

    Glossary of terms. An “offensive defense” is what the North Vietnamese played on us; it’s where the defender achieves the initiative. The offensive army thinks it calls the shots, such as where and when and how many and what the goals are. In reality, the defended is playing the offense like a puppeteer. My dad’s war, on the Italian Peninsula, was a brilliant example of Smiling Al Kesselring holding all the cards and actually having all of the advantages the Allies thought they were getting.

    I can imagine some weird trick of play where on the 20th nobody shows up for the inauguration. Tom Hanks’ credentials don’t pass him through the gate. Biden is nowhere to be found. The streets are empty. You want a democratic socialist gubmint? How does no fukkin government sound to you, ace?

    That’d be sweet. But it’s you or me or us fantasizing and experiencing confirmation bias on a grand scale.

    Re: the monkey werx article you linked. He brings up several things, some of which I have noted and do find to be very heavy. The Special forces command operators forces hide in the shadows like quiet professionals, and play trenchcoat spy-like shit. If the army is a rifle, they are the pointy part of the bayonet. Did you know that POTUS does not send orders through the SecDef or the CJCOS? These guys are actually just supernumerary tits in a real war. Recall how, in the Gulf War, the orders went straight to Schwarzkopf , and The SecDef, the CJCOS and the VP for good measure, always seemed to have stupid shit to say? The war fighting command receives direct orders from the president, and I bring your attention to the American continent and a billet named NorthCom. This is who POTUS talks to if a war develops stateside. Just letting you know that. No reason. In another bit of trenchcoat theater, the Cyber Command and the SpecOps Command are equal footing with NorthCom. As indicated already, the civilian chief of the SpecOps now goes directly to the acting SecDef, which was a change made when Esper left and Miller came in. NGB, which is the National Guard Bureau, also sits directly at the table with the JCOS, however their strategic orders roll down from NorthCom and in the situation right now, the District of Columbia. NorthCom would outrank DC. I’m a little fuzzy on that but it’s my read of the chain of command.

    Some is said in the monkeywerx article about unity of command, as compared to the chain of command. Unity of command is a full-on Principle of War and comes by way of von Clausewitz. If you read and go around quoting Sun Tzu, you are not even in the room with your knowledge. Clausewitz is to Sun Tzu as Albert Einstein is to Mickey Mouse; stop quoting Sun Tzu. What is unity of command? It recognizes that the complex diagram of all the shit I’ve detailed above must not dominate the battle. One battle commander, a clear line of command, and BTW dudes that work together and know how each other react.

    The NG in DC is not under the command of the mayor or civilians in DC. It goes directly to NorthCom in a kinetic event. Also, the President in any event because the fukking commander NorthCom is a dude out in Colorado. If you see him in DC next, this might be a clue.

    Clear as mud?

    Did you read the article where the FBI has to vett NG now for party loyalty? Well? Aren’t the FBI nothing more than the democrat Stazzi?

    Last night I dreamt that someone had let the air out of my tires in the driveway outside our urban home. I could only surmise that they were after Holy Joe Whitey and his family – it was my nightmare sense of things. I woke up, and went out side where the crisp leaves cover the ground, cold fog is on the air, and no humans are anywhere to be found within my direct eyesight. Ahhh…life in the country. Enjoy your war, citizens. I’ll be here waiting for it to reach me.

  • EX-Californian Pete January 18, 2021, 9:41 AM

    You know what I’d like to see here?

    No petulant insults & name-calling here between commenters.
    The insults are starting damn near make the comment section look like it’s peppered with butthurt Liberals from some CNN or Mediaite web page. And NO, I don’t want to “censor” anyone or stifle their 1A rights, but I’d love to see comments here directed in an adult, mature way- instead of some schoolyard hissy fit.
    So someone called you a name? Then be mature, IGNORE THEM, and move on.

    How about posting suggestions, ideas, strategies, potential solutions, or maybe a ‘battle plan’ against the Liberal Luciferians instead? I’d really rather see Libtards fighting and being divisive among themselves than to see it among red-blooded Conservatives.

    Yeah, most of us here are really pissed off. The future looks pretty shaky. We’re dumbfounded how we let this severe attack on America happen, and maybe too desperate, shocked, and dismayed to figure out how to regroup and find solutions. Well, GET OVER IT, stop whining and being angry, and DO SOMETHING about it.
    If that sounds futile or too much like “work,” then please stay the hell out of my way while I put all my thoughts, resources, and like-minded friends together to see what we can accomplish.

    Remember- we survived EIGHT GRUELING YEARS of the Kommie Kenyan Klown, and had the BEST 4 YEARS of American progress and prosperity after the Kenyan was gone.

    Oh- and if I might have “upset” anyone with this post, please feel free to simply IGNORE me.