Saturday, November 29, 2014

To Say Nothing of the Dog

It was a nice study, with just enough bookcases to seem full, but just enough space for a large comfortable leather chair where one might sit next to the excellent reading lamp and enjoy a favorite book for the umpteenth time.

That was exactly what the man in chair was doing:  once again reading Three Men In a Boat.  This was as it should the man you should know: that Jerome K. Jeromes masterpiece is the single best repository of knowledge concerning the human condition.  The man was just getting to the part where the three men had discovered that they had forgotten a can opener when his son came into the room.

“Dad,” the boy said.  “What does it cost to get married?”

The man did not look up from his book--he was at one of his favorite passages, where the men tried to use a knife to open a can of pineapple. 

I don’t know,” he answered.  “Im still paying.”

“Cmon Dad!  Im serious.”

Regretfully, the man carefully put down his book.  He really didnt need a bookmark to find his place because the book was a well-read gift from his wife.   It was the Bristol edition and was in good shape for something 125 years old. 

The man looked at his son and he could tell by his sons face that he was indeed, serious.  “Ahh, the teenage years,” the man thought.  “One existential crisis after another.  Why are we here?  What is the meaning of life?  I havent been able to answer a single question since he asked me to explain the designated hitter rule.”

“Are you thinking of getting married?” the man asked.

“No, I was just thinking.  What does it cost?”

Well,” the man answered.  “Depending on how you do it, it can be very expensive or quite cheap.  I think your mother and I spent about $300 on ours.  We got married in my parentsliving room.  And Ive been to weddings that cost over a hundred times as much.  Either way, you are just as married.  Its sort of like being on an escalator: no matter how fast or slow you walk, you end up in the same place.”

“The whole purpose of the ceremony is a public profession of marriage.   The two of you are professing your love and making a public commitment to the marriage.  You invite friends and family to be witnesses and to ask their assistance in helping you keep the marriage.  Does any of this make any sense?”

“I think so,” the boy said.

“But let me answer the question I think you are really asking,” continued the man.  “A lot of people seem to believe if you marry the girl you love, you will never have any problems.  What nonsense!  I remember when your mother and I were dating, there was this silly movie called ‘Love Story.’  There was a line in the movie that everyone repeated for years:  ‘Love means never having to say youre sorry.’  Which is horseshit!  Love means constantly saying youre sorry, and meaning it.”

“Mom says you were thrown out of that movie.”

“Well, yes I was.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  But, I thought it was a comedy.  I still do.”

“Mom says that you take everything and twist it to your advantage.”

“Thats her way of complimenting me.  Forget the movie.  Marriage doesnt mean you are not going to have problems.  Every couple does.  Some of the problems are huge, and you will have new ones your whole life.  Marriage is a public commitment that the two of you will work through the problems.  That you commit to finding solutions, together, your whole life.”

“You want to know what a marriage cost?  You will spend a lifetime making payments together.  Marriage is always making sure that your partners needs come first.  Marriage is understanding that everything is your job.  Marriage is holding her hair when she is sick.  Marriage is trying to make sure she eats the last piece of pizza even when she insists that it is yours.“

“You dont make marriage sound like it is worth the trouble.”

“Ive always thought it was.  It is only through living with your mother that I have really become happy.  Take this book, Three Men in a Boat—“

I don’t want to read it.  I tried it and its boring,” the boy interrupted.

“When you are older, and not young enough to know everything, you may change your mind.  No--I just wanted to point out that Jerome wrote this book immediately after he returned from a honeymoon that he spent with his wife boating on the Thames River.  He had spent his whole life on the river, but only understood it after his marriage.“

The man thought he hadn't done a very good job answering the boy’s question.  I don’t think he really understands yet, but he has still has lots of time,” he thought to himself.  “We can talk about this again when he is older.  He will understand long before he is ready to marry.   There was still lots of time.”
“Does that answer your question?” the man said out loud.  He was already opening his book back up again.

“Oh, I didn’t really have a question,” the boy said as he turned to leave the room.  “But I think you need to talk to my sister.”

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Goose of Thanksgiving Past

I had a half dozen semi-historical blog ideas for this week, I even had one blood-thirsty Western story about yet another beheading, but—much like my students—I'm a little tired of history right now.  It is the end of the semester, and my students' brains are full.  If I were to reveal the location of the Lost Dutchman's mine or a cure for cancer....well, I'm not sure anyone would listen.

Today was the last day of class until the week after the Thanksgiving break.  The school doesn't call it that, of course:  Enema U refers to it as "The Fall Break."  This clever ruse completely fools whichever group might be offended by using the traditional name.   No, for the last few days, just about all anyone could think of was the impending break, so I thought I might join them and write about my first Thanksgiving with The Doc, my wife.

Now that I think about it, she wasn't actually 'The Doc' yet.  I guess I'll have to call her "Pre-Med."

In any case, we were going to the University of Houston and had a large apartment in a run-down section of town between the Hughes Tool Company and the Maxwell House Coffee plant.  We could hear one and smell the other all night long.  We didn't really mind either of the two industrial plants except for one small detail.  Once a month in the middle of the night, the coffee plant would switch over from producing coffee to producing hot chocolate mix.  The entire neighborhood would wake up at the same time with an irresistible urge for a candy bar.

Our apartment was a fourth of an old large home that had seen better days.  Half a century earlier, this had been a great neighborhood, but while we lived there our neighbor had a sign out front that claimed she could read palms and predict the future.  She must not have been very good at it since she seemed quite surprised when the police arrested her one day for selling stolen goods from her semi-permanent garage sale.

While our apartment was old, it did have wonderful hard wood floors.  Pre-Med and I used to get down on our hands and knees to apply the thick Johnson's Paste Wax.  It took forever, but it gave a great shine.  I can admit that part of the attraction was that by the time the floor was polished, our cats' paws would end up being a solid block of floor wax.  It was hilarious to watch the cats spinning out of control as they tried to run through the house.

That year, we decided to cook a goose for Thanksgiving.  Neither of us knew how to do this, but we figured it couldn't have been that hard.  If Charles Dickens could do it in damn near every one of his books, we figured we could do it.

Looking back, we should NOT have tried!  Evidently, a ten-pound goose contains enough goose fat to produce ten gallons of goose oil.  I had mistakenly placed the goose in a turkey roasting pan, ignorant of the fact that the proper size metal container for cooking a goose was the Exxon Valdez.  Cooking a goose is something that should be avoided like unprotected sex with an Ethiopian transvestite.

During cooking, hot goose grease poured over the side of the roasting pan destroying everything that it touched.  It was kind of like hot molten lava, except it smelled great.  It pretty well killed that oven and several plastic floor tiles.

Sadly, Pre-Med and I decided that we weren't great fans of goose.  We ate it, but....well, it was a little greasy.  Most of it went into the refrigerator for endless rounds of leftovers.  The only fun part of the meal was that we split a bottle of Mateus Rosé wine.  Remember Mateus and Lancer's wine?  These were the wines of the 1970's.  I haven't seen a bottle in 40 years.  (Perhaps this is because Saddam Hussein was hooked on the stuff and had stockpiled warehouses of the stuff in Iraq.  There is a persistent rumor that when the soldiers found him hiding in his spider hole, he was clutching a bottle of Mateus.)

The next day, Pre-Med dragged me screaming and crying to the local church for a concert of holiday music.  I do not like church music.  It was just barely passable before my wife informed me that I had all of the titles and most of words wrong.  The hymn was much more fun when I thought the title was "Our Lord is a Shoving Leopard."  Now, the only possible enjoyment is waiting for the part of Handel's Messiah where the whole choir sings, "Oh, We Like Sheep!"  My wife always elbows me in the ribs every time I go "Baaa!  Baaa!"

After a couple of eons, the concert was over and we returned home.  To a disaster!  While we were gone, our cats had figured out how to liberate the goose remains from the kitchen refrigerator.  Evidently, (despite their lack of opposable thumbs) they had enough dexterity in their little, waxed paws to open the fridge, to remove the saran wrap, and to pull out the goose—but NOT to be able to hold the carcass still long enough to actually eat the bird.

So, they had played soccer with it all over the house.  The floor of the entire house was a greasy, nasty, goosey mess.  We just stood in the doorway and cried like Baptists at a funeral.

You don't really clean up goose fat—you just keep wiping until you have evenly applied it in a thin layer all over the floors.  And then, you just keep buffing it until it shines.

Surprisingly, it didn't smell, and the brilliant shine was far better than anything we had ever achieved with Johnson's Paste Wax.  It lasted a lot longer, too!

If you have any wood floors, you really should try it.  Cook a small goose in a large metal barrel, then screw a broomstick into the backside of the bird and use it to mop your floors.  You'll be pleased with the results!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Flag Daze

Last week, in a joking way, I mentioned the issue of flag desecration, more commonly called flag burning.  The last time I wrote something that evoked as much hate mail, I had written about religion.  At least this time, I didn't get any death threats from either Saudi Arabia or Arkansas.  Yet.

Since so many people have angrily asked me to explain my position on flag burning, let me tell you a short story.

It was a beautiful October day in Washington D.C.  While at that time of the year in D.C., you can tell that cold weather is coming toward the end of the month, early in the month, it's glorious, with temperatures usually in the mid-70s.
The young man walked half way up the steps in front of the Supreme Court, stopped and pulled a small bundle from the pocket of his windbreaker.  Shaking the bundle up and down, it quickly unfolded to reveal that it was an American flag.  From the same pocket, he produced a disposable cigarette lighter and used it to ignite one corner of the flag.

From about twenty feet away, a second young man noticed the burning flag and rushed over and tried to pull the flag away from the first young man.

“What the hell do you think you are doing?” screamed the second young man.  “You cant burn the American flag.”

 “Leave me alone!” screamed the first young man.  “I have a right to protest.”

A third young man, a hundred feet away, had witnessed this exchange, and ran over.  He grabbed the arm of the second young man and tried to pull him off the young man with the burning flag.

“Leave him alone,” said the third young man.  “Hes not doing anything wrong.  He has a right to burn the flag if he wants to.”

We can stop our story right there.  Think about each of the three men: Is any of them right? 

The first young man is desecrating a flag that is dear to the hearts of most Americans.  Personally, I find this disturbing, but the man has an absolute right of free speech.  If burning a countrys flag is not political speech, then I have no idea what it is.  You will forgive me if I hope the young man burns a few fingers while he does this, but he has the right to voice his opinions.

The second young man--no matter how pure his motives--is not defending the United States of America.  Sadly, he is doing just the opposite.  One of the many things that flag symbolizes is the right of everyone to indulge in free speech, no matter how distasteful the rest of us find it.  The First Amendment is unnecessary for the protection of "popular" speech--anyone can go to any capital city of any totalitarian state in the world and praise the current leader.   But only in countries that honor the right of all men to speak any belief freely can someone publicly denounce the leader of the country.

Free speech is not easy--in fact, it is often painful.  And it is easy to understand the desire to moderate this right with talk about "honor" or about "the public good".  Surely hate speech is wrong?  For the good of the public, can we not put sensible limits on academic freedom?  Can we not at least ban the denial of the Holocaust?--as so many European countries have done?

No!--We cannot do this!  The only way to ensure free speech is to have no limits--for who knows who is to decide what those limits are to be?  If you can ban my opinion today, cannot someone else ban yours tomorrow? 

The third young man--the one trying to allow the first man to burn the flag--is the only one of the three who is upholding the Bill of Rights.  He is the only one seeking to protect someones right to voice an "unpopular" opinion and he is the only one who is seeking to honor the flag—even as it burns—by not destroying the ideals that it stands for.

Unfortunately, while you and I understand this, it seems that our own Supreme Court no longer does. 

Directly in front of the building housing the Supreme Court, there is a large, flat, beautiful plaza.  There are fountains, benches, and wide open spaces on this black marble plaza and it  is exactly the kind of place where you could sit and discuss constitutional issues--BUT YOU CAN'T.

It is NOT a free speech zone.  (The Supreme Court says so.)

You can carry signs on the sidewalk  (free speech is allowed there), but not on the plaza.  Guards at the Supreme Court will not allow signs on the plaza and T-shirts with political messages are not allowed.  At times, people have even been asked to remove small campaign buttons.

In a "supreme" act of irony, a young man wearing a T-shirt imprinted with the First Amendment was asked to leave the plaza. 

The idea seems to be that while the judges know that a protest would not sway their votes on various cases, they are afraid that some people will not understand this and believe their decisions might appear to have been swayed.  I'm not sure how the geographic location of a protest is supposed to raise or lower the perceived merits of a protest, but I will admit that I am not one of our nation’s top legal minds.

Therefore, there is a 1949 ordinance on the books that prohibits free speech on the plaza.  Recently, a young man challenged this law in court and the judge (who did understand the First Amendment) ruled in his favor, setting aside the 1949 statute.  The Supreme Court sent a lawyer to argue in its behalf at the trial, and when the judge ruled in favor of the young man, the Supremes appealed the case to yet a higher court.

Presumably, the case may eventually be argued in front of the Supreme Court.  Gee, I wonder how the Court will decide.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Politics on the Brazos

Texas Congressmen Bob and Ted were discouraged by the recent election.  While both were reelected, they had won their districts by only the slimmest of margins.  Equally bad, the exit polls were horrible and plainly, the voters were disenchanted with politicians in general, and believed that Washington was out of touch. 

"I know what we can do," said Congressman Bob.  "We need to reconnect with the peopleshow them that we are one of them, that we understand them."

"How do we do that?" asked Congressman Ted.  "We don't know any of those people.  Hell, do we even know anybody who knows those people?"

"That's why we have aides," Congressman Bob said.  "Little people know lots of other little people."

Two weeks later, both politicians walked into a bar in Santo, Texas.  Both men were wearing freshly pressed new Levi's, shirts with more shiny buttons than an Italian sports car, and freshly polished boots with the jeans cuffs tucked in.  Congressman Bob was leading a large dog on a leash.

The bar became quiet as everyone in the bar stopped and turned to look at the two politicians.

"Howdy!  Bob and I just wanted to stop and see what is going on along the Brazos River.  And I'm buying the first round of beers."

Few things will make you friends faster in a bar than a fat wallet, and in only a few minutes, there were abundant smiles as the two politicians made their way around the bar, shaking hands and slapping backs.

Over in the far corner, the two old cowboys were finishing off a couple of plates of catfish and tater tots.  After gratefully accepting the beers, they continued their meal and kept a wary eye on the two politicians as they worked their way around the room.

"Did you vote for either of those two polecats?" asked Kent. 

"Yes, but I wish you hadn't reminded me.  I'm eating," Mike answered.  "Pass the Tabasco sauce.  The one with the dog is our congressman, the other one represents Arlington, I think."

Kent handed the familiar bottle to the other cowboy and watched as Mike liberally spiced up his tater tots.  "Most people use ketchup for that," he said.

Mike put the lid back on the bottle and replied, "This is ketchup.  Texas Ketchup.  And I didn't say anything to you when you drowned that poor fish in vinegar."

"Had to use vinegar--the lemons here are as dry as the Panhandle in June.  What do you suppose these two idiots want?  I don't trust people that smile that much."

Mike looked over at the two politicians.  "Aw, they're just probably trying to prove they understand our problems.  I wonder who ironed and starched those jeans," he said.

Kent glanced at the two men and then said, "I wonder where they rented the dog."

Mike set his fork down on the edge of his almost empty plate and leaned back in his booth.  "Do you remember that county commissioner we used to have?  Rawther or Ransome?  Every four years, he'd drive around in this old ratty station wagon and shake hands.  I guess he didn't think we were smart enough to remember that in between elections he drove a new Mercedes.  I wonder whose barn he kept that wagon in when he wasn't campaigning."

Kent finished a long pull at his beer and answered, "Oh, he didn't keep that in a barn.  No, that was his mother's car.  The one without the dog--isnt that the guy who told us about two elections back that the biggest problem facing America was flag burning?"

 Yeah, thats him, Mike said.  He convinced me, too.  I think every flag in the nation should have a built-in incendiary device so that the flag automatically catches fire when a politician is wrapped up in it.

Laughing, Kent answered, And they both claim they have brought jobs to Texas.  How two men who have never had a real job between them can believe they have created any jobs is beyond me.

About then the two politicians made their way to the two cowboys table.  Bob and Ted immediately shook hands with both of the two cowboys and started in telling them just how much they had had done for this area, how much they had done for ranching...and all the while the two old cowboys were wondering just how polite they had to be in exchange for two free beers.

Ted was just in the middle of expanding on his plans for the great things he and his party were going to do in the future when the front door of the bar opened and a man walked in, stopped and looked around the room until he spotted the two men.  He promptly walked over, squatted behind the dog and lifted its tail.  Staring intently at the south end of a north facing dog, the man grunted, lowered the tail and walked off.

Bob interrupted Ted.  "What in tarnation was that man doing?  That's the third time tonight some fool has walked over and without so much as a hello, has lifted the tail of that poor dog, stared at its butt for a while, then stomped off.   What the hell is going on?  Is this some kind of a joke?"

Mike looked at Kent, who simply shrugged and shook his head.  Mike shifted slightly in his seat to look directly at Congressman Bob.

"Well, Congressman, it's like this.  Santo is a small place and you two have been in here for at least half an hour.  By now, the word is probably out all over town."

"I can understand them wanting to meet us," said the Congressman.  "But why are they bothering the dog?"

Mike looked at Kent and said, "Your turn."

Kent appeared distinctly uncomfortable but looked up from the booth at the Congressmen and said, "No.  I don't think you understand.  They've heard there was a dog in here with two assholes and they just wanted to check for themselves."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

New Mexico Royalty

Like the rest of the country, it is election time in New Mexico.  I can accurately predict the results right now: we will reelect idiots.  The few idiots who will fail at reelection will be replaced with fresh new idiots.

There is not much chance of electing anyone except fools, since only an idiot would run for elected office in this state.  I believe that this state needs to look to our historic past.  The best idea would be to petition the federal government to revoke our statehood and let us return to our former territorial status.  Instead of elected idiots, we could go back to appointed idiots.  This might not give us better government, but at least there would be fewer campaign signs.  As I write this, it is the night of Halloween, and trust me, the scariest thing to ring my doorbell tonight has been a politician out knocking on doors.

Or, let the entire Southwest go even farther back in history and restore royal rule.  For hundreds of years, the area comprising New Mexico and Arizona were under the benignly neglected rule of Spanish Kings--and even then, the Spanish Crowns representatives were mostly idiots since this territory was poor, isolated, and frequently forgotten.  If the King of Spain sent someone to be the new governor of New Mexico, you can be pretty sure that the man had done something scandalous—and illegal—at his previous job. 

It surprises most people to learn that, when Mexico finally broke from Spain and became independent, the first government of Mexico was actually another monarchy.  On July 21, 1822, Agustín I, Constitutional Monarch of Mexico was crowned emperor of all the lands from Costa Rica to Oregon.  While hard to believe, the entire southwestern area of the United States—from California to Texas—was once ruled by a Mexican king.  The kingdom didn't last long because Emperor Agustín was an idiot.  (I bet you saw that coming.)

Emperor Agustín spent most of his reign trying to lay the foundation of court etiquette.  Instead of establishing a banking system or a new judicial system, Agustín imported a marquise from the former court of Napoleon to teach the local yokels how many times to bow as they backed out of his royal presence.  Instead of setting up schools, Agustín dreamed up titles for his children.  (His eldest son was to be called the Prince Imperial.) 

After a while, the people just gave up on the Imperial Idiot and ran him out of Mexico.  Given a pension he never collected, the poor ex-sovereign was exiled to Europe.  Unfortunately, without his enlightened royal leadership, Mexico continued to suffer intrigues, fairly constant changes of government, and the threat of war.  Eventually, Agustín realized that God was talking to him personally, guiding him back to Mexico to renew his monarchy.  (Rule #2 of Monarchy is that when God speaks to you, obey.)

Agustín I, his wife, and a few of the princelings immediately set sail back to Mexico.  And when Agustín stepped off the boat…he was fairly quickly stood up against a wall and executed.  (Rule #1 of Monarchy states that when God personally tells you to rule a country, both of you are schizophrenic.)

Sadly, Agustín is not the last royal person in the Southwest: there was also the Baron of Arizona.  (If you find all of this weird, look at my competition.  I am trying to write about nonsense and just this week The NY Times this ran an article titled: Can You Get Ebola from a Bowling Ball?

James Addison Reavis was a liar and a swindler, but he must have also been a likable liar and a swindler.  His life of crime began early.  After he enlisted in the Confederate Army, he found that life in the military was not to his liking.  Luckily, he discovered a hitherto unsuspected skill:  He could forge his commanding officers signature on passes.  It didn’t take long for his comrades in arms to notice his frequent absences, so he started selling them passes, too.  Of course, it didn’t take long for these frequent comings and goings—mostly goings—to be noticed and an investigation was begun.

Before Reavis could be caught, he forged leave papers, surrendered to the Union Army, and somehow--instead of becoming a prisoner of war—managed to talk his captors into allowing him to join the northern army.  While there are no records surviving to document his service, I would be willing to bet he continued to have rather frequent leaves.

After the war, Reavis drifted around, spent some time in Brazil, and finally ended up as a realtor in Missouri.  There, he found he had a real talent for helping people sell land that had cloudy titles.  It was simply amazing the number of old, yellowing legal documents that Reavis could find.  But his real breakthrough came in 1871 when he became the partner of George Willing, who was attempting to cash in on an enormous Spanish Land Grant that covered 18,600 square miles of Arizona and New Mexico.  Supposedly Willing had just purchased the land grant from the last surviving male member of the family who had been given the royal grant by King Charles III.  (You will just have to trust me on this, but King Chucky the Third was a spectacular idiot.)

This land grant, the Peralta Land Grant, was about as honest as the last email you got offering you a Nigerian business deal.  Willing had a few documents, but they needed the special kind of help that Reavis could offer.  Shortly into the partnership, Willing died, leaving Reavis to continue on his own.   Almost immediately, the first document discovered was a deed transferring title to Reavis. 

No one can say that Reavis didn’t work on his claim—the man spent years perfecting the swindle.  Reavis learned Spanish, Spanish law, and enough Mexican colonial history to pass my course on the subject.  Then, he went on long trips through Mexico visiting government archives, records offices and libraries.  Such places are very careful to prevent your leaving with documents, but rather careless if you're trying to deposit a few documents.

Reavis was a genius.  He examined real documents, and then forged his own with matching paper, ribbons, seals, and signatures.  He manufactured wills, birth certificates, death records, property transfers, and everything else needed to suddenly create a fictitious Baron Peralta of Arizona.  He fabricated paintings of the family, even wrote a little poetry that was supposedly penned by a member of the family.  Then, (and this is the master stroke) he obtained official permission to copy the documents he had planted, then had the Mexican government notarize these copies as authentic. 

Now, armed with real and legally authentic copies of manufactured nonsense, Reavis dropped the entire bundle of documents on the Federal Surveyor General in Tucson.  This poor man was charged with identifying  the real owners of the lands that had newly joined the United States at the end of the Mexican American War.  This was a task that would take the government years and years to straighten out.

While the Federal government pondered the dilemma, Reavis went ahead with the next step of his plan.  He offered to sell quitclaims to the trespassers of his property at rather reasonable rates.  These trespassers included a dozen towns, countless mines, and hundreds of farms, ranches and assorted businesses--and a big chunk of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Railroad lawyers inspected the paperwork, and quickly paid Reavis $50,000 for a quitclaim.  A large mine paid $20,000 and, suddenly, there was a stampede of people trying to protect their property from seizure.

Reavis decided to protect his claim by adding just a little more proof.  He produced the last surviving member of the Peralta family, Sofia Loreto Micela Maso y Peralta de la Cerdoba.  (Actually, she was a young girl with an Navaho mother and an Anglo father.   But she was willing to get a name change for the right price.)  Reavis gave her some of the fastest etiquette lessons since Agustín hired the marquise, and introduced her to society as the Baroness de Peralta and just as quickly married her.

Reavis—excuse me, he now called himself the Baron of Arizona y Los Colorados—took his wife to Spain and presented her at court.  While they were there, he managed to visit the archives in Madrid and Seville and leave a few more old (new) documents that helped to cement the existence of the entire Peralta line.  It was at this point that he discovered the family coat of arms.

By now, the Baron had a small army of agents who were out collecting rents and selling quitclaims to the supposed tenants.  In total, the Baron collected $5.3 million from his tenants.  But, this was the high point of the entire enterprise.  After seven years of inspection, the Surveyor General threw the claim out, letting title remain in the possession of those currently holding the land.

The Ex-Baron should have quit while he was ahead, but decided to stubborn it out.  He sued the federal government for $10 million, claiming that was the value of the land the government had issued to homesteaders and the railroad.  While this was certainly brave, it was also stupid—perhaps even idiotic. 

The government sent better investigators to look at the documents, and the fake documents were exposed for what they were.  Several things gave the forgery away.  Reavis had used a pen with a steel nib to fabricate documents that were dated before such a device had been invented.  Several documents had questionable grammar, or words had contemporary spelling instead of that which was used in the late 18th century.  Most damaging of all, while Reavis had been successful in planting documents into the middle of bundles and drawers of documents, he frequently failed to update the accompanying indexes the Spanish kept.

The former Baron of Arizona was tried, convicted, and sentenced to six years in jail.  He was released early for good behavior and began his inevitable downward spiral.  He tried to sell his autobiography, but had little success.  Reduced to living in a home for paupers, he died penniless in Denver in 1914.

While I doubt that next Tuesday's election will give us another Baron, I have no doubts that we will end up with yet another set of idiots.