DAILY BRIEFINGThe Moron's Daily Briefing
Jan. 22 - It was on this date in 1807 that U.S. President Thomas Jefferson exposed a plot by his former vice-president, Aaron Burr, to establish an empire in the southwestern part of the continent.
Burr was eventually acquitted as a result of Chief Justice Marshall's ruling that treason wasn't treason unless there were two witnesses, but the vice-presidency was never the same.
From that date forward, retiring vice-presidents have been compelled to either retire into the political obsolescence of private life, where we can safely ignore them, or into the presidency, where we can keep an eye on them.
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Today is the birthday of Grand Duke Ivan III of Moscow, better known as Ivan the Great.
He was born in 1440 and became Grand Duke of Moscow in 1462. Although Moscow was a lot of fun, it was not yet Russia. Ivan was determined to remedy that shortcoming as quickly as possible: he had tsars in his eyes.
To enlarge his dominions he began nibbling at his smaller neighbors, paying an annual tribute to the Golden Horde of Tatars to keep them from nibbling at him. Having eventually swallowed most of his surroundings, Ivan decided in 1480 that it was time to stop paying the Golden Horde.
The Golden Horde reminded him that it was time for their annual tribute. Ivan ignored them.
The Golden Horde sent him polite reminders in the mail, but he ignored these also.
They sent reminders on brightly colored stationery embossed with the words "PAYMENT PAST DUE," but Ivan, alas, remained indifferent.
Finally the Golden Horde marched against Ivan and he marched his own troops out to meet them. The two armies met, faced off, and simultaneously retreated.
This was a victory for Ivan, in that neither he nor his descendants ever paid tribute to the Golden Horde again. But it was also a defeat for Ivan, who was therefore denied the rank of tsar.
(The first real tsar of Russia was his grandson, Ivan IV, "the shooting tsar.")
Today is Discovery Day in St. Vincent.
Linda Blair turns 44 today. She and Ivan share their birthday with Steve Perry (1949), John Hurt (1940), Joseph Wambaugh (1937), Sam Cooke (1935), Bill Bixby (1934), Piper Laurie (1932), Ann Sothern (1909), D.W. Griffith (1875), and Sir Francis Bacon (1561).
© 2002, The Moron's Almanac