...SOLVED, DUE TO AN emergency loan from a dear friend, for which many thanks. But it turns out I was wrong about some important details: eBay did deposit the money, not to my bank account but to a special PayPal account created just for the purpose, funds which I can debit by buying more stuff on eBay but cannot transfer to my bank account. Half the money was paid out for an eBay purchase I made two weeks ago -- a purchase for which I assumed my bank account was being debited, part of the panic associated with the crisis. Since I can't access the special account any other way, and since PayPal ignores my repeated inquiries about access, the remainder of the money is effectively lost: so much for eBay's vaunted "fraud protection." The process of applying for "fraud-protection" is anything but applicant-friendly, and contrary to eBay's deceptive propaganda, the long-promised payment itself is nothing more than the on-line equivalent of a store credit, spendable only via additional purchases -- purchases I have no need for or intention of making.
But I'm still not going to be posting for who knows how many more days. I've been down since Thursday with the worst case of influenza I've ever had -- this despite getting vaccine last fall due to age and chronic conditions -- and I'm so sick, I'm too weak to stay out of bed for more than a few minutes. Moreover, it's not getting any better: horrible deep wracking lunger-type cough, unbelievable glue-like chest congestion, raging sore throat, bouncing fever. No question it's flu -- which makes me wonder if the vaccine I got wasn't maybe a worthless placebo. Perhaps part of one of those infamous government experiments?
...THIS INFLICTED ON ME by a major eBusiness that falsely claimed to have finally deposited an overdue fraud-protection refund to my bank account, has drained me of even the slightest degree of creative energy or inclination to write and has filled me with such panic-stricken fury I can hardly think at all. It never occurred to me the eBusiness's payment notice would be a lie – not even after I had to threaten a formal consumer protection action to collect the alleged payment – but the evidence of my bank statement is undeniable: the payment was never made. And there is no question the eBusiness has my correct account number.
Because this eBusiness lied, because it falsely assured me the payment had been made when in fact it had not – because the endless financial failures of my life dictate my income is so tiny there is never much margin for error – I am now facing as much as $310 in bank charges for debits against my overdraft insurance, plus of course the debits themselves, a total that could easily exceed $500 and, however large, must be repaid within 30 days. Even with my freelance income, this is a disaster from which no recovery is possible.
Under these circumstances, blogging (or any other effort at creativity) is but pretentiousness and folly – the height of phoniness and the depth of dishonesty, probably of no consequence to anyone but me, and unquestionably of absolutely no material worth or even material potential. Farewell; I have no idea when (or even if) I will post here again.
WE CAN ONLY IMAGINE the knowledge that was lost with the burning of the ageless libraries of the Roman Empire, libraries destroyed by a combination of misfortunes including the same traditional Islamic rage against "infidel" knowledge that led the Taliban to savage the ancient Buddhas of Afghanistan.
It is my own belief the Romans were even more civilized – and far more learned both about human history and world geography – than our ethnocentric arrogance allows us to imagine. There is, for example, evidence the Roman Empire regularly traded with Imperial China; there is also evidence the Roman Navy explored North America (perhaps using nautical charts captured from those ancient queens and sea-lords Taliesin described as "...the rulers of Britain, abounding in fleets"). There is evidence pre-Christian sailors circumnavigated the globe perhaps as early as Minoan times, and strong suggestions much of the ancient world was, albeit at a much slower pace, every bit as cosmopolitan as ours – that the Romans were themselves but latecomers to the shores that someday would be America. Benighted post-Medieval Europeans, suffering from the unimaginably ruinous Dark Ages destruction of human knowledge, could only conceive of America as a "New World," but a thousand years before Columbus the Keltoi called it Yargalon, the great land beyond the sunset, a fact rediscovered only about 20 years ago. Nor did we know, as the architects of Stonehenge knew 4000 years ago, that lunar eclipses move in 56-year cycles: it took the astrophysicist Gerald Hawkins (Stonehenge Decoded) to resurrect this long-lost knowledge.
When I think of the magnitude of what was lost in the burned libraries – when I think of the very concept of such loss – I am filled with an emotion that is akin to sadness but can only be expressed in music: a plaintive, minor-keyed flute song, heard as if from far away, a lament beneath a waning moon that shines on toppled stones and broken marble, lunar light on running water that chuckles without mirth. It is similar to the feeling of a breathtakingly beautiful woman fleetingly glimpsed from a great distance and no chance ever to approach, a sensation of impossible yearning for which there is no word in English and perhaps in no other human language either. The loss of What Was, and thus of an entire Future. The loss of What Might Have Been...
But now there is the chance at least some of this gaping wound will be healed. The story linked here is thus literally the most hopeful news in centuries, more potentially revolutionary than the very concept of revolution itself.
PRESIDENT BUSH'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS was the most disturbingly Orwellian political speech I have ever heard, this in at least 50 years of paying close and thoughtful attention to politics. As most readers know, I voted for Bush, albeit reluctantly: Islam has been at war with the "infidel" world for nearly14 centuries, and Kerry’s hopelessly dovish pledge to dismiss that onslaught as a mere crime problem was far more frightening than the re-election of a blundering hawk. But I miscalculated badly; I assumed the Democrats would hold onto enough seats in the Senate to continue obstructing the Republican Party’s 70-year assault on the social safety-net: a net that was wretchedly nonexistent until Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave us working people what truly was a New Deal. In this context – with the destruction of the safety net now a virtual certainty – for Bush to cite "the dignity and security of economic independence" when what he really means is wage slavery, inescapable poverty and "what’s good for Wall Street is good for America" is the very nadir of Big Brother doublespeak. Meanwhile here is a report that suggests life in the New Herbert Hoover Economy will be even more savage than I anticipated. Hence I again apologize for my mistaken vote. I am truly sorry, to the point I feel as if I have grievously sinned and am now in dire need of absolution.
As far as I can tell, the methodical restoration of pre-New-Deal economic savagery is precisely what Bush’s second term is all about. While I don't buy the idiotic Far Left/Democratic Undertow paranoia that the Bush League started the war just to inflate the deficit – that claim is part of the very nonsense that makes the Left so repugnant to so many Americans (about which more in a moment) – I have no problem at all with the notion that Bush is deliberately following in the footsteps of President Ronald Reagan, whose runaway deficits were themselves an earlier Republican effort to destroy the social safety net. What checkmated Reagan was a Democratic Party that was well aware of what he was up to – a Democratic Party that by its control of Congress managed to keep America listed among the planet's more humanitarian nations rather than suffer the reduction of the American economy to the Hoover model: an industrialized version of the banana-republic, with an obscenely rich and powerful plutocracy riding herd over a vast and viciously oppressed workforce. That was America before and for about three years after the Crash of 1929 – why else was the Communist Party the third largest political organization in the nation? – and that is what America will become again if the Bush League has its way. "Ownership society" indeed – by, for and of the handful of owners, with the rest of us oppressed by the heart-stopping terror of constant economic insecurity and ever-looming destitution.
Not only did I vote wrong. I voted as an inadvertant traitor to my own class interests. Which brings me to...
TWO PAINFUL LESSONS IN ECONOMIC REALITY
Unless one is extremely wealthy, our economy is neither fair nor forgiving. This is not hyperbole, nor is it the lest bit theoretical. Here are two true stories of the economy from which the Bush League (in service to its Herbert Hoover ideology) wants to strip all our social safety nets – including Social Security pensions that even now are only semi-liveable:
My father's family was Old Money wealthy – private schools, sailboats and horses wealthy, though nowhere close to Rockefeller wealthy. But the Crash of '29 reduced my father and his widowed mother to abject poverty, so that instead of attending Gill University in Toronto, my father spent his elder youth driving a coal truck in Boston – and was reckoned among the lucky ones merely because he had a job at all. Years later my father had only just begin to enjoy (apparent) economic security when a series of mid-1960s mergers and monopolistic coups wiped out the mortgage banking business he had built from scratch and forced him to once again to rely on the manual labor skills he acquired during his youth. He died at age 61, putting in 18-hour days at an Esso station near Knoxville, Tennessee, owner, manager and chief mechanic.
My father and I were not close; indeed he despised me. But that has never blinded me to the fact he was as determined and diligent and fiscally responsible as a man can be – and that in the end our economy worked him to death as surely as if he were a field-slave on some Mississippi plantation.
In terms of economics, my own story is an eerily similar testament to the same American economic reality, though the circumstances themselves are profoundly different.
I began working for The Knoxville Journal in September 1957, a senior at Knox County’s Holston High School. For the next two years I was a sports stringer; I wrote football stories at $5 per game, and covered basketball, track and other sports for $2.50 per event. I enlisted in the Army in 1959, and when I returned from Korea in September 1962, it was to a full time job at The Journal as a sportswriter. I was obviously a valued employee, had been given two raises in six months, and was already discussing with my supervisors how I might eventually transfer from sports to hard news. Moreover, The Journal was a paper that often sent its employees on to much greater publications, including the New York City dailies. My career – or so I assumed – was launched; I was attending the University of Tennessee by day as a history major and I was working full-time at night. I was apolitical, focused on my own betterment to such an extent I was ignoring much of what was happening around me – including the Civil Rights Movement.
But on June 3, 1963, all that changed. I was swept up in the massive and utterly unjustified arrest of a group maliciously described by The Journal as "Forty negroes and whites, most of them students at the University of Tennessee..," though only about a half-dozen of us caught up in the sweep are black. I was arrested purely by accident; I was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I was outraged by what I had witnessed: the unspeakably vicious behavior of the sheriff's deputies and Knoxville police officers – KuKlux-minded pigs to a man (some probably actual Klan members), all sewer-mouthed with racist invective. Hence in the incident's aftermath I vehemently protested both the unprovoked police brutality I had witnessed firsthand and the malevolently false police and sheriff's claims of a "drunken sex orgy," fulfillment of the vile and obscene Southron fantasies about “nigger-lovers” and “nigras and whites together.”
The truth and ultimate righteousness of everything I did and said was eventually upheld by the courts, but my commitment to that truth and above all else to my own personal honor (and the honor of the woman with whom I was arrested) not only cost me my job at The Journal but dealt my journalism career a wound from which it never recovered. It also ended forever any chance I might find other gainful or productive employment. From the perspective of too many future potential bosses, I had defied my employer (who by the way was an important Republican National Committeeman), and in the American workplace, such defiance is the one forever unforgivable sin. Hence despite my obvious talent I would never again be allowed to work for a major newspaper, would never amass a private-industry pension, would never even earn enough to purchase a pension on my own.
Hence too the inescapably ruinous blow dealt me by the fire in 1983: the two book-projects I had believed would nevertheless guarantee me some degree of old-age security were destroyed beyond recovery: notes, photographs and all. This was literally the work of a lifetime: I had labored on one of the books since 1967 (with informal beginnings in 1962), had collected information for the second book since 1972, and with not only my manuscripts and photographs but all my research notes in ashes, there was absolutely no possible way to reconstruct any of it.
Thus I am cursed to endure old age with no guaranteed income save Social Security. And even without Bush's proposal of slashing benefits nearly in half, Social Security – which was designed by FDR to save unfortunates like myself from living out our final years literally in the gutters and on the streets – is not nearly adequate. It is so woefully inadequate that even though I live in subsidized housing, I will literally have to work until I drop dead, just as my father did.
With the "let-them-eat-cake" attitude typical of the rich (whether Old Money or New Money it makes little difference), President George Bush once told his business professors that he believes people are poor only because they are lazy. But my father never enjoyed a day of laziness in all his adulthood. Nor did I: journalism is not just a job, it is a way of life, and I got into journalism by the old path, the traditional path – as a stringer and a copy boy, which meant many times the effort expended by those who slither into their jobs via journalism majors.
My determination to succeed never wavered even after I was repeatedly told that with the blemish of the Knoxville 40 incident on my record, no "serious" newspaper would ever again consider hiring me, no matter how formidable my reporting skills nor how exceptional my writing talent. As I would learn, this was indeed true. But I stupidly believed in the American dream: I kept at journalism in the sure conviction that – sooner or later – some editor at some major daily somewhere would finally decide I had done penance enough and grant me a proper job with reasonable pay and benefits. But that never happened. The one additional shot I did get at the proverbial brass ring – this via the efforts of a colleague – died stillborn: my 1985 appointment to a major wire-service editorship nullified (or so I was told) by quota-mongering feminists threatening a lawsuit against alleged gender discrimination. Though for all I know, what happened on June 3, 1963 may have been the real killer there, too. Finally clinical depression set in, theoretically triggered by the losses of the fire but probably a long-delayed reaction to everything else as well, and I could do journalism no more.
And now here I am doing journalism again, writing for a small special interest publication ...as always since June 3, 1963, producing very good work for almost unspeakably miserable pay.
Don’t misunderstand: I have nothing against the rich. I am not now nor have I ever been one of those bitterly envious malcontents who despises the rich merely for their wealth. I do not begrudge the rich anything, especially not their easy successes and their infinitely succored lives. I do not share the vindictive all-consuming jealousy that is yet another quality that rightfully makes the Left so repugnant to so many Americans. But it is one thing for the endlessly pampered son of a wealthy family to shallowly believe that those of us who are poor are impoverished merely because we are lazy. It is quite another thing for some reigning prince of plutocracy to attempt to enshrine such a viciously bigoted notion as a shibboleth of national policy. And that is precisely what George W. Bush is attempting to do – just as Ronald Reagan attempted before him.
My father was not poor because he was lazy. I am not poor because I was lazy. A friend who lost half his pension by administrative fiat did not lose it through laziness. The people who were victimized by Enron are not poor because they were lazy. Misfortunes happen. Discrimination happens. Viciousness happens. Markets crash. Enron-scale thievery becomes ever more the norm. Even at the best of times, far too many of us live only one or two paychecks from homelessness – not because we are benighted spendthrifts, but because two paychecks from homelessness is the only margin of safety the outrageously inflated cost of living allows us.
It was to protect us against just such disasters that FDR wove the very social safety nets the Bush League would now destroy.
WHY DO PLUTOCRATS HATE THE SAFETY NET?
Decades ago, when there was a genuine American Left (rather than today's imbecilic pseudo-leftist faddists who spend all their time spitting in the faces of soldiers – for which see below – or chanting for "free abortion on demand"), it was common knowledge that what the American Plutocracy most hated about FDR and the New Deal boiled down to only two things:
(1)-The plutocrats wanted – and still want – an American workforce that is too intimidated to do anything but bow its collective head and submit to whatever oppression the lords of the executive suite dish out. One of the major means by which the plutocracy controlled its employees was economic terrorism: fear of job loss, fear of unemployment, fear of entering old age without income or savings. Before FDR, these fears were universal throughout the American workforce. But a big part of the New Deal was unemployment compensation. Another part was Social Security. Neither of these programs existed before FDR achieved their enactment by Congress. Each of these programs radically curtailed employers' abilities to terrorize their workers. FDR's creation of a federal welfare system did likewise, even as his passage of the National Labor Relations Act guaranteed workers the right to organize. In retaliation, the Plutocracy never forgave FDR. Thus for the past 70 years the plutocrats have schemed and fought to undo every one of these programs – to totally wreck them all if not repeal them.
(2)-Though most folks understand at least subconsciously that FDR saved American from Communism, what is less commonly recognized is that he saved America from fascism too. Many of the plutocrats supported Hitler and favored Nazism and fascism in general as a way of "disciplining" the work force, minimizing labor costs and maximizing production. Among the more ignorant workers, especially in the KuKlux kounties of the South, the Middle West and the Far West, fascism (which blamed the Jews for the Crash and Depression) was the most popular ideology of the day. Had FDR not been elected, it's highly probable there would have been a fascist coup, with the fascist storm troopers driven by the same economic desperation that had swollen the ranks of the Communist Party. Despite the fact such a coup would have undoubtedly triggered a second Civil War (with the Communists battling the fascists here just as they would soon be forced to do in Spain), a huge part of Big Business was betting on the fascists. A nationwide conspiracy for a fascist takeover was in fact aborted only after a Marine general exposed the plot (Google "The Plot to Seize the White House"). Following the collapse of the coup, the New Deal's early successes – particularly jobs programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Projects Administration (WPA) – relieved much of the desperation that had driven so many Americans to the far Left and the far Right. But the Plutocracy, which had dreamed of making America another Nazi Germany, never forgave FDR.
Despite the passage of 70 years, the plutocrats' thirst for revenge has never diminished. Which is precisely why they have created a skyrocketing federal deficit – to provide a rationale for destroying the social safety net – and also why they support unrestricted immigration, not to mention paying immigrants less than minimum wage (a ploy Bush has already endorsed), both of which exert irresistible downward pressure on wages. And don't overlook Fundamentalist Christianity: since Protestant Fundamentalism formerly legitimized the heartless oppression of coal miners, textile-mill workers and share croppers, not to mention murderous discrimination against blacks, there's no doubt it could do all these things again. Then there's the Patriot Act – which could just as easily be used against economic protestors as against Islamic terrorists.
Bottom line, the plutocrats want to destroy the social safety net in order restore workplace "discipline" – i.e., totally intimidated, utterly submissive, miserably underpaid workers – just like during those wonderful Herbert Hoover years.
Bush's "ownership society" promises to be an "ownership society" indeed: one in which the owners – the plutocrats – again have all the power, just as they did in the Hoover era, while the rest of us are again reduced to the stature of serfs and the equivalent of slavery.
WE'VE LOST CONTROL OF THE LANGUAGE
By "we" I mean those of us who regardless of our political labels understood the darker intentions of the Reagan Administration and thus understand the cruel miasma into which Bush League is trying to lead us – where it will almost certainly lead us unless we develop an analysis adequate to name it, describe it, explain it and thereby mobilize a nationwide opposition to it that actually stands a chance of winning.
It probably won't happen. The men and women of the genuine Left, people who possessed both the requisite intellectual prowess and the emotional mandate to undertake such patently dialectical projects, have mostly gone off to the Great Central Committee in the Sky, and the pseudo-Left is still babbling pointlessly that "the personal is political" and shrieking its predictable slogans in support of mass murder whether "free abortion on demand" or "all power to Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and the Palestinian suicide bombers." The moderates are silent – silenced as much by their own unfortunate sense of growing irrelevance as by the media's insistence on reducing political controversy to the stature of road rage – and the rightists of all persuasions are predictably gloating. Worse, Republican control of both houses of Congress virtually guarantees that Bush's word is law.
But at least some people with far greater audiences than I have are thinking in the right direction. One such journalist's work is available here; this is the best single essay on Bush's inaugural address I have read anywhere. Another relevant work, which targets perception and description but neglects to focus closely enough on the all-important role of language itself, is here. A third analysis, exposing the doublethink characteristic of the whole inaugural address, appeared in The Washington Post. It thus may require registration but because of its importance is nevertheless linked here. Which brings me to...
THE REAL REASON AMERICA DESPISES THE LEFT
The last election was not the rightist victory the mainstream media would have us believe. In at least a dozen states, voters enacted leftist measures such as minimum-wage laws or minimum-wage increases even as they voted for Bush. This proves to me that what cost Kerry the election was indeed mostly his peek-a-boo pacifism – his plan for unilateral disarmament of America's nuclear arsenal, his conviction Islam's 14-century war on civilization is merely a "crime problem," the probability Kerry would speedily retreat from the Middle East.
The election results also suggest that – especially after the Republicans get through wrecking the remnants of the New Deal – candidates with a strong commitment to salvaging and restoring Social Security and the rest of the social safety net will win the most votes. Particularly if the economy continues to dribble down the proverbial drain.
Since the Republicans are what they have been since the days of Abraham Lincoln – the party of Big Business – the winning candidates will either run as independents, as members of some new third party as yet unborn, or as Democrats.
But if the Democrats are to have any success at all, they must first totally and ruthlessly purge the Democratic Party of the pseudo-pacifist thugs who (again) are literally spitting in the faces of American soldiers – and thus in the face of America itself. This particular kind of drooling frenzy was not reportedly part of the vandalism and squalling viciousness that occurred during an anti-military tantrum at Seattle Central Community College at about the same time Bush was giving his Orwellian speech, but the symbolic spittle was nevertheless obvious. The Associated Press photograph that is linked here (scroll down to Jan. 20, "The Left Is So Classy") should be posted in every Democratic headquarters in America as a reminder of the real reason Kerry lost: IT'S THE RABBLE, STUPID.
Lest we forget, a similar sort of venomous pseudo-leftist obscenity – flinging human feces at soldiers returning from Vietnam – is a big part of the reason Richard Milhous Nixon won re-election in 1972 by the largest landslide in American history.
In 2004, when most Americans thought of Kerry, they probably pictured a band of screaming lynch-trash just like the mob at Seattle Central Community College. No wonder they voted for Bush. So did I.
As long as the Democratic Party continues to tolerate cretins of the sort who were displaying their collegiate sensibilities in Seattle Thursday – in fact until the democratic Party publicly denounces them, expels them all and divorces itself from them forever – I will never again be able to consider myself a Democrat.
(Hat Tip: Sound Politics)
And now for a total (and probably totally welcome) change of pace:
WESTERN CIV BEGINS WITH STONEHENGE
For years I have argued, much to the discomfiture of some of my more doctrinaire Christian acquaintances, that Western Civilization begins not with the birth of Jesus nor even with the Cross of Christ but at least three thousand years earlier – that the composite symbol of Western Civilization is indeed therefore not the Cross but rather the Standing Stone, the megalith-aligned-with-the-heavens of the sort our ancient European ancestors began erecting some five thousand years ago.
Which makes our own civilization as ancient as its Chinese counterpart (and every bit as pregnant with genuine metaphysical wisdom, too, if the works of the ancient British and European poets ever finally escape the shrouds of inquisitorial centuries of ecclesiastical censorship).
But my argument that Taliesin's "There is no thing in which I have not been" is exactly equivalent to Lao Tzu's "Tao is ever inactive, but there is no thing it does not do" will have to wait for another time. This is about astronomy, the macrocosm of space, not spirituality and the microcosm of human perception (though you cannot discuss astronomy without at least implying spirit and psyche), something our own ancestors clearly knew: hence Cro Magnon's 35,000-year-old trackings of the Moon, for which see Alexander Marshack's The Roots of Civilization, not to mention the 5000-year-old public-works project we know today as Stonehenge. We of Westernesse were making scientific observations of the sun, moon and stars long before we had written language. Taliesin again, speaking as Druid: "I know the star knowledge of stars before the earth was made...I have been loquacious prior to being gifted with speech." And our passionate penchant for such knowledge, says the inimitable Tunku Varadarajan, is yet another of the reasons Islam so despises us. It is also one of our great strengths, and the foundation of yet greater strengths, points which he elaborates in a vital essay available here. And then a report on the wondrous discoveries themselves is linked here.
This is contemplative reading aplenty. I hope you will find the links as thought provoking as I did. Have a good weekend; I'll be back Monday, God willing.
ATTORNEY GENERAL DESIGNATE Alberto Gonzales has told the Senate he supports renewing the federal assault weapons ban, thereby confirming the anti-Second Amendment stance that was first reported by The Washington Post the day after President Bush announced Gonzales' nomination. (Click here for my archives that include a link to the WaPo story.) Once again my suspicions are confirmed.
Nor am I the least bit surprised. While I fervently believe in the Constitutional correctness of Attorney General John Ashcroft's position – that the right protected by the Second Amendment is indeed an individual right – I have also long been convinced that Bush tolerated Ashcroft's stance merely to seduce gun-owners: that in reality Bush is every bit as anti-gun as John Kerry or even Barbara Boxer. Proof of my accusation was apparent early-on in the Bush Administration's malicious (and ongoing) obstruction of the Congressionally mandated Armed Pilots Program. Anti-Second Amendment bias was also obvious in Bush's appointment and re-appointment of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta (a notorious anti-gunner) and in Bush’s original Homeland Security appointment of Tom Ridge, another known Second Amendment opponent who as a congressman cast a decisive vote to enact the original "assault weapons" ban.
The latest story on Gonzales' hostility to the Second Amendment, which appeared in The Washington Times yesterday and is now on the National Rifle Association's web site, is here.
Bush's deceptive and deliberately dishonest flip-flopping on the Second Amendment makes me increasingly distrustful of everything he says and does. I know the Bush Administration is lying about the urgency for Social Security reform – an outrageous, crisis-mongering Big Lie told in service to the vicious right-wing passion for wrecking the entire social safety net, a vindictive, greedy rage that has simmered in the Republican Party's ideological cesspool since the time of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. So perhaps the Democrats are right: perhaps the Bush Administration knowingly lied about Iraq too.
And I cannot but wonder what else Gonzales has said or done that the mainstream media is suppressing, whether by deliberate censorship or misguided political "correctness." Such as Michelle Malkin's disturbing report that "Gonzales was (and may still be) a member of the National Council of La Raza, the nation's leading anti-immigration enforcement lobbying group" ("Bush's Open-Borders Nominees," Jan. 17, 2005, for which click here and scroll down.)
(Not at all what I had planned to write today: I had intended to reminisce about living in deep country and how I so desperately miss it, even the long wait for the return of the swallows who every year in late spring and early summer raised their families under my eves, but once again the need to confront the ugly politics of Enron Nation has taken precedence over aesthetics, spirituality and contemplation.)
...AS MY ONE CLIENT puts next month's publication to bed and consumes most of my writing energies in the process. Hence this change-of-pace link, to a scientific story that shows yet again how intelligence is far more universal than most of us (arrogantly modern) humans are willing to believe. My bias is obvious to long-time readers: I love stories like this, available here, because they reinforce my conviction that animals – especially canines, and most especially domestic dogs – do the amazing things they so often do (like save children from drowning) not out of some benighted "instinct" but rather out of genuine perception, caring and logic. From this perspective – a distinctly pagan part of my consciousness repeatedly confirmed by my years in the country and thus something I will never relinquish no matter how many times Christianity denounces it as heretical – I am in absolute agreement with our American Aboriginal forebears: dogs, wolves, bears, cougars, ravens etc. are united with us as kin of the Mother of All Living, and even when it is necessary to shoot animals like cougars or bears in self defense, they are still more our sisters and brothers than ever our spiritually desensitized minds can grasp.
...WAS ABOUT, HERE ARE two relevant texts: a newly discovered tape of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy expressing his profound anger at racism, and what I consider the most historically important speech Martin Luther King Jr. ever gave. The JFK report, with a gripping photograph of one of the era's ugliest realities, is here. King's speech, in which he explains in detail his reasons for opposing the Vietnam War, is here. Though of course I cannot prove it, I have always believed that what cost King his life was his decision to refocus the energies of the Civil Rights Movement onto opposing the Vietnam War and making an even greater issue of the damning contradictions of American poverty. (I stood in awe of King's courage and in fact worked for the Civil Rights Movement in East Tennessee during the summer of 1963. Even so, I did not agree with King about Vietnam: a Regular Army soldier from 1959 through 1962, I was a reservist until late 1965 and was still a hawk in 1967, and even now the way of pacifism is not a path to which I am able to commit myself. But by 1970, appalled by the continuing slaughter in a war it was now obvious the U.S. government had no intention of winning, I had joined the anti-war movement. )
...A LOT OF DIVERSE READING. Just so you can catch up, I'll try not to post anything new until Tuesday (unless of course some urgently vital link shows up somewhere). In any case, have a good weekend: enjoy the three-day holiday!
WHEN PRESIDENT BUSH ANNOUNCED his intention of opportunistically pandering to the lowest common denominator of Fundamentalist Christian hatefulness by assaulting gays and lesbians with a Constitutional amendment prohibiting their marriage, I linked to an Andrew Sullivan piece about a lawyer who believed the Bush proposal was a Trojan Horse maliciously intended to undermine the entire Bill of Rights. I agree with the lawyer, and I wrote in detail of how the proposed amendment was at the very least an expression of the ever-dangerous fundamentalist passion for theocracy. (This pre-election commentary, entitled "Dreadful Alternatives," is here.) In a number of subsequent posts I also predicted Bush's anti-homosexual campaign would encourage a new wave of gay bashing and lesbian trashing. That this is correct is proven absolutely by an infuriating news report available here and an associated thread of Lucianne.com commentary – too much of it disturbingly hateful – linked here.
The military's purge of vitally needed Arabic and Farsi linguists is an outrage; it proves that restoration of 1950s sexual bigotry is more important to the Bush Administration than defeating terrorist Islam. I can't say I am surprised: the administration's escalating war on homosexuals is of a kind with its chastity-only disinformation about condoms and its censorship of birth control information. Not only does Bush want to re-impose the Herbert Hoover economy; he also wants to force homosexuality back into the dark closet of "the love that dare not say its name" and reduce sexual expression in general to the furtive back-seat couplings of the desire-is-shameful era. Again I apologize for my woefully mistaken vote: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
BELIEFNET HAS A STORY that, boiled down to its essence, says all I have to do to move back to the country so I can have dogs again is chant affirmations. I don't think so, but since city living becomes more oppressive by the day, I'll try just about anything to escape it: where I live is well outside the ghetto, but too many of the ghetto-dweller youth hunt elderly as prey, and the local crime problem is so bad I'm literally afraid to go out after dark except by automobile. Three bad-news episodes in the park ended my daily exercise-walks there, and after coming home to encounter a smirking junky lurking in the very courtyard of my building, I watch my back even crossing the parking area. So perhaps I'll start reciting, "By the grace of God, I am achieving financial independence, and in good health I am returning to the country," all in the hope of making it true, of once again finding a home in the land of coyote and raven where you can see the stars (and dare step outside to look at them) and – best of all – where you can keep dogs. Big dogs. I truly despise it here; surely such chanting can’t hurt, even though it's never worked for me before. Meanwhile, here's the Beliefnet link.
TODAY’S LINKS ARE AN example of what Carl Jung called synchronicity, the seemingly-random convergence of facts and data that turn out to be “impossibly” closely related – the convergence thus suggesting supernatural revelation rather than accidental discovery. I had been thinking for most of the past two weeks about how I as a member of the impoverished underclass have really two sets of priorities. One is identical or at least closely akin to the priorities characteristic of most Americans (especially in terms of the post-9/11 emphasis on national security); the other is dictated by my poverty and is tightly (and always fearfully) focused on opportunities and things most Americans take for granted: money, work, medical care, dental care, housing, transportation, clothing, yes even food. Lest this seem like hyperbole, I will acknowledge here and now that twice in my life – thank God only for very brief periods – I have actually been homeless. And though I am not likely to lack shelter again, I am now compelled to work until I drop dead: since I have been forced back into the city and required to pay urban rent, Social Security alone will never be adequate to spare me the ultimate humiliation of food banks and welfare offices.
Thus mine is a miserably hard old age – one that will only worsen with the passage of time – and its wretched difficulty is inflicted by two inescapable facts: (1)-that because of my refusal to compromise my own ethics and become a whore, I was never granted employment adequate to support a pension plan, nor work lucrative enough to earn sufficient money to support any such investments on my own; (2)-that because of the 1983 fire, all the lifelong work that was intended to guarantee me a small but reliable income in retirement – two eminently marketable books and 30 years worth of historically valuable photography (much of it related to the content of the books) – was destroyed beyond hope of recovery. I understood the magnitude of the blow fate had dealt me at the time, and it was precisely this understanding – the fact the fire-loss had dropped me into a terrifying abyss from which there was no possible escape – that triggered the clinical depression that then further laid such waste to my life. It would have been nice had life treated me with more kindness, but in the ultimate sense, I can blame no one but myself.
In this era of Enron-Nation moral imbecility, the combination of my two distinct value systems – one American, the other ghetto – probably labels me schizophrenic. So be it. For as long as I can remember I have insisted on a velvet-gloved but iron-fisted national defense – an insistence that was my chief objection not only to the Clinton Administration but to the Reagan Administration’s infuriatingly craven response to Islamic terrorism – and I cannot recall a time when I did not also demand the fairness that is today called socioeconomic justice. Of course in the Democratic Party of my youth – the party of Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and (yes) Lyndon Johnson – such values were not mutually exclusive, an expression of yearning for The Good Old Days that no doubt also identifies me as a dinosaur. Call me Schizo-saurus Rex.
Which brings me back to the archaic notion of synchronicity as supernatural intervention. Pondering my own seemingly antithetical values – a jackbooted military and red-armbanded social-services (speaking metaphorically of course, and with considerable facetiousness as well) – I found myself wondering if there existed any data contrasting the viewpoints of socioeconomically “normal” Americans with the values of the American underclass, the people who are my socioeconomic brethren and sistren. And – just as if I had plunked some metaphysical magic twanger – there it was, on the Beliefnet site: “Poll: Poor Americans Most Concerned About Jobs, Healthcare.” The link is here; all I can say in response is, “Indeed.” Then I discovered I had inadvertently (!?!) saved a second relevant link, to a Tech Central Station analysis describing the under-reported problem of America’s growing impoverishment as a potential point of convergence and coalition between leftist academia and increasingly social-justice-demanding evangelical Christianity. This link, equally vital reading, is here; (scroll down to items 2, 3 and 4).
Perhaps it will turn out that with my odd combination of values I am once again where I was in much of my younger adulthood: on the cutting edge, behaving like a small fierce mammal rather than a huge lumbering reptile. But if this is true, I can take no credit for my avoidance of the tar pits. The only thing of relevance I could possibly add is that while Roman Catholicism is hardly what you’d call “evangelical,” I know of no branch of Christianity (or any other religion) anywhere on this planet that is more committed to socioeconomic justice for all.
...BY THE INTREPID INVESTIGATIVE bloggers at Sound Politics, I am increasingly convinced Christine Gregoire's Washington state gubernatorial victory is the product of incompetence so astonishing it strongly suggests outright fraud. The Wall Street Journal agrees. SP's work, which is updated constantly (and therefore should be viewed as a running thread) is available here; it is far and away the best resource for anyone who wants to keep up with this unfolding electoral outrage. WSJ's commentary is here.
I voted for Gregoire because I felt Washington's social safety net was at risk, but I nevertheless fervently believe there should be a re-vote, because under the circumstances, there is no way a Gregoire administration will ever have legitimacy in the eyes of a substantial majority of the state's electorate. Furthermore I am increasingly appalled by the smugly defiant Democrats who are in effect spitting in the faces of the 53 percent who believe the Seattle/King County Democratic machine stole the election from Dino Rossi; the Democrats are also giving the finger to the slightly larger percentage who want another election. And while I formerly believed Gregoire was a moderate, now because of her failure to repudiate these machine politics, I believe she is as dangerously radical as the Sea/King Democrats themselves, who are united behind Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Jim McDermott in the most stridently anti-American, most zealously matrifascist Democratic organization in America.
Hence I have changed my thinking: if the election is run again, I will vote for Rossi. Democratic dominance of the legislature guarantees Rossi cannot fulfill the omnipresent Republican goal of destroying the social safety net, and his presence in the statehouse is necessary to save us from the tsunami of anti-Second Amendment legislation that is a certainty now that the Sea/King machine has (by its gubernatorial coup) taken absolute and dictatorial control of the state Democratic Party apparatus. As I have noted before, it was a similar act of thievery, complete with voting corpses, that gave Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley total control of the national Democratic Party for nearly a dozen years after he stole the 1960 presidential election from Richard Milhous Nixon and presented it to John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
There is more than one moral here: the national reign of the Daley Machine eventually came to an end, and the eight-year destruction of the Democratic Party was one of the byproducts of the accompanying struggles. The riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention were merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg; the in-house battles were less violent but far more intense, though they were seldom reported save by Jack Newfield and a few others. By 1972, the Daley machine was vanquished everywhere but in Chicago proper, but in the resultant political vacuum the Democrats nominated George McGovern – one of their worst candidates ever – and Richard Nixon won re-election by a landslide. I make no claim to prophetic skill, especially in the crap-shoot of state politics, but I think it is likely Gregoire's refusal to stand for a re-vote will lead to a similar debacle for the Democrats in Washington, and it may even torpedo the party's burgeoning national effort to recover from the John Kerry candidacy.
THOUGH I DON'T LIKE to break into my weekends with blogging, I nevertheless read probably a dozen news sites each day, even on Saturday and Sunday, and thus sometimes run across items I think are important. Usually on the weekends I let these go by. But this weekend (in three instances thanks to Lucianne.com) there were four items so significant to our understanding of current events, I am linking to them all today, for the benefit of people who might otherwise have missed them. First is an informative essay on a telling distinction between Islam and Christianity: the essential role that violent conquest plays in the former, spelled out here. Next is a related report from Taipei Times addressing the possibility (as I did last week) that Islamic terrorists are already conspiring to attack U.S. tsunami relief workers, for which go here. Third is David Frum's vital critique of the growing irrelevance of the United Nations, detailed here. Last, from the conservative Weekly Standard, is a pull-no-punches discussion of the Bush Administration's outrageous blundering in Iraq, linked here.
Yes, this is a lot of reading, especially at one time, but I suggest you take as long as you need to absorb it, for the portrait you will then acquire will be not only useful but perhaps invaluable.
And by the way, I apologize for posting so belatedly: involvement with another project kept me away from my keyboard far longer than I had anticipated.
...BEST WISHES FOR ALL of you to have a good weekend.
ONE OF THE GENERALLY good and thoughtful writers for the Puget-Sound-area group-blog Sound Politics has posted a provocative essay generated by a news photograph that shows a tsunami victim wearing an Osama bin Laden tee-shirt. The writer, P. Scott Cummins, argues that the massive U.S. aid effort is a unique opportunity – "the greatest...since 9/11" – for our country to subvert the Osama influence and thus make friends in the Islamic world. Cummins' essay, a classic example of the sort of wishful thinking with which 19th Century Christian missionaries entered the cannibal kingdoms and then died horribly in giant cooking pots, is available here (scroll down to essay beneath photo).
Despite my disagreement, it is a worthwhile read, if only because it is so typical: it fails to recognize that our very largesse is a huge part of what Islam so despises about us. From the Islamic perspective, not only are we the “Great Satan” – the people whose women are all Britney Spears super-sluts (all whom of should therefore be publicly flogged and most of whom should be stoned to death). We are also the spawn of the devil, a jihadist challenge to all true Islamic males, a challenge direct from Allah who thus allowed the devil to make us the richest nation on the planet. But even after 9/11, we remain so weak and stupid – so ultimately evil – we still believe we can buy off our enemies. Hyperbole? Not at all. This is precisely how Islam views America and in fact all of Westernesse; our massive relief effort will not change this view a bit. It is merely another proof of our breathtaking national ignorance of history that we are in such politically “correct” denial about the ugly truth Islam was been at war with civilization for the past 1400 years. This same ignorance is also why "democratization" will fail in Iraq: Islam can no more be "democratized" than Nazism.
But the aid effort must go on: not for the benefit of Islam, but for the good of our own souls and the truths that will be so revealed. That way – when Islamic terrorists begin preying on U.S. aid workers (as the fate of aid workers in Iraq already indicates is bound to happen) – there will no longer be any doubt about the implacable magnitude of Islamic hatred. And the opportunity will have indeed been unique: We will have learned the same bitter lesson the Roman general Varus learned at the sword of Arminius in the Teutoburg Forest, in the year 9 AD: some cultures not only reject civilization but despise it so much they actively conspire to destroy it.
A SUMMARY OF HOW the world's major religions view natural disasters, its content made especially relevant by the tusnami, has been published by Beliefnet and is available here.
Notably missing from this summation is modern paganism: Wicca and its kindred are said to be the fastest growing belief-systems in America. Wicca and its Druidical close-cousins acknowledge death on any scale as yet another natural manifestation of the triune Goddess, who is not only the Mother of All Being but is the macrocosm of All Being itself: birth, life, death, resurrection. In pagan lore the Goddess is best symbolized by the three-faced and ever-changing moon: infancy and youth (the New and Waxing Moon); maturity and motherhood (the Full Moon); old age (the Old and Waning Moon); death and resurrection (the Dark of the Moon or No-Moon) out of which is born the New Moon again.
THE ANCHORESS, A BLOGGER who should have been among the "Best Essayist" finalists herself, has posted a couple of reflections on the tsunami disaster that are more-than-effective antidotes to American television's tsunami of ratings-driven slober. The best of the Anchoress's relevant pieces is entitled "A Tsunami cannot be drawn in pastels" (available here and scroll down to the second post for January 3). On the way, read "Go read Varifrank. Right now. Go. Read."
THE FOLLOWING REPORTS EACH relate to a topic I discussed in some detail late last year, and I post all of them here because – even though they are all a day or more out of date – they are nevertheless relevant.
The first, a Jeff Jacoby column from The Boston Globe, addresses the similarities between Bush Administration foreign policy and the foreign policies of the Kennedy, Truman and Roosevelt administrations. Jacoby's facts also explain, albeit obliquely, why I (who once proudly and steadfastly identified myself as "a lifelong Democrat") was long ago driven out of "my" party: I could no more abide the Democrats' matrifascist-inspired (and thus ultimately anti-American) pacifism than I could assent to their hate-speech subversion of the First Amendment, their hysterical frenzies against the Second Amendment and their female-supremacist erosion of the Fourth and Fifth amendments.
Thus in 2004 I voted for a Republican whose domestic economic policies I mostly deplore – and unless the Democrats offer me a genuine hawk in 2008 (assuming I am still alive by then), I might well do the same thing again.
Bush is of course not a genuine hawk. His continued blundering in Iraq – particularly his defiantly insufficient assignment of ground troops – is an outrage that utterly belies his hawkishness. It also reflects an indifference to our soldiers lives and well-being that, just as some Democrats have already charged, is very much in keeping with this administration's domestic-policy indifference to the plight of working families and lower-income people in general. But in the all-important realm of foreign policy, Bush is nevertheless superior to John Kerry, whose contempt for those of us here below the salt is even more breathtaking. Never mind Kerry's insulting avoidance of economic issues. Kerry also made it damnably clear he would not only unilaterally disarm the U.S. (voluntarily relinquishing our nuclear bunker-buster program), but would very probably withdraw in haste from Iraq and – worse – revert to the failed policy of treating Islam's 1400-year war on civilization as a mere crime problem. To paraphrase what Abraham Lincoln said of General U.S. Grant, at least Bush fights.
In any case, the Jacoby link is here. (If registration turns out to be necessary, I apologize.)
The second link, to a news report in The Seattle Times, is an "I told you so" for some of my Pacific Northwest readers – people who include my best friends. It shows that – just as I predicted – the Seattle/King County Democrats are handing Christine Gregoire the bill for delivering her gubernatorial victory. The link is here. For my earlier analysis of what this Seattle/King County coup will almost certainly mean, go here.
As you read it, remember I voted for Gregoire. (See also "Three Examples of Terrible Stupidity," below.) Were Gregoire able to maintain the moderate policies she espoused during her campaign, she would have preserved the state's social safety net against Bush League ravaging, and she would have been solid on the Second Amendment (having infuriated the Seattle/King County matrifascists by opposing additional restrictions on concealed carry). But now all that promise is destroyed. Political reality dictates that we will have instead a Washington-state variant of what the national Democratic Party became in 1960, when Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley stole the election for JFK and thus took total control of the Democratic Party – which he and his cronies ran with Hitler-type absolutism for nearly the next dozen years.
The last link is a sheer pleasure to post. It is yet another report of brilliance and heroism by our canine friends, akin to all the other true stories of dogs who save children from drowning, drag grown men from burning buildings and fearlessly protect their human companions – often as fearlessly as the tiny Dachshund who, near Seattle in the late 1970s, saved his owner from a rapist by leaping on the rapist's back and attacking so savagely the rapist required nearly 200 stitches before being thrown into jail. Once again, another of the infinity of reasons I so love dogs. Also – and note as you read how this latest story's canine subject obviously knew the tsunami was coming – another reinforcement for my belief that dogs are aware of realities we humans cannot begin to imagine. The link – to a news report mostly obscured by the obscene all-tsunami-all-the-time circus of media mindlessness – is here.