Sunday, July 26, 2009

Invasion of the Holy Fools

As Pittsburgh braces itself for the September G-20 meetings, another form of cold, lurking fear has set in – the fear of the heart of city being taken over by clowns, jugglers, mime troupes, street artists, guerrilla-theatre types, anti-vivisectionists, folk singers (of the “acoustic” sort)... in short, the entire range of hard-core anti-globalism, anti-global warming, anti-business, anti-war... well gee, is there anything they aren't “anti”? Oh yeah – abortion. But in any case, we can expect, come September, to see platoons of “strangers in a strange land” -- people who wouldn't normally dream of coming within a day's drive of Pittsburgh. They will come bedecked in serapes, Inca hats, wooden shoes, old high school band uniforms, “ironic” prom dresses and bridal gowns, and all the rest of the panoply that singles them out as people who normal people will cross to the other side of the street to avoid confronting. They will be, without exception, “natural”-type people – no makeup, no deodorant, no hairdos, and only a casual acquaintance with the laundry. They will be various ages, of course... all the way from the crazy liberal granny lady with the witch hair to the high schooler embracing the cause du jour. They will be armed with signs, of course... but also with drums, tambourines, whistles, wooden flutes, didgeridoos... a veritable marching band of the disaffected, disenfranchised, and painfully sensitive. They will swarm the convention center, and when not confronting the police will wander about the downtown area, staring up at the tall buildings and becoming thoroughly depressed by all the steel, stone, and concrete – not a blade of grass in sight! Not a single goat! Imagine anyone living like this!

And it would be tempting to dismiss all of these as someone's “useful idiots” -- but the question would then arise, whose? Nearly all of the old communist states that they might, at one time, have put their faith (and political fate) in have become capitalist with a vengeance. No one of any significance opposes our twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – our own politicians have all sold out, and our enemies like it because it spells, ultimately, economic ruination for us. And there is no one left to oppose collectivism, especially when it's in the interests of “universal health care” and “fighting global warming”. So what is these people's deal, anyway? Are they really rebels without a cause – a holdover from the 60s when there really were causes worth demonstrating for?

I pause for a moment to point out one particular bit of irony. The liberals – those of the grass-roots variety – of the 1960s were all for what we now call globalism, because they saw it as the last, best hope for “world peace” (you know, that thing that all the Miss America contestants want). They actually, at that time, thought that the U.N., for example, was a significant force for world peace and justice, and humanitarianism. Yeah, I know – pretty pathetic, huh? But that's what they thought. And we're not even talking about the original “useful idiots” who thought the Soviet Union was the best hope for world peace – the bloom had come off that rose by that time. And the ones who were all for Mao, the Red Guard, and the Cultural Revolution were about as interested in “peace” as a Sam Peckinpah character. No, these were the mushiest of the mush-brained liberals of their day... the most naïve, the most trusting (in “ideas”... and each other, to some extent, but not really anyone else)... the most vulnerable to sound bites like “all you need is love”, “give peace a chance”, and so on. They were – despite the fact that many of them were psychology majors – totally unaware of the existence of some of the primary motives of the human race – i.e., combat, conflict, war, power, and dominance. Those things were completely alien to their thinking; they thought they were the normal ones.

The point is that internationalism, first of the communist type and then of the U.N. type, has morphed, when no one was looking, into “globalism”, which, rather than being a boon to the underprivileged of the world, as it was intended to be, has become a means by which the underprivileged are made to stay that way – and, in fact, to become even more underprivileged over time. The "New Soviet Man" has turned into the Neo-Fascist Man. The economic collectivism that was supposed to discourage war and conflict now turns out to be highly _dependent_ on war and conflict... and the “collectivism” part is mostly about the rich “collecting” from the poor on a regular basis – or using them as cannon fodder with which to concentrate even more wealth. Well, of course, there is a “rising middle class” in places like China and India, and this is supposed to be a sign of “global democratization”. But these folks won't be fooled. For one thing, the interests of the middle class have never been very high on their list of priorities. It was always a matter of making the rich less rich and the poor less poor... but somehow never allowing the poor to become “bourgeois”. The fact that India and China have allowed this to happen must stand as a great scandal in the circles of the true believers. (Of course, nearly all of the G-20 protesters, if you checked their FBI files, would turn out to be solidly middle class – as would most revolutionaries down through the ages. But this is not the time to expand on that phenomenon.)

And I cannot emphasize enough how different these people were, even back in the 60s, from the “coat and tie radicals” who eventually morphed into people like the Clintons... or, for that matter, almost any Democratic politician of the postwar generation. For the latter, it was always mainly about power, and dominance, and climbing up the political ladder, starting with “student council” or the campus rag, and culminating in a fruitful career in Washington. No... the folks I'm talking about were philosophically inclined, aesthetically intense, addicted to books and their own bad writing, but politically hopeless. (Not a whole lot has changed, has it?) And on the other hand, they were also not the kind to man the barricades when the campuses erupted in the late 60s – they were more likely to be back behind the lines, tending the wounded, or playing guitars, or passing out fliers. Real physical danger – actual confrontation with authorities – was something they tended to avoid, although these did, on occasion, become necessary, and when it did they would practice “passive resistance” -- you know, rolling up in a ball, that sort of thing. But in general, it was much better to stage a “demonstration” in the central square of the college town where everyone within ten miles agreed with them. (With any luck, some media reps from the nearest large city would show up with cameras – and then they might wind up on the 11 PM news and get the Irish factory workers all upset.)

So the picture I'm trying to paint is one of, basically, intelligent but simple-minded, starry-eyed, naïve types who are in severe denial regarding human nature and political reality... who do a lot of reading and some thinking, but mostly specialize in feeling. And they felt very intensely – especially for “the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free” (unless those huddled masses happened to live under communism, in which case they were “counter-revolutionaries” and not worth a second thought). Of course, they felt most of all for themselves – for their thin-skinned, raw-egg-without-a-shell hypersensitivity. “How can the world be so cruel and inconsiderate? Why is it so full of such horrible people? Why, they should all be... um... oops.” And, by and large, they did the right thing -- for themselves. They lived safe and secure in protective bubbles – AKA small college campuses – perfectly insulated from the world and all its hazards and alarums. So in that sense, the more recent trend – where they will follow world leaders from place to place, and mount the same protests year after year wherever and whenever the need arises – is something kind of new. New also is the fact that – as I said above – this time they have no support from any overseas masters... none from Russia, none from China, none from North Vietnam. They are, truly, fighting a cause that no one else on earth still believes in. So in that sense, I have to give them credit for courage and willingness to stand alone (even if “alone in a group”).

And I suppose I should mention that there has been considerable attrition even among the hard-core naïve liberals of the 60s. They have not all turned into anti-G-20 protesters. Many of them drifted into conventional occupations (albeit almost invariably at the taxpayers' expense, or at the very least “non-profit”)... some retired from the scene altogether and can be found homesteading in the mountain fastness of Northern California... and some took the low road, and found themselves the burned-out, or dead, victims of sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll... or even alcohol (scandal of scandals!). So what we will see on the streets at the G-20 meetings is the core of the core... the elite of the elite... the trockenbeerenauslese, if you will, of liberalism. They are the last of the unapologetic, not-sold-out types. Many do not even, as yet, own a car or a TV! Nothing but natural fibers will ever touch their bodies, and nothing but locally-grown organic food will ever enter their mouths. And who knows, they might even have never run the gamut of STDs that was ignited in the 60s. These are, truly, the untouched... the virginal... the holy fools.

But to return to the perennial question, what do they want? It's not always easy to tell, frankly. What they seem to want, in the most generic sense, is for world leaders to adopt some “bottom line” to their policies and actions other than money, i.e. economic “progress” and “prosperity” for the few, as opposed to the many. The economic question seems more important, by far, than the political question – they don't seem particularly concerned about forms of government... and who can blame them, since anyone with the least bit of sense can see where the zeal for “democracy” has led us of late. But they think locally as well – they are the force, for example, behind “fair-trade” coffee and other movements that serve to reinforce local enterprise and attempt to keep profits in the hands of the people who actually did the work. (In this, they differ markedly from their communist “fathers in faith”, who preached against profits on any level, but allowed that the commissars were worthy of their hire.) So I guess when you shop at Ten Thousand Villages, or loan money through Kiva, you're on their side, which is all well and good. Certainly “trickle-down economics” on the international scale is 99% myth, despite, once again, the side effect of a rising middle class here and there. And the effects of American “diplomacy” and “foreign aid” in places like sub-Saharan Africa has been to turn the merely poor into the desperately poor, by empowering all the wrong people in those countries.

So what is their stated agenda? Again, it depends on who you talk to. But the “five major themes” cited in today's paper provide a clue: “An American and global economy they say is unfair to the poor and working classes worldwide; environmentalism; racism; the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and a less clearly defined “anti-authoritarian” camp that espouses anarchy.” To this should be added “public education... (and) the military-industrial and prison-industrial complexes.” And on the local level, the United Steelworkers of America (about as “establishment” as it gets, in my opinion) is going to talk about the financial sector “getting way too big both here (in the U.S.) and internationally”, and the demise of the industrial and manufacturing sectors (by which I assume they mean moving them elsewhere, owing to the efforts of outfits like the Steelworkers – but let that go for now).

I've already discussed some of these issues extensively in this blog – economics, race, public education, and the wars. When it comes to environmentalism, I'm all for the environment – I mean, I really dig air and water, you know? But when it comes to “global warming”, well, I have my religion and they can have theirs, OK? I've also commented on what they call the “prison-industrial complex”, and I'm glad that it's on the agenda, since that is one of the most blatant non-discussed issues of our time. As I said, ultimately it's all about economics and not about politics per se... although, again, its ironic that the 60s “one-worldism” has been supplanted by increasing tribalism, localism, with ethnic and religious politics on the rise as well (as opposed to “identity politics”, which is basically a political scam aided and abetted by the media). We were supposed to have a one-world government by now... and instead we have Abkhazia and Ingushetia and... oyoyoy! But again, I say that this is good. No one other than some eunuch billionaire behind a blue-tinted window in a high-rise in Brussels identifies with an international corporation, or with the “world economy”. Most of the world – still, to this day! -- consists of flesh-and-blood people with all the fight, flight, or fright hormones coursing through their veins that our primate ancestors enjoyed... and stock tickers just don't turn them on anywhere near as much as feuds with the next village, or with the people next door. And going halfway around the world to force “democracy” down someone's throat just doesn't have the savor of walking down to nearest church on Sunday morning.

But it's the anarchists who I find intriguing – and it's highly amusing that, according to the story, “all (the dozens of anarchists asked to provide interviews) declined to speak on the record.” I would say that's pretty typical. Why trust the press, since that is just another face of “the man”? And they, arguably, see politics as the root of all evil, and economics as just the most prominent manifestation thereof – which I also agree with, up to a point. In fact, it's perfectly debatable whether economics is a sub-category of politics or vice-versa; there are good arguments on both sides. Certainly they are inextricably intertwined... and the basis for nearly all other political complaints and misfortunes is likely to be economic, in the final analysis. It's all about resources, really – and to the extent that “belief systems” come into play, this is based primarily on what they have to say, or imply, about economics. And what are what we call the basic “human rights”, after all, but spin-offs of economics? Freedom of speech is the freedom, more often than not, to talk about economics. Freedom of the press, the same. Freedom of assembly is the freedom to get together in a group and... talk about economics. These freedoms would never have come up on radar if the only thing people were interested in discussing was antiques. And really, there have been precious few wars just about philosophy – unless, again, that philosophy had obvious economic implications. I suppose one of the few cases of conflicts genuinely and purely based on “ideas” would be the current conflicts between Islam and other creeds, or those within Islam itself. (Christendom has long since solved the heresy problem – heresies are assigned to the Protestants and they agree to leave the Catholics pretty much alone. Problem solved!)(But you'll notice that the Catholic Church comes in for the most criticism these days when it has something to say about economics – i.e., Catholic social teaching.)

So the bottom line is that the G-20 protesters will be demonstrating against everything the rich and powerful of this world are for... which is another way of saying their cause, i.e. the aggregate of all their various causes, is hopeless. In that sense the anarchists may have the right, or the best, idea – they realize that the system cannot be changed from within, or without... it must be destroyed in its entirety, and the more philosophically-inclined among the anarchists may be content to just stay home and allow the system to destroy itself. Because, ultimately, the powers that be are operating on the premise of unlimited resources. It has yet to dawn on them that we all live on the same planet, and that it only has so much land, so much water, so many minerals; there has to be a limit to even their wealth, even assuming they can keep the vast bulk of humanity in a state of serfdom. So the holy fools were, perhaps, put in the world to act as a still, small voice... so that the powerful can never say, when day is done and their empire lies in ruins, “but nobody told us...”

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Alone, and Yet Alive

There is a scene, late in “The Mikado” -- where Katisha, “an elderly lady”, who has been frustrated in love (or whatever serves for such in her case) presents a mournful recitative and song, bemoaning her fate, i.e. the fate of being “alone, and yet alive”. Now, those familiar with the opera will recall that this Katisha character has been, up to that point, a total hag and a harridan – a kind of Japanese version of the Queen of Hearts. But for a brief moment we can almost feel sorry for the old gal – it turns out that she does, indeed, have feelings – other than anger and rage. Of course, she reverts to type in short order, but not before delivering these lines:

Alone, and yet alive! Oh, sepulchre!
My soul is still my body's prisoner!
Remote the peace that Death alone can give--
My doom, to wait! my punishment, to live!

... The living I!
Oh, living I!
Come, tell me why,
When hope is gone,
Dost thou stay on?
Why linger here,
Where all is drear?
Oh, living I!
Come, tell me why,
When hope is gone,
Dost thou stay on?

All of which reminds me of (Oh man, here he goes again with one of those far-fetched analogies!) none other than O. J. Simpson... and Bernie Madoff... and any number of other felons who have passed under the limelight, first of fame and fortune, and then of infamy and ruin, and are now relegated to a deep dark cell somewhere in the hinterlands, far from their victims (and from their admirers, stooges, and toadies as well). They have become – thanks to our enlightened system of justice – the living dead, doomed to wear a drab uniform and co-mingle with their obvious inferiors for years to come, if not for life. A suitable punishment, but ironic as well, in the sense that they might have preferred actual death – but that was not forthcoming. Instead, they are left to brood, and “repent” -- as if it will do any good – while their victims, if alive, are at least free... and if dead, are also free, and memorialized in the fondest possible way.

This is all by way of pointing out that our growing horror of capital punishment may, in fact, be based on a misconception. We assume that it is always better to be alive – even clad in shame and disgrace – than to be facilitated off this mortal coil before one's time. But you'll notice that, in those rare instances when a perpetrator really is done away with, they become an immediate non-issue; it's anticlimactic, in a way. The victims know that they will never walk the streets again... never victimize anyone else. But it is difficult to dwell on those who have been finally put away. Whereas, if the person is in jail, we can wake up every morning to the consoling thought that, indeed, we are at home in our own bed and they are still rotting in jail. Isn't there a kind of meanness – a sort of dark satisfaction – to being able to ponder this fact day after day... for years, or even decades? Because we know not what fate awaits after death – perhaps there was some last-second conversion, just as the lethal injection was administered, or the poison gas was released, or the electric switch closed. Who knows? But as long as they are alive and behind bars, we can continue to wallow in a kind of righteous, but not particularly edifying, satisfaction. And yet the “perps” will, by and large, fight like demons – again, for years, or decades – to avoid the final sanction. They will grow old and gray in jail rather than face their ultimate fate... although the rare one will, in fact, admit that the world really would be a better place without them in it, and rush to the execution chamber. Such is the mystery of life. All I'm saying is that the premise that capital punishment is, somehow, “inhumane” and “cruel”, whereas life behind bars is a sign of enlightenment, should, at least on occasion, come up for reconsideration.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Better Redd Than Dead

"The G-20 is coming! The G-20 is coming!" Thus, the cry echoes through the litter-strewn streets and alleyways of downtown Pittsburgh -- and the city fathers (and county fathers -- and don't make me explain the intricacies of how the two interact) have turned up in force to try and figure out some say to, as the local expression goes, "redd up" the city for the confab of the Powerful and Almighty in September. Of course, the first question that ought to occur to anyone is, why are we so concerned with cleaning and fixing up the place just because company is coming? Why can't we do it all the time anyway, for the benefit of the people who live here? It's like some chaotic housewife, Phyllis Diller-style, who panics when the rich relatives say they're dropping in, and starts scraping the accumulated grease and grime of years off the walls and furniture, hiring a rug cleaning service, and hunting down the source of "that smell". The effort is already being met with skepticism of the typical Pittsburgh kind, since we have long since decided that our local politicians are basically a bunch of clueless buffoons. And it's not as bad as the overused "putting lipstick on a pig" analogy -- not really. The city was apparently chosen because it's an example of "post-industrial recovery" -- in the Great Lakes Rust Belt to boot -- and, true enough, we're better off than places like Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo simply because we were more diversified to begin with, we have managed to "invest" quite heavily in technology, medicine, and education, and -- I suspect -- because there is still quite a bit of "old money" floating around the area (you know, that old money that was supposed to help John Kerry win the 2004 election). On the other hand, Pittsburgh has massive infrastructure problems... significant mismanagement problems... and it has been, basically, bankrupt for decades. And yes, we have not been laid as low by the ham-handed follies of "urban renewal" as many other places... there is still plenty of civic pride here... and it's a place where normal people can actually live -- not just in the suburbs but right in the city. All very commendable... but far from an ideal situation, and maybe the honest thing to do would be to present the city "as is" -- warts and all -- and ask the assembled solons at the G-20 for some suggestions. Maybe they know something we don't! Maybe, for example, some of them have figured out that increased taxation with a shrinking tax base... laws and regulations that chase businesses away from the city (and from the state as well, for that matter)... bloated and incompetent city (and county) government... and subsidies for all the wrong things (skyscrapers, professional sports teams, casinos, tunnels to nowhere, etc.) is, perhaps, not the best formula for post-industrial recovery, to say nothing of prosperity.

Yeah yeah, I know -- dream on. What we're going to see instead is a kind of urban Potemkin Village, with fresh paint on all visible surfaces within 10 blocks of the convention center (site of the G-20 meetings) -- the mysterious disappearance of the "street people" for the duration of the conference -- and maybe even a truce of some sort that will keep gunfights and bank robbers out of the downtown area for a while. You know, the same old chamber of commerce BS that always happens when someone wants to make a "good impression". But hey, these VIPs will have their meetings, check out of their hotels, and go home to recover from dining on the... um, "rich" local cuisine, and not give the place a second thought. Then we will be left to ourselves again, and it will be business (or the lack thereof) as usual. So sad... but so inevitable.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mexican Madness

The current economic crisis has demonstrated – among many other things – that it is still the case that, in many areas, when America sneezes the rest of the world catches cold. We haven't been as negatively impacted by the economic crisis as many other places simply because we're so big, and diversified. It's not that we knew better than to put all our eggs in one basket – it simply wasn't possible, whereas smaller countries were perfectly free to, let's say, “invest” in just one of the financial “instruments” that have turned out to have feet of clay – or to be a total will-o-the-wisp. So our troubles, which are at least spread across a wide spectrum of markets, get amplified when, for some of these unfortunates, the worst of those markets turns out to be the only one they have an interest in. And yeah, “I pity the fool” who trusted in things like “complex derivatives” -- but really, were they any more foolish than the people who put every cent they had into the hands of Bernie Madoff? It's the oldest con game in the world – convince people you have a better way, a short cut to riches, and you pull in all the suckers and the people who want to be seen as “winners”. No boring, conventional investments for these folks, oh no! They'd much rather go into high-risk, but allegedly risk-free (and shouldn't that, right there, have aroused some suspicion?) speculation, trusting in the genius at the top of the heap to protect them from their own ignorance.

But I digress – because I'm not talking about the catastrophe-amplifying effect of picking the (in retrospect) worst of what America has to offer investment-wise. I'm talking about the folly of signing on to the obsessive, Puritanical “War on Drugs” that our government has been pursuing at least since “Reefer Madness” came out in 1936. Going by various titles over the years, this at once futile and hideously inhumane crusade has been one of the defining features of our society for about as long as anyone can remember. Like the Hundred Years' War, the amount of time and money devoted to it has ebbed and flowed, but it has never halted, even for a moment. And it has – besides being a gross violation of the liberties of American citizens – served as a medium for any number of social and political movements over the years, not to mention being a preferred instrument of tyranny and totalitarianism. It is always there, either right up front or lurking in the background, corrupting and contaminating our political life and contributing greatly to social and moral chaos (not to mention the enormous economic costs).

But even at that, the overall impact of the War on Drugs, and its predecessors, has been, by and large, spread thin across the land, in the sense that relatively few get caught up in the machinery, or wind up crushed under the wheel. In other words, it is possible to live a drug-free existence, in that the issue of illegal drugs simply does not come up in one's life from one week to the next... nor do the consequences of the ongoing war between those for whom illegal drugs are important and the government.

But the same cannot be said of Mexico, or about many of our other Latin American “allies” in the drug war – or of Afghanistan, for that matter. What for us is an ordinary law enforcement problem, and one of many social problems, and a significant economic factor in, by and large, just certain places, has become for them _the_ economic, social, and law enforcement factor, compared to which all others combined are insignificant. We're treated, for example, with the spectacle of entire national economies in Latin America given over to the drug trade – with us as the primary customer. And along with that baleful fact, the governments of those countries are almost invariably corrupt to the core, having a grotesque combination of bribes and control by the drug lords on the one hand, and other bribes by the U.S. government on the other hand. (Well, technically it's referred to as “foreign aid”, in pursuit of drug trafficking, but everyone on the receiving end treats it as a bribe, and rightly so.)

Now, one might think that, therefore, these places have got it made. They're doing the same thing Third-World countries have been doing for decades, namely playing both sides, and pocketing the proceeds. All true, if you're in one of the highly-tenuous leadership positions in those places. But for the man on the street, what he sees is an endless stream of headless bodies and bodiless heads... drive-by shootings... law enforcement at every level corrupted... the armed forces devoted to doing the will of the U.S., and not of the people they are supposed to serve... official corruption... and, overall, a dangerous and squalid set of conditions under which they are supposed to live. What becomes of national pride, and ethnic identity, and indigenous culture under those circumstances? They are all suppressed and drowned out by the extreme violence of what is, basically, a completely artificial set of circumstances. Because, again, we have the amplification effect – what to the average American citizen is a minor irritant becomes a way of life if you live in Mexico, or Colombia, or any one of dozens of other places. The violence is more pervasive, the corruption more intractable, and the daily sense of the absurd more acute. And then we wonder why so many of these places have rediscovered communism, and why they have chosen drugs as a weapon of choice with which to spite and torment the U.S.

I can only recall the scene in “Frankenstein” where the hunchbacked assistant (whose name was Fritz – not Igor, please note for the next trivia quiz) torments the monster with a flaming torch. The monster is big and strong, and Fritz is small and wizened, but doggone it, he has the torch, and the monster is, for some reason, scared to death of fire. By the same token, the U.S. is being teased and tormented by small, insignificant people all around the world because they have identified our Achilles heel, and are in no way hesitant to jump in and exploit it. As bizarre as our obsession with “drugs” must seem to them, they don't just sit around puzzled, but quickly take advantage, the way an antisocial type might take advantage of a person with a handicap. Of course, much of this is payback, based on resentment of our bullying ways over the years... and money enters in, of course. But I also get the feeling that, on some level, they simply enjoy tormenting the blind giant, the way the Philistines enjoyed tormenting Samson. We think we're so great -- “the” power – but we can be sent into a tizzy by a field of poppies, or a few bales of marijuana. Who wouldn't delight in making sport out of such an absurd situation -- out of our national neurosis? But the problem is, until they succeed in getting rid of us, and of our insatiable appetite for high-priced (because illegal) drugs, the consequences of the drug wars will continue to redound on them much more severely than they redound on us. Yes, our prisons are overflowing with non-violent drug offenders... and yes, shootouts occur on our city streets on a daily basis... but overall, drugs are not the 900-pound gorilla up here that they are in places like Mexico and Colombia. And the citizens of those countries, if they spend any time thinking about it, will come to the correct conclusion that their miseries are almost entirely the fault of American laws and law enforcement (AKA “drug enforcement” when exported to other places), aggravated by our relative (and, to them, undeserved) prosperity, i.e. discretionary cash with which even the highest-priced drugs can be readily obtained.

It's amazing to me that our government can even remotely dream of improving our relations with Latin America, and a few other places around the world, without getting an enlightened grip on this issue. But – just as in the Near East – we prefer to live in a fantasy world, where nothing bad that ever happens is our fault, either directly or indirectly. We are the pure... the ideal... the “democratic”, and never mind the real, everyday consequences of all of our various obsessions and fetishes. Fortunately, the reality testing of the citizens of most other countries far exceeds that of our own... and they are, one by one, catching on to the fact that the U.S. is a psychotic bully. Will their pushback ever enlighten our foreign policy? Highly doubtful. The most that can be hoped for is that they will, in a profound sense, declare independence, and finally become truly self-determining when it comes to this issue, as well as many others. At that point, we will be left with our obsessions and our rage, but will at the same time be impotent and helpless... the King Lear of nations.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Indignation Nation

I suppose that, to anyone under the age of 25 or so, the pace of current events seems about right – screaming fast forward, when government programs, policies, and even personnel are changed – or outright reversed – on a daily basis. This is, truly, a golden age for those with a short attention span – or none at all. If you get tired of a certain style, or fashion, or trend, or government policy or program, just wait a nanosecond or two, and it will all change – not necessarily for the better, but who cares? The point is change, flux, continuous evolution... chaos. Because what is, or seems to be, “chaos” and disorder to the uninformed citizen (i.e., just about all of us) is perfect law and order to the powers that be, because it renders the citizenry completely helpless and without resistance. So a government program or policy arises one day and disappears the next, only to be replaced by its opposite, thus keeping people perpetually off balance and in the dark... which is, of course, exactly what those in charge want. No one is ever allowed time to reflect... to exercise logic... to apply principles. Those are all old-fashioned, academic exercises that have no relevance to the current crisis. The idea now is: Act! Immediately! And never mind the cost, or the long-term consequences. And the Obama administration is ideally suited to pursue this strategy, since it is made up almost entirely of smart, fast-talking, cynical “idea men” who also have the street smarts to actually implement their ideas. No more measured consideration; the Senate, that slowest-moving of governmental entities (because it was designed that way by the Founding Fathers), has to be kept in full gallop, with cattle prods bring wielded by Obamaite enforcers. The media have to be overwhelmed with “live feeds” at all hours of the day and night. Obama has to appear, and speak, at four or five places at once on the international scene... and his erstwhile supporters on the left have to be placated on a daily basis, since none of the things they expected him to do in exchange for their support has been done... nor will it ever be. And if anyone is so thick-headed to ask, what's the rush? -- the answer is always that, as bad as things are now, they will be even worse if we don't act! Now! With No Time for Debate! Which is, basically, another way of saying that the legislative process is hopelessly out of date, and we would all be better off if the president were officially declared dictator (rather than this having to remain an unofficial, although very obvious, fact). So Obama's attitude is that “He who is not with me is against me” -- very Biblical, I must say. And who is with him? The executive branch, the media, and academia... and most of the people who voted for him (still – I suppose). The opposition? Whoever didn't vote for him... Congress (because even the ones who agree with his agenda are way too slow in helping him to carry it out)... and potentially the judicial branch, because every once in a while they get the crazy idea in their heads they can rule against some governmental program or policy. Imagine! The people vote, we win, and then a bunch of judges think they can stop us. Of all the nerve.

So this is the picture at present – an institutionally slow legislature, an edgy judicial, and a few voices already being raised in skepticism. Why won't people give Obama a chance? I mean, gosh, it's not like we're talking about the Soviet Union, which had more than 70 years to either prove itself or get out of the way. Most governments, at the age of Obama's administration, would still be burying the dead. So what's the problem? The “feeling tone” at the beginning of the administration – and even before it started – was one unrivaled since the New Deal. Hope! Change! Sunlight! Scantily-clad willowy women dancing across the greensward, pursued by randy satyrs and unicorns! And, truth be told, that still is the attitude of the Obama “centrist” -- not the lefties who are already feeling thoroughly had, or the “ABR” (Anybody But a Republican) types... but the Democratic faithful who always pull that one big lever in the voting machine marked “Democrat”, even if it winds up making a one-eyed pit bull with AIDS into a city councilman. No, the problem is that, doggone it, not everyone is with the program, and the sheer, overwhelming charisma of Obama, and his family, and his mother-in-law, are not sufficient to make all of the rough places plain. So the feeling tone that went along with “hope and change” has given way, more and more, to the one that goes along with frustration, indignation, and puzzlement. And this, in turn, is predicated on the core premise of every liberal who ever walked the earth, which is that they are, in fact, the most enlightened, the smartest, the wisest, and the most humane and “feeling” persons who ever lived – which is why all of the reins and power (and money – but that's not important!) of government should be handed over to them by a grateful populace... not only for the duration of their elective term, for in perpetuity. Every liberal dreams of being another FDR – president for life. Because so great is their virtue, and their merit, that it is downright – well, heretical (but only in a strictly secular way, mind!) for anyone to express skepticism, or offer an opposing point of view. And so when they do (and there are always a few “haters” out there)... well, it's just plain upsetting, that's all. And we try to do what we can – you know, with things like the Fairness Doctrine and FCC regulations and “election reform” and what not... but these annoying voices just keep seeping through. And now there's the Internet, which was supposed to be a great, liberalizing influence, because, as we all know, liberals thrive on “education” and “information”... but guess what, the forces of “hate”, and “superstition”, and reaction, have even planted themselves firmly in cyberspace... so what's a good totalitarian, er, I mean collectivist, er, I mean “enlightened leader” to do?

But one must soldier on (you should pardon the expression), and our friends in the media will continue to do what they do best, which is to portray any and all naysayers as “nut cases”... but it's hard to keep a smile on one's face, especially after a hard day's work apologizing for all of America's sins and shortcomings... occasionally the strain shows... one gets snappy and impatient... but hey, that's the price that must be paid for absolute power. And for those who don't like it... well, we have plans for them as well. And that's right up there on the “to do” list, as soon as the current crisis has been fixed.

Geezers in Space

The 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing certainly did not pass without notice... but, let's admit, there was an air of... shall we say “quaintness” about it? A certain feeling of smiling wistfully, and head shaking, as if to say, "Wow, imagine that, way back then, it was actually considered a good idea to send men to the Moon, and an equally good idea to pay for it." And, I might add, we were in the throes of the war in Vietnam at the time... and any number of other discontents, like urban rioting, but we still managed it. Imagine such a thing happening in this day and age! But yes – it is being imagined, and the ones doing the imagining are none other than the guys who landed on the Moon in the first place, and their colleagues – you know, the guys that all had “the right stuff”, whatever the hell that meant.

So here is this Army of aging astronauts, emerging from their knotty-pine recreation rooms to plead with the government to please, please, keep America's space program fully funded and, therefore, America “in the lead” when it comes to space exploration... or travel... or whatever you want to call it, considering that we are still a far cry from Star Trek warp drive. The main problem is that, between 1969 and now, we've discovered – and even some liberals have discovered – that you can't have it all. If you want to pay public school teachers to put condoms on bananas, you're going to have to give up a few rounds in the centrifuge – that's all there is to it. Either that or raise taxes, and there is a limit even to that – it's called “the 100% tax bracket”-- like the kind they had in Sweden, until everyone with any brains left the country.

And this is not even taking into account the current economic crisis. Oh, I suppose some of the “economic stimulus” money could be diverted to NASA – is their stuff “shovel-ready”? (No – but I daresay some of their alumni are.)

And these guys do tip their hand once in a while. Walt Cunningham says there isn't the same desire for “dangerous adventure” as there was in former years. “We have allowed our society to turn into a risk-averse society.” Hasn't he been keeping up with “Jackass”? And as to risk-aversion – tell it to Wall Street. We're suffering the consequences of risk _mania_ right now – economically at least, if not in the strict physical sense.

And here's Buzz Aldrin (the inspiration, no doubt, for Buzz Lightyear in “Toy Story”): “ There may be life on Mars. If there is, it's for damn sure we'd better go there and look at it. ... We'll bring it there. Whether it's germs and leftover urine bags, or whatever it is.”

Um... this is kind of awkward. Who let him out of the Alzheimer's ward? This is most definitely not the sort of thing NASA needs to convince a bankrupt country to continue to support its “mission”. And the other astronauts, while more coherent, have been no less vocal about our “need” to continue exploring space. They have come out of retirement, and risen – as one man – to demand (not ask, but demand!) that America keep pushing the space envelope – although to what end, and for whose benefit, remains obscure at best, not unlike the case 40 years ago. And it's not that these guys are totally out to lunch when it comes to politics. Here's a quote from David Scott: “We have to find a reason to go to Mars that will continue the funding.” OK, very good – now let's think. We could come up with a finding that Mars is the actual headquarters of Al-Qaeda. Or – that some Israelis want to build settlements there... but I'm afraid the real reason will be the same tired old reason as always, namely that NASA is one gigantic, mother-grabbin' jobs program. See... we encourage young people, especially young men, to go to college and then to grad school, and get advanced degrees in “technology” -- and then when they get out we assign them a cab to drive around Boston. This can't be tolerated! So that is why NASA was created, basically – to provide a sheltered workshop for grossly over-educated (at least in the technological, if not classical, sense) people. So that explains all the geeky guys with the crew cuts and skinny ties you always saw manning “mission control”. In a totally free-market economy they would have been frustrated radio repairmen. The other side of the coin was the opportunity to recruit a bunch of maniacs, AKA “test pilots”, into the program before they left the service and “went postal” somewhere in the community. So NASA became a kind of odd-bedfellow organization consisting of, approximately, 99% geeks and 1% maniacs. But hey, they were inspiring – they were doing cool things, taking pretty pictures, and coming up with immortal quotes like “Wow, that is BEEW-tifull.” They were the last of the frontier, lone-riding, gunslinging, no-wimps-need-apply, testosterone-laden, American type. Their wives all had beehive hairdos, and they lived in houses with "picture windows" and brick barbecues. And – best of all, perhaps! -- NASA didn't even have to abide by “buy American” guidelines – they could have the best, and there was no limit on the amount of money available with which to buy it. And yeah, it was damned impressive... but come on, didn't you feel just a bit... “anticlimactic” the morning after the Moon landing? Wasn't there a still, small voice somewhere in your brain that kept muttering, “SO WHAT??” There sure was in my brain, especially when I observed that many inner cities were burning out of control at about the same time. And yeah, I know, “The poor will always be with you” -- as will their Molotov cocktails. Granted. But here we are, 40 years later, listening to a bunch of geezers who should have just stayed home in front of the TV. If I could get them together in a group – walkers, Depends, and all – I would say something like this:

“Dudes! You got to play in the biggest sandbox _ever_, for _years_, with the American taxpayer footing the bill. We could have bought a half-billion hot lunches for every public school kid in the country with that money. But you had fun. The guys at mission control had fun. It made for great television. But dudes, it's over, OK? This is not the same country it was back in '69. Yeah, we're technologically farther down the road, but we've just fallen into an economic volcano. Plus, that “Americanism” that provided so much of your support is dead – killed by collectivism, by war, by economic crises, by corrupt leadership, and by general social and moral decay. No one wants you, or anybody else, to go planting a flag on the Moon, or Mars, or anywhere else... 'cause what would it mean? What did all that high-profile technological achievement do for us, in the long run? Yeah, it gave us a few spin-offs. But did it do anything to prevent the economic crisis? Did it prevent lunatics from running the government, and getting us into unwinnable wars? Did it solve any of our domestic problems, like health care and race relations? Or education? No – it just made it all the more painful, and provided a bunch of boneheads with that all-purpose prefix to any argument, “If we can put a man on the Moon...” So yeah, what you did was awesome, but let's face it, it wasn't a steppingstone to even greater things; it was a high-water mark. It was something we may never – never! -- be able to get back to... and the people who might be able to pull it off, like the Chinese, probably couldn't care less. That “giant leap for mankind” had a string attached – it's call “gravity”, and sustainability, and economics, and national will... and, frankly, the only one of those factors still operating is gravity. So be good guys and go back home, and quit busting everyone's chops. You had your moment in the sun, and now it's time to say goodnight, and leave the worrying to someone else.”

Saturday, July 18, 2009

And That's the Way It Wasn't

This seems to be a season for eminentoes of every stripe to leave this mortal coil, from the King of Pop to the “genius” behind the war in Vietnam... and now Uncle Walter. So we are now to be treated to still another orgy of nostalgia and testimonial, following hot on the heels of Michael Jackson... and the word you will hear more than all the others combined is “trust”. The difference between Uncle Walter and the other news sources of his time – or so it is alleged – is that, while they only existed to provide information about current events, Uncle Walter's role was to reassure... and empathize... and give everyone a hug, while nonetheless remaining absolutely faithful to his mission as an objective, non-biased deliverer of “news”. He was, in other words, and for his time, to the news business what Sonia Sotomajor is trying to become for the justice business – all things to all people. But beyond that, he represented a new thing in broadcast journalism – a kind of extended family member, who you don't trust because he's an authority but because he's “family”. He was the kindly uncle who sits you down on his knee and says, “Of _course_ there's a Santa Claus – don't listen to all those horrible people.” The message was – all too common in our Era of Empathy, but rare in the 1950s -- “You mean something to me – I value you – I have your best interests at heart.” And this – lest we forget – was in marked contrast to the modal broadcast journalist. In radio, the mode was the fast-talking, staccato, high-pitched voice with the hysterical edge. “This just in”, etc., with the Teletype machine clattering in the background. In television, it was the somber, sober “talking head” with the authoritative delivery that would have done justice to Big Brother. It was the Era of Big Voices – the likes of John Cameron Swayze... or of the more naturalistic, doom-and-gloom, chain-smoking Edward R. Murrow. Uncle Walter was more than all that – or less, depending on one's point of view. And in that sense, he was unique. His place at CBS was taken by Dan Rather, who has turned out to be, basically, a paranoid nut case. But most of the “anchors” of our time are even less spectacular than the fatally-flawed Rather – they are, basically, “suits”, “faces”, and pretty boys, with about as much grasp of the full significance of current affairs as a goldfish. As least Walter _acted_ as if he knew something, and was not just reading lines fed to him by smarter, but not “TV-enabled” assistants.

But there is a dark side to all of this. The era of “heroic journalism” -- when journalists were marked by skepticism, a sense of irony, and a sense of the absurd – died at some point between World War I and World War II, probably as a result of the triumph of the New Deal, which co-opted the vast bulk of journalists, who were, as a group, markedly liberal, “progressive”, and – in some cases – populist in their thinking. Once the people who were on “their side” took control of the country, they didn't have a whole more to say other than “Amen!” (Compare to the obsequious state of the MSM since Obama's inauguration, e.g.) This was, in other words, the point at which “the press” -- which includes radio and TV, and the Internet as well – became, firmly, the voice of the Regime – and the point at which any sort of true skepticism, or opposition, or contrarian thought, was declared to be beyond the pale.

Go back to a newspaper from the 1800s some time – even a small-town rag. Note the lively commentary, the sense of humor, the “in your face” attitude toward those in authority. That was back when journalism was a trade practiced by – by and large – free thinkers, skeptics, and troublemakers. Contrast this with the gradual selling out of the press, of which the Spanish-American War is such a good example, but which was virtually complete by the time of World War I. The marriage was consummated by the New Deal, and it has remained strong ever since, even with minor squabbles like the war in Vietnam and the Nixon administration. The last time the press even came close to causing a major ruckus was during the “McCarthy Era”, and that was only because most of them were, at that time, taking direct orders from their masters in the Soviet Union. (They weren't all that happy when the Rosenbergs got fried either, for that matter.) But this is not to say that all was sweetness and light.... and that's when Uncle Walter comes back into the picture. The war in Vietnam had been churning on for years, with scant opposition from the press, when – miracle of miracles! -- no less a personage than Uncle Walter turned against it. Which is to say, he expressed a personal opinion – in public! -- which stood in opposition to the party line. That, more than anything else, was the point at which the war was lost – the “beginning of the end”, if you will. (I knew a guy who said it was “that bell” that did it – i.e., a bell set up by some organization that was rung every time another American soldier was killed in Vietnam. I'm sure the bell helped, but it was Uncle Walter's apostasy that really turned the tide.) So in that sense, he deserved a “profile in courage” -- and I guess he got it, although I'm sure many in the MSM felt a bit whiplashed, since the war in Vietnam was, after all, a “liberal war” (lest we forget!), and it would never do to oppose a war started, and perpetuated, by our “friends” in Washington.

And in all of this, another question arises, which is this: Was Uncle Walter the last of the truly free journalists, or was he just another tool of the Regime? In other words, did he really believe in what he was doing, and saying, or was he just another mouthpiece (albeit, the best one around)? The fact that he turned against the war in Vietnam is a significant data point – but it could be argued that, at that point, the Regime had gotten what it wanted out of that war, and it was time to ramp it down, so Uncle Walter was send out as the point man to be the first “establishment” type to declare it a lost cause. But even then, the timing was interesting, since the 1968 campaign was on, and the Republicans were in a good position to take over. So by declaring the war “unwinnable”, Cronkite was helping to set up Richard Nixon for a fall.

But on a deeper level than that of current (or historical) events, what is the function of the press in our time? It is – as I've explained in previous posts – to maintain the optimum level of fear and anxiety in the populace, coupled with reassurance that if they just behave themselves, and believe in the government, everything will be OK. In other words, the MSM are in the manipulation business – not only of information, and of public opinion, but of actual emotions – people's feelings about the country and about themselves. So in that sense, Cronkite can be seen as a pioneer of sorts – he was the first major player in the “feelings game” that is, in our time, played by the media and by the Regime to such an intense degree that we can't imagine things ever having been any other way. Another way of putting it is that he represented the beginning of the de-objectification of the news, and the media... not that blatant media bias had not been seen in abundance up to that time, but now there was a united front – three networks (Tweedledee, Tweedledum, and Tweedledumber) that everyone watched, and everyone trusted, and no one dared dissent from. In the pre-Internet era, it was as if Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report were TV networks – all delivering, basically, the identical spins on the identical stories. But only one network – CBS – had Uncle Walter, which made it the network of choice for the frightened, the insecure... the people who just wanted a hug, even if it had to come out of a video screen.

So was he a “knowing” manipulator? Or did he really believe what he said, and say what he believed? And ultimately, does it even matter, since he was, in any case, a vital part of that solid wall that the media of our time have come to represent – a wall of noise and hysteria when it comes to the things that we're supposed to fear, and a wall of silence when it comes to the things we're not supposed to think about, or question? Perhaps it was his sheer talent to create trust that inspired the operatives of the Regime to make the media a core part of their operation. Or, perhaps it was the American public's willingness – desperation, even! -- to trust, to have someone or something to trust, that encouraged the Regime to turn up the brainwashing dial a few more notches. The question is, was Uncle Walter a part of a smooth continuum on the way to tyranny, or an anomaly? If I were a cynic, I would say that he was, in a sense, a “useful idiot” -- he broadcast the party line, perhaps inadvertently, for many years, and then when the party line changed, he broadcast that – fully believing that he was the one who had changed. Would what has happened since have happened in any case? Yes – but it would have been carried out in a more rough-hewn, obviously crude manner, by less-competent people. As it was, Uncle Walter was the ultimate Kool-Aid salesman... the pusher of the Opiate of the People, modern America-style. The fact that he eventually saw, and publicly identified, a major flaw in the system is to his credit. The fact that he didn't see any other flaws – or, if he did, he never publicly identified them – is to his discredit. And the fact that he aided and abetted the process of turning America – at least the segment that watches “the evening news” -- into brainwashed serfs is most assuredly to his discredit. In this sense, he helped pave the way for even greater abuses, culminating in the twin wars and economic crisis we have today, which a truly informed populace, with a healthy sense of skepticism, might have done something to avoid – but, thanks to Uncle Walter, all was seen as right with the world... this became our faith, and nothing in the way of actual facts would be allowed to disturb it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

White Kids' Burden

OK -- the truth, now! Can I be the only person in the world who realizes that there is not one chance in a billion that those kids are Michael Jackson's biological children? I mean, come on! Not only are they white, they're screamingly white. They're whiter looking than Audrey Hepburn (or Katherine Hepburn). They're positively Nordic. Now... granted, they're not as white as Michael was... or became. But come on, his latter-day Frankenstein look did nothing to alter his DNA. So come on, people -- let's get real on this thing. Let's, for example, at least be willing to consider the possibility that those kids were fathered by someone else -- as a favor to Michael, I'm sure, and also to aid and abet his mysterious obsession with whiteness. But even that is nowhere near as grotesque as treating kids that look they came off some Danish farm as "black", just to perpetuate one of the more bizarre recent manifestations of "identity politics".

Babes in the Woods at Sea

Pat Buchanan was at it again the other day -- bemoaning the fact that the Navy is, as he calls it, "dumbing down" the Naval Academy by imposing "diversity" -- the new word for the same old quota system -- as part of its admissions policy. And the reason (other than avoiding lawsuits, which was what motivated the New Haven fire department)? He quotes from the Washington Post: "Academy leaders say it's a top priority to build a student body that reflects the racial makeup of the Navy and the nation." Note that: "Top" priority, more "top" than, for example, turning out the best damn officer corps we can, or defending the country, or any of that other old-fashioned John Wayne stuff. And as to reflecting the racial makeup of "the Navy and the nation" -- well, which is it? Surely they can't be identical.

But I digress. Buchanan's point is that, as usual in these cases, the criteria for admission -- the "cutoffs" -- have to be set much lower for "minorities" than for "majorities". (And "minorities" includes Asians, who scarcely need any sort of affirmative action in the academic sphere -- although if basketball were one of the factors... but I digress.) So anyway, it is highly regrettable that the Naval Academy is acting like... well, basically, like any other government agency in the country, and certainly like any defense agency I've ever heard of. Contrary to popular stereotype, the armed services have, for decades, been in the forefront when it comes to implementing (or facilitating) "social change" -- starting with the integration of the Army way back when, and running right up to the present day with an unabashed, unapologetic application of quotas (explicit or in the form of "guidance" -- which, in the military, is the equivalent of a direct order) for not only admission and promotion in officer ranks, but also NCO ranks, the service in general, and the civilian agencies that are associated with the various services. And to the objection "But we're talking about _defense_ here, not about just some dumb-ass, do-nothing government agency!" -- I say, au contraire, we're very much talking about a government agency, and about government programs, and as I've said way too often, every government program is a jobs program, and that includes the hallowed halls of honor in the military. Surely Pat can't have just now discovered that the military considers it more important that it "look like America" than that it is optimally staffed for victory! This has been going on for years... decades. And the Army is, in fact, always somewhat conflicted on this point since the enlisted ranks tend to look too _much_ like America -- inner-city America, that is. This came up during the Vietnam conflict -- the notion of sending young black men to fight and die in a war started by old white men. All too true! But you'll notice nothing was done. In this case, however, there are political points to be made by inoculating the Naval Academy with racial politics -- and, really, no points to be lost by not doing so. So what do you think is going to happen? Will some Congressman really, as Pat suggests, start an investigation? Sure -- the same way they're going to insist we go back on the gold standard.

Buchanan decries the "deliberate acceptance of a less able and competent United States Navy". But no one out there is arguing, since that acceptance -- which could have been seen as treasonous in earlier times -- is now considered standard procedure, and only a "racist" would argue against it. In the post-Vietnam era, vast sectors of the Army and of its civilian agencies were, in effect, set aside as sheltered workshops in order to fill quotas and avoid grievances and court cases. I know this from personal observation... and cannot believe that the situation with the other services could have been that much different. Granted, the Army has always been at the forefront of social experimentation, government-style... but the only branch of the service I can think of that has had any success in holding off the PC police is the Marines -- and even then, it's because they have so many alumni in Congress. Take away that shield and they will suffer the same fate as all the rest -- as will, I'm sure, Special Forces and other (no longer) elite units.

It's true. To knowingly hamper, or reduce, the military effectiveness of the nation is tantamount to treason, and should be treated as such. But politics has predominated ever since the Vietnam era, and what we call "readiness" is just what little is left over in the way of quality control options once all of the political tickets have been punched -- and there is a staggering number of them, believe me. Our military continues to dominate, and succeed, as much as it does despite all this, due to sheer numbers and firepower -- but the scales are starting to tip more and more in favor of quality of personnel -- and I don't mean "dumb" as opposed to "dumberer" -- but real quality, the kind the Israelis, for example, insist on. Where do they put their most intelligent youth? In law or med school? No -- in tanks. At least for the term of their service. And you can bet those tank crews are baaad muthas. They can knock a hooka pipe off a raghead's coffee table at a distance of ten miles. Can our guys do this? I doubt it -- but in our part of the world, where all that matters is group identity, it doesn't matter.

Minced Brain Terrorizes City, Pictures at Eleven

If you want to know what Nancy Pelosi's brain looks like, just open a can of Campbell's Thick 'n' Chunky Minestrone and look inside -- that's about it. You know, every administration has to have its source of humor, it's "lighter side" -- especially with Obama stalking around wearing a Pilgrim hat and carrying a blunderbuss loaded with our money, frowning at everything and everyone. Reagan had his James Watt... Bush I his -- oh, what was his name? Oh yeah -- Dan Quayle. Clinton had Joycelyn Elders... and himself. Bush II had... himself. And now Obama has Pelosi, who, while technically not an actual member of the administration might just as well be. She certainly qualifies in the most important respect, namely her capacity for delusion and her inability to satisfactorily explain... well, pretty much anything. So we have, for example, the following quote, later found on the floor after she attempted to discuss an issue whose importance to the nation can scarcely be exaggerated -- namely whether or not to allow the House of Representatives to debate a resolution honoring Michael Jackson. The quote is as follows: "A resolution, I think, would open up to contrary views to -- that are not necessary at this time to be expressed in association with a resolution whose purpose is quite different."

Let that sink in for a moment. Wow -- and they call Sarah Palin incoherent. But in Pelosi's defense, maybe she was just trying to avoid an awkward confrontation between House members who consider Jackson a demiurge and those who consider him a "pervert" and a "pedophile", in the words of Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. (And I guess we can expect Rep. King to appear on the list of unemployables after the next election. You could call Jackson a "pre-vert" in the Old South and get away with it, but in New York? Gedaddahere. What a schmuck.) But King's problems are not Pelosi's, and she is determined to keep it that way... although, let's admit, a resolution honoring Jackson would at least have been _something_. In fact, it might have been the only tangible achievement Congress could point to out of the current session, since it has signed over all of its other prerogatives to Obama and Co. Oh, but wait -- they have to keep pretending, 'cause that's their job. Sorry, my bad.

Jokin' Joe -- What a Shmo!

Joe Biden has a big mouth. But that is actually a good thing, in this age of almost universal lying by politicians. When you have a mouth that big, something of the truth is likely to fall out of it once in a while – purely by accident, of course, but informative nonetheless. An example was his statement a few days ago that Israel was perfectly free to attack Iran's nuclear sites, and the U.S. would not object. This statement was, of course, given the same treatment as other “Bidenisms” -- first, the State Department issued a “clarification”. Now, for those of you who weren't here last semester, a “clarification” is another way of saying that what was said in the first place is perfectly true, but the person wasn't supposed to be saying it – at least not in public. So the “clarification” is merely a way of weasel-wording the original statement – after the fact -- to make it less offensive, even though the cat is out of the bag... and it's amazing that people keep falling for this scan.

Secondly, the statement and the clarification immediately became non-stories, and nought was heard about either one again. Crisis over... nothing more to see here, folks... you can go back to your homes. It's instances like this that provide conclusive evidence that the mainstream press is nothing more than a willing mouthpiece for the Regime, as (currently) represented by the Obama administration and its loudmouth vice president.

So let's say that JB was telling the truth in the first place – a rare occurrence among politicians of our time, as I said. But what was it he actually said? Did he say that we _wanted_ Israel to attack Iran? Not in so many words. But hey, Israel is “a sovereign country” -- like, what else is new? -- and they have a right to defend themselves, even against an alleged nuclear threat that is not likely to even remotely approach any danger level in less than a decade. I mean – I guess we could attack Botswana on the grounds that they might, someday, conceivably, have nukes that were capable of striking Birmingham, Alabama (and that would be bad how??) -- but there have to be better things to spend our time worrying about. So in any case, an attack by Israel on Iran would be perfectly understandable and the U.S. would not stand in the way – like, again, what else is new? Has anyone ever, at any point, gotten the impression that Israel could not do whatever it damned pleased? I sure haven't. Well, of course, they will often get us to sign up ahead to time to whatever their plans are – as Biden inadvertently revealed – but they'll do what they want whether we care for it or not. And as to their being a “sovereign nation” -- there is no doubt about that either. The question should be, are _we_ a sovereign nation? -- and when it comes to foreign affairs vis-a-vis Israel, the answer is clearly no. We are their servants – militarily, economically, politically, and diplomatically – and our politicians apparently see absolutely no problem with that (nor, unfortunately, do the voters).

So let's take a look at more of Joe Uncool's exquisite nuances. Israel can “determine for itself what's in their interest... whether we agree or not.” But as already indicated, our agreement is pretty much foreordained... and any minor quibbles can be resolved by a phone call from AIPAC. And as to the U.S. “standing in the way” of an Israeli strike on Iran, my question is how this could be done even if we wanted to. I guess we could erect a 100-mile-high wall all across Iraq, from Turkey to Kuwait... but I doubt if that would even do any good. (It would be a boffo no-bid contract for Halliburton though, you must admit!)

Now, in the interests of fairness, we should not neglect the military side. Every once in a while one of our courageous four-stars mumbles something about an attack on Iran being “destabilizing” -- by which they generally mean that a third war to add to those in Afghanistan and Iraq, and still another justification for Islamic militancy, would be less than desirable. But wait – you'll say – we're not talking about a third war, just a clean, surgically-precise attack by Israel on Iran's nuclear facilities – which, by the way, number in the dozens, and many are, predictably, close to “population centers”, which is a fancy way of saying “people”. But again, is there anyone on earth still so naïve as to believe that Iran would not take an attack by Israel as an attack by the U.S.? The Islamic world rightly sees us as one and the same entity. So the chess game – or at least the next few moves – goes as follows: Israel attacks Iran, Iran declares war on not only Israel but also the U.S. They send more “insurgents” into Iraq to fight our forces (who are still there, notice – despite Obama's alleged distaste), and, for all we know, mount an attack across the border with uniformed troops (because Iraq is now our "ally"), while lobbing whatever missiles they have every which way. They get enthusiastic support from China – not only of the military sort but also, just maybe, of the economic sort, which is that China cashes in all of their U.S. notes and effectively trashes our economy (even more) – not that this would necessarily get us out of Iran (remember my comments about the Roman Empire), but it would be pretty good payback. With an economy in the dumpster, and funny money for currency, we turn into a kind of overweight, wheelchair-bound, brain-damaged invalid on the international scene, kept around to maintain appearances, but no longer exerting any real power or influence on world affairs. Eventually the American Empire crumbles, in a manner not unlike the Soviet Union – and including Israel, which is “America's Cuba”, at least militarily and economically.

So by attacking Iran at this point, Israel virtually assures its own eventual demise. But will this stop them? Of course not. And it won't stop the likes of Joe Biden from waving the Israeli flag at every opportunity. So keep talkin', Joe – it's nice to see a glimmer of truth once in a while, in an otherwise fog-bound administration.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Eunuch Nation

Living in Pittsburgh, which is -- as far as I can tell -- the nation's capital of unapologetic, testosterone-saturated male primates, it's easy to forget what a large percentage of America's males are castrati, wandering around in a daze wondering what happened to their balls. Of course, Pittsburgh has its share of what I call "apologetic males" -- most of them can be found at the door prize desk at the annual orchid show -- but, by and large, the local specimens of the male persuasion go about in full confidence that God had a purpose when He created the male of the species (not "mankind" or "Man", which includes both genders). These are guys for whom beer, NASCAR, and the Steelers are the be-all and end-all of existence... and, yeah, you might want to throw a wife and kids into the mix because, otherwise, whaddaya gonna do, spend Christmas and Thanksgiving at the local tavern? I don't think so. And, for better or worse, these guys are hard-core, unquestioning patriots. They never question the justification or reasons for a war -- the fact that we're fighting a war is reason enough. And sure enough, when the flag goes up they enlist -- not just for a steady job, or to please the old folks, but out of a genuine, if distorted, sense of patriotism. And if you think the minor offenses at Abu Ghraib were bad, wait 'til you find out what these guys would _really_ like to do to all those damn rag-heads! Geneva Convention? Fuhgeddaboutit. Any enemy of "America" is an enemy of mine, is their attitude -- and the Regime makes full use of this idea. These guys are the cannon fodder of our benighted foreign policy. They come home scarred -- psychologically and physically... maimed... brain-damaged... dead... none of it matters. All of the misfortunes they suffer "in the service of their country" and of "democracy" and "freedom" are met with stoic acceptance, as if to say, well, this was a job that had to be done, and if not by us, who? Those who have suffered the greatest losses will be the first to march (or ride) in the Memorial Day and Forth of July parades... they will be honored with plaques, awards, testimonials at the local VFW. For them, whatever war they happened to participate in was the highlight of their life, never to equalled by any other achievement, whether in business, domestic affairs, or -- don't even think about the spiritual side. That's for women and "fairies". And the one thing forbidden -- that is never allowed to be brought up in their presence -- is that they were used, exploited, played as dupes and suckers by a corrupt and evil regime. This cannot be tolerated, since it violates a deep metaphysical premise -- the deepest one they possess. So the cycle of propaganda and exploitation goes on, and it's the victims who are the most committed to its perpetuation. Surely the people who _use_ these poor devils are not committed to anything, save their own lust for power and wealth. But the amazing thing is how few see through it. They assume, for example, that people like Dick Cheney actually care about the welfare of the nation and of its citizens, when every bit of evidence points in the exact opposite direction. And yet, "where is the outrage?" -- and I suppose that these events would not have happened at all if the American public had any capacity for real outrage. But for that to happen, you first have to have insight -- and for that to thrive and not be snuffed out at birth, you have to have some degree of distance and objectivity, and if there is one thing missing in the American public it's the ability to judge the actions of its leaders based on principle. And in this, we are not all that unique -- nations all throughout history have followed tyrannical, demented leaders into catastrophes -- but one always hopes that the mere fact of "democracy" serves to instill a slightly more sophisticated frame of reference into the minds of the citizenry. Unfortunately, this is seldom, if ever, the case. We treat our presidents like kings... our representatives like a royal court... and our judges like Solomons, rather than like the slightly-better-educated humans that they are. Authoritarianism seems hard-wired into the human psyche, and skepticism is always reserved for the oddballs.

So... are all the troubles of the world "deserved", by and large, because people refuse to think? What is more serious is that they refuse to compare what their leaders do with what is morally right and just -- and for this there is much less excuse than simply a failure to "think" like some egghead academician. There was a time when leaders were expected to be -- believe it or not -- _more_ moral, and ethnical, than the rest of us. Now it is a surprise when they turn out to be anything but psychopaths. This, I submit, is the leading sign of a degenerate society overall -- when we cannot recognize virtue, or its opposite, when it's staring us in the face. And, of course, the inability to recognize, not to mention value, virtue is an open door to the non-virtuous, who will quickly move in to fill the gap. There is some sort of unwritten law in politics whereby, when the citizenry adhere to moral principles, the leadership can violate them only up to a point, after which they are, hopefully, relieved of duty. In other words, a moral citizenry is not air-tight insurance against corrupt leadership, but it does constitute a limiting factor. But a morally clueless citizenry has no defenses against corruption in high office. For one thing, they never recognize it on principle, only its effects, i.e. on them. But that is like "special pleading" -- a leader is corrupt because he's hurting _me_, and everyone else can look after themselves. This is about as far as it goes these days, as witness the obsession with "fairness" to the exclusion of principle. But what this means is that, while the leadership may be corrupt in the usual ways, the citizenry is also morally corrupt, so they can expect little else from the leadership than "rotating neglect" -- i.e. unfair treatment which kind of circles around like a searchlight, picking out victims (and beneficiaries) at random. Needless to say, the sum total for society overall will be negative, i.e. while some may benefit many more will lose out. This is, in fact, the earmark of totalitarianism -- despite the ever-present propaganda. The elite -- the "nomenklatura" -- profit handsomely, while the rest are left to starve, and live out their lives as part of a gray, faceless mass. And isn't this what we're coming to -- correction! Isn't this what we've already come to, in this society? A huge proportion of the populace thought they were rich, or at least "OK", merely a year or two ago -- now they find out they're poor. Security has been replaced by anxiety, complacency by fear. And is this a failure of "the system"? That's what they'll tell you, but in fact it's a failure of leadership -- or, actually, a _success_ of leadership, in that their situation has improved while everyone else's has deteriorated.

But what does any of this have to do with "Eunuch Nation?" Only that there is an acceptance -- a fatalism -- that, in previous times and for previous generations would have been totally unacceptable. In an earlier day, by now all of the Wall Street "operators" would have been hanging from lampposts... and their facilitators in the political arena would be (1) out of office, (2) arrested, and (3) in jail. But again, where there is no moral substrate to begin with, one cannot be created out of nowhere simply based on need. A nation of passive victims cannot be turned into a nation of principled militants overnight -- and hardly even in a generation. For that, you need a revolution, and I don't see any signs of one about to occur. So again, do people "deserve" all that they are suffering simply because they have been negligent when it comes to keeping up with current events? My answer is -- yes! Because, as much of a shambles as our electoral process is, they could still have voted for someone other then the usual suspects. They could still have pressed for impeachment when their liberties were threatened... they could still have refused to cooperate (e.g., by not joining the military), or engaged in passive resistance in a million different ways. But they did none of these -- so this is what they get in return -- a government that is, in no significant way, different from the Fascism of the 1930s... perpetual war... and indebtedness that will persist for generations to come.

"Show me a real man." One doesn't even see this in Hollywood these days, or on TV. The "male models" we're presented with are all, basically, boys who have been on the shelf too long and are obviously shopworn. So what happened to the "masculine mystique"? It was forbidden by politics (another blessing of "feminism") -- and by law as well, in many cases. And yes, as unsavory as some of its lower-grade manifestations may have been, it was, I will argue, the only thing standing between us and domination by the high-powered eunuchs of Washington and the EU. Are real women afraid of real men? Well, was Margaret Thatcher afraid of real men? I don't think so; she reveled in their presence. Is Hillary afraid of real men? You betcha. Her husband is not a real man, but a parody of one, the way Mae West was a parody of womanhood. And the only way Obama gets away with being an unapologetic male is that he is also black. Otherwise, we have a vast array of clowns and buffoons among our leadership and our role models -- our "icons".

We have just passed a major milestone in American history, namely the death of Robert McNamara, who was, among many other things, the very embodiment of the the sexless "egghead" -- and what did all of his alleged brilliance provide us? The Vietnam war, and thus, indirectly, the 60s, and the cultural revolution that took place then and whose reverberations haunt us to this day. The testosterone-laden military had to follow the orders of a little creep with patent-leather hair; how humiliating was that? And dare I say that that was among the first manifestations of the ascendency of the eunuch and the setting aside of masculinity? McNamara was an expert at "systems analysis" -- which is based on a bloodless model of the human condition, i.e. no hopes and dreams, no hormones, no loyalties -- just a somewhat more complex wiring diagram than the average hi-fi system. His system "war gamed" very well, let's admit -- and it would have been so great if it had been left right there, on the sand table. But unfortunately, he had the power and influence to send out armed forces into the Valley of Death -- and there they stayed, for years, until the final humiliation. For better or worse, a real man would have... well actually, he wouldn't have gone over there at all because, hey, what did those little yellow devils have to do with us, anyway? But failing that, he would have nuked Hanoi instead of fooling around with a "war of attrition" (which actually worked -- for them). You see, the male always has a choice of whether to act or not. The choice he does not (or should not) have is the choice of acting like something other than a male. The libertarian point of view is extremely masculine -- fight like a demon for what is of value, and screw the rest -- not "fight to spread democracy" or some other abstract idea that no one else is interested in anyway. And certainly not "fight to preserve some other country besides our own". What kind of idiocy is that? If an enemy landed on our shores, how many males of any stripe would refuse to take up arms to repel the invader? But when it comes to helping Israel get rid of Iraq... no wonder the Recuiting Command has a problem. Loyalty to "ideas" is an egghead kind of thing -- it's for the McNamaras of this world. Loyalty to things that really count is a male kind of thing, and there are precious few opportunities left to express that. So they have to be convinced -- and, in their simple, naive way, most of them are -- that wars that are completely fraudulent are, somehow, legitimate, and have something to do with hearth, family, home, and country. "We are defending the American way of life." But what if the American way of life is to invade other countries for no good reason? Maybe that's what they mean -- but I doubt it. And it seems to me that the right sort of masculinity would immediately bridle at all of the propaganda and brainwashing that goes along with our foreign policy -- and the cry of "Bullshit!" would ring out across the land. But this is seldom heard, except within the confines of the Libertarian Party and the paleocons. And they would all rise to a genuine defense of what is real, have no doubt. But to rise to the "defense" of what is an illusion created by professional deceivers -- well, no. That is best left to the eunuchs -- or to those who have been made eunuchs, even though they still fancy they are otherwise.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Anger Nation

I'm at the age when I'm allowed to -- expected to! -- comfortably, if non-creatively, start complaining about and ragging on "the youth of today" -- and generally, I don't have too many complaints, because there's nothing more humbling than comparing the youth of today to the youth of 40+ years ago when I was a youth. We were, in the aggregate, just as clueless, depressed, neurotic, addicted, impulsive, infantile, superficial, and morally challenged as today's cohort... and, to make it all the more squalid, we were expected to, a good deal of the time, pretend that we weren't. At least two-facedness and hypocrisy are not besetting sins of today's generation -- they see no reason whatsoever to hide their apathy, contrariness, and lustfulness. So in that, there is hope. On the other hand, no one in my generation insisted on having major portions of their body tattooed, pierced, or altered in some other way... and as to hair and clothing, it was a tame affair compared to what I see daily on the streets of my humble borough.

But there is one quality which I believe I can safely say characterizes today's youth -- by which I mean, roughly, the 16-25 age group, more than any other... and which my generation did not suffer from nearly as much... and that is anger -- pure, primitive, unfocused anger. They walk angry... talk angry... look angry... their art is angry, as is their music... all of their activities, even those classed as "recreational", have anger as a substrate. And this is not the focused anger of times past, AKA "indignation", which my generation was steeped in, thanks mostly to the Vietnam war and the draft. If you asked these kids what they're always so mad about -- what drives them to perpetual, hyperactive stomping, arm waving, shouting, and cursing, not to mention a thousand forms of self-destructiveness, I'm sure not one in a thousand would have an answer. Or if they did, it would be something singularly unedifying, such as: "Because, like, life sucks, man!"

Now this would be a bit easier to comprehend if, say, it were focused on something... if any of them could identify the source of their discontent. And count on it, it has nothing to do with the economy, or the job market, or schools, or the availability (or lack thereof) of drugs, alcohol, and pizza -- they were every bit as angry when the Dow stood at 14,000, and the schools have certainly gotten no worse recently (how could they?). This free-floating anger has, apparently, replaced "free-floating anxiety", which was the curse of the 1950s (although there were plenty of things that could have contributed to that as well -- like the nuclear arms race, to name one).

"Purposeful" anger, of course, is a perfectly natural thing, and is related to the traditional trilogy of "fright, flight, or fight". Something threatens, or stands in the path between you and what you want... the result is anger, then action, and -- ideally -- some resolution. Either you win, or you lose and depart the field of battle, at which point continued anger becomes maladaptive. But can it be said, of today's "yute", that there is some obvious thing standing between them and something they want, or are aware of wanting? Most of the time it seems like their impulsiveness is amply rewarded, and thus it persists... or it is severely punished and they become candidates for the Darwin Award (typically given posthumously). Are they, perhaps, defending something they cherish -- like family, homeland, property... money? Not very likely. Most of them come from the typical lower-middle or lower class, deracinated, barely-a-remaining-trace-of-ethnicity background that they have been relegated to by events over the past few generations... for the "assimilation" their forebears aspired to has turned to ashes, and they were born into a non-culture with non-traditions and non-values -- a ghost culture, where some of the forms survive but the substance has been drained away as by a huge parasite (not far from the actual case, in fact).

But here's what I say. Their anger is, in fact, a response to frustration and deprivation -- of being denied their birthright. They are culturally deracinated, it is true... but that sort of thing can be survived and compensated for. What they have been deprived of is, if anything, even more central to the core of self-respect that every human being should have, namely the freedom to take real chances... to take risks, to expose oneself to danger... not necessarily for a well-defined "goal", but perhaps only to prove oneself to oneself -- a need that, despite the best efforts of our social engineers, still exists within the human psyche. There was a time, not all that long ago in our history, when a young person could simply venture out -- hit the road, wander, do a "walkabout", without being "picked up" by the police for vagrancy. They could try their hand at various jobs, or non-jobs... hitchhike... ride the rails... join the crew of a freighter, or a lumber gang... they could be physical adventurers, or spiritual seekers, or a combination of the two. But what they face now is, rather, a world where everything "important" -- everything essential for survival -- is basically taken care of; there are few if any real risks left, and it does take the edge off being young, adventuresome, and daring when you know that the Nanny State is ever watchful, and eager for the chance to sweep you up in its smothering arms at the slightest provocation. And of course the state exacts a steep price for this perpetual, cradle-to-grave-including-youth "protection", namely that most, if not all, of the old opportunities for real risk and adventure are now extinct, or forbidden... or regulated so stringently that they might as well be.

What is my evidence for all this? -- since, as I've said, it is the rare young person who can, or will, stand up and say that the state has become a "smother mother" and they can't stand it... they can't breathe. They by and large lack the insight that I can at least credit some of my generation with. So the evidence is not in their own testimony but in various "signs and wonders". One clue is the epidemic of self-mutilation that one witnesses everywhere, and I am not talking about the "symbolic wounds", a la Bruno Bettelheim, which are an integral part of many cultural traditions; these are "wounds of rebellion", which are taken on in spite of the "establishment" or the mainstream, and which identify the bearer -- for life, in many cases -- as a cultural and metaphysical "refusenik". Beyond this, they represent one area -- perhaps the only one -- where the individual can still exert some control over his existence. If everything else is "taken care of", and "insured", and therefore stultifying, I can at least make alterations on my own body, since that is (so far -- but just wait) sacrosanct. So the process is at once symbolic and also literal -- it's a less-drastic counterpart to anorexia, which can be interpreted as the person's saying, "this I can do" (if nothing else) -- this is one area where I'm still the boss, and there's nothing you can do about it -- I can defy your standards for what is good and proper, and do it right in your face.

But of course, body alteration, while significant, is seldom enough -- how many of these pierced and tattooed "goths" walk around with cheery expressions on their faces, all ready to sign up for the next business course at the local community college and move up to higher pay? Don't make me laugh. So a "statement" is, after all, only a statement, and not a solution -- but it does put the Regime on notice that its propaganda/brainwashing machine has not reached everyone... that, down in the dark crevices of society there lurk some creatures who are not like all the rest... and that, as far as it goes, is a good thing. And this is not to say that today's rebels (without a cause, unlike in my day) are never manipulated by the system... far from it. There is a place in the social ecology for the naysayer, as long as he says "nay" to the right things, and not to the wrong things. But again, it's better than an entire society made up of Stepford Wives and their male equivalents... or the people in "The Truman Show" who were hired to make the main character believe he was living a real life, when actually he wasn't.

I should also mention, as another piece of evidence, the increasing popularity of what I call "make-believe risk" -- "extreme sports"... ever-more-intense amusement park rides (that, while generally non-fatal, do threaten their customers with g forces and soft tissue damage)... "survivor" and "reality" shows... a thousand different opportunities for either a direct or vicarious "risk experience" without any real or likely negative consequences. What is this, after all, but a way to compensate for the lack of real risk in our lives? If we can convince even a part of our brain that it's in peril, that will satisfy, at least for a while, that primitive, cave-man urge to take on _real_ risk, which is, of course, one facet of our zest for not only survival but dominance over our environment (another very "incorrect" idea these days). In fact, I daresay that about the only time you'll see one of these local "goths" smile is when they're on the Brain Smasher, or whatever the latest insane "ride" is at the nearest Six Flags.

So do I blame the restless (hyperactive, more like) youth for their anger? Not at all; it is perfectly understandable. But it is an "unintended consequence" of our growing totalitarianism -- tyranny of the "soft" sort. One can almost hear the older generation lamenting, "After all we did for you..." or, even (a la post-9-11), "Why do they hate us?" Things were supposed to be calm, and serene, by now -- all of the social problems were supposed to be fixed, and health problems well along toward solution. The world (or at least this country) should all be just like Marco Island... and it could be, except for all of these angry young people and "minorities". Don't they appreciate all the "opportunities" we've given them? You know, like the opportunity to choose a "career" in a "high-tech field" and buy a "condo" by the time they're 30? What could possibly be more desirable than that... after all, isn't that what our immigrant forebears came over here for -- the opportunity to zone out on cultural anaesthesia, American-style? Well, that is unlikely, and if our immigrant forebears could have looked 100 years into the future they might have turned around in mid-ocean and headed back to Germany, Poland, Russia, etc. Cultural cohesion and continuity... an identity not only with the land but with the group or community... these are things that have been almost completely annihilated in the New World, and not so much by geography, climate, or economics as by cultural genocide -- the intentional deracination of large portions of the populace in the name of "assimilation" and "unity" -- which means, on the Regime's terms and no other. People who cannot identify themselves as members of anything important or real become weak... they have little or no resistance to the predations of social or economic aggressors. The first thing any totalitarian regime does is go out and smash ethnic, cultural, and religious institutions to bits -- while substituting Potemkin-style impostors in their place. So true ethnicity is turned into Epcot... and true ethnic and racial pride is turned into "diversity", which "celebrates" some people at the dire expense of others. Nothing threatens the Regime more than genuine pride and loyalty to something other then itself -- and the natural subjects of this traditional feeling are family, group, tribe, village, church... not "nation" or even "country" -- and sure as hell not "political party" or any particular form of government. As as to "globalism", "one world-ism", and international business and finance... these inspire loyalty to the extent they put money in someone's pocket; otherwise they are soul-killing and to be shunned.

In any given society -- historically or in the present day -- the youth are the "coal mine canaries" -- the barometers of how good (or bad) things really are, and the direction in which things are going. And yes, there will always be a bit of "rebellion"... but the extent to which this is inevitable has, in my opinion, been grossly exaggerated, primarily, I imagine, to provide a cover story for why the young are _so_ angry so much of the time. No one wants to ask why, any more than anyone wanted a real answer to the question, after 9-11, "Why do they hate us?" Real answers are the forbidden fruit of the Regime... they are available only to the privileged few, and the rest are expected to live contentedly in benighted ignorance. And that is good enough for most people most of the time... but the young have a funny tendency to see through it once in a while, and attempt to break out. But of course they can't, so they get angry... and you get what I've just described -- an Anger Nation, led by the young and the powerless, and the Lotus-eating, Soporific Society inhabited by the rest of us.