Monday, October 26, 2009

The Unvanquished, Part 2

It strikes me that the thing about the South that most irritates the cultural elite is not their overt cultural manifestations per se – you know, things like NASCAR racing, country-western music, and moonshine – and nor is it any residual racism or unwillingness to sign on to the liberal social agenda.   It is, rather, their unwillingness to participate or collaborate in their own deracination – you know, that process described so ably by E. Michael Jones, that involves selling one’s cultural birthright for a mess of globalist pottage. 

You see, the trend of our time – despite occasional setbacks in places like the Islamic world – is for the entire planet to eventually look like the United States, and for all of its inhabitants to think like Americans.  This is why world travel is so depressing these days – no matter where one goes, it’s nothing but McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Nikes.  The most isolated fastnesses of the Amazon or the New Guinea highlands are contaminated with American commercialism and superficiality.  And this, of course, is all part of the softening-up process that is a prelude to total cultural takeover and genocide, i.e. the total annihilation of native or local cultures and their replacement by commercial/consumerist culture that impoverishes provincial regions and enriches the internationalists.  The irony is that, whereas many Americans have learned to resist the siren song of commercialism and superficial “prosperity”, people in the Third World are buying our bill of goods with absolutely no hesitation.  In this, I guess, it sort of resembles communism, which Europe has more or less had enough of, and the highly-developed parts of Asia are markedly skeptical, but it is alive and well – and vigorous – in Africa and Latin America. 

So, given that commercialism, materialism, internationalism, globalism, and cultural genocide are all facets of the same thing, isn’t it ironic that one of the last redoubts of resistance happens to be a large swath of America itself?  Now, this is not to say that the South didn’t go through a period of, basically, selling out – think: the TVA, and the transition from locally-grown food to supermarkets, and from horses to cars, and natural building materials to aluminum and plastic.  Can you say “mobile home parks”, class?  But at some point some people in the South realized that, whoa, they were rapidly becoming less like themselves and more like the hated Yankees – and even then, in only the most superficial way.  They would never really be admitted to the club – only exploited until the money ran out, then abandoned (think:  NAFTA).  So Southern culture began to re-assert itself, starting perhaps with Fundamentalism, but followed soon after by Southern writers, agrarians, folk music revivals, crafts revivals, and so on.  And in so doing, they managed to seduce a goodly number of Northerners who had, in effect, been born into an already-deracinated culture (the impoverished heritage of Puritanism) and brought up in a culturally arid environment, where everyone else (white ethnics, blacks, Southerners) seemed to be having fun but they weren’t.  (Full disclosure:  I’m a poster child for this phenomenon.) 

Now, a Puritan – or a Puritan regime – always has a choice.  It can adopt a “live and let live” attitude, recognizing that its neuroses are precisely that and are not a prescription for the way everyone else ought to live…. or it can reduce cognitive dissonance by deciding that everyone else is evil, permissive, oversexed, “too Catholic”, “too Southern”, “too black”, etc., and pass a thick code of laws designed to suppress those alternate cultures so that their dominance might be maintained.  Well, when it’s a choice between doing the humanitarian thing and the judgmental, tight-assed, intolerant thing, which one usually happens?  The latter, of course!  So we not only have, as someone said, a country of Indians ruled by an elite of Swedes, but also a country of people who just want to have fun ruled by an elite of people who are suspicious of anything that even remotely resembles fun, or pleasure, or joy.  And racial/ethnic/cultural manifestations are the most obvious threat to this regime – the thing they find most disturbing and annoying on an everyday basis, and the thing that they are the most anxious to suppress, or at least channel into totally harmless forms (think:  Epcot).  So all the force of the mainstream media and the education system is applied to suppress and discourage local culture, identity, and pride… and even areas one might not think of are included – things like medicine and nutrition, for example.  And I don’t have to mention entertainment, music, TV, movies, and all the rest of it.  The South is never taken seriously by any of these entities – Southerners are depicted as either racist buffoons or inbred degenerates, but at least as not having any valid opinions, or any legitimate claim as to their own history and traditions.  Because they were soundly defeated in a “war fought to free the slaves” – another massive myth – they are considered to have given up, for time and eternity, all rights to have their opinions heard or their cultural offerings and needs given consideration.  And yet, those annoying manifestations persist – and they persist not only in the face of total hostility by the Regime, but they constitute a silent accusation:  “You gave up your heritage, and for what?  But we kept ours, and proud of it.”

So any and all manifestations of “Southernism” are firmly in the face of the Regime, which wants to suppress and eventually exterminate all manifestations of pride in race, region, ethnicity, faith… and which is itself populated with people who sold out all that they inherited, and may be starting to suspect that they were massively ripped off.  But hey, you join the Organization, there are benefits, and if you don’t like it you can leave at any time.  That usually shuts up the complainers.  But the South doesn’t worry about things like this – it has learned to get along without any voice, any power, any influence… it has learned that the answer to being hated and derided is not surrender, but a reawakening… because in the long run, what makes the Regime tick is soulless and sterile, and what makes the South tick is a real thing, with red blood, soul, and spirit. 

 

The Golem

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Unvanquished

I am currently on a road trip, and am laying my weary head this night in the heart of Tennessee. And in making my way through the South, I am forced once again to consider the issue of "the true American identity". Because when one is in the South, one has to reflect on the fact that this is conquered territory -- it is the homeland of a vanquished race. And yet it lives on, and in a way that is, in many respects, much more vigorous and assertive than the comparatively pale, bland, sterile assertiveness of the North, which is embodied, in our time, in the "coasts", the mainstream media, academia, and certainly -- on an international scale -- in our ceaseless meddling abroad, as exemplified by the exertions of the State Department and the CIA, in their endless Wilsonian zeal to "promote democracy", which is a cover story for good, old-fashioned imperialism.

But this -- let’s say -- superficial, or “first blush” appearance conceals a great paradox, which is that Southern culture is not only alive and well -- with a clear lineage to the antebellum period -- but is embodied in the perennial dominance of Southern politicians in Congress, and by the deep-rooted Southern predominance in our military, particularly the Army. It has been pointed out -- with ruthless cynicism, perhaps -- that the biggest mistake a society or nation bent on genocide (either literal or cultural) can make is to leave survivors. Because those survivors develop an almost superhuman sense of history, a crystal-clear memory of wrongs committed, and an urge to, somehow, turn the clock back to the glory days when their own culture was, if not predominant, then most definitely in contention. We see this played out on a daily basis, for example, in the case of the Turks, who inexplicably left countless Armenians still standing… in the fact that Native Americans are still very much with us, and growing more assertive each day, despite all the best efforts of those of the Custer stripe to eradicate them… of the recent eruption of cultural self-assertion among the Australian Aborigines and the Indians of South America… and so on. Just about the only exception that I can think of is the indigenous tribes of Argentina, who disappeared without a trace -- an event which has not been satisfactorily explained even unto this day. And then we have the Palestinians, a group that, officially, was held to not even exist (“A land without a people”) but who are making endless trouble for the supposedly-victorious Zionists.

And so it is with the South. These were people who had been thoroughly conquered… humiliated… mortified… disgraced… and who were supposed to, basically, disappear and stop bothering everyone and standing in the way of “progress”. They had been, you see, a sort of fly in the ointment of the humanist experiment that was America -- and once it was discovered (“shazam!”) that slavery was a bad and unnatural thing, it and the culture that nourished and depended on it was supposed to immolate itself and wind up on the dust heap of history. And this did occur, after a fashion, since the ruling elite -- the Southern nobility -- did, in fact, cease to exist, for all intents and purposes -- as Margaret Mitchell put it, it was “gone with the wind”. But lo and behold, the inheritors of that culture, or what was left of it, did not go gently into that still night -- the ordinary white people, farmers and sharecroppers, took up the gauntlet and carried on, in their own somewhat crude way, and built -- ramshackle as it might be -- the South as we know it today, and as it has been known in all of living memory.

Now, as I’ve already implied, the “cutting edge” of American culture -- the face we attempt to show to the rest of the world -- is anything but “Southern”. In fact, it involves an implicit denial of the value and worth of anything that comes from below the Mason-Dixon line. The message that our elites give to the world is that,when it comes to the American South, the truth is not in them. But at the same time, the sheer vigor of Southern “folk” (as opposed to elite) culture cannot be denied -- and ironically, this culture is at the very least bimodal. It consists of one part black culture and one part white -- and the Europeans, for example, being far less obsessive about these things than we are, don’t seem to care, on any given day, which is which. Black blues and white rock ‘n’ roll crossed the Atlantic and came bouncing back courtesy of groups like the Rolling Stones, for example. Did they give a hang about our politics (historical or current)? No -- all they knew is that there was something of value there. And let’s admit that the “folk” culture of this country -- even though it has been infused with white liberal elitism since at least the 1930s -- has been a uniquely tolerant and “diverse” field of play as compared to, for example, politics. Activists of the WPA sort fell in love with black "folkways", but eventually -- grudgingly, perhaps -- decided that white Southerners had something to offer as well (as witness, e.g., the "Foxfire Books").

But the paradoxes go even deeper than this. The armies of General Lee were turned back and eventually vanquished by the armies of Grant, Sheridan, et al -- and yet our military traditions have a markedly Southern tone, especially if you’re talking about the Army. West Point may overlook the Hudson River, but it owes much more to VMI than it does to any Northern traditions; and many of our military leaders of today are firmly rooted in their Southern heritage.

So does this mean that, in today’s America, Southerners are fighting Yankee wars -- acting as collaborators, in effect? The answer is, basically, yes. Ivy League think-tankers come up with the latest plan to “spread democracy” -- they are reinforced by East Coast media, business, and financiers -- and it’s the Southern boys who wind up in Iraq and Afghanistan. So the Southern military tradition is being exploited, in this sense -- but it is nonetheless a point of pride in these regions. You can see more US flags on a drive across Tennessee on any given day than you’ll see in New England in an entire year. (Of course, you’ll also see Confederate flags and other very non-PC manifestations of resurgent Southern pride.) And this is not to deny that one of the primary vectors in our exertions in the Middle East is the Evangelical movement, which is firmly grounded in the South. In what has to be one of the more anachronistic episodes in our recent history, Christian Zionists -- nearly all Southerners -- have made common cause with Israel, and were, for the eight very long years of the Bush administration, very much the dominant force in our foreign policy, along with the Neocons (Ivy League to a man) and the arms merchants (Yankees all, as usual). But hey, what would history be without paradoxes and anachronisms? It would be mightily boring, that’s what.

So when we consider the issue of cultural dominance, we should not just stare at the shell of the egg, as it were. That shell, in this case, shows nothing but the total dominance of the mainstream media and Northern academic -- um -- eggheads. But what’s inside the shell, and what constitutes most of its total mass, is the zeal and military aspirations of a conquered race. And one might ask, why should the South “sell out”, still, at this late date? And the answer, I suppose, has to do with tradition, and romanticism, and manhood… you know, all of those qualities universally lacking among our cultural elites and ruling class. It has to do with a brand of patriotism that is so ingrained that it could be transferred from the Confederacy to the Union -- i.e. to the re-united states. Southerners are warriors, first and foremost -- and if they have to express this impulse in a somewhat ambivalent fashion, well, so be it. It’s sure better than beating one’s swords into plowshares, you must admit. So regardless of the machinations of diplomats and “experts” in the State Department, when a planeload of troops lands in Baghdad or Kabul, it is overflowing with Southern pride.

So to these people I say, bravo for not having allowed your culture and traditions to be completely plowed under -- and bravo for being clever (or bull-headed) enough to “morph” them into something that is still viable in this day and age. And -- wave your banners high, even those of the politically-incorrect stripe -- because the South may yet turn out to be the salvation of what is left of America.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Send in the Clowns

Hey – how about that kid and the helium balloon, huh? I understand his folks are going to be charged with violating the No Child Left Behind Act. [insert rim shot]

And I also notice that the Nobel Peace Prize has now been combined with the Special Olympics. [bada-boom]

But seriously folks, these days it's like, if you didn't laugh now and then, you'd have to cry. The inanity of Congress, combined with their wretched obsequiousness, continues to astound – as does the invincible self-confidence of the Prez. But who can blame them? Just as every dog has his day, so does every political/economic theory, not matter how wrong-headed... and we'll be finding out just how wrong-headed the Obama world view is before much longer.

Meantime, since the stock market spasm chased all the regular people away, leaving room for the high rollers, who bought in at the lowest point, now they've already, in a few short months, made fortunes (or, I should say, additional fortunes). So now it's time for regular people to buy in again, after which we'll have another mini-crash, and... well, you know the drill by now. Hey, who has to worry about taxes and inflation when we have the stock market as the prime instrument of redistribution of income?

But let's not miss, for gazing rapturously at the forest, the numerous trees that present themselves in all their fall finery. There are so many stories... so little time... but it would be a shame not to at least give it a shot.

1. Here's a priceless headline for you: “Obama's image entangled with big government.” This is yesterday, in an AP article. The concern is that by being everywhere at all times, and being all things to all people, he's likely to be confused with the government, which is also all of those things -- or attempts to be. In fact – horror of horrors! -- he's becoming “chief spokesman for government itself”. Now imagine, a mere president of the United States becoming “chief spokesman for government”! What's this world coming to? (I might better ask, what's AP coming to? Have they turned their “analysis” section over to a troop of chimpanzees?) Now... we already know that Obama himself is far more popular than “the government” that he supposedly heads up, and this may be the reason for the concern. As long as he can float, like some disembodied spirit, above the fray, his charisma and halo intact, he is in no danger of falling from his demigod status. But heaven forbid people start tying him directly to government policies and actions! Not that that would be entirely unfair – since Obama is one of the legion of liberals that believes government is the answer to everything – the remedy for all human woes, the balm for all wounds. And yet it's perceived that he has to, somehow, distance himself from this process -- implication being, either it's not perfect or the American public is too bullheaded to appreciate its perfection. Plus, the article admits that this is “a precarious time in the relationship between Americans and the federal system that oversees them.” (I like that term, “oversees” -- think of a lone cowpoke out on the Great Plains overseeing a very large herd of very dumb steers headed for the slaughterhouses of Chicago.) But note that it's openly admitted that all is not well in Obama-land. Not only that, but “As the line between the public and private sectors blurs [“blurs??” The two have merged.] more and more, people are losing confidence in each. They are wary of more federal involvement in their lives.” Wow – this sure goes against the party line, namely that anyone who is not “for” Obama and all of his programs is an insane “hater”. One thing about Obama, though – and I have to admit it -- he's not lukewarm. He's not mealy-mouthing about a “mixed economy” -- no sir! It's going to be all for one, and one for all, from here on out, and no “capitalists” need apply. And in a way, it might be instructive to have, once and for all, that social experiment that the liberals have been yearning for since the start of the Populist Era... and with particular vigor since the onset of the New Deal. Maybe the only way to shut them up is to actually try all of their ideas out in real life – kind of like what happened with communism, in fact. After all, there were nearly 70 years between the publication of The Communist Manifesto and the October Revolution – and in all that time there was endless debate and ferment: Where would the revolution occur first? What would the outcome be? And so forth. But finally Lenin and his crew decided to live the dream – and intellectuals the world over were forced to take sides: Now that you've seen it, are you still for it? This could happen here as well... and we might be rid of any number of pests in the media, the entertainment business, colleges and universities. Or, on the other hand, they could spend the rest of their lives making excuses, like the hard-core Bolsheviks did.

2. It's not enough that we're flushing hard-earned taxpayers' money down various third-world toilets, but now they have the gall to accuse us of thereby threatening their “sovereignty”. This happened just the other day with Pakistan – and they clearly need to learn a bit of humility from places like Germany, Japan, Korea, and Israel, who have been gladly gobbling up our foreign aid and other resources for decades. The problem seems to be that we annoyingly attach strings to the billions we ship over there – strings like, we expect them to “crack down on militancy” (I assume of the Islamic, and not feminist, variety) and “meet other conditions”, like maintaining control over their military, in order to be deemed worthy of aid. Well... I can see how they might not be totally happy being known as part of the American Empire; it's hard to keep things like that under wraps. But this quaint notion of foreign aid being – at least in part -- “humanitarian”, rather than simply intended to enrich the elite and further solidify their power? "Well, that just shows how na├»ve these Americans are." It would be so great if we could just tell places like Pakistan to blow it out its shorts – and that we'll take our money elsewhere, thanks – or better still, just keep it. But that's not going to happen, which makes me think that the real threat to “sovereignty” is to our own. If our survival as a nation, or an empire, depends on continuously bribing leaders of other countries, then who has the upper hand? The answer is them, not us. And who, therefore, has more self-respect and true sovereignty? Them, of course. This is a point that is nearly always missed – that we depend on them more than they depend on us. They could survive without handouts from us, but our empire could not survive without their facilitation and codependency.

3. The good news (for China) is that they now have more billionaires than any other country besides the U.S. The bad news is that they are all “dollar billionaires” -- and as the dollar goes, so go their fortunes. And this, more than any other single factor, is what may force the Obama administration and the “Fed” to cool it a bit with the hyperinflation and the national debt. Wouldn't it be ironic if the only thing protecting Americans from complete penury was a gaggle of Chinese billionaires? But stranger things have happened.

4. If, twenty years from now, you read about a young man leading a group dedicated to the demolition of the American public school system, don't be surprised if his name is Zach Christie. He's the 6 year old who was first suspended, and then threatened with reform school, for having brought a military-type fork, knife, and spoon combo to school to eat his tater tots with. Here's a quote from a school board member: “Politically, zero tolerance is what everybody clamors for, until we start to realize how harsh zero tolerance can be.” I suspect that the “everybody” consists mostly of teachers' unions and other totalitarian busybodies – but actually, I'm for “zero tolerance” myself – zero tolerance of public school fascism and idiocy, that is. I think the entire system ought to be sent to reform school – AKA the unemployment line – and that we should substitute something called “real education” in its place.

So that's a sample of the buffoonery that passes for serious news these days – not that it's the media's fault, because that really _is_ the news... unfortunately.

Baltic Diary II: Obsession vs. Common Sense

As I said in the previous post, people in Eastern Europe – specifically the Baltic States – are unabashed and unapologetic about their gender, unlike many Americans who are constantly either apologizing for their DNA or expending titanic efforts to be, or become, something they are not, and can never be. The women are women (and, more importantly, female and not male) and the men are men (likewise, male and not female) -- in other words, there is an aura of self-acceptance in Europe that we are notably lacking – and I suspect that what lies behind our discontent is a distorted concept of “democracy” and “equality”. For us, the idea of democracy more and more implies –- demands, even -- uniformity, i.e. of opinion, world view, and so on – despite all of our pretensions about “diversity”. The American fixation on “diversity” is limited to the most superficial features – color, clothing, hair styles, etc. -- along with a pathetic remnant of “folk life” that survives only as long as all the real ethnic “soul” is extirpated – because, let's face it, “ethnicity” nearly always implies a sense of the superiority of one's own group over all others – and, by implication, the superiority of one's own race and creed over all others. So true ethnicity in this sense is strictly forbidden and suppressed by the Regime; only the most superficial features are allowed to survive, and then only in carefully-controlled settings (think: “folk festivals”, and “ethnic days” at Kennywood). I mean, even some of the foods most favored by certain ethnic groups have become borderline hate crimes (think: Polish ham at Easter).

So if “democracy” translates into “diversity”, which is – paradoxically -- thinly-disguised uniformity, then what do we make of “equality”? The “civil rights” and “equal opportunity” and “affirmative action” pushers have an answer for that – equal outcomes, of course. Which means, in practical terms, that any outcome that is not readily available to everyone has to be made _unavailable_ to everyone. For proof of this, just consider the way the teachers' unions fight like demons against faith-based schools, home schooling, charter schools, and target schools. And this too is based on a gross misreading of our founding documents; if “all men are created equal” then it's up to the government to insure that they stay that way – no matter who has to suffer as a result. Well, to begin with, let's parse that key sentence a bit. While it does say “all men”, we may assume that it meant “mankind” rather than only those of the male gender – although if you had asked any of the Founding Fathers whether they meant that women were, or should be, equal to men in every respect, they would have looked at you like you were insane (which, by the standards of that time, you would have been). But then there's that little word “created” -- which our secularists conveniently overlook every time. “Created” implies a “creator”, does it not? And – again, according to the typical (if not unanimous) thinking of the time – a “creator” who cares what we do and how we do it – i.e. a creator whose will should form the basis for our own wills, in the process of building up a moral system. So does God care if everyone is equal in the material sense? Are those absolute values? I should think not. When we say “all men are created equal”, it is hoped that we mean “equal in absolute worth” as well as “morally equal”, i.e. equally capable of developing good will and distinguishing right from wrong. But these, of course, are the very qualities that are not only ignored but positively discouraged by the secular state – it is not up to us to decide what is right or wrong, it is up to the government. All that is required of us is obedience -- not thought. And as to absolute worth – well, if you ignore the plight of the unborn we do seem to have a legal system that at least gives lip service to “blind justice” -- although the exceptions are right in front of us on a daily basis. But again, when collectivists talk about “justice” they aren't talking about something based on morality; they are talking about a grotesque offspring of politics. “Justice” as they perceive it has nothing to do with equality – au contraire! It has to do with getting even... payback... “it's our turn”... and so on. And mainly with “leveling the playing field” and doling out equal pieces of the mythical “pie”, so that – once again – anything that not all can achieve is forbidden to everyone (except the controlling elite, of course).

Thus, the discontents of “democracy” and “equality” -- but the Eastern Europeans seem to have much more child-like simplicity about these things. As to democracy, it's a perfectly satisfactory system for electing leaders and representatives. But does it imply absolute tyranny of the majority over the minority? And does it demand uniformity of opinion? I daresay not – although I understand that, especially in Estonia, the Russians feel like a somewhat discriminated-against minority now that they are no longer running the show. So the “payback” and “it's our turn” concept is not entirely lacking over there – and sure enough, in Tallinn the Russians tend to be confined to the shabby Soviet-era apartment buildings out on the edge of town, whereas the picturesque old town is the turf of the ethnic Estonians. This would strike some as poetic justice – and I guess it is, although I doubt whether too many of the current Russian apartment dwellers could be held responsible for the 50 years of abuse under the Soviet regime – so call it karma, if you like.

And as to “equality”, well... the victims of Soviet oppression have seen the bottom line of “equality” run amok, and they know that the result is mainly misery. They know that any regime with the term “people's” in its title is anything but – that it is simply another buzzword that conceals tyranny. So, with a healthy appreciation of individual differences in talent, aptitude, motivation, and the rest of it, they are forging ahead in a non-delusional way. They have put the madness and abuses of rampant socialism behind them, and are seeking their own way – conditioned by ancient ethnic and religious attitudes – to, not necessarily the monstrosity we mistakenly call “capitalism”, but to something that is compatible with their own identity as a people. And while they are moving steadfastly in that direction, we are rushing headlong in just the opposite direction – becoming more collectivized, more socialistic, more ruled by an unaccountable elite, and less truly “diverse” with each passing day. While Lincoln Steffens -- possibly the greatest “useful idiot” of all time – viewed the Soviet system and said “I have seen the future, and it works” -- the Baltic peoples saw that “future” first-hand, when it became their “present” -- and not only did it not “work”, but it succeeded in annihilating huge numbers of them and putting their cultures on ice for 50 years. So they have been successfully inoculated against the delusions of socialism for – let's hope – many lifetimes, whereas we're just getting up to speed again with Obama's new New Deal. We haven't learned from our own history, and we seem equally incapable of learning from anyone else's history either. Such a waste...

But how did this whole discussion start? It was about gender – and, I must say, gender is on display in the streets of Vilnius in a way that might almost be called unique. Take the women, for starters. They start at 5' 9” and go up from there – and I daresay a good half of them, if not more, could get jobs as runway models anywhere in the fashion world. They stand up straight, and they walk like they know the whole world is watching – none of this shuffling, scuffing, slouching, and clod-hopping we see from our “young ladies” over here. And they do “tall” right – I mean, their proportions do not change as they go up -- they don't start looking like horses, in other words. No one looks “too tall”; they all look “just right”. Now, the men, on the other hand, tend to be medium height and on the wiry side – so it is not at all unusual to see dating couples where the woman is appreciably taller than her partner, and no one seems to think there is anything the least bit wrong with this. But I also have to comment that, whereas the young women are on the tall side, the next-older generation (their mothers) are average height, and the next-older generation (their grandmothers) are generally quite short. Talk about nature vs. nurture! The answer, of course, is nutrition – and whereas the young women grew up in the post-Soviet era, their mothers grew up in the late Soviet era, and their grandmothers got their start during World War II, when everyone was starving. Well, we've seen much the same thing in Japan, but here it is in Lithuania also, right in plain sight. And what's the evolutionary significance of having tall, blond, stunning, Amazon-like, Wagnerian women paired with quite average looking men? You tell me (once you finish planning your own visit, that is).

Oh, and – speaking of physical features – I should mention that no one in the Baltic States is fat. And I don't mean “few” -- I mean ** NO ONE **. (The first fat people I saw on the entire trip were sitting at the gate in Frankfurt waiting to get on the plane to the U.S. -- yep, they were Americans.) But guess what, their diet is quite rich in starches (bread, potatoes, pancakes, pastries, etc.), solid fats (from red meat and sausage), dairy products (cheese and sour cream in particular), beer, and vodka – not unlike the diet in Pittsburgh, where the average person is – not to put too fine a point on it – a big fat slob. So what's the difference? DNA? Well... Pittsburgh is full of Lithuanians too. My theory is that, among other things, people in that part of the world walk. A lot. They don't all own cars, and the ones that do don't use them just to get down to the corner grocery. Plus the places they live have sidewalks -- and schools, work places, and shops within walking distance. And they walk in all kinds of weather. And the food that they eat is perfectly suited to the climate – and the serving sizes are not huge, like over here. Plus – as I've implied already – they care about their looks. And their clothes fit. Plus – the “fat” foods are balanced out, to some extent, by plenty of fish (both fresh and cured) and decent amounts of vegetables (albeit they tend to be boiled and a bit bland) and fruits. And besides walking in all kinds of weather, they eat outside (sidewalk tables) in all kinds of weather. In fact, many cafes and restaurants have outdoor heaters and blankets (!) available for the clientele. Now those are people who enjoy the outdoors! (Unlike our own AC-addicted populace.)

OK, so now we've discussed democracy, equality, and gender... and food. Not bad for one post. Please stay tuned -- there is more to come.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baltic Diary I: Us and Them

It's amazing the things you can get used to. The ObamaCare juggernaut rolls along, threatening to crush us all under the wheel of socialism, and we are as powerless to stop it as the people in a monster B-movie are to stop Godzilla. Obama has to be feeling a bit dizzy from his recent one-two treatment by the rest of the world – first the Olympics slapdown, followed immediately by the Nobel Peace Prize. The message? “Make peace, not gold medals” -- or something like that. And – guess what, just as I predicted, the Dow is back above 10,000, and it's almost enough to make you forget the massive thefts that brought it low in the first place... and the equally-massive thefts that were committed to bail out the guilty parties... and the equally-massive thefts that are being committed to “stimulate the economy”. Seems like with the Dow at 10,000 again, the economy no longer needs stimulating... but will that obvious fact result in the cessation of the program? Dream on. No matter what the Dow does, the American middle class has been raped and pillaged by the big boys on Wall Street and elsewhere, and that's only the beginning, since – as we can see from the rising price of gold – the dollar has caught the Swine Flu and will be in intensive care before long... and the current "Era of OK Feeling" is just the lull before the storm of new, even more confiscatory taxes – once again falling mainly on the middle class, which is too ignorant, trusting, timid, and powerless to defend itself.

So what I'm saying is that the forces of destruction have been unleashed... but like a flood on the Mississippi that takes a few days to move downstream, we don't experience the full impact all at once, on every front. It's the little things that make us take notice – like the pizza I buy about once a month has suddenly jumped from $8 to $10. Stuff like that. And it might be subliminal if we weren't already primed for disaster – the fear of the unknown being, as always, worse than the fear of the known. My worst nightmares are not about fear of specific, nameable things – like wild animals, heights, and so on, but of what I call the “nameless horror” -- things just out of sight, hidden around corners, like some monstrosity from a Lovecraft story. The economic equivalent is what happens when the U.S. dollar finally crashes (with ample help, I expect, from the EU, China, Russia, et al). The equivalent on the foreign policy side is the collapse of the American Empire, which is already underway in Afghanistan, at least, and elsewhere in the Middle East as well as Latin America. Do we know what life in a post-empire America is like? No – because we've never had the experience. But it ought to be interesting. Post-empire and post-dollar – wow, it's going to be a strange new world. And did I mention a level of socialism and collectivization undreamed of even by hard-core New Dealers? And how about the growing realization that, after all, Obama is not his own man any more than Bush was – that he's taking orders from the same people and doing more or less the same things, rhetoric notwithstanding. Nobel Peace Prize – my ass! That's just the way the Regime reinforces a trivial change in window dressing – what I call “political iconography”. But otherwise, do you see, or feel, any real “change”? I sure don't. But this can actually be reassuring, in a twisted kind of way. We always suspected that there was nothing at all “accidental” or “unexpected” about the economic crisis – that it was just, basically, a massive redistribution of income and resources from the middle to the ruling classes – and sure enough, all evidence points to it having been precisely that and nothing more. The “crisis” talk was just a way of getting “buy-in” on the part of the harried and harassed voters, and making them eager to accept even bigger and more intrusive government. Mission accomplished! It was also a way to distract people from the twin wars, and wars to come, by reminding them that, yes indeed, putting food on the table really is more important than what happens to a bunch of rag-heads halfway around the world, so let's just chill out on that issue, shall we? Let the big dogs run and play, and leave the driving to us (and never mind the percentage of GDP that is devoted to war and all the other absurdities of the American Empire). And the fact that the Dow is at 10,000 – that there still _is_ a Dow – that the Stock Market hasn't vanished like the World Trade Center did – this is meant to be reassuring as well. Someone out there is making money; it just isn't you... but that's still better than living under the Red Guard, for example... or under the Khmer Rouge, right? So quit complaining about your incredibly shrinking 401k, and your dollar that's getting its butt kicked in financial markets all over the world. Anyone with any sense dumped their dollars months ago; what's _your_ problem?

You see, this is the essence of political control – not just the “soma” or narcotic of collectivization, Potemkin villages, welfare, and games and circuses – but periodic (and highly orchestrated) bouts of panic, fear, anxiety, dread... the perpetual cycle of hot-and-cold that, with each iteration, makes people more afraid... more fearful of independence, true liberty, competition, etc.... more anxious to turn over all their rights and privileges to the government. The cycle is depressingly familiar at this point: Crisis leads to Panic, which leads to “Emergency Measures” on the part of the government – except those “emergency measures” never go away. But said measures are immediately – even while implementation is in the early stages – pronounced a success, and dire tales are offered of how bad things “might” have been without them. Plus, look at all the new, sparkling “benefits” and “entitlements” you have now – and all you had to do is give up a few pesky “freedoms” that no one ever used anyway. So we curl up in the government's lap while it strokes our fevered brow and says, in a soothing tone, “Now now, everything's OK, don't worry, go to sleep” -- which we do, until we are rudely awakened by the next jangling crisis and the whole cycle starts anew. “Swine flu!” -- or whatever it's called nowadays – leads to “calls (ever wonder who does all this “calling”?) for ever greater government involvement in health care”. “Academic underachievement” calls for even greater government involvement in education. And no matter what you call “terrorism”, it's still out there, waiting to pounce at any minute... and it can come from anywhere... and no one can be trusted, and so we have to have military bases everywhere on earth... et cetera. Yes, there is no shortage of crises that can be called up at a moment's notice; Washington, DC might as well convert itself into a “big box” store called “Crises R Us”. Ah, but – they say – this is just what comes from being a democracy, and the last, best hope for mankind, and prosperous, etc. -- all that old Wilsonian drivel. Except that the earmarks of American exceptionalism are becoming more shopworn all the time... and convincing fewer and fewer people... including ourselves.

I spent two weeks in Eastern Europe recently, and could not help but notice how much better clothed, fed, and groomed the people there are than the people here – and this was in what was, up to 20 short years ago, the Soviet Union! Their cities are cleaner than ours, crime rates are lower, and the signs of prosperity that we like to brag about... well, they are not only catching up, but passing us even in those relatively materialistic categories. And why is this, class? Well, let's start with the fact that Lithuania, for example, doesn't have armed forces stationed in nearly every other country on earth, and is not fighting two wars at once and on the verge of fighting a third. Well – you'll say – that's ridiculous, of course... how could Lithuania possibly do all of those things even if it wanted to? But that's not the point. It doesn't even have a _proportional_ level of “defense” to ours – nowhere near. It's content to watch over, and defend if need be, its own borders – period. How long has it been since we had that enlightened attitude? You'd have to go back to before the Monroe Doctrine at least. And are Lithuanian bankers and businessmen mucking around in the financial affairs and politics of nearly every other country on earth – and thereby inviting them to muck around in our affairs? Highly doubtful. Does Lithuania really give a hang who wins what election overseas -- and do they employ an army of CIA agents to help the "right" people win? Not on an average day, would be my guess. Is “world trade” for them an asset, or a liability, as it is for us? I'll give you one guess. And – have they turned their currency, and therefore their financial integrity, over to the “gnomes of Brussels”, even though they are EU members? No! The litas is alive and well.

Yes, America is grotesquely overextended on all fronts – but this is the most common symptom of an empire on the wane. “Contraction” -- of whatever sort – is never voluntary; it has to be accomplished through dogged resistance, “blowback”, and brute force from the rest of the world. Oh, there have been instances of at least semi-voluntary belt-tightening, empire-wise, as was the case for Britain. But by and large, empires are simply unable to conceive of cutting their losses – because they are unable to imagine that the end is near. And in our case, this is aggravated by the fact that most of us don't even think we _have_ an empire. All of our troubles, in other words, are just random, unfortunate events, and we're innocent and blameless. Well... dream on, folks, but it's not going to change anything. It's been said that America “peaked”, in the aggregate, way back in the 1950s, and that it's been downhill ever since... beginning most obviously with Vietnam. And that our history since then has been one of, basically, kicking and screaming against the fact of our steady slippage and deterioration. Now, one could say, but how about all the huge, wealthy corporations that started here and have the U.S. as a base? “Base”, yes – but these outfits are no longer any more “American” than the U.N. They are international in scope and orientation, and, frankly, the economic and social welfare of the U.S., and of its citizens, is of absolutely no interest to them, despite all those saccharine “public service” ads they constantly bruise our eyes and ears with. You take the internationalists out of the U.S. and what you have left is a Class B (on a good day) economy with a (still – but for how much longer?) Class A military – again, typical of the late empire stage (where foreign involvement becomes a liability rather than an asset). But that Class A military spends most of its time getting the crap pounded out of it in overseas pestholes... and what it should be doing, namely protecting our borders, is not being done by anyone. And I probably should add that vast tracts of the U.S. are, socio-politically, “Third World” in nature, and not even the upper half of the Third World. Does Lithuania, for example, have anything to compare to inner-city Washington DC, Philadelphia, or Detroit? Or any large urban public school system? Or the rural poverty pockets of Appalachia and the Southwest? For their sake, I hope not. Are they crushed under the burden of racial strife and paranoia? Well – they're certainly very conscious of their history and their ethnic identity, but they have nothing even remotely like our obsession with race. Or with gender, either, for that matter – over there men are unabashedly men, and women are unabashedly women. I think I saw, maybe, a handful of “metrosexuals” the whole time I was over there. There are many other interesting aspects of the scene in that part of the world, which I'll try and cover in later posts. For right now, suffice it to say that – as always in the history of empires – suddenly the advantage is to the people who were formerly oppressed, and are now just trying to stay out of harm's way, build up their own economies, and maintain their integrity. It's the places occupying center stage who are in most danger of a precipitous fall – and who are the least likely to see it coming until it's too late.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Truth Hath No Home Here

One of my favorite sounds, as you all know by now, is that of liberal heads exploding like DDT-laden eggshells in the hot sun. This happens when one liberal fetish runs headlong into another – like, for instance, the issue of whether indigenous hunters in Alaska should be allowed to continue to hunt whales. The formula is: Indigenous = good. Hunting whales = bad. Indigenous hunting whales = Boom!

But there is another sound that is also music to my ears, and that's the sound of liberals being forced to stop on a dime and make a precipitous about-face in response to some shift in the political winds. Now, first you have to realize that, for liberals, there is no conflict between politics and truth; for them, politics _is_ truth – there is no other. And this sickness of the mind is rooted in a total rejection of morality, because morality, properly defined, is based on belief in a Supreme Being (other than man himself) – not only that, but a _conscious_ supreme being who has, let's say, preferences as to how human beings should behave. Morality, then, by this definition, is simply the process of discerning God's will and acting accordingly, i.e. in conformance to that discerned will and not in rebellion against it. And there really is no other valid basis for morality than this; it may seem, at times, that there is, but there really isn't. And this is because any “moral” system that starts with “man” and goes no higher is inevitably infected with perversity, concupiscence, ill will, and relativism – original sin, if you will. (I would have said “moral relativism”, but that is actually a contradiction in terms, since true morality, being based on an absolute, must itself be absolute.) Another way of expressing this is that any allegedly “absolute” standard of conduct that is only based on man cannot possibly be absolute, and thus is always relative, and thus is always subject to things like culture, psychology, sociology, and ultimately politics. Now, I know this flies directly in the face of the teachings of Ayn Rand, of whom I am a great fan – but it can't be helped. Her concept of “man qua man” as the basis for morality (or ethics) sounds nice and solid and objective, until we start to reflect on just how many definitions of “man” there are in the world – and that they are all, in fact, colored by culture, psychology, sociology, history, economics, and all the rest of it.

Let me give an example of this. Up to the Reformation, say – and certainly up to the time of the secular revolutions, starting with the French – the concept of man – our self-image, our notions as to our true nature – was predicated on the idea of man as creature, as part of the created order. From that, it was no great leap to assume that whoever, or whatever, created man in the first place might just have an interest in not only the survival of that which was created, but in its conduct. (This assumes, of course, that human beings have free will – that that is part of the package. Because without the assumption of free will, there can be no question of morality; this is something the secularists of our time always overlook.) Now, admittedly, this is not the only possible view of the relationship – Deism, for example, posits a “blind watchmaker” who, basically, sets things in motion then leaves the building, and it's up to us to muddle through from then on. This is certainly typical of many of the more liberal Protestant denominations... but goes very much against Catholic teaching (as well as Protestant fundamentalism - yes, it does have its uses at times).

But, starting most significantly with the French Revolution, man became self-defining – as to his origins, his nature, and his fate -- much to the dismay of Dostoyevsky and the delight of Nietzsche. Then, soon afterward, Darwin put the cap on the origin question (accidental result of random events), put a limit on our self-image (animal), and this, in turn, rendered questions as to our fate more or less moot (“nasty, brutal, and short”). But all was not lost! Somehow out of all this, a kind of collective free-will concept arose (aided, perhaps, by Jungian psychology), and the Bolshevik Revolution presented us with the prospect of the “New Soviet Man” -- sui generis, and a pure product of economics and the dialectic. Ah, but wait! Not to be outshone in the remaking-of-mankind business, Hitler soon afterwards came up with the idea of the Master Race – and this was all at the same time that more, ahem, “enlightened” nations – like the U.S. -- were falling in love with ideas of eugenics, and characters like Margaret Sanger and Margaret Mead were sailing by with flying colors. So who, or what, was “man qua man” at this point? Was he the New Soviet Man? Or a member of the Master Race? Or maybe the “common man” celebrated in song and story by New Deal WPA grantees? When it came to the true nature of man, we all of a sudden had a veritable Tower of Babel on our hands. And this was before the Information Age and cybernetics and robotics had really gotten off the ground – and before scientists started gabbing about the “religion gene” on Oprah. One thing was certain, though – the ancient concept of a free will, and a well-formed conscience that would seek God's will – those were out the window. The “will” that was supposed to triumph in the Third Reich was a collective will – as was the one that would yield up the New Soviet Man. These mini-Frankensteins were never to be, or function as, free individuals – only as cogs in a much larger organism, i.e. the state (which was, according to Marx, fated to wither away eventually, leaving.... well, who knows what, since it never happened). Even in the U.S., “the land of the free”, the individual was supposed to put his petty self-interest aside and work for the collective for as long as the crisis (Depression, World War II, Cold War, etc.) continued – the problem with that notion being that there is always a crisis that some government bureaucrat can point to, in order to admonish people to keep up the good (sacrificial) work and not ask questions (and keep the incumbents in office).

So... over time, morality morphed into “ethics”, which, in turn, morphed into “political correctness” -- the reductio ad absurdum of secularization. Now we have no better basis for truth and justice than what is socially acceptable and works at the polls – a degenerate situation if there ever was one. And anyone who even tries to propose the value of Natural Law (think: Robert Bork) is treated about as nicely as Frankenstein's monster, with pitchforks and torches. And yet – liberals persist in using, i.e. abusing, the language of morality, as if their whims had any validity beyond the exigencies of the moment. When's the last time a liberal in any position of authority said: “It's true because I say it is” -- or “It's because I'm the boss, that's why”. No – they will negate the very concept of truth (as Bill Clinton did so often) but then turn around and make moral and ethical claims on... not on themselves, heaven forbid, but on the citizenry. So people “ought” to act a certain way, because it's “right” -- but if pressed, they could no more define “right” than they could fly to the Moon under their own power. Moral relativism (yeah – I said it) is a tool in their hands; it enables them to do whatever they damn well please, but to stomp on anyone who does something they don't like. Is this a great country or what?

So... after this very long, but vitally important, diversion, let's get back to our whiplashed liberal. The mother of all whiplash cases for American liberals was, of course, the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1939. Up to that point, “useful idiots” the world over had been singing the praises of the Soviet Union (“I have seen the future and it works”) but expressing skepticism, at the very least, regarding Nazism, even though the two systems, in every way that really counts, were mirror images of each other. This skepticism turned to alarm with events like Kristallnacht in 1938. So for a good five years Hitler was the bad guy. But! Lo and behold! With the signing of the pact, Hiter and Stalin became, in effect, allies, and there was great grinding of gears among American liberals, New Dealers, communists, socialists, and the rest of the sorry crew. All of a sudden criticism of der Adolf was streng verboten! Theirs not to reason why... because Uncle Joe was god. Can you imagine the total volume of posters, leaflets, magazines, newspapers, etc. that had to go in the recycling bin? Can you imagine the awkward moments in so many American universities the morning after the pact was signed? Ah yes... the perpetual dilemma of people who believe in no truth but that which is dictated to them by some foreign tyrant.

But wait, there's more! The ink was hardly dry on the pact when, lo and behold, Germany invaded the Soviet Union less than two years later. Screech! Grind! Whiplash! American liberals are made fools of again – but they never learn. Because, once again, politics is truth – there is no other. So now they were at least back in the comfortable position of loving the Soviets and hating the Nazis – a position which, for all intents and purposes, continues to this day... since, as every liberal knows, there is a “Nazi” or at least a “fascist” lurking around every corner, and under every bed. (And they called Joe McCarthy paranoid... ) And -- Soviet communism would have turned out just fine if only it had been given a fair chance.

So what I'm saying is, for liberals, politics trumps facts, reality, and truth every time. And it also trumps whatever is left of ethics and morality. And when I say “politics” I'm not even talking about “democracy” or “majority rule”, but of whatever the strong man – the dominant personality – of the moment says or wants. In this, liberals are really no more advanced than the most benighted tribe in darkest Africa; the strong man gets his (or her) way, and everyone else had better conform or face the consequences. All of their prattling on about principles, ethics, “consideration for others”, etc. is a thin disguise for arbitrary power and brute force. Is it better to mouth the right words even if one has no idea what they mean? I guess it's OK if you don't care anything about the value of words, or language, or ideas... but if you do, then unapologetic, non-hypocritical brute force might actually be preferable. Compared to our liberal con artists in Congress, characters like Saddam Hussein or Idi Amin are downright refreshing.

So... to bring this whole discussion up to the present time, you'll notice that, for example, as long as Iraq and Afghanistan were “Bush's wars” they were bad... illegal... unjust... immoral... and all the rest of it. Vietnam redux, in other words. But lo and behold, the minute Obama took over, those wars were... well, maybe not so bad after all. I mean, gosh, there really were “terrorists” out there, weren't there? I mean, it wasn't just some tall tale made up by Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. And it would hardly do to just lay down our arms and open ourselves up to further attacks by religious fanatics. So Obama got a carte blanche on the wars before the cleanup crews had even finished dealing with the mess on the Mall after the inauguration.

But there's another example which I find even more disturbing. Admittedly, skepticism re: the official narrative about 9/11 is an acquired taste; most Americans are eager to accept the party line and never look back, because events of this sort are just too overwhelming for the average person to process in any way other than massive denial. But all the same, there was plenty of healthy skepticism floating around after the event on the part of liberals across the spectrum – and most of it was directed at Bush and Cheney. In Bush's case, it was more or less limited to “what did he know and when did he know it?” since no one was willing to give him credit for any more intellectually demanding involvement. But in Cheney's case, it was more like, was he the Darth Vader who planned and oversaw the whole thing from some dark tower (or underground bunker), with Rumsfeld sitting to his right, Giuliani to his left, and a gaggle of Neocons at his feet? Yes, liberals' hatred and suspicion of Bush and Cheney knew no bounds – even unto the suspicion that they had somehow been complicit in the greatest provocateur action of all time – next to which the Reichstag fire looks like a birthday candle.

So it was not considered impolite to question the 9/11 narrative as long as Bush/Cheney were in office – in fact, it was, to some extent, seen as a civic duty. And this is not to say that people on the other end of the spectrum were not equally, or more, suspicious – most of the 9/11 “truthers” are from the right end of the spectrum – paleocons, libertarians, and beyond. So there was already some suspicion that skepticism from the left was based more on politics than on facts. And this has been confirmed beyond any doubt by events since Obama's inauguration. Now, all of a sudden, anyone questioning the official narrative about 9/11 is a paranoid nut case... insane... a “wing nut”... and so on. And look at what happened to Van Jones – the recent case extensively blogged on by yours truly. He was tied, ever so tentatively, to a “truther” petition, and guess what, he was out on his ear. This, from people who, a year earlier, might have said (albeit from the sidelines) “right on!” To put it in a nutshell, the 9/11 narrative now “belongs” to the liberals, the left wing, and to Obama. He inherited it, the way he did the twin wars, the economic crisis, and all the rest – and now he has to not only assert ownership, but defend the position against all skepticism... and so, likewise, do his supporters, particularly those in the media. It's a sort of writ-large version of what happens to homeless people once a Democrat takes office – they disappear! And they only reappear the next time a Republican takes office. I guess we could expect 9/11 skepticism to become fashionable and politically acceptable again if a Republican won in 2012 – but I'm not holding my breath. It only illustrates, once again, that no matter who is supposedly in charge, the real power never shifts and the rules of the game never change. And that, for liberals, it's always a matter of following orders, and never about seeking out the real truth.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Peace at any Prize

The news that Obama has already won the Nobel Peace Prize is staggering in its confirmation that this prize is, by and large, a hoax. Or -- possibly not so much a hoax as the world's top award for good intentions -- you know, the kind the road to Hell is paved with. Consider one previous presidential winner -- Woodrow Wilson, the guy who got us into World War I and who set the tone for all subsequent forms of American meddling in the affairs of other countries, including Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. For this you get a peace prize? Might as well give one to Napoleon. But yeah, I know -- and this is already being presented as the main motive -- it serves as an "incentive", supposedly. Give a guy the peace prize and just dare him to try and start any more wars, or escalate the ones that are already going on. It reminds me of the organization I used to work for, where they would give "outstanding" performance awards to people who were, basically, brain dead... expecting it would stimulate them to improve. Did it? Ever? Of course not. You reward failure, you get more failure. Now, Obama hasn't been in office long enough to either conclusively win or fail in the peace department -- although some (including me) would call his refusal to immediately withdraw from both Iraq and Afghanistan a failure. And right now he's considering the escalation recommendations of Gen. McChrystal, a guy who makes John McCain look like a peacenik.

Ah, but how about the Middle East? Obama and his team have worked day and night to "bring peace to that troubled region". For that, we have the refreshing candor of Lieberman -- "their" Lieberman, that is, not ours -- although, admittedly, it is hard at times to tell the difference -- who says that there is "no chance of a peace deal for many years" and that "Washington's goal of comprehensive peace (is) an illusion." Finally a dose of realism! As I've said before, how are you going to achieve peace in that region if no one really wants it? As things stand, Israel doesn't want peace, and neither do the Palestinians. And why is this? Because both sides still dream of unconditional surrender -- by the other side. No one wants a neatly divided up territory, per the original U.N. plan -- they all want the territory to be all theirs, and for the other side to disappear off the face of the earth. So, bottom line, no hope of peace, and at least we have one high Israeli official who is willing to admit this and recommend that we learn to live with it.

But if no one over there wants peace, why do we? This is the eternal question. Our foreign policy vis-a-vis Israel over the years has been stunning in its simplicity -- whatever they want, they get. But when they say, in so many words, that they don't want peace -- or are perfectly willing to wait years to get it -- why do we get all hot and bothered, and start murmuring? I'm sure I don't know. One could say that peace -- at least the concept of "peace" -- is a kind of fetish with us. But that's not true either -- not really. We have been involved in more wars over the last few decades than any other single country... we are involved in more wars now... we have armed forces stationed almost everywhere on earth... and we are getting ready to escalate a war that has already proven itself to be a lost cause. So no, "peace" is not really an American value at all -- or let's say peace on the home front is OK, but anywhere else it's to be avoided.

So why don't we just turn around and walk away, and shake the dust from our shoes? I have no idea. We're perfectly willing to dance to Israel's tune in all other respects, but when they as good as announce that they aren't interested in peace, we choose to ignore them. Maybe that's just their way of keeping us hooked, and keeping the money flowing; I don't know. A bill in Congress to "support Israel's wars" might have a slightly tougher time getting passed than one to "foster Near East peace". Whatever, the situation really is too inane for words. But hey, Obama has his prize now, so he can do whatever he wants.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Louie Louie, Me Gotta Go

The so-called "black leadership" seems to have done a... you should excuse the expression, "shuffle"... recently, and again I ask, why am I the only one who seems to notice these things? In the latest Outrage and Regret Fest in Chicago, over another "meaningless" death of a young black man, who should appear center stage along with Jesse Jackson but... no, not Al Sharpton, for once, but Louis Farrakhan. Yeah baby, Calypso Louie is back... and no one is batting an eyelash.

Now... in the language of "viewing stand speak"... well, let me define that term. Remember how the "Russia hands" in the State Department could always tell who was where in the Soviet pecking order by where they stood on Lenin's tomb to watch the May Day parade? They could tell you, by the number of places someone stood from the boss, whether they were on the way up or down the totem pole... and, typically, if the answer was "down", they wouldn't make a repeat appearance the following year.

So... what's up with Farrakhan replacing Sharpton as Jackson's partner in the long-running race-mongering Vaudeville team? Was he just standing in? And if so, why him? I mean, he's considered controversial even among blacks. Not everyone likes the level of discipline and the Islamist flavor his organization represents... plus, he has "outed" the white liberal establishment a number of times for having, basically, turned the bulk of the black leadership into sold-out, shuffling Uncle Toms. In other words, he's a troublemaker. And yet, here he is, parading around Chicago (also significant) with Jackson as an apparent equal. Not that they could have kept him away, of course... but frankly, I couldn't have told you for sure if he was still alive, up until this appearance.

All very intriguing... but we have to wait until the next black Kodak moment to find out if it's a sea change or just a one-time event.

Cheney's Last Lap

You know how it is with things like hangnails, paper cuts, ingrown toenails... they get your attention when you have them, but about five minutes after they're gone you basically forget about them and go on with your life. You don't find too many people wandering around marveling that they don't have hangnails, in other words -- they are what are termed "dissatisfiers"; they "dissatisfy" when they're there, but the mere lack of them does not constitute a "satisfier" the way a good meal, for example, would.

And so it is with Dick Cheney. When he's around, snarling and griping from the sidelines and second-guessing Barack Obama and his administration, he's an irritant, and someone we wish would just get out of our lives and shut up. But when he's not around, we don't think about him a whole lot. Which brings us to the question, whatever happened to the Dickster? "Where is he now?" as they say. Because the things he was publicly griping about a few short weeks ago haven't obviously changed, and yet he has completely fallen off Sunday morning talking heads radar. The reason, I submit, is that his handlers in the power elite – those who are far above his pay and power grade – have told him to chill. They have determined – and rightly so – that their interests are not, after all, threatened in the least by Obama or by any of his policies... that we are as firmly entrenched in Iraq and Afghanistan as we were under Bush... that we will continue to fight ceaseless wars on behalf of the elite... and that criticism of one their own by another one of their own is no longer helpful. It's basically the same thing as the sudden cooling of ardor when it came to the Bush/Cheney administration's “war crimes” -- it's time to move on, to let bygones be bygones, etc. Which is another way of admitting that, after all, we're ultimately all working for the same boss.

And so evidence continues to pile up that, aside from rhetoric and iconography, there really are no substantive differences between life under Bush/Cheney and life under Obama. Suspicions confirmed, I say again.

And in a related story, it seems that a dog owned by former French President Jacques Chirac has had to be sent off to some sort of doggie Alzheimer's ward because it started biting its owner (on the derriere, no less). And this, in turn, was because it became “depressed” after having to move out of the Elysee Palace. So... to add to all of Dick Cheney's other woes, now we have a clear opportunity to compare him to a Maltese lap dog. Lo, how the mighty have fallen...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Death of a Salesman

As a friend of mine used to say, “You can't win for losing.” First Obama gets a rude rebuff in Denmark (in which, as we know, there is something rotten) vis-a-vis the Olympics – then he returns home to face the warm-beer, morning-after realities of having to deal with all the skeptics and naysayers who have refused to swallow whole his “hope 'n' change” nostrums.

First, let's deal with the Olympics. Obama's loss of face on this one was an accident that could have been prevented so easily – he could have simply not gotten involved. Hey, what ever happened to the notion of “de-politicizing” the Olympics? I thought there was a chance after the Soviet Union broke up, and all those stone-faced Russian she-males disappeared from the judges' stand. Guess not, though. But he wasn't just trying to get the Olympics to the U.S. again – he was trying to get them to Chicago. Suddenly the president of all the people is shilling for his home town -- tacky, tacky. And nowhere in all the discussion of this have I heard anyone mention that one contributing factor might be the fact that, after all these years, Chicago is still one of the most abjectly corrupt cities in the country, if not in the world. Who wants a repeat performance of Salt Lake City, but this time on steroids? Are you telling me that this did not enter into the committee's thinking? Please. Not to mention, Chicago is bent on setting new records for teen violence – not exactly the kind of atmosphere in which the Olympic ideal is likely to thrive. And I would be willing to bet that the slap-down for Obama could also have also been a symbolic response to all the recent American huffing and puffing – including at the recent G-20 meeting – about how Europe in particular had to start practicing “financial discipline” -- whereas in fact, the rest of the world rightly sees the economic crisis as having been made right here in America. We sneezed, they caught cold, and now they're supposed to fix it? Right. So who are we to talk to the rest of the world about discipline? As usual, the message is “Let's compromise – do it my way.” Quite a contrast with Obama's hero's welcome in Europe even before he was elected.

Then we have the domestic scene, and the G-20: Tear gas! Rubber bullets! Sound cannons! Riot police! SWAT teams racing in attack formation up and down the main streets of Pittsburgh! Yeah – just the sort of thing you would expect to happen if Nixon were still in office, say... or “W”. But no, this happened on Obama's watch, and make no mistake, these over-functioning law enforcement squads were acting on orders from above; they didn't make any of this stuff up on their own. So what's going on here? My comment was, don't get fixated on just this one event. I don't think the powers that be were seriously worried about the G-20 being derailed by a gang of street mimes and clowns in gorilla suits. It was – and there are ample historical precedents for this – an exercise for law enforcement organizations, in anticipation of things to come. You have to remember that, for over a year now, the powers that be have been whispering in the ears of law enforcement agencies at all levels that they must prepare for the worst, since the economic crisis will surely give rise to not only “tea parties” and “town hall meetings”, but rioting, insurrection, rebellion... yea verily, even revolution!! It's the 60s all over again, except this time the shoe is on the other foot. So 24-7-365 vigilance is required, and no event is too small or trivial to merit close scrutiny and preparation. So we were treated, just a while ago, with the spectacle of a rag-tag bunch of anarchists and anti-globalists confronting platoons of police, state troopers, etc. in full riot gear – which only serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy for both sides. Now they can each say, “See, I told you so!” So now Obama – prophet of change and hope – has blood on his hands (or at least tear gas residue). Excuse me if I see him more and more as a puppet of higher powers, helplessly buffeted by the winds of political and economic fate.

But wait! -- as they say on TV – there's more! We also have the low-grade infection called “the economy” and the continued siphoning off of the nation's wealth to a den of thieves on Wall Street and in Detroit. And where is the payoff to the average American in all of that? Better you shouldn't ask. And ObamaCare turns out not to be such a cakewalk – didn't he learn anything from the ClintonCare debacle? Guess not. And then there's Afghanistan, which is Exhibit A in the pantheon of no-win situations... not to mention Iraq, which isn't getting much attention lately even though it's still costing us billions a week.

And as I've said before, these are all, without exception, self-inflicted wounds. They could all have been prevented if reason had a place in governance... but alas, it doesn't, and is unlikely to have at any time in the foreseeable future.