Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Non-Hallowed Eve

My local paper here in Pittsburgh ran a story yesterday about all of the various “alternative” events and celebrations that people have come up with re: Halloween. Now, the reaction to the secular version of Halloween is perfectly understandable – you have, on the one hand, the plethora of ghouls and monsters which is aided and abetted by the entertainment media... and, not to forget, Pittsburgh has acquired an identity, of sorts, as “zombie town”, thanks at least in part to the work of George Romero (of “Night of the Living Dead” and countless sequels). And on the other hand, there is the golden opportunity for the innocent young to gorge themselves on sugar-laden candy, which makes Halloween a dentist's nightmare (or dream, depending on one's point of view). It is, in fact, a reversion of sorts to the pre-Christian era of pantheism and dark superstition, especially of the sort practiced in the British Isles (and, I might add, undergoing a revival, with neo-Druids prancing around Stonehenge and other mysterious sites). And the “nothing but” school is always ready to point out that many Christian holidays have a historical basis in pagan observances – the counter-argument to which is that the Church, quite wisely in my opinion, took advantage of pre-existing cultural habits to form a baseline for conversion or evolution into Christian thought and belief. Rather than trying to wipe the slate clean, and bring down all of the “groves and high places”, they converted them into a Christian context, making personal conversion perhaps less painful and traumatic than it might have been otherwise. Thus, the winter solstice became Christmas and spring revels and fertility rites became Easter, and so forth. And Halloween, more properly called All Hallows Eve, was turned from an autumn flirtation with death, and the dead, into the prelude for honoring the saints and the souls of those who had passed from this life into the next – hopefully through Purgatory into Heaven, rather than into the darkness and oblivion of Hell.

The problem is that with the re-paganization of so much of the West many people came to take Halloween seriously as a holiday in its own right, ignoring the fact that it is intended to announce a time of observance and prayer for the departed. And this, I believe, is what is behind much of the ever-increasing reaction and search for “alternatives”. It's no longer a harmless child's game of “trick or treat” when there are real, live pagans, witches (alleged), and demon-worshipers running about the landscape. Even the U.S. Army Chaplain's Handbook includes references to “other” groups, including the Church of Satan, Temple of Set, and Wicca. So this has become serious business – an outgrowth, one might add, of our obsession with “diversity”. The position seems to be, more and more, that all altars are created equal, and that all personal beliefs and belief systems must be accorded at least a minimum of respect and accommodation. It's almost as if a tribe of “true believers” has taken over Halloween and declared that even the most superficial attention to that day puts one on the path to many and varied “blood-soaked altars”. And many adherents to more conventional religions agree!

More specifically, I note that virtually all of the “reacting” groups are Protestant. The article in question discusses activities at Presbyterian, Evangelical, and Methodist churches (along with various local communities with, I'm assuming, a similar mindset) -- and those are, I'm sure, just a few among many. But from the Catholic point of view, there is not a thing wrong with All Hallows Eve, precisely because it announces what follows: All Saints Day (a holy day of obligation) and All Souls Day. So what is the problem? And why do the Protestants seem to have a problem that the Catholics don't? Well, it's simply that the Protestants (and it depends on the specific denomination) generally don't think too much of the saints – i.e. of the process and validity of canonization. And likewise, they don't think too much of Purgatory. So All Saints Day leaves them a bit cold – or makes them uneasy – and likewise All Souls Day. Why celebrate something they aren't at all sure of? And especially, why celebrate days that “those Catholics” came up with, when everyone knows that the Bible contains everything you need, and does it mention saints, or Purgatory? Any good Protestant minister or scholar can tell you that these are accretions – things dreamed up to confuse the faithful and add to the power and influence of the Catholic Church... and certainly we can't have that! It's better to just be simple... but then there are all these Wicca types, and since they have adopted Halloween as their very own holiday, we have to distance ourselves as far as possible from all that. So by denying the reality of the saints, and of the Church Suffering, they pretty much render All Hallows Eve neutral, and thus leave it to the pagans to make of it what they will.

The Catholic Church, of course, has a ready answer to the secular Halloween, which is to turn it into an anticipatory celebration of the saints (both canonized and unknown) and a time of prayer for the as-yet-to-be saints. We don't have to scramble and seek “alternatives” because we know what the day is really all about, no matter what the pagans say or think, or what the Protestants try to ignore. And the Catholics don't have to ignore, or try to “reclaim” Halloween, because they never lost it in the first place – or its true meaning.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

You're in Ethanol Country

As I drive through the Great Northern Plains, I notice that all of the newest, biggest, and shiniest commercial/industrial structures are given over to the ethanol industry. Ads for corn seed blare out from the car radio (during broadcasts by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck)... the planting and harvesting machinery looks like gigantic creatures from a sci-fi epic... and the processing plants reach to the sky, dwarfing all other structures for many days' drive in all directions. Clearly, the ethanol industry has given this region a new lease on life -- even though, with all those cattle dotting a thousand hills, no one was starving before the ethanol train chugged into town.

Now, many quite reasonable people have taken a cold, hard look at the ethanol craze and decided that it's little more than a hoax, a scam, and a con game. Even given the possibility that it is "decreasing our dependence on foreign oil", it is certainly not decreasing it to a degree sufficient to justify the massive expenditures involved -- of, you will note, taxpayer dollars first and foremost. The processing of the raw materials into fuel requires massive amounts of fuels other than oil -- coal, nuclear fuel, whatever goes to generate electricity. Maybe even, in some cases, oil! That would be the final irony. And the business is making a few people extremely rich... even as it allegedly keeps the wolf from the door of the ordinary farmer.

But don't expect anyone in the heartland to reflect for long on the "stone soup" aspects of ethanol. From the perspective of the vast and boundless plains, it adds up to "growth", prosperity, and -- that most sacred of all reasons for doing anything at all -- "jobs". In other words, it is, in the final analysis, a jobs program -- just like any other. And as such, it serves to short-circuit the free market. In other words, it takes money from the productive (as defined by the demand for their goods and services on the free market) and turns it over to... not the non-productive, exactly, but to those whose goods and services would _not_ long survive perusal by the all-seeing eye of the free market.

And yet this situation does not strike anyone on the receiving end as the least bit strange. As someone pointed out, agriculture is the most socialized sector of the American economy -- and has been for many generations. The oldest farmer still turning his hand to the plow cannot remember a time when the government -- mainly the federal government -- was not intimately involved in the agriculture business... before they told farmers what to plant and how much, what livestock to raise and how much... before they dictated prices or offered price supports (which amounts to the same thing)... and before they took all "surplus" off the hands of its producers, and stored it up for a rainy day. Or gave it to welfare recipients... or to deserving third-world denizens. And this is something that no one across the fruited plain objected to, because, after all, food is too important to be left to the mercies of the free market, and, besides, the "family farm" is an American fetish of the highest order.

But of course, a funny thing happened on the way to agrarian utopia -- at a certain point, the true family farm fell on hard times, and "agribusiness" started to dominate... to the point where the few now depend on the labor of the many, and gain most of the profits therefrom. The names on these gigantic silos, elevators, and storage sheds are not those of people, but of things ending in "CO". And likewise, the trains, trucks, and pipelines are also owned by things ending in "CO". So there are farmers still in business who might not be otherwise, but most of the fruits of their labor are ending up in bank accounts in Chicago, St. Louis, Omaha, and the like. And yet, even in the face of this reductio ad absurdum of the New Deal agriculture program, no one is willing to rock the boat. So the agribusiness guys sit in their castles high on the hill, munching on boar's heads, while the peasantry in the valley do as they have always done, namely eke out a living largely for the sake of their masters -- and all under the smiling, beneficent eye of the federal government.

And, also as usual, not only are the farmers who are hooked on ethanol functioning as glorified slaves, but so is the bulk of the citizenry, who are expected to underwrite it all. But again, no one yet alive can recall a time when it was any different. It has been assumed, for decades now, that the government must, in the natural order of things, provide for the daily bread of the citizens -- literally from the ground up. Any other proposal is considered heretical and dangerous. To set agriculture back to pre-New Deal days? To put agricultural goods on the free market? This would be the ultimate recklessness, say the experts, and the very idea conjures up images of famine, starvation, and chaos -- all things that we were way too familiar with in pre-New Deal times. Right? Well, of course not -- the free market worked just fine back then, even in the case of something as important as food. But the vagaries of weather, prices, plagues, and pestilence led the progressives to believe that something new and better was in order -- so we wound up with the absurdities of the New Deal and the less-blatant absurdities of agricultural policy ever since... culminating in the will-o-the-wisp that is ethanol.

The irony, of course -- getting back to Limbaugh and Beck -- is that people who become highly indignant at the idea of "socialized medicine" don't see a blessed thing wrong with socialized agriculture. They listen to Limbaugh and Beck until the cows come home (literally), and occasionally even drive great distances to participate in a tea party demonstration... and all the while they are sitting on top of the biggest heap of socialism this country has ever produced. They rise every morning full of confidence that they will be able to keep their profits, but their losses will be socialized -- i.e. paid off and they made whole once again. The government will tell every last customer they have what the minimum price on their produce will be... and cursed be he who attempts to sell it for less. So the agricultural sector is, in this sense, the ultimate sheltered workshop -- as is the hallowed "family farm", whether it runs in the black or persists in running in the red for year after year. In any other line of work, this would be called a "hobby" by the IRS -- but in agriculture, it's a legitimate occupation that must be preserved for the sake of... well, who knows? Who cares? It's way too much part of our self image to be questioned. It's as untouchable as the flag... the National Anthem... war... you know, all those non-negotiable facets of American life. It's certainly far less touchable than the Constitution, where one will search in vain for anything even remotely resembling agricultural "policy".

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Least Important Election of Our Lifetime

As the election season reaches a hysterical anti-climax, they're still trying to make us believe that the fate of the nation hinges on the outcome. Sorry to have to quibble, but American elections have long since been programmed and boxed in for the precise purpose of insuring that the fate of the nation depends on anything but. And the candidates, likewise, are thoroughly vetted by the Regime and are simply not allowed to win unless there is already a plan in place to either buy them off, scare them off, or otherwise neutralize them. That is, if they aren't already signed on... in which case, no further persuasion is needed. So what you see parading before you on TV and on the Internet, and in the print media, is basically a parade of already bought off, already intimidated, already sold out clowns and puppets... with precious few exceptions. So you can vote for whomever you like... you can send your 2-year-old into the voting booth to do the voting for you... or your dog... it really doesn't matter in the least. But it's the maintaining of the illusion that it does matter that is the job of the candidates, their supporters, the major parties, and the media. It's an industry and a business, like any other -- except that it generally pays better. All of these pygmies want power and the trappings of office. I toured the Kansas state capitol yesterday, and wow -- that place had it all over the palaces of the czars. Who wouldn't want to work there, and hold forth in those marble and mahogany halls? And things get even more absurdly extravagant at the federal level -- "the people's choices" are whisked about town in stretch limos with tinted windows, wherever and whenever they want to go, no questions asked. They are wined and dined by the captains of industry and finance... paid court to by union chiefs... pursued by groupies of all known (and a few unknown) genders... and it's all about power. And money, since the two are fungible. When it comes to serving the people who elected them -- assuming that was ever their intent, which is doubtful -- that can always be put off until another day. Which means, indefinitely.

Now, make no mistake -- this disease, if you will, starts at the lowest possible levels... small-town mayors, school boards, aldermen, etc. But its relatively benign form at that level becomes more and more malevolent as they move up the totem pole, until, at the federal level, they become part of a Regime that spends every waking hour thinking up new ways of crushing the life out of the citizenry. And it's your vote, my friend, that provides them cover -- that enables them to say, well, I was elected, after all (usually by a majority)... so people obviously want me to keep doing what I'm doing. Plus, I "listen" to the people all the time, I take my coat off and loosen my tie and eat truck-stop food, etc. So don't blame me if things go wrong. Just like Hitler -- one of his final acts was to condemn the German people for having failed HIM. If only it hadn't been for all those traitors and good-for-nothings, he would have won the war and would now be ruling the world. Et cetera.

So when Election Day rolls around... sure, go ahead and vote. I will. It's kind of fun, actually. (But I'm not wearing a suit and tie to the polls the way men did when I was a kid.) Just don't think it's important. Someone (Mencken?) once commented that nothing important in this country is ever decided by popular vote -- and it's absolutely true. The important stuff is decided in smoke-filled rooms, and it's way above the pay grade of the ordinary citizen to have any say in the matter. And most of the people you vote for are already puppets, dupes, and fall guys; they may not realize it (delusions of grandeur being an occupational hazard of politics) but it's true nonetheless. You may "prefer", for aesthetic reasons, one or another party to be in power... you may "like" one candidate more than another... but these are all superficial considerations, all decorations on a very stale cake. The people who, if they should ever reach positions of power, might actually make a difference are prevented from doing so in a way that makes security at Alcatraz look downright casual.

And please don't forget that -- even though Obama says this, it's actually true -- most of what's "wrong" with the current administration started during Bush's time. So how much sense does it make to return the same idiots to power who dug the grave of our economy for eight years? Just because Obama's pushing us into that grave doesn't mean it's all his fault. As I said, there is only one Regime, and if it wants the U.S., and its citizens, in a state of economic distress, that's where they're going to be. And if it wants the wars Bush started continued under Obama, continue they will. And it it wants our economic future in the hands of the likes of China, so it will be... theirs and the European financial cabal. The fate of America, and of Americans, is no longer in our own hands... and hasn't been, in fact, for quite a long time. So how much do think our pathetic exercise of the "right to vote" is going to change that? It's going to mean about as much as... well... the Iraqis' right to vote, or the Afghans'. And everyone laughs at them...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Piercing Comments

In any contest between organized religion and the public schools, you can expect the schools to win -- that is, unless that organized religion is the Church of Body Modification. And yeah, I know, it sounds like either some sort of weird niche or a scam… but hey, all anyone has to do these days is call something a “church” and they’re home free -- especially if said church has nothing to do with Christianity or (better yet) any form of monotheism. And frankly, I don’t know too much about the theology of the CBM -- other than they would, I suppose, have to have a theology of the body. (ahem) But their claim was enough to get a high school student in North Carolina reinstated. She had been suspended for wearing a nose piercing, but it turned out that said piercing was her way of exercising her religions freedom… so the school had to capitulate, a rare and humiliating experience, I’m sure. And of course you can bet -- and you’d be right -- that the ACLU is heavily involved in the matter… but that should not be taken as an automatic condemnation. After all, there was a time when the ACLU was a fairly principled outfit, and before they declared their intention of wiping Christianity off the map at all costs. And it is nice, once in a while, to see the public schools take a hit, since they are so used to running roughshod over everyone and everything. Of course, I assume that possession and/or use of a Bible will still be strictly forbidden in the public schools -- as will nose piercing if it is not in pursuit of religious freedom. But let’s not quibble; at least the dress code as currently written says “the principal or designees shall not attempt to determine whether the religious beliefs are valid, but only whether they are central to religious doctrine and sincerely held.” In other words, school principals are not allowed to go around acting like mini-Oliver Cromwells. Let’s be thankful for that much and then move on from there.

The Real Bully Pulpit

Bullying is in the news -- especially as it has, allegedly, resulted in a rash of teen suicides… all connected, of course, with the arguably borderline-psychotic atmosphere of the public schools. When you have a system that is crushed by political correctness and which preaches “consideration for others” -- but where the teachers are deathly afraid of the students (and the parents are deathly afraid of the school administrators) -- bad things are bound to happen. It’s like any other highly-stressed, and stressful, environment -- it brings out the worst in all parties. And imagine the distress of those targets of bullying who have gay or lesbian tendencies -- here the teachers, and the media, and the entertainment industry, have been telling them for years that there is nothing wrong with their “tendency”… that it is, indeed, something to be “celebrated” (along with all other forms of “diversity” -- except, of course, being a white male heterosexual -- that’s a form of diversity that we can’t tolerate!). So after being told all this, and reassured over and over again that “you’re fine just the way you are”… suddenly this posse of dominant, alpha-type heterosexuals -- your peers! -- goes out of its way to assure you that, in fact, there are all sorts of things wrong with the way you are, and that you deserve only contempt.

And what sort of message does it convey when this sort of thing is, to all appearances and despite claims to the contrary, tolerated by the system? They preach one thing but have an attitude of benign neglect when people start behaving in a primitive, atavistic way in the hallways and stairwells of our hallowed public schools.

So what does it mean? What it means is something primitive and atavistic indeed -- which is that the “bullies” are, in fact, the dominant social group in the school/neighborhood/town… and that everyone, from the school board down to the janitor’s assistant, is scared to death of them. Because, even if they are junior sociopaths, they nonetheless have “rights”… and you can be certain that they have parents who will not hesitate to invade the principal’s office if they detect the slightest threat to the self-esteem of their little gems. For this is also a meme, inculcated by the public schools -- that everyone deserves “esteem” -- that all have won and all deserve a prize. But now they are experiencing blowback from that impossible position.

But here’s another way of looking at it. The facile assumption is that these bullies are outliers -- antisocial, hostile, undesirable… and if they would only mend their ways, life would be so much better. But I say, au contraire! They only _seem_ to be outliers; in fact, they are the designated enforcers of the social norms of the larger group -- the school, neighborhood, town, whatever. And by “social norms” I don’t mean the ones that we pretend to have -- the ones that are reinforced (supposedly) and given lip service non-stop by the schools, the media, politicians, etc. I’m talking about the _real_ social norms -- those primitive motives by which the group has always protected itself against “the other”, the stranger, the alien. Every subgroup, group, or society has these real (vs. claimed) norms, and every group has its enforcers -- and they are never well-liked by the community, but they are deemed necessary and hence tolerated, if not actually encouraged. When I was a kid it was the village gossips - say what you want, they kept everyone else on their best behavior (in public and often in private as well). One of my mother’s (bless her soul) most oft-repeated expressions was “They say...” And there was always a “they” -- which meant everyone else in town… or at least the polite people… others of our kind, in other words. And believe me, the people who worried about “they” could become, in a heartbeat, one of “they” if the situation warranted it. Or vice versa. So yes, the community was self-policing in that respect.

The thing is, the unstoppable migration from small towns and rural areas to the cities -- and the corresponding migration from cities to suburbs -- has made severe inroads in the mission and reach of the gossip. They still exist, believe me -- especially in the suburbs (“desperate housewives” country) -- but they have been significantly de-fanged and de-clawed by the great number of social options (which is to say, competition among various sources of social approval). Even in the ’burbs, if you offend one group, you can probably move on to another group -- whereas in a small town, there really is only one group… at least only one to which any given individual has a credible claim to membership.

So who gets to step in an fill the gap? Who takes on the burden of enforcing social standards that was formerly the property of little old ladies with a bun on their head peeping out from behind lace curtains? Why, public school bullies, and none other! It is, in fact, a strange evolution and an anachronism of sorts, but it is occurring, and has occurred, in virtually every corner of the nation -- including, I have to assume, the most isolated and out-of-the-way.

And this, I hope, helps explain why nothing is done -- I mean nothing of consequence (as opposed to hand-wringing and mouthing words and expressing “concern” and “regret”). It’s not that nothing _could_ be done; it’s just that the dirty little secret of the “society” that is represented, in its rawest form, in the public schools is that we need these people. We may not like them -- because they are, after all, a threat and represent a tyrannical ruling class. But we need them, because without them who is to enforce the real standards?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Who ARE These People?

What is it about mid-week news? The freaks come out of the woodwork, and do their best to entertain us with their twisted renditions of humanity. But are we, as a result, jaded and apathetic? Not at all – it's a continuing source of amusement and consolation in what would otherwise be a very bleak, hopeless period in history. Imagine for a moment being a citizen of Rome during the “fall”. You see it happening, but you can't do a thing about it. The barbarians are at the gates. The leaders are all degenerate idiots. Prices are soaring. Volcanoes are erupting. It is, truly, the end of the world – at least the world as we knew it... the world we grew up in. It takes a heck of a man (or woman) to see it all in historical context – as part of the never-ending cycle – and thus to derive some sense of perspective, or even amusement, therefrom. And this is my mission – to point out that, not only are the hired help rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, but they have hideously bad haircuts besides. And thus, my offering for mid-week (and on an exceptionally gray, overcast, chilly, rainy day – my kind of weather, truth be told):

O Go, O Go, Emanuel

So Rahm Emanuel headed back to the provinces, and is now engaged in a walking/talking tour of Chicago to start off his quest for the office of mayor. Doesn't it seem like he's lowered his sights a bit? I mean... take Dick Cheney for example. He was chief of staff once (under Ford) and eventually worked his way up to the presidency. Er, I mean... well, you know. So what's with Rahm? Doesn't he have the patience? Would he really rather be at the top of the heap in one of the most corrupt cities on the planet than continue to work in the galleys in Washington, DC for many more years? I guess the question answers itself. And what about the Israeli connection? Is the mayor's office of Chicago all that good a bully pulpit from which to work for the benefit of Israel? I think the true answer is that he feels at home there – with all that crudeness and corruption. But let's face it, the Obama administration will be poorer for his leaving – or at least much less picturesque.

They Know All the Jams

Ah, the discontents of the modern, technological world! A traffic jam in China a few weeks back lasted for over 10 days, and some drivers were right in the middle of it for 5 days, along a 60-mile stretch of highway. Now... I've been in some pretty gruesome traffic jams in my time, but 5 days? Sixty miles? That surpasses anything I ever saw in Washington, DC, which has been certified by the experts to have the worst traffic in the country. But really, what's it all about? Why this incredible anachronism between highway capacity and the volume of vehicles using it (or attempting to)? Well, I already had the beginning of an analysis worked out during my time in DC. It has to do with ownership. Namely, it has to do with the fact that the government owns the highway, but the vehicles are owned by private citizens (or businesses). So right away, you can expect a vast divergence of priorities. For the government, the highways are basically a jobs program – whereas for private citizens and businesses, they are a way to get from Point A to Point B. The problem is, the government (on whatever level) is in charge – and the lowest-grade doofus in a hard hat can screw up traffic for miles just by holding that miniature stop sign. (Don't you hate those guys? I sure do.) Now... I can't prove this, but I would be willing to bet that if both the highways and the vehicles were government property, things would be better, because the two sectors would be subject to the same economic incentives (or non-incentives), the same priorities, and the same... let's call it speed, or rhythm. There would be some sense of coordination, in other words. On the other hand, if both were privately owned – well, when's the last time you heard of a traffic jam on a privately-owned highway? There's one between Dulles Airport and Leesburg, Virginia – and it's smooth (and high-speed) sailing all the way – once you've paid the toll, of course. And this brings up another facet of the problem. Highways in this country are, by and large, a “government service” -- and we know how in touch most government services are with the real needs and priorities of the citizenry. There's no competition, therefore no incentive to improve, or to even seriously listen to what people want and need. It's just another government program – full speed ahead (so to speak) and to hell with what makes sense. So we wind up with a vast and expensive highway system that just seems to become worse every year, because what real people really want and need, and what the government decides is important, are worlds apart. And as much as I despise socialism in principle, I have to admit that the Warsaw Pact countries had it figured out when it came to traffic – minimal roads and minimal cars. But the minute the iron grip of communism was loosed in places like China, and people were allowed to own cars, and businesses were allowed to own trucks, then all hell broke loose. All I can say is, welcome to the “mixed economy”, which combines all the worst aspects of socialism and capitalism.

Hugo Clings to Guns

Well, who would have thought that the Second Amendment would get support from none other than... Hugo Chavez? That's right! He has directed “that members of the country's civilian militia should be issued weapons to be armed and ready at all times”, as opposed to only while on training exercises. Chavez asked, “Who has seen a militia without weapons?” Well... apparently the Obama administration and all of the Democrats and liberals have. And you'll note that Chavez doesn't seem to be the least bit worried about his armed militia turning against him – which is more than you can say about our own government.

The AWOL Culture

I'll say it again – where were these people when they were really needed? A local teenager was shot and killed recently in an encounter with the police – after a home invasion in which said teenager wielded a .357 magnum. Oh yeah – this kid was a badass. He'd been in trouble for years. He was, basically, doomed. And yet, “100 gather at vigil for slain teen” -- note the word “slain”. He was firing at police officers and they fired back, in other words. And these people gathered to “celebrate his life”. What's to celebrate? This guy was a piece of human detritus. Now, I'm not saying this was all his fault, or that he was born to this fate; not at all. I just get sick of all these “vigils” and maudlin displays (and those damn teddy bears! Aack!) when, in fact, any of these people could have taken some part in intervening, at some point, and they might have kept this kid from winding up his short life by engaging in a firefight with the cops. Not guaranteed, mind you – but wouldn't it have been worth a try? But instead, we get the usual fatalistic prattle: “He loved the streets.” “He had a hard head.” (Apparently not hard enough, because that's where he got shot.) And – my favorite -- “He fell in with a bad group.” Hey – he _was_ the “bad group”, OK? It's this chronic buck-passing and total lack of responsibility that gets to me – and I know, it's the product of “a bad environment”. But hey, who makes an “environment”? It's the people who live there, right? Does the “system” -- as malevolent as it is – ever actually force people to live in a world of crime, squalor, and degradation? There's much more personal choice here than is generally acknowledged. But try telling it to the “teddy-bear people” and the media. It's always "those other people's" fault, or the system's fault, and never their own.

Don't Ask, Don't Taliban

You know it's the beginning of the end when we start to see “the enemy” as human beings, rather than as faceless, mindless robots who are only worthy of annihilation. Now it's General Petraeus who is hinting that some dialog with the Taliban, in the interests of stabilizing the Afghan government, might be in order. Now remember, this is the same regime (ours, I mean) that, up to now, considered the Taliban to be “the” enemy, completely beyond the pale, etc. -- and certainly never to be considered a party to any “agreement”. Kind of like the North Koreans and the Viet Cong, come to think about it – and funny how yesterday's “intractable enemy” becomes today's guy-across-the-table in negotiations. What it means, inevitably, is we've given up – on “total victory” that is. We've decided that compromise is, after all, in our best interests... or in the best political interests of our leadership... or something. Now, it must be said that these are only the very earliest hints – sort of the equivalent of playing ping-pong with the Maoists... but the fact that there are even hints abroad indicates something. Maybe a new dawn of realism? One can only hope.

I Spy, You Spy

The Army has extended its definition of “espionage” to include leaks to the media – which is another way of saying, if someone informs the public of the misdeeds of the government or the military, this is the equivalent of spying for a foreign power. Which means that the American public is considered “foreign” and potentially treasonous by the ruling elite. Plain and simple. I'm glad that something I've been claiming for so long has now been officially acknowledged by the U.S. Army. It's truly gratifying... I think.

As If We Weren't Already Tired and Poor Enough...

The governor or Arizona, in a blatant display of provincialism, is objecting to “a court ruling that lets other countries file a friend-of-the-court brief” in the case of Arizona's new immigration law – countries like Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Peru (gee, what happened to Kiribati?). This gives Emma Lazarus' immortal lines (“Give me your tired, your poor, etc.”) a new significance. Not only is each state now required to take on any other country's tired and poor, but that country can now put pressure on U.S. courts to make sure they don't shirk that duty. So... what does this say about the territorial and legal integrity of the United States? Mainly that it doesn't have any. And what does that say about our “leadership”, who have allowed this to happen? Can you say “treason”, boys and girls? Well, what else would you call it, when invasions from without are not only tolerated, but welcomed... and all defenses against said invasions are declared null and void by the central government? My question is, is it really that important to have low-wage day labor? Obviously not. And is it really that important to have guaranteed Democrat voters? Ay, there's the rub. Now if only the Republicans could locate some ethnic groups somewhere who wanted to sneak into this country and vote Republican. Maybe they could try Liechtenstein...

Philly, You So Silly

The rap on Pittsburgh is always that we tend to disrespect Philadelphia – you know, it's just one huge ghetto, it's total anarchy, it's a slum, it's a no-man's-land, and so forth. And the people for “Philly” will always come back with some argument that, really, things aren't all that bad. But then a story breaks like this one, where two Philly cops robbed a “supposed drug dealer” -- problem is, the drug dealer turned out to be an undercover state drug agent. “Oops!” Of course, this could also be taken as an illustration of the utter absurdity of the “War on Drugs”. But either way you cut it, it's quite delicious. I think, ultimately, the drug wars are just going to turn into intramural battles between various police forces – which is perfectly OK with me, assuming they have nothing better to do. But I'm not sure that argument would hold up in Philadelphia...

If Hating You Is Wrong, I Don't Wanna Be Right

And hey, anyone remember when “hate crime laws” were supposed to be directed only at hate-filled rednecks? Problem is, they didn't say that in so many words; maybe they were afraid of lawsuits based on the “equal protection” clause. So what started happening was that more blacks than whites were being booked for “hate crimes”. “Oops!” And now it's gone a step further. The recent suicide of a Rutgers University student because of a webcast of his sexual encounter with another man is being considered for “hate crime” status... and the alleged perps are an Indo-Pakistani male and a Chinese-American female. “Oops!” Frankly, I'm amazed that the media are even reporting their names (and genders). By definition, “hate crimes” are supposed to be only committed by male, white, homophobic, sexist, racist lowbrow bigots. Clearly a rewrite of the law is in order – and this time let's get it right! Only a “majority person” can commit a “hate crime”, the same way only white people can be “racists”. I mean... this country supposedly celebrates “diversity”, right? So let's start defending it for once!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Regrets, He's Had a Few (well, maybe one...)

This seems to be a season for second thoughts among the powerful... or let's say among the “emeritus” powerful. First, Fidel Castro expresses (or seems to express) doubts as to the worth of the Cuban economic system – and yes, he did backtrack, but I'm not buying it. I think the truth leaked out at an unguarded moment. (Maybe he needs the verbal equivalent of Depends.) And now, just the other day, Henry Kissinger was quoted as saying, regarding the war in Vietnam, that the “central objective of preserving an independent, viable South Vietnamese state was unachievable”. Which means he was wrong – although you can be sure he didn't express it quite that directly. As usual, he shirks personal responsibility and markets collective guilt: “Most of what went wrong in Vietnam we did to ourselves.” Well, who is this “we”, Henry? The American people? The voters? Only the voters who voted for Nixon? The military? The administration? Or is he talking about the massive resistance to the war, which built slowly and then reached a crescendo during Nixon's administration. Kissinger also recalls that “America wanted compromise” whereas “Hanoi wanted victory”. Well, yeah – I guess we would have been satisfied with keeping Vietnam divided a la Korea and Germany... whereas the North wanted a united country without the artificial division ginned up by the European powers and the U.S. They also, I daresay, wanted to get rid of the festering den of corruption that the South Vietnam government represented, and which thereby resembled so many other puppet regimes we set up and supported over the years. Not that their solution was markedly superior – I don't claim that. But when you have nationalism (really tribalism) combined with communist idealism, fighting on its native soil, that's a mighty hard combination for ham-handed American forces overseen by cynical politicians to beat. And do I have to mention the impact of the draft on troop morale (and on the anti-war movement back home)? That effort was much more obviously doomed than even our follies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But Henry the K goes on. He “regrets” that “what should have been straightforward disagreements over the U.S. approach to Vietnam became 'transmuted into a moral issue – first about the moral adequacy of American foreign policy altogether and then into the moral adequacy of America'”. In other words, it should all have been kept cold-blooded and clinical. Nowhere is it mentioned that the best “approach” to Vietnam would have been to not approach it at all – to just stay home. But once we were bogged down over there, how could it help but become a moral issue? When its citizens see this country fighting a hopeless war for reasons which are never stated (the true reasons, I mean, not the excuses), aren't they entitled to question “the moral adequacy of American foreign policy”? (And didn't people question the "moral adequacy" of everything else about the Nixon administration as well?) And won't those questions, if not quickly resolved, mutate into questions about “the moral adequacy of America”? One would certainly hope so. But not The Henry. As far as he's concerned, moral questions have nothing to do with it; it's just a matter of strategy. (Once the implicit moral decisions have already been made, that is.)

And don't expect Kissinger to get too upset about the massive social upheavals that accompanied the war either. Yes, he did mouth words about “the anguish that engulfed a generation of Americans as the war dragged on” -- but did he, at the time, express concern about this? Certainly not. He was in the driver's seat – or at least the co-pilot's – and it was time to “project American power” and not worry about all the wimps and pantywaists carrying picket signs and shouting through bullhorns on the home front. He says “the tragedy of the Vietnam war was... that the faith of Americans in each other became destroyed in the process.” Well, again, I don't recall him, or anyone else in the Nixon administration, expressing this sort of concern at the time. And really, I don't think Americans' faith in “each other” was destroyed so much as their faith in government – and I'm sure that Kissinger would find that of much more concern. The Vietnam era was, after all, a crossroads of sorts, where the manifest agenda and priorities of the government diverged dramatically from the needs and wants of the citizenry – never to return. As I've said before, the American people have been lied to, duped, and misled almost from the beginning... but at least they were accorded the grudging respect represented by the government using the right words to cover its misdeeds. Governmental hypocrisy paid tribute to the virtues of the citizenry, in other words. But with Vietnam, even that thin veneer fell off in large chunks, and we had to face the reality that the government simply did not care about the needs, wishes, hopes, and dreams of the American people... that it was going to pursue its own agenda come hell or high water... and that resistance was futile. And this has been the baseline assumption ever since – more or less unstated depending on circumstances; more or less benign; but always a core truth. It is, naturally, in times of war that this gulf between the rulers and the ruled comes out in highest relief – and as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are, in many ways, Vietnam redux, so is the more visible alienation of the citizenry from the government (no matter which administration is “in charge”). And this is not to deny that the majority of Americans are either pro-war or neutral on the matter; this was the case during Vietnam and it's the case now. But in each case there is a strong opposition, which serves to highlight the real issues in a way that people like Kissinger never could. And, let's admit, the "pro-war" segment of the population suffers the effects of war as well -- but in a worse way because they don't make any of the connections. Their ignorance and delusions put them under more stress, in a way, than those who constantly protest, because at least the latter see clearly what is going on.

And it must be easy, really, for a venerated “senior statesman” like Kissinger to make pronouncements from on high at this late date, when nothing he says is going to result in any "blowback". The damage has been done, the dead have been buried, and most of the remaining casualties are safely locked away in the back wards of VA hospitals. But Henry the K is out there in public, year after year, making excuses and having regrets... but still, after all this time, taking absolutely no responsibility for what happened. I have referred to the “locus of control” problem that seems to overtake lower-class people on a regular basis, but Kissinger clearly has the same problem – it's just expressed in more exalted, far-reaching, globalist terms. But it boils down to the same thing – no responsibility, no accountability. Just a bunch of droning speeches and “memoirs”.

And when you get down to it, Kissinger's relationship with the American public has always been... well, there hasn't been one, actually. He was always the ultimate globalist, the ultimate foreigner... someone who crawled up out of the swamps of academe in order to “advise” people who had a slightly greater claim to being real Americans. Their patriotism was twisted and delusional, for certain – but at least it was there. Can anyone recall Kissinger ever saying a single traditionally patriotic thing, ever? I sure can't. He would have found it profoundly distasteful -- not to mention untrue. And that's because his loyalty was always to globalism and to “ideas”, and never to any given country or political system (and certainly not to any political party or administration). He was, in fact, a proto-neocon before the term “neoconservative” was coined. And he remains today the most prominent voice of the globalist cartel – you know, those people who always know better than any citizen of any country or their leaders. His is the voice of sophistication and relativism – of “detente” (including the moral kind), and certainly not of nationalism or of anything having to do with national boundaries, traditions, interests, or pride. And yet he was put in charge of our foreign policy for many years – which kind of makes you wonder about the priorities of American administrations in general. I'm not sure he was even all that opposed to communism on principle – only that they were on the other side. For him, it was no more than a chess game – with real, flesh-and-blood people as pawns. And sure enough, for his actions, and his attitude, he earned himself a permanent seat at the table of the powerful... although I wonder whether, ultimately, he is really one of the power elite or just a high-ranking servant. People with true power also have to be willing to take on responsibility and accountability – even if they studiously avoid admitting it in public. And yet those two factors appear to be things that Kissinger avoids like Dracula avoids garlic. Nothing is ever his fault, and the buck never stops on his desk... because, after all, all he ever does is offer "advice". As such, he is the very model of the modern politician – albeit, one that was never elected to any office. But even so, it can be argued that we tend, over and over, to inflict Kissinger and his type on ourselves. We're always looking for “experts” and wise men, and so wind up being despised and exploited. Their game is to represent the world as much too complex to be comprehended by the rabble... the mere citizenry... the unwashed. So we have to hire them to first discover and define, then solve, all our problems, or we're doomed! Well, it seems to me that it's time to reclaim our self-respect – not as a nation, but as a people (then self-respect as a nation would follow). And yes, that might involve some simplification. Right now, the government is characterized by a Byzantine complexity that rivals that of the financial sector (or the income tax, or health insurance). But is this complexity any more “real” than the everyday experience of ordinary people? Is it even real at all? I say no – it is, by and large, a “created” complexity – created by others to further their own agenda. If we ever have (once again) the self-confidence to get rid of all the Kissingers of this world – I think it would be a much better, simpler, and more real place.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Filling In the Blankley

It's almost like a follow-up to Pat Buchanan's column in Friday's paper (which I commented on the same day). On Sunday, Tony Blankley, in a column entitled “Why elites despise 'tea'”, commented on the violent reaction of the “elites” (including the mainstream media) to the “tea party”. And he asks, quite rightly, “Why fear and loathe a movement said to be narrow in its views and scope?” Well, as I've said, over-reaction is the job of the MSM, and they are proud of it. The slightest hint of disagreement with the Regime causes a hysterical fit among “media types” that differs not in the least from the frequent apoplexies of the government-controlled media in China and North Korea. This is just what they do – and asking whether they really “believe” in it is beside the point. The essence of propaganda is not truth, but of establishing a conceptual baseline – a context against which current events can be viewed by the public. So if the “tea party” is portrayed, every day in every way, as an outlying group of right-wing “haters”, that's the context in which it will be viewed when the chips are down – and, in this case, the “chips” means the upcoming election. And even then, it hardly matters because the candidates for any office of significance are thoroughly vetted by the Regime; no one is going to get elected to any post that matters unless they have already had that plate implanted in their skull. And yet the propaganda machine must carry on – because the goal is not only to control the country, but to control people's every spoken word, and, yea, every thought. And this can only be done by a relentless, “24-7”, program of vilifying the opposition and glorifying the Regime and its operatives.

So what Blankley is pointing out is, ultimately, an unnecessary exercise which is nonetheless deemed essential – namely to defame the opposition, and nip it in the bud. The problem is, the “tea party” refused to be nipped in the bud, and its influence has already been felt in the primaries... and might be felt even more in the election. And this is what the Regime fears most – not only active opposition, but doubt – doubt that its program, and its agenda, are the best for America and for the world. Because even the most brutal, totalitarian regime depends, to some extent, on the – albeit tacit – approval, or at least non-opposition, of the people. Look at the most overpowering regimes of the 20th Century, for example – Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, and Maoist China. Were they indifferent as to the attitudes and opinions of the citizenry? Did they depend only on brute oppression? Not a bit of it! There were vast propaganda mills that worked day and night to turn out ideas and images in support of the regime – and this is what seems to be required in all cases where you have (1) a large society and (2) an “ideational” base. Take a hellish place like some dictatorship in sub-Saharan Africa (or Haiti), and you really can rely on sheer brute force; nothing else is needed. And I don't think the Khmer Rouge spent a whole lot of time on propaganda. But North Korea certainly does! And Vietnam seems to get by with a pragmatic approach – undoubtedly inspired by their Chinese mentors. There are very few true fanatics and ideologues left in the world – and most of them (except our domestic variety) are concentrated in the Islamic countries. But even they have to sustain their power and influence through large doses of propaganda; hardly anyone (again, outside of sub-Saharan Africa) rules simply with an iron fist any longer.

But to get back to Blankley – he refers to a book by Christopher Lasch, in which it is argued that “the only hope for American democracy lay in a revival of the middle class”... as opposed to the ruling elite and its captive proletariat. The elites “would undermine American democracy in order to fulfill their insatiable desire for wealth and power and to perpetuate their social and political advantages.” And although the book was published in 1995, the abundance of evidence for its thesis in current events cannot be mistaken. It is clear that, at this point, the ruling elites have pretty much decided that they no longer “need” the middle class (assuming they ever did), and that the world would be a much better place if only that pesky “bourgeoisie” could be eliminated, leaving only the rulers and the ruled – i.e. the proletariat.

And Lasch saw the only hope in the revival of middle-class virtues. Well... that might actually be the case, but then my question would be, where are these virtues to be found? Because the middle class, and more specifically the “tea party”, has been infected by the propaganda put out by the ruling elites to the extent that they are now, for all intents and purposes, unwitting slaves and robots. Yes, they still “cling” (in Obama's word) to what Lasch called “antiquated values – hard work, family, faith, community” -- but that's not all they cling to; there is also a heart of darkness, that goes back to the earliest days of the settlement of America by Protestant fanatics from England. For they have also become addicted to the idea of Empire, and for some reason they do not see this as, in the least, contradicting the notions of hard work, family, faith, and community. In fact, most see this as a complete package – we are “family people”, we work hard, we go to church on Sunday, we support our community, and we send our sons (and daughters) off to blow up ragheads halfway around the world. It is, truly, a seamless garment. But this is precisely the fatal flaw that the Regime loves to take advantage of – that the bourgeoisie can be fooled, time and time again, into believing that the Regime's program is, somehow, consistent with, and supportive of, their core values. How many times do I have to read a quote from a soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan that they're over there to “defend the American way of life”? This is delusion of the highest order, bordering on psychosis. And yet it is so ubiquitous as to qualify as a “meme” -- an unquestioned premise that infiltrates every aspect of life and impacts the thinking and actions of ordinary people. And make no mistake, the Regime knows all this, they know that it works, and that's why they keep doing it. Does anyone really think that anyone in the Obama administration gives a rat's ass what happens to Iraq or to the Iraqi people, or to Afghanistan or to the Afgan people? Please. They'd be perfectly happy seeing them all fall into a pit of fire – and in fact that's pretty much what our efforts over there amount to. “Spreading democracy” in places like this is just a euphemism for getting rid of them as a threat (mainly to Israel). If we could get rid of them through other means, we would – but conventional war is a big money-maker, so it's a win-win situation all around. And the problem with the middle class – and with Blankley's thesis – is that they're all for it. They never question the rationale, or the means, or the (stated) goals – and neither does the “tea party”. It's as though a prohibition campaigner in the old days had a stash of liquor in his basement – and failed to make the connection.

So when Blankley says, “The tea party movement's central tenets – small government, decentralization of power and end to profligate spending – are precisely what Lasch prescribed to restore American democracy”, he overlooks the fatal flaw called the American Empire. With that eliminated as a factor, he'd be right – and so would the tea party. And, so would the elite for opposing it at every turn. But as it is, the tea party's core values are, after all, not so different from those of the elite – only that for the tea party, and the middle class, it's a matter of being exploited... whereas for the elite it's a matter of being the exploiter. Kind of like the conversation between the chicken and the pig as to what to have for breakfast – the chicken suggests bacon and eggs. Well, in this case the Regime is the chicken and the middle class is the pig, fattened and ready for slaughter... and no “tea party” is going to save them from their fate; in fact, it might just bring it on all the sooner.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Buchanan Almost Gets It Right

A column by Pat Buchanan in today's paper starts out promising – with his oft-repeated question, “How are we going to pay for it all?” -- that is, for both domestic programs/entitlements and empire-building (and he disapproves of both, just for the record). And I note that, this time, he doesn't mention either of the usual options, namely printing more (worthless) paper money or borrowing more from China (or whoever). He knows that the China well is about to run dry, and that “funny money” isn't going to impress anyone overseas... and, in the long run, won't be worth much on the domestic side either (even if it is called “legal tender”). So what is boils down to is this: Either we make drastic cuts in domestic programs and entitlements – which include countless “untouchable” programs and “third rails”... or we make drastic cuts in the costs of the American Empire, which means, primarily, in the military budget (to which I would add the vast intelligence empire, which includes its own armies of government employees and “contractors”).

Then he asks the question – which is a very good question indeed – where does the “tea party” stand on this issue? That is, on the issue of turning around and walking away from the American Empire, and from the wars that support it? And he asks it in the context of, whither the Republican Party – i.e. to impotence and obsolescence, or to renewed strength and vigor? Because the tea party – its demographic – is drawn, not entirely but to a significant extent, from the Republicans... with a smattering of independents and fewer Democrats than it would take to fill a Prius. And the issue from Day One for the Republican establishment has been how to round up these soreheads and cranks who have wandered off the reservation and bring them back into the fold as reliable Republican voters. And the issue for the tea partiers has been, do we renounce the Republicans, and all their pomps and works, and set ourselves up as a kind of “cloud” third party, or do we attempt to achieve reform from within? And these questions are still very current, and are being asked with increasing intensity in the face of the upcoming elections (and the results of the primaries). A cynic might say, can the Republicans fool the tea party types one more time, regain power, and then turn around and treat the tea partiers like the dirty dogs they think they are? And will the tea partiers ever wise up?

Buchanan quotes Richard Viguerie saying that after the election “a massive, almost historic battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party begins”. But this implies that the tea partiers will stay under the tent. But what if that's not true? What if they have the courage and fortitude to simply leave? But he (Buchanan) goes on to say that “the great issue uniting and motivating the Republican Party and the tea party is...”, and then names an array of economic crises and issues. But wait – most of these troubles began under a Republican administration. So does he really believe that the Republicans have become born-again budget balancers? They might style themselves that way in order to gain votes, but I'll believe it when I see it, and I haven't seen it.

Then, as to what Buchanan sees as the possibilities, he is not optimistic about the Democrats going along with any reductions in domestic spending – because they live for the idea of creating heaven on earth (even though they don't believe in Heaven). What that leaves is “defense and the empire, the warfare state.” Fair enough, but here's where it gets confusing. He starts referring to the “war party” as opposed to the “tea party”... but right away I have to ask, which party is the “war party”? Clearly, the Republicans are _a_ war party, since they started both of our current wars... but the Democrats are continuing them, so they too must be considered a war party. And this question is never resolved for the remainder of the column – an oversight which I consider rare in Buchanan's repertoire. But regardless of what he meant, the truth is that there is, as I've said before, only one Regime and only one Party, and it is, in fact, the “war party”. And it has two divisions, which differ not in principle but only in what I call “iconography” (which includes choices of word and phrase, i.e. propaganda) – namely the Republicans and Democrats.

But then Buchanan turns around and points something out that I have been saying for a while now – that the tea party and the “Republican right” have much in common, and it all has to do with the American Empire. He asks, will they oppose Obama's full withdrawal of troops from Iraq (assuming it ever happens, which I doubt)? And will they “denounce” Obama for not starting a war against Iran? And will they object to any withdrawal from Afghanistan? What this all adds up to is that the tea partiers may be “anti-big government”, but they are most definitely not “anti-war” -- nor are they opposed, in principle or in fact, to the American Empire and its expansion at all costs. And this, as I've pointed out, is a contradiction on the most basic level – you can't be pro-empire and anti-big government; it simply can't be done. And I daresay that if you asked anyone who showed up at one of the recent tea party rallies to choose between Empire and smaller government, they would have to, after due consideration, choose Empire. That's simply the way they think; they are all mini-Sarah Palins. To them, there is nothing inconsistent in the idea of big, overpowering military force abroad and small, non-threatening government on the home front. The problem is, this has never been known to occur in all of human history; no, not once. But this is a choice they don't want to make, and that, in fact, no one is asking them to make, because in politics, when you see someone with a fatal flaw, you don't press the point; you just wait for that flaw to work itself to the surface and let what inevitably happens happen. Thus, the tea parties are doomed by their own internal contradictions – but that will not stop the Republicans from cynically exploiting them as long as possible, or the media from using them as a bogeyman to scare people into keeping Democrats in office. So yes, the tea partiers are useful -- but to everyone but themselves.

So to answer Buchanan's questions as fairly as possible – given the horrendous ambiguity of his term “war party” -- would the tea party and Republican right oppose withdrawal from Iraq? Of course, because they have drunk deeply of the Bushian Kool-Aid that says, once we're in a “theater of operations” for whatever reason, it's a total disgrace to “cut and run”. And we have to "support the troops". In other words, many more American lives must be sacrificed to prove that we were not wrong in previously sacrificing many American lives.

OK, so... would they demand that we retain an army in Iraq indefinitely? Yes, because that's what Empire is all about. How can we claim empire unless we have "boots on the ground"? And also, until those rag-heads get their act together, we owe it to the world to make sure they behave themselves... or at least pretend to.

And would failure to declare war against Iran mean that Americans are slinking, despicable cowards? Of course! Iran is low-hanging fruit, just like Iraq was. It'll be a “cakewalk”, etc. (And can I have a toot of whatever you're toking?) Plus, Iran is the “Number One Public Enemy of Israel of the Week”, and no enemy (declared or otherwise) of Israel can be anything but an enemy of America, as Hillary so pointedly pointed out. You threaten Israel – or even wish its demise – yea, even vaguely daydream of its demise – and you've declared yourself an avowed enemy of the United States, and deserve all of our wrath and awesome power in return.

And would withdrawal from Afghanistan be an admission of defeat? Why, certainly... and just as MacArthur said “I shall return” we would eventually have to go back to Afghanistan to make things right – so why just not stay there and make things right the first time around? "Just a little bit longer", as the song says.

The one point upon which Buchanan waxes unduly optimistic is this: “After Iraq and Afghanistan, the American people are not going to give the establishment and war party [whatever that is] a free hand in foreign policy.” Well, he couldn't be more wrong. He says, “Every patriot will do what is necessary and pay what is needed to defend his country. But national security is one thing; empire security another.” The latter is most certainly true, but he is dead wrong about the priorities of the American public. He has to remember that these are people whose brains have been fried on decades of propaganda – and they would, almost unanimously, choose Empire over national security, if given the choice. Because they have been given the choice, time and time again – at election time. And they invariably elect candidates who are pro-Empire, which means, inevitably, anti-national security, and, ultimately, anti-America. And a large part of this is based on the fact that the American Empire is really not American at all – as I've pointed out previously. It's simply a tool, and a major one, for the globalists and financial overlords to use in building their own empire. As far as they're concerned, our domestic pro-war cabal (the neocons, Evangelicals, and Israel lobby) are just tools... means to an end. They could not care less whether America, per se, or its people, prosper or sink into poverty and despair – that is not on their radar. What is on their radar is the notion of using the United States as a source of semi-skilled military labor – as cannon fodder – to pursue their own ends. Once these have been achieved, the United States will be discarded – economically (this is already underway) and diplomatically (ditto). But until then, we are their willing slaves... and our “leaders” are like the black foremen who wielded the whip over the field hands in the Old South... working for “the man”, traitors to their race, but on top of the world as they knew it – until the deluge.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fool Colors

News note: “London's Daily Telegraph says the United Nations could appoint a 'space ambassador to greet alien visitors,' should they ever come.” Now, don't everyone raise their hands all at once – the short list of candidates has already been drawn up (by me, natch). And it includes... well, to be fair, wouldn't we want our global ambassador, the one making first diplomatic contact with an alien (and presumably superior, since they got here before we got there) race, to be, well, as much like them as possible? Or at least as much like generic aliens as possible? Soaring to the very top of the list, then, would be James Carville, who looks like a taller and less-green version of the typical UFO pilot. But lest I be accused of physical typecasting, we also have to include people who either think or act like aliens – and the harvest is plentiful. My first cut includes the following: Jerry Brown, Jimmy Carter, Madeleine Albright, Glenn Beck, Louis Farrakhan, Dennis Rodman, John Waters, Sinead O'Connor, and Kim Jong-Il. But wait! -- you'll say. What about the countless (if nameless) numbers of punks, goths, tinfoil-hat types, African dictators, rock stars, World Bank/IMF protesters, Episcopal priestesses, neo-Druids, and so on? Don't they deserve consideration? Well, they might – except they have not proven their worth in the public forum, the way my A-list people have. I say, put the intergalactic ambassadorship out there as an incentive and give people a chance to compete for it... aspire to it... take the appropriate college courses to prepare for it. After all, this is what is done with the American presidency. Do you think everyone who wants to be president becomes president? No, sadly – many are called but few are chosen. And so it should be with this position. We owe the galaxy only the best of our best.

By the way, did you know that today is “38” in binary code? That's right – 100110 in a base-two number system equals 38 in the one we use on a daily basis. There will be a few more dates coming up that we can play this game with... not to mention the ones already gone by, in January. I don't know what the significance of those numbers will be – I suspect none. But if it turns out that some guy in a trailer park uses them to win the lottery, I'm gonna be majorly T.O.'d.

The muffled sound of another liberal head exploding was heard recently, when one of the dozen or so sons of Robert F. Kennedy -- I assume one of the few not in rehab -- gave “a passionate speech” opposing “emeritus status for retired radical left education professor Bill Ayers”. Seems that Prof. Ayers co-authored a book “that was dedicated in part to Sirhan Sirhan”. OK, so let's see... the Weathermen were the militant arm of the 60s left, which, by and large, idolized RFK. But then Ayers, a co-founder of the Weather Underground, decides to dedicate a book “in part” (I wonder which part?) to Sirhan Sirhan, RFK's assassin. And Ayers is also a good buddy of Barack Obama, whom today's left idolizes (or used to, before that fateful day upon which he was inaugurated). And Obama and Ted Kennedy could hardly have been closer together on the liberal/utopian/delusional scale. Maybe the fault is mine, for expecting anything any of these people do to make any sense. Ever.

Headline: “Poor, who lack clout, rarely mobilize as threat to politicians.” I've commented on this recently (see “Nattering Nabobs”, reference a comment by Pat Buchanan). But wait a minute – I can remember when the poor had all sorts of clout, and mobilized at the drop of a hat. Wasn't it... oh yes, I remember now. It was the 1960s, and the era of urban riots, “long, hot summers”, and “burn, baby, burn!” And this all followed, mind you, the passage of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the National Voting Rights Act (1965). Some of that was attributed to “rising expectations” -- you know, the same sort of thing that had people lining up for “their money” after Obama was elected. But black militancy in this country has long since been defused by the time-honored processes of attrition and sheer neglect. Ever notice that, in politics, those who can hold out the longest tend to win? Where are the “black power” militants of yesterday? The ones who aren't dead or in jail are ghosts of their former selves – hobbling around, having been bought off, compromised, co-opted, or just plain blackmailed by the power structure. And the “black leadership” of today is every bit as shuffling and obsequious as the grinning Uncle Toms of old. It sure isn't because “conditions” have changed; all you have to do is take a look at any “inner city” area in the country to realize that. And blacks are every bit as segregated socially and culturally now as they were back in the pre-Great Society era – all the politics, laws, and regulations in the world can't change what people do when they have freedom of choice. But as far as political clout is concerned – when they put away the Molotov cocktails that was about the end of it. Now the establishment has them shooting each other for the sake of illegal drugs. “Excellent”, as Mr. Burns would say...

But there are certain things even the rich can't avoid – especially if they happen to live in India. It seems that the “rooftop tanks, lotus ponds and flowerbeds” that characterize upper-crust neighborhoods in New Delhi are breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes – diseases like dengue, for instance. Another problem is “pools of water at construction sites” having to do with preparations for the Commonwealth Games – said preparations costing $4.6 billion. That's right -- $4.6 billion, and people are getting dengue from lotus ponds. Ah, the eternal Orient! What a great place to... basically, stay away from.

“Banking reform aims to curb risk.” Um... yeah, and what else would a “banking reform” be about? Curbing cheap leatherette for checkbook covers? I mean... well, let's face it, folks. This financial “reform” is just as much of a hoax as the “recession” itself... and that extends to the international level. The world has taken up the cry that “it all started with American sub-prime mortgages” -- and that that one snowball turned into an avalanche that threatened to bury the economies of all of Western Europe, North America, and so on. But the sub-prime mortgage “crisis” was so eminently predictable that it might as well have been engineered, on purpose and with malice aforethought, in Congress. Which leads one to believe that it, in fact, was – because, let's face it, someone made big bucks out of that whole deal. They made big bucks when the mortgage business was riding high on what turned out to be gross speculation, and they make more big bucks when the whole thing collapsed. When you're in a line of work where you succeed if you win, and succeed if everyone else fails, or even if you fail, you're going to make every effort to see that everyone else fails. Just as a backup, of course; call it Plan B. And in order to cover your bets – to “hedge” -- you're going to get as many legislators, regulators, and public officials on your side as possible, and through the usual means. And then when the inevitable happens you're going to be right there at the controls, directing the process to your maximum advantage. (It reminds me of that great euphemism the airline industry uses -- “controlled navigation into terrain”.) And then when the Titanic sinks, a helicopter is going to appear out of nowhere and whisk you to safety while all those other poor chumps drown. That's how business is done in this day and age, and if you don't like it, well... we don't really care. And if you think any of these "reforms" are going to change the rules of the game, well... see you in the voting booth in November for yet another hoax.

Oh yeah, this is cute. Now President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is bellyaching because the Afghans (which means he and his relatives and cronies) aren't getting a big enough piece of the contracting pie connected to our occupation of their flea-bitten country. He says that “war-weary Afghans have not reaped the full benefits because so much of the money goes to high-priced contractors, subcontractors, and power brokers.” And, “Afghans complain that too many contracts are awarded to the same contractors.” Hey – Hami baby, welcome to the wonderful world of American defense contracting! We've been putting up with this sort of thing at least since the Civil War. We accept it as a fact of life; why can't you?

Well, Iran, in its great compassion, has released one of three hikers arrested for espionage when, really, all they wanted to do was make a harmless “trek” along the Iraq/Iran border. And I'll say it again – who on earth let these idiots into Iraq? And how clueless do you have to be to take an outdoor holiday in a war zone? And don't you think they could at the very least have left a bit more breathing space between themselves and the border? (And how about topo maps? Or a GPS?) (Plus, aren't foreign countries different colors? They are in the atlas I use.) Here's what I think. I think they were playing games – you know, a kind of “extreme sport” for trekkers – so see just how close they could get to the border without actually crossing it. Or, for all I know, actually crossing it and getting away with it. I mean, I can just see people of that age and degree of recklessness dreaming up something like that. Of course, they'll never admit it – especially not to the Iranian authorities. Being accused of spying is one thing, but looking like a total jackass... well!

Even the Mafia is now “going green”. It seems that a Sicilian “businessman” has been arrested and accused of laundering money by way of, among other things, “companies operating in solar and wind energy”. Seems like the least Al Gore could do would be to fly over there and file an amicus brief in support of Vito Nicastri – AKA “Green-o from Palermo”.