Saturday, June 30, 2007

No, it is NOT Hammer time

Vast Left discusses MC Hammer's unfortunate "anti-war" song(via Avedon.):

If MC Hammer can help save our troops with his new video, "Bring Our Brothers Home," why should I quibble?

Well, because it's deeply dishonest.

Still, I agree with the chorus, which is actually pretty catchy:

Bring 'em home
Bring our brothers home
Too much dying
They've been gone too long
People crying
That this war is wrong
Right or wrong, it's time to come home

Also, the endless montage of war footage and flagged-draped caskets is quite moving. How could it not be?

Unfortunately, Hammer has been Hannitized for our mutually assured destruction.

I have to agree with "Vast Left." Hammer has bought in to the idea that domestic criticism of the war is "hating the troops." Another sample:
Man it must be hard
With all the things you're going through
Got the world on your shoulders
Everybody watching you
Keep us all safe
And out the same mouth we hate you.
and Hammer seems to be saying that the problem with the war was just that we stayed there too long:
You did what we needed
In our darkest hour
While our peoples was dyin'
In them burning twin towers
Never before have we seen it like this
The enemies we looking for
Was living in our midst
So we brought it to 'em
And we hit 'em where it hurts
Stuck they heads in the sand and knocked they dicks in the dirt
They know what it is, sir,
Job well done
Now pick up the phone and tell our boys
Come on home.
"Stuck they[sic] heads in the sand and knocked they[sic] dicks in the dirt, They know what it is, sir, Job well done?"

Apparently he's decided to be a racist to boot. Too bad. The title is "Bring Our Brothers Home," and you can look for it if you are determined; but like hell I'll embed the Youtube video here.

I wonder how many people will also decide, years down the road when(and if) the Iraq occupation is finally over, that it was the right thing to do, but we "just stayed over there too long." For all I know it may already be a common sentiment among the blood-n-guts crowd that keeps buying those damn bumper stickers. (If I displayed a bumper sticker that said "I support the troops, except the deranged and sadistic ones," I imagine I'd be compromising my safety, even though it strikes me as a pretty reasonable sentiment. What if I also specified "And I support extensive mental health treatment for the deranged ones?" No, I think it still would be unwise...)

Anyway: as I said the other day, our mass media operators seem pretty determined that people don't make connections and don't put the pieces together, and Hammer's view is tailor-made for giving a way for people to unreflectively square the sheer waste of the war with the aims of the once and future war machine. It's not that different, if you stop and think about it, from John Kerry's "message" in 2004 that the problem with the war was that it was prosecuted badly.

It wasn't always this way. Remember when Jon Voight and Jane Fonda won the lead acting Oscars for Coming Home? I'm not saying the Oscars are or ever were a meaningful measure of film art (clearly they're not, and if they ever manage to be it's only coincidentally so), but they are a measure of what the Hollywood elite holds up as valuable, and it's unimaginable that a film like Coming Home, were it made today, would receive that kind of conferred legitimacy. Today Hollywood courts Hillary Clinton and (to a lesser degree) Obama, with their "all options on the table" talk viz-a-viz Iran, and even in the last cycle they wouldn't touch Howard Dean when he still seemed viable in late 2003.

If you want another reason to see Hammer's view as small and mean, consider this, from another era:

Ataturk's plaque at Gallipoli
(larger image here.) photo courtesy "Rom Tobbi"

(a total of about half a million soldiers died at Gallipoli in a few months' time, roughly half on each side, the British and French, and the Turkish. The custom of sending soldiers' bodies back to their home countries is a comparatively recent development. Incidentally the man who wrote the words fought there too.)

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

David Honish

David-left and Mark Honish-rt
photos from the Dallas Morning News

Unfortunately most people who hadn't heard of David Honish until this past Friday(above right) will think of him in terms of the above photo, a man shot and killed, possibly by his own brother(above left), found by the police in the cab of his pickup, hunched over with the motor running. I don't know why he was killed, but it's a double tragedy for this family, no matter the outcome.

I found out about Honish's untimely death from Fade at Rising Sons, who left a comment at HZ. I went to Rising Sons, where Fade has a nice memorial post, and references a March 2005 HZ post which referred to a Denton Record-Chronicle item about Honish, when his picture made the local Sunday paper.

That was when I first heard of David Honish, the former Vietnam vet and peace activist who was a pretty big part of the protest scene here in the North Texas area. He left a comment there, in fact, discussing his organization Vietnam Veterans Against War.

The photo below (with David on the right, with David Burnham) from 2006 is also from here in Denton, from one of his demonstrations near the UNT campus. I can't really say I knew him, our past tangential communication notwithstanding, but I can say he deserves to be honored and remembered.

photo via William Bowles

Friday, June 22, 2007

Off the Table

Sunday, June 17, 2007

all electric, no bills

image: photo of the Ill de France, leaving NYC harbor
photo( of the Ile de France leaving New York Harbor, circa 1936.

When I was a kid I loved animals, and big motorized machines of every type, whether it was an airplane or Jackie Stewart's Tyrrell Formula One car or the big ocean liners of yesteryear. It never occurred to me that my holding these parallel interests might somehow be ironic.

I wanted, for example, to someday fly on the Concorde, which last flew in 2003, so I guess I missed my chance. The big ocean liners are mostly gone too, but like the Concorde they're strictly a niche consumer good for the wealthy. I wonder sometimes if the ghosts of Concorde and the old gran luxe ocean liners are a sort of D.E.W. line for a society that still believes that technology will rescue us from today without requiring us to do anything about our multiple bad habits.

Speaking of French things (and motorized machines, etc.), the 24 hrs of Le Mans is taking place this weekend, and there's a pretty good chance that a diesel-powered racer will win it outright. The rules have been finessed for this year to allow a diesel powered car to be competitive, and Audi and Peugeot decided to field diesel-powered entries to meet said rules.(The scuttlebutt, incidentally, is that because of the massive investments these two companies undertook to make competitive diesel racers, they're concerned that the rules stay the same for a few years so as to not render their cars obsolete in 2008. After all, only one company team can win Le Mans at a time.) I still love motorsports like I did when I was a kid, even if I can see the politics I wouldn't have understood when I was seven or eight.

image: dining room of the Ile de France

addendum: oh yeah-- Audi won.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Abbe, limbo

limbo w abbe bw
Or, maybe Ms. Abbe's wondering, how low can he go? Actually the photo is from 1955, so GWB hadn't caused much trouble yet and she wasn't wondering nuthin' bout him.*

* On the other hand even this poll is in the (more recent) past, insofar as the congress of late appears intent on catching up(or down) with the president.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Turgid Zone

“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.”

-- Opening narration of original Twilight Zone TV show season 1.

Well, actually, not. You are entering the turgid waters of mainstream American thought processes at least according to the following polls.

CNN poll 1997:

64 percent say space aliens have contacted humans.

37 percent say space aliens have contacted government.

Gallup poll 1990:

56 percent believe in the devil.

72 percent believe in angels.

47 percent believe UFOs real.

AOL poll 2006:

60 percent believe in Bigfoot.

November 1, 2006 NYT/CBS news poll:

75 percent believed a democrat congress would end the Iraq war sooner than a republican congress.

"You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the Twilight Zone!"

-- Season 2 Twilight Zone opening narration.

Monday, June 11, 2007

All those years ago

image: 2 magnum photos from the 1967 war
magnum photos from the 1967 war

some recent anniversaries, courtesy our wikipedia friends:

June 5th,1967 - Six-Day War begins: The Israeli air force launches simultaneous pre-emptive attacks on the air forces of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

June 6th,1944 - The Battle of Normandy begins. D-Day, code named Operation Overlord, commences with the landing of 155,000 Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy in France. The allied soldiers quickly break through the Atlantic Wall and push inland in the largest amphibious military operation in history.

June 6th,1982 - 1982 Lebanon War begins: Forces under Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon invade southern Lebanon in their "Operation Peace for the Galilee," eventually reaching as far north as the capital, Beirut.

June 7th,1981 - "Operation Opera":The Israeli Air Force attacked and disabled Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor.

June 8th,1967 - The Israeli Air Force attacked the U.S. Navy intelligence ship USS Liberty in international waters, killing 34 and wounding at least 173.

Now, keep something in mind: none of these things actually happened. I'm not saying this because of the faults that many people lay at Wikipedia's feet-- the wikis held up their part of the telling, at least here. But if you watch the nightly news on TV, whether on CBS or NBC, CNN, etc, you won't hear about these things. I am lying of course; they did talk about the Battle of Normandy. CIA chief defense secretary Robert Gates was in Normandy, attending the ceremony, perhaps because the French discretely requested that it not be Cheney, after his dress code faux pas in Poland. Who knows, maybe they even scheduled the G8 shindig when they did so that George Bush,jr not be there either. The Europeans are subtle like that.

Katie Couric talked about how the father of one of the CBS nightly news staffers fought at Normandy, and they had a nice story about how dad went back to the little French town where he helped take care of a sick cow in ‘44. I’m actually not making fun, at least not in this instance-- it was a nice story.

The problem is not the story itself, nor occasional sentimentality-- but the lack of context. Television insists that we regard life as lacking context. Stuff happens, then, inevitably, other stuff happens-- not because of prior incidents, but because each day is a new day, requiring new content. And when anything bad happens it’s genuinely shocking, unpredictable, and unimaginable-- just like the last shocking, unpredictable and unimaginably bad thing.

Although I try my best to avoid keeping up with “dancing with the stars” or the latest misadventures of Paris Hilton, etc, I don’t think of myself as a snob who looks down on his fellow Americans for being dumber than a can of paint, as Xymphora very memorably suggested we were.
Yes, it’s difficult sometimes. Millions of us still believe Saddam was responsible for 9/11. Millions more voted to re-elect George Bush,jr in 2004, and supposedly over 50 percent of the US population believes the planet is no more than 6,000 years old .

Should the nightly newscasts be teaching history? Yes, insofar as current events inevitably occur in an historical context, the news readers’ reluctance to note this notwithstanding. People make fun of the news readers, although I suppose they’re a pretty easy target, shooting fish with really good hair in a barrel. We’re often told they’re excessively ambitious, possibly stupid, probably amoral.

Imagine a young reporter at a smaller-market tv station, say, in Terre Haute or Columbus or Buffalo. She isn’t exactly crazy about her job, but she’s young and maybe even comparatively naive idealistic, and even regards TV news as real journalism. So she appreciates her opportunity to gain experience and hone her skills. They ask her to do a bunch of “man in the street” interviews about some topic or other. Maybe it’s for opinions regarding a bill being discussed in congress or the state legislature. She needs to go back to the station with 3 or 4 good ones, whatever that means. She likes talking to people, and talks to well over 3 or 4, and submits 4 clips that struck her as thoughtful yet unpretentious, and edits that. The very next thing she knows, her producer is livid, chews her out, explaining that they’re all wrong, that wasn’t what she was looking for at all. The smart people make viewers self-conscious about their failings.

The producer wants, well, lunkheads. People you can laugh at for their sheer ignorance. Our young reporter reflects on all the people she talked to, and she doesn’t think ordinary people are uniformly stupid, but she also recognizes that her opinion isn’t exactly valued in this equation, and would like to keep her job(at least for now.). So she re-edits, and considers herself lucky that she did talk to some lunkheads, and doesn’t have to go out and shoot again, and manages to meet her deadline-- barely.

I’ve never worked as a tv reporter, and I don’t know if it actually works that way, but I can well imagine it might. Like our hypothetical young reporter, I don’t believe that Americans are uniformly unreflective and stupid, although distressingly many are. What’s even more distressing, however, is how big-time journalism seems like a hermetic, tightly-coiled mechanism, purpose-built to reinforce our sense of ourselves as unreflective and stupid. And apart from people getting most of their news from teevee, it seems like the other stations and programming are part of the mechanism.

A couple of examples-- one I wrote about before:
they were the greatest generation, blah blah blah...”(feb 2003)

What is it with the History Channel? I just got back from the gym where the teevee was tuned to a documentary of sorts about the Normandy invasion entitled "Then and Now". They had the customary business of cutting between modern-day experts and stock footage of the events in question, only one of the experts sure looked like Dwight Eisenhower. ...Later they talked to Rommel's son, then eventually to Montgomery's son, and eventually cut back to the Eisenhower look-alike who turned out to be-- yes, Eisenhower's son.
(Apparently he wrote a book about the war too.)
How many documentaries about D-day already existed before this one, I don't know, but there must be many. Why this particular reshuffling of stock footage, at this time? What is this, Pavlovian conditoning? Are we supposed to respond to this procession of WWII sons as a suggestion about how "righteous" George W. Bush is, readying to liberate Iraq, the wheeling and dealing with Turkey and the counsel of the house of Saud notwithstanding? How about a program about, say, the My Lai massacre in the coming weeks? Do you think we'll see it on the History Channel? I'm not even asking about a show on the US role in Mazar-e-Sharif...

I will say one thing though. It would be nice if we had a president who was as articulate in English as Manfred Rommel is.

The second item is from the Speed Channel(which I believe is owned by Murdoch)from some time in 2005; they had a program about cars of the US presidents, including of course the fateful Lincoln Limo convertible JFK rode in. They discussed various personal and white house autos, with the customary cutting to car experts. At one point they discussed a Ford V8 convertible that FDR drove, which may have been the first car with hand controls for a paraplegic driver, and which is preserved today. Then the expert they cut to offered, just in passing, that “FDR gave people hope, even if he didn’t actually do anything about the depression.”

SON OF A BITCH. What, this car guy is suddenly an expert on the New Deal? If he was, they failed to discuss his credentials. I swear, the more you watch tv, the more you want to throw something at it.

FDR's 1938 Ford

I want to offer a solution, but I don’t have one. I don’t think it’s just an abstract problem, something for bloggers and op-ed writers to bemoan. Conditioning people to reject a sense of historical causality could help enable the nitwit-in-chief to launch a war against Iran, for one thing, and will very likely have more pernicious effects in years to come.

The other day I discussed some of these ideas with Arvin Hill, who is singularly pessimistic about it all. I tell myself that ordinary people had it far worse circa 1890, when Grover Cleveland sent federal troops to smash the railroad unions(which were still illegal), and he was the only democrat elected president from 1860 when Lincoln was elected, until Wilson came along in 1912, a period of even greater 1-party dominance.

Of course today’s 1-party state is slipperier, as it require large numbers of democrats to be shadow republicans, and the dynamic of what the parties(ostensibly) stand for today is very different from what it was in the 19th century. 21st century oligarchs have done their damnedest to learn the lessons of economics and the various social sciences, to make sure that they’ll never be caught unawares by a great depression or other phenomenon that might cast the obstacles they set for ordinary people in sharp relief.

Still. If there are any bright spots, maybe it’s found in discontent. Large numbers of people know something is wrong, even if they have a hard time articulating it. They can’t blame Paris Hilton forever-- eventually they’ll notice she never raided anybody’s pension fund or took away their health insurance. Will it happen in time? I don’t know. Will Americans look at the immigrant rallies, quit bitching about the Mexicans, and realize the illegals are doing a better job of being Americans-- demonstrating, causing a ruckus, demanding to be heard-- than most Americans?

also, see Gary Farber: “God Help Us

Sarabeth, at, "mirror, mirror"

Skimble:"desperate to kiss and be touched"
and the follow-up, "deleting the love"(and no, it's not worth noting just because he references me!)

Jonathan Schwarz(2005):“Now More Than Ever, It's Critical That We Learn Nothing From History
in which he notes that Mike Gerber refers to it as the Learn Nothing From History Channel.

and, as one of Schwarz’s commenters reminds us,
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."--Philip K. Dick

Jeffrey St Clair, Counterpunch:"Israel's Attack on the USS Liberty, Revisited"

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Imperialism and Democracy: Strange Fruit

Chalmers Johnson makes a case for the incompatibility of imperial pursuits and democracy. Basically what he says is that when a democracy pursues imperial designs that the focus of power shifts from the population to that of the military. He also states that for America to regain its lost democracy, and it is lost, we would need to reverse over one hundred years of American imperialism. Chalmers Johnson does not believe it is possible and neither do I.

It could be argued that the seeds for the destruction of American democracy began with the ending of the Spanish American War which was the beginning of America’s occupation of the Philippines for which there are some interesting parallels to the kind of thinking we heard so recently during the build up to war in Iraq. It was believed that the Filipinos would greet Americans as liberators, sound familiar?

Dewey's Pacific Squadron quickly defeated Spanish naval forces at Manila Bay, but the question remained, Kramer said, how U.S. forces should engage with a Philippine revolutionary movement that broke from Spain in June 1898 and declared the first republic in Asia. U.S. forces attempted to make use of Filipino revolutionaries - who were defeating Spanish land forces in the islands - without recognizing their government. Filipinos, they assumed, would greet U.S. forces as "liberators." When Spain surrendered, Filipino diplomats were not invited to treaty negotiations. U.S. negotiators pressed Spain to relinquish "sovereignty" over the Philippines - an archipelago Spain no longer controlled - for $20 million.

In February 1899, U.S. forces outside of Manila fired on soldiers of the declared Philippine Republic and the Philippine-American War began. It would in no sense be either "splendid" or "little," Kramer said. It lasted more than three years, in some places as long as 10. It involved 126,000 U.S. troops and resulted in nearly 5,000 U.S. casualties, an estimated 12,000 Filipino military casualties, and the death by violence, dislocation and disease of an estimated 250,000 Filipino civilians. It began as a conventional struggle, but facing early defeats, Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo opted for guerrilla tactics in November 1899.

There are also interesting parallels between recent current events and the American military involvement in the Boxer Rebellion which began in 1899. President Mckinley ordered American troops to enter China without even asking Congress setting a precedent that still haunts us today as in the recent American naval shelling of Somalia done without consent of Congress.

In the summer of 1900, as the Boxers are besieging the foreign ligation in Beijing and threatening to kill all of the foreigners they can get their hands on, McKinley has to make a historic decision. And the decision is whether or not to send US troops out of Manila and onto the mainland of Asia. Obviously, American troops had never fought in this theater before and what McKinley does is not only order the troops onto the Asian mainland to fight in China, but he does it without consulting anyone. He essentially goes to war without asking Congress anything about it. He uses his commander-in-chief powers and it becomes a very important point historic precedent, the kind of precedent that later American Presidents will use to order American troops around the world.

We have been traveling down the road of imperialism for over one hundred years and the strange fruit of our efforts sit starkly before us. Americans, for reasons good and bad, gave the majority in Congress back to the Democratic Party with the idea that Congress would end the American occupation of Iraq yet the Democratic majority has not used their power of the purse to force Bush’s hand. Clearly though they know why they were elected they refuse to act on that reason and in fact they refuse to do this because they no longer represent us and their feeble attempts to convince us they do represent us become more ridiculous and transparent with every passing day. The connection between Congress and the industrial military complex gives us a good example of how imperial pursuits and democracy just do not mix. The reasons for this are better explained by Chalmers Johnson than me in this interview of Johnson which you can watch here, you will have to scroll down the page to view it.

In the interview, which touches on many topics concerning democracy, Chalmers Johnson discusses the relationship between the CIA and our presidents past and present. Johnson tells how the CIA is in effect a private army for our presidents who operate with almost no oversight if any. I agree with Chalmers about disbanding the CIA as not only are they ineffective in collecting intelligence but they give the president powers that were never intended by our Constitution though that hardly seems to matter much anymore.

The wild goose chase of American imperialism has not only effectively destroyed our democracy but is also driving us to the brink of destruction itself. As our government wildly spends money to support our militaristic pastimes they are bringing the nation closer and closer to bankruptcy which could well mean the dawn of a new great depression. Our past allies now view us with horror and repugnance reducing what might have really been a positive influence in world affairs to a sick joke. For those who believe that a new president will be changing the course of our ship of state I believe you are in for terrible disappointment because there is really nothing new under the sun and a century of momentum is behind our present course and there is really very little we can do to derail it because we no longer live in a democracy.

Strange fruit indeed.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

a Saturday night miscellany

Micah Holmquist:"Mitt Romney wants to invade and conquer 45 additional square miles of Cuba"

aimee mann on sgt pepper in the NYT.

the meat beetles, a new(to me) blog. they make mashups and assorted funny musical sounds. they also prefer to not be associated with capitalization. via mighty Skimble.

Go fast, lose weight: the formula one diet.

less mirthfully, from Common dreams: psychologists and torture.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

An Extraordinary Rendition

Murder will out is a favorite phrase in detective novels and it would seem that it is just as apt for the torture of victims of extraordinary renditions, rhetoric for kidnapping, as torture will out at least in this BBC article.

From grossly exaggerating Russia’s nuclear weapons capability during the cold war, completely screwing up on the collapse of the Russian government as far as predicting it, to not speaking up on the stove-piping of unanalyzed intelligence to the office of Dick Cheney the CIA has a rather unfortunate history. Today we can add the crime of kidnapping and torture to the tortured list of CIA infamies though really it is not that this is anything new or that people have not been aware of this nefarious pastime.

As we Americans get out an about everything looks normal, just another day in Leave it to Beaver land. Soccer moms driving junior to school in their gas guzzling recreation vehicles, pops going off to work, kids playing ball in the park, while our politicos scare us with tales of terrorists and mushroom clouds in order to get that all important nomination so that they can keep those kickbacks from weapon manufacturers flowing in to pad their pockets. But beneath all this humdrum normalcy that makes up American life a dark undercurrent of deceit and violence courses through our lives though it is not polite to speak of such unpleasantness, it might upset little Sally and give her nightmares.

So where to now America, home of the free, land of the brave. You are not so brave when it comes to fear of receiving what you have been dealing out to weaker nations for the past 100 years. Afraid of those terrorists? You bet, so torture is A-okay as long as it protects you from those bad people, those terrorists who hate you because of your freedom. Is this what America stands for, that shining citadel on the hill glowing in the sunny balm of God’s most beloved twixt sea and shining sea? That very same freedom you so casually tossed in the garbage can like so many wrappers left over from your favorite fast food chain is now just a thing of the past a victim of our rabid mouth foaming leaders who would stoop to any depravity to protect what we no longer can claim as our own.

Ah to be sure it is all the fault of Bush he as plays a mad tune on his fiddle while watching Rome burn to the ground. And congress -- that high institution of freedom -- what of our congress who have done NOTHING and continue to do NOTHING while telling us it is all part of some clever plan to stop our mad fiddling emperor by playing make-believe that they are actually challenging Bush’s signing papers or his flouting of the constitution that sacred document we used to hold so dear or any of the other mind boggling atrocities committed by a self-styled idiot king, and he is an idiot, just look at him, he looks like an idiot. As Groucho Marx once so astutely put it, “He looks like an idiot, and he talks like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you, he really is an idiot.”

But in all fairness why pick on just America when those noble people of Europe who have been so outraged by America’s penchant for murder, thievery, and mayhem are so culpable themselves. The article in BBC clearly states that Germany and Italy in particular have obstructed investigations into the CIA’s modern day Spanish Inquisitions while Romania and Poland have allowed secret CIA prisons to pursue their ghoulish enterprises within their sovereign borders and this is only those that we actually know about because who knows how many and where other of these grim tributes to man's inhumanity to man exist or have existed.

People often wonder what name shall be given to our era by historians of the future and perhaps to our shame it just might be something like the Second Dark Age.

Monday, June 04, 2007

End of Eden

In the days before history began, before the people of Sumer began the first known civilization in what we now call Iraq, people lived in small scattered groups. Prehistory humanity was probably migratory following the seasons and game eking out a modest living in a pristine wilderness. Before the ancient King of Babylon Hammurabi hammered out his code of laws in stone I imagine people were able to get along with each other united by family and the need to survive and they no doubt cooperated with each other in order pass on their genes and to survive.

With the invention of civilization came empire and laws to rule empire bringing a new set of problems. Crime was among the first of these problems otherwise why would humanity need the code of Hammurabi? Then came the plague for now that people were grouped together in close proximity and in ever larger numbers diseases like the plague could now spread as large populations became vectors with rodents, fleas and virus. While civilization was an invention of convenience -- the convenience of growing crops, raising livestock, protection from the elements, it also came with a price and a heavy one at that. No doubt there was conflict before the rise of civilization but these conflicts would have been small and limited in number but now with the invention of the state began the curse of organized warfare and the development of military in order to pursue war.

I have long believed that the origin myth of what we call the story of Adam and Eve was the story of the end of humanity as a natural animal that lived in the natural world who one day inflicted civilization upon themselves. It was the end of Eden and the beginning of a long nightmare of crime, murder, rampant and deadly diseases and the greatest ill of all, organized war wrought by the coming of humanity’s greatest mistake which is known to us as national leaders for national leaders are probably the greatest curse of all.

How odd it is that what we see before us we accept as normal. We accept that capitalism is part of the natural order of reality. That it is normal for humanity to congregate in huge hives and for each hive to wage war with other hives in order that our hive should be the best of all hives and that our hive will outlast all the other hives that came and went before us because quite naturally since it is the hive we belong to it must be the best hive possible. It rarely occurs to anyone that this is only one reality out of many realities that may have been, could have been.

We are curious creatures, very curious indeed. We discover what is called evolution and what is the first conclusion we come to? That we, humanity in all its glory, are the epitome of evolution and that we are the highest pinnacle of that process whereby nature evolves life forms that can live within the confines of an environment and how nicely that fits in with our astonishing conceit. I ask you, was there ever a more conceited creature than modern man? How we look down our noses at what we call prehistoric man, at ancient man, and what proof of our forgone superiority do we hold forth? Technology we say, surely our technology is proof that we are the highest and the noblest creature ever to open its eyes and perceive creation around us. Look, look, we build tall structures that reach to the clouds. We make machines that move us rapidly from here to there though what the hurry is none can say. But, but, we can move very heavy objects over vast distances you might point out though we never question the sanity of such pastimes. We can catch a fish in the Philippines, freeze it, and send it on a jet plane to Kansas where we can have it for dinner on the very same day, and surely this is proof positive that we are the most marvelous of creations.

Most people don’t know and are not aware of the fact that ancient man had technology as well. The reason for this is though technology has replaced that fearful God of Eden many do not even understand the definition of technology or even how it differs from science though we point to our technology and revere it as proof of how amazing and unique we are. Ah but we have invented modern medicine yet I would point out that with each passing minute, hour, and day that fewer and fewer have access to modern medicine and that that modern medicine has also produced viruses that are immune to our miracle drugs because we have abused those drugs.

But again one might say we have invented science. We have big-banged the universe and made science our savior. We know how many miles it is to the nearest galaxy. We know the composition of stars and their rightful place in the main sequence. We see the very curve of the universe and yet the closer we get to the origin myth of science, what we call the Big Bang theory, our scientists tell us they see the hand of God itself. Science is turning on itself and eating its own tail like the fabled Worm Oroborous because it is handing us another origin myth throwing God into the mix as the laws of physics break down the closer we approach the moment of the Big Bang.

So this is the modern take on reality. On one end we have the Big Bang and on the other end we have that ultimate apex, that wonder of wonders, the natural conclusion to the entire reason for existence which is to cradle us, humanity, in its cosmic arms and for the universe to know that we were well worth the eons of time and space and cataclysmic energies that were released only to culminate in us the true wonders of the universe. We are surely the most amazing assholes.

Look, I am a huge fan of science, I like modern technology, I like my car which I can drive down to the local market or where ever and knowing that if I break a leg that a doctor can heal it rather than the local barber bleeding my blood to let the evil spirits out. On the other hand we really need to get a grip on it, to look, to see, to understand that this is only one reality and we could make better ones for ourselves without the war, without the strata of social levels, without being such conceited and self important asses that we are. We need to stop accepting all those givens of normalcy that we believe to be normal and part of the natural order of the universe. We could do a whole lot better than what we are doing now. We have fallen from Eden and created a living Hell on earth filled with violence, insanity, greed, and stupidity. So why not try for something better, we really have nothing to lose.

Friday, June 01, 2007

What Lies Beneath

I once had an anthropology teacher who told me that entire cultures can be insane. Today I am convinced he is correct though at the time I had a difficult time believing him. When I look around me and look at this country I see that the majority of people are completely insane. Western culture has always been insane. Just ask yourself what is the history of Europe and the U.S.? The answer is war. It is a long, long history of violence and greed. This country does not need another Truman it needs a complete rebuild from the bottom up and not just the government but the entire concept of our culture. America is nothing but an extension of the horrific violence of Europe and western civilization. And where does it end? Probably never because it is our culture that makes us what we are and culture is a powerful force that is well nigh impossible to rise above. All the insanities that we are we pass on to our children who grow up to be just like us continuing the same world views and values that make up western culture. Our system of government is completely corrupted and broken and so you have to ask the obvious question what will fix it? The answer is obvious, when things degenerate to the point where life becomes unbearable with starvation, rampant crime, and abject poverty people will rise up to reform our government but not our culture, never our culture because it pervades our very thoughts, views and beliefs in such a profound manner that we are hardly ever even aware of it. But it is there all the same, an undercurrent of thought that is cast in iron and imprisons our reason relegating our future to what it is today, no future at all.

June 1st

image:Tony Snow, magic 8 ball
portrait of Tony Snow courtesy

According to Tony Snow, Junior sees the US role in Iraq as being similar to the one in South Korea(here, and here).

from the Guardian:

``I think the point he's trying to make is that the situation in Iraq, and indeed, the larger war on terror, are things that are going to take a long time,'' Snow said. ``But it is not always going to require an up-front combat presence.''
Asked if U.S. forces would be permanently stationed in Iraq, Snow said, ``No, not necessarily.'' He said that the prospect of permanent U.S. bases in Iraq were ``not necessarily the case, either.''

and they said Ken Lay was dead.

A couple of weeks ago Newsweek ran a cover with Harry Truman asking, "Another Truman: where is he?" Although I tend to think Truman is over-rated, it still makes me cringe when Bush,Jr insists on comparing himself to him. Apparently the cover story says we need another Truman. Why? If you insist on simple-minded analogies, wouldn't we be better off with another Eisenhower, the guy who actually ended the Korean war?

on a more positive, Arvin is back, at least for a bit(also).

see also
Dana Blankenhorn: "We Don't Need Another Truman"

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