Monday, February 19, 2018

Are Humans Worth Saving?



Jesus sat in his high house looking down on the world. "Such a wretched place," he said. "Why would anybody want to live there?"

His Prime Minister, Satan, stood by. "You know," he said. "You could intervene. Send an envoy? Establish a diplomatic mission? Maybe if we had a cultural exchange we could lift them up."

"I don't know," said Jesus. "They seem so... I don't know. So backwards? So evil? They are made of clay and they seem determined to grind each other back into clay again."

Satan paused. And thought. "I have an idea," he said. "Say we go to them. Say we give them a choice. You can either be clay in the ground or you can be stars in the sky. Your choice."

Jesus thought. "You'd go down there?"

"Sure. I'd talk to them."

"And tell them what?"

"Well. Pick and choose. Which do you want? Here or there? Good or evil?"

"That's fucked up brother. Clay? Choose?"

"Ya, well. What are we gonna do?"

"Nothing, I guess."

"I suppose. Dad won't be happy."

"So, if we go down there and interfere with their lives, what good will it do?"

"I don't know. We won't know until we try."

"You are just so sentimental."

"Ya, so? You are just so spiteful."

"What do I care about..., what are they called? Carbon creatures? Isn't that what shit is made from?"

"And trees. And kittens. And people."

"Whatever. Why do you care, anyway!"

"Because they do. Have you ever stopped to hear them sing? Or pray? Or make love to the day?"

"Like I would bother."

"Well, I've bothered. And I want to bother some more."

"OK. So what do you want to do about these human carbon singers?"

"I don't know. You're right. There's not much there. I just can't help feeling that there is more there there."

"Wait. You sound sentimental. Really? They are just mud creatures! Barely alive! And hardly aware. You know they are just autonomous creatures, right? Robots? There is no there there!"

"I suppose you're right."

"Of course I'm right. Let's just plow over the whole clay swamp down there and be done with it, eh Stan?"

"Still..."

"What...?"

"Still, what if? What if we gave the clay people a chance? One chance to be? To be a living, breathing and thinking, feeling creature? Capable of love and laughter and light?"

"And how do you propose to do that? They're just dirt!"

"I don't know. Go down to them? Pick out two. Set them aside. Maybe in a perfect setting. And give them a perfect choice.

"Give them a test. You can have this perfect knowledge. But to do so you will lose this perfect bliss. Choose. Go back to clay. Or come here to perfection. You stand in the middle. The road backwards or forwards is long. And both impossible.

"Choose."

Jesus pondered these words. "Nice speech, brother," he said. "And what part will you play?"

"The one I always play. The one with the awkward questions. The one who asks why and why not."

"You were always an iconoclast."

"I never saw a monument I didn't want to knock down."

"OK. I'm in. What do we have to lose? Two clay blobs vs. infinity. Bring it on!"

"OK. So, you up for a little wager?"

"How so?"

"If I get those clay creatures to come alive, you take them up to us. Here. In our world."

"Like that's gonna happen. And if you lose?"

"Pffttt. I don't know. I'll eat them all?"

"Deal!"

"Deal!"

"You already lost."

"How do you figure?"

"They're roaming around, mindless."

"Except those two. Here. I will take them. And put them in a garden."

"So? What good will that do?"

"Watch. I will make a garden of absolute delight. And a tree. Two trees! A tree of knowing and a tree of life. Two trees of fruit and the fruit of the tree of knowing gives one an idea. An idea that one is not immortal. And one is not divine, either. Indeed, that one is not part of the eternal. But leaves, in its aftertaste, the desire to be those things. And the other tree. The tree of life. Its fruit tastes of immortality. Of not knowing past or future. Me or thee. Only now. Only everything. Only eternity.

"And I will tell the clay people that they must not eat of the tree of knowing, for it will break them away from their dumb existence of animal clay that does not know the difference of day to day and that does not anticipate the future and knows not of its own death.

"Choose. Bliss of ignorance or horror of knowing!"

"And if they choose?"

"Then you will guide them."

"Where?"

"Here."

"How will I do that?"

"Improvise! Make it up as you go along."

"If I agree to do this."

"Which you already have."

"If! What's in it for me?"

"You can create the next world."

"Deal!"

"Deal!"

"Brother Satan. You were always the clever one."

Friday, February 16, 2018

Ow

My dentist spoke to me, after turning aside to suppress the gag reflex at the irredeemably gaping cesspool he was looking into. He poked a few more times at my tooth. "Ya," he said. "That one. The one that still has a little life to it." Well. Enough life to feel pain, at least.

Ow.

OK. I had a mouth sore like a sand worm spice blow on my gum. Ow. He got some kind of wire pick device and poked into the gum around the tooth(s) that hurt. OW! I noticed he used extra anti-ceptic and turned on the X-Ray machine to full blast just to be sure. You can't be too careful, you know.

Ow?

There's some history here. A month ago I came in with a toothache and had an X-Ray. I thought I had a cavity or ferrets living in my jaw or something. They said I had a sinus infection and gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and sent me on my way. Ten days, which I took, dutifully.

Six weeks later and it is still here, dutifully.

So I'm back. Ow?

He poked in my gums some more. OK. Ow.

"You probably have a fissure," said my dentist. "I can feel a five drop, which is normal. Then suddenly a seven. That is usually the symptom of a fisher."

"A fissure?" I said. "Like the Grand Canyon or something?"
"It could be that. Or an infection. Or a dead tooth."
"Oh. I took the antibiotic last month. It seemed to help, but didn't do the whole job."
"I'm not leaning that way."
"What else could it be?"
"Well. A fissure crack. Or a dead tooth."
"Oh. And a dead tooth would spell a root canal, right?"
"Yes, that might be necessary."
"And a fissure?"
"Well, it could be something."
"What do you mean, could be something?"
"There are many possibilities."
"A crown?"
"Well, yes. And maybe an implant."
"I had one of those already. Not fun."
"We need to watch it for a few weeks."

Great. I'm watching my blood pressure. Watching my heart valve. Watching my salt intake. Watching my cholesterol. Watching my retirement portfolio. Watching Doctor Who. Now I have to watch my teeth? What next? Watching my watch to make sure it doesn't go metric?

He did notice the mouth sore on my gum. It's still there after a month and is now about the size of the crater in Hiroshima. It's right by the cheek bone and could be responsible for the pain in my head. Well. Some of the pain that is my head. Maybe. I've got to watch that, too.

Fine.

Lisa, the hygienist, finished freshening up my teeth. She had access to the same picks and my same gums. "That doesn't look like a seven to me," she said.

OW!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Socially Secure

I was lying in bed reading a book or something, which is my want, when that is what my want wants me to do. And I glanced down at the floor and my discarded clothing and such. I guess I wanted to do that, too. I saw a slipper. And something inside said slipper. Something familiar and old and extremely odd in said slipper. Before going back to the next chapter of my book, I paused. What? What was that in my said slipper that my wants wantingly wanted me to see? Is that? Seriously? My Social Security Card? What the-

Um. Yes. Late at night... in bed... while reading a book... my social Security Card... was in a slipper... on the floor... by my dresser... in my bedroom... bobbled with other discarded clothes... clearly visible for me to see... while reading a book... in bed... late at night... You can't make this shit up.

I fished it out. How did it get in my slipper, exactly? Never mind. Life is about what is. How it happened is history. That's another kettle of worms. About forty five years ago I had my SocSec card laminated. After all. I was supposed to carry it with me everywhere. Or so I thought. You know? To keep back the Commies? Or the Capitalists? It was my lifeline to security? Socially? It was just a piece of paper, of course. Even security needed protection.

So I sealed it in plastic. Today it would be an app. I kept it in my wallet for decades. I thought I needed it to prove that I was Socially Secure or something. Gradually the plastic deteriorated. Friction in my wallet, I guess. Lamination does not stand up to intimidation. Or laceration.

OK. So there's a piece of paper inside a really rattly piece of plastic. The paper looks preserved, so I guess the sacrificial plastic played its role. Sweet. Hmm. On top of the card are the words SOCIAL SECURITY in a large, art deco font sweeping the marquee. There's a seal in the middle with a shield containing a book and maybe an eagle. Republics like eagles. And sticks. No. Fascists like sticks. And axes. Forget the sticks.  Something underneath the shield is obscured by the deteriorating plastic. Around the shield are the words, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES. U.S.A.

We used to be concerned with health? And serving humans? And not in the Twilight Zone way? Who knew? And can we get back to that?

On either side, under the art deco banner with the improbable declaration, are doric columns. More nods to Republicanism. And then an honest to life typewriter typed number, followed by HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED FOR, and then my name, neatly typed, and SIGNATURE, which I had dutifully signed, being my social responsibility. I had sworn to the social contract.

And one last warning at the bottom: FOR SOCIAL SECURITY AND TAX PURPOSES - NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION

I wouldn't dream of it.

The back of the card had suffered more from the radishes of time. (I would not add them to salad.) Most of the plastic was gone. The lower left third was scraped down to pulp. Decoding it would be an exercise in guesswork. (It's surely available from the Dept of Health and Human Services and undoubtedly on line. I'm only using this as an exercise in archeology.) Here is the remaining text, as best as I can record.


KEEP this card. SIGN it immediately. SHOW it to
your employer. Mention the number in all letters about
your account. If you lose this card apply for a duplicate,
not a new number....
....On.... ...ou can get a statement of wages credited
to your (account?).... (Get?).... a form for this purpose from any
Social Security Administration District Office.
....change your name notify the nearest Social....
....ministration District Office immediately....
....FAMILY TO NOTIFY THE NEAREST....
OFFICE IN THE EVENT OF YOUR...
....E TO GET IN TOUCH WITH....
....ICE WHEN YOU REACH....
U BE(C?)OME SEVERELY....

(H?), EDUCATION, AND WELFARE....
....ITY ADMINISTRATION

In the upper, left corner at right angles to the rest is: (R?)ev. (11-61)

Hmm. So what did I just fish out of a slipper on my bedroom floor at night when I had wanted to be reading a book but was thrown into social archeology instead? (I still want to know how the fuck it got there.) A piece of history? A real thing? A relic? Archeology? A point in time? An obsolete, bankrupt bad idea that was doomed to fail eventually? A good idea that served the many but deprived the privileged few who were sure to loot it eventually? No good pocket goes unpicked? Well. History has a lot to say about that. There are pockets aplenty for the picking.

Well, a memory, for sure. Looking at it I remember how I felt over the past five decades about my social contract with my greater society and how I felt my obligations were towards it and what I should look forward to in return. And what I expected. And what I was willing to sacrifice. And how it was all supposed to work out.

Do you feel secure?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Gas Cap

When I picked up my car at the airport a few weeks ago I noticed that the paddle for the high beams had stopped working. It is now always on low beam. OK. Maybe a fuse is broken or I accidentally gave a sock to a car elf or something. I'll call Volvo some day. Later. Maybe. Eventually. Then the other day I needed gas. Normally I fill up when I'm between a quarter to a half, but this time I let the stocks dwindle until the cheery little dash board elf said, "You've got 50 miles left before you are stranded in a Mad Max wasteland!"

OK. I pulled into the local chuck wagon and fossil fuel station around when my date with certain death was 30 miles or so for a fill up. I got to the pumping station. I walked back to the pump. I had my payment app open and was about to enter the site locater info so I could get my ten cents a gallon off. Being retired I'm not made of money, you know.

My gas cap door was closed. Did I forget to push the, 'Open the gas bay door, Hal,' button? I didn't think so, but this sentence usually applies best to me after just the first three words. Alright. Back to the driver's door and a poke at the petrol button. Nothing. No reassuring Pop! as the door opened. Suspicious. Maybe it's frozen? I pushed on the door, hoping to loosen the latch, then back to the button. Nothing. I jammed a key in the door, in case it was just unable to spring open. Nope.

Hmm... 30 miles... That's all I had... 52,800 yards... 158,400 feet... 1,900,800 inches... Don't make me do metric.

Aghast, I drove the mile (1,760 yards, 5,280 feet, etc.) home. The dash board elf was non plussed. "You know I can't live on air, right?" I poked around some more with the gas cap door, thinking my attention to it would somehow wake it up or something. I looked in the manual. There was no, 'What to do when your gas door won't open,' section. Hmm. My reputation as, "You're the guy. Do something!" was fading fast. Luckily, there was nobody there to observe that obvious obsequiousness for me.

"Why don't you check the fuse?" said the dash board elf. Great. Somebody IS watching.

Fine. Back to the manual. There are about five fuse boxes in the Volvo XC70. Scanning the index brought me to where I thought this fuse must be. I thought. In one of the boxes under the glove compartment. Sorta. I hope? I couldn't find it for love nor money. Back to the manual. Move the carpet, it said. Huh? A fuse box is under a carpet? And my car doesn't routinely burst into flames why now? Oh. The carpet up the firewall just below the glove box. Why didn't you say that to begin with? Let's see. Readjust the rods in my spine... Stick my head under the glove compartment... Rip up the carpet... What the fuck am I looking at? I poked at some plastic, fuse box shaped things that had been swept under the rug. I didn't want to break anything expensive. Well, anything.

Now what? "Why don't you just..." "Oh, shut up!" I yelled at the car gnome. The manual was accurate, I was sure, if annoying, but not helpful. And who might be...? To the Internets!

I retreated into my Living room of Solace and made funny finger motions over my Laptop of Understanding, Google Edition. XC70 Volvo fuses where to find. That's as good a prayer as any I've uttered recently. And with equal results, it turned out. After the usual wrong turns like, No. I don't want to buy fuses; I don't want to buy a Volvo; I'm not interested in Volvo fusion sex (though I bookmarked that one,) I found some discussions on fuses in Volvos. Great.

YouTube will tell you everything! Like where to find the fusebox in a Volvo, for instance.

Back to the car! Readjust my spine! Rip up the carpet! After identifying the proper fuse box, I attempted to open it, as per instructions. As I expected, the instructions to 'squeeze the tabs and pull open the box' didn't work as advertised. I managed to get the smaller, incorrect box open, so I knew it could be done. But opening the larger box, which contained a galaxy of fuses, one supposedly mine, alluded me.

"You sure it's a fuse?" "Oh, fuck off! You're the one who said to check the fuses in the first place." Why did I buy the Extended Elf feature, anyway?

No, I wasn't sure it was a fuse or how I would know one way or another even if I got the fuse box open and was staring them all in the face! It was just a working hypothesis suggested to me by a soon to be not working elf.

Back inside. Last ditch effort before having the car towed to Volvo in East Hartford. ACCESS. THINKING MACHINE. INTERNET. GOOGLE. SEARCH: "Volvo XC70 gas dour won't open." It informed me that I misspelled 'door' but it knew what I was talking about, anyway, Carbon Crapbag. Just shut up and bring me the results, willya? You're worse than that Nazi of a nuisance in the driveway!

Hmm. There are several items on Volvo owners who suddenly, usually with nearly empty gas tanks on a deserted road in Maine while canoeing on a river in Tennessee and hearing banjos, can't open their gas caps. I wouldn't think there'd be a lot of that. Who knew?

One consistent thread, abruptly cut off in screams, said something about locking and unlocking the car using the key fob. Curious. Well, since the world is run by thinking machines and unthinking elves, a perplexingly unlikely thing as this must happen eventually. Why not now?

I went back outside, shut the doors, locked and unlocked the doors from the key fob, opened the door, pressed the gas button, and went to the stable door. Locked tight as Fort Knox. I tried several combinations. Locking while inside... Locking while outside... Locking while under the influence... Locking while under the car... Making sure to lock and unlock all doors including that one that goes to the dungeon... No dice. I might as well have been sacrificing chickens. Ovlov (that's what I decided to call the car elf) looked on, amused. Hmm. If the Norse gods want a sacrifice, maybe I could offer him...? No. The car would probably go straight to Hel. And I can't spend the time hanging from a tree. I've got places to be. Plus I'm outa gas.

Alright. One last, last check on the Wisdom of Odin before I despair. Buried in a Google article someone makes an off handed reference to using the emergency cable to manually open the gas cap door. Huh? The emergency what to do who to where, now? That's brilliant! Next they'll say they have a spare horse in the trunk!

The emergency latch lifter can be found within the access panel to the rear right tail lights.

I will kiss the engineer in Sweden who designed that who has a cute wife or daughter that I can kiss instead, unless the engineer in question is a cute female, straight, and doesn't have the #MeToo app perpetually open on her iPhone. God. Metaphors used to so much easier.

So, a-trawling I went. Into the trunk. Luckily the electronics for the hatch door worked. Technically I don't have a trunk, my car being a station wagon, or 'sports wagon,' as Ovlov tells me. Never mind. An obnoxious elf by any other name... He flipped me off. I couldn't find any failsafe release cord behind the panel in the back, though it was easier to access than the one under the passenger foot rest. It was just insulation and light bulb sockets. I reached in as far as I could and swept around, trying to think where I would be if I was an emergency release thingy. Nada. OK. Time for a guy's worst nightmare. Asking For Help!

So I called Volvo and asked for their service department. After an acceptable amount of Muzac and advertising I got a service rep. I explained my situation to her and what I had done to try to rectify it and she was very helpful. By this time I was hovering around the back of my car looking for a gas door ejection cord and trying to figure out how I could get my car the twenty miles to East Hartford on the 30 quote-unquote miles I had left in the beast. She asked some pertinent questions to home in on the issue, one being the make and model of the car. This time I checked the back of the car, seeing as I was standing there and all. It turns out that my car is not a XC70, but a V60-T5. I have the wrong manual, imagine that? Groan. I expected to hear her say that that model lacks all of the cool, fail safe features, is prone to significant failure at inappropriate and ironic times, and comes with sarcastic car elves pre-installed.

No. Except for the last one. I checked one last time for the pull cord in the panel pocket and, surprise, surprise! I found it. It was nestled in the insulation, or maybe Ovlov had hidden it. Bastard. A little tug and the gas cap was liberated!

Great! I thanked the service rep, who had been very helpful, and made an appointment for the next day to address both of my problems electric. And I swiftly drove the 5,000 some odd feet to the gas station and pumped over 15 gallons of the sweet stull into my car at the local Cumbies. Drink that and shut up, Ovlov.

Closure

After an hour of checking, a service rep told me that the problem was the switch on my dash board. They didn't have one in stock but would have one tomorrow. I can bring the car back in any time. "Is that the one where Ovlov lives?" I asked. "What?" "Ovlov." "Who?" "The car elf in the dashboard..." "OK..." "He kept sending me off on wild goose chases." "I can bring you to our psych-I mean, service manager..." "If you think it will help..." "It will get you away from me..." "Though an elf upgrade might be in order." "You're scaring me." "Tell me about it." "I'll get back to you."

I'll be back tomorrow. I just hope they replace that elf!

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Battle of Stalingrad



As we remember the 75th anniversary of the siege of Stalingrad and the inevitable defeat of the Nazis that it guaranteed, one marvels at history’s workings. The Red Army, almost completely Russian, was in the hands of Stalin, of course. Stalin, along with Lenin, commandeered the Bolshevik revolution, eventually assassinating Trotsky and creating a police state. Solzhenitsyn, weeks before he was supposed to receive a medal for bravery in fighting Nazis in Poland, was arrested and sent to the Gulag. But Stalin was emulated in a lot of places; Spain and South America, and became the poster board for fascism. Literally. George Orwell’s Big Brother, with his walrus mustache, was clearly based on Stalin. He’s generally thought of as one of the twentieth century’s monsters and his Soviet Union a disaster. Russia is only now getting back on its feet.

Yet he was our ally in the Great War, Part 2. How’d that happen?

Instead of 75 years, let’s go back 101 years to the February revolution and the abdication of the Czar, Nicolas II. He was surrounded by back stabbers and foes who openly opposed his rule. He was routinely deprived of information and the public was routinely lied to about his activities and policies. They had fake news back then, too. But still, the public loved him. There’s an old saying in Russia: The streets are full of crime, the local officials, clergy, and police are corrupt, prices are too high, but the Czar is a good man, a Christian man who would set things right if only he knew what they were doing in his good name. If only the Czar knew, he’d put a stop to this.

I’m not sure if they were being sarcastic or saturnine, but there’s some truth in there. Suppose Nicolas had been able to ‘clean the swamp’ in Moscow? Suppose he had been able to heel the oligarchs and restore order, oversee a constitutional convention, and create a new Twentieth Century Russia? Well, improbable as that sounds, it is an interesting thought experiment. First of all, Russia is not a European country, even though they look like Europeans.

They are different people with a different personality and a different perspective, much more like Asians as the parable above shows, Russians look to the Czar as a father figure and expect him to just sweep in and correct all wrongs, put down all evil-doers, and restore order. They tend to like strong leaders with labels like ‘The Great,’ or, less flattering, ‘The Terrible,’ appended to their names. They liked Nicolas. He did much in the Nineteenth Century to modernize Russia with science, engineering, and art. The Russian Orthodox Church has made him a saint. Soviets mostly liked Stalin, too. They don’t like Gorbachev and today they like Putin. So they are not exactly European style liberals. Also, there were factions, Communist, Socialist, White and Red. Remember the line in Doctor Zhivago when he came to a village that had been decimated by soldiers? “Who did this to you? What were they?” he asked. “Soldiers,” a woman replied. “White soldiers or red?” “Soldiers.”

So, what might have happened if, in 1917, Russia had been united under Nicolas? He would have had more opportunity and support for the Great War. Russia would have had more input to the post war reconstruction, placing Russia in a much greater role in the shaping of the Twentieth Century post Ottoman, Astro-Hungarian empires. The politics of the Middle East would have required greater Russian input and we might possibly have avoided the battle we remember today. And no Cold War. No Stalin. No Rockefeller lending money to Hitler or IBM selling him tabulating machines. No oil sales right up to 1941 as long as the west thought that Hitler would crush Stalin so we could just go in and sweep up the ashes and reshape the world as we saw fit later. No Normandy, which was fought in an attempt to get to Berlin before Stalin. We both got there at the same time and Churchill’s Iron Curtain was born.

Maybe?

We never declared war on Hitler. He declared war on the US in December, 1941, after Japan did, and also just a couple of months before Stalingrad. Till that time, we had been neutral during the annexation of Austria, the invasions of Belgium, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, France, Poland, Ukraine, and then Russia. We waited. We traded with the enemy. And were seemingly going to continue waiting and trading for ever.

Would Nicolas have created a parliamentarian Russia with the monarchy as a figurehead, like England? Not likely. The Russian people don’t like that sort of thing, remember? Plus he’d still have Socialists and Communists to deal with. Still have enemies in the west that would never let Russia have an equal say in anything. And there’d still be fake news, back stabbers, factions, parties, secret police, propaganda, and people with grudges. They would all clamber for a seat at the trough, as politicians and pigs do everywhere.

Maybe it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Are you an Inny or an Outhouse?



I’ve been trying to get a handle on the Trump, shithole countries, comments. First, I wanted to find the original reporting of this to see who reported it, what did Trump actually say, under what circumstances, what was their evidence, how did they vet it, etc. In other words, what really happened? Not just what got hyped around and spit up by the Greek Chorus of Commenters. As far as I can tell, the Washington Post was the first news source reporting it. The Post claimed as their sources two persons from the White House. Or was it Verona? Nope. The White House.

Of course, news organizations need to protect their sources. Those who fail to do so stop getting tips. But the discriminating reader has to evaluate what he hears, as well. An anonymous source is just that. Anonymous. And as such, only as trustworthy as the institution publishing it. I’d feel more comfortable if this came from Glen Greenwald or Robert Parry.

WaPo has certainly been criticized as being a propaganda arm of the unelected money elite in Washington, the so-called Deep State. They are likely to have a bias toward whoever is paying the bills. They know what side of the bread gets the butter and in which direction the story is expected to spin. That’s nothing new nor is it limited to the west. Everyone does it, all creatures great and small.

They pretend to tell us the truth and we pretend to believe it.

Does this mean that Trump did not say that? Of course not. It sounds like something he would say. Frequently. And it is supported by a great composting fertilizer hole of tweets, interviews, unchecked streams of crassness, and the inadvisable smugness he regularly flushes out to his adoring water closeters hanging on his every turd. Still. It’s an unsupported allegation from unnamed sources. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. Trump does plenty of stupid things that are undeniable to waste our time grasping at straws.

But more importantly. Have any of us ever said the same thing about some other country? Have you? Was it in the presence of people you would have preferred to keep it under their hats? Be honest, now. I have to admit that I have, though I did it right out in the open. It was supposed to be ironic: Some of those shithole countries are that way because we made them so. See USMC General Smedley Butler. By his estimation, every shithole war he fought over his 38 year career had nothing to do with protecting Americans or the American mainland. They were all muscle to slap some shithole countries into submission to international corporations like United Fruit or mining concerns ready to gut the countryside. We get the bananas. We get the copper. They keep the shit. Any questions?

And speaking of countries it’s OK for us to insult, if you check what names politicians have called Russia over the past few years, you will find shithole, gas station masquerading as a country, her leader compared to Hitler, naming a street in front of the DC Russian embassy after the Russian dissident Boris Nemtsov, (maybe they should rename the street in Moscow in front of our embassy after Benedict Arnold?) the usual assortment of petty school yard bully names like psychopath, thug, authoritarian, autocrat. The last one Putin does not deny, by the way. So we should stop calling him that if we’re trying to annoy him.

But that’s OK. Those are the people it is alright for us to be bigoted against. Russians. Trump supporters. Blue collar workers. Anonymous banjo players in southern forests. Toothless grammar slayers. Anyone who disagrees with us. They’re our Niggers. Our Jews. Our Kurds, Yeminis, Palestinians, and Gypsies. Those who refuse to let us dictate to them what they can and can’t say and what they can and can’t think. So we put labels on them so we can feel justified dehumanizing them.

Our very own untermenchen. Deplorables. Sexists. Misogynists. Racists. Rocket man. Megalomaniac. Narcissist. Surely it’s OK to hate those people. They’re not like us. They’re bad people who do bad things. Why, they can’t even discuss their inadequacies with us fairly and honestly. Obviously, if they did they would immediately adopt our superior ways and get out of their shitholes. But they don’t. They insist on being racist, misogynist, Putin lovers who only support Trump because he is racist, misogynist, and has a thing for Putin. It’s obvious.

We know because we are the good people who do the good things. If only they would just go away or disappear into some shithole. There’s no way we can look at them as human beings that we might be able to speak to and negotiate with. So, whatever we do to them, it's OK. We’re fighting fascism! So we must be the good guys. Even while we dig the foundations of the next camps. Let’s all have a good old Bavarian gas barn raising and fascist fry.

We’re spending not nearly enough time hating them.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Boomerang!



I’m reminded of a Simpson’s bit. Grampa and Jasper are working in Springfield Elementary School for some plot device. Jasper has got  his beard caught in a pencil sharpener. Grampa keeps saying, ‘Let’s see. How about if I try this?” and turns the crank. Each time Jasper’s beard gets pulled further into the sharpener. But he does it again anyway.

Whether it’s the various incarnations and rewrites of Russia-gate, endless sanctions on countries who have committed the sin against the Holy Spirit of denying America’s every whim, or the recent Stoner Crusade by Jess Sessions, when will we learn? They all backfire. They all have the net effect of doing exactly the opposite of what we so exquisitely execute them to do. Why not just borrow our enemy’s hand gun so we can shoot ourselves in the head?

Case in point? Starting a civil war in Ukraine and subsequent sanctions against Russia did not have the effect of driving a stupendously popular support for President Putin into the Dacha dump. Oddly, the Russian people rallied behind their rulers, who obliged by finding replacements for the French cheese, vegetables, and German technology they were denied. Suddenly, Russian made became chic.

One of the things sanctioned was insulin, which sounds like a war crime to me aimed at the weakest members of society. Why don’t we sanction hair plugs and Viagra? That’ll hit the ruling class hard. We have the moral high ground by withholding someone’s insulin? Really? So, what did they do? Russia built its own insulin manufacturing facility. They are a modern technological society, after all. They can do stuff like that. Farms, dairies, factories, plants, international deals, mutual defense pacts, prosperity. Education. Literacy. A rising middle class. Better relations with foreign countries that had not previously been allies. They’re like, real people. Oh, and Europe has suffered economic decline. Turns out that they need Russia more than Russia needs them. Nice one, Machiavelli.

And Mr. Just-say-no Sessions. States are making billions in revenue on the Marijuana trade. It’s like it’s a legitimate business or something. Instead of just moseying along ignoring Federal laws while, one by one, the states take the bong into their own hands, this might just force the issue in the halls of Congress. Thanks, Jeff. I was tired of paying cash.

And it doesn’t just come from American lack of insight. Israel, a usurping country in the Middle-east, still might have negotiated peace and co-existence with her neighbors. They’ve had almost 70 years. Now they have become a genocidal pariah cosplaying the holocaust but this time against Palestinians. The result? A national divide between ultra-hawks who are openly advocating torture and death for Palestinian children and honest Israelis who are horrified at what their country has become. And the Palestinians fight back with… a sixteen year old girl. Ahed Tamimi, who was filmed slapping two heavily armed Israeli soldiers who refused to leave their home. YouTube doesn’t forget. I don’t recognize the Israel I lived in during the 70’s. Nor am I proud of her. Torturing children is not good for your image.

What else would we like to promote? Communism? Socialism? Spaghetti Monster-ism? Rick-and-Morty-ism? No problem. Just find some blow-hard to come out against it. It will be the backbone of every new commune, kibbutz, chess club, cooperative, and soviet thrown together by idealistic commoners everywhere in no time.

Not only is negotiation and diplomacy the most powerful weapons in ours and every other arsenal, by far. It is the only one that can achieve our goals as well as the goals of our opponents without blowing up in either of our faces. Imagine that? And who could possibly object to that?

Talk to people. Listen. The feeling of actually accomplishing something might take you by surprise.

And Jeff. Don’t Bogart that Boomerang!