Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An Offering

Today is Tuesday, 30 September 2008.

On 29-30 September, 1941, elements of Einsatzgruppen C (“Special Duties Unit C”) of the Nazi S.S. shot some 34,000 Jews and dumped their bodies in the ravine, named Babi Yar, near the city of Kiev, in the Ukraine, USSR. Eventually, at least 75,000 other Jews would join those victims.



Here I,
In this ravine of Babi Yar,
In the City of Kiev, then U.S.S.R,
In every inch of earth upon which one might stand,
Beneath the common dirt
Beneath our common blanket earth
From which we all issue and to which we all return,
Sojourn 100,000 Jewish humans,
Our sisters and brothers,
Shot in the back of the head and herein dumped.


The Reichsfuhrer SS has decreed:
“More efficient methods will soon be adopted.”


Like orphan children.



Scarce a mile from here,
Where I complete my journey beneath the earth,
I grew up, sowing and reaping my family’s grain.

Scarce a mile from here,
I met you,
And love in fell and married.

For better or for worse.

Inherited my father’s farm,
And we sowed and reaped,
And were fruitful.


Thee, our fruit, me.

Murdered by Nazis to whom:
All Jews were vermin.

And, like all lice and rats,
Should be,
Were duly,
With all smug smiling consideration,



Like rats and lice.


You are standing, stripped naked, before a ditch …
You are standing, stripped naked, before a ravine …
You are standing, stripped naked, before your dinner table,
As your daughter,
Vermin stripped naked,
Receives in the back of the head a bullet.)

[And I welcome then the bullet in the back of my head.]

(My daughter was …
What then we called,
Of feeble-mind,
She loved cats and dogs and snow.)


Sisters and brothers of Babi Yar:
In the name of all that is decent and human and humane:
I shall never grant the Nazis victory:
I shall never judge even a Nazi as vermin,
Nor exterminate them.


Join, comrades:
I shall refuse to be a Nazi,
Even toward Nazis.

I offer my human monument to you,
And almost victory.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"What a Day That Was"

Today remains Monday, 29 September 2008.

The problem is not that capitalism isn’t working, because of all those bleeding-heart do-gooders who "forced" banks to give loans to poor people and minorities, the banks who made very fat fees from same.

The problem is capitalism has worked as it was designed and meant to.

The purpose of capitalism is not to push prosperity down the food chain. The purpose of capitalism is to suck prosperity up the food chain. Same as with Mafiaism, mercantilism, feudalism, fascism, Stalinism, Maoism, etc.

Most Americans obviously don’t understand the simple facts of economics (why should our corporate master point to The Man Behind the Curtain), and so, when they’re offered the opportunity to get prosperity for nothin’, they stampede to the trough, not noticing the bill is in the mail, and the folks who sent it are nowhere to be found, along with most of the prosperity.

Back in the 19th century, and up until the Great Depressions, the periodic credit crunches and freezes endemic to capitalism were known as “Panics”, and not recessions or depressions. This roller-coast nature of capitalism is technically and politely known as “the business cycle”, instead of the accurate term, “inherent and intended instability”.

Received a most obnoxious e-mail from a “liberal” organization today, gloating over how “we”, through our phone calls to Congress, had smashed the “Bush Bailout”. Claimed we can save the day by creating millions of “green” jobs. (And this taking how many years?) Said it doesn’t matter to “ordinary Americans” what happens on Wall Street.

Excuse me? Tens of millions of “ordinary Americans” are hoping to depend on, for a small measure of security and comfort in retirement, not only Social Security, but also 401(k)s, which tend to be chock full of those stocks on Wall Street.

That Wall Street that just got a $1.2 trillion hole blown in it today. Sure, a goodly chunk of the change was lost by Richie Rich, but tens of billions were lost by the retirement dreams of “ordinary Americans”.

I believe in share the wealth, not just in America but also over the planet.

Sometimes, saving capitalism (for the shorth-term) is the only game in town. Take the long road home tonight, don’t trash the world economy out of pseudo-left elitism, and maybe there will be something left for the meek to inherit.

(And, by the way, replace 401(k) casinos with real pensions.)

Mini Me(a) Culpa

Today remains Monday, 29 September 2008.

My apologies for the Dr. Evil reference, but I couldn’t resist.

I shouldn’t have fallen onto the bandwagon of lazily using the “b” word --- “bailout”. It’s too easily misunderstood by people with the typically inadequate American background in political economy.

I reiterate: what’s being “bailed-out” is the concept of credit which the foundation of the capitalist system. Yes, in one dimension it puts a footing under part of Wall Street, but, since we have capitalism for the near future at least, it more importantly puts a footing under the entire American economy, in which all of us Americans live and have our being, and which is a mainstay of the livelihood of the whole world’s population.

We may not like the fire burning down our house, but that hardly means that, from pique, we should let it consume the place.

I find it interesting, and awesomely instructive, that less than 1/3rd of House Republicans voted today to stabilize, strengthen, and preserve the American capitalist system.

Ain’t that a caution?

To Be Continued.

Burning Down the House?

Today is Monday, 29 September 2008.

It is amusing to watch Bush get a knee in the crotch from House Republicans.

It’s not amusing to watch House Republicans give a knee in the crotch to the American economy, by trying to sabotage the Paulson bailout.

It's difficult to discern how many of the HRs actually believe their spouting that the Bush bailout plan would be the “first step on the road to socialism”. Undoubtedly, some of them are so ill-informed and self-deluded that they confuse state capitalism with socialism. Hopefully, most of them are simply cynical and opportunistic jackals … wait, no need to insult animals … simply Repugnantcans trying to squeeze one more mile out of a re-tread Cold War hysteria.

HH, being a democratic socialist, knows socialism when he sees it, and the bailout ain’t it. Now, complete socialization of the Commanding Heights of the Economy would be a nice start, but, again, this ain’t it.

If the bailout goes through as currently structured, the odds are that, over time, the taxpayer investment in preventing a major global recession will, at worst, break even for taxpayers, and could well turn a small profit. And make no mistake, my friends: the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression is where we’re headed to in a handbasket, if sane regulation, the beginnings of which the Democratic Party forced into the Paulson Plan, isn’t swiftly implemented to rein in lawless predatory capitalism.

The foundation of any economic system beyond the crudest barter is credit: my promise to you that, in return for something you give me today, I will give you something tomorrow. (It’s no coincidence that the words of Daniel Webster are inscribed over the front door at Dow Jones’ headquarters in New York City: “Credit is man’s confidence in man”.)

If you don’t believe this, then you should cut up your credit cards and return everything not yet paid-in-full, pay off your home mortgage or sell and move into your car … oops, you probably owe money on the car, so move the family into a local alley.

Already, world credit markets are nearly frozen: without some guarantees and regulation, banks are becoming too fearful to lend to one another, let alone to consumers (the latter is a technical term for “those of us who like sufficient nutrition on a regular basis”).

Here’s a paragraph from Saturday past’s The New York Times:

“For nonfinancial firms during the first three months of the year, the outstanding balance of so-called commercial paper — short-term IOUs that businesses rely upon to finance their daily operations — was growing by more than 10 percent from a year earlier, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by Moody’s Economy.com. From April to June, the balance plunged by more than 9 percent compared with the previous year.”


As I write at 5.50am CDT, what looked when I retired last night to be a promising opening in the Asian stock markets has turned sour, and the same is happening in Europe. American stock futures indicate a sharply lower opening.

More to come on the subject as the day grinds on.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

In Memory: Paul Newman

Today is Saturday, 27 September 2008.

The Musuem of the Bourgeois has just learned of the breaking news of the death of Paul Newman.

Following is the first thing I grabbed off the net:

We mourn.

Blessings to Joanne.


Friday, September 26, 2008

"Mein Fuhrer: I Can Valk!"

Today is Friday, 26 September 2008.

On this date in 1983, a quarter century ago, Lt. Colonel Станислав Евграфович Петров (that’s Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov to you, Comrade) of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, correctly realized that a technical malfunction had falsely indicated an American nuclear missile attack, and did not notify his superiors that the USSR should begin a full-scale nuclear war.

[see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Petrov]

This is not the only documented case of barely-averted nuclear holocaust. The USA/USE went there also (e.g., when a new radar mistook the rising Moon, fair Luna, for a Soviet ICBM attack).

All across this land, your land, my land, their land, in bunkers spanning this spinning globe, itching fingers are constantly, religiously, loyally, foolishly, sociopathically, poised above red buttons.

Sleep tight tonight.



Thursday, September 25, 2008

Anticipating Bartok

Today remains Thursday, 25 September 2008.

Bela Bartok died, tomorrow, in poverty in our country, in 1945.

McCain and Palin, alas, prosper.

Compare and Contrast

Today is Thursday, 25 September 2008.


Let's do that Walter Benjamin reconstructionist thing: mix and match --- what thoughts - images - emotions does the conjunction of the following awaken?


Share your words.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You've Been Punctuated!

Today remains, as it were, “Wednesday”, 24 September 2008.

Today …
Is ___
National Punctuation Day!

Without punctuation,
Life is “short, brutish, and nasty”:


It required ten minutes to write that “sentence”, because my hands kept writing punctuation. Those symbols and spaces.

Punctuation is a lifeblood of language.

Spaces can be spices?

Life persists [endures?] in the symbols and spaces. {?}

(Formerly: “e.g.”)

I love you.

I “love” you.

“I” love you.

I love “you”.

“I” love “you”.

“I” “love” “you”.

Welcome to my … … … nightmare [your choice of punctuation here].

Stunt Pilot

Today is Wednesday, 24 September 2008.

In 2000, John McCain admitted that he didn’t know as much about economics as a President should.

In 2008, he still doesn’t, and still flies by the seat of his pants.

(Perhaps explaining the five, count ‘em, five taxpayer airplanes he crashed during his Navy career.)

Now, having refused to cast a vote in the Senate since May, McNoShame is rushing back to Washington to burden the nation with his formidable economic genius. (“Rushing”, as in stopping along the way to speechify at a Bill Clinton event.)

As to McCain’s “suspension” of his campaign, will he really forbid anyone to speak, organize, or fundraise on his behalf? If some do, will he sue to stop them? Will McCain refuse all contributions for the duration?

One suspects not.

As to evading the Friday night debate, is McCain so lacking in marbles as to fantasize the Senate will be in session then? And, even were a bailout decision to be reached shortly before the debate time, and available for a vote, would delaying a vote until Saturday morning be a catastrophe?

I must agree with Barack Obama: presidents must be capable of dealing with more than one issue at a time.

Selecting a vice presidential candidate as woefully under qualified as Sarah “I Could See Russia If I Traveled to Some Unidentified Alaskan Island So I’m a Foreign Policy Expert” Palin was a cheap stunt, potentially lethal should McCain win and perish in office.

The Cheap Stunt Pilot is alive and … well, I wouldn’t call McJohn “well”.

Clearly, McCain is unqualified to be a wing walker, let alone pilot of the Ship of State.

CORRECTION: In yesterday’s column, I referred to “Lao Tzu”. Of course, I meant “Sun Tzu”, author of the classic, The Art of War. Whatever was I thinking? My humble apologies.

And, for a moment of comic relief in this trying election season ... why does McCain remind me of this movie?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Today is Tuesday, 23 September 2008.

Guerilla war, counter-insurgency, asymmetrical warfare.

The US military keeps changing the brand name.

Reality: a large, powerful, ponderous war machine confronts a swarm of small, less-powered, nimble military units.

That Gulliver thang. That Nam thang. That Iraq thang.

(Ought not one expect a Learning Curve here?)

McBush and W.Cain hail “The Surge”: it’s broken the back of The Insurgency, and Violence is Down.

For several thousand years, long before Lao Tzu, any fool knew: attack your enemy at their weakness, withdraw from their strength.


Since before The Surge began, I’ve argued that violence was declining because sectarian violence was no longer so necessary: the objectives of ethnic cleansing in the non-Kurdish 2/3 of Iraq had already been achieved. Shi'ites and Sunnis had already been driven into and/or cannily withdrawn into religiously-pure enclaves.

Seems like reality agrees: http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSN1953066020080919?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

The foregoing analysis of satellite night photos shows religious homogenization: religious cleansing was completed before the surge.

Guess the Cavalry, arrived after the Calvary.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn Leaves

Today is Monday, 22 September 2008.

Happy autumnal equinox!

As of 10.45am CDT, Sol passed directly over the equator heading south, and autumn began. Finally!

But more than leaves should fall.

Over the weekend, the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, a man who makes Scrooge McDuck appear positively benign, made clear the powers he demands to implement his latest (and at least $700 billion) “solution” to the financial credit crisis: no Congressional oversight and absolute immunity from review by “any court of law or any administrative agency”. No checks or balances, simply a one-person dictatorship.

To paraphrase from the Cold War: If you don’t like it here, Henry, why don’t you move to North Korea (where they hate democracy and responsibility as much as you do)? You’ll be right at home, providing you can convince current management to grovel before you, not shoot you on sight.

Cheney-Bush, had they at long last any decency, would summarily fire Paulson for even suggesting such crap. But, of course, dictatorship by the executive branch is Cheney-Bush’s bread and butter. (The rest of us can eat cake.) Paulson should be canned in any event: for the past sixteen months he has repeatedly trumpeted that he had “contained” the crisis. (As an incompetent Treasury Secretary and former Chair and C.E.O. of Goldman Sachs, he’s part of the problem.)

Equally disgusting is Paulson’s proposed course of action. He would buy, with taxpayer dollars, $700 billion worth of poisonous mortgage-backed securities from the thieving companies which peddled same, and let taxpayers absorb the loss. If such a bailout is to be offered, each firm must issue stock to the taxpayers, through the agency of the Federal government, in amounts directly proportional to the poisons taxpayers are being asked to swallow.

(And HH isn't the only one thinking the same: see distinguished economist Paul Krugman's column in today's The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/22/opinion/22krugman.html?_r=1&ref=opinion&oref=slogin)

And now, in honour of the season, a performance by Stanley Jordan. (HH once had the honour of producing him in concert. Jordan is a true gentleman as well as a great musician.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rx McCain

Today is Saturday, 20 September 2008.

Here’s a gem of a quote, sent to Paul Krugman at The New York Times.

“Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.”

Yes, that’s the demi-god of deregulation Himself, Ramblin’ John McCain.

Bear Stearns, the HMO, anyone?

McCain, as many Republicans, claims to be strong for "law and order". John, any synapses left to fire? : "regulations" are a form of the rule of law.

If you wish to expunge regulations, then you wish to expunge law.

How about some additional "choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulations": e.g., crack cocaine and child sex workers?

[Credit: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/19/mccain-on-banking-and-health/]

Jelly Roll Morton was born this day in 1885 or 1890.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Way Out There in the Blue

Today is Friday, 19 September 2008.

Sorry to have been so quiet this week. I’m still recovering from my worst experience of asthma and allergies in some time. I’ll withhold comment on the astonishing financial events a bit more, since other significant chickens are likely to have their heads chopped off and be sent running around DC soonest. However …

The recent actions of the Cheney-Bush regime through the Treasury Secretary and Federal Reserve head are exemplary of the regime’s character. Head in the sand until tail-feathers are on fire, then a series of barely-coordinated kneejerk reactions as walls tumble.

Iraq policy, anyone?

Which, to my mind, raises the question of the training and psychology of fighter pilots, given that Bush, Rumsfeld, and McCain were all trained as such.

Such combat pilots love to boast of their split-second decisions “straight from the gut”, an “instinctual” sure grasp that eliminates the need for all that intellectual thinking foolishness.

Consider, however, the reality of fighter pilot training. First, the basic principles of aerial combat are drummed into the brain in a classroom environment. This may be reinforced by computer or trainer simulation experience. Finally, intensive and repetitive training in executing those tactics in actual aircraft.

Classic behaviour modification.

Combat decisions do not issue from some mysterious and mystical “gut”, but from training which is so drilled into the consciousness that pattern recognition is greatly speeded up, and the time necessary for the brain to perceive and process variables is greatly reduced. (Compare the reaction times of well-educated drivers when confronted with an unexpected emergency.)

Only the ignorant and/or superstitious can attribute this process to a divinely-given “intelligence” of the “gut”.

Consider this in the light of national security and foreign policy. Even decision-makers with vast and deep educations, coupled with extensive practical political experience, require much study and pondering to arrive at policy conclusions, and, even then, they are frequently wrong.

When such as Bush, Rumsfeld, and McCain claim their decisions of national policy derive from their non-existent “gut”, they only reveal they are ruled by their prejudices, ignorance, and fantasies.

And people die senselessly.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rick 71

Today is Wednesday, 17 September 2008.

As we know, Rick loved his bike.

I’m a writer, so I imagine everything.

That moment when, near Salina, Rick perhaps turned his head and saw that Mustang at the moment of collision.

And Rick ceased to be among us.

Rick’s smile is forever in our hearts.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Today Remains "Birmingham Sunday"

Today is Monday, 15 September 2008.

On this date in 1963, at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, terrorists from the Ku Klux Klan exploded a bomb, assassinating four children. They were Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley.

The Museum of the Bourgeois honors their memories, and the memories of all other victims of white racist violence.

Would that it were so ...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Getting Back to "Douglas", 2

Today is Sunday, 14 September 2008.

I capitalize “Black”, but not “white”, because:

1) A reminder Blacks were enslaved by whites, not vice versa

2) Such usage really bends the minds of some white folks, who can’t stand being sent to the back of the bus, even in such as capitalization.

As to my characterization of John McShame as ignorant, inept, corrupt, and a failure, stay tuned for details. Read it and weep.

Palin Abused Rape Victims

Today is Saturday, 13 September 2008.

“Officer, I’ve been raped”.

“OK. It’s a $500 minimum, cash up front, for the rape kit.”


“Mayor Palin’s rule.”

As mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin eliminated public funding of medical examinations of women who reported to the authorities they had been raped.

Cash or insurance was the order of the day.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Getting Back to "Douglas", 1

Today is Friday, 12 September 2008.

Responding to questions from “Douglas”, on the column of 19 August 2008, regarding a poll:

“In a June ABC News poll, 4 in 10 whites said they “would not feel completely comfortable” with a black president. 3 in 10 admitted to racial prejudice, more may feel it. 57% of whites said they don’t thing “Obama has sufficient experience to be president.” Over half call him “a risky choice for the White House.” Since 77% of voters are white, these numbers matter.”

(I wish English had a better term than “racial prejudice”, since humanity is not divisible into any smaller race than “human”. Claims that there are sub-species (or “races”) within homo sapiens are pure Hitlerite crap.)

It’s obvious the “not completely comfortable” 40% of whites in this sample are bigoted: they can’t stand the thought of a president with the skin color of those who were once enslaved by whites. White supremacy is a pathetic socialization, but “there it is”, in all its insecure, vicious glory.

The whole “experience” issue is misconstrued and something of a red herring. “Experience” is not a Ding an sich, a “thing in itself”, Good and enriching and ennobling merely for having been experienced. The value of experience lies in what one makes of it, the conclusions and understandings one draws from it, not merely the fact of having had particular experiences.

McCain, for example, witnessed and experienced the folly of American imperialist aggression in Indochina. Yet, he didn’t learn: McCain has supported imperialist aggression in Central America, in America’s proxy war against Iran through Ba-athist Iraq, and against Iraq. He hasn’t learned from his evil choices, and therefore experience, both as a military officer and as a member of the House and Senate, has had only negative value for him. Experience was worse than useless to him.

Palin’s experience as a politically-responsible citizen, and her meagre experience as a mayor and governor, has likewise not prevented her from falling into the moral error of supporting imperialist aggression.

Obama, in his experience as a politically-responsible citizen, drew the correct conclusions, and opposed the Cheney-Bush regime’s imperialist aggression against Iraq. His experience in the Senate has only confirmed him in the correctness of his judgment.

We must also note that there are experiences from which one derives no moral insights (“I experienced the beauty of a thunderstorm”) and experiences from which one may derive correct moral insights (“I experienced dousing a dog in gasoline and setting it afire, and realized it was evil”), though sometimes not.

McCain and Palin killed the dog, as it were, and developed a taste for blood.

In 1977, Steve Biko, the great freedom activist, is murdered by police of the South African white supremacist regime, which had modeled its apartheid laws on the anti-Semitic laws of Nazi Germany.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Meaning of 11 September

Today is Thursday, 11 September 2008.

In 1970, Salvador Allende, a Socialist, received a plurality of votes for President of Chile. His expected (and absolutely democratic and constitutional) election by the Chilean Congress was unacceptable to the Nixon-Kissinger regime. Thus, the CIA, acting through rogue elements of the Chilean army, assassinated the army’s commander-in-chief, General Rene Schneider, who opposed a military coup.

Nonetheless, Allende was duly elected, and the CIA continued to collaborate on and fund a sabotage and terror campaign, culminating in a coup on this date, 11 September, in 1973. The subsequent military dictatorship proceeded to murder tens of thousands and torture tens of thousands more (while looting billions from the public treasury).

This is a textbook example of state-sponsored (public) terrorism, authored in this case by the government of the United States of America.

On this date, 11 September, in 2001, the military wing of al-Qaeda hijacked three airplanes and flew them into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, destroying the former and damaging the latter, killing 2,974.

This is a textbook example of non-state-sponsored (private) terrorism.

The so-called “9-11” is blithely labeled “the day that changed everything for America”. However, for many Americans, terrorism (American state-sponsored) was as familiar and as American as apple pie. These include Native Americans and African-Americans, the latter under both slavery and segregation.

For many, if not most, Americans, the only thing that actually “changed” on “9-11” was the realization that Americans could be, not only the perpetrators of terrorism, but also its victims.

If 11 September is to be commemorated, it should honour and mourn all victims of public, as well as private, terrorism, “them” as well as “us”.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Last Days of Humankind 5

Today is Tuesday, 9 September 2008.

Time can obscure essential truths. Memory can be made to excuse the greatest evils. Yet who could even hope the future might misunderstand our crimes or imagine me a liar in my play?

But to you --- comrades, friends, buddies, pals --- I vow: these eyes have seen the words of our masters and tormentors, these ears have heard their deeds, and this voice shall so remember them that they shall never escape their deeds.

As Horatio in Hamlet, I say:

"And let me speak to the yet unknowing world
How these things came about: so shall you hear
Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts,
Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters,
Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause
And in this upshot, purposes mistook
Fall'n on the inventors' heads. All this can I
Truly deliver."

Here then, in my play, is the World War, and my “Proclamation to the Nations,” mocking the proclamation of the Emperor.

As the Emperor declaring war said, I now say, “I’ve thought it all out carefully.”

Humanity is a tragedy with but one actor, and no audience, which I’ve made it my business to record, a play breaking down into scenes of humanity’s breakdown.

“All this can I truly deliver.”

And should our times, which author all these crimes, refuse to hear, I pray there is yet a Spirit above whose compassion for the victims may accept our tragedy, may accept our tragedy, and transfigure it to redemption.

[After a pause: From outside and far away.]


Exxx-tra Aussss-gabuhhhh! Exxx-tra E-deee-shun!

[Fade to black.]

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Last Days of Humankind 4

Today is Monday, 8 September 2008.

But rest assured: You didn’t die in vain!

You died that every human right and value might be betrayed for profit, that every child in every womb might be consecrated to the sword, that every mother, daughter, sister, and wife might be armoured in gas masks, that every church bell might be melted to cannon, and shrapnel everywhere served as sacrament.

My friends, you were armed but did not revolt. You were armed, but couldn’t bring yourselves to desert the trenches of your Homeland’s dishonour, for the honour of liberating yourselves and us. Had you forgotten us, trapped like you between lies and fear, hunger and disease? Did you care the less for us, who had only one question: in the name of God and humanity, what could you have become, if you returned to us?

Comrades! Friends! Buddies! Pals!

Shall you not now, at long last, rise up from hero’s deaths, from battlefield graves, rise up far behind the lines where your commanders make merry? Rise up, your mangled faces of youth and spring frozen now forever in winter, rise up in their dreams?

Today, they sent you to die: tonight, they send for their whores.

Comrades! Friends! Buddies! Pals!

Won’t you save us from rulers whose peace is a plague, from misleaders whose greed turns green fields red and every mother’s hair white?

The enemy before you, the Homeland behind your back, the eternal sky above you: and you, enduring like a brief candle, only to die like sheep or cattle.

My comrade, friend, buddy, pal, died in field hospital. My last letter was returned, stamped “Moved. Address Unknown”.

Awake, you dead! Awake, demanding back your precious heads and blood and breath and tears and love and laughter! Awake, you dead, and show your masters what you are now! Awake, and show them men they can no longer command!

J’Accuse! J’Accuse! J’Accuse!

But I accuse them not only of your deaths. I accuse, condemn, and damn them eternally for your lives, for the years of animal living beneath the earth, for that last, prolonging moment when the animal within you confronted the animal outside you, and the man, once so human as yourself, drove home the bayonet in you, in a thousand trenches, in a hundred thousand homes, in ten million lives.

Now all our easy sleep, food, drink, joy, and dying safe at home seem crime and sin.

Time can obscure essential truths. Memory can be made to excuse the greatest evils. Yet who could even hope the future might misunderstand our crimes or imagine me a liar in my play?


Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Last Days of Humankind 3

[Selects another newspaper clipping.]

Herewith, the richness of gratitude with which Austria-Hungary rewards a few of its treasured "patriots":

"In the first year of this glorious Great War, news reports inform us: Fanto, Inc. --- 74 percent net profit. An oil refinery --- 137 percent net profit. Kreditanstalt Bank --- 20 million Marks net profit."

And for this, my friend, and not only you, but millions, were forced to wallow four years in glory, mud, filth, lies, rats and lice, forcibly separated from the solace of home, hearth, letters, books, friends, loved ones. Naturally, my friends, you were intended to live: there were, after all, banks and stock exchanges unlooted, lies unprinted, widows and orphans unfilled with sorrow, human beings not yet dazed, confused, beaten, whipped --- still a pittance, at least, of petty malice and vicious incompetence not yet excused by war, and still to be measured out.

Friend! Comrade! Buddy! Pal! You were sentenced to four years on death row for this? You there and we here, like sheep for the slaughter, like the Serbian grandfathers forced by their Austrian executioners to dig their own graves, then to stand and wait, stand and wait, stand and wait, staring into their own graves, condemned for the simple reason of being merely Serb and therefore expendable in a Greater Cause.

Friend! Comrade! Buddy! Pal! I see the leaders of this global holocaust, the leaders who always seem to survive to retire, warlords who always seem to ride away into the sunset, gently "fading away" astride their fine horses, those cowards who command from far behind the front lines, I see them fallen into our hands, digging their own graves, I see them standing and waiting, standing and waiting, standing and waiting, staring into their own graves like Serb grandfathers, waiting for the blossom of pain in the back of the neck.

But then: Don’t kill them!

Slap their coward’s faces and rub their coward’s noses in the world they’ve made: Children crying for milk, horses crying for grain, the dying crying for water, prisoners crying for mercy, mothers crying for children, wives crying for husbands, orphans crying for fathers, each crying for one another, the hero’s death, the heroine’s sorrow, and nothing left in the world but screams and cries, curses and sorrows, and … certain favored bank accounts forever feeding and fattening on misery and despair.

My friend, comrade, buddy, pal: Murdered, silent, seldom daring to revolt for certain knowledge you’d be murdered by your own commanders. Silent and unrevolted in the face of a social and economic order which would condemn all humanity hereafter to “scraping by”. Murdered, silent, and unrevolted when the imperatives of public hatred murdered dreams of private happiness.

“There was a war on. There is a war on. There’s a war coming”.

Fear, flags, lice, anthems, hunger, slogans, murder, honor, poverty, glory, massacres, refugees, lies. Humanity enslaved by greed and shame.

Softened up by a constant bombardment of Sunday Editions, we learned to hate in all the languages of Babel. The press didn’t make the war, only helped our masters rob us of all imagination and knowledge, ‘til we dared not even imagine our own self-extermination.

“In the beginning was the Word”.

In the end, we had surrendered all words.

And, in all this, hardly any of you who were murdered in the trenches dared say a word, dared repent of nationalist hatred, dared turn against our masters and help us free ourselves and you from the governance of lies.

Instead, you cowered on barren ground amid barbed wire, huddled in trenches, lay in stinking hospital trains, naked and defenseless before cannon fire and journalists.

“Excuse me, my friend. Please tell me, for the Evening Edition and the Public’s Right to Know: What’s it like to die?”

You lived and rotted in hell, only to prolong our common hell, and then you died.

But rest assured: You didn’t die in vain!


Friday, September 05, 2008

Interlude: RoboMcCain: I'm Pandering As Fast As I Can

Today is Friday, 5 September 2008.

More Karl Kraus:

In the fourth year of the war.

[This war … opps, this was … originally written in 1917. ]

We are war-weary.

Surely that is the most foolish phrase of our time.

(And the competition is immense!)

We’re weary of extermination, robbing, lies, hunger, filth, and chaos.

Remind me: When were we un-weary of that?

Would not it be a good idea to be weary of war, before one started same, than after?

Perhaps nations, in the fourth year ... damn, in the sixth year (2003 to 2008 and counting) ... perhaps nations, in the sixth year of waging a war of aggression, deserve the fate of suffering?

[Not Kraus, but HH: alas, it is leaders, misleaders and their dupes, who deserve suffering, not the millions and millions who blindly stumble behind.]

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Last Days of Humankind 2

Today is Thursday, 4 September 2008.

Dear "trying to be patient",

Well, excuuuuse me, for trying to deliver a well-pondered reply, instead of blaring the first point off the top of my head. I'm trying to be respectful of commenters, not doing the Rush screaming thing.

The translated scene from The Last Days of Humankind is, by the by, the beginning of my reply. Stages must be set.


“Here in thin gray tombs of newsprint, in silent forests echoing with blood and iron, nothing remains in the world but this: screams, cries, fragments of bodies, curses, and the deafening silent voices of perishing millions constantly, justfully, accusing me of still being alive.

Did I create this world merely by seeing it for what it is?

Yes: this arm should crush the world’s evil with a single blow. This mind should force humanity to resist its own extermination. This voice should … alas, alas, cannot prevail against blood and iron.

The logical conclusion: you’ll die for something, Some Great Thing, a random, rancid slogan upon your lips …

Honor? Sure! Glory: Why not? The Flag: no problema. Fifty-Four Forty or Fight. Don’t give up the ship! I have not yet begun to fight! Manifest Destiny. Remember The Alamo, or The Maine, or the World Trade Towers. The Gold Standard. The Free World.


What are these? What are these, always more precious than life?

And why, you leaders, who lead, never from the front, but always from the safe behind, why do you demand we have such contempt for death, the unknown, “that land from which no traveler returns”?

Did the dead, before death, know what Death was?

The dead hardly knew what Life was, ‘til shrapnel occupied their flesh, ‘til poison gas invaded their lungs, and an “animal” [O, when we are inhumane, don’t we humans delight to slander vertebrates who never invented ideological mass murders?], moments ago as human as you, threw himself over the barbed wire, ran and crawled and bled across No-Man’s-Land, lept into your trench, his bayonet against your chest, threatening you, now another “animal”, and there, finally, at The Abyss, you discovered what life was.

Later, after dispatching the wounded, like a casual gunshot to the heads of horses lamed, your superior officer boasted: “My boys laughed at death!”

You shut up, while he boasted.

As always, you shut up, were silent before The Man, your superior, God’s superior, the power of life and death in his hands, the Self-Consecrated Uncreator of the Created World.

Your “superior” was promoted, you shut up, and everywhere profit fattened on death, misery, and despair.

“If I’d only known”, you sigh (those with lungs left to sigh).

Surprise! The war of the rich, the fight of the poor.

“Ich hatt’ ein’ Kamerad”, some soldiers sing. “I have a comrade”.

I had a comrade, friend, buddy, pal, brother-in-words, scholar, heart turned toward art and heaven. He was drafted and marched away, amidst the honor, glory, songs, flags, dismal rain, mud, lice, and lies of our Homeland, one more pale face packed into the troop-carrying cattle-cars of our Homeland, shipped like meat amidst the honor, glory, songs, flags, dismal rain, mud, lice, and lies of our Homeland, to the battlefronts of our Homeland.

(Security, indeed!)

Would that God had granted that he had died of this industrial processing which soaks homo technologicus in filth before it buried him in blood. Instead, following Goethe, my friend journeyed to Italy, the Italian front.

On orders, in Italy, for four springtimes, he burrowed beneath the earth, like a rabid rodent, a killer spider.

What was he hunting there? Lice for the Homeland? Poison gas for the Homeland? Shrapnel for the Homeland? Glory for the Homeland?

All his devotion to the secrets of vowels, mortared and martyred by the vocabulary of Nationalist “Progress“: barbed wire, machine-guns, poison gas, tanks, mines, curtain fire.

My friend became the traveling-salesman-joke of arms factories, the guinea pig and guarantee, in his own flesh, of the superiority of his nation’s product, and the inferiority of Country Brand X.”


It's long been very public record that Pat Buchanan is a raving anti-Semite who opposes prosecutions of Nazi war criminals. Here's an excellent round-up of the evidence: http://news.yahoo.com/s/huffpost/20080904/cm_huffpost/123755

I continue to be disgusted by the number of Buchanan's fellow Republicans who will have anything to do with him. I don't know why Sarah Palin once wore a "Buchanan for President" button, whether to "make nice" [to an anti-Semite?], to suck up, or from conviction. One finds it impossible to believe that one who could get themselves elected a governor, had no knowledge of Buchanan.

It's long past high time that decent Republicans read Buchanan out of their party, and consign him to the toxic waste dump of his murderous fantasies.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Last Days of Humankind

Today is Wednesday, 3 September 2008.

My Dearest Frustrated Reader and Nancy,

Once upon a time, as all the best stories begin (and if I appropriated that from another writer, it is an homage of fitful memory, not theft), there was a great Austrian writer named Karl Kraus (born 1874; died 1936), whose professional and personal career was even vastly more tortured than that of HH.

Or, as both KK and HH would have written in small letters in the edited margins: “??? Even more vastly tortured?”

[Among that which drew HH to KK: we both edit to death.]

Kraus wrote an amazing journal, in the sense of a magazine, Die Fackel, The Torch, a magazine of intellect and quality the like of which has disappeared in our day.

Kraus wrote a gigantic play about the Great War, World War One, The Last Days of Mankind, an attempt to record all the sorrow of that war, a play, he wrote, meant to performed only in a theatre upon the planet Mars, for otherwise every heart would be broken.

Kraus was an outspoken opponent of the Great War, and, had he not been so esteemed, he would have been imprisoned by the fools in Austria-Hungary.

Had Kraus not been Austrian, he would have been a Nobelist for Literature.

Not that Kraus cared.

Once upon a time, HH discovered the works of KK, and, as in a fairy tale, was bewitched by them, and performed them, as a one-person public reading in 1986, as Kraus had once famously performed them in Vienna, probably the first time they were performed in the US in the style of Kraus.

Herewith, the translation of HH.


By Karl Kraus

(Act V, Scene 54)

[Vienna, October 1914, a month before the end of the Great War.

The dead and wounded crowd the streets, staring like deer caught in headlights.

Rain falls from hell.]

[At his desk, The Writer sits in a pure white spot. An anti-war dissident. He pauses to choose a final word.]



[Heard from outside the window.]


Exxxxxtra- Ausss-gabuhhhh! Extra edition!


The five o’clock edition of the Newspaper of Record. AM or PM, I’ve lost track. Whatever: the dead and wounded march past every window.

[Selecting a newspaper clipping off his desk.]

“Promptly yesterday, at 7.35 AM, the 24th day of August, 1918, were three trees felled near a papermill in the Harz Mountains. With due diligence, within two hours, the trees are scaled of bark, processed into woodpulp, pressed into newsprint, and shipped by truck to a news printing plant.

By 11 A.M., newsboys hawk the Early Edition on the streets of Vienna.

Thus, in a mere 3.5 hours, the Homefront reads news of the Battlefront, of suffering unbearable, on a gray page stemming from green trees among whose brown branches bluebirds had, that very morning, sung."

Read all about it.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Today is Tuesday, 2 September 2008.

On this date in 1945, on an American battleship in Tokyo Harbour, the “Japanese Instrument of Surrender” was signed, thus concluding the ill-named “World War 2”: more accurately, the concurrent “Second European Great War” and the “Great Pacific War”.

Most scholars agree, and such an estimation can never be accurate (for who really keeps score?), that some 60 to 70 million human beings were exterminated. One should add some 30 to 60 million dying early or with diminished lives as cause and effect.

Some claim that one can imagine the death of one, but not a million.

Try this count: “My mother, my father, my sister, and me”. Repeat as many times as necessary to achieve some 120 million.

If people used their imaginations, perhaps there would be less exterminating.

Monday, September 01, 2008

McCain's Middle

Today is Monday, 1 September 2008.

John McCain has touted two main reasons in his race for President.

One: As an ex-P.O.W., he is a War Hero, and therefore magically endowed with special gifts, graces, abilities, and qualities, unlike other mortals.

Two: He is far more qualified in length and depth of experience in national security and foreign relations than Barack Obama.

Thus it follows naturally that he would choose, as a potential successor, someone with zero such experience.

(Of course, Cindy McCain said Sarah Palin is qualified because she’s governor of the state geographically nearest to Russia. Cindy, kindly return to buying houses with Daddy’s beer fortune, and leave politics to the adults.)

As with most right-wing extremist Republicans, McCain attempts to masquerade as a man of the center, of the great middle ground of the American political spectrum.

By his selection of Sarah Palin, McCain has given his middle finger to the people of the United States.

On this date in 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, beginning the Second Great European War. On this anniversary, W.H. Auden’s great poem, “1 September 1939” always rewards re-reading.