Thursday, September 30, 2010

Coals to Newcastle, Trash to Albany

Today is Wednesday, 29 September 2010.

I’ve previously noted that the Republican/Teabagger candidate for governor of New York, Carl Paladino, is a white racist who enjoys sharing racist “humour” by e-mail. He also is apparently “sexually” aroused by videos of women being raped by horses, which he also generously shares with others by e-mail.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Paladino claimed he hadn’t told his wife that he had fathered a child with a female employee because: “I adore her. I didn’t want to bring that hurt.”

“Disingenuous” seems hardly appropriate. Had Paladino truly so adored his wife that he didn’t want to hurt her, he would not have become a slut in the first place. He only agreed to tell his wife (nine years after the birth of the child!) in a bargain with one of his sons, who agreed in return to enter rehab.

Today, Paladino claimed to have proof that the Democratic candidate, Andrew Cuomo, also had extramarital affairs, though he refused to reveal the alleged proof.

Paladino has surrounded himself with a tainted pool of campaign aides.

The chair of Paladin's campaign, Nancy Naples, was formerly comptroller of Erie County. She chose not to seek re-election in 2005, after it was revealed that she had steered 80% of Erie County’s bond business to a campaign contributor. His campaign manager, Michael Caputo, failed to pay nearly $53,000 in Federal taxes.

A Paladino political strategist, John Haggerty Jr., is under indictment for allegedly stealing some $1.1 million from the re-election campaign of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Paladino’s driver, “Rus” Thompson, did jail time in Arizona for DUI, hit-and-run on a parked car, and driving with a suspended license.

Paladino’s fortune is largely based on leasing property to New York government. He has promised, if elected, to go to Albany with a baseball bat and “take the trash out”.

Given his morals, Paladino would have no difficulty identifying trash in Albany. Whether he would take more trash out, than he would carry in, is highly questionable.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Today is Monday, 27 September 2010.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

I’ll refer to the ideology under discussion as “Tenther”, although its proponents prefer terms such as “True Constitutionalists”, “Patriots”, etc.

Tenther ideology, a favourite of many Teabaggers, claims that the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, noted above, means that the Federal government has only such powers as are “enumerated”, that is, specifically and literally spelled out in the original document, and no others. (Depending on the ideologue, powers may or may not be added by the amending process.)

This means that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, the V.A. hospital system, and, in some cases, civil rights legislation of every kind, etc., are patently unconstitutional on their face, and therefore null and void.

Tentherism flows naturally, or by an unnatural act, if you prefer, from the ideology of “Originalism”, the notion that the only standard for interpreting the Constitution is the clearly spelled out and discernible original intent of the Framers, frozen in amber. Both ideologies are tigers rather more easily mounted than dismounted.

The Preamble states that one of the reasons the Constitution is ordained and established is to “provide for the common defence”. Nowhere in the Constitution is any authorization clearly enumerated that the Federal government may purchase and employ, for example, automatic rifles, grenades, tanks, or airplanes, let alone nuclear weapons. These things did not exist in 1787, and therefore the Framers could not have specifically intended them, even by inference. Therefore, clearly, by Tenther logic, the Federal military may purchase and employ only such weapons as muskets, muzzle-loading cannon, and wooden sailing ships.

This single example suffices to demonstrate that Tentherism is a logic which inevitably ends in seizing itself by the throat and choking itself to a ridiculous end. However, if one fancies delusion, lusts after slavery, and pines to live in the late 18th century, it is obviously hot.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Today remains Sunday, 26 September 2010.

What was the political significance of the introduction of the first televised Presidential debate, Kennedy v. Nixon, this date 50 years ago?

Essentially none, other than that many people were deceived into imagining that it had some significance.

These affairs are never actual debates, in the sense of the candidates going after one other’s ideas and values hammer-and-tongs on a meaningful level. They’re merely live political commercials delivered simultaneously from a single venue. More bread-and-circuses to flimflam the masses.

That first debate had a great personal political significance for me, however.

The next evening, my sister and I and other kids were playing on the sidewalk in front of our house, in the small town of Vestal, on the Susquehanna River, in the Southern Tier of New York. My sister was driving our little red pedal-car, a fire truck. I heard a neighbor mother say to my mother, “What do you think of Kennedy on The Cold War?” At that moment, everything I’d learned on the subject crystallized in my mind in a frightening gestalt, as I truly comprehended, for the first time, with great existential dread, that, were The Cold War to turn nuclear hot, I and my family and friends and most of the people in the world could be, after a single moment of faulty and regrettable decision, dead in a few hours.

This understanding has never left me, indeed, has only deepened and matured with time, and been one of the great influences and informants of my life. The realization that, sadly, one of the things that it means to be human, is that we are so capable of being engines of our own mass destruction.

Humanity, crown of creation.

“O brave new world, That has such people in’t!”

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"In the meantime, in betweentime..."

Today is Sunday, 26 September 2010.

Weekends are always the most difficult for this writer, as family obligations increase. For example, today I made a fav of Mrs. HH, potato-corn chowder. Recipe upon request, but the key is, instead of thyme, herbs de Provence.

I should provide two columns today, the one I intended, on Tenthers, and another on implications/issue of the first televised Presidential debate, this date 50 years ago, Kennedy vs. Nixon.

With luck, I may finish one before midnight. If not, will back-date tomorrow. I don’t think we’ve talked klezmer before. I’m a big fan. However, didn’t know The Barry Sisters, until my friend Julie turned me on to them yesterday.

Oh. For the record. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the U.S. is:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The Barry Sisters are far better.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

For B

Today is Saturday, 25 September 2010.

Today is the bat mitzvah of B, daughter of B and R.

Mazel tov!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Stand on Zanzibar

Today is Friday, 24 September 2010.

Today is the birth date, in 1934, of John Brunner, one of the most gifted of “science fiction” writers. (Brunner died 26 August 1995.)

Many consider science fiction a “genre” niche, and therefore inferior in some sense. Same goes for mystery, espionage, etc. This attitude reflects a failure in how we consider and discern fiction.

The standard should not be the “genre”, but how a particular piece of fiction deals with the human condition.

Consider the “science fiction” of J. G. Ballard. His concern was with what he called “inner space”, how people act and react intellectually and emotionally. The future or alternative worlds in which his novels and stories are set were armatures on which he constructed perspectives on the human condition. This is, in fact, the case with all fiction. Should one degrade, say, War and Peace, as mere “historical” or “costume” fiction, simply because its setting is actual history? Of course not, for the setting is merely the background for what happens to the people. Same with Ballard, Chandler, etc.

And note how differently Ballard’s “straight” novel, Empire of the Sun, based on his experiences while interned in Japanese camps as a child in World War Two, was often treated, critically and academically, as compared to his lyrical “science fiction” short story, “The Voice of Time”.

Brunner wrote four particularly fine novels. The Squares of the City (1965) concerns how humans react to urban political turmoil. (The structure is almost unique, being based on a famous chess match from 1892). The Sheep Look Up (1972) concerns how humans react to ecological disaster. The Shockwave Rider (1975) is concerned with human reaction to swift and massive technological change. Stand on Zanzibar (1968), his masterwork, is concerned with human reaction to overpopulation, and its many attendant perils. The structure of the latter reminds many of the U.S.A. trilogy, by Dos Passos.

I recommend Stand on Zanzibar very highly.

From the dust jacket:

"There's a belief still current among British schoolchildren, that you could stand the entire human race on the 147-square-mile Isle of Wight, elbow to elbow and face to face.

Well, that may have been true around the time of World War I, although nobody was keeping records accurate enough for us to be certain. However, right now, in the 1960's, you'd have a tough job packing us on the 221-square-mile Isle of Man.

And by 2010 - the time this book takes place, you'd need an altogether larger island - something like the 640-square-mile surface of Zanzibar!"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Which Came First?

Today is Thursday, 23 September 2010.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has become a two-timer, unfaithful to his original true love. To his previous passion for a social disease, hardcore homophobia, Tom has added a physical disease: salmonella.

(Sorry, Mrs. C, and watch out!)

Coburn is holding up a vote on funding for the Food and Drug Administration, claiming it’s not paid for by offsetting spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. This is the same Cobum who’s had no problem authorizing pissing away more than $3,000,000,000 dollars on the failing attempt to turn Iraq into an American colony, the $3 trillion not being paid for, and thus adding to the national debt.

This while tens of thousands of Americans are currently being poisoned by eggs laid by chickens raised in filth, and owned by an agro-industrialist who’s been treating taxpayers to disease for three decades, thanks to the Republican ideology of deregulation.

The Republican “Pledge to America”: you and/or your loved one(s) will suffer and die in great agony of food poisoning, but you won’t have died in vain – somewhere in this great land of ours, an unscrupulous **** will have made a buck off the suffering and death in great agony of you and/or your loved one(s).

Make you a nice cheese omelet, senator?

In a related Republican story: Snoot Gingrich is currently decrying Obama’s “anti-colonialism”. Snoot must be a bitterly-conflicted fellow internally. On the one hand, he converted to Roman Catholicism, which many of his reactionary brethren would argue makes him, politically, a subject of the pope. On the other hand, he believes that anti-colonialism is bad, making him logically a subject of the British queen.

How can one man serve two masters?

Obviously, Snoot should renounce his American citizenship, and make a choice.

Think this might catch on, as a nickname for Sarah Palin: Lady Gag-gag?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sympathy for the Devil?

Today is Wednesday, 22 September 2010.

Due to an ISP upgrade snafu, my presence on the Interweb has been interrupted. I'm back.

So. Christine O'Donnell, who claims to be an ultra-orthodox, far-right-wing "Christian", now refuses to speak again during the campaign to "national media" - she's just too darn busy dining at local picnics.

Did the Devil make her do it?

Not trying to be funny, exactly. Just that I've known plenty of far-right-wing "Christians" who believe in an actual Satan, so I'm trying to see this from their/her perspective.

O'Donnell states she "dabbled" in witchcraft. According to the ethos she claims, there is no "dabble". It's like pregnancy: yes or no. So, if she "dabbled", she was a witch, and therefore a worshipper and servant of Satan.

Many who profess to believe in Satan believe that such worship is both spiritual and carnal: witches have actual sex with demons and Satan. Sadly, I'm not making this up: plenty of "our fellow Americans" believe this crap. (And that demons cause heart disease, cancer, etc.)

So, from the perspective of many far-right-wing Christians, why should they believe O'Donnell, Satan's sex slave, when she claims to be Born Again?

Because she is a pusher/dealer for the kind of vicious, simplistic political "solutions" many of them embrace?

Politics does make strange bedfellows.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Today is Sunday, 19 September 2010.

Necessary Atonements

Today is Saturday, 18 September 2010.

As I and many others have pointed out many times, one of the most important characteristics of The Cold War is that the USA/USE and USSR fought it, in terms of actual casualties, dead and wounded, principally on the lands and in the bodies of others.

Efficient, perhaps, for their respective populations, and certainly more palatable, but a moral abomination.

And, as noted before, one of the principal exhibits in this hall of shame is Somalia, as an article in The New York Times of Thursday last demonstrates. Somalia has now lacked a central government for 19 years, “a record in modern times”. The article depicts the village of Wisil, with “a few thousand inhabitants, no running water, no electricity, no TVs”.

In this context, one of the things I find remarkable about 9/11 (and certain analogous attacks in Russia) isn’t that they happened, but that there have been so few of them. We’ve sown the winds, and have, thus far, reaped so few whirlwinds.

Today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It’s long past time that the citizens of the USA/USE and the Russian Empire begin to atone for their sins in The Cold War, and many others.

The article is found as below. Unfortunately, unless you’re a subscriber, it may now be behind a paywall.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Teabaggery Anatomy

Today is Friday, 17 September 2010.

Billed as a “Republican strategist”, Delaware Teabagger/GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell said, on Bill O’Heilly’s Fox show, in November 2007: "If we approach this complicated bioethic [sic] issue [cloning] with our heads in the sand, the other end is in the air. American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains."

So that’s who moved my cheese.

(Word: O’Donnell may be a New Jersey performance artist who dropped one-too-many tabs of bad acid, and hasn’t realized her show was cancelled.)

The Teabaggery Party represents the attempt to return to a womb, an Eden, which never existed.

Sorta like where “all the men are strong, all the women are good looking, and all the children are above average”, but on steroids. Where the government does only everything you want done for you, either at no cost or on someone else’s dime, and nothin’ for nobody else. Where you’re the (well-deserved) center of attention of the Universe, and the darlin’ of the Divine rodeo.

Persons who demand and embrace such childish fantasies frequently become frustrated and full of hate, ripe for manipulation and primed for violence, when their appetites are denied. They are adults who’ve retreated into a disturbed inner pseudo-“child”, looking for someone on whom to take it all out.

Yes, as I noted recently, these are people who are “made stupid by the impact of overwhelming power”. However, must not people take responsibility, at some point? White people in the USA/USE, who make up the overwhelming majority of Teabaggers, most of whom have very nice lives, thank you very much, compared to most of the people in the world, ought not they, impacted though they are by capitalist propaganda and socialization, take some degree of responsibility? Instead of blaming The Jew, The Black, The Mexican, The Muslim, etc., blaming The System that’s given them such a relatively fine life, compared to others?

Ah. At some level, deny it though they will, most of such people know the score, that their misfortunes are caused, not by The Other, but by The System, which has bought them off. Victims become victimizers. They fear the demise of the gravy train. The System is, by their embrace of it, themselves. “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” They refuse to admit that they are the agents of their own misfortune.

They think too little: “such men are dangerous”.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

O'Donnell: Don't Dis Hitler! Tell Him Where the Jews Are!

Today is Thursday, 16 September 2010.

In August of 1998, newly anointed Republican Senate candidate from Delaware, Christine O’Donnell, appeared on Politically Incorrect:

"CHRISTINE O'DONNELL: A lie, whether it be a lie or an exaggeration, is disrespect to whoever you're exaggerating or lying to, because it's not respecting reality.

BILL MAHER: Quite the opposite, it can be respect.

EDDIE IZZARD: What if someone comes to you in the middle of the Second World War and says, 'do you have any Jewish people in your house?' and you do have them. That would be a lie. That would be disrespectful to Hitler.

O'DONNELL: I believe if I were in that situation, God would provide a way to do the right thing righteously. I believe that!

MAHER: God is not there. Hitler's there and you're there.

O'DONNELL: You never have to practice deception. God always provides a way out. "

I seem to recall 6,000,000 times “He” apparently didn’t.

Is O’Donnell batshit crazy, a sociopathic prisoner of Christianist “Sharia” thought, or a raving anti-Semite?

We report – you decide.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"What watch? Ten watch."

Today is Wednesday, 15 September 2010.

An Associated Press story* which ran Sunday past in the local newspaper had this lead: “The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Barack Obama’s watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty”.

“On President Barack Obama’s watch”. There’s a vague “truthiness”, in that the news of the increase in poverty will be reported during Obama’s presidency, but that’s not how it will be read by many people, as vastly ignorant of logic, history, and economics as a vast number of Americans are, and will assume that this means “under President Barack Obama’s responsibility”, and therefore the lead is actually misleading and less than truthful.

The offending phrase should have been eliminated. The second sentence should have read, “The increase in poverty levels is due, in the short term, to reactionary Republican policies which favour the upper class, and, in the long term, to the inefficiencies, inequalities, and injustices inherent in the nature of capitalism itself”.

“It’s not that people are born stupid, but that they are made stupid by the impact of overwhelming power, a stupidity which serves those who wield that power.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, After Ten Years) That is, it’s not accidental that Americans (and residents of any capitalist economy) are conditioned to expect immediate gratification in matters of politics and economics, as well as in consumerism.

“Why hasn’t Obama turned back the clock on 30 years of damaging Republican policies and fixed everything in the last twenty months? He’s a failure!” With deliberately-conditioned short attention spans, and the failures in most nations to educate in logical thinking, most people are manipulated into seldom analyzing for themselves the reasons behind poverty, war, bigotry, etc., and thus are open to manipulation and damage by ruling elites.

Thus, many Americans fall for the Republican scam of wishing to preserve the W.Bush/Cheney tax cuts for the richest 2% of Americans, falsely assuming that this will somehow lift the economy back to pre-Republican Great Recession levels.

Pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

* By Hope Yen and Liz Sidoti.

On this date in 1963, a Ku Klux Klan terrorist unit bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Addie Mae Collins (14), Denise McNair (11), Carole Robertson (14), and Cynthia Wesley (14) were assassinated.

On this date in 2008, the W.Bush/Cheney regime having refused to “bail out” Lehman Brothers (when of course they should have nationalized it), the latter filed for bankruptcy, the proximate trigger of the Republican Great Recession. It was the largest bankruptcy filing in USA/USE history.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Newt's New "N" Word

Today is Tuesday, 14 September 2010.

In an interview with Robert Costa of National Review Online (September 11, 2010), Newt Gingrich said: “What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]? That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”

“This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president. I think he worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating — none of which was true. In the Alinksy tradition, he was being the person he needed to be in order to achieve the position he needed to achieve . . . He was authentically dishonest.”

“I think Obama gets up every morning with a worldview that is fundamentally wrong about reality. If you look at the continuous denial of reality, there has got to be a point where someone stands up and says that this is just factually insane.”

Most of this is just nonsensical, boilerplate drivel. The heart of it is “Kenyan”. The birther lie that Obama was born in Kenya is bad enough. But “Kenyan” is really a way to scream “N----r! N----r! N----r!” with what to the delusional is “plausible deniability”.

Every Republican in public life should immediately, publicly, and repeatedly denounce Gingrich, and all others who deploy the Kenyan slur, as racists. Those who refuse to do so are obviously racists themselves, either by conviction or convenience.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Today is Sunday, 12 September 2010.

If the USA/USE were founded as a "Christian" nation, then why was it founded as a white slaver nation?

Who Would Jesus Enslave?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Of "11/9" and "9/11"

Today is Saturday, 11 September 2010.

For some, it’s not enough that America be the lesser of evils: it must be the best of all possible worlds, and Americans must be as gods.

‘Tis simple: define the USA/USE as divinely founded as a “Christian” nation, and then, by definition, anything it does, however evil it may seem to the untutored and foolish eye, must be, by definition, The Good. (One reason I’m an existentialist, believing that existence precedes essence, but that’s another story.) “Christian nation” is an inherent contradiction in terms, for nations are created to worship and serve themselves, not any other deity before them.

Such American “exceptionalism” is merely an egomaniacal arrogance common to most nations, “races”, clans, etc., as well as to narcissistic individuals, and no mark of divine favour.

The USA/USE originated as an English military colony, dispatched to the “New World”/Far Western Europe to steal by force majeure. In such military colonies, there are no civilians: every person is a cog in the machine – females are breeders, and children are soldiers-in-development or breeders-in-development. Under the customs of war which have prevailed throughout time, Native Americans were fully justified, in self-defense, in killing both adults and children: heaven knows the military colonists did.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1776 of “the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions”, it was mere self-serving propaganda: the Native Americans might just as well have written of “the merciless English savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions”.

When the USA/USE made war on Japan, Germany, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, etc. (and this is to speak only of post-1941), it recognized no civilians: the rains of munitions fell on the just and the unjust alike.

The USA/USE has always played by the rule that The Enemy has no civilians; the USA/USE has no combatants. The Enemy has no innocents; the USA/USE has none guilty.

“9/11” was a case of sauce for the gander, of chickens coming home to roost, of “purposes mistook/Fall’n on the inventors heads”, of the USA/USE being done unto, as it has always done unto others.

Which no more justifies those attacks, than it justifies the attacks by the USA/USE. Which is to say, that “9/11” wasn’t “the day when everything changed”: it was business as usual, a cost of doing the business of empire as usual. Like any nation, the USA/USE, by its own pandemic violence, put its own citizens in mortal jeopardy. The USA/USE loaded the gun of history, and handed it to others, who obligingly pulled the trigger.

It’s crucial to remember: before the USA/USE annexed “9/11” for its own purposes, it was known in much of the world as “11/9”, in memory of the day in 1973 when the Chilean military, aided and abetted by CIA, overthrew the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende Gossens, assassinated him, and imposed a long and vicious dictatorship.

I condemn hate, violence, and unrighteousness on every side, and mourn all the dead.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Looking Ahead

Today is Friday, 10 September 2010.

Looking ahead to tomorrow:

“The Korean conflict was the occasion for transforming the United States into a very different country than it had ever been before: one with hundreds of permanent military bases abroad, a large standing army and a permanent national security state at home … It didn’t brand a generation, and it may be forgotten or unknown to the general public, but it was the occasion for transforming the United States into a country that the founding fathers would barely recognize … Finally, it was this war and not World War II which established a far-flung American base structure abroad and a national security state at home, as defense spending nearly quadrupled in the last six months of 1950, and turned the United States into the policeman of the world.”

From The Korean War: A History (New York: The Modern Library, 2010), by Bruce Cumings, the eminent East Asian scholar.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A Recollection

Today remains Thursday, 9 September 2010.

The physicist Edward Teller died on this date in 2003, aged 95.

Teller is remembered as the “father of the hydrogen bomb”. Teller was an early member of the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic weapons which destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. His actual contribution to the Project was relatively minor, since he had developed a passion for indulging pursuit of an idea he called “the Super”. A man of enormous ego, he affected to dislike the “father” title, while claiming far more credit for the development of the H-Bomb than he deserves. Teller’s 1954 dissimulations before an investigating committee helped lead to the false condemnation of J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Project, as a security risk.

Late in his career, during the Reagan regime, Teller became a vocal advocate for the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI, dubbed “Star Wars”), a fanciful attempt to produce a shield against ballistic missiles, which, had it been feasible, would have given the USA/USE immunity against a Soviet missile strike, and therefore the ability to destroy the USSR with a nuclear first strike, with the accompanying deaths of tens of millions of human beings.

In the spring of 1985, Teller spoke in support of SDI at New York University. A friend served on the Speaker’s Committee, and, at the reception after the speech, we met Teller.

Teller was what I expected. A man long past his professional prime, desperate to believe that he was still an Important Public Figure, basking in the pale attentions of people, most of whom had no real idea who he had once been, and the role he had once played. Unless one knew, one would have had no clue that this tall egotist in an expensive suit and hand-tooled cowboy boots had made his mark helping to create a weapon, which, if ever used, would create genocide unlike any ever before seen on this planet.

No useful purpose would have been served by tasking him with his crimes. We shared cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and chat, and went on our way, marveling anew at the “banality of evil”.

In Memory: Jefferson Thomas

Today is Thursday, 9 September 2010.

Melba Patillo Beals. Minnijean Brown. Elizabeth Eckford. Ernest Green. Gloria Ray Karlmark. Carlotta Walls LaNier. Terrence Roberts. Jefferson Thomas. Thelma Mothershed Wair.

They are known to history as the Little Rock Nine. In 1957, they were the brave Black students who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, an effort which required deployment of federal troops.

On Sunday last, Mr. Thomas became the first of the Nine to die.

Sadly, the degree to which a large segment of white Americans continue savagely to cling to white racism has been glaringly evident since Barack Obama became the Democratic nominee for President. This is particularly the case among the overwhelmingly-white Teabagger/Tea Party movement.

The Nine were met by prolonged mental, emotional, and physical violence. This abusiveness continues to be borne forward by the hate-spewing likes of contemporary Kluxers such as Sarah Palin, Glenn Blech, Ann Coulter, and Andrew Breitbart. It is becoming increasingly prominent in hate of Muslims and Islam.

The Museum of the Bourgeois honours the Nine for their courage, leadership, and sacrifice, and extends deepest sympathy in the loss of Mr. Thomas.

On this date in 1971, began the Attica Prison Rebellion.

Leo Tolstoy was born on this date in 1828.

Paul Goodman, American writer, poet, pacifist, and anarchist, was born on this date in 1911.

Otis Redding was born on this date in 1941.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

What is "Fundies?"

Today is Wednesday, 8 September 2010.

“Wondering” asked, “What is “Fundies?”

It’s short for “fundamentalists”, the right-wing religious variety of which breed in Oklahoma like rabbits on aphrodisiacs and steroids.

Wait. That insults rabbits, which I've no wish to do. (Like Kurt Tucholsky, "I don't believe in insulting animals".) Said "fundies" breed like fundies on aphrodisiacs and steroids.

“Fundamentalism” these days is usually deployed as a putdown separated from its original meaning. The genesis of the original Fundamentalism was in the last quarter of the 19th century in the USA/USE. It was a reaction to the growing sophistication in Protestant seminaries of Biblical scholarship, which resulted in many theologians and clergy adopting less-than-literal and traditionalist interpretations of Christian doctrine, which became known as “Modernism” and “Liberal Theology”. Fundamentalism culminated in 1910 with the formal codification by a Presbyterian group of the “Five Fundamentals”.

These were: 1) Word-for-word direct inspiration of the Bible by the Holy Spirit, resulting in its absolute and literal inerrancy. 2) Christ’s Virgin Birth, and therefore His deity. 3) Death of Christ as only complete and effective blood atonement for sin (non-acceptance of Him for this purpose resulting in eternal damnation). 4) Bodily resurrection of Christ. 5) Literal historicity of all Biblical miracles.

In a broader sense, Fundamentalism was actually a response to changes occurring in American society outside of religion. Fundamentalism’s strongholds were in rural areas and small towns, from which large cities were condemned as poisonous, threatening, and Satanic lairs of Jews, Catholics, other non-Protestant, non-Anglo Saxon immigrants, plus Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and other “inferiors”. Fundamentalists believed that “their” country, and their God-given right absolutely to rule it, were mortally threatened by these “godless alien intruders”. Opposition to change/evolution in theology was part and parcel, one dimension, of opposition to political change/evolution.

The same dynamic was at work in the same period in the Christian temperance movement, which propagandized about the evils of those cesspools of alcohol, the immigrant-dominated big cities, contrasted with the abstaining holiness of “Heartland” America.

One understands the motivation.

The USA/USE had begun as a militarized, genocidal, parasitic agricultural society, spawned by an imperialistic, homogenized white England. By the late 19th century, the center of gravity (economically, culturally, and politically) was shifting to urban areas and industrialism, in both of which the non-English played an increasingly important role (one exaggerated in propaganda and prejudice). For generations, the ancestors of those who would become Fundamentalists had been indoctrinated by the religious and political con artists who fleeced them, with the risible notion that they, and they Only, were truly The Chosen People of God: and now their heirs were reduced to hicks, rubes, and the butts of farmer’s daughter jokes.

And so the heirs of Empire struck back.

Tea Party, anyone? Hate Islam and Muslims, anyone? Paging Glenn Blech and the GOP!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

"Fundies" and Blech

Today is Tuesday, 7 September 2010.

One of the more interesting, and instructive, aspects of Glenn Blech’s recent political rally was the number of theologically-“conservative” Christians positively swooning every time he said the word, “God”.

While such Christians exist in many flavours, they usually share common ground in believing that knowledge of God and salvation come only through being “born again” in Jesus Christ. They Alone Know The Truth - No Others Need Apply – All Others Go to Hell. This means that Jews, Catholics and many other flavours of Christian, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons, etc. are idol worshippers to be opposed, shunned, and when the Good Lord allows, Taken Care Of. Blech is a Mormon and therefore an Unbeliever.

Now, the so-called “Pilgrims” would have known what to do with such as Blech. They didn’t, of course, call themselves Pilgrims. Sometimes they called themselves Separatists, Believers, or simply, “Christians”, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were the only ones who deserved that title. They didn’t come to the “New World” for religious freedom.

The Pilgrims came because the apostates in England and Holland refused to recognize that only the “Pilgrims” had The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth, and therefore all must submit to Pilgrim rule. So, they moved to what would become Massachusetts and, after murdering enough Native Americans to make themselves comfortable, turned on one another.

Yes, the Pilgrims would have known what to do with Blech, and they had the rope to do it. So it’s passing strange that their theological descendants make common cause with a man whose core values they profess to believe are a straight and narrow road to eternal damnation, and who, by their lights, is a denier of Christ and hater of God.

One can only conclude that, in this case at least, their common extreme-right, nativist nationalist politics is more important than their religious differences. Odd behaviour for people who pride, nay, preen themselves on their exclusive holiness.

Once upon a time, the watchword of such Christians was found in II Corinthians 6.17: “Come out from among them, and be separate…”

It raises the question: who, or what, is truly their God?

Happy International Workers Day

Today is Monday, 6 September 2010.

“Labor Day” in the USA/USE. International Workers Day is observed in the rest of the world on 1 May.

With 33 miners still trapped underground in Chile, it’s particularly appropriate and important to recall: throughout history, human suffering has been required to produce individual and social prosperity. And that suffering is done by those who labour, not by inert capital. For, contrary to malignant fantasists and propagandists for ruling elites, such as Milton Friedman (admirer of the anti-Semitic and admirer of Hitler Augusto Pinochet), capital is not a Ding an sich, a “thing in itself”: rather, it is “crystallized labour”, a storehouse of work previously accomplished.

As such, capital is a social inheritance, briefly committed to our stewardship, not individual property. In societies which worship “capital” as a false god, misuse and waste abound. As global warming reminds us: time is running out to transform human civilization into one which values justice and responsibility to future generations instead of selfish dissipation and greed.

Happy International Workers Day! Solidarity forever!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Not Quite Matisse, But...

Today is Sunday, 5 September 2010.

Recall how, during the Second European Great War, BBC Radio would, at appointed hours, broadcast cryptic encoded messages to the Resistance in Occupied Europe?

“The red-shouldered hawk takes flight at dawn. REPEAT. The red-shouldered hawk takes flight at dawn.”

I was reminded of this today when I bought a book at the art museum: An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories, edited by Ivan Brunetti. (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2006) (I was particularly relieved to note that the comma after “Cartoons” was not omitted, as is increasingly the case, but that’s another story.) Excellent.

On page 38 is a Peanuts cartoon from the late 1950s.

C. Brown: “I wish I had a FRIEND. I wish somebody would come up to me and say, “Charlie Brown, I’m your friend”. "

Lucy: “Uh, huh. Why don’t you wish for some WINGS?”

Sometimes, it seems as if life is like that: full of cryptic encoded references. Generally, life isn’t like that. When it seems that life is like that, it’s often a sign of severe mental illness.

Or art.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

More Fun With the Grand Old Party

Today is Saturday, 4 September 2010.

The Bush-Cheney regime and the Republican Party: gifts that just keep on giving. Now it’s possible that American taxpayers may pay for a bailout of the Afghan banking system.

Seems that Kabul Bank, the country’s largest, was run at least partially as a piggy bank for the benefit of its largest shareholders, who include Mahmoud Karzai (the brother of president Hamid Karzai), Haseen Fahim (the brother of first vice president Muhammad Fahim), the chairman, Sherkan Farnood, and the CEO, Kahlilullah Frunzi, both recently dismissed.

The chicanery began to come to light as a result of the collapse of luxury real estate prices in Dubai, where the large shareholders had invested sweetheart loans from the bank. Rumours had been circulating for weeks that the bank was in trouble, and finally earlier this week the Karzai government was forced to assume control of the bank and provide a cash infusion of more than $100 million. The latter was necessary to enable the bank to pay the salaries of more than 250,000 government workers, including the military and national police.

The bank seems to have had some $1 billion on deposit before these events began. Reports indicate that some $200 million was withdrawn on Wednesday and Thursday. By mid-day today, the bank was paying only Afghanis, having apparently run out of U.S. dollars. Crucially, there is no deposit insurance in Afghanistan.

The Karzai government claims it has enough cash on hand to prevent the collapse of the entire national financial system, but who knows. While it’s probable that most Afghans don’t keep their savings in the banking system, major disruptions of the latter would threaten the entire war against the Taliban, and would seem to require, as a last resort, USA/USE financial rescue.

It’s instructive to note that Karzai’s family has been looting the country for generations, going back to its support of the monarchy. This would have been well known to the W. Bush-Cheney regime when it handpicked Karzai for leadership.

Mission accomplished, Republicans!

(Both The New York Times and Washington Post are covering the story.)

Meanwhile back in New York state, a bruising battle has developed for the Republican nomination for governor. Rick Lazio, former member of Congress and failed 2000 Senate candidate against Hillary Clinton, is facing upstart Carl Paladino, a wealthy real estate mogul and political novice from Buffalo. Republicans go to the polls on 14 September.

Lazio is best remembered in New York for the moment during a debate when, against the rules, he left his podium, crossed the stage, and shoved a paper (“New York Freedom from Soft Money Pledge”) in Clinton’s face, demanding she sign it. She refused; Lazio’s blatantly male chauvinist bullying lost him support even among women who identified themselves as Republicans. He was recently employed as a managing director of J.P. Morgan Chase.

Paladino is an archetypical “anti”-government candidate. His companies are the largest landlords for state government offices in Buffalo, while he campaigns on a platform of “cleaning out the dirty trash in Albany”, the state capitol. Paladino claims he would reduce taxes by 10% in his first six months in office, while also cutting state spending by 20% in his first year.

Recreationally, Paladino has enjoyed distributing white racist e-mails to friends and acquaintances. He claims that he was simply forwarding e-mails sent to him, and that, at any rate, racism, “It’s a device used to hide behind”. Paladino also has enjoyed distributing e-mails featuring women being sexually violated by horses. No word on what kind of device that is.

You’ll recall that failed senatorial and presidential candidate Rudy “Frisky Family Values” Giuliani courted his second wife while married to his first, and courted his third wife while married to the second. Giuliani thoughtfully informed his second wife that he was filing for divorce through the medium of a news conference.

New York state male Republican politicians: keepin’ it classy!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Universal Friendship Day

Today is Friday, 3 September 2010.

Today is Universal Friendship Day.

"If you have to ask what it is..."

Vietnam Independence Day

Today is Thursday, 2 September 2010.

On this date in 1945, the Vietminh declared the independence of Vietnam from France.

The Truman regime assisted France in attempting to regain control, in the First Indochina War. When France finally conceded defeat in 1954, the Eisenhower Republican regime engineered in “South Vietnam” the imposition of the Diem dictatorship, which refused to take part in agreed-upon elections to re-unify the country. This led to the Second Indochina War, which ended in 1975.

Motivated by the delusion of a monolithic world-wide Communist conspiracy, the Eisenhower Republican regime set into motion a war which would lead to the deaths of approx. 6,000,000 Indochinese and almost 60,000 Americans.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

"Poem for the World War"

Today is Wednesday, 1 September 2010.

“Poem for the World War”

“You listen to me;
I listen to you.
That is the way friendships work. Yes?”
You wrote me today.

You rejoice:
I rejoice.
Stubbed your toe, broke your heart:
Hurts my toe, aches my heart.

I gave you an acorn for your birthday;
You gave me a daisy.

In a desert,
A crust
Between us,
We’d die smiling into one another’s
Each insisting gently:
Please eat
And be saved.

Why not nations?