Monday, February 24, 2020

A short history of my political awakening . . .

This old codger (having begun my 78th year), officially retired for soon to be 11 years (but really “semi-retired” since turning 35 years young), has been ruminating on my life's journey (part of a book my daughter and I are writing - “Dad and St Francis: Inconsequential Memories“).  So, it has struck me to try and think through when “politics” came into my mind  ‐ it certainly wasn't a topic for discussion around the family dinner table (or any other family meal's table, for that matter).  Being from a lower middle class family, we were all struggling to make ends meet (my brother and I with paper routes and snow shoveling, my Dad with one full-time and one halftime jobs, and my Mom with a halftime job).

I guess it was when I was a Sophomore in high school, our Social Studies teacher (Mr. McDonough [Southwest High School, Mpls], 1958]) had a homework assignment for teams of two to choose two news magazines and critique their political stance - as a naive youngster, where to begin?

So, I remember going downtown on the streetcar to the old Minneapolis Public Library and doing some “research” only to be befuddled by the enormity of the task.  And, of course, our presentation was lackluster to say the least.

Then, there's my next youngest brother (two years younger then myself) and, until recently, a constant searcher for “the truth” (now a dyed-in-the-wool member of the Trumpistan universe).  Who, a couple summers after graduating from high school (1962), joined the U. S Marines (1964).  But after the first summer of boot camp in Quantico, and a trek out west to a Bible camp (Holden Village, Chelan, WA), and a growing disillusionment with the conduct of the Vietnam War (this really began for us both in 1965, after the philosophy professors at the University of Minnesota testified for the illegality of the war in front of the ROTC armory on campus and, later, the Vietnam War “teachins” at the University; Students for a Democratic Society [SDS] was now a candidate for truth), on the turn of a dime, drops out of college, and goes to Cuba in 1969 with the Venceremos Brigade (the FBI was calling our home at least once a week with the question [mostly answered by my mother] “Do you know where your son is?” ‐ Duh)!  He shook hands with Castro after the 10th Anniversary of the Cuban Revolution and linked up with Diana Johnstone, for a trip to Paris, meeting Madame Binh, at the peace talks being held there.  Somewhere in this timeline, he switched to the Socialist Worker's Party (SWP) and was involved for a number of years selling Monthly Review books across the United States.  Recently, I attended a reunion of old SWPers (myself not being one [I've voted Democratic since voting for JFK in 1960] but swept in on the coattails of my brother) at the Green Mill restaurant in Saint Paul, MN.

There was a succession of projects ‐ The Honeywell Project (he inside, ostensibly working for Honeywell; me outside testifying for alternatives to the Vietnam War, climbing over the fence at the Honeywell Corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, enjoying donuts from the Bouza Bakery [Bouza was the Chief of Police in Minneapolis and his wife was an ardent supporter of the Honeywell Project]) while being held in jail, The Burlington Northern Project, Project ELF, Citizens Against Trident-ELF (CATE) testifying for a saner alternative to Project ELF over in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near Clam Lake, Wisconsin, while living at the Dorea Peace Community, near Turtle Lake, WI, War Tax Resistance (until the IRS garnished my MSRS retirement account while I was employed by the University of Minnesota), managing the Catholic Worker Farm near St. Joseph, MN, etc.

Early on he suggested to me (a 15-16 year old to a 17-18 year old [we used to read to each other interesting articles that we found in the various volumes of the American People's Encyclopedia from our parent's bookcase]) that I read Paul Goodman's 1960 book “Growing Up? Absurd! Problems of Youth in the Organized Society” and that was the real beginning for me on the journey to what I call Conservative Christian Anarchism (in order to hide it's more “radical” [in the sense of going to the root {or “Root” cf. Isaiah 11:1-10}] foundation).  Indeed, there was a saving grace throughout in the example of the man Jesus (not the hocus-pocus stuff) but the care, concern, respect, ability to respond, knowledge, and provision shown in his relationship with others.

Now, on Medical Assistance with an Elderly Waiver, and fighting invasive squamous cell carcinoma ‐ I'm too old to be much of a fisherman (with reference to Morris West's 1963 book “In the Shoes of the Fisherman” [and the 1968 movie]).  But I keep thinking that I'm fishing the Blackfoot River.  “Alone, in the half-light of the canyon . . . and, the sound of the waters in the river . . . cut by the world's great flood, running over rocks from the basement of time.  On some of the rocks are timeless rain drops, under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.”

I guess I would have to say that the assembly of my memories are not that “inconsequential” being based on that line from the 1936 book length poem by Carl Sandburg “The People, Yes”:  “This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.  There are [persons] who can't be bought.”

Monday, November 18, 2019

In Memory


As I was searching for an appropriate musical piece to commemorate the memory of the 1989 massacre of Jesuits in El Salvador (like We Shall Overcome), I finally landed upon Bruce Springsteen's rendition of Bob Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom Flashing" sung at a concert in East Germany in 1988 (one year before the fall of the Berlin Wall). An estimated 200,000 - 300,000 East Berliners were in attendance and there were 165 curtain calls for the entire concert - highlighting these phrases in the words of the song which follow:

Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed

Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an’ forsaked

Tolling for the outcast, burnin’ constantly at stake

Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail

Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight

For the disrobed faceless forms of no position



Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

In the city’s melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin’ rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an’ forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin’ constantly at stake
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An’ the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for-granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an’ blind, tolling for the mute
Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an’ cheated by pursuit
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Starry-eyed an’ laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an’ we watched with one last look
Spellbound an’ swallowed ’til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse
An’ for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Well, the Muses are at it again . . .

. . . as you can tell from the early hour of this (attempt at a “stream of consciousness”) entry . . . and, this, after sitting in the comfortable chair in the living room and looking out the floor to ceiling (the ceiling is one of those cathedral 22 footers) windows on the rain-washed (yes, quite a bit of rain lately [the folks from Iowa are saying that this is the rainiest it's been since the weather bureau began keeping records there in 1875 {probably one of the “climate change” cycles . . . (yes, but which one you ask? [the subject for another blog, I suppose])}]) attempt at a garden (and, so, why am I [suddenly] reminded of Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire's “Candide”? [Voltaire vs Leibnitz {Master Pangloss' “metaphysico-theologo-cosmolonigology” - to catch Voltaire's “drift” (if you get my meaning [you just have to love that Voltaire])}] on "Optimism" {Cela est bien dit, mias il faut cultiver notre jardinad infinitum . . .} not to mention John Milton and Alexander Pope]) for about one hour (after awakening at around 1:30 AM 'til around 2:30 AM . . . ).  And, then the approximately one-half hour "setup" (which is what I would like to describe to you) to get online to this blog . . . .

So, gathering the computer bag (with items from yesterday's work [printing labels and stuffing, closing, labeling, and stamping some 90+ envelopes for a Bible school Anniversary Reunion {100th year since the founding, etc.}]) and assorted items which were left on the desk (because two big [and heavy] to carry on the bus [the 8 TB backup HDD, for example]) from the lower level, and heading back upstairs to the desk in the upper level bedroom (where it is a little warmer [hot air rises and the air conditioning seems to favor the lower level {cooler air sinks}]) . . . just the mass of it all is, rather, . . . unnerving . . . .

And, all of the wires, coiling like serpentine snakes from the 7-socket Belkin surge protector (the "Python" of the group) . . . .  First, plugging in the 8 TB HDD (and attaching the 120 GB [SSD] and 60 GB [HDD] [from previous computers {which have either “bitten the dust” (“[God] told the Man:  “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from, ‘Don't eat from this tree’, the very ground is cursed because of you; getting food from the ground will be as painful as having babies is for your wife; you'll be working in pain all your life long.  The ground will sprout thorns and weeds, you'll get your food the hard way, planting and tilling and harvesting, sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk, until you return to that ground yourself, dead and buried; you started out as dirt, you'll end up dirt . . . .” Genesis 3:19 [ or been upgraded to SSDs . . . }] to it . . . ).

Next, a USB extender (as there are only three USB ports on this laptop [one of which is reserved for the USB “mouse” ‐ I often run out of room on the desktop {having 6 USB ports}]) to which I have, just now, plugged in two 2 GB PNY USB “sticks” - it's alphabet soup on the file explorer.

And, finally, the power source for the laptop (which utilizes the other plugin on the electrical wall socket closest to the desk [and, therefore, this - let it be said - “Rube Goldberg Machine”]).

And, so, this part of my day begins . . . .

But, having written all of this (and read the pdf version of William F. Bottiglia's Voltaire's Candide:  Analysis of a Classic (amongst other works [IN RE: Voltaire]), I now return to the “land of Nod” and leave you (upon awakening for the second time and completing the editing) with OK Go's “This Too Shall Pass.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Another "Headbangers Ball" . . . Me[n]tal Mayhem?

Wow, the Trumpenfüher's most recent Tweet storm is - like - raising the dead . . . .

So, how does one trace the "shadowy" figure of Stefan Halper?

Should we begin with Leslie H. Gelb's, July 7, 1983 article Reagan Aides Describe Operation to Gather Inside Data on Carter in the New York Times?

Or, the more recent exposés in the New York Times (NYT - F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims) and Washington Post (WaPo - Secret FBI source for Russian investigation met with three Trump advisers during campaign - turn off your ad blocker)?

Glenn Greenwald in a follow-up story in The Intercept to the NYT and WaPo "revelations" suggests (as if we didn't already know it) that something is fishy in D. C. - see story (and read the comments) here.

And, for even more information (in other words, "follow the money"), read Tyler Durden's story (and the comments) on ZeroHedge - also here.

Now, tell me whether or not your experience was a little like mine, in that the only thing I could think of after kludging through the readings and comments was a picture of a young mother hanging out of the broken window of a Southwest jet going 500 MPH - a real "headbanger" to be certain . . . .



More and more often now I have the feeling that Pontius Pilate had the right question - "What is truth?"

As always, ENJOY!  And, feel free to comment . . .

Saturday, May 19, 2018

"Give and Take" for the "average American"

I took the opportunity awhile ago to post a reply on The Daily Kos and received some interesting feedback to which I also responded.

It's all copied below, but my question is ‐ Would an average American understand the “give and take”?

Please feel free to comment . . . .

As we continue our journey on the way to peace, we place ourselves at a psychological disadvantage with the use of the word “protest” because it has been tainted by what President Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex.

More simple, and to the point, is the meaning of the word “protest”:  “to testify for” (infinitive) “testifying for” (gerund).  Simply ‐ the white supremacists are testifying for the supremacy of the white race (a position which was previously tested and found wanting during World War II) and in the United States such advocates will constantly be up against those continuing the “experiment” by testifying for the equality of all persons as specified in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U S Constitution.

We face a similar situation in the United States with the continued use of the word “first-strike” (in conjunction with nuclear weaponry).  There's only one nation on earth that has gone insane and actually used a nuclear weapon ‐ twice, in fact.  And, in this day and age, it looks as though a “third-strike” from the United States means that we are all out . . . .

Today while the entire U. S. society is crumbling around an archaic CIA-congressional-corporate-educational-FBI-financial-industrial-presstitute-media-medical-military-NSA-police-political-prison-Secret-Service-terrorism-expert complex (or “hero-system”), unrelated to the needs and challenges of contemporary life, we see an apparent incapability and / or lack of imagination in our people to reconstruct the society around goals of peace and social justice.  More importantly, the margin that nature has been giving to our cultural fantasy is suddenly being narrowed down drastically with the consequences that for the first time in history we, if we are to survive, have to bring down to zero the large fictional element in our hero-systems.

As Sam Keen wrote in his instructive introduction to the most recent edition of Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death:  Human Character as the Vital Lie (1997):  “[S]ome individuals are awakening from the long, dark night of tribalism, and nationalism and developing what Tillich called a transmoral conscience, an ethic that is universal rather than ethnic.  Our task for the future is exploring what it means for each individual to be a member of earth's household, a commonwealth of kindred beings.  Whether we will use our freedom to encapsulate ourselves in narrow, tribal, paranoid personalities and create more bloody Utopias or to form compassionate communities of the abandoned (cf. Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison) is still to be decided.  So long as human beings possess a measure of freedom, all hopes for the future must be stated in the subjunctive ‐ we may, we might, we could.  No prediction by any expert can tell us whether we will prosper or perish.  We may choose to increase or decrease the dominion of evil.  The script for tomorrow is not yet written.”

So, we are faced with “good” and “evil.”  And, I would suggest that we testify for “good,” so that we and our children may live.

Here is Tess' response:

What??????  What are you talking about????  I don't think the average American would think that what you've said here should prevent them from protesting - yes, protesting - when their democracy fails them.  I am proud to protest things that are patently unfair and harm others.

To which I responded:

Almost 50% of average Americans get livid at the words “protest,” and “protesters” because of its long history of negative connotation.

All I'm saying is change the word to a positive connotation that will carry that 50% away from the dark side feelings and ideas associated with that long history of negative connotation.

For example, when interviewed, and the interviewer attempts to put you in their frame of reference utilizing the word “protest” or words associated with “protest” ‐ “protesting,” “protester,” etc., say something to the effect of “This is not a ‘protest,’ we are testifying for . . . .” “I'm not protesting, I'm testifying for . . . .”

The “white supremacist” example is really a good one in that the people testifying for “white supremacy” are placed in a less powerful position (being associated, after all, with the National Socialist German Worker's Party [Nationalsozialismus] of the 1920s ‐ 1940s) and the feelings and ideas associated with the long history of negative connotation to the word “Nazi”!

Meanwhile, the people continuing the “Great American Experiment” (see, Alexis de Tocqueville’s, Democracy in America [two volumes — 1862 CE]) by testifying for the equality of all persons included in “We, the people . . .” (Declaration of Independence) and the U. S. Constitution (especially Article XIV) can bask in the long history of the positive connotations of those documents (and their impact on governments around the world).

A more recent example, when speaking to a representative of the CIA, would be the dialogue between Donovan and Hoffman around the “rule book” meme in the movie “Bridge of Spies:”

MAN:

Ok, well listen, I understand attorney-client privilege.  I understand all the legal gamesmanship and I understand that that's how you make a living.  But I'm talking to you about something else ‐ the security of your country.  I'm sorry if the way I put it offends you, but we need to know what Abel is telling you.  You understand me, Donovan?  We need to know.  Don't go Boy Scout on me ‐ we don't have a rule book here.

Donovan takes a beat, sizing the man up.

DONOVAN:

You’re agent Hoffman, yeah?

MAN:

Yeah.

DONOVAN:

German extraction?

HOFFMAN:

Yeah, so?

DONOVAN:

My name is Donovan, Irish.  Both sides, mother and father . . . .  I'm Irish, you're German, but what makes us both Americans?  Just one thing, one one one.  The rule book.  We call it the Constitution.  We agree to the rules, and that's what makes us Americans, it's all that makes us Americans.  So don't tell me there's no rule book and don't nod at me like that you sonofabitch.

The man stops nodding and just looks at Donovan appraising him.

Donovan smiles and gets up from the table, gathers his things.

HOFFMAN:

Do we need to worry about you?

DONOVAN:

Not if I’m left alone to do my job.

Of course, in our (more modern?) era, one must take into account recent President's estimations that the Constitution is “just a god-damned piece of paper” (to quote, President George W. Bush [though also keep in mind President Obama's executive orders, e. g., suspending habeas corpus for American citizens]) and the neo-conservative “Unitary Executive” theory (see, John Yoo) underlying the destruction of the traditional governmental “checks and balances.”

The “battle” is, indeed, for public opinion.  Begin to phrase the arguments in a way that sways public opinion to the positive side of the “city upon a hill” (if it would be considered “fair” to reference John Winthrop’s sermon [1630 CE]) . . . .

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Afghanistan - the war without end (within a war without end) . . .

Well before my pastor at the Community of St Martin became pastor there he had written a book in 1989 ‐ War Against the Poor:  Low-Intensity Conflict and Christian Faith ‐ which, again, was well before the 1991 - 1992 “One World Superpower” formulations of The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) members - Dick Cheney (then U. S. Secretary of War [euphemistically, Defense throughout), Paul Wolfowitz (then Principal Deputy Under Secretary of War for Policy), and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby (then Principal Deputy Under Secretary of War for Strategy and Resources) - in the War Department's War Planning Guidance (leaked to the New York Times in March, 1992 [see this link as well as the PNAC link above for further background]).

This history is insightful in relation to these two outtakes from the 2009 film “The International” (ostensibly about the International Bank of Credit and Commerce [IBCC]):

Off the record interview with Umberto Calvini, head of Calvini Defense Systems ‐ just before his assassination . . .

Eleanor Whitman (New York District Attorneys Office):  Mr. Calvini, we'd like to know why the IBCC, a bank, would be purchasing millions of dollars worth of missile guidance and control systems from your company

Calvini:  The IBCC has purchased billions of dollars worth of Silkworm missiles from the People's Republic of China which they have pre‐sold to clients in the Middle East contingent upon the missiles being equipped with VOLCON guidance systems.  My company's one of only two in the world which produce the VOLCON . . . .

Whitman:  But why is the bank committing so much capital and resources to the sale of these missiles?

Calvini:  It's a test.  Small arms are the only weapons used in 99 percent of the world's conflicts and no one has the capacity to manufacture them faster and cheaper than China.  What Skarssen [head of IBCC] is attempting to do is to make the IBCC the exclusive broker of Chinese small arms to the Third World.  And the missile deal is the gateway transaction.

Louis Salinger (Interpol agent):  Yeah, but billions of dollars invested simply to be a broker?  There can't be much profit for them.

Calvini:  No.  This is not about making profit from weapons sales.  It's about control.

Whitman:  Control the flow of weapons, control the conflict.

Calvini:  No.  No, no.  The IBCC is a bank.  Their objective isn't to control the conflict.  It's to control the debt that the conflict produces.  You see, the real value of a conflict . . . the true value . . . is in the debt that it creates.  You control the debt.  You control everything.  You find this upsetting, yes?  But this is the very essence of the banking industry . . . to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals . . . slaves to debt.

Interpol agent Louis Salinger's interview (Eleanor Whitman secretly listening in) with Wilhelm Wexler (IBCC Security Chief [and former Russian Stasi Colonel and Communist hardliner]):

Louis Salinger:  Skarssen [head of IBCC] and that bank [IBCC] need to answer for what they've done.  They have to be brought to justice.  You can help me do that.

Colonel Wexler:  Justice . . . is not possible.

Salinger:  Why not?

Wexler:  Because, Agent Salinger . . . your idea of justice is an illusion.  Understand the very system that you serve and protect . . . will never allow anything to happen to Skarssen or the bank.  On the contrary.  The system guarantees the IBCC's safety . . . because everyone is involved.

Salinger:  What do you mean, “everyone”?

Wexler:  Hezbollah.  CIA.  The Columbian drug cartels.  Russian organized crime.  Governments of Iran, Germany, China, your government.  Every multinational corporation, every one.  They all need banks like the IBCC . . . so that they can operate within the black and gray latitudes.  And this is why your investigative efforts . . . have either been ignored or undermined . . . and why you and I will be quietly disposed of . . . before any case against the bank ever reaches a court of law.

United States participation in the war in Afghanistan began at 9:00 PM (local time) on Sunday, October 7, 2001 (for a timeline of the "modern" wars in Afghanistan see this link [scrollable]).

I would also suggest that you read this insightful article from a little over a dozen years ago - “Afghanistan:  The War Without End” (within a war without end).

As always, ENJOY!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

No Meal, No Drink, No Bed, No Clothes, No Visitation

Institute Emeritus Professor, MIT Department of Linquistics and Philosophy, and author of Who Rules the World?, Noam Chomsky, wrote a very good background article regarding the history of the oligarchy “movement” which appeared in the Huffington Post back in 2012 entitled “Plutonomy and the Precariat”.  As, I wrote to my Senator upon her visit to Cuba in August, 2015, the fact that we are referred to as “dead peasants” in the three 2005 and 2006 Citigroup "Plutonomy" memos, well, I'm reminded of the “Five Points” and the “Dead Rabbits” in Herbert Asbury's 1928 non-fiction book The Gangs of New York:  An Informal History of the Underworld (fictionalized in Martin Scorsese's 2002 movie Gangs of New York)!  Those “Plutonomy” memos paint quite a different picture than the one that follows . . . .

“And, in His address to the House and the Senate in Joint Session, after speaking to the ‘righteous sheep’ on His right (those on His right would be the Democrats), He will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on His left (the ones on His left are the Repugnantcans), and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats!  You're good for nothing but the fires of hell.  And why?  Because ‐

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,

I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,

I was homeless and you gave me no bed,

I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,

Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

Then those ‘goats’ (on His left, the Repugnantcans) are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about?  When did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?’

He will answer them, ‘I'm telling the solemn truth:  Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was Me ‐ you failed to do it to Me.’

Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘righteous sheep’ ‐ the true men ‐ to their eternal reward.”

Though it is difficult to choose between the Amplified “Classic” Version, The Message Version, and the J. B Phillips Version when reading Matthew 25:31-46, I'm uncertain as to how the Repugnantcans can miss the point of the story in almost any version of the New Witnessing!