Sunday, December 11, 2005
The most radical thing by far that you can do in America is to realize you can have a perfectly good time without buying anything. That means of course, that our entire society is built upon the premise of selling you things that you don’t actually need. This time of year it is especially obvious, as we have Christmas, a holiday that celebrates the concept. Jesus may have died for our sins, but it appears he was born as a way of selling a bunch of plastic crap made in Chinese prisons. Think about the way we are living for a moment: the better the economy is doing, the faster the landfills are filled up. The volume of garbage we generate is the leading economic indicator. This is not healthy for the planet and by extension, for us. So this season and every season, don’t buy the crap. And don’t ask for it. Be creative with your gifts and make/give things that mean something, like the little drummer boy did. Here’s a rule of thumb, the more space it takes up in a landfill or the quicker it gets there, the more it is to be avoided. Live gently, but love sincerely. All year round.
Friday, November 11, 2005
"I believe that if we had and would keep our dirty, bloody, dollar soaked fingers out of the business of these [Third World] nations so full of depressed, exploited people, they will arrive at a solution of their own. And if unfortunately their revolution must be of the violent type because the 'haves' refuse to share with the 'have-nots' by any peaceful method, at least what they get will be their own, and not the American style, which they don't want and above all don't want crammed down their throats by Americans."
-General David Shoup, United States Marine Commandant Retired, 1966
At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows. How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
-Maj. General Smedley Butler, two-time Medal of Honor winner, 1933
November 11, 1918 was the end of the “war to end all wars”. And the date became a holiday called Armistice Day, later renamed Veteran’s Day to honor those who were part of the many wars that followed. Honoring veterans is a noble idea. But we must ask why there have been so many more wars after the Armistice. And why some of them were started by deceptions that were abetted by a news media owned by companies that stood to profit from the wars. But most of all we must ask why it is that those who beat the drums for war the loudest aren’t on the front lines fighting it. This is nothing new of course. The old men who thought up this current war all managed to avoid the front lines of Vietnam, although they no doubt supported that disastrous conflict. The tradition of a ruling class avoiding combat goes back to at least the Civil War. We read the following passage from Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”:
"In premodern times, the maldistribution of wealth was accomplished by simple force. In modern times, exploitation is disguised—it is accomplished by law, which has the look of neutrality and fairness. By the time of the Civil War, modernization was well underway in the United States”.
So much so, that we learn the Northern industrialist robber barons could buy their family’s way out of military duty in the war. J.P. Morgan paid 300 dollars for a substitute to go off to war in his place. James Mellon was told by his father that “a man may be a patriot without risking his own life or sacrificing his health. There are plenty of lives less valuable”. That attitude is more alive than ever. And here’s the kicker: it is most alive in the people that have the gall not only to talk about supporting the troops, but to claim that those opposed to their war, the one they refuse to fight in, are on the side of the enemy! The only thing I can hear them saying is “Bleed for me and shut up about it”. To which I reply, “you want a war, you fight in it.” This of course, falls on deaf ears. Which leads to the inevitable conclusion: Support the troops, kill a chickenhawk. Smedley Butler said it best: WAR IS A RACKET.
Friday, October 28, 2005
October 28, 2005
Who killed the man who, in the lives of others like him, lives on in the people? The enemy killed him, killed him because they wanted him dead…
“Camilo” by Ernesto Guevara
John Brown, him dead and gone.
Jah know that him history still live on
As him dead more John Brown born…
“Terrorists in the City” by Eeka-Mouse
Perhaps the most absurd manifestation of the market economy is the industry of Death. I am not talking about the funeral business, but the nostalgia marketing of dead celebrity. The more tragic and unexpected the death, the more meteoric the career of the dead, the more profitable is the selling of the legendary demise. All but the bones of the deceased are packaged and sold. In this country we watch this curious spectacle from within the framework of the marketing system, where everything has a price tag of value. Here, our numbed minds are incapable of fully seeing the macabre aspect of marketing based on the level of morbid, sensational, prurient interest in the dead.
In other societies this interest can manifest itself somewhat differently. The dead become iconic, martyrs, symbols of virtue that are not mourned, but celebrated. Here, the industry is non-profit, but the dead are still sold. The selling is that of the legacy of the dead as a moral lesson. The weaknesses, the human frailty, the very humanity is replaced by the image of resolute zeal and uncompromising character. No more realistic than the glamorized selling of a dead icon for profit, though one hopes that the sentiment is at least more authentic and heartfelt.
But what is the fascination with the storied cliché of the sudden demise of someone in the prime of life? Actor, athlete, musician, rebel, seditionary, become the eternal…celebrity. The fascination is that of what might have been. And the imagined course is always a powerful antidote to the omnipresent failings of those contemporaries that have survived and turned out very mortal, or even banal, compromised, or just plain uninteresting. Longevity and relevance seem to have a natural inverse relationship, particularly in a consumer driven society. But in the perfect society there is no need for heroes, icons, or martyrs. Those things are to motivate the masses to strive for selfless effort, to work for the common good of all. This effort would already be innate. As long as the struggle to achieve this perfect society is ongoing, the search for Camilo’s airplane will not end. We who struggle to see that day arrive, say to Camilo:
You are a spirit, not a ghost.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
In 1962 the United States military signed off on a plan called Operation Northwoods. The point was the overthrow of Fidel Castro. The means to justify the end result was to stage terrorist attacks on American soil, attack airliners in flight, kill American civilians, and a few other things, then blame it on Castro. This was the pretext for launching a massive attack on Cuba and installing the U.S.-approved government that the mercenary attack of the previous year had failed to do. If the documents of this plan were never released no one except conspiracy nutcases would believe it. But they were. In the spring of 2001 the story broke, receiving some attention in mainstream media circles, where it was dismissed as the work of a general gone insane...even though all the members of the Joint Chiefs approved it. John Kennedy, still smarting over the dismal failure of the last plan to invade Cuba, rejected it. One can only wonder what course history would have taken if one Richard Nixon had claimed the presidency in the extremely close election of 1960. Fast forward to September 2000, when there was another plan written. This one mentioned a “catalyzing event” similar to a latter day “Pearl Harbor” as a means of justifying the ends of establishing U.S.-approved governments across the globe. Say what you will about them, but the people who wrote the plan don’t dream small. One year later, in September 2001after an extremely close election went the way of the party of Richard Nixon, came a catalyzing event. Even if one believes the “official version” of who planned the attack, then the facts are that an organization founded with great expense by the CIA and U.S. military to give the Soviet Union “their Vietnam” not only did that, but 15 years later went on to give the newly installed marginally unpopular government of the United States their “latter day Peal Harbor”. What is three thousand lives worth to killers? Apparently not much since the latest justification to stay in Iraq and reach the 3,000 dead benchmark is in order to…get this… pay homage to those who have already died. This is the logic of the end justifying the means. This is the same logic that produced Operation Northwoods. And September 11th, even if you believe the official story.
The student protests in France in May of 1968 produced the graffiti that I have used to title this story. But what happened in 18 October of that year best illustrates the possibility of protest taking forms unimaginable. Robert Beamon ran down a track in Azteca Stadium in Mexico City and landed in a sand pit exactly 8.9 meters from the point he left the earth. It was a gold medal and world record performance that rocked the Olympics just as profoundly as the protests that followed. Avery Brundage, the personification of the old guard power structure wasn’t pleased when Bob followed that up by taking the podium wearing black socks and no shoes as a symbol of solidarity with the victims of poverty throughout America and the world. This was the year of protest and violence that had claimed the lives of King and another Kennedy and the national political conventions, In the year that gave the world Richard Nixon as the law and order president meant to restore civilization through the continued killing of peasants halfway around the world and in the ghettoes at home. Tommy Smith was listening for the click of a gun as he stood on the podium with his fist raised in the air in Mexico City. As Apollo 11 orbited overhead and Hurricane Gladys spun its way through the Caribbean towards Florida. Thirty-seven years later another hurricane is in the same spot headed in the same direction. Beamon’s unbreakable record jump has been broken for 14 years. It lasted not quite 23 years, even less than the record jump of Jesse Owens which lasted a full 25 years. Jess Owens was there in Mexico City telling the young and angry athletes to wait…these things take time. But the power of protest and the imagination remain undiminished. Even if the dreams remain unrealized for so long. To quote Malcolm X…’time is on the side of the oppressed today and against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed and against the oppressor. You don’t need anything else.”
Thirty-seven years is a long, long time.
Monday, October 17, 2005
The two most uncomfortable subjects to bring up in everyday conversation. Well, besides anything of a sexual nature. As always, the question of why this is appeals to me. So let’s take a look at why these two seemingly innocuous topics generate such anxiety and dread when some oaf dares to broach them in polite company. My theory is that it’s because the very personal nature of the subjects, which goes way back to our childhood. We picked up our beliefs first from our parents and then from the media. But the first instruction in or absorption of them was as children, from our parents. And they have been reinforced over the years. Therefore, our beliefs are deeply personal. And it is quite uncomfortable to have deeply personal feelings and opinions questioned or debated. It is akin to someone speaking ill of your mother. So why do I love debating these issues? Well, first of all I think I am right. And anyone who would disagree with me is wrong. Of course, the other person feels the same way. And never the twain shall meet, so…what’s the point again? Perhaps there is none, but I wouldn’t argue a point just for the sake of argument. I want to make known the facts on my side and throw them at an opposing viewpoint like so many fragmentary grenades. And hope that none can be lobbed back. It is great sport. And while it may work to a degree in political debate, what about religion? Well, there you can throw rational debate, facts, and anything else that is even near coherent right down the waste disposal. Anything based on faith is impossible to debunk to that person who believes…or should I say has suspended belief in the laws of physics and everything else of this universe to accept an answer unquestioningly. Why anyone would accept anything without question is another question. My answer is that they are lazy and superstitious. So there is no sense debating religion. And there is no sense to the tenth power in fighting a war over it. Suffice to say that I echo the old adage that asks “O god, protect me from the people who believe in you”. After all, there is no difference between those on any side willing to kill the “non-believers”. They use the word “infidel” to recruit, while we use “terrorist”. Fifty years ago, while Jim Crow ruled the South by terror, the word was “communist”. Today it is “terrorist”. May I say that the devil does not change form, but merely changes a word here and there to better fit the circumstance. Speaking of words…I will also say that those who use the words “freedom” and “democracy” as synonyms for “unregulated crony capitalism” are the oldest terrorists on earth. And over the years they have racked up a body count that would make Satan blush. War through deception is their stock in trade. Which brings me to tomorrow’s subject: “Operation Northwoods”. And the question: just what is the devil on earth actually capable of?
Greetings to all. This is my first post in my first blog. Huh? Yeah...I don't care if you don't care. It's a big thing for me. Which shows you what kind of life I lead. But it is kinda neat to finally have my own blog after hijacking threads and such on dozens of others. I will briefly state my interests in the off chance that anyone has read this far, or at all for that matter. I don't expect a lot of hits...maybe 3 in the first 3 months. But anyway...I like talking about politics, and science. The environment is the most important issue, followed by distributing resources in an equitable manner. Then everything else. Pet peeves: people who mix up the usage of there, their, they're, too, to, losing, loosing, and several others. Also... fat, enviro-trashing Republicans that drive gas guzzling cars ten to twenty mph over the speed limit. You are causing the destruction of all life on earth at a faster rate than everyone else, so the sooner you perish or change your ways the better. The rest of us will be right behind you. So cool it. You pigs.
About the name. I wanted to call this blog "Venceremos" but that name was chosen already? So I couldn't think of another name. I had a CD playing at the time and I named it after the song that was playing...which is by Lee "Scratch" Perry, the legendary reggae kingpin that most people haven't heard of. If you have heard of him you are cool in my book. And even cooler if you have heard of Eeka-Mouse. Otherwise, you are not cool...in fact you are lost sheep. Oh that reminds me, I like talking about music, too. Look for future posts on music and the environment, and long winded rants about how Republicans are wiping out all life on earth. That is all for now.
Ernesto Del Mundo