Greed

José Clemente Orozco Mural at Dartmouth College

So many of our problems as a nation are due to the institutionalization of greed in our culture. Even in our Declaration of Independence, we are declared to have the right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Originally, the text read “Property” instead of “the pursuit of Happiness.”

So here we are, with the 21st century well under way, admiring billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, as well as self-declared billionaires (but not really) like Donald J. Trump. As a people, we still believe the rich are job creators, even when they get rich by sending American jobs overseas, in which case they could be regarded as job destroyers. In the meantime, we are becoming poorer as a nation, even while believing the opposite.

When José Clemente Orozco painted his famous murals at Dartmouth College’s Baker Library, he was commenting on the betrayal of ideals in the wake of the Mexican Revolution, which came hard on the heels of the Porfiriato, the stifling military dictatorship of Don Porfirio Díaz, which ran from 1876 to 1910. He also painted elsewhere on campus, the so-called “Hovey Murals,” which were so controversial that they were painted over for offending wealthy alumni donors.

Small wonder that they weren’t offended by the above panel from the Baker Library murals.

The wealthy are correct to regard the United States as the land of opportunity. This opportunity, however, comes at a cost. We are too ready to enthrone greed as an American virtue while treating the American poor as somehow losers in the game of life.

Republicans

What Comes First? The Death of the Republican Party or the Death of Our Democracy?

As much as I hate talking about politics in America, I cannot shut up when I see one of our two political parties attempt to destroy the country even as they destroy their own party. It’s like a race to the bottom—that shit pit of death cults and failed states.

I can hardly believe that over 70 million Americans have drunk the Republicans’ poisoned Kool-Aid. I regret to say that the woman I love is one of them. Martine not only refuses to get the shots protecting against Covid-19, but she keeps trying to show me “evidence” from right-wing websites which the AM talk radio pundits cite for their over-the-air lies. Take a look at Natural Health News for its take Defending Health, Life and Liberty (followed, of course, by the obligatory American flag).

These people are the enemy. Follow their advice, and risk dying. Martine is convinced that the Covid shots are more dangerous than the disease they were formulated to fight. She says that her health is too fragile for the shots. How would she fare, however, if she contracted the coronavirus? Better? I don’t think so.

If Martine doesn’t want to take the vaccine, I’m not going to force her. But I have nothing but contempt for her “news” sources. The Republican cultists have created their own plastic bubble of destructive falsehoods in which they, and perhaps ultimately all of us, are weakening and perhaps failing.

Sir Vidia Takes on Politics

Nobel Prize Laureate V.S. Naipaul

I have just finished reading V.S. Naipaul’s sixth novel, The Mimic Men (1967)—a semi-autobiographical work about what it is like to win fame and renown while coming from a place like the island of Trinidad, which he calls Isabella in the book. About fifty pages in, I came across his musings on politics and politicians, which I excerpt here:

Politicians are people who truly make something out of nothing. They have few concrete gifts to offer. They are not engineers or artists or makers. They are manipulators; they offer themselves as manipulators. Having no gifts to offer, they seldom know what they seek. They might say they seek power. But their definition of power is vague and unreliable. Is power the chauffeured limousine with fine white linen on the seats, the men from Special Branch outside the gates, the skilled and deferential servants? But this is only indulgence, which might be purchased by anyone at any time in a first-class hotel. Is it the power to bully or humiliate or take revenge? But this is the briefest sort of power; it goes as quickly as it comes; and the true politician is by his nature a man who wishes to play the game all his life. The politician is more than a man with a cause, even when this cause is no more than self-advancement. He is driven by some little hurt, some little incompleteness. He is seeking to exercise some skill which even to him is never as concrete as the skill of the engineer; of the true nature of this skill he is not aware until he begins to exercise it. How often we find those who after years of struggle and manipulation come close to the position they crave, sometimes indeed achieving it, and then are failures. They do not deserve pity, for among the aspirants to power they are complete men; it will be found that they have sought and achieved fulfilment elsewhere; it takes a world war to rescue a Churchill from political failure. Whereas the true politician finds his skill and his completeness only in success. His gifts suddenly come to him. He who in other days was mean, intemperate and infirm now reveals unsuspected qualities of generosity, moderation and swift brutality. Power alone proves the politician; it is ingenuous to express surprise at an unexpected failure or an unexpected flowering.

America First?

Dragging Our Flag Down Into the Mire

Sometimes, I think the United States was destroyed by our victory in the Second World War. It seemed that we found ourselves alone at the top of the heap even as we were surrounded by countries in ruins. That’s when the hubris set in. We were free to make mistakes, lots of mistakes, while trumpeting our prowess.

In an article for The New York Review of Books for November 19, 2020, Pankaj Mishra wrote:

In Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation (2006), Jonathan Lear writes of the intellectual trauma of the Crow Indians. Forced to move in the mid-nineteenth century from a nomadic to a settled existence, they catastrophically lost not only their immemorial world but also “the conceptual resources” to understand their past and present. The problem for a Crow Indian, Lear writes, wasn’t just that “my way of life has come to an end.” It was that “I no longer have the concepts with which to understand myself or the world…. I have no idea what is going on.”

It is no exaggeration to say that many in the Anglo-American intelligentsia today resemble the Crow Indians, after being successively blindsided by far-right insurgencies, an uncontainable pandemic, and political revolts by disenfranchised minorities. For nearly three decades after the the end of the cold war, mainstream politicians, journalists, and business people in Britain and the US repeatedly broadcast their conviction that the world was being knit together peaceably by their guidelines for capitalism, democracy, and technology. The United States itself appeared to have entered, with Barack Obama’s election, a “post-racial age,” and Americans seemed set, as President Obama wrote in Wired a month for Donald Trump’s election, to “race for new frontiers” and ”inspire the world.”

Well, that didn’t happen. We had Trump for four years, and suddenly it appeared that we were headed for the dissolution of everything we held dear, while dumbasses from Red States crawled out of their caves and began to shake the foundations of our democracy.

It’s not over yet by a long shot. The one sentence I remember from my high school civics textbook is, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” So we had best wake up.

Unwoke

It’s the Left’s Equivalent of Jewish Space Lasers

Do I think that Andrew Cuomo should be impeached for being clueless about women? No, because I think most males are clueless when it comes to women; and there do exist angry women who think they should have their heads chopped off. Even the bit about undercounting Covid-19 deaths of nursing home patients is sort of a peccadillo. Let’s face it, our former president would have raped the young women and murdered the nursing home patients through spineless inaction. And moreover, he would have gotten off scot-free.

By insisting that Cuomo be thrown out of the New York governor’s office, people are just being woke. For that, they get one million S&H Stamps, which can be exchanged for a knowing smirk and a small baggie of fresh dogshit.

While the right was inventing Jewish space lasers and Democrats abusing toddlers in shady pizza parlors, the left was, usual, setting up a circular firing squad.

… In Which Democrats Are the Only Casualties

One of the reasons I left the Democratic Party was that I was sick and tired of seeing good politicians fall by the wayside due to political correctness—people like Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. Who gets points for otiose political virtue? No one. We all lose (except for the Green Stamps).

So am I woke? For one thing, I would never use the term in reference to myself. I am no Mother Teresa. I do not wash the feet of lepers. All I do is try to make my way through the labyrinth without destroying myself or it.

21-Gun Salute

Trumpie Wants a 21-Gun Salute, Which Gives Me an Idea

Because he was naturally the greatest president we’ve ever had, Donald Trump wants a 21-gun salute upon leaving the White House. I concur, with the following condition: Aim low and right on target. That way, we could kill two birds with one stone.

The Man Without a Country

The USS Constitution at Sea

As we suddenly find ourselves in the position of fending off sedition and insurrection by a mob of moronic yokels, I find myself in the position of wanting to make a modest proposal. I am irked that these clowns who stormed the Capitol on January 6 were waving the American flag and wearing red, white, and blue even as if they tried to overthrow the government in favor of a criminal president who is about to leave Washington under a cloud.

My proposal is this: There is an 1863 story by Edward Everett Hale called “The Man Without a Country.” It is about a stubborn criminal convicted of treason who is forced to spend the rest of his life aboard American ships on which no officer or crewman is allowed to mention anything about the United States. Perhaps Trump could be joined on such a ship with the would-be insurgents who have been convicted.

What with the global coronavirus epidemic, I am sure there are a lot of substandard passenger ships that could be used for ferrying such prisoners around the world without setting foot back on American soil. It would probably be cheaper than sending them to a Federal prison, and no effort need be made to have fancy food and cocktails or entertainment of any sort.

Hale’s story made an impression on me when I was young. I even remember having a Classic Comic Book based on it.

Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909)

This would a a fitting fate for adherents of QAnon, the “Proud Boys,” and other troublemakers who have forgotten what a good deal they had in living in a democracy—one which they intended to wantonly destroy.

Not a Revolution

The Start of the French Revolution in 1789: The Oath on the Tennis Court

Sorry for continuing in a political vein, but the events of the last week have infuriated and energized me. The bozos who invaded the Capitol last Wednesday were not on any mission to represent the voters of the United States. In fact, they were attempting to disenfranchise the majority of American voters who had decided they had enough of Donald Trump and his cheapjack presidential administration.

Trump made much of the fact that 74 million voters were behind him. He totally ignored the fact that 81 million voters were against him. During his entire presidency, Trump only cared for the people that supported him; all the others were nasty haters. He never tried to increase the number of his supporters. Instead, he kept going back to the states that supported him to hold massive rallies.

Has he ever held a rally in Los Angeles? No. He has few supporters here, and lots of enemies (including me).

I fear that Monday, January 20, will see a rather tense inauguration for the presidency of Joe Biden. I certainly hope that he is backed up by armed military units that will be prepared to fire on violent demonstrators, and not the Capitol Police. Trump’s supporters will do nothing for me; they will do nothing for California; they will do nothing for the majority of Americans who voted him out of office.

After 1789, the French Revolution became bloody; but it did get rid of a privileged aristocracy that was bleeding the nation and a clueless king that was as dumb as a post.

Did I say “clueless king”? Hmm, reminds me of Trump. Bring on the guillotine!

A Trump Prezidenchul Library?

The Massive Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA

No, there isn’t currently a Trump Presidential Library, nor are there any plans under way to build one. There is an interesting story on the subject in the December 30, 2020 issue of the Palm Beach Post. Some interesting points are raised:

“Everything about the Trump presidency has been unconventional,” said historian Robert Watson at Lynn University. “To the point where I’ve been joking with some friends that of mine that we are going to have to rewrite all the textbooks because he has violated everything we said, what every textbook said, was a truism of the office.”

And consider, too, that as of December 30, there was no march on Washington by violent tattooed Yahoos in a failed attempt to wreak vengeance on Congress.

And if there were such a presidential library, what would be in it? What kind of attention to document preservation was there by the drooling sycophants who held office during his administration? Would there be a whole wall of Tweets (call it the Covfefe Collection), and maybe copies of all the presidential proclamations which were promulgated but never put into action?

Martine and I have visited three presidential libraries: the Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan libraries in Southern California and the John F. Kennedy library in Boston. All made an honest attempt to portray the conditions that prevailed during their respective administrations. What kind of honesty could we expect in a Trump library? Maybe an exhibit on QAnon and the Proud Boys? Perhaps videos of Trump saying “You’re fired!” from his TV reality show?

Perhaps the end result of such a collection would ultimately be only horror and dismay.

How Do I Ignore an Insurrection?

Oh, Are They Still Fighting That War?

You know that, when the Confederate Battle Flag comes out of the mothballs, that nothing good is going to happen. I wonder what Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson would think of the tattooed monkeys and other deplorables that descended on the nation’s capital yesterday.

I know that I promised not to write political posts any more, but I would like to say a few words about the events of January 6 and why it was such a miserable failure.

Adolph Hitler was nobody’s idea of a capable leader, but he had one quality that the Trumpster lacked. He had more or less capable chiefs at his side that he stood with for the whole duration of his rule. I include Joseph Göbbels, Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler, Albert Speer, and Martin Bormann. Of course, Ernst Röhm of the SA didn’t last out the war, nor did Rudolf Hess—but for the most part, the Führer didn’t change his subordinates as often as he changed his underwear.

Hitler Did Know How to Hang On to “Good” People

Trump, on the other hand, couldn’t abide anyone for more than a few weeks. Then he would part company with them and make noises about never really knowing them that well. When he said that about Steve Bannon or his ex-attorney Michael Cohen, he thought it made him look good. Actually, it showed that he was an ingrate who couldn’t interact well with his subordinates. (Or that he didn’t choose them well to begin with.)

In a way, that’s good. If one has a malignant narcissist leading your country, you don’t want him to be all that effective. At least the Capitol Building is still standing, more or less.