Serendipity: “The Great Orgy of Universal Nihilism”

British Writer Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

I have always loved the work of Aldous Huxley and have been reading him almost worshipfully for over fifty years. While I admire his fiction, particularly Point Counter Point (1928), I like his essays best. Several years ago, I dished out a couple hundred dollars to buy a clothbound six-volume set of his collected essays. Today I picked up one of his essays, “Revolutions,” written in Do What You Will in 1929, where I found the following:

The revolution that will then break out will not be communistic—there will be no need for such a revolution, as I have already shown, and besides nobody will believe in the betterment of humanity or in anything else whatever. It will be a nihilistic revolution. Destruction for destruction’s sake. Hate, universal hate, and an aimless and therefore complete and thorough smashing up of everything. And the levelling up of incomes, by accelerating the spread of universal mechanization (machinery is costly), will merely accelerate the coming of this great orgy of universal nihilism. The richer, the more civilized we becomes, the more speedily it will arrive. All that we can hope is that it will not come in our time.

Huxley was lucky. It came well after his death in 1963. It started with the Tea Party movement around 2009 and reached an apogee with the election of Donald J. Trump in 2016. Whether that particular individual lasts, we still have the revolutionaries in their Southern or Midwestern fastnesses.

 

 

Interdict

Why I Probably Should Not Go Into Politics

Why I Probably Should Not Go Into Politics

In Catholic Canon Law, the Pope may ban an individual person or even an entire area from participation in the rites of the church. During the Middle Ages, there were many such interdicts, especially when heresy was involved.

If I were elected President of the U.S., I would place under interdict certain Congressional Districts or even States whose voters have habitually elected Tea Party types to lead them. Instead of depriving the residents of participation in the church, however, I would cancel government contracts, prohibit certain senators and representatives from being paid, and remove accreditation from local colleges and universities. That would be tough on Maine, Wisconsin, and Kansas—but if the kids helped oust Governors LePage, Walker, and Brownback respectively, and perhaps even tar and feather them, and ride them out on a rail, it would be worth the effort.

That, of course, would be after I arranged for the messy execution of conservative pundits such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and a few dozen others. Oh, and also most of the people associated with the Trump for President campaign.

I’m afraid I would not be a very constitutional president, but it would certainly make me feel that justice has been served.

The above image, called “Interdict,” appropriately enough, is the work of FotoN-Ike.

A Global Threat

Reprinted from The New Yorker, May 2015

Reprinted from The New Yorker, May 2015

I don’t do this very often, but I am reprinting in its entirety the Borowitz Report from The New Yorker.  When I first saw it, I laughed so hard that I am still looking for some internal organs that I spewed all over my office.

Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”

More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”

While scientists have no clear understanding of the mechanisms that prevent the fact-resistant humans from absorbing data, they theorize that the strain may have developed the ability to intercept and discard information en route from the auditory nerve to the brain. “The normal functions of human consciousness have been completely nullified,” Logsdon said.

While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,” he said.

Totally Out of Whack

None of These Bozos Will Make It to the White House

None of These Bozos Will Make It to the White House

There are currently so many GOP candidates for the Presidency that they could not fit into any vehicle smaller than the trailer of an eighteen-wheeler. Frankly, I don’t think I can name them all from memory. All I know about them is that they tend to say a lot of stupid things, which the echo chamber of the press magnifies until it seems that there is only one political party: The Tea Party.

As for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, no one really likes her. I don’t like her. Martine despises her. She is probably more competent to run our country than any of the Klown Kar Republicans. But she knows that everything she says will be drowned out by cries of Benghazi! E-mail! Foundation money! Why, I wouldn’t even be surprised if Faux News reveals that she had a torrid affair with Monica Lewinsky, and they probably have the dress to prove it!

Our political process has become so toxic that the only reason I vote is that I know that, if I didn’t, some Evangelical Jesus child molester will win. Gone is any Roman sense of duty. I will trudge down to the polling precinct by myself, thinking dark thoughts, while crowded church buses full of rednecks vote en masse.

Denial and Nullification

How Can We Stop Thinking of Them?

How Can We Stop Thinking of Them?

In the minds of many Americans who live in the so-called Red States, their values are under siege. They believe that what made this country great was heterosexuality, Evangelical Christianity, racial and ethnic homogeneity, unregulated gun ownership, and overall lack of government interference in their lives. Back in some Golden Age, people did not need a handout to survive. Of course, many did not survive because life was hard and old Doc Peabody just didn’t know how to do anything but dispense aspirin.

Then, over time, corporations took over the farms; and the more promising youth left for the coastal states. Those who were left behind continued to espouse the same values as their fathers. Suddenly, however, it seems that most Americans were no longer in the Grant Wood American Gothic mold. They were Black, Asian, Mexican, Muslim, Liberal, Queer, Educated, Feminists—in short “Not Our Kind of People.”

One result is the growth of a political movement to turn back the tide of history. So we have people whose main strategy is denial. Denial of science, of demographic change, of agnosticism, of the urban poor. Life for the Tea Party and their camp followers is one of nullification of what they do not understand. And since they do not try to understand anything outside their narrow orbit, it is an ultimately defeatist stance of a party in retreat.

Yesterday, I read an interesting article by Christopher S. Parker called “Whither the Tea Party? The Future of a Political Movement,” published by the Brookings Institution. Click the link labelled “Download the paper” for the complete text.

Parker does not think the Tea Party is going away soon, irrespective how many times it is bloodied at the polls:

Some may question whether or not this is really an “astroturf” [as opposed to grassroots] movement, one that wouldn’t survive in the absence of support from the Koch Brothers, or other big-money funding sources. But Tea Party membership has continued to grow over the last year. As IREHR [Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights] indicates, this was during a time when big-money donors were all but absent: 82 percent of the donations to five Tea Party affiliated organizations were un-itemized individual donations, which are capped at $200, and 97 percent of the itemized contributions to three national Tea Party affiliated Super PACs—Freedom Works for America, Patriot Super PAC, and Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund—failed to exceed $1,000. This suggests that the Tea Party movement isn’t “astroturf.” It’s a real grassroots movement, one that will likely be around a while.

As long as there are white Americans in the former Confederate States of America and Great Plains who feel disenfranchised, there will either be a Tea Party to minister to their needs. Or else, more likely over time, their needs will act as yeast in a Republican Party that has been largely taken over by their political and social agenda.

Change will not stop because it is in the interests of a large bloc of the U.S. population to halt it in its tracks. Over the long haul, there will be a continuing battle that will resemble some of the political battles of the Nineteenth Century over Free Silver and the Nativists. I expect it will be ugly, even if it is a losing battle: There will still be casualties on both sides.

 

The Real Reason Cantor Lost

Read On for My Peerless Analysis

Read On for My Peerless Analysis

This may strike you as being unscientific, but the reason Eric Cantor lost his seat in Virginia is that no one liked him. He was always a whiny presence on the Washington scene.

Of course, the fact that he may be replaced by an even more dangerous Tea-Party-type is certainly no cause for celebration. The fact is that people who live in Confederate sh*thole districts are not likely to vote for anyone who will do anything but attempt to govern by hijacking or obstructionism. We live in the Disunited States of America and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

You may recall the whole “Left Behind” Evangelical myth that, in the End Times, the saved are wafted to Paradise while everyone else has to suffer the various beasts of the Apocalypse while the saved are eating Corn Nuts and drinking Duff Beer while fluffing their wings and cheering on the Four Horsemen. I think that the people who vote for insufferable right-wing nutjobs have been “left behind” by science, the economy, technology, and everything associated with good sense. All they’re left with is Jesus and their guns.

God help the rest of us!

 

American Spring No Show

I Guess the Weather Was Inclement

I Guess the Weather Was Inclement

Today was supposed to be the day. Millions of irate patriotic Americans would descend on Washington to get rid of Barack Obama and his libtard legions. I looked at their Facebook page for clues as to what happened to this massive convergence of right-thinking Americans, and where they could have gone instead. Maybe they’re all seeing the new Godzilla instead, which opens today in Los Angeles. Or else there’s a sale somewhere on military-style assault rifles. In any case, it appears unlikely that the Obama Administration and its Kenyan Communist stooges will be supplanted by something more in line with the thinking of the psychotic masses.

In what news commentator Rachel Maddow calls “a big nutball day in Washington and Bunkerville,” confused hordes will gather to enforce American Spring’s aims, which include “Restoration of Constitutional government, rule of law, freedom, liberty ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ from despotic and tyrannical federal leadership.”  I guess Bunkerville, Nevada is where Cliven Bundy is holed up with his militia followers waiting to pounce on anyone who shows up to collect grazing fees on land his family has worked since the 7th century A.D.

The self-proclaimed official website of American Spring laid out their plans in full:

Phase 1 – Field millions, as many as ten million, patriots who will assemble in a peaceful, non-violent, physically unarmed (Spiritually/Constitutionally armed), display of unswerving loyalty to the US Constitution and against the incumbent government leadership in Washington D.C., with the mission to replace with law abiding leadership. Go full-bore, no looking back, steadfast in the mission.

Phase 2 – One million or more of the assembled 10 million must be prepared to stay in D.C. as long as it takes to see Obama, Biden, Reid, McConnell, Boehner, Pelosi, and Attorney General Holder removed from office.
Consistent with the US Constitution, as required, the U.S. Congress will take appropriate action, execute appropriate legislation, deal with vacancies, or U.S. States will appoint replacements for positions vacated consistent with established constitutional requirements.

Phase 3 – Those with the principles of a West, Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, Lee, DeMint, Paul, Gov Walker, Sessions, Gowdy, Jordan, should comprise a tribunal and assume positions of authority to convene investigations, recommend appropriate charges against politicians and government employees to the new U.S. Attorney General appointed by the new President.

At the end, there is this reassuring footnote: “*All actions in Phase 2 & 3 will be consistent with the U.S. Constitution.” Boy, that’s good to know. I was worried there for a while.

Click here to see what the Twitterati are saying about the big event.

 

Has the Khmer Rouge Taken Over Congress?

Pol Pot, Tea Party Darling

Pol Pot, Tea Party Darling

The news from Congress is so very strange these days that I am beginning to think that they have been taken over by some extreme guerrilla faction such as the Khmer Rouge or the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path). The Senate is about to host a three- or four-day pajama party—all night long!—just so they the GOP can express their snit about Harry Reid invoking the “nuclear option” on their right to filibuster Obama’s nominees. As for the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner is now aiming daggers at special interest groups that want him to oppose the budget deal put together by Paul Ryan in the House and Senator Patty Murray … even before the details have been released.

Why does it seem that the news from Congress is always bad? The legislative branch of government seems to be permanently broken.

But how does one fix it? Get Mitch McConnell a new burnished turtle shell? Get Boehner a better grade of liquor? Or more handsome and complaisant pages for the Southern senators? What about changing the cooking oil used to make Freedom Fries? (It’s been the same old stuff since Ike was President.) Softer toilet paper for the Congressional stalls? Something’s just gotta give.

One cannot run a government in which two of the three branches of government (yes, I’m including the Supreme Court) are dysfunctional. As Lincoln said:

A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.

We don’t have slavery any more, just a lot of snarky behind-the-scenes racism. Maybe Lincoln was right: One way or the other, Congress will cease to be so divided. But before that happens, we’ll all need some industrial-strength antacids,

We Have Nothing to Fear But …

Someone Needs to Tell This to the Tea Party

Someone Needs to Tell This to the Tea Party

Conservatives are people who are addicted to fear. They fear for the “sanctity” of marriage. They fear what else homosexuals might be planning to discomfit them and their way of life. They fear that liberals are coming to take away their guns. They fear their children will grow up hating their values. They fear that poor people will vote in large numbers to bump them out of office. They fear America will be inundated by immigrants from Third World countries. They fear for the Purity of Essence of their Precious Bodily Fluids.

I take my cue from a great Republican President by the name of Calvin Coolidge. At one point, he said, “If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you.” I often think of that saying when I am twisting and turning in bed at night because I fear that something will happen.

If you should ever find yourself in Plymouth, Vermont, as I did on one day in 2005. You should visit the Coolidge homestead, which is run by the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation. You will find the former President buried in the local cemetery without an ostentatious monument slathered with grandiose sentiments. You will see the humble home in which he was born and the village where he grew to maturity. And finally, you will see a Republican who could be admired by future generations—as the present crop of Republicans will most certainly not be.

A subsequent President, FDR, told us during his first inaugural address that we had nothing to fear but fear itself:

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.

Is the United States going to be paralyzed by the fear of elderly white people who think they are the last generation that supports the values that made this country great? Or will change continue to take place—as it always has and always will—leading to a world that is different, better in some ways and worse in others?

The War Against the Borg

I Think I’m Finally Beginning to Understand This Phenomenon

I Think I’m Finally Beginning to Understand This Phenomenon

My thinking on the whole issue of America’s rightist wingnuts is finally beginning to jell. First of all, they have no real expectation of winning elections, or even of winning most congressional spats such as the recent one over the Shutdown and Obamacare. They really do not care what the majority of Americans think. They know or at least suspect that theirs is a losing fight. When you can’t win battles any more, all that’s left is sheer obstructionism. I am sure that they all think of themselves as if they were General Nathan Bedford Forrest in the last days of the Civil War, going up against the Union knowing they would be outnumbered in every encounter: Their sole hope is to win a few anyhow. Then they can go to their eternal rest (most of them are white and pretty old) knowing they’ve done their best to stem the tide, at least for a while.

There are about fifty so-called bullet-proof seats in Congress occupied by Tea Party types and their running dogs. The voters who elected these intransigent representatives must be made to change their minds, even if it means having other Congressmen gang up on them to vote down laws that would benefit their constituents. That is the only thing that would change their minds, knowing that their man in Congress is not helping their districts. No amount of petitions or snarky attacks on talk shows will have any effect on these people. They don’t care. They have their Tin Pot Jesus who is a great comfort to them in a bewildering world.

Disruptor, Dementor, Borg—They All Amount to the Same Thing

Disruptor, Dementor, Borg—They All Amount to the Same Thing

You may recall the Borg, Captain Picard’s fearful adversary on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Borg essentially fought without caring whether they won or lost (though they mostly won): It was just in their programming that they would overcome and assimilate all the Non-Borg. As a registered Non-Borg, I do not want to be assimilated. Hence, I will resist—even if they think it is futile.

An Iowa Republican Congressman named Steve King made what I consider to be an interesting comment about the shutdown:

“I want what’s best for the long-term best interest of this country,” the Iowa Republican explained. “I want it to be on Constitutional underpinnings.”

And I want to continue to unleash human nature,” he added. “And I’m afraid we’re going the other direction here. And that is troubling to me.”

Why is it important to “unleash human nature”? And, more important, whose “human nature” does he want to unleash? If he unleashes mine, he may find himself being slugged in the head with a baseball bat.

Another interesting contributor to my thinking on this is that the Rightists are willing to go up against women and the young, which constitute more than half the voters. An interesting article on Salon.Com interviews political consultant Theda Skocpol about the recent fracas. At one point, she says:

We actually did the research, both by pulling together national [data] and by doing observations in groups in three regions. There’s no question that at the grass roots, approximately half of all Republican-identifiers who think of themselves as Tea Partyers are a very conservative-minded old group of white people, some of whom do go all the way back to Goldwater and the Birch Society. They are skeptical of the Republican Party as it has been run in recent years. But they both hate and fear the Democratic Party and Obama. We argued in many ways that anger comes from alarm on the part of these older conservatives that they’re losing their country — that’s what they say. That they’re the true Americans, and they’re losing control of American politics. So that’s the grass-roots component.

All this time, I have been attacking the Republican Party. They have merely been assimilated by the Borg and, in the process, lost their souls, such as they were. Boehner, Cantor, and the other GOP House leaders are dancing to Borg tunes and drawing upon themselves a horrible vengeance from the voters. That is, if the voters remember what happened this time next year.