I'm betting the
house he'll be at the Army-Navy game this year too.
DAY. Mrs. CP wanted to see the Arlington wreath-laying ceremony.
always does. She admires Admiral Mullen, and she doesn't despise
Secretary Gates nearly as much as I do. She's also prepared to
appreciate a genuine presidential contribution even from Obama. So we
It really could just be me. Honestly, it could. The president's speech
was okay, especially after the predictably soporific intro by Gates.
For once Obama didn't pretend that all of American history was simply a
symbol portending his own arrival on the scene. (And I had a positive
thought too. Michelle reached out to kiss the Doles, and I observed to
Mrs. CP, "I begin to suspect that the First Lady has learned more about
America and Americans than her husband has... I think she might
actually be falling in love with her country."†
But as I told Mrs. CP in a completely other context this weekend, "I
may be just a nasty, cynical, suspicious old sonofabitch, but..."
(although she agreed with me in that instance; pursue in comments if
you're intrigued), I had some issues with the Arlington speech. Here
they are, enumerated:
1. I think he's learned that the Marine Corps is not pronounced
But he never did say the words "Marine Corps" in his paean to American
military bravery. Omission at this level is proof of error, if not
2. Here we are at Arlington, and the underpaid, undermanned CSPAN crew
is doing its best, but as we observe the proscenium awaiting the most
moving, heartfelt, and nonpartisan of presidential† remarks, there
are the inevitable teleprompter panels, so visible and out of place
that they actually obscured the face of the president on the podium.
(God bless the fat, pot-smoking CSPAN technicians.)
3. It's not the U.S.S. Naval Academy, which doesn't
help the familiar, anecdotal, "I know what I'm talking about approach,"
4. Watching Obama speak has become like watching the world's slowest,
most ponderous tennis match. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right.
Left. Right. Left. Right. It's called moving
I know Well, if you worked for the Washington Post or the Providence
Journal, you'd be moved to sustain your whole fake education and value
system too. Even if you'd never heard of Bill Tilden.
5. Something that offends me a lot. Sorry if it's petty. "I love my
daughters more than anything else in the world." I hate it, hate it,
hate it when fathers talk that way. And these days, everyone does and
we applaud it. Oh what great
dads they are! Fuck them. The line should always read, "I love my wife
and children more than anyone else in the world." If you can't say
that, your wife is simply the dispensable vessel from which your
children came, in which case I have absolutely no use for you. American
6. Double down. Of all the losses our president cited in his sorrow for
those killed in the military -- in his 2011 Memorial Day Address -- he conspicuously
never listed the loss of a spouse, husband or wife. He talked about about
brothers, sisters, uncles, fathers, daughters, grandfathers, but never
husbands or wives. Hmmmmmm.† Check it. I'm right about this. And
they ridicule us for thinking Obama has muslim sympathies. uh, what do you think Michelle thinks?
7. I couldn't help it. I didn't even express it to Mrs. CP because I
was so sure it was my own bias. When we first heard the helicopters
descending on the Arlington ceremony, and when we got word that the
president was arriving, I could NOT evict from my mind the image of the
president's golf clubs waiting in the wings or, at least, stashed on
Marine One. I had this image of him reading off the teleprompter and
then fleeing headlong for the links, leaving his gradually expanding
wife for a DC golf course with appropriate amounts of shade and
presidential libations. Was I wrong?
Can you imagine David Cameron enjoying
a round of golf on Remembrance Sunday? It would be inconceivable for
the British Prime Minister to do so, and not just because of the
usually dire weather at that time of the year. Above all, it would be
viewed as an act of extremely bad taste on a day when the nation
remembers and mourns her war dead. I canít imagine the PM even
considering it, and Iím sure his advisers would be horrified at the
idea. And if the prime minister ever did play golf on such a sacrosanct
day he would be given a massive drubbing by the British press, and it
would never be repeated.
Contrast this with President Obamaís decision to play golf yesterday,
Memorial Day, for the 70th time during his 28-month long presidency.
For tens of millions of Americans, Memorial Day is a time for
remembrance of the huge sacrifices made by servicemen and women on the
battlefield. The president did pay his respects in the morning, laying
a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery,
but later in the day traveled to Fort Belvoir to play golf. The story
has not been reported so far in a single US newspaper, but was made
public by veteran White House correspondent Keith Koffler on his blog.
Hereís Kofflerís report:
The business of memorializing our war dead done,
President Obama headed out to the Fort Belvoir golf course today,
finding his way onto the links for the ninth weekend in a row.
8.† The "Two Voices" problem. It's rare that you get a true
one-two punch in presidential politics in two days. Here's his
presidential voice at Arlington.
9. And here's his voice the day before:
President and Preacher. Are they anything
like the same person, apart
from their common paternalistic presumption? Or are they flip sides of the same
Caesarian coin? And if they
are, what does it mean and
how are we to interpret a president who adopts polar opposite
personalities depending on who he's addressing? Could it mean that he's
trying to defeat Lincoln's truism about fooling all of the people by
fooling them one demographic at a time?
10. Follow-on. The one thing in common between the Arlington and Joplin
performances is the mouth at rest, which is invariably downturned. Look
at the footage. I'm thinking "normal state." Which body behavioralists
interpret as broadly negative.
Slight changes in the mouth can also be
subtle indicators of what a person is feeling. When the mouth is
slightly turned up, it might mean that the person is feeling happy or
optimistic. On the other hand, a slightly downturned mouth can be an indicator of
sadness, disapproval or even an outright grimace.
And which I interpret as utter contempt.
Does your mouth, at rest, turn into a fixed upside down smile?
Think about it.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Other Female Patriots
ONE WAY TO SERVE. Memorial Day is upon us again, and I'm
thinking, particularly this year, it's time to remember the women. Why
particularly this year? Because despite the supposed progress of
feminism, it's clear that the most "progressive" among us are the most
blatantly misogynist. We've just had the latest incident in a long line
of incidents designed to make it clear that when it comes to politics,
the operative progressive principle is as benighted as the ancient
cliche "barefoot and pregnant." Conservative women are fair game for
every low, sexual insult a progressive man
aim at them. And TA DA, it's all okay. The apology is done with a wink
we can infer from the incredible, ongoing sexual belittling by the left
accompanied, like a bad smell, the political activities of Michelle
Coulter, and others.
Let's not kid ourselves. At times the raging
abuse has amounted to a kind of rape,
death, or an invitation to murder.
women are as much to blame in this disgrace as men.
What does all this have to do with Memorial Day? A lot. Women patriots
have a harder time generally fulfilling their love of country. They're
hopelessly second string or worse, bench sitters, in the U.S. military,
and when they dare to run for office or argue policy in the media
arena, they are wide open to assaults that always somehow find their
way between the legs, with, as I've said, the complicity of other
women. Moreover, they're subject to immediate drastic censure if they
respond in kind. They're expected to be ladylike throughout --
something akin to the age-old advice that if rape is inevitable,
you might as well relax and enjoy it. Does Laura Ingraham respond to
Ed Schultz by telling him she'll cut his balls off? Does Sarah Palin
inform Andrew Sullivan that if he makes one more comment about Trig,
she'll give him a buggering that will turn him celibate for life?
No. They're still obliged to be ladies, no matter how coarse their male
and female slanderers are. Which is why, on this particular Memorial
Day, I'm thinking of the World War II WASPs.
You can read their official history here.
ferried planes all over the world during WWII, six million miles
worth, freeing up male pilots for combat. Their contribution to the war
effort was finally honored with a Congressional
Medal in 2010. But I'm not thinking about official history
today. I'm remembering what my dad had to say about the WASPs.
He marvelled at them. They were skilled pilots, brave and hard as
nails. They also, in his words, could outcuss any man in the Army
Air Corps. He told me, "They used language I'd never heard before."
Funny, huh? Look at these sweet old ladies at the White House. They'd
never say a bad word, would they? Sure, they would. And did.
So, I'm thinking, have we actually regressed from 1944 to 2011? I'm
sure their brassy personas were a response to being knee deep in a
man's world. But isn't that the same situation women in politics are
faced with today? Maybe the WASPs have a lesson for our conservative
gals. (er, that's an old World War II term.)† Fight back. Go
ahead. Cut their metaphorical balls off.
And, yeah, sorry. Memorial Day should be more dignified than this post.
But I'm not feeling very dignified at the moment.
Remember the women along with everyone else this year. All I'm saying.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The Seth Phenomenon
Jane Roberts and
CAN STILL FIND.... A friend reminded me of this recently. It's
a secret some otherwise rational people share, that a woman named Jane
Roberts channelled a "personality" who was demonstrably smarter than
she ever was, who made fools of psychiatrists and scientists who
attempted to debunk him in live trance sessions, and made sense of the
nature of existence even to people like me, who had to discover quantum
physics before we could read Seth with anything like an open mind.
Basically, my friend challenged me to man up and admit that the Seth
books -- now no longer in print -- were a major philosophical milestone
for me as they had been for him. We've known each other for a quarter
century and I can't recall having discussed this matter with him
before. That's how secretive and defensive we can be, meaning writers
who know what writing is and how impossible it is that the Seth books
could be some kind of hoax. Seth was a writer on the order of Immanuel
Kant. Jane Roberts, uh, wasn't.
Here's the nub. A woman from Elmira, New York, published in the 1980s a
series of books "dictated" by a personality she channelled in a trance
state. Her husband transcribed these sessions with embedded time codes,
demonstrating that the sessions were occurring in real time and at
great speed. with no edits or corrections. The Seth
personality had an unmistakeable tone of voice, very even and precise.
He was evidently, to all of us who know writing, a formidable and
careful intellect who defined his terms from a great height, aware that
there were in many cases no words in our vocabulary to capture what he
was saying. But he never hid behind that handicap. He was, well,
relentless about finding words that would convey his concepts. He was
also continuously joyful about life. Although Jane Roberts died young
from a mysterious wasting disease that could and probably should have
made her bitter about the nature of existence.
Things that have stayed with me over the years that strike me as
remarkably penetrating, plausible, and thought-provoking. According to
Seth, the Christ
event was an incredibly important and real event, imperfectly
remembered perhaps, but consisting of a single transcendant and
archetypal meta-personality incarnating in three different individuals
to precipitate Christianity: John the Baptist, Christ, and St. Paul. He
said the crucifixion as we remember it did not occur in fact but became
real afterwards, which relates to his description of existence itself.
He said of the world's major religions -- Christianity, Judaism, Islam,
Buddhism, etc -- that there was one
which was a fraud. Islam. (Hardly PC in the early 1980s...)
He said he could find no information about Atlantis. He speculated that
Atlantis either didn't exist or was a memory of the future. (If you're
a cheap seer, wouldn't this be a question you'd have a ready answer
He said, by way of explaining some of these phenomena, that all time is
simultaneous. There is simply one continuous present in which we all
participate in a process of creating consensus reality. He postulated
the existence of mass events, like the Kennedy assassination (or
presumably 9/11) in which we agree via dreams and other subconscious
forces to enact a drama that enables us as individuals to realize our
characters and pursue our own personal growth.
We do not, any of us, ever die. We are all creators in training.
And we all have so many existences in parallel worlds -- every decision
does split the universe -- that every sort
of potential we possess is realized, which is the good news. The bad
news is that if we realized how many versions of ourselves are
operating in parallel realities, we'd feel hopelessly insignificant.
Although we're not insignificant. Because every one of us is one center
of the universe.
He also talked about pets, many of who whom are "fragment
personalities" of people we have known who choose to remain with us
even as the larger part of themselves move on.
I'm not saying that I have no skepticism about Seth. I'm saying that I
read all the books and there are no inconsistencies, which, believe me,
I'm always alert to. And I'm wondering these days about Mickey,
was born a few months after my dad died (although I didn't meet
him, couldn't have met him
for a couple of years after that death) and seems to spend an
inordinate amount of time these days taking charge of all the dogs and
cats and telling me what to do and when. Sometimes he just stares at
me. For no reason. But he definitely wants to be with me. All the time.
Which for a feral cat is a miracle.
Okay, George? Have I done my duty?
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
THE RADAR. I admit there's no real point to this post. But maybe
that is the point. Commenter
Not sure about using hate anymore.
Reeks of desperation and a lack of faith. The calm, imperturbable face
of a train coming down the tracks seems like it might be a better
visage (for me). No emotion, only force mixed with orientation.
I think he's hit on something. And I'm surprised that someone as young
as he has made such a connection. Which fills me with hope.
For someone of my advanced age, trains have always been a romantic
background, rarely the star but always a sense-laden spur of memory and
emotion precisely because a pure "force mixed with orientation" is such
an apt metaphor of modern life. You can hop on or off, but the train
keeps going, and its power is both primeval and intelligently
controlled. Trains are mankind itself, forever moving, fuelling the
business of a species that builds nonstop and runs over anything and
everything in its way. That's the romance. They're big, relentless, and
full of sound and fury, signifying something, maybe everything.
You don't ever think about
trains. You just experience them. They're the unicorns of the
industrial age, mythic but more real than myth. Everything about them
is weighted with symbolism -- locomotives, tracks, rails, boxcars,
cabooses, whistles, clanging bells, steam, bridges and tunnels, signal
lights, switches, iron, steel, and iron -- and they're simultaneously
impersonal and curiously intimate. Sexual but remote and metaphysical in
their massive physicality.
Boys in my day were entranced with trains. My grandparents had a store
of 50 years of National Geographics. Before I even realized that these
magazines had pictures of naked women, I fell in love with the ads for
trains. Gleaming passenger cars and the locomotive headlight beaming in
the night. I clipped the ads and made a scrapbook for school called,
Later, when I was away at school, late at night I used to hear the
distant chugging and moaning whistle of a freight train I never saw. It
was life to me, the going somewhere I couldn't do while I was chained
to a campus and a regimen of duties Trains meant freedom, momentum,
reach of superhuman scale.
Like other boys, I'd had a Lionel train set, which is the illusion of
control, but I never thought of the toy train when I heard the faraway
whistle at night. I was able to visualize it, though, because I knew
about whistles and cattle cars and boxcars from earliest childhood. The
metaphor pool was deeply established.
Odd, isn't it, the roles trains play in our favorite cultural
touchstones? Bogey in the rain at the Paris train station in Casablanca, heartbroken and bitter about the remorselessness of history in the making.† Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, and Eva Marie
Saint being naughty in a sleeping car in North by Northwest. Burt Lancaster
and Paul Scofield duelling over life and art in The Train. Neo killing the Agent via subway train in The Matrix. More recently, Denzel
Washington battling trains in Pelham 123 and Unstoppable. What's Atlas Shrugged
about in the final analysis? Trains. And my own choice, so
many years ago, of a name for the ultimate punk writer band, The
Actually, I could go link crazy if I started searching past posts for
train references. Why I'm not doing that. You can feel free to do so.
Trains. What do you see when you are obliged to stop at an intersection
and let one pass? Do you see life, your
life, the story of Casey Jones,
the history of your own affluence in a blessed country, the golden
spike, How the West Was Won,
or a mere gigantic inconvenience in your day?
I see trains. The beautiful bigness of human life, rasty, noisy, and
DISCREDIT IS DUE. Now that he's produced his birth
certificate and given the green light to kill bin Laden, Obama is
getting a universal pass on the suspicion that he favors muslims and
Except here. Juan Williams on Fox
News Sunday couldn't believe the "arrogance" of a foreign leader
"lecturing" the president of the United States at a photo-op.
Really, Juan? It's arrogant to fight for your life when even your most
powerful friend insists that proven genocidal hatred is a diplomatic
position roughly analogous to your own desire to survive? But the rest
of the pundit class isn't much better. They keep talking about
of peace, equitable dispositions of the issues. How do you
negotiate the fact that your opposite number at the negotiating table
wants you dead? You, your family, their families, and all the people
they know -- dead. Meaning that's their first and only objective in the
I refuse to get sucked into the inane chattering of the chattering
class. I just want to make a few simple, obvious points. First, for
whatever reason, the new liberalism -- also known as progressivism --
regards hatred of the Jews as a virtue. I won't be using the easy term,
'anti-semitism,' here, because Arabs are also semites. Sorry if that's
Second, Obama may not favor murderous jihadists, but he does favor
muslims over Jews. I think he also favors muslims over Christians.
Because he agrees with their fundamental grievance, that the prosperity
of the western Christian or post-Christian nations represents a
longstanding process of theft from the indigent muslim nations of the
world. It's probably not a religious but a political conviction.
Although, like so many marxists, he can't help hating the Jews.
American Jews who support Obama give him a pass because they also hate
the Jews. That's pretty much a big problem they've had since they
stopped believing in God and started believing in Freud and Marx
instead, not to mention hedge funds. And, truth to tell, if American
Jews believed in Israel, they'd be there, not here.
You're right. I'm creeping up on another point. The most important
point. It's okay to dislike the political fatuities and hypocrisies of
American Jews. It's okay to dislike the stereotypes they sometimes seem
determined not only to live up to but surpass and demonstrate beyond
the shadow of a doubt. What's not okay is using dislike as an excuse
for failed responsibility.
We can't wash our hands of them. They are the source of the difficult,
frequently distasteful mechanisms that made our civilization in the
first place: law, banking, obsession with education, frank acceptance of the physicality of pissing and shitting and fucking, unending personal competition for the spoils
of economic conquest, conspicuous consumption, runaway ambition,
quarrelsomeness, the incredibly annoying self-absorption of individual
consciousness, and Jesus Christ, the antithesis of all this who could
not have existed without the culture that spawned him.
And now for the point within the point. Show me somebody who hates
Jews, and I'll show you somebody who thinks only in proper nouns. Like
our president. Muslims good. Jihadists bad. Palestinians good. Jews
bad. African-Americans good. Whites bad. And so on.
I think in common nouns, at least as much as current events will
permit. I don't capitalize very often. Which is to say I try to draw
distinctions, to discriminate.
I know it's a dirty word these days; get over it.) I am the best
of friends with individual jews, although I want to smack the American
Jews who are so convinced they're smarter than all the rest of us. I
feel the same way about muslims. I suspect, or hope, that many of them
possess a live and let live mentality. I also fear that there are a
great many Muslims, even the ones who insist they're Moderate, who
would like to see us all dead because Abraham preferred Israel to
Ishmael. I have nothing against black people, but when they start
capitalizing and hyphenating themselves, I get edgy in a hurry.
I'm pretty sure our president lives in a world of capitals. He's led a
life so sheltered and parochial there's no other way he could view
things. And there's no
other way he could feel confident and virtuous about seeking to force
Israel into a peace that would result in their total annihilation.
Netanyahu confronting Obama? See the jew who's looking straight into
your eyes, not the Jew of your ideological loathings.
That's a lesson that's appropriate to
any forum, including the White House. If Obama could learn it, which he
can't, it would redound to the benefit of all the capitalized villains
he can't bring himself to tolerate: Southerners, Gun Owners,
Capitalists, Christians, Suburbanites, Doctors, Insurance
Progessionals, Conservatives, Fox News, Korean Grocers, Police
Officers, White People, and, um, yeah, Jews (otherwise known as Hebes,
Kikes, Sheenies, and, uh, Jews.)
Israel is surrounded and all the Arab countries are dissolving into a
chaos akin to that which produced the Ayatollah Khomeini as a
replacement for the Shah of Iran, in a tantrum the western media insist
on calling the "Arab Spring." There's one thing they all have in
common, Moderate Muslims as they are; their only negotiating point with
Israel is to see all the Jews dead. Who would you negotiate with if you
were a Jew? The only way not to see how dangerous this is to Israel is
to, well, not give a shit.
We pay the president to give a shit. Sorry if that's anathema to a man
who thinks only in capitals. To the hopeless adolescent ideologue we
call "The One."