Tuesday, November 20, 2007

From the Inside to the Outside

"Goodness comes from within. Goodness is something to be chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man." ~ Anthony Burgess, from A Clockwork Orange

The neocons, whom I have now decided were created by spontaneous bugnation, have infested Washington, DC, to the extent they have gained a great deal of influence with the current administration. Sadly for America and the world, but not for them, this influence is far in excess of their wisdom to support it. Said influence has allowed them to enact their lunatic's agenda of sending the US military halfway across the planet to cane the wogs until they become civilized. Even Bill Clinton, who is a quasi-psychopath, waved them away. Dubya, on the other hand, has embraced their beliefs possibly not whole-heartedly, but pretty close to it. This is not good.

Dubya claims he is a "born-again Christian." I wonder what this means, because I have known other "born-agains," including several people who claimed their interpretation of the Bible was the only correct one. One guy, in particular, insisted to me (and anyone else who would listen) that the Pope had sent assassins to bump him off, to prevent him from spreading his Message of Truth to the world. At least he tried to merely persuade people, instead of beating them on the head with a rock. Bush, the neocons and their Christian Zionist brethen appear to have their very own Message of Truth they're going to impose – with a big stick – on the recalcitrant Fuzzy Wuzzies on the other side of the earth. This is a White Man's Burden that I wish the US was unburdened from.

I get the impression Dubya is not exactly the most knowledgeable man in the US. I don't believe he is dumb, just not Ludwig von Mises–intelligent. I could be wrong, but considering the line of presidents behind him that stretches back from his father to Carter to Nixon to Johnson to FDR to Wilson...the odds are not in his favor.

Apparently...okay, well, more than apparently...Bush is not familiar with the word "metanoia." It's a Greek word that means "to change the mind and heart."

"Metanoia" has traditionally been translated in the Bible as "repentance," as in "You must repent." That's the old translation, and not a particularly accurate one. Modern translations get the word right: "You must change your hearts and minds."

"You must change your hearts and minds" means from "the inside to the outside." From the inside of a person to the outside behavior. That's real, true change. Caning the wogs means "from the outside to the inside." It's based on violence or the threat of violence. There's no real change involved. Sure, there's fear, and resentment, and hate, and lies from the canees, but no real change. Of course we can say, "We don't care if they like us, as long as they fear us," but considering all the empires based on this belief no longer exist, obviously it's not all that smart of an idea.

A very good book, and movie, about "from the outside to the inside" is Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange. If you're going to viddy both of them, I'll point out the movie is much easier to understand than the book. In the novel the author created a new language ("Nadsat") spoken by his teenage thugs, which was a mixture of English, Russian, some gypsy, and bits of rhyming slang. Some of this language exists in the movie, but only a fraction of what is in the novel.

If you read the book you literally have to have a dictionary beside you to understand what's going on. Here's a typical sentence from a novel almost completely composed of such sentences: "you could peet it with vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom or one or two other veshches."

The villain in both the movie and the book is Alex, a sadistic 15-year-old who thoroughly enjoys spending nights with his droogies engaging in a bit of the "old ultraviolence" – rapes and beatings, mostly, with a bit of theft thrown in. Or, as the book puts their activities concerning an old man: "to tolchock some old veck in an alley and viddy him swim in his blood."

The nocturnal ramblings through the English countryside of Alex and his friends finally leads to the death of an older woman. Alex, who is the only one to get caught, gets sent to prison. He doesn't like it there. He passes the time by engaging in sadistic violent fantasies.

When he's given an opportunity to get out early by submitting to some Skinnerian operant-conditioning – known as the "Ludovico technique" – he jumps at the chance. This bizarre perversion of psychology, which consists of strapping Alex in a chair with his glazzes forced open while he's given drugs and forced to watch violent movies, "cures" him of his violence. Every time he tries something criminal, he gets so sick he falls down.

Alex wasn't changed on the inside. His behavior was changed, but not his heart and mind. Later, because of political considerations, Alex's conditioning is reversed and he immediately becomes feral again. He was held in place by "from the outside to the inside," because there wasn't any "from the inside to the outside."

Most people are only familiar with Kubrick's movie and the American version of the novel. In both of them, after Alex's conditioning is reversed and he returns to his violent ways, they end. In the movie, Alex's last words are, "I was cured, all right" as he is engaged in rape.

The ending of the English version of the novel is different, and much better. In it, Alex starts to grow up. He gets tired of the violence. He changes his heart and mind. That last chapter is cut from the American edition, and the movie. Kubrick later said he didn't know about the original ending of the book.

Burgess wrote this about the English and American versions: "A Clockwork Orange was published in New York by W.W. Norton Inc. later in the year [1962]. Eric Swenson, Norton's vice-president, insisted that the book lose its final chapter. I had to accede to this lopping because I needed the advance, but I was not happy about it. I had structured the work with some care. It was divided into three sections of seven chapters each, the total figure being, in traditional arithmology, the symbol of human maturity. My young narrator, the music-loving thug Alex, ends the story by growing up and renouncing violence as a childish toy. This was the subject of the final chapter, and it was the capacity of this character to accept change which, in my view, made the work into a genuine if brief novel. But Swenson wanted only the reversible artificial change imposed by state conditioning. He wished Alex to be a figure in a fable, not a novel. Alex ends Chapter 20 saying: 'I was cured all right,' and he resumes joy in evil. The American and European editions of the novel are thus essentially different. The tough tradition of American popular fiction ousted what was termed British blandness."

In the movie and the American version of the book, there is only the always-fragile controlling of behavior through "from the outside to the inside." The English version ends portraying the wisdom of "from the inside to the outside" – Alex finally truly changing his heart and mind.

The State and society at always at odds with each other. The more the State expands, the more society retreats, and the more chaos threatens. Society -- civilization -- is but a thin veneer holding down a sometimes-not-pleasant human nature. Since the State is based only on force and coercion, when it ends up treating Alex as it did, it's a sign that society is collapsing because of State interference -- leaving the State no choice but to use violence. That's the message of A Clockwork Orange -- the collapse of society, engendered by the State, creates monsters like Alex, who the State attempts to control by violence.

In the excised final chapter, when Alex decides to renounced violence, it shows how society can repair itself -- when people chose to become civilized, from the inside out.

The people running the State never seem to pay much attention to the Bible's admonishment that "You must change your hearts and minds." Since all States are based on coercion and the threat of coercion, its modus operandi is, ultimately, "Do as I say, or I'll smack your gulliver with this stick." I don't think this is a good recipe for dealing with the rest of the world. Heck, it's not a good recipe for dealing with your neighbors next door. Certainly some people – chronic criminals – have to be controlled this way, but it doesn't work for entire nations, which anyone with one-quarter of a brain knows aren't completely composed of crooks.

Since I'm not some sort of towering genius of wisdom, and sometimes don't even trust myself all that much, I pay attention to ancient, tried-and-true knowledge. Let's put it this way: I'll take the wisdom of the sayings in the Bible over Duyba's MBA any day. I'll take it over anything the neocons have to say, too. Therefore, I can say the administration's attempts to remake a large chunk of the world in its desired image are bound to fail.

I collect easily memorized sayings. They give me quick answers when my brains lock up on me. Some of them are a bit long, but here's a good one, from Confucius: "Weak character coupled with honored place, meager knowledge with large plans, limited powers with heavy responsibility, will seldom escape disaster."

The US administration should pay a little more attention to ancient wisdom and not modern foolishness. Maybe then it might decide not to tolchok the entire world. But since they have their gullivers up their sharries, they certainly aren't going to listen.

The Garden of Eden and the WTC

In Thomas Harris' novel, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter gives Clarice a hint as to how to find the killer. "Seek first principles," he tells her. "What does he do? He envies...he covets." (You can see the killer's envy in his last words to Clarice, after she shoots him: "How does it feel to be so beautiful?")

Harris, who had studied with the FBI's serial-killer unit for information for his novel, understood intimately of which he wrote. These kinds of killers always envy, and because they envy, they hate. Almost always they envy and hate women, almost always because of childhood abuse. They project their problems onto innocent women and kill them. Their hate and envy, coupled with their reptilian lack of a conscience, permits them to commit serial murder. The psychological sequence runs thus: envy to scapegoating to evil.

This sequence also exists in the movie, Amadeus. Salieri envies and hates Mozart, because Mozart posesses a profound musical genius, and Salieri's talent is miniscule. Predictably, he blames his problems on Mozart, and wants to bring him down and destroy him. Which he does, subtly. His reward is similar to the murderer's in Silence: he ends up in an asylum, where he cuts his wrists. Envy, to scapegoating, to evil.

This sequence was noticed thousands of years ago, in the story of the Garden of Eden. Eve blames her behavior on the serpent, a symbol of envy and therefore also of hate. Adam blames Eve. God kicks them out, and they enter the world "knowing good and evil." Envy, to scapegoating, to evil.

I pay attention to myths. They don't survive thousands of years until they have universal truth to them. I generally don't pay attention to modern "science" unless it confirms ancient wisdom. When the psychiatrist M. Scott Peck wrote, "Scapegoating is the genesis of human evil," I listened.

The story of the Garden of Eden also suggests evil and hate have no conscience, no more than a reptile has a conscience. In describing the serpent as "subtle," it points out envy and hate usually operate in a backstabbing way. Very rarely does anyone declare, "I envy you." It's an admission of inferiority.

The entire 20th century was the era of hate, envy, scapegoating and mass murder. Historians estimate 177 million people lost their lives because of Communism and Nazism, both of which are based on the aforementioned traits.

Blame the non-Aryans and kill them; blame the capitalists and kill them. Then our problems will evaporate and Utopia shall reign.

In the U.S. the Democrats, who are America's Communist Party, have traditionally been far more scapegoating towards Republicans than the reverse. They see them as evil. And the Democratic Party is based on envy, theft and greed. Envy, to scapegoating. to evil.

When the wisdom of the story of the Garden of Eden is applied to the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon, a bit more nuanced reason for them emerges.

The "Right" sees the attacks as being on our "freedom," "democracy" and "capitalism." This is asinine and barely worth discussing. People don't fly planes into buildings screaming, "Die freedom-loving democratic capitalist!"

The idea that the attacks were based on envy is, I believe, far more correct.

The Islamic world is a thousand years behind the West. I've heard it described as "Nietzsche's crab": try to help it and it claws you; leave it alone and it goes backwards.

What they envy is our power and wealth. We are so superior the U.S. alone could militarily defeat all 22 Islamic countries combined, with an almost contemptible ease (ruling is another story. a mistake shown by the old saying, "You can conquer a country on horseback, but you must dismount to rule it"). In that sense the attacks were partly symbolic, to "bring us down."

They envy our superiority, our wealth, our power.

The Left, and libertarians, see the attacks as a response to our meddling in the Middle East. This is more correct than what the "Right," believes, but not totally.

The Islamic world blames it problems on the West because we have interfered in their part of the world. Yet our interference is ultimately not the cause of their poverty and backwardness. They are the cause of it. But because of scapegoating, they're going to blame their problems the West, or whatever else is convenient. But they are not going to look at the log in their eye, only the speck in someone else's, just as we do the same.

This is not to suggest that the US's meddling in the Middle East hasn't harmed them, and harmed them greatly. It has. But overwhelmingly, they've fouled their own nests, and have no one to blame but themselves. People who think that using their children as suicide bombers is acceptable are worshipping Moloch and destroying themselves, but are too deluded to know it.

Does this envy run both ways? They envy us; do we envy them? What do they have for us to envy? Absolutely nothing, except one thing: oil. And I think "envy" might be too strong of a word. "Covet" sounds more correct. We covet their oil, even though we have plenty of our own, if we would just drill for it.

It does not surprise me at all that the only emotion forbidden in the Ten Commandments is envy. It's the basis of so many other sins: murder, theft, greed. War, partly because we are greedy for their oil.

What does the wisdom of the story of the Garden of Eden tell us about the WWIII we are apparently hurtling into headlong? They envy us, see us as evil, and scapegoat us. We covet what they have, see them as evil, and scapegoat them.

Each lacks a conscience concerning the other, sees them as evil, as "things." The result: a long war, in which each is convinced they are right and the other is wrong. War, famine, pestilence, destruction, caused by the fact each is utterly convinced they are in the right.

The myth of the Garden of Eden is indeed instructive...now if only the people in government would listen to what it's telling them.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rewriting the Past

I am not a fan of the director David Lynch. He massacred Dune, Eraserhead was an obscenity, Blue Velvet an over-the-top joke. The main reason The Elephant Man was so good is because he didn't write it, only direct it.

Yet, I have to give him the highest kudos for Mulholland Dr. Why? Because it's about the nearly-univeral, narcissistic tendency for people to rewrite their pasts not only so they appear better than they really are, but so they can win. This tendency causes a tremendous amount of grief not only on celluloid, but in the real world.

Does anybody really doubt that Lynndie England is compulsively telling everyone who'll listen that she didn't like what she did in Iraq? That she didn't enjoy it, even with those stupid grins on her face? That it wasn't her fault? It was someone else's? Someone made her do it?

She's trying to rewrite the past so she appears blameless. The neocons are doing the same thing. Oh no! We are in no way responsible for this fouled-up war! It's someone else's fault! We're blamelesss, they claim, trying to throw their earlier writings down the Orwellian memory hole.

I expect this kind of nonsense from some genetic retrograde from a West Virginia trailer court. But when the "leading" intellectuals in society engage in it, and never take blame for what they do, that is a big problem that affects a great many people As far as I'm concerned, it defines what a court intellectual is: it's not my fault, it's someone else's. If these people had any honor, they'd fall on their swords.

Lynch fully understands the desire people have to engage in fantastic confabulation in order to shift blame from themselves onto someone else. Be warned, though, that his film is nearly incomprehensible on first viewing. It requires at least two. It also contains many adult themes (especially sexual), so if you're easily offended, look elsewhere for a movie.

I'm not going to go into any detail about the plot. It wouldn't do any good anyway, because it is so complex and dream-like that to do it justice this article would have to be four times as long. I'll just sum up what it's about: when many people get into a situation where they are losers, they will engage in fantasies to convince themselves are they winners. In order for them to perceive themselves as winners, it requires projecting blame elsewhere. Refusing to admit their weaknesses, and projecting them on others, is essentially, in Lynch's world (and mine), what creates evil.

On the libertarian side, an example of rewriting the past so one wins, and shifting blame onto someone else so they are the cause of all problems, is Ayn Rand. Her real name was Alice Rosenbaum. In reality, she was a
rabbit-toothed women married to an alcoholic never-do-well whom she supported because he never worked.

Yet in her writings, especially Atlas Shrugged, she literally rewrote her past. All her heroes, male and female, are gorgeous, rich, brilliant, supremely competent. They're perfect. Being perfect, all blame for the problems in their world has to he shifted elsewhere. In Atlas Shrugged, it was shifted onto what she called "looters" and "parasites," all of whom she tried to murder. Ultimately, Rand called herself "the perfect woman," a confabulation of the saddest kind, and one worthy of Mulholland Dr.

Lynch will have none of this. His vision, on this point of fantasizing about the past, and shifting blame, is clear and right on the mark. He sees where it leads: destruction. In many ways his film is a Greek tragedy: Koros (stability) to Hubris (grandiose fantasy) to Ate (madness) to Nemesis (destruction).

His movie is also about the collision of Innocence with Experience, of Goodness with Evil. He has some significant points to make.

In literature there are three related themes: Innocence vs. Experience, Unconsciousness vs. Consciousness, and the Natural State vs. the Machine State. On one side stand Innocence, Unconsciousness and the Natural State (all of which represent the Garden of Eden). Opposed to them are Experience, Consciousness, and the Machine State.

You can see these themes in H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, in which the Eloi are innocents, unconscious of evil, who dwell naturally in their Garden of Eden. Against them are the Morlocks, who are conscious of evil and use machines.

You are also see these themes in Lynch's The Elephant Man. It's why in the beginning there is a man being operated on, wounded terribly by a machine. It's why the Elephant Man maintains his innocence throughout the entire movie.

The theme of the Natural State vs. the Machine State is pretty much fraudulent. Machines are amoral. They are, as Cooper's Law states, merely amplifiers. They amplify our abilities, for good or bad.

While the Natural State vs. the Machine State appeared 25 years ago in The Elephant Man, it does not appear in Mulholland Dr. But Innocence vs. Experience, and Unconsciousness vs. Consciousness, does.

What Lynch says about them is sad but true: you cannot go through your life unconscious of evil. It is there, and sooner or later it will hit you.

I will give away one scene in order to illustrate this point. There is a young man, very sensitive, very decent, very innocent, sitting in a diner, talking to a friend. He says he's been having a dream about a monster in back of the diner. That monster, although it's not clearly stated, is the personification of the hate, envy and jealousy of the main character (who sees herself as perfect, which is why this monster is the unacknowledged imperfect side of her) projected into reality.

When this young man walks to the back of the diner, the monster pops out at him. He keels over backward. Is he dead, or did he merely faint? The movie never tells. What's clear is that Lynch is saying that when people deny their imperfections--their hate, their envy, their jealousy--then for all practical purposes it will materalize in reality. And it does. The first to be hurt by it are the most innocent, the most decent, the most sensitive. And that happens, too, because they don't want to see the evil that exists. In their minds, someone else will take care of it--usually, for most people, the government.

If I'm reading the movie right, Lynch is saying the greatest sin of the human race is the grandiose fantasies that people have, in which everyone is split into all-good and all-bad. Almost always, we see ourselves as good. Therefore, someone else has to be bad--the cause of our hate, envy and jealousy. Then we try to kill them, to get rid of our bad feelings. This often involves rewriting our past, creating what Daniel Patrick Moynahan called "fine feeling and bad history." The Greeks had a term for all of this--Hubris. "I am good, and perfect; you are evil and the cause of my problems." George Bush has a term for it, too: "You are either with us or against us."

Some people will go so far to maintain their self-image of being right that they will engage in trying to rewrite their past, as Jay Gatsby did in The Great Gatsby. But the ancient Greeks considered these kinds of grandiose fantasies a madness. Lynch, obviously, agrees with them.

It's unstated in the movie, but implicit, that when we accept our mperfections, and cease to project them, the madness ceases. If we do not--and the movie is clear about this--we end up trapped in our insane fantasies--then dead.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Surrender or be Eaten, Earth Toads

Title’s not exactly right. What I really mean is, "Surrender AND be eaten." If you – ‘scuse me, I mean we – don't surrender, and decide to fight, we won't be eaten. But if we surrender without a fight, it won't be a quick, painless, one-gulp death. Don't resist, and all of you -- ah, shoot, us – will go inch by inch, like a snake eating a toad (which I saw once – talk about eerie. The toad was screaming.) All of this reminds me of that great big snake that scarfed down Jon Voigt in the best worst movie ever made, Anaconda.

What am I talking about? I've been enlightened; I now know the truth. And here is the Prophet, David Icke, a former soccer player turned religious conman. And who, like a lot of religious conmen, really believes his delusions.

You may think that I'm joking, that I actually consider this whole thing to be so utterly ridiculous that it's beyond making fun of, and therefore the only way to handle it is to play it straight. Hah! How little you know, Earthling food. Oops, I mean how little we know.

You may think I consider the Prophet to either be a complete wacko who's blown a brain-gasket, or else nothing more than a con man out for money and attention. You may think this is just typical Left Coast California nonsense, a perfect example of the saying, "When you shake America, everything loose rolls to California." You may say this is an example of what happens when traditional values are destroyed by old heresies dressed up in new clothes, that it's just an example of history repeating itself, and it's the reason why all religions are inherently conservative as they fight against the babbling inanities that con men create and fools fall for.

You may say that religious con men are the most successful (like "Master Fard Muhammad," who served time in prison for being a con and a drug dealer before founding his own religion), and always have been throughout history. You may quote Dostoevsky from The Brothers Karamazov, when he wrote that people will always fall for "miracle, mystery and authority." Or you may think it's just some kind of weird, unconsciously-created Jungian archetype-metaphor or meta-story for what the reptilian State does to people. Well, there is a third alternative: this man really does know the Truth.

Think how sensible his whole thesis is...reptilian aliens came to Earth thousands of years ago, from the planet Draco, and have interbred with humans. All the rulers of Earth, past and present, are related, have reptilian DNA, and are shape-shifters. Their goal: to take over the Earth. Yes, it's true. I swear it is. I'm not lying. Do you see me smiling? Did you ever see Roy Thinnes smile in that '60's TV program, The Invaders. Only this ain't no Quinn Martin production! No sir!

Think how much it explains. The narrow, reptilian, Howdy Doody heads of the Bush family...the narrow, too-close-together, lop-sided snake-like eyes. How often do you see the Bushes eat in public? How often do you see any rulers of any country eat in public? Do you know why? Because in private they shape-shift back into their original reptilian forms and drink human blood! And that is the reason Daddy Bush barfed in Japan. He was trying to eat human food and got sick. And why do you think Dubya passed out stuffing a Cheesy Poof into his mouth? When's the last time you saw a snake eat a pretzel? Like never, that's when.

The signs are everywhere. Look at Prince Charles, who has the same narrow, inbred reptilian head that the Bushes have. Or Tony Blair, with his smushed head and forced reptilian smile. Look at all the evil Ur-Snakes of the UN as they attempt to impose their snaky one-world government. Or how alien and un-American the US government has become. Observe the cold-blooded, inhuman, murderous, people-eating impulses of William Bennett and Donald Rumsfeld. Do you really think all of these people are not related to the serpent-king Vlad Tepes, usually called Draculu –Son of the Dragon?

It wasn't for nothing, you know, that it was a serpent in the Eden of Garden that got us kicked out and brought evil into the world. Maybe the serpent is a symbol of the envy that is the essence of the democratic socialist States now trying to bring the world down. And all the sheeple-toads are being hypnotized by propaganda that will only lead to their deaths and allow us, um, them to take over the world!

You may think this is just another silly conspiracy theory, along the lines of the ones claiming the planes that flew into the WTC were really remote-controlled by space satellites, or that Area 51 has advanced fighter aircraft built using crashed-UFO technology. Well, those are obviously false, unlike human-blood-drinking shape-shifting space-alien reptile-human half-breeds attempting to slowly take over this planet.

You may laugh and claim that those who believe in conspiracies are paranoid and suffer from feelings of insecurity and the belief that the world is going to hell. That they want to blame others for their problems, and tend to see things as either good or evil. That plotting against and confronting an enemy gives their lives meaning. That they want to believe they are among the few who understand the threat, and are therefore special because they can save the world.

Well, that might be true for all those false conspiracies, but not for this one! If you want to see what is really happening, watch that old Twilight Zone episode in which the aliens come here claiming they're going "to serve man" – and they are! With their cookbook – To Serve Man.

What a silly, silly man G.K. Chesterton was. When he said, "When people cease to believe in God, they don't believe in nothing; they'll believe anything," he had no idea what he was talking about. We, uh, I mean those reptilian aliens created religion to control you. I mean us.

And forget that my last name is Wallace, which is a royal name meaning "foreigner." It's just a coincidence, nothing more. Just look deeply into my eyes as I sing the song that all propagandists sing to their citizens, “Trust in Me” from The Jungle Book, and everything will be fine...just fine....you're getting sleepy...just fine...

Resistance is futile. You - darn it - we will be absorbed. Literally.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Safe, Effective, and Illegal

For the record, my drug use consists of a German white wine called Auslese.

That's it. I don't even use aspirin, because it doesn't work on me. Minimum, I need Tylenol with Codeine, which can legally be bought through the mail from Canada. I'm too lazy to get some.

However, unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale as a teenager, from ages 15 to 17, on weekends. Then I quit. Some years later, I realized my use coincided exactly with that prison known as high school, which drove me so crazy I did little more than daydream in school and party on the weekends.

But, I haven't touched the stuff for decades. Except . . . .

Last week, as I was walking down a handicapped ramp to my car, my feet flew out from under me and I crashed to the ground on my back. The pavement was dry, and I still have no idea what happened. It was as if the Angel of Death had grabbed my ankles and pulled from the front.

Yes, I know there is irony in the fact I was almost crippled by falling down the handicapped ramp. I was even able to smile about the whole thing after I stood up.

I hit the concrete the hardest I have ever hit the ground in my life. That includes all the tumbles I took on ice during the winter. I found that it is an instinct to hunch your back so the back of your head doesn't hit. But I now understand how people get killed by falling down.

One second I was vertical. A fraction of a second later, I was horizontal. Gravity is not your friend. Neither is the law that mass times acceleration equals velocity.

I lay on the ground for a few seconds, wondering if I was hurt. No cracking of bones, no fountains of blood. No pain, either. Bizarrely, when I fell, I rotated my left wrist, so the soda I was holding in my left hand barely spilled.

Somehow, the keys which I was carrying in the same hand ended up 20 feet away. It took me five minutes, from the point of impact, walking in an ever-widening spiral, to find them in the grass.

The fall happened on a Thursday evening. I was fine until Saturday night. Then my left hip started to ache. Badly. So badly I was ready to go to the ER. I knew there was no major damage, just a bruised muscle or tendon. But no matter which position I was in, my hip hurt. And it hurt so badly I knew sleep was out of the question.

A few years ago I had tendonitis in my left shoulder, which is a swollen tendon. It hurt like you wouldn't believe. I ended up at the ER. The cost: $500, for a shot of painkiller. "That's all we can do for it," the doctor told me.

Fortunately, my insurance paid for most of it, but I swore I would never go to the ER again unless I was taken there unconscious. $500 for a painkiller? No wonder medical costs are out of control.

As I lay there with my aching hip, I wondered what I was going to do. I had no painkillers in the house, and nothing over-the-counter would even touch the pain I was feeling.

Then it occurred to me . . . before the State in its stupidity had made marijuana illegal, doctors prescribed it for all sorts of maladies. Lack of appetite, for one, as everyone knows. That I knew about, considering how much French vanilla ice cream I inhaled on Friday and Saturday nights when I was in high school.

When it was banned, doctors opposed it. Hemp, as it was called then, was used for too many disorders to be so cavalierly dismissed by the ignorant and incompetent in government.

I remember doctors had prescribed it for insomnia, as a muscle relaxer for pregnant women, and for pain.

So, I called up a friend of mine and explained the situation. He, of course, laughed hysterically. "So," he giggled, "you're going to be a 'hepcat' and take a 'toke' of some 'reefer,' huh? I'll see if I can find a 'lid' somewhere." Lid? No one's called it a "lid" since about 1974. And "hepcat" went out in, what, 1956? Oh, he was having a fun time mocking me.

He gave me an amount about the size of a pea. He even lent me a pipe. I felt ridiculous, puffing on that tiny pipe like I was 16 again, but enough pain overcomes anything.

Much to my surprise, after about two minutes the pain in my hip started to go away. Not completely, but enough so that the pain was tolerable. And the muscles loosened up enough so that I could get up without groaning and cursing and staggering around like Frankenstein's monster. And I got sleepy.

And I wasn't high, either.

I fell asleep, and when I woke up the next morning, the injury had healed enough so I could get around with a little bit of hobbling and grimacing. A few days later I was fine.

The total cost, according to my friend, if he had charged me for the amount I used, would have been a few dollars. That is obviously a heck of a lot less than $500.

Please don't tell me all about the horrors of drug use. I know all about them.

I've seen kids shoot up when I was 15 years old, I've seen them die from ODs in ditches and from sniffing paint, I've seen alcoholics act completely normal when sober and like they were possessed by demons when they were drunk.

So, the attempts to equate the responsible, occasional use of a medicine by an adult, with the collapse of society, is simply ridiculous.

As far as I'm concerned, it should be part of everyone's medicine cabinet.

Unless, of course, you have no problems shelling out $500 for an ER visit, just to get one shot.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Thing vs. Some Dumb Flatfoots

"It is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error."- Robert H. Jackson

The title sounds like one of those movie serials from the '30s and '40s, doesn't it? The kind where this happened:

CAPTAIN YANCY: Yer surrounded, Thing! Give up! You can't get away!

THING: Come and get me, coppers! You'll never take me alive! (RAT-A-TAT-TAT-TAT!)

Nope, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the Thing, Ben Grimm, from the Fantastic Four. The guy who looks like an animated pile of rocks, and whose best-known saying is, "It's clobberin' time!"

Recently I put together a plastic model of the Thing. Yeah, I still put models together, and paint them, too. I'm a lot better than when I was a kid, when I'd put together, say, an Me-109 I'd glue the propeller and wheels so they wouldn't turn, and smear glue all over the cockpit so you couldn't see the pilot inside. I don't do that anymore.

I'm nearly professional, not that it mattered with this particular Thing.

A woman I know, who thought he was adorable, what with his blue underpants, wanted him. As an aside, superheroes don't have genitals, or even bulges, like the Thing or the Hulk, although it is okay for Wonder Woman to have breasts the size of watermelons. Go figure.

This woman lived in Dillingham, Alaska. The only thing Dillingham, which is a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, is known for is because the police chief, who used to be a dishwasher, accepted a 2006 Homeland Security grant to install 80 cameras around town. That's one camera for every 30 residents.

He claimed terrorists could come into Dillingham, never mind the fact there are no roads in and out of town. Everything that comes in, comes in by plane and barge.

Dishwasher, indeed. Moron.

This is Alice down the Rabbit Hole stuff, heading into the Red Queen's logic of sentence first, verdict afterwards. Guilty until proven innocent, and you can't prove that. Curiouser and curiouser!

Anyway, I packed the Thing into a box and sent him off. That's the last I heard of him for three weeks. At first I thought he had gotten lost in the mail, then the next thing I hear is that he had showed up, not in such good shape.

The box had been crushed, opened and crudely taped. When my friend opened it, the Thing was lying in pieces at the bottom.

I know what happened. Someone at the Dillingham post office decided to check the box for drugs, so they opened it, ripped the Thing to pieces, didn't leave a note or any explanation, dumped the pieces in the box, and gave it to my friend like that.

Or maybe this was a Patriot Act thing! Yeah, that's it! They were checking for explosives in the Thing! But if there was a bomb in it, didn't it occur to anyone it would have gone off when they opened the package? "People Whose Brains Were Sucked Out of Their Skulls" -- a Quinn Martin Production! Coming soon to you!

This woman told me a similar thing had happened to her once before, when a jewelry box sent to her had been opened. Worse, some of the jewelry was missing.

Hey, if the government is going to open our packages, the very least they can do is not steal anything inside, right?

I guess the Thing wasn't worth stealing, just damaging.

Where would we be if the Thing had made it to Alaska intact? Huh? Huh? Huh? Better safe than sorry, right? Giving up a little security -- and property -- is nothing to prevent those Ayrab terrorist from swamping Dillingham, Alaska!

Some people need to get a life. And find a brain lying around somewhere. The Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz could do better than this.

Apparently these people are so stupid they don't realize models are not hollow. My friend was able to fit his pieces back together, but had to buy some glue to make them stick. And he was stuck. I really glued him together, so whoever tore him apart had to put some effort into it.

Yay for the War on Drugs! It makes bureaucrats even dumber than they already are!

I wonder if these people enjoyed destroying the Thing? Latent sadists, maybe? Or did they just con themselves they were doing good instead of bad? When people do bad things they have to always delude themselves it's for a good cause. The road to Hell and good intentions, you know.

I am reminded of that old saying: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." I think this one is more accurate, though: "Power intoxicates, and immunity corrupts."

You know what I wished had happened? When whoever decided to tear the Thing apart started twisting his arm, I wish they had heard:

"It's clobberin' time!"

BIFF! BAFF! POW! OW! PUNCH! PUNCH! PUNCH! OW! THAT HURTS! KICK! KICK! OUCH! HEADBUTT! YIKES! ELBOW! KNEE! OOF! SPIN! SPIN! SPIN! TOSS! OH NO! FOLD! FOLD! FOLD! SPINDLE! MUTILATE! ACK! HEADLOCK! NOOGIE! NOOGIE! GACK! WEDGIE! HELP!ATOMIC WEDGIE! MOMMY!

Take that, Bad Guys!

It used to be that superheroes like Captain America fought foreign enemies like the Nazis and the Reds. Now we have domestic enemies! As far as I'm concerned, those people in the Post Office should dress like Ming the Merciless!

Too bad I can't draw! Or write in any style that isn't manic and uses lots of exclamation points! I'd make comic books in which the superheroes took on domestic enemies like SWAT teams who break into innocent peoples' houses and ventilate old ladies (when they aren't ventilating each other)! And beat up those moronic TSA guards! And pound some sense into the people at the Post Office! Yeah, that's the way to go! Woo hoo!

After all, we all want justice, don't we? So does the Thing!

I only have one more wish. And you know what it is.

Thing, do your stuff!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Satan the Politician

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours." - Luke 4:5

Now that's an interesting little story. Satan offers Jesus political power over all the kingdoms of the world, and He refuses. What's offered is something that Satan already has, that's his to give as he pleases. Satan doesn't want political power; he already has it.

The only conclusion I can draw from this story is that political power is Satanic, as are politicians. Satan, then, is quite obviously a politician. So, no good can come from politics. That's been the history of the world, and certainly of the 20th century, in which up to 200 million people lost their lives at the hands of various States.

It's obvious from this story that on one side you have Satan and politics, and on the other God, and never shall the twain meet. Oops! That's something Jerry Falwell and the rest of his ilk should pay attention to.

The story of Lucifer that we are familiar with is actually a combination of two stories: the one in the Bible about his trying to overthrow God, and the one John Milton wrote about in Paradise Lost.

Milton states that Satan's problem is "pride." That's in the Bible, too: "Pride goes before a fall, and a haughty spirit before destruction."

"Pride" is what the Greeks called "hubris." In their view, hubris was followed by nemesis. It's the same story as pride going before a fall. The Greeks saw the sequence as koros (stability) to hubris (an overweening grandiosity) to ate (a madness is which wrong appeared as right) to nemesis (destruction).

What we are dealing with here are three things: the lust for power over others, the lust for attention, and the lust to destroy. And if those three traits don't describe Satan, politicians, and the State, I can't think of anything else that does.

John Jackley, in his book, Hill Rat: Blowing the Lid Off Congress, wrote about Congressmen and their aides wandering the halls with their eyes "glazed with power." Hmm. Sounds like they were tempted, didn't refuse what was offered, and are now in the hands of the Evil One.

Most are familiar with Lord Acton's comment, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." I think a better saying is, "Power intoxicates, and immunity corrupts."

Dostoevsky, in his, The House of the Dead, put it this way, "Tyranny...finally develops into a disease. The habit can...coarsen the very best man to the level of a beast. Blood and power intoxicate...the return to human dignity, to repentance, to regeneration, becomes almost impossible."

I don't believe in any Satan "out there." There certainly is one "in here," in every human heart. That's all we need to explain evil. It's inside us. People have always made the mistake of thinking of Satan as some guy with horns and a forked tail, instead of a guy in a three-piece suit.

The Greeks didn't have a Satan. The closest they had might be their god of war, Ares. What's significant about Ares was that he was incompetent. Satan, for that matter, would have to be incompetent. You can infer that from his belief he could overthrow God, and also from Milton's accurate assessment of his hubris, always to be followed by nemesis.

The human versions of Satan, such as Hitler and Stalin, were also incompetent, except when they gained control of the State. Even then, they were only competent at slaughter and destruction. None could make it through liberty and the free market. Human Satans are screw-ups.

Hitler, for example, was at one time in his life, a lice-ridden bum who made his living begging from passengers at a train station into letting him carry their luggage. Lenin was an ugly little Russian who was exiled by the authorities from Russia, and whom the local peasants wanted to lynch. Ho Chi Minh was a not-very-good pastry chef. And these are the incompetent human Satans who caused such slaughter in the 20th century, because they couldn't make it in the free market, and so instead made their lives in that monster known as the State.

Most politicians are the bottom of the barrel, with that that "last chicken in the shop" quality about them. The worst ones can't make it at all in the free market. That might be the clearest warning sign about them. Currently, we need look no farther than George Bush, who has failed at every business endeavor in his life, and now as a politician has invaded two countries and is in the process of starting World War III.

One meaning of the word "monster" is "a warning." It's related to the word, "demonstrate." When you have someone who is utterly incompetent in the free market, and instead becomes a politician, that's about the best warning there is about what they really are.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Why There Will be No Draft

My last semester in college a Lt. Colonel from the Army, all spiffy and impressive in his uniform, showed up in one of my classes and attempted to talk us into being officers. We would immediately be Captains with just a little training, bypassing all the Private/Corporal/Sergeant bullshit.

You'll be taken care of, he told us, adding, "We don't care what the enlistees want." He meant the grunts, the ones doing the front-line fighting.

He said it with a smile. I don't remember much of what he said, but I do remember him dismissing all those grunts with that smile. Even after all these years, I can still see it.

I didn't take him up on his offer. I may not be much of a warrior, and maybe not even very good officer material, but I don't hide while guys on the ground die.

I knew why he said what he did. I grew up during Vietnam, which started when I was seven and ended when I was 17. On TV I watched as 58,000 Americans soldiers died, and, according to soon-dead-and-in-Hell Robert McNamara, 3.4 million Southeast Asians.

I also saw riots, people burning their draft cards and going to Canada, shootings, bombings, bank robberies, kidnappings, and murders of police officers, by anti-war leftists. I saw soldiers fragging their own officers. They weren't leftists, just guys who didn't want to throw their lives away.

The military since then has learned its lesson. The news is now sanitized, and damn the media for its cowardice. No more pictures of naked little Vietnamese girls running down a dirt road, burned by naplam. No more pictures of American soldiers setting huts on fire with a Zippo lighter. It was pictures like that that turned the public against the war.

The military has also given up the draft, and instead takes the most intelligent and makes them into officers instead of trying to make them into grunts who'll kill their own officers. That's why they targeted me and other college students to be voluntary officers. They would have made a serious mistake in my case, if I had been drafted.

Nowadays, the ones they target for grunts are those who are of average intelligence, or on the left side of the bell curve. They're the kids who come out of small towns, can't find a job except at the local McDonald's, and so join the military. At their worst they're the chinless, sloping-foreheaded Lynndie Englands of Trailer Trash Mobile Home Park.

At their best they find themselves part of the most powerful army in the history of the world. It must be a heady experience, one full of pride and awe, until they get wounded or see their comrades killed. But at least it avoids protests, because it's not the middle-class kids being killed and wounded.

That's why I didn't take the Lt. Colonel up on his offer. I don't like the idea of my sitting in safety while some poor, deluded, not-very-bright working-class teenager who thinks he's a patriot, and is defending his country from evil, murderous maniacs, puts his life on the line for what he thinks is a good cause, but in reality is no cause at all. I'd prefer to be on the line with them, as long as I had lots of those special grenades with "frag" written on them.

People wonder why there are no effective anti-war protests these days. I just told you why. Middle-class kids aren't being put into harm's way, just the lower-class kids. If you want to see some massive protests, draft middle-class kids.

That's why there will be no draft, and no effective anti-war resistance.

Oh, yes, the military has learned its lesson, and learned it well. It's outsmarted all of us.

Ghosts in Our Heads

(Matthew 7:21-23) "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"

There is a philosophical problem called "concepts and their referents." It's a fancy way of asking if the concepts in our heads refer to anything in reality. If I have the concept "icklesnip" in my head it doesn't refer to anything "out there." That means "icklesnip" is just a ghost in my head.

Let's take two concepts: "good versus evil" and the continuum of "from good to evil." The latter concept can also be turned around as "from evil to good."

The first concept -- "good versus evil" -- refers to nothing in reality. It's a ghost. A very, very dangerous ghost that we project onto reality. It's probably the most dangerous ghost in the world.

The second concept -- the continuum of "from good to evil" -- does refer to reality, although I think the word "evil" is incorrect. Even though it seems a paradox, these two concepts of evil are completely opposed to each other.

The evidence is that the concept "good versus evil" is instinctive with us. It's also very primitive. It really means "grandiosity versus non-human," or "all-good versus all-bad," or "human versus not-human." The importance of the word versus cannot be overemphasized. "Versus" always means a fight.

The concept of "good versus evil" meaning "grandiosity versus non-human" is why every tribe in history has called itself "the People," "All Men," or "the Human Beings," relegating everyone else to non-human status. It's also why countries and religions have used terms such as "God and Country," "God's Chosen," "Gott mit uns," and "Holy Mother Russia." It's also why the British defense secretary, Geoff Hoon, recently claimed the coalition armed forces are made up of "men and women who made a free choice to serve their country," whereas Iraqi forces "are motivated either by fear or by hatred." And Jerry Falwell recently wrote, "At this critical time in our nation's history, it is imperative that Christians join together in prayer for our troops who wage war against a merciless enemy."

Obviously, those who not of "the People" are considered inferior, cowardly, envious, backstabbing and untrustworthy. And those are often some of their better traits. Since they become Outsiders who are scapegoated, it becomes okay to kill them, since killing them will remove from the world the unpleasant traits they supposedly represent. There are two novels that best illustrate this: Atlas Shrugged and Jerzy Kosinki's The Painted Bird. This war in Iraq demonstrates it, too.

Look at the jokes about the French making the rounds ("French rifle for sale. Never fired, only dropped once."). The same French who saved our hot dogs during the Revolutionary War. If they hadn't the British would have won. But now, we're good, and they're evil, because they won't support our drive to conquer a good-sized chunk of the world. They're not just mistaken for not supporting us; they're evil. The Iraqis who are opposing us are all evil, too. Whenever I click on Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity I count the seconds -- not the minutes -- until I hear the word "evil" in reference to the Iraqis. Then I turn them off.

Here is a list of people whom I have been told are evil: me, Christians, atheists, Catholics, men, women, Muslims, blacks, whites, Germans, the French, the Russians, Communists, capitalists, Jews, homosexuals, Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, polluters, evolutionists, anti-evolutionists, drug users, drug sellers, and, of course, smokers. These groups comprise the entire population of the world, now, in the past and in the future. When the concept of "good versus evil" is used, the definition of "evil" is fluid and ever-changing, meaning anything, applied by anyone to anyone else, for any reason.

I once knew a grandiose loon who was convinced his, and only his, interpretation of the Bible was correct. He was convinced beyond all doubt the Catholic Church was evil. He told me, in all seriousness, that the Pope had sent assassins to kill him. He truly believed there were godly gunsels combing the area looking to rub him out. The last time I saw him, by a lake, he was learning to defend himself with a pair of nunchuks, until he bashed himself in the forehead.

This man, obviously, is cracked. But he is a perfect microcosmic example of a macrocosmic problem: I am the Good opposing your Evil. If enough people believe it, scapegoating is brought into the world, followed by mass murder. Usually it starts with ostracism, then ends up with genocide.

If you'll take a look at some of the Prayer Threads on FreeRepublic you'll see grandiose prayers for God to protect our soldiers from harm, and to kill the evil Iraqis. Read Mark Twain's "The War Prayer" and you'll find he wrote about the same thing over 100 years ago: please, God, grant us victory, and destroy our enemies. Yet, at the same time, our enemies are praying to God to protect them and destroy us. And all because each is saying, we are the Good versus your Evil.

I guess it's going to come down to a case of might makes right. Of course, we all know the winner is automatically supported by God. I learned that from watching football, when some of the winners thanked God for their victory. I'm waiting for the day one of the losers starts crying on TV and sputters, "It's true! We lost because God hates us! Jesus hates me!"

It is the height of grandiosity and hubris (which was Satan's problem) for one group to think God is going to support them just because they are convinced they are so much in the right they can commit mass murder, mass destruction, and mass theft. This is Bush's problem. He appears to truly believe God has appointed him to destroy what he and his advisors have decided is evil. But are their opponents really evil people, or are those in the U.S. administration listening to the ghosts of Good versus Evil that are wandering around in their heads?

Are we really evil, or are bin Laden and militant Muslims listening to the ghosts in their heads? Or are all involved, on both sides, blind and grandiose, reducing their opponents to evil things who should die? Are they just projecting false concepts onto each other? This is what always happens when people believe in the false concept of "good versus evil." It's why I don't believe in that concept anymore. It's a ghost. A very bloodthirsty, murderous ghost. And if enough people believe in the concept of "good versus evil," sooner or later hundreds of millions of people will be defined as evil and then murdered.

The fact that Bush calls himself a "born-again Christian" means absolutely nothing to me, just as it means nothing to me that bin Laden apparently thinks he's the Muslim version of a "born-again." The only way the beliefs of either concern me is because of the effect they have on the world. When people tell me that God put Bush in office (or bin Laden in his position) I suggest maybe it's the Other Fella what done it. They never realize I'm pulling their legs.

Terribly, people project their own imperfect characteristics onto God. And the Devil, for that matter. If we didn't both Bush and bin Laden wouldn't grandiosely believe what they think is identical with what God thinks. If they didn't believe this, neither would be starting World War III. It'd be funny if it weren't a tragedy. I sometimes have this image of each of them watching the other on TV, and shouting at the screen, "Tool of the Devil!" Followed by the hurling of popcorn and the spraying of beer.

When I ask people to name someone evil, these days most say, "Saddam Hussein." They didn't use his before the war, which points out how effective propaganda is for the masses. If they don't use Hussein's name, they usually say "Hitler." This also shows the effectiveness of propaganda, because Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung and Pol Pot were much, much worse than Hitler. Then I ask them if they feel if the person they've named is "no longer human." Usually, once they think about it, they say "Well�." They are proving my point: the false concept of good versus evil is overwhelmingly grandiosity versus the non-human, all-good versus all-bad, human versus not-human. This false concept of good versus evil is what creates hate, anger, intolerance, lack of forgiveness and self-righteousness, traits that Dubya is now showing. How are these characteristics "good"? They are certainly related to grandiosity � but "good"? And can anyone find anyone who is "non-human"?

Defining someone as evil always involves dehumanizing and demonizing them. That's the essence of propaganda.

The last article I wrote was titled, "The Fairy Tale of Pure Good and Pure Evil." I've had people tell me they have "evil" in them, meaning, I suppose, a blob of "evil" somewhere in them separate from the "good." If this is true, where's the line in them that separates the two? Can they stand on one side and say, "I'm good," then take a step and say, "Oops, now I've evil"? Can they just step back and forth over this line?

Or are people a mixture of "good" and "evil," as many people think? Imagine you're holding the aforementioned Blob of Evil in your hand. In order for it to be "evil" it has to be "pure" evil. It has to be completely without good. Good has to be completely absent from it, otherwise it wouldn't be "evil" at all. To believe otherwise is to say, "This blob of pure evil in my hand also has pure good in it." That's a nonsensical saying that refers to nothing in reality.

Now imagine that Blob of Pure Evil is a person. The problem with this is there is no one alive, or no one who has ever lived, or will never live, who is "pure" evil. Everybody, no matter how horrible they are, has a little bit of "good" in them. Therefore, there is no "evil."

The universe is not evil, animals are not evil, and people are not "evil," because everyone has some good in them. "Evil" does not exist except as a false concept in our heads, a concept that when we see it as opposed to "good," always leads to scapegoating and genocide, no matter what the definition of evil is.

The concept of "good" is not the problem, although people will always argue about the definition. The concept and definition of "evil" will always be a problem.

The question is now raised: what is Good really? Books have been written about it. I think the archetype of the horror story is useful here. It's generally considered to be about Evil intruding on Good, but actually it's about Chaos intruding on Order.

Aspects of Good include wholeness (the word is related to "healthy"), ease, harmony and order. The "opposite" is disorder, chaos, lack of harmony, sickness (dis-ease). In reality the word "versus" is absent. It's not one against the other; it's a continuum. That's why I put quotes around "opposite." I don't know anyone who is "perfectly" healthy or "perfectly" diseased (unless they're perfectly dead). It's a continuum.

For society, war is disorder, chaos, lack of harmony, sickness. In a person, a heart attack and cancer, for example, fit the same criteria. A heart attack is chaos because the cells no longer beat in harmony. Cancer is when the cells grow chaotically. The free market is an example of spontaneous order. Contrary to the delusion of leftists, socialism is nothing but chaos and disorder.

Think of the concept "beauty versus ugliness," or "Brad Pitt versus Madeleine Albright." Is it either/or, one or the other, or is it a continuum from beauty to ugliness? Is there such a thing as "pure" beauty or "pure" ugliness? Does that concept "beauty versus ugliness" refer to anything in reality? It doesn't, no more than the concept "good versus evil" does.

I am as free-market as they come, but it's not "capitalism versus socialism." It's a continuum from capitalism on the "right" to socialism on the "left." The fact we saw it as "versus" is what cost the lives of 58,000 Americans and a few million Vietnamese, made even more ironic by the fact we are not totally "capitalist" or "free." We claimed we were "good" and they were "evil," then used our partly socialized/fascist economy/society (including the draft) to try to destroy their version of socialism/fascism. It wasn't "good versus evil." It was one screw-up against another.

The word "right" means "correct." The word "left" means "sinister." Politically, the Right has always prided itself on an understanding of human nature, i.e., it is fallen, or imperfect, neither "good" nor "evil." The Left, far more narcissistic and immature than the Right, has always split things into "good versus evil." That's the main reason for the genocide of the Left. Erik von Keuhnelt-Leddihn pointed out the Left's attitude toward people is, "They're cockroaches! Rub them out!" Human versus not-human.

Since the neo-cons are Leftists masquerading as Rightists, they are going to split things into "good versus evil." That's what they're doing right now, and that's the main reason we are at war.

There is a curious episode in the Bible which puzzled me for years. When a woman calls Jesus "good rabbi" he instantly interrupts her; he doesn't even let her finish. He says, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God." His answer to her makes sense if he realized what the false human concept of "good versus evil" would create throughout history, including in his name. What these concepts are currently creating is Holy World War I, even though neither side, in reality, is good or evil. Although in their heads the leaders, and many of their followers, believe they are the Good opposing their opponents' Evil.

The false concepts in our heads tell us it's Good versus. Evil. To repeat, those concepts mean Grandiosity versus Non-human. But in reality it's a continuum of Good to less Good, from Order to Chaos, Harmony to Disharmony, Health to Sickness. The true concept is the continuum of "from good to evil," except for the fact that at the opposite end of the continuum there really is no "evil." This is why I have ceased to believe in "evil." There's sickness, disharmony, chaos, less good. But evil? Again I ask: come up with a definition of evil that will never lead to scapegoating and mass murder. You can't do it. No one can.

I was taken to task by a well-known psychiatrist concerning my belief in the opposite of Good being Sickness. He has a point. I've thought about it and have decided the paragraph above is more accurate. In reality, it's not "versus," but a continuum. The "versus" exists only in our heads.

But no matter how many ways I look at it, I cannot find "evil" except as a false concept in our heads that we project onto reality. I can't find it anywhere in reality.

What this means is that the people in the US administration -- Bush, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, all of them -- are grandiose fools attempting to destroy an "evil" that exists no where save in their heads.

Richard Perle, for one example, said future generations will "sing songs" about him because of his belief the U.S. should conquer the Islamic world and drag it into the 20th century. He exemplifies the grandiosity of Satan, which is why his nickname is "Prince of Darkness." It should be "Prince of Blindness and Stupidity."

It's not surprising this sneaky, devious, vile coward -- a son of Satan if there ever was one -- has quit his position in order to distance himself from the fact the war in Iraq -- of which he is one of the main authors -- is not going as planned.

As for the administration's opponents on the other side of the world? Both sides are actually bringing into the world chaos, disease, sickness. They don't believe it, though. People like them never do. That's what the phrase, "the blind leading the blind" means.

But let's wait a few years, when everyone finds that history always repeats itself. The administration still won't change its mind, but the public will wake up, the way they did about Vietnam after five years had passed.

Eyebone Connected to the Propaganda Bone

Here is the way my brain is organized (and yours, and everyone else's on the planet since people first appeared): perception--emotion--reason. Know what that means? Perception goes through the more primitive emotional part of the brain first, to the more advanced rational part of the brain last. People always respond emotionally first, even the most egghead of "rational" intellectuals.

Those who control perception, control people. Perception is everything. I should really say they control "the masses" or the "herd," because people individually can't really be controlled all that well, although they can be pressured by the herd. But when you use propaganda techniques against the masses, baby, you've got a propagandist's dream come true.

People should always understand how propaganda techniques work. They'd be shocked at how well they work. I'm not talking about getting them to buy certain products, but to march off to war on the flimsiest of pretexts. No wonder the herd is called "the sheeple."

One man everyone should know is Edward L. Bernays, the American disciple and nephew of Sigmund Freud. He was for all practical purposes the founder of modern propaganda techniques.

Bernays despised most people and regarded them as his inferiors, especially because of intellectual or social claims. (See how it works? I just appealed to your emotions, and convinced you Bernays was attacking you. You fell for it, right?)

Bernays not only pretty much founded modern propaganda techniques, but was also the father of modern PR. Although, you could say they are same thing, and that there's really no difference between them.

In his 1928 book, Propaganda, Bernays wrote, "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country…"

Remember that quote. Burn it into your memory. Bernays thought people should be ruled by an extremely small elite, who should manipulate them through propaganda. That means you. People who believe in the wonders of government, and that it is their friend, should think twice about it.

In another book, In Crystallizing Public Opinion, Bernays wrote how governments and advertisers can "regiment the mind like the military regiments the body." This can be imposed, he said, because of "the natural inherent flexibility of individual human nature," and suggested the "average citizen is the world's most efficient censor. His own mind is the greatest barrier between him and the facts. His own 'logic-proof compartments,' his own absolutism are the obstacles which prevent him from seeing in terms of experience and thought rather than in terms of group reaction."

Bernays also thought "physical loneliness is a real terror to the gregarious animal, and that association with the herd causes a feeling of security. In man this fear of loneliness creates a desire for identification with the herd in matters of opinion."

He claimed that "the group mind does not think in the strict sense of the word…In making up its mind, its first impulse is usually to follow the example of a trusted leader. This is one of the most firmly established principles in mass psychology." What Bernays called the "regimentation of the mind" is accomplished by taking advantage of the human tendency to self-deception [logic-proof compartments], gregariousness [the herd instinct], individualism [exalting their vanity] and the seductive power of a strong leader.

Good Lord, he's talking about the Borg, the scariest villains ever, the ultimate collectivists, Commies in a Cube! About group Borgification, the late Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, in his seminal book, Leftism Revisited, wrote that people have "a herd instinct, a strong feeling of community that regards another group with hostility." He believed it "tend[ed] to efface self, tend towards an 'usness' in which the ego becomes submerged."

I think he would call the Borg a "terrifying, bigger and more pitiless conformity." If you don't want to use the word "Borg," just use "Mass Man," "the herd," or "the sheeple." They all mean the same thing.

Bernay also expressed the opinion people "have to take sides...[they] must step out of the audience onto the stage and wrestle as the hero for the victory of good over evil." This means appealing to our narcissism, our inborn tendency to see everything as either good or bad, with little or nothing in-between.

He also noted the need for people to feel as if they belong to something larger than themselves. This also means appealing to our narcissism; it's why nearly every tribe in history -- and nations are just tribes writ large -- has called itself "the People" or "the Humans." Or "the Motherland" or "the Fatherland" or "the greatest nation on earth."

When people consider themselves as part of the Humans (by whatever name they call themselves), they exalt themselves. And, of course (and ominously) those outside the tribe are non-people. Although today we call them "collateral damage."

"Mental habits create stereotypes just as physical habits create certain definite reflex actionism," Bernays wrote. "...these stereotypes or clich├ęs are not necessarily truthful pictures of what they are supposed to portray." Perception is everything, the truth matters little or not at all.

Now, let's boil all this down and see what we have:

Mass Man, the herd, cannot think, and is instead ruled by its feelings. The herd will look to a leader to save it. The best way to accomplish this is for the herd to feel it is under attack. The herd will draw together, expell those who see the truth and protest, and then march off to war.

Nazi leader Hermann Goering had this to say about the masses: "Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Tell the herd they are the Humans, or the People, or best of all, have God on their side. Paint their enemies as insane, evil geniuses. Again, this is appealing to people's narcissism, the tendency to see everything as either good (us) or evil (them). Evoke paranoia and hysteria in them by convincing them the insane evil ones want to conquer and destroy them. What will happen? You can get them to march off to war by the millions, just as Goering noticed. The truth doesn't matter, only the manipulation of perception.

Americans have been manipulated through propaganda into marching off to war. Bush's handlers had him say, "They hate us for our goodness," and it was "evil ones" who attacked us. Keep it simple; make it into a contest between good and bad, with nothing in-between. We were told "the evil ones" were insane, and were going to fly drones of death across the Atlantic, or detonate nuclear weapons in the U.S., or feed us feet first into a woodchipper. People responded just as Bernays -- and Goering -- suggested. They went group-hysterical and overwhelmingly supported the wars. Protestors were branded as traitors.

If it's done right, you can get people to give up their freedom. This has been noticed for a long time. In the famous "Grand Inquisitor" scene in The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky has the Inquisitor say, "For centuries...we have been wrestling with...freedom, but now it is ended and over for good." The author was commenting on the fact that many people want to give up their freedom to "authority," to that one leader who they believe will save them and take care of them, as if they are children and not adults. The Inquisitor goes so far as to claim, "they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at our feet."

The mechanism of propaganda is available in many books. People should take a look at them. By bringing the techniques to light, people can immunize themselves against them.

Perception--Emotion--Reason. It's altogether too simple, and too easy.

Chickens in Hawks' Clothing

Chickenhawk -- "a term used to describe males who, in their youth, avoided or dodged the U.S. draft and, as mature adults serving as public officials, advocates young Americans to become soldiers and fight for their country. It is a combination of the terms 'chicken,' the slang word for coward, and the term 'hawk,' someone who advocates war or a position that would lead to war. In short, an individual who advocates war but who declined a significant opportunity to serve in the U.S. military during wartime. Those who use the term attempt to point out to the listener the hypocrisy in American society, that the poor are used as instruments to produce a better life for the rich. In other words, the less fortunate suffer and die so that the rich can reap the benefits of the military's success. Those individuals who balance between the political-economic philosophies of capitalism and fascism claim that the brutally honest term is insulting and is not a hypocritical position. These proto-fascists argue that the mighty, privileged, and propertied class of individuals have always stood on the backs of the weak, poor, and lowly." -- Unknown


A thing that I find both curious and disturbing is the fact the United States really has no mythology, in the sense of many well-known, established stories that are both entertaining and educating. Cultures that have endured for thousands of years always have these ritual mythological stories: the Greeks and the Romans, for two examples. Even today, people still know the Greek myths and fables: Hercules, Apollo, Aesop.

American culture is dizzily all over the map when it comes to what passes for its myths. About the only two "myths" I can remember as a child are Johnny Appleseed and Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox Babe (which is originally French-Canadian). Hardly any kids today know those stories, which aren't even myths. They're not bad stories, but they're really about the American "can do anything" spirit more than anything else.

There are a lot of things that can almost classify as myth, but not quite. Bugs Bunny, the American version of the Trickster archetype, is one. He is a mythic archetype, but he's a cartoon, one for children. He is both entertaining and educating: he teaches us it doesn't pay to hate people, and it's best to outsmart those who are stronger than we are. But the cartoons are lightweight, almost evanescent. How many people can remember any of the plots?

There are others: Homer Simpson, the distilled essence of a dysfunctional middle-class family with a lower-class mentality. The X-Files, those tales of American paranoia about non-existent conspiracies. Ward and June Cleaver, Andy Griffith, Archie Bunker, Beavis and Butthead, that eternal innocent child Spongebob Squarepants.

All of entertaining, some are disgraceful and insulting, some are entertaining and educating, but none have achieved the status of a legitimate American myth. Some, thankfully, never will. Yet without mythic stories, I wonder if America can be at its best? So far it doesn't look so good. Look at it this way: in a little over two hundred years the citizenry has gone from one that completely and correctly distrusted that ever-growing, overbearing monstrosity known as government to one that sees that same government as a teat from which all goodness flows: jobs, education, welfare, health.

How did all of this degradation happen in such a short time? One reason, and maybe the most important: we barely have any shared mythic stories, and the rituals and rites that go along with them. The closest would be Christmas and Halloween, and the first (and most important) is under constant dishonest and deranged attack. Both holidays are full of mythic stories, of rituals and rites and symbols. Yet they are losing their power, because of those attacks. And since culture is a shared continuity, I find it no surprise at all that America has changed so quickly, and not always for the better, because of the dimming, and fading away, of those mythic rituals and rites and symbols.

We should never reject anything just because some consider it "old" or "obsolete." Plato wrote, "Any change except to eliminate an evil, is an evil." Be careful about overthrowing tradition, symbols, myth, rites and rituals. If we give up the good stories, they can, and perhaps always will, end up replaced by rap, or Keynesian economics, or Freudian psychology, or Dawkinsesque evolution. Neither will America be held together by foreign fables about the Holocaust or Cinco de Mayo. Those, for Americans, are houses built on sand.

What common stories existed at the beginning of this country are now just vague memories. Some of them are not only false but comically false: the fantasy about a noble George Washington refusing to lie about chopping down a cherry tree. Others are just out-and-lies to the point of obscenity: Lincoln as a saint.

There are, however, two genuine myths that have taken root in the last few years. Both are right on the money, both are known by everyone, and both are political. One is the myth of the Chickenhawk, and the other is the myth of the Sheeple. Both illustrate how widespread and penetrating are the tentacles of politics into American life.

Both stories illustrate the fact that true, enduring myths often use animals to symbolize humans. Be it Aesop's Fables, or Greek hybrids such as the Minotaur and Pan, or fairy tales, or the parables of Jesus, the animals in these stories are illustrations of the strengths and weaknesses of humanity. Most especially of the weaknesses.

I've concluded the reason for this use of animals is that it makes the stories easily understood. When Jesus spoke of some people being "wolves" and others being "sheep," as in "wolves in sheeps' clothing," everyone knows exactly what he meant without any detailed explanation.

Let's look at the Chickenhawk myth first. A chickenhawk is in reality a raptor that preys on other birds (or a pedophile/pederast who targets young boys), but it has taken on the modern-day mythic meaning of "I'll rabidly support unnecessary (and endless) wars while absolutely refusing to fight in any of them." In a sentence, the Chickenhawk is a abject coward who will not risk his life in war under any circumstances, but insists others do so.

This is a new myth, one I've never seen before. Chickenhawks don't exist in any fictional story I'm familiar with, except Henery Hawk, who was a cartoon chickenhawk best known for trying to drag Foghorn Leghorn to the broiler by his big toe. Henery was blustery, but he was no coward.

People being what they are, Chickenhawks must have existed in the past, but I suspect people shamed them into silence, clearly perceiving their cowardice. Yet today some cannot see them for what they are, and, astonishingly, even support them. What magic has blinded some people into being unable to see blatant cowardice? Bread and circuses, perhaps? That hynotic Cyclops known as the TV? An unwarranted, indeed extraordinarily dangerous faith in government? Those, I'm sure, and others.

I like to call Chickenhawks "chickens in hawks' clothing." This makes sense, because chickens are loud, squawking birds, always running around in circles, and to imagine them in hawks' clothing is a discontinuity that brings laughter. "Chickens in hawks' clothing" is just an expansion of "Chickenhawk." They're chickens through and though, but clumsily mask themselves as hawks.

The Chickenhawk archetype is now permanently part of American culture. The word has evolved beyond having anything to do with the real bird, or Henery Hawk, or sexual predators. It has now achieved the status of a new myth. That means it's not going to change for a long, long time. It has become a shared story about the culture, one both educating and entertaining.

The Chickenhawk archetype does have some antecedents. It's related to the Greek God of War, Ares. There is one big difference: Ares, while he loved war and was a coward, personally fought in battle. Today, Chickenhawks love war, are cowards, but won't fight. They are a truly degraded specimen of Ares. Such men, in the past, in certain war-like cultures, were killed as cowards.

Mythologically, they're also related to Narcissus, who could see only himself. Chickenhawks, too, can only see themselves; other people, especially soldiers, are mere pawns, ones not truly human, to be sacrified in war. They also follow the old Greek story of Hubris followed by Nemesis: the overweening arrogance in which evil appears as good, followed by a tragic collapse.

The portmanteau "Sheeple" is a fusion of the words "sheep" and "people." You can describe them as "sheep in people's clothing." I don't know who created the word, but it is a perfect description of the herd, one comprising people who are convinced they know the facts, but don't. They generally don't wake up until the wolves are among them and chewing on their gizzards. Even then, some never do awaken. Such is the power of self-deception and group-think.

Unfortunately, there is a bit of a problem, although it's a humorous one. That problem's name is Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto, who as a political economist is an essential read, dived rulers into two kinds: the Foxes, who use persuasion (or more correctly, fraud, manipulation and lies) and the Lions, who use force. The inert, easily-led masses of people are Sheep (in modern terms, "Sheeple"). About the Sheeple, Pareto wrote, "Whoever becomes a sheep will find a wolf to eat him."

There is not the slightest bit of Lion in any Chickenhawk, although in their mendacity they like to pretend that's what they really are in their hearts, and desperately try to con the public into believing it in their hearts, too. Instead they are Foxes, ones who use propaganda and lies. So now we are stuck in the quandry of the Chickenhawk being a subset of Foxes. That, of course, doesn't make any logical sense. But then, mythic and symbolic images don't necessarily have to make much "logical" sense.

We're also stuck with the fact that the Sheeple can also be Chickenhawks.

Here are the names of some modern-day, well-known Chickenhawks:

Rush Limbaugh

William Bennett

William Kristol

John Podhoretz

Richard Perle

Paul Wolfowitz

Douglas Feith

Max Boot

Jonah Goldberg

Benjamin Shapiro

David Frum

I would like to see Frum's name applied to the Chickenhawk archetype, as in "He's a Frum," but this is just an idle fantasy of mine. It's not going to happen, although I am truly fond of the image of a chicken with Frum's head (hideous haircut and all) on top of it. It would fit: here's a man (and I use the term loosely) whom the writer Jerry Pournelle always refers to as "the egregious Frum," and whom The American Conservative's Taki said was always creeping up behind people like Uriah Heep.

No one on the list is any better than the anti-American, leftist "neo-conservative" Frum (who is not American but Canadian), although I doubt any are worse.

Chickenhawks are more than just cowards. They are also bullies, although they're always intellectual bullies who hide behind their keyboards and fling libels at people. But actually being lions? Showing even an infinitesimal amount of bravery? That will never happen. You can bet the house on that, or your car, or your shoes, or anything else you own.

There are some other characteristics that define the Chickenhawk, besides their overwhelming cowardice and hubris: their belief in their intellectual and moral superiority over everyone; the lust for attention and political power over all, and their desire to destroy. Mythologically, they fit the exact archetype of Satan. Demon-Chickenhawks, you could say, although this makes the taxonomic fit with Pareto even more distressing.

Hubris-ridden, cowardly little Satans...five words to describe all Chickenhawks.

Chickenhawks have achieved such influence that in the hubristic glow of their power they deny the appellation applies to them and viciously attack those who point out that indeed it does. Chickenhawks such as the egregious Frum and Jonah "My Mommy Got Me My Job" Goldberg have insisted it is a false description, claiming that it isn't necessary to see combat to lead a nation in war.

They, and other Chickenhawks like them, completely ignore the fact a Chickenhawk is someone who believes in unnecessary, endless wars. They also ignore, because they do not understand and will never believe, the inherent cowardice and hubris inherent in being a Chickenhawk.

I find this new Chickenhawk archetype disturbing, because, as far as I can tell, it has never existed before, at least not as one with a name besides "coward."

While Pareto spoke of the Circulation of the Elites, in which the Foxes and Lions changed places, he never wrote of anything like the Chickenhawk. And Chickenhawks, these days, have gained political power. And how the hell did that happen?

This is a very bad thing for the United States, when its foreign policy is influenced by liars, cowards and traitors who want to start wide-ranging -- and utterly unnecessary -- wars. They are the Chickenhawks leading the Sheeple -- the blind leading the blind, right over a cliff.

Since the Chickenhawks are a subset of the Foxes, this means in the next Circulation of the Elites, we're looking at the Lions taking over, i.e., the military. Is that where hubris will lead Chickenhawks? And the Sheeple who believe them?

Perhaps this won't happen. I pray that it doesn't. As always, it depends on the Sheeple waking from their torpor in time. If it does happen, it will be as it always has been in the past: right when they Sheeple are teetering on the edge of the cliff, with their toes sticking over, looking down and realizing it's long, long way down to that rocky bottom.

"Hell hath no fury like a noncombatant scorned." -- Ambrose Bierce