Reminds me of kids’ whisper game

February 6, 2016

Honestly, I think we can do better this this, but maybe not.

The horserace groupthink has taken control of our TV people this year. It happens every election year, but this year worse than ever.

A perfectly deplorable example of how  tribal infighting trivia has taken over vid-journalism has been dissected by Michael Brown, writer for Townhall.com.

I’ll not explain the whole ridiculous chain of events; his exposition is quite sufficient:

    http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelbrown/2016/02/05/draft-n2115304

Now what I’m thinking is this: It would seem appropriate that the voting citizens of our nation would be considering, in this election year:

~ why our .gov owes so much more money than it can repay to its creditors,

~ and what can be done about it,

~ how we can minimize pollution without being ruled by climate-banging control freaks,

~ how we can reconstruct a manufacturing sector that is relevant to 21-century needs and economics,

~ how our great, unprecedented military capability and its supportive infrastructure cannot be put to good use in making the world a better place for our people and for the nations,

~ how to help men and women stay married so they can raise their children together,

~ why we cannot effectively educate all our children and prepare them for life-well-lived in the 21-century

~ how to judiciously keep the golden door of opportunity open to the homeless huddled masses of this strife-torn world

~ how to get people fed and housed without castrating nor sterilizing their personal independence and initiative,

~ how to encourage, by our policies, personal and collective responsibility instead of systemic dependency,

~ how to make peace, and encourage constructive cooperation, between cops and citizens in our cities,

~ how to enrich, through our common efforts, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all our people who care to make an effort to improve themselves and their children and neighbors,

~ how to select a President and Vice President without all this fluff and bullshit.

So it would seem appropriate that we would build and patronize a communication system that would enable us to talk about these problems in the context of national politics, instead of:

why one candidate tried to take a few days off from the rat race and how it has no effect on what’s happening in Iowa or New Hampshire or Peoria or Pennsylvania or even Pennsylvania Ave.

Maybe some of you hyped-up vid-journalists need a break. Take some time off, go home, like Ben did. If you need someone to replace you in the interim, give me a call. I’m currently unemployed, and gladly will I take your mic and your twitter feed and show you it could be done better. Besides, I’ve never been to New Hampshire.

King of Soul

Between Jerusalem and Damascus

January 29, 2016

JerGoPeace

Along the regions of the Jordan River valley, about three thousand and twenty year ago, there was a war going on between two descendants of King David. Asa king of Judah, and Baasha king of Israel, were contending for two different regions within the land that had formerly been, in one brief, shining moment of history, Solomon’s united domain. This situation might have been, then between two Hebrew monarchs, a little bit like what they have today in Israeli domains between, say, Likud and Labor. Or maybe not, anyway. .

The dispute was more about bloodshed then, more about politics today.

So in the course of Israeli history about three thousand and twenty years ago, Baasha king of Israel (based in Shechem) went up against Judah (based in Jerusalem). Towards that end, Baasha built a fort in Ramah, just a little ways northwest of Jerusalem, in order to prevent anyone from going out or coming in to collaborate with Asa king of Judah.

Then Asa took all the silver and the gold which were left in the treasuries of the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, and the treasuries of the king’s house, and put them into the hands of his servants, so that they could deliver those precious goods  to Benhadad, king of Aram, who lived in Damascus.

Thus King Asa of Judah was was proposing a treaty between himself and Benhadad, that is–between Judah and Aram, or as we might think of it today–between the Jews and the Syrians.

Asa was saying to the Syrian king, hey look, I have sent you a present of silver and gold; go, break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so that he will get the hell out of my face and leave us alone over here in Jerusalem.

Well guess what, Benhadad listened to King Asa,  and so he sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of northern Israel.

When Baasha heard about it, he withdrew from his southern position at Ramah, and ceased fortifying it.

Then King Asa made a proclamation to all Judah, and they carried away the stones and timbers that Baasha had used to fortify Ramah. And King Asa used the building materials to build Geba and Mizpah.

Thus we see that not much has changed in the last three thousand years, pertaining to how peoples settle their disputes, except nowadays it’s more about concrete and steel than about stones and timbers. And nowadays how likely would it be that the Judean entity, lead by Benjamin (Netanyahu) would ally itself with a Damascus-based warlord such as Assad?

As for the other events of Israeli/Palestinian territories, are they not written in the annals of Semitic history?

Smoke

An English lesson for Birdbrains

January 22, 2016

In the English language, appending an “s” at the end of a common noun renders the word plural, as in:

Birds eat.

Example:

BirdsEat

The other side of the story  in English is this: appending an “s” at the end of  a verb designates the present tense:

Bird eats.

Example:

BirdEats

In the Faith language, appending a statement of faith to an event renders it more meaningful.

Example:

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.”

In Economics language, appending a bird pic and a statement of faith to an unemployed birdbrain’s idle musings renders the event an experience of faith instead of foolishness.

That’s today’s lesson.

Go in peace.

Peace

Glass half-Full

After Thirteen Hours, 13 Flowers

January 18, 2016

Such is the world we live in–that decisions which really matter are being made by people who don’t really matter.

I know this statement is true, because I am an American, and America matters in what goes on in the world today.

And my opinion matters, at least theoretically, because I am a voter in America. In November I will be called upon to vote upon a very important question: Who will be our next President?

On the other hand, I, being only one voter, don’t really matter, because, as one mere citizen among millions, I don’t know much about what really makes this country run, or what goes on behind the scenes, or what happens at important defensive and/or diplomatic stations in other parts of the world. I certainly don’t legitimately know anything about, for instance, our American embassy in Tripoli, Libya, or a diplomatic outpost that might or might not have existed in Benghazi in September of 2012.

And yet, this year I will be called upon to render my decision about who shall or shall not be President, based on perception of a host of issues.

One of those issues that presently heats up our brewing Presidential politics is the question of what happened in Libya at Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

Somewhere back in my memory of school classes in American history, I do remember there was a political party called the “Know Nothing” party. If it were an active political force in our day and time, I would have to consider joining it, because there are some political/economic/military matters about which I know nothing. For instance, I know nothing about what actually happened at Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

But hey, I did see the movie about it.

Just last night, actually.

The movie was a real barn-burner. Or, outpost-burner. In the movie’s story, based upon the novel by Mitchell Zukoff, which is based upon the true story, angry Libyan attackers attempt to destroy or take control of the American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. And they do set fire to the place. In the fire, our Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed, along with Information Officer Sean Smith. Hours later, two American defenders, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were killed during their valiant effort to prevent the attackers from taking control of the compound while many of our personnel were still occupying the building.

As you are probably aware, there is presently, and has been for the last two years, a whirlwind of political blameshifting that surrounds this incident, after the fact. The classic logistical questions are asked repeatedly:  Who’s in charge here? and Who was responsible for this fatal event in which four Americans were killed?

In regard to these two questions, I will mention no names here, because as I said before, I do not know what happened there, even though I did see a movie about it last night.

This morning, I was wondering about all of this. What really happened? Was the movie accurate? Was the novel accurate? Who knew? Who is supposed to make these determinations? (The US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee has already produced a decision about it.)

    http://intelligence.house.gov/benghazi-investigation

More specifically, if the movie’s credibility is in question, what scenes would implicate the moviemakers’ culpability in presenting a detail that misleads us viewers?

And then, as if by magic (the “magic” of the electronic matrix in which we live, see question above that initiated this commentary), my main question was answered.

Thanks to Jocelyn Noveck and Joshua Replogle, reporters for the Associated Press, and Paul D. Shinkman, who reported on this movie’s content and its opening weekend at the box office, I now know the specific movie scene in question. See the USNews report in which my question was answered:

    http://www.usnews.com/news/entertainment/articles/2016-01-16/author-of-benghazi-book-stands-by-pivotal-stand-down-scene

If you would like to answer this question for yourself, watch the movie. You can also get a sense of the problem by watching the trailer, linked herein:

    http://www.thirteenhoursmovie.com/?gclid=CjwKEAiAt_K0BRCzjtv92_HGoR0SJAA9QNn_gKoItHxWQ1o_KITfrsB5F5tackg7qgSk-pvGD0TW3BoC3Ejw_wcB

Although I now understand  a little more clearly where the real trouble of this divisive issue originates, I am in no real position to make a significant judgement about the matter.  I will, therefore, simply honor the persons who represented and defended our interests–the well-being of the citizens of the United States of America–on that fateful day in Libya three and a half years ago. I do this by awarding Thirteen “Flowers”, which are really nothing at all except a mention of their names.

After viewing Thirteen Hours, I offer Thirteen Flowers of appreciation to these who have served our nation:

Flower #1: Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who gave his life in service to us, the citizens of the United States of America

Flower #2: Sean Smith, Information Officer of the U.S. Department of State, who gave his life in service to us, the citizens of the USA

Flower #3: Glen Doherty, former Navy Seal, who gave his life in service to us, citizens of the USA

Flower #4: Tyrone Woods, former Navy Seal, who gave his life in service to us, citizens of the USA

Flower #5: Kris “Tonto” Paronto, who valiantly defended the American outpost in Benghazi

Flower #6: Jack Silva, who bravely defended the American outpost in Benghazi

Flower #7: Dave “Boon” Benton, who successfully defended the American outpost in Benghazi

Flower #8: John “Tig” Tiegen, who skillfully defended the American outpost in Benghazi

Flower #9: The CIA base Chief in Benghazi, whose leadership in the midst of anarchic circumstances contributed to preservation of the lives of many CIA personnel there.

Flower #10: Mitchell Zukoff, who wrote the novel, Thirteen Hours, which told the story of what these brave men did on behalf of our nation

    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/13-hours-mitchell-zuckoff/1119058038

Flower #11: U.S. Representative Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who first asked these questions in an official capacity.

Flower #12: Michael Bay, who directed the movie, depicting the story of what these brave men did on behalf of our nation.

Flowers #13: to 13 million and more Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, State Department and CIA men and women who valiantly defend the best interests of the United States of America, wherever our flag is raised throughout this dangerous world. Thank you for your service.

Smoke

What do you see?

January 17, 2016

Look at this.

Cross

What do you see?

Two lines crossing?

Yes.

Use your imagination. There’s more to this symbol than meets the eye.

Maybe you see an X/Y axis where mathematical equations can be graphed in two-dimensional space.

Maybe you see a crossroads, a place where a traveler, perhaps you, would retain a straight path, or make a turn.

And we know there’s the possibility that you see here a religious symbol.

Maybe you see organized religion fastened irretrievably to a stiff framework of dead tradition.

Think about this. This configuration has been used, at different times in history, as

         an instrument of torture,

         where one human being might be nailed, even unto death, by other human beings.

Or perhaps can you see, in the crossed paths of historical nations,

     the desires of different people groups at cross-purposes with each other,

     or the interests of different ethnicities at cross-purposes with each other,

     or the dogmatic stubbornness of different religions crossing each other in warfare?

You may even see any possibility of World Peace nailed to this cross–

     straightjacketed hopelessly to the hard reality that this world is a cruel, bellicose place.

Maybe you see any hope for true justice in this world bound repeatedly by the terrible deeds that men do.

Stretch you imagination. Canst thou discern Peace On Earth nailed to our inescapable propensity toward war?

Can you, perhaps, even see the hopes and dreams of fearful Syrian citizens nailed to a ubiquitous grid of war?

Or, the lives of black men and women that matter, strewn lifelessly across an intersection of corruption and injustice?

Maybe you can visualize, in the collective memory of our history, a cross burning in front of Great-great Grampa Tom’s cabin.

Can you envision all the wasted time that Saeed Abedini spent in an Iranian prison fastened to a cross of injustice?

Can you imagine all the terrible deeds of mankind throughout history nailed to this cross?

There was a man crucified on it at one time. But he is not bound to that cross any more.

A couple of days after our sentence upon him was passed, and the execution complete, he was carried to to an intersection with eternal life.

Can you imagine eternal life on the other side of that deathly cross?

I can. I’ve been to the crossroads.

Glass half-Full

The Fall of Man–Past or Future?

January 15, 2016

This world is a mess, isn’t it? It’s a screwed-up place. How in the hell did it get this way? Who’s responsible for this mess?

Among my people, the Christians, we generally attribute this world’s fallen condition to a collusion between the devil and a couple of homo sapiens named Adam and Eve. We read in our sacred book a story of how this presently messed-up arrangement of things originated in a place called the garden of Eden where the devil, shapeshifting as a serpent, tricked Eve and Adam into eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, whatever that is.

That book, the Book of Genesis, was written by Moses.

Moses’ impact on mankind has been huge. His writings have had more influence on human belief and behavior than just anybody else I can think of. His best-seller, the first five books of the Bible, is still more widely-read than any other written work. Moses’ ancient influence has outdone all the masters of modern storytelling, even heavyweights such as Shakespeare, Melville, Twain, Dickens, Hemingway, Tolkien, Crichton, Grisham, Rowling and even Stephen King.

But Moses’ chief contender these days for the role of Primary Explanator of the human condition is an Arabian prophet who has been around for 14 centuries: Mohammed. All around the world the advocates for Mohammed are giving Moses a run for his money. We shall see how this turns out.

As for me and my house–my money is on Moses. More importantly, my faith is in Jesus Christ. But I have to tell you–I think Moses was really onto something.

He, and his predecessor Abraham, had latched onto some pretty potent stuff. That is to say, some real truth. As for the Arabian, we shall see how all that plays out. Seems to me his deal is quite legalistic and compulsory, instead of being, say, benevolent and full of grace.

Consider Moses and his legacy.

His writings, and the writings of those who followed in his revelation, eventually became what we call the Judaeo-Christian heritage, generally associated with the Western World. When Mohammed came along, about 620 C.E., he sought to place himself into that Abrahamic/Mosaic stream of revelation. And as I said before, we shall see how that all works out. As for me and my house, I’m not into the Mohammedan thing, but the Mohammedans can do what they want. You go your way and I’ll go mine, okay?

Getting back to my original question of how or why the world got to be such a screwed-up place, I would have to direct you to an appraisal of some recent human history. About a hundred years ago, the whole damn world started to blow up with powerful new technologies that had been applied to human conflict. World War I was no walk in the park,  and World War II wasn’t either. In fact, both of those conflagrations were pretty horrendous blow-ups that caused, in an historically unprecedented way, a lot of damage and pain and strife among the peoples of the world.

I mean, looking back on it. The whole damn 20th-century–and even up to now in the 21st–is shown to be powerful evidence that the human race is fallen, depraved, or, as they say in the Red states, screwed-up, or as they say in the Blue states, dysfunctional. Something is wrong with us. Human history proves it.

So, as I pointed out above, Moses was correct in his assessment when he brought forth the story about the Fall of Man.

Now Moses was a Jew and that has gotten him into trouble.

The modern historical nemesis of Moses and all the Jewish people was a bestial man from Austria named Adolf Hitler. History has shown that Hitler’s diabolical hatred of the Jews, and probably his hatred of all the rest us who don’t measure up to his Aryan bullshit standards, turned the whole world upside down with war and destruction for a period of about five years, back in the 1940’s.

Hitler had spent his youth in artistic pursuits. He fancied himself an artist. During that first 20th-century decade before World War I, he had tried to break into the art world and become a recognized artist. While living in Vienna and trying to promote his art, he encountered some Jewish critics who did not appreciate his work. This became a big problem for Hitler. He acted out his inner resentment against them in such an extremely phobic way that his hatred for Jews became an obsession. One thing led to another, and, you know the rest of the story.

The point I am making is that Hitler blamed all the world’s trouble and dysfunction on the Jews. And he damn-near  destroyed the civilized world just to prove his point.

Look what happened as a result–another world war, millions of people dead. In some ways, it is still going on, although the names and the faces have changed.

But let’s learn from history. The problem is not with the Jews. The problem is with all of us.

As far as the present arrangement of things goes, in 2016,  there have been some interesting developments.

Take the Climate-bangers, for instance. They met in Kyoto, then in several other major cities, most recently Copenhagen, Lima, and Paris.

They’re working toward a worldwide implementation of their program to save the world by phasing out Carbon Emissions.

Good luck with that, Naomi.

Now some of their rhetoric is quite legalistic, even repressive. Sounds like it could even morph into a police-state kind of .gov program.

If they think they can correct this world by regulating everybody into enforced, low-carbon poverty, I have to say, respectfully, I beg to differ.

Over a hundred years ago, the Marxists were all hot and bothered with their new theory about what would straighten this mess out. They wanted to organize and equip the working people of the world to take control of the Means of Production–that is– to take all the resource-converting industrial/financial/gov infrastructure away from the Capitalists and let the proletariat run the show and this would evolve into the golden era of human brotherhood and thereby true communism.

History has shown, however, through the bloody regimes of Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot, Kim Jong-Un and other delusionary demagogues, that their theoretical Plan for our deliverance from oppressive Capitalism, while it looks credible on paper, does not actually work according to plan.

Why not? The problem is Fallen Man. We screw it up every time.

Nobody, not even God Him/Her self, will ever get all homo sapiens together on the same page working together to correct our messed-up world.

Now consider the problem of Climate Change. This is a lot like the old problem of Capitalist Exploitation.

The Climate-bangers’ doctrine we see evolving among world-class Academics involves a strategy similar to the Marxist prescription that was supposed to render Capitalism obsolete. This new Regimen calls for Taking Control of the Means of Emission–which is, practically speaking, the same as the Means of Production. But this has not happened under the Communist banner and it will not happen under the Climate banner. It’ll never happen.

Men are emitters–always have been, always will be. We are guilty of flatulence every day, in oh so many ways, whether through an exhaust pipe, a coal stack, or an anal expulsion.

Men are sinners–always have been, always will be. We are guilty of murder every day, in oh so many ways, whether through the gun, the bomb, or the polluted environment.

Word from the Tower is if we don’t get a hold of this Carbon thing it will be the end of us.

So now the Climate-bangers have predicted an Apocalypse of Carbon destruction. It arises from Man’s inability to get his shit together and properly disposed of, based on the 2% increase Plan, or even the 1 1/2% plan. Our goose is cooked. The train is about to derail. The jig is up and that’s all she wrote. It’s curtains for us, unless we can get everybody together on the same regs to curb our carbon flatulence.

But there is another Apocalypse scenario that is just as likely to happen, if you think about it. For many centuries, we Christians have read and taught from our scriptures, the last book of which describes an Apocalypse that befalls us as a result of our depravity. Now, in the 20th-century, we religious types who warn of  a possibly impending Tribulation, which is a result of our human carbon emission sin– we are thought to be on the  lunatic fringe because we are seen as doomsayers.

So as it turns out–it’s history’s little joke on us– we Bible-thumpers are not the only ones on the street with a Repent the End is Near sign.

But hey, we’re all in this together. Come, let us reason together.

Just lighten up, and let’s all try to get along here. I’ll minimize my emissions if you’ll minimize yours.

And by ‘n by, we shall see how this all pans out. But be careful; try not to fall on your way out of this mess.

Smoke

Doing the Limbo at 64

January 9, 2016

I remember back in the 1950s when I was growing up and attending Catholic school. They taught us that there’s a place called Limbo, where you go after death if you had never received baptism while living in the world. Although I am a mere Christian now, having been baptized in 1978 by own choice choice at the age of 27, it has been revealed to this protestant that there is indeed a place called Limbo.

But it is not actually a place; rather, it is a time, a time of life.

How do I know this?

I am in Limbo now.  I am learning that it is a stage of life through which you pass, before–not after– death, a kind of a nether time through which the maturing American sojourns, somewhere between ages 64 and 66.

When you turn 64, there are multiple signs that indicate you have arrived in Limbo. The first is, of course, remembering back to 1968 when the Beatles raised the profound question “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x158z5_beatles-when-i-m-sixty-four_music

On one level, the song is profound for the aging adult, insofar as it raises the question of one’s life-status or love-condition in relation to one’s spouse, or, as they say nowadays, one’s “significant other” or lack thereof.

On another level, the question itself–about being needed and fed–is critical for the aging adult, insofar as it raises the question of one’s life-status in relation to “the System.”

You know the System I’m talking about, the one that–as we thought back in the day–would relegate us all to little ticky-tacky houses where we’d all look just the same.

And once you start seeing the signs that you are approaching–or perhaps have already arrived in– Limbo, suddenly the omens are all over the place, and very plain to see.

For example, as I happened to tune in, a couple of days ago, to Diane Rehm’s show, in which the Grand mistress of inside-the-beltway grapevine NPR confab discussed the big “R” word with Teresa Ghilarducci,

http://thedianerehmshow.org/audio/#/shows/2016-01-07/teresa-ghilarducci-how-to-retire-with-enough-money/111702/@00:00

I learned that the assets so far accumulated by myself and my wife (six years younger than me) are, of course, not nearly enough to “make it through” the Retirement years, which is a special golden or rose-colored-glasses period  sometimes called the “rest of our life.”

Theoretically, our assets are not enough, especially with, you know, zero interest rates etcetera etcetera.

On the other hand, who the hell knows how much is enough?

Furthermore, this unstable scenario has been further destabilized by myself, yours truly, who recently, and oh-so-irresponsibly, decided to quit my job seven months before reaching the big SIX-FIVE road marker, because it was–as my body was daily communicating to me–wearing me out, after the past 45 years of uninterrupted work, the lion’s share of which was spent in construction and maintenance jobs.

There’s a reason (as I am discovering) that 65 is the big mile marker, the fork in the road where two paths diverge, as Robert Frost might have called it many and many a year ago.

In my case, I just didn’t quite make it that far, stopped short of the finish line with only seven months to go.

In one moment of time I morphed from one Bureau of Labor Statistical category to another. Whereas, I formerly was perhaps categorized as  employed but underemployed (being a college grad in a maintenance job), this statistical territory I now inhabit is a never-neverland somewhere between “unemployed” and “dropped-out of the labor force altogether–having given up on looking for another job!

Limbo!

The real hell of it is I’m still looking for a job, still striving to redeem myself from the stigma of being a labor-force dropout, still busting gut to add another few thousand bucks into that magic pot of IRA and/or 401K gold at the end of the Social Security rainbow.

Did I mention “gold”? Don’t even think about it, except all the online doomsayers are saying I need to buy it. But I wouldn’t know where to start. I mean, I’ve lived in the System all my life.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, where I’m filling blanks and checking boxes in online applications, the question becomes: who is going to hire a 64-year-old who just may be one of those  off-the-chart non-entitities who has “given up” on gainful employment, when there are multitudes of unemployed or underemployed 22-year-olds out there pounding the keyboard and the pavement looking for work?

Who? I ask you who?

Don’t think too hard. That’s been my problem all my life–thinking too much, and maybe writing too much too. (And if you believe that, I’ve got three novels, poised in cyberspace on the website linked below; they’re hanging there, suspended in electrons waiting to enhance your historical reading experience.)

So here I leave you with a closing anecdote. It is a dilemma wrapped in an enigma.

6:30 this morning, still dark. I just delivered my wife to her nursing job. I’m at the gas pump of a convenience store. I’m thinking. . .maybe I should go in there and ask for a job. Then I’m looking blankly at the gas pump as the digitals flash, and my eye wanders up to a sign on the gas pump. It says:

“Polar pop any size 69 cents”

And above that message is another little sign, with pictures of “Crown” cigarette packs, and an offer that smokers cannot refuse:

“$3.18 if you buy two.”

Do I really want to spend the last six months of my working life. . .

Fuhgedaboudit.

Smoke

The Unseen Hand of Capitalism, 21st-century version

January 6, 2016

I’m a regular guy who is trying to learn a thing or two about how things work and what makes the world go around and so forth and so on.

Back in the day, early 1970s, I was a clueless college student trying to figure things out. My draft # was 349, so I didn’t have to go to Nam. I know some who did have to go, and I appreciate their service to our nation.

So there I was at LSU in 1970, an English major, clueless about the world and everything in it. (I thank the Lord that my children have made better decisions than I did in their early life choices.) One good thing about being an English major is that you do learn how to read and write well, and that helps a lot as we go through life. To this day, I do not regret learning to read and write copiously.

Well, the years rolled by and I got along all right, with much help from God and my wife, and some dear friends with whom we raised our young’uns. I did sales for awhile, then drifted into construction and stayed on that path for most of the working life. We managed to get the three youn’uns through college and out on their own and that was a great blessing.

Fortunately, I never had to lean heavily on that classic phrase of underemployed English majors, Would you like fries with that?

Long about 2004 or so I decided to ease out of construction work; my wife was doing well in her nursing career. The kids were pretty much on their own. I took a few education classes at the nearby hometown university, and was moving toward some new destiny which we knew not what it would be.

By ‘n by, along came the fall of 2008, and the Crash of 2008 on wall street and so forth and so on. You know the story.

And since I had been, back in the good ole carefree college days, an English major, I was still in the habit of reading and writing. Therefore and henceforth  I started reading copiously about the financial developments that were so profoundly altering everybody’s life, even still yet today, as we speak.

And it seemed to me that the whole economy had kind of gone crazy there for a while, for a few weeks or a few months, as we’re seeing in the Big Short.  But then things sort of evened out a bit, but they never got back to what they were before and furthermore they still haven’t, even though the unemployment rate has dropped down from ~10% in 2009 to the ~5% it is today, according to the BLS or the BS, or some such number-crunchin agency in Washington maybe next to the Brookings or over on K Street or some important think-tank place like that.

Long about that time, early ’09 or somewhere in there, all the doomsayers showed up online and everybody and their brother was saying the whole dam world would come apart at the seams again and u better buy gold and it seemed to me like this Crash might do a replay but it never did. Instead, things just kind of got on a long, slightly upward slope to what we have today, whatever it is, somewhere between recession and high cotton, with  chronic destagulation and perpetual consternation but no real catastrophe like those fringy preppers (not preppies) had said back in ’09 or ’10 or whenever that was.

In my clueless English major kind of way, I was keeping an eye on the stock market, just for fun of course because I didn’t know much about it, but I must say I was amazed that we never really had another big crash like we had had in ’08.

Every time the numbers would take a big turn down, and you’d hear about the market being down a hundred or two hundred, especially in September or October, you’ d think this could be the Big one again.

But it never was the big one again. It’s been pretty much steady-state destagulation with a few ups and downs here and there– no inverted hockey-stick graphs.

By ‘n by, as the weeks rolled by and as I was wondering about all this, I began to wondering if there wasn’t some force or entity that was acting in a big, manipulative and perhaps surreptitious way on behalf of ?whoever ?whatever, the good of mankind, to make the market stay steady instead of taking another dive. It kind of seemed like it. Whoever or whatever it was or is must be pretty daggone powerful or influential. Maybe some Julius Pierpoint Morgan (the original WallStreet bailout artist financier) who was just intervening, out of some sacred duty that had been laid upon him as a knight of the financial garter, on behalf of the whole Western world to keep everything on a relatively even keel so we wouldn’t have another Panic of ’07 or ’29 or 2008.

T’was then I thought about that famous phrase: the Invisible Hand, as applied to economics. There’s got to be an Invisible Hand in there somewhere stopping that WallStreet slide every time one starts.

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_hand explained to me that Adam Smith had introduced the concept in economics in the year 1759. The Invisible Hand the idea that the  multiple economic actions of individuals who are acting independently of each other manage to, by luck or Providence or some unseen beneficent force of the Universe, produce a composite outcome that is beneficial to the whole Market, and maybe the whole world.

So as I became more and more astute in these financial matters, I began to feel, somewhat intuitively or through keen powers of in cumulatively clueless observation that this invisible hand was not some ethereal beneficent presence, but rather, a definite entity in the real world. Something very real. Somebody’s doing this! Come on now, who is it?

And now, thanks to Ben Bernanke and his memoir, Courage to Act,

http://www.amazon.com/The-Courage-Act-Memoir-Aftermath-ebook/dp/B00TIZFP0I

I have been duly informed. My days of financial naiveté are over, and I see the world for what it really is.

It was the Fed all along!

If you read the epilogue of Ben’s book, you’ll see what I mean. Here are just a  few favorable developments during that period, the last seven years, that he mentions:

~ Unemployment rate, from Aug 2012 at 8.15 down to 5.7 in Oct 2014, during QE3

~ 3 million jobs added in 2014, the largest annual increase since 1999

~ 10.7 million jobs added from 2010-2014

~ “The Fed’s securities purchases and lending programs turned a large profit for the government. . .sent almost $100 billion to the Treasury in 2014”

~ “Households had reduced their debt, their interest payments were low, and the value of their homes was higher, as was the value of most retirement accounts.”

~ “Consumer confidence, as measured by surveys, had rebounded.”

~ “At the end of 2014, U.S. output was more than 8 percent higher than at the end of 2007, the pre-crisis peak.”

So it’s plain to see that the Invisible Hand has been absolutely vigilant and effective. But this previously mysterious entity is no longer simply the composite whole enchilada of Capitalism. It is . . .

The Federal Reserve!

Thank you, Uncle Ben and Aunt Janet.

Times have changed, and so. . . has Capitalism. The old days are gone forever. We are now living in a bored new world of managed economy.

Glass Chimera

The Calling of Anarchy

January 5, 2016

The calling of anarchy says:

Tear down, tear down the Old way, for when it is destroyed, the New way will be brought in, and when the New way is set in place. . . when the New Order is instituted, then all things will be made right and wise people such as yourself will be in charge of things, and your troubles will be over.

But that surely is gobblydeegoop. I mean, isn’t it?

I myself have, in my life, encountered the power of this deception. I have heard that Siren call of anarchy. It is a cry familiar to me. It arises not so much in me as in the world out there somewhere, with some instigator’s persistent call to rage, rage against the machine. Somewhere in between my ears, it beats a drum of discontent that would compel me, if I were to follow that terrible summons, to do terrible, destructive things.

Although I have never succumbed to it, I know its voice. It is the insidious voice of rebellion that would compel men into the abyss of anarchy, and women into the chasms of despair.

Harken not to it, my brother. Heed it not, my soul. For it leadeth not where thou wouldst want to go.

I’m not making this up; this is a very real thing in the world today. But it is nothing new.

In the final chapter of his 1971 journalistic book, Kent State, James A Michener describes the strange experience of a troubled young woman. She’s a runaway teenager; she had forsaken the comfort of middle-class life to wander the streets and cities of America in search of something, possibly a magical place called “California.” But during her journey to the elusive place, the girl found herself one brisk Friday night in Ohio, kicking around in Kent, looking for some excitement, or some meaning in life, or just something to do, when, about midnight, she came across some “trouble on the street.” As Michener describes the scene in which rioters were protesting Nixon’s bombing of Cambodia:

” ‘Cambodia,’ she says, ‘Cambodia did it. They built a fire out there (on a downtown street, ed.) and were circling around, chanting’. . . (She) joined them, dancing about the trash fire in the street. It was what was happening and she wanted in.”

And so the young women was caught up in that moment, and caught up in the excitement and the gravitas of the protest, having answered the call to meaningful action, which can, in the heat of human manipulations, sometimes slide into the calling of anarchy, and so one thing did lead to another and then a couple of days later, the young woman found herself suddenly fallen upon a parking lot, with shots ringing in the air around her and when she looked up there was a young man lying next to here with his head down but blood flowing out of it because of the fatal gunshot. But then  she dragged herself up. In the misery and tragedy of that moment, she cried out. . .

Also in that moment, the photographer who happened to be nearby quickly snapped a picture. A little while later, through a series of electronic wonders beginning with the photographer’s pic as published in his paper’s next issue, the mournful, confused face of the wandering teenaged girl was flashed around the world for all the world to see.

The look on the young woman’s face documents the utter dismay of a generation, my generation. Millions of people around the world have seen, and wondered about, that picture. James Michener calls her the woman with the “Delacroix face.”

Her face does resemble the face of Lady Liberty, as rendered in “Liberty leading the People,” a famous painting by Eugene Delacroix that depicts an idealized image of the French Revolution.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%C3%A8ne_Delacroix

I guess there is a fine line somewhere between Liberty and anarchy. Only those who have suffered in the fog of war or in the great Struggle for justice can know the difference.

The poet W.B. Yeats mentions this dangerous tendency of our world in his poem, The Second Coming:

“Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned”

The “ceremony of innocence,” is, in our present American culture and this historic time, the ritual of going to college or university. In our case study above, Kent State, the “ceremony” was not drowned, but rather, mortally wounded. This happened when duty-bound Guardsmen, who were generally the same young age as the students, were pressured, in the midst of frantic, anarchic circumstances to fire into a wildly unpredictable, rock-hurling crowd. Historic research reveals that “somebody” had fired a first shot, the fatal result of which that anarchy was suddenly catapulted  into tragedy.

Tragedy. Life is tragic. This is one outcome of anarchy.

It makes me wonder, and I find myself thinking of that old Moody Blues tune, Melancholy Man. . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uO3IG-oRpis

In our present day and time, anarchy could–and already has–generated tragedy. . .in Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, Paris, San Bernadino, Riyadh and its aftermath, and in many other places. I am reminded of the prophet whose words still ring true after after twenty centuries:

“Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

His words were spoken about a religious building, but it seems that the anarchic spirit of our age is bent on terrorizing and destroying  many diverse persons, many places near and far, and a multitude of buildings and things.

It’s the calling of anarchy. Don’t get sucked in.

Here’s a better response: Do what is right, and pray.

Glass half-Full

What’s a year anyway?

December 31, 2015

What’s in a year anyway?

a revolution to some better day?

A year by any other name would smell as sweet

as any minute on this NewYear street.

Earth zips ’round the sun one more time;

every minute some fool commits a crime.

This planet never gets to the center of things;

it’s all bound up in orbital strings.

Mother earth spins, burning

as Father sky is yearning.

Buds come, flowers grow,

blooms die, seeds go

to the ground:                                          0

World goes round.

What else is new?

And what will we do

when east meets west

and worst trumps best?

So what’s in a year anyway?

A week, a month, a moment, a day?

A year by any other name would smell as sweet

as any minute on this NewYear street.

Alas! What light from yonder window breaks?

It is the east; the world awaits.

Another year, another fear!

An older man sheds a younger tear.

Cry, thou beloved world!

Fly, here’s another year unfurled;

mayhem runs rampant in the streets:

while terror o’ertakes,  reason retreats!

Is there any hope for all this mess?

Could be, would be my guess.

But we might as well,

you know–what the hell–

try and catch the wind,

lest the best gets crucified again.

Rise, rise above it all!

Glass half-Full


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