June 30, 2011

Assistance for Our Better Angels

And by "better angels," I mean, of course, the ladies. First, I encourage you to help a human lady if you can. Dr. Socks has some medical bills which are undoubtedly overwhelming. I have no means of even trying to pay any of my own medical bills. I haven't looked at the bills from my latest hospital stay, although I've kept the envelopes (just in case curiosity overcomes me in an odd moment). It's impossible for me to pay even a small fraction of them (no money, can't pay! simple how that works), so there's no point in contemplating the numbers. But based on the bills from my first hospital stay two years ago, I assume the total to date is well north of $60,000. Note that I didn't have surgery either time; the most complex procedures, which aren't complex at all, were blood transfusions and an endoscopy. Mind-boggling shit is what that is. Anyway, I hope you can help Violet.

I'm mightily distracted right now by the two lovely feline ladies who permit me to live with them. I did take in Sasha a few weeks ago. In addition to the fact that she's meltingly adorable and loving, I knew I had to get her away from my neighbor, who explicitly acknowledged that she had absolutely no interest in Sasha other than as a mouser (she'd had one mouse before getting Sasha -- and none since -- and she probably brought that one in herself when moving boxes from the garage into her apartment, as she also acknowledges). My neighbor was never home and barely noticed Sasha when she was. Sasha and I decided she deserved much better.

Since my neighbor had gotten Sasha at a shelter, we assumed Sasha had been spayed. My neighbor said she definitely had been. Apparently, um, not, for Sasha has been in heat for the last four days. As I remarked to a friend, and as my vet confirmed on the phone yesterday, the signs are THWACKINGLY OBVIOUS. They are also extraordinarily LOUD. The yowling ... oy. Well, hate the yowling and not the yowler and so forth. Besides, Sasha is far, far too sweet to get mad at, even for a moment. But oh my God, the yowling... (And my neighbor had had Sasha for about four years. How this thwackingly obvious fact escaped her, for the same symptoms must have announced themselves -- LOUDLY -- before, is only further testimony to people's capacity to avoid head-bashingly unmistakable facts they are determined to ignore. As my vet remarked when I expressed my shock that this must have gone on for several years: "People have an amazing capacity to ignore such things when they want to.")

Next week, Sasha goes in for surgery. After consultation with the vet, I conclude that's the safest and surest way to make certain everything is taken care of properly. (Blood tests are often inconclusive, so aren't necessarily helpful at all.) Even if she was spayed, it's not uncommon for some ovarian tissue to be left behind. The surgery itself will cost $350.00; add in incidentals (and let's assume, please Goddess, there are no complications at all), and we're talking in the neighborhood of $400.00.

And then there is the incredibly sweet Wendy. I'm not going to recite all the details; I'm too upset by it at the moment. The news is not good. (Background here.) She'll have a cortisone shot tomorrow. If the problem is an inflammatory bowel one alone, that should help. If it doesn't, or only helps for a little while, well... I've accepted now that we've probably entered the final stretch for Wendy. I've seen the same general pattern (although the particular causes varied) with six other cats during my lifetime. I'm overly familiar with it. I sense we probably have two to four months remaining -- perhaps more or less depending on particulars. It's possible that the cortisone will have a tremendously revivifying effect, which would certainly change the prognosis for the better. Let's keep our fingers crossed for that. Otherwise...

Wendy's trip to the vet tomorrow will cost around $100.00, perhaps more if the vet decides she needs to be hydrated (a distinct possibility) or requires additional procedures. I've just paid the July rent. With the other monthly bills requiring payment (the bare minimum, as has been the case for years now), I'm looking at rapidly dwindling financial resources. Dwindling toward the point of the big zero.

So once again, I must extend the begging cup. I do have a number of articles lined up for the near future. Once I'm able to focus a bit more on them (I hope this weekend), I'll start preparing them for publication. But I am deeply saddened by Wendy's situation. I've readied myself as much as I can for what may come, but that's not being ready at all. She's so, so sweet, and such a wonderful presence in our lives. Oh, damn. Now I'm crying. God damn it all to hell.

All right, I'll have to leave this for now. Bless you for listening, and bless you if you can help. I'm more grateful than I can say.

June 24, 2011

And For Their Next Number...

Here's a treat for you: the Ride of the Valkyries, arranged for eight pianos. The pianists are Evgeny Kissin, Lang Lang, Emanuel Ax, Leif Ove Andsnes, Claude Frank, Mikhail Pletnev, Staffan Scheja and James Levine, performing at the Verbier Festival & Academy 10th Anniversary Piano Extravaganza. I was hooked and had to watch it because of a comment made on my opera email list: "I have never before seen so many world-class musicians counting furiously to themselves. ;)" Hahaha. It's enormous fun, and the pianists themselves have a grand time. (I have to note that, dammit, the volume on that video isn't nearly loud enough. Grrr.)

But, shucks, that's nothing. I remember one occasion when I was studying piano when a huge group of us performed a piece arranged for 32 pianos. And drat, I can't remember what the composition was. I find that rather odd, since I remember the performance itself at that "extravaganza" of ours very clearly. Well, you can't remember everything, and I still remember an overwhelmingly huge number of details from the past, even my distant past. Which, I note, is not an unqualified blessing.

For those who might be interested, I wrote about the opera list, which is open to anyone and includes many notables among its members, although usually under pseudonyms, here ("Yet Another Intensely Exciting Internecine Battle at Versailles!") and here ("Concerning Open and Closed Lists, and the Claim to 'Special' Knowledge"). The first of those links contains my confession concerning an "exclusive" and "SECRET" email list that I myself once belonged to! You have no idea just how seedy, disreputable and unhygienic my past is. I do have some consideration for the requirements of propriety, vicious rumors to the contrary notwithstanding. Oh, for a bit more, see here, too.

Those articles were occasioned by the Journolist affair, and I contrasted a genuinely open list with "restricted" groups of the Journolist kind (and the kind in which I was a participant). And the opera list occasionally offers rare gems of commentary, as mentioned in the second of those pieces -- and here as well, in an article about John McGlinn.

The McGlinn article excerpts a wonderful post from Albert Innaurato to the opera list. I'd forgotten most of the details from that piece, but I think my concluding words there are the best way to conclude this entry:
The world may barely note John McGlinn's passing, and it may place far too little value on the extraordinary work he did and what he accomplished against tremendous odds.

We should not be so unmindful, or so uncaring. We should do our utmost to follow McGlinn's own advice, and to be among those people who are "willing to dream" of a better world, just as he did. And in his life and work, McGlinn made that better world real.

That should be, that must be, our aspiration and our dedication, too.

June 22, 2011

Every Word He Utters Is a Lie

I watched Obama's speech. For its brief duration, I kept thinking that George W. Bush could have given exactly the same speech. (Ah, I just remembered that John Caruso demonstrated this truth two years ago, in an exceptionally astute and clever manner.) In fact, and this is the point of significance, no man or woman is going to ascend to the office of president unless he or she will utter precisely the same empty phrases and offer the identical meaningless assurances.

The underlying problem is identified in this post's title. When an individual lies to you repeatedly and systematically, about matters large and small, and especially when he does so over an extended period of time, there is only one method by which an adult will proceed in the future. Very simply, that is to treat everything he says as a lie -- or, if you prefer an alternative, "softer" version of the same idea, to believe nothing he says absent independent corroboration. Sadly for all of us, there are very few adults in America, and only four or five of them have blogs.

In the case of Obama, I could offer the words of one prescient observer. In response to Obama's wildly applauded speech on race, this person wrote:
Almost every politician lies, and most politicians lie repeatedly. Yet in one sense, Obama's speech is exceptional, rare and unique -- but not for any of the reasons offered by Obama's uncritical, mindless adulators. It is exceptional for this reason: it is rare that a candidate will announce in such stark, comprehensive terms that he will lie about every fact of moment, about every aspect of our history that affects the crises of today and that has led to them, about everything that might challenge the mythological view of America. But that is what Obama achieved with this speech. It may be a remarkable achievement -- a remarkable and detestable one, and one that promises endless destruction in the future, both here and abroad.
Oh, yeah. I wrote that -- in March 2008. I think perhaps 12 or 15 people agreed with me. Most of you schmucks didn't. I would say the laugh's on you, but given the devastation and death Obama has caused -- and he's very, very far from done -- I don't think anyone feels much like laughing about any of this.

But having said that, I must note that in the speech this evening, Obama offered a brief passage containing nothing but fall-on-the-floor whoppers. Here you go:
We are a nation that brings our enemies to justice while adhering to the rule of law, and respecting the rights of all our citizens. We protect our own freedom and prosperity by extending it to others. We stand not for empire, but for self-determination.
I love "while adhering to the rule of law." And, "We stand not for empire..." Those three sentences in their entirety are gold-plated comedy material.

Couldn't you just die? You might.

I'm working on an article which will discuss further (among other things) this issue of not crediting a single word uttered by Obama, or by any member of the national ruling class. These are just a few preliminary notes, occasioned by this distinctly forgettable address.

To be continued in the next day or two.

P.S. You'll find more about the specifics of the Afghanistan part of the speech here. The overriding conclusion is one I've stated repeatedly: WE ARE NOT LEAVING.

Yes, I wrote that post yesterday. I'm a thoughtful guy that way.

June 21, 2011

The Fragile Vanity of the War Criminal

I wrote the following almost five blood-soaked, barbaric, murderous, goddamned, fucking years ago:
If you have ever wondered how a serial murderer -- a murderer who is sane and fully aware of the acts he has committed -- can remain steadfastly convinced of his own moral superiority and show not even the slightest glimmer of remorse, you should not wonder any longer.

The United States government is such a murderer. It conducts its murders in full view of the entire world. It even boasts of them. Our government, and all our leading commentators, still maintain that the end justifies the means -- and that even the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents is of no moral consequence, provided a sufficient number of people can delude themselves into believing the final result is a "success."


It is useless to appeal to any "American" sense of morality: we have none. It does not matter how immense the pile of corpses grows: we will not surrender or even question our delusion that we are right, and that nothing we do can be profoundly, unforgivably wrong.
As I detailed in "The Blood-Drenched Darkness of American Exceptionalism," the United States exhibits all the symptoms of severe neurosis brought on in significant part by "the extreme nature of the delusions necessitated by an unquestioned belief in the myth of American exceptionalism."

It is not enough that our national political culture completely ignores the deadly, catastrophic consequences of the U.S. government's actions. Our national delusions, and our national neurosis, compel us to invert every moral value and principle. This is a world in which evil becomes good, and death becomes life:
The American exceptionalist myth tells us that the United States is unique and uniquely good. It is not sufficient to ignore negative consequences of our actions: we must transform any and all negative consequences into a positive good. This process has been rigorously followed for every American intervention ever undertaken (going back to the Philippines, then with the American entrance into World War I, on into many interventions after World War II, on into Iraq and Afghanistan today), and the identical process has been well underway for several years in connection with Iraq in particular.
I could mention many facts about the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, but let us consider only two.

The propagandists continue in their damnable work, as reflected in the headline of this AP story: "Obama to Move US Closer to Leaving Afghanistan." [The headline was changed after this post was published, which alters nothing in the following argument.] To grasp the huge lie this represents, you have to read the entire story -- which, of course, very few readers will do. For it is only near the very end that we read this sentence: "Obama has tripled the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan since taking office, bringing the total there to about 100,000." Keeping that 100,000 figure in mind, now read the opening paragraph of the story:
President Barack Obama is set to announce a blueprint for bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan that is expected to reduce the number of troops by up to 5,000 next month, as well as a broader plan for recalling the rest of the 30,000 surge forces he sent there in 2009.
Assuming all 30,000 of the "surge forces" leave, 70,000 U.S. troops will remain. Well, there's "leaving" and then there's leaving. Moreover, as we are always told about such matters, all this is subject to "conditions on the ground" -- which means only that the U.S. government will do whatever the hell it believes is required to maintain dominance and control. And, not at all by the way, Afghanistan is especially crucial to ongoing U.S. plans for geopolitical dominance; see this post, as well as the Robert Higgs article I excerpt: "CENTCOM's Master Plan and U.S. Global Hegemony." I therefore state, as I have many times before: WE ARE NOT LEAVING.

(Also note: This bloody charade about "leaving" follows exactly the pattern seen in Iraq. One can hardly blame the war criminals who lead the U.S. government for playing the same bloody tune again. After all, almost no one is objecting in any way that matters to our continued presence in Iraq. Why not offer the identical music of death another time? Everyone already knows the melody, and no one gives a damn.)

So, an enormously significant, ongoing U.S. troop presence is the first fact to remember about Afghanistan. The second is the nauseating number of civilian deaths caused by U.S. warmaking. As is always the case, we can only be certain of one aspect of this bloody business: whatever number manages to surface into public awareness must necessarily be far, far lower than the accurate and truthful number. With that qualification noted, we can turn to an article published just a few months ago:
The latest UN report puts the death toll for Afghan civilians across the nation in 2010 to 2,777, the largest since the war began in 2001 and a 15% increase over the toll from 2009. The vast majority of those killed were random victims of the fighting between NATO and the Taliban.
Take a look at this article from the Guardian, too. It's from a year ago, but it remains helpful in grasping the continuing slaughter.

It would appear very safe to say that the total for civilian deaths in the last ten years is well over 10,000, and the actual number may be far greater than that figure. But hell, it's not as if we're talking about Americans. They're just those people, the Other. Who gives a shit? Almost no one.

Certainly, one of the many Ministers of Death -- the departing American ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl W. Eikenberry -- doesn't give a shit. That is, he doesn't give a shit about the U.S. troops that will remain in that devastated country into the foreseeable future, or about the slaughtered civilians. But he wants to be sure Karzai and the rest of us know that he is deeply offended and hurt because not everyone appreciates how noble, glorious and self-sacrificing Americans are. Reread my description offered at the beginning of this post, and especially note my observation about the serial murderer (and, I stress, his accomplices) remaining "steadfastly convinced of his own moral superiority and show[ing] not even the slightest glimmer of remorse." And then read these sickening remarks offered by Eikenberry:
“When Americans, who are serving in your country at great cost — in terms of life and treasure — hear themselves compared with occupiers, told that they are only here to advance their own interest and likened to the brutal enemies of the Afghan people,” the ambassador said, “my people, in turn, are filled with confusion and grow weary of our effort here.”


“When we hear ourselves being called occupiers and worse,” Mr. Eikenberry said, “and our generous aid programs dismissed as totally ineffective and the source of all corruption, our pride is offended and we begin to lose our inspiration to carry on.”


“Mothers and fathers of fallen soldiers, spouses of soldiers who have lost arms and legs, children of those who lost their lives in your country, they ask themselves about the meaning of their loved one’s sacrifice,” he said. “When I hear some of your leaders call us occupiers, I cannot look these mourning parents, mourning spouses and mourning children in the eye and give them a comforting reply.”
I often describe our national leaders as monsters. These are some additional reasons for that description. And "monsters" has special application to those who fashion, implement and defend U.S. foreign policy.

I referred above to "the symptoms of severe neurosis" which result from a dedicated reliance on the delusions supporting American exceptionalism. Eikenberry's comments show how that severe neurosis begins to veer ever closer to psychosis, if we use "psychosis" to indicate a condition representing an irreparable break with reality. I emphasize again that it is not simply that U.S. leaders ignore the murderous, bloody consequences of the U.S. government's actions. That would be more than sufficiently evil by itself, but U.S. leaders and functionaries like Eikenberry go much further. They transform evil into a positive good. And they go further still: they demand that others acknowledge their nobility and goodness -- and thank them for it.

"Oh, thank you, President Obama, Secretary Clinton, Ambassador Eikenberry! Thank you for destroying my country and slaughtering my family and half my relatives. How can I ever thank you enough for your overwhelming kindness and generosity! Thank you a thousand times!"

If that isn't insane, nothing is. Our leaders are profoundly, deeply terrible people. They are monsters. I stand by that description.

June 20, 2011

To My Fellow Sufferers of Stockholm Syndrome: When Your Captor Is the State

If you live in the United States (and more broadly, if you live in any modern State), you are a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. This is necessarily true, even if you passionately protest against the overwhelming majority of the policies and actions pursued by the State in which you live. If you continue to live there, you suffer from Stockholm Syndrome due to that fact alone. I suffer from the Syndrome myself, although (I think it is fair to say) far less than most people.

Remember the basic characteristics of the Syndrome. I emphatically do not refer to Wikipedia entries in the belief that they are likely to be correct, especially on any matter I view as of special importance. But this Wikipedia entry is correct on the essentials (and I refer to it especially because of one document it relies upon, as mentioned below). The entry begins:
In psychology, Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a real paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors; sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors as an act of kindness.
It deserves emphasis that "[t]hese feelings are generally considered irrational" -- but if, and only if we are able to view the situation from outside the perspective of the hostages themselves.

Now consider what happens if the captor is the State in which you live. I would submit that the identical mechanisms can be identified, but that it is very rare indeed for the captive in this situation to be able to step outside the hostage perspective. If I reword my earlier observation, the reason for that becomes clearer: if you still live in the United States (or another State), you are still a hostage. To maintain consistently a perspective which steps outside the captor-hostage situation requires unceasing, dedicated effort when you remain a hostage in your daily life.

I've been thinking about these issues in connection with upcoming articles. I provided a small preview in a recent entry:
My focus in the upcoming article(s) will be on the various ways in which the oppressive, deadly system under which we try to live has distorted and coopted the approach of even those who condemn and protest against that system.

In a discussion of the beginning of what was positively guaranteed to be the "brief" (!!) intervention in Libya, I mentioned how difficult I often find it these days to read "dissenting" writers. The reactions to the sordid Weiner crap provide a further opportunity to explain why I find most "dissenters" to fall lamentably short of the mark. I wrote in the earlier post that one way of describing the failing I discern is to note that the dissenters "are all so goddamned, fucking polite."
Most "dissenting" writers exhibit the characteristics of Stockholm Syndrome, even if to a somewhat lesser degree than reflexive supporters of the status quo. Consider the deeply awful Sam Smith article that I analyzed the other day. Smith identifies a number of reasons for his strong criticisms of Obama -- and then proceeds to offer transparently unconvincing rationalizations for voting for Obama next year (because, as Smith says, Obama will "do us the least harm," ignoring that Obama, too, is committed to your complete destruction).

Smith, like many, many others, thus adopts the captor's perspective, and "fights" on the captor's terms -- and in this sense, he is "defending" his captor, just as a sufferer of Stockholm Syndrome does. If you fight in the manner permitted by those who hold you hostage, how likely do you think it is that your captors will set you free? That's right: they won't. Your captors permit you to "fight" them in certain ways because they know you'll lose.

The Wikipedia entry largely relies on an article in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin: "Understanding Stockholm Syndrome." Several formulations in that article particularly caught my attention. Ponder this sentence:
In essence, eventually, the hostage views the perpetrator as giving life by simply not taking it.
Now contemplate this idea with the United States government as "the perpetrator." On this point, we must begin (as I always endeavor to do) with the terrible fact that Obama claims the "right" and power to murder anyone in the world, whenever he wants, for whatever reason he wishes, that is, he claims to hold absolute power. In other words: if you continue to live, it is only because the State permits you to. Gone altogether is even a nod toward the notion of unalienable rights, or that "life" is first among them. Thus, the State gives life by simply not taking it.

This is the fundamental point for us today, and it is tragically inescapable, short of permanently leaving the country. And, as is always true, the hostage situation encompasses far more than this one issue, as ultimately dispositive as this first issue may be. Turn your attention to my formulation of the related point:
Our entire political-cultural frame of reference is that determined by the perpetrators.
I've discussed this phenomenon in many articles. For a single detailed treatment of it, I would recommend one essay: "'Regrettable Misjudgments': The Shocking Immorality of Our Constricted Thought." From the beginning of that discussion:
As a nation, we are resolute in our refusal to identify the true nature of our actions, and in our refusal to acknowledge the consequences of what we do. This may well be true of most nations throughout history. Yet there is a direct correlation between a nation's power and influence, and its reliance on myth and other public relations ploys. As the world's sole superpower, the United States via its ruling class saturates its subjects at home and abroad with propaganda on a scale and with an intensity that have rarely been surpassed. As is true of all propaganda, permissible viewpoints are confined within suffocatingly constricted boundaries of thought; variation of any moment from the prescribed guidelines is prohibited.
The full article discusses this in detail.

My own views continue to grow more radical with each day that passes, in contrast to the idea that many people tend to become more conservative as they age (a point I mentioned in one of my essays about the Reverend Wright affair). In connection with the ideas offered here, I would say that I view my thought and writing as an attempt to step outside the bounds of thought and action prescribed by our captors as completely as I can. Or: my work here, and in my thinking generally, is to escape the effects of the Stockholm Syndrome. In many ways, it is an arduous task; among other things, it requires a willingness to challenge one's own ideas anew every day and to take nothing at all for granted. But I also find the rewards incalculable. As I discussed in the Wright article, it is a perspective of youth, using that term in its best sense. A willingness to perform this very hard work grants one the blessed sense of being young again. I would cherish that feeling under any circumstances; since I feel terrible physically so much of the time, it has come to represent a gem of inestimable worth to me. Given the political circumstances in which we now find ourselves, I do not exaggerate when I say that I will continue to guard it with my life.

In addition to the sentence I highlighted above, I was also very struck by these formulations in the Wikipedia entry, which are largely taken from the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin article (the first point is the one already discussed):
The following are viewed as the conditions necessary for Stockholm syndrome to occur.

-- Hostages who develop Stockholm syndrome often view the perpetrator as giving life by simply not taking it. In this sense, the captor becomes the person in control of the captive’s basic needs for survival and the victim’s life itself.

-- The hostage endures isolation from other people and has only the captor’s perspective available. Perpetrators routinely keep information about the outside world’s response to their actions from captives to keep them totally dependent. [See the "'Regrettable Misjudgments'" article for more on this point.]

-- The hostage taker threatens to kill the victim and gives the perception of having the capability to do so. The captive judges it safer to align with the perpetrator, endure the hardship of captivity, and comply with the captor than to resist and face death.

-- The captive sees the perpetrator as showing some degree of kindness. Kindness serves as the cornerstone of Stockholm syndrome; the condition will not develop unless the captor exhibits it in some form towards the hostage. However, captives often misinterpret a lack of abuse as kindness and may develop feelings of appreciation for this perceived benevolence. If the captor is purely evil and abusive, the hostage will respond with hatred. But, if perpetrators show some kindness, victims will submerge the anger they feel in response to the terror and concentrate on the captors’ “good side” to protect themselves.
With regard to the third element -- that the "captive judges it safer to align with the perpetrator, endure the hardship of captivity, and comply with the captor than to resist and face death" -- I refer you to "Killing Wikileaks, and Making Collaborators of Us All," and to this formulation of mine:
The corporatist-authoritarian State is designed to force all of us to become its collaborators. If you wish to survive in such a State, you either collaborate or your life becomes increasingly difficult. In the most extreme case, your non-cooperation means you will die.
And you will find an extended discussion of this theme in: "Memo to the Victims: You Yourselves Will Pay for the Crimes of the Ruling Class," which includes this passage:
The authoritarian-corporatist-militarist system victimizes untold millions of individual human beings, as well as many other forms of life as we see again today, both here and abroad. That would be a momentous evil in itself, but this particular evil is unsatisfied with only this first form of destruction.

Thus, the victims are targeted a second time, and they are forced to become collaborators in their own destruction. It is crucial to understand that these two forms of destruction are not separate manifestations of separate evils. They are the consequences of the same evil, and the two forms of lingering torture and death (psychologically at a minimum, and frequently existentially as well) are part of one overall design.
The fourth of the conditions identified as necessary for Stockholm Syndrome to occur is of special importance, and I will be discussing some of its numerous manifestations in upcoming pieces. For the moment, think about those people (which is most people, including almost all "dissenters") who are so deeply committed to "reforming" and "saving" the system. To allow themselves to believe that the system is capable of being "reformed" and "saved," they must constantly appeal to what they view as the "kindness" of their captors. This must be true, even if that "kindness" is only the alleged willingness of the captors to change and alter course, if only they "understood" and finally appreciated the truth, or some critical element of the truth. The "dissenters" are, of course, eager and willing to explain that truth to them. They must desperately search for their captors' "good side" to grant legitimacy to their efforts. Of course, this is precisely what the captors want you to do. But what if you're wrong about your captors' willingness to change? And again, I ask: If you fight in the manner permitted by those who hold you hostage, how likely do you think it is that your captors will set you free? As I said: they won't.

And we must answer this question: Is our political system capable of being "reformed" or "saved"? I'll turn to that in more detail shortly.

June 17, 2011

Progressive Heroes Poopyheads

Now, I don't want you to worry. I'm painfully aware that my spectacularly immense enjoyment of the pageant of progressive schmucks making fools of themselves in Minneapolis reveals something dark and twisted in my soul. With the dedicated help of a team of highly trained therapists, I am sincerely endeavoring to remedy these disturbing defects in my character.

Aw, who am I kidding. I lied! I love this shit:
The frustrations and the fears that progressives feel about President Obama were on full display Thursday as thousands of them flocked to Minneapolis for the sixth annual Netroots Nation conference.

Former Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold said he hoped that Obama will be re-elected, but he urged the president to stand up to corporate interests, demanding that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling become a focal point of the 2012 campaign.

“Sometimes we have to be very direct with the Democratic Party. Just as you have long pushed our Democrats to stand up for their ideals, I’m here this evening to ask you to redouble your efforts because I fear that the Democratic Party is in danger of losing its identity,” Feingold said in his keynote address to a crowd of around 2,400 progressive activists and bloggers here at the Minneapolis Convention Center, the most ever for the event.


Former DNC chairman Howard Dean also addressed the opening day of the conference, noting that “grousing about the president is a stage we have to go through.” Dean said he will continue to support the president, but rather than focus on Obama, he suggested, people should focus on what they can do in their own communities.

“We are responsible for the change we can believe in,” he said. “Change does not come from Washington, DC. Change comes from the bottom up.”
How can you not love this shit?

Every blogger and writer who is conscious and even fractionally honest now acknowledges that Obama has doubled down on every single policy of Bush's that the progressives had condemned so loudly and for so long. Moreover, Obama has gone beyond Bush's profoundly awful record in certain critical respects. And never, ever forget that Obama and his administration claim the "right" to murder anyone in the world, wherever he or she may be, for whatever reason they choose -- or for no reason at all. (Also, see this.)

But it's their guy doing it so, hey, no prob. Obama normalizes every horror of the Bush administration and adds some new horrors of his own, and the progressives are "frustrated." They're "grousing." It's "a stage [they] have to go through," like misbehaving seven-year-olds. I guess we can't exactly blame Dean for infantilizing these idiots. They are a lot like children -- not healthy children, I emphasize, but very badly damaged and not terribly bright children.

With regard to the actions and policies to which the progressives had claimed to be so passionately opposed, their willingness to dance to the new tune means exactly what I said a few years ago:
In the event, [the progressives] didn't prove me wrong; to the contrary, they demonstrated the truth of what I had still hoped, however faintly, wasn't true. But what was demonstrated to be true was simply that virtually everything the Democrats and progressives claimed to be their fervent concern was merely instrumental: that is, they staked out the positions they did for their perceived political advantage, and for the assistance those positions would provide in regaining and consolidating power.

In the end, that was the only goal, the only purpose toward which everything else was directed: the achievement and maintenance of power.
I do love that Feingold "urged the president to stand up to corporate interests" -- oh, he urged him! such courage! -- just as I adore his claim that "the Democratic Party is in danger of losing its identity." Well, Russ, if you weren't such a dedicated Democratic partisan, you might begin to grasp that the Democratic Party has revealed its identity more clearly, as opposed to its marketing lies. For a discussion of how political tribalism and a commitment to preexisting beliefs can render people who had once appeared to be smart irreversibly dumb, see "Blinded by the Story."

So these pathetic poopyheads invite me to repeat this summation of their stunning brilliance as political tacticians. (Remember that they're the "realistic" ones. Hahahahahahahahaha. Christ, I think I hurt myself.) I wrote this in September 2007, you schmucks with sponges for brains:
In short: the ruling elites do not care what you think. I repeat: they do not care.

Oh, yes, they care to some extent when elections come around -- but any such concern Democratic politicians might have for certain voters' views is obliterated by one consideration loudly and repeatedly announced by almost every liberal and progressive blogger. As I've noted before (with regard to the vacuous, narcissistic bloviating of that great political thinker, Markos Moulitsas), the Washington Democrats know you will continue to vote for them no matter what they do.

When you approach the negotiating table and tell your opponent you'll give him everything he wants before you even sit down, exactly how successful do you think those negotiations will be from your perspective? Yet this is precisely what the liberal and progressive bloggers do time after time after time -- and then they profess amazement when the Democrats act in ways opposed to those same bloggers' views. And note this is not even about all voters' views, just the views of some of them. Since you'll vote for them anyway no matter what they do, why the hell should they care? Sure, you're "alienated" for the moment -- but who are you gonna vote for in November 2008, hmm? They already know the answer to that question.
And here we are four years later.

This is the point at which you are fully justified in concluding that these lying shitheads don't learn because they don't want to. In the end, they're perfectly content with things exactly as they are. Among other factors, permanent -- but toothless and meaningless -- "frustration," "grousing" and so on might more accurately be termed: The Full Employment Act for Professional "Dissenters." I do believe some people are making a pretty penny out of this nauseating charade.

In addition to the post linked above concerning the mahvelous Moulitsas, please take a look at another post about the performance of the liberals-progressives in the Age of Obama: "Exceptionally Awful." I especially like the passage about some notably sickening remarks from Moulitsas and Joan Walsh toward the end.

I suppose I need to attend another therapy session now.

To hell with it. I'm having too much goddamn fun.

June 16, 2011

Revisiting "The Honor of Being Human," or: Don't Be a Pigfucker

As an introduction to upcoming articles, together with a review of some key concepts, let us consider this ghastly column by Sam Smith. Mr. Smith is not only a proud progressive but, as the endnote informs us, he "edits the Progressive Review." I have not included the link to the publication, for I choose not to encourage willing pigfucker-collaborationists in even minor matters.

Smith begins by describing the already-begun presidential campaign as "the great contemporary American fairy tale," and he further notes that "citizen participation in a fantasy doesn't make it any more real." He continues:
There has been over the past few decades a steady deterioration of the political difference between national Democratic and Republican politics, most notably with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Today it is hard to define that difference given the strong bipartisan support for several illegal wars, the unconstitutional Patriot Act, and a bottomless desire to bail out Wall Street, and a stunning indifference to the financial problems of everyone else. On some days it seems like the only thing that stand[s] between Obama and the Republican Party is his voter registration card. Even on his better days he is just – to borrow a favorite term of his White House a "distraction from the real issues."

In fact, the political metaphor hardly works anymore. It's more sensible to regard the two major parties as Mafia mobs fighting for control of a region known as the United States.
Sounds like pretty strong stuff, doesn't it? But -- surely you knew there was a "but":
This isn't to say that there isn't a difference between them. But it's about survival, however, not politics. The Demos tend to do less damage to our lives than the Repubs. Both mobs may beat the shit out your father, but the Demos are less likely to harm your children or your grandmother.
This passage alone disqualifies Smith from editing a comic book for severely cognitively-impaired four-year-olds.

"The Demos tend to do less damage to our lives than the Repubs." Tell that to the growing masses of unemployed, to the families and individuals who can't afford decent food, or rent, or gas, or health insurance (even, make that especially, under Obamacare). Tell that to the many and increasing millions of people who are giving up all hope for a better future, or even a future that is survivable.

And, please, please note -- as Smith himself acknowledges later in his column -- that a Democrat pursuing these endlessly destructive policies has eviscerated any opposition that might have existed had a Republican pursued them, even if that opposition arose only out of the most primitive of political tribalist motives. Some of us tried to warn you about the profound danger of "The Fatal Illusion of Opposition" before the 2008 election. Most of you didn't give a shit.

And the "difference" Smith clings to permits him to arrive here:
This doesn't mean that one doesn't vote for a Demo thug as president or some lower position, but it means that one does so recognizing that the selection of the least dangerous mob in town is a far different matter than backing a political cause.


Vote for the bastards who will [...] do us the least harm.
Here's a bumper sticker for you pigfucker-lovers:
Eating shit yourself because you feel (wrongly) that you have no choice is one thing. Encouraging others to eat shit is distinctly different, far worse, and entirely unforgivable.

No column of this kind would be complete without the bland, futile appeal to "what will really save us!," and Smith obligingly complies:
If America is to be saved, it will because of movements outside the mainstream political game. It's always been like that and will continue to be so.


[I]f you want to be part of the story – and you are whether you desire it or not – then that only thing that will really matter is what you do outside the voting booth.

For in the end, there's nobody who can make a better difference but us.
"[T]here's nobody who can make a better difference but us." Gosh and gee willikers, that sounds a lot like the blood-guzzling, flesh-eating pigfucker that Smith tells you to vote for, because he'll "do us the least harm." Doncha love irony? I do, even when it makes me throw up.

Note that Smith doesn't claim that Obama and the Democrats won't harm you. He claims only that they'll harm you less than the Republicans. Also note why the argument so obviously fails: when Obama is determined to destroy you, either quickly (remember that Obama claims the "right" and power to murder anyone in the world, whenever he wants, for whatever reason he wishes, that is, he claims to hold absolute power) or more slowly (by determinedly siphoning every last bit of wealth, hope and possibility from everyone else to the upper one or two percent of the ruling class), to claim that your ultimate destruction at the hands of Democrats isn't quite as bad as your ultimate destruction at the hands of Republicans is to say there is no difference at all.

Get it, you obedient and willing pigfucker-collaborationists?

Oh, Arthur, some of you whine. You're being so extreme! And so, so mean and nasty. And isn't Smith actually on your side in the end?

Is he? Is he?

Consider these words from Hannah Arendt:
The reason, however, that we can hold these new criminals, who never committed a crime out of their own initiative, nevertheless responsible for what they did is that there is no such thing as obedience in political and moral matters. The only domain where the word could possibly apply to adults who are not slaves is the domain of religion, in which people say that they obey the word or the command of God because the relationship between God and man can rightly be seen in terms similar to the relation between adult and child.

Hence the question addressed to those who participated and obeyed orders should never be, "Why did you obey?" but "Why did you support?" This change of words is no semantic irrelevancy for those who know the strange and powerful influence mere "words" have over the minds of men who, first of all, are speaking animals. Much would be gained if we could eliminate this pernicious word "obedience" from our vocabulary of moral and political thought. If we think these matters through, we might regain some measure of self-confidence and even pride, that is, regain what former times called the dignity or the honor of man: not perhaps of mankind but of the status of being human.
You will find a longer excerpt from the Arendt essay in, "The Honor of Being Human: Why Do You Support?"

At the conclusion of that article, published toward the end of 2007, I wrote the following:
The Bush administration has announced to the world, and to all Americans, that this is what the United States now stands for: a vicious determination to dominate the world, criminal, genocidal wars of aggression, torture, and an increasingly brutal and brutalizing authoritarian state at home. That is what we stand for.

And who says otherwise? The Democrats could -- and the most forceful means of doing so, the only method that is appropriate to this historic moment, the method that is absolutely required if we are to turn away from this catastrophic, murderous course, is impeachment. That is the one method the Democrats will categorically, absolutely not utilize -- because the Democrats are a crucial, inextricable part of the identical authoritarian-corporatist system that has led us to these horrors. They have all worked toward this end over many decades, Democrats and Republicans alike, and now the horrors manifest themselves explicitly, without apology, even with the sickening boastfulness of the mass murderer who is proud of what he has done, and who vehemently believes he is right.

So the dare goes unanswered. These horrors are what the United States now stands for.
The Obama administration has proved the truth of my argument to a degree that makes my contention unarguable, and there is no longer any question whatsoever that "the Democrats are a crucial, inextricable part of the identical authoritarian-corporatist system that has led us to these horrors." Again, a few of us warned you about this -- see the essays discussed here as well -- but almost none of you gave a shit. It appears many of you still don't.

These are the final paragraphs from "The Honor of Being Human":
I repeat once more: these horrors are now what the United States stands for. Thus, for every adult American, the question is not, "Why do you obey?" but:

Why do you support?

Or will you refuse to give your support? Will you say, "No"? These are the paramount questions at this moment in history, and in the life of the United States. We all must answer them. Our honor, our humanity, and our souls lie in the balance.
You can make whatever excuses you want, and you can offer shabby rationalizations like those put forth by Smith. The brute and brutal, murderous fact remains unchanged: If you vote for Obama, if you vote for any Democrat or Republican, you are supporting these horrors.

That means that you are a pigfucker, too.

Given developments of the last few years, I would now go further. If you participate in national elections at all, you are supporting these horrors. I will explain why I say that next time.

June 14, 2011

A Post I'm Crazy About: "Real, Full Members of the Human Race"

This one, from Violet Socks.

I'm crazy about all of it and strongly recommend you read it in its entirety. I want to highlight two passages in particular. First (my emphasis):
Women are the vagina animals, and one way or another, their vaginas are always the story.

Feminism is about saying to hell with all of that. “The proposition that women are fully human” is one way feminism has been summarized, and it means just that. Not the sex class, not the breeding stock adjunct of the default (male) humans, but real, full members of the human race. And feminism calls for a world where women can go about being doctors and lawyers and technicians and students and normal citizens without their sexual characteristics always being the story. The way men can.
And second:
I’m writing this because I’m sick of people pretending that sexual harassment isn’t any kind of offense at all. As a feminist, I want women to be able to walk through the world as something more than just fuck receptacles accompanied by a bluesy sax track. And I’m sick of alleged “progressives” dismissing that as prudery or fainting-couch hysteria.

It’s not. It’s feminism.
The perspective reflected in Violet's post and in these excerpts strongly reminded me of part of my argument in "We Are Not Freaks." I wrote that essay in response to remarks by (surprise!) a straight, "liberal-progressive" man in a post at TAPPED, and the essay discusses what is often horrifyingly awful about common "liberal-progressive" attitudes toward gays and lesbians. In part, I wrote:
When you strip away all the verbiage, all the intellectual tap dancing, and all the efforts to "understand" and be "tolerant," that is the inescapable, the terrible bottom line: many of you think we are Freaks. Speaking for myself with regard to these issues, I don't want you to "understand" me or to be "tolerant" of me. I don't want you to "study" me, and try to graph all the various points of similarity and difference between us: I want you to recognize that I am completely and entirely a human being, just as you are. And I want you to understand fully what that means, and to genuinely mean it.
I won't belabor the parallels, for I think they should be clear.

I'll also repeat my concluding remarks from that essay (written over four years ago), for my reaction to those "liberals-progressives" who exhibit the attitude I examined has only intensified over time. And note that most of those "liberals-progressives" are the same people who minimize or excuse Weiner's behavior in one way or another:
I'm 58 now. I first became aware that most of you think I'm a Freak almost half a century ago. You should think about what that means, what it does to a person, and about the survival strategies we are forced to adopt, often so that we can simply get through the day.

And then think about what you need to change -- not about me, but about yourselves. I am not an object for your amusement, for your ridicule, or for your disgusting "jokes," just as I am not the subject for your earnest and "well-intentioned" discussions about "policy."

I am not a Freak. To those of you who think I am, no matter how subtly, and to those of you who have to exert so much diligent effort in your miserable attempt to "understand" and "tolerate" me, I now have only one thing to say:

God damn you to hell.
More informally, I would say: you fucking bastards.

Speaking of which, I listened to Rush Limbaugh for a while yesterday. In one sense, I suppose it's a consolation of some kind (let's mercifully not specify what kind more particularly) that certain facets of our world remain forever unchanged. Limbaugh confirmed for the several millionth time that he is one of the most destructive, hateful and nauseating figures on the American scene. His remarks about Weiner were of clinical interest to me, because his perspective is an abhorrently common one in our diseased culture.

For Limbaugh, the reason Weiner "is the way he is," the reason he's been "neutered" and prevented from being "a real man" is ... c'mon, you know where this is going. The reason Weiner has to "act out" and "let loose" in his internet communications with females (and, I myself am certain although Limbaugh didn't make the argument, in many of his in-person dealings with women) is: the liberal-progressive women who raised him. Even though Limbaugh included the obligatory "I'm not excusing what he did" point, his primary message was that, however awful, offensive, disgusting and bat-shit insane Weiner's behavior was, it wasn't his fault. The fault, as is always the case from this perspective, is woman's.

Limbaugh compared Weiner's scandal to Obama eating junk food when he escapes the "neutering," "real-man"-killing embrace of Michelle Obama. She makes him eat bean sprouts all the time! No wonder Barack wolfs down crap food when he's "free" to be true to his "real," God- and nature-given glorious male self. Don't you find it marvelous that we have the profound, sophisticated insights of Doc Limbaugh to explain the otherwise mysterious complexities of our political-social-cultural lives?

Not so by the way, the repugnant Andrew Sullivan agrees with Limbaugh's view of what constitutes being "a real man": "Can we please accept he was just texting while male?" Isn't it also marvelous that Sullivan and Limbaugh, who appear to disagree about so many other issues, are in perfect harmony on the subject of being "a real man"?

Please pay attention, because I probably won't repeat this anytime soon: Andrew Sullivan is an utterly contemptible pig of a human being. It may be a grievous personal failing on my part, but I hadn't appreciated that being "male" meant that you say "hello" to everyone and anyone by pulling out your cock. Furthermore, and I personally view this as tragic beyond my capacity to describe, saying "hello" by pulling out your cock isn't even common behavior among gay men (except for bathhouses, and a particular kind of gay bar or private club). And, no, Sullivan is not redeemed in the least by his admission of "error" about his support for Bush and his foreign policy -- he didn't admit any error that mattered, although he fooled many mentally-challenged readers into believing that he had -- and even his condemnation of torture is so woefully erroneous in its focus that it renders his opposition meaningless. On this last point, you can read two lengthy articles whenever you have time and interest: this one, and this one. And you might also read this examination of Charles Krauthammer's support for torture, for I argue that Sullivan and Krauthammer make the same fundamental error despite coming down on opposite sides of the narrower question.

(I freely give the following idea to any cartoonist who wants to use it. As I was writing this, I suddenly had a vision of a hairy apeman creature with a huge, bulging belly. His apelike arms are extended; in one hand, he holds an overstuffed hamburger dripping cheese, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup and God knows what, and in the other hand, he holds his cock. The caption: "A REAL Man Says 'Hi,' According to Limbaugh-Sullivan.")

The sickeningly pathetic argument that, no matter what despicable acts men might commit, the fault is always woman's calls to mind this passage from my article, "Kill That Woman!" (Oscar Wilde's superlative play, Salome, provided the framework for my analysis):
Herod had set the terms of the contest, and Salome used them for her own ends. She fought on his terms, but she outwitted the man who had set the rules. She humiliated him -- and she got what she wanted.

For Herod -- for most men -- this is intolerable. It is inconceivable to Herod -- just as it is inconceivable to most men -- that the fault or the responsibility should be his. The fault and the responsibility must be Salome's. The fault and the responsibility must always be woman's. In any confrontation between a man and a woman in our culture, there is only one party to be punished: the woman. So it was with Salome, and so it is with Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.

Kill that woman. That is the motive, and that is the goal. To the extent women are successful, to the extent they threaten men's monopoly on power and control, they must be demeaned, diminished, treated with unending cruelty, and mocked. When all else fails, they must be eliminated. Kill that woman.

So ends our story for today.
If you doubt how common the Limbaugh-Sullivan view is, I again refer you to, "Christ, Men Are Awful," where I document a number of men who called into one radio show to agree emphatically that the only reason men resort to violence against women (or at least want to) is because women are Evil Incarnate. It's always the woman's fault, even if a man murders her. She asked for it.

As I indicated in the concluding remarks of my last post, I still have more to say about this disgusting Weiner episode. My focus in the upcoming article(s) will be on the various ways in which the oppressive, deadly system under which we try to live has distorted and coopted the approach of even those who condemn and protest against that system.

In a discussion of the beginning of what was positively guaranteed to be the "brief" (!!) intervention in Libya, I mentioned how difficult I often find it these days to read "dissenting" writers. The reactions to the sordid Weiner crap provide a further opportunity to explain why I find most "dissenters" to fall lamentably short of the mark. I wrote in the earlier post that one way of describing the failing I discern is to note that the dissenters "are all so goddamned, fucking polite."

I need to set out what I meant in more detail. Next time for that.

June 09, 2011

Wonderful Cats, and Awful, Awful Men

First, a report on what's up with me. I almost called this a "progress" report, but, eh. You be the judge.

I continue to be in pretty terrible shape. Since I can't access the traditional medical care my crappy heart and related problems require, I've begun exploring some "alternative" remedies, or what purport to be remedies. One of them is helping a little bit! I feel somewhat better, but, you say (as I might have said, too, especially in bygone days), that's all in my head. To which I suppose one might reply, with some justification: So what? If you feel better, you feel better. This is a problem? But more than that: a few of the symptoms I've had for years have almost gone away entirely. I'm talking about quantifiable shit, here. Hey, that looks like progress!

I still don't feel "good" precisely. But better than I did a month ago. So, "good," with an explanatory footnote.

The cats. With a multitude of thanks still another time for the extraordinary generosity of readers, the cats and I have shelled out close to $500 to our friendly vet. Something is still going on with Wendy, but she, too, seems to be getting better. The sweet darling has suffered from very bad diarrhea off and on for a couple of months now. So they ran tests on her stool (no worms or parasites), and on her blood (no indications of kidney, liver, or other organ problems). Wendy's blood tests alone cost almost $200! No wonder I can't afford any human care for myself. Criminy. $200!! At least we eliminated the possibility of a certain category of problem. As a result, it appears the problem is one with her digestive/intestinal system alone. (Well, probably.) So Wendy's diet is being changed entirely. No more fish! She loved her tuna (I mean, crazy for it), but that's history now. She seems to like lamb with rice and some new dry food that's non-fishy. She also loves her "nutritionally complete" chicken treats. And her diarrhea seems somewhat alleviated.

The vet also prescribed an anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrheal liquid that I have to administer orally. Which I've tried to do, but Wendy resists it mightily. (I mean, mightily. Half the apartment gets destroyed in the attempt.) And the few times I've managed to get it into her, she throws up. So I'm letting that go for a little while. I'm hoping the diet changes alone might do the trick. I'm keeping a very close eye on her, and we'll go back to the vet in another week or so if we need to. (Maybe the medicine can be given to her in some other form, if the diarrhea continues.) But her stool seems to be slowly getting back toward normal, and -- important! -- it doesn't stink to high heaven the way it did for a few weeks. I'm not talking about a little stink here: I'm talking lethal stench. Horrible beyond description. That's gone away almost completely. (I've been burning a lot of fragrant candles.)

But we'll almost certainly need to go back to the vet at least once more (for a followup at a minimum), and maybe more than that. So, with profuse apologies for using Wendy as a begging cup, if you have any spare change jangling noisily in your pocket, we could use it! I have very little money left for vet bills.

Cyrano, my big orange furry angel, is our rock. He's wonderful, and in fine shape. He's lived with me since he was eight weeks old, and he'll be 13 in August! He continues to be magnificent in every way. Even his hairballs are magnificent. So large and shapely! That's part of the price of longish fur. But he gets his Laxatone regularly these days, and that cuts down on the problem a lot. During the times when I feel absolutely awful, I sometimes forget to give it to him. But it's part of our routine now.

I mentioned "cats" going to the vet. I've been looking after the cat who lives with one of my neighbors while the neighbor is away for a few weeks. The cat is a darling little girl named Sasha. My neighbor has been urging me to adopt Sasha for quite a while, because she's almost never home. And since I'm feeling a little better now, I think I'll do it. Sasha is only five and is generally in excellent health. And if something happens to me, she can go back to the neighbor if need be. Last week, while I was spending time with Sasha one afternoon, she climbed onto my chest as she likes to do, and took a little nap. While she was lying on my chest and licking my face (awwww! I love it :>)), I noticed that her right eye was very irritated and red, and that she was barely able to open it. So she went to the vet the next morning. The vet concluded it was some sort of virus infection and prescribed a solution to be dropped into her eye a few times a day. It's almost completely gone now. And the vet examined her very closely, and said she seems to be completely fine in all other respects.

I understand all the objections that might be made to my making a home for Sasha with Cyrano, Wendy and me. Given my health, it might seem terribly irresponsible. (And I myself have made the argument that it's very irresponsible for me even to keep Cyrano and Wendy given my own problems.) But since I'm feeling a bit better, I'm beginning to believe that I just might not die in the near future. And as I noted, Sasha can easily go back to the neighbor if circumstances change. But I think that Sasha joining our little group will be a lovely vote of confidence in the months, and hopefully years (a few of them, at least), to come. And she truly is an incredibly lovable and loving little lady. (She is a very small cat, weighing only 8-1/2 pounds.) I have hopes that she and Cyrano might become an item. Awwwww. (Wendy is a very independent type, except for her attachment to me, which is wonderfully close. She sleeps curled up next to my head every night, with my arm around her, while Cyrano curls up on the other side. We'll see what new arrangements are arrived at with the addition of Sasha.)

The neighbor won't be back until next week. So I'll wait a few more days before bringing Sasha up here. I want to make sure her eye infection is completely cleared up so that no one else catches it, and I also hope that Wendy's situation will improve further. (All the tests indicate that Wendy's problem isn't anything contagious, and as I said, Cyrano's been fine throughout.) I'll continue to reevaluate the situation each day. And I might still conclude that it's better to leave Sasha where she is. But she truly does love having company, and as it is, she spends endless hours all alone. So we'll see.

Now, a brief word about the travails of the repellent Anthony Weiner. Consider this a short introduction to additional, lengthier remarks (which I've already started writing; look for a new article in a few days). As is often the case, my perspective is very different from that of many writers, including some writers with whom I'm in agreement on other issues. For reasons which connect to some broader underlying themes that I intended to return to in any case, I think that most people have missed what I consider most important.

Here, I want to mention one narrow point. I don't consider this the most significant issue about this business, but it's still another occasion on which the idiocy of "leading progressive" bloggers makes itself known. Consider these jaw-droppingly hideous comments from Mr. Atrios:
I'm curious what the Weiner coverage would have been like if he wasn't married, when the story would have literally been about nothing other than a dude flirting online with women who, as far as we (I? haven't paid all that much attention) know weren't complaining about his behavior.
First lesson: when you're a rabid political tribalist of the Atrios kind, your "feminism" isn't worth shit.

Note the requirement for "coverage" being urged here -- and, more importantly, for concern generally: if the person you claim might be harmed in some way isn't "complaining about his behavior" herself, it's nobody's damned business. If female "progressives" are making this argument, don't tell me about it. I would be angrier than would be good for me. And this is such a prototypically male argument. But then, as I've observed: "Christ, Men Are Awful." I mean, Jesus God, people. It's a staple of shows on the stupid teevee that battered wives/girlfriends (as one example) won't press charges against their abusers because they're too afraid. Every third episode of the "Law & Order" franchise involves that storyline in one variant or another. Is Atrios so ignorant/stupid/unaware/use other descriptors as indicated, that this phenomenon has escaped his notice entirely? Is it so difficult to imagine that the oh-so-lucky recipients of Weiner's communications might have been deeply upset or angry, but decided not to say anything because: a) they didn't want attention drawn to themselves in such a matter; b) they thought no one would believe them because Weiner's an "important" person; c) they were too frightened to do so because of Weiner's position; d) all of the preceding, plus other similar factors?

But Atrios is a notably dedicated Democratic hack, so all that passes him by. As I said: when you're a rabid political tribalist, your "feminism" isn't worth shit. It's worth repeating, because a lot of people seem incapable of grasping this point.

For the contrary view, see Kirsten Powers as excerpted by Reclusive Leftist:
Just because a woman “likes” your video on Facebook doesn’t mean you can send her a picture of your penis. This is textbook sexual harassment. It may not be illegal, but it’s definitely unethical. He is in a position of influence, and many women—especially a 21-year-old—would be afraid to report a congressman doing that to them because he holds so much power. Also, he claims none of the women he contacted were underage, but how could he possibly know that?
Well, even if they were underage, so long as they're not complaining, who gives a damn, right? I'm a gay man, who also happens to be very poor. If I devoted my energies to "complaining" about everything in the world that upsets or enrages me with regard to those two aspects of my existence alone, I wouldn't have time to do anything else at all. So here's a fucking news flash, buddy: The fact that someone isn't "complaining" about a particular action or attitude doesn't mean that your shit doesn't stink. Or that it isn't shit. Moreover, for the purposes of meaningful analysis, whether someone happens to "complain" is completely irrelevant. The fact that no complaints are being offered might well be an inextricable part of the problem. It is a monumental failure of understanding that this point is missed by so many.

Okay. As indicated, I have much more to say about this Weiner shit, and most likely it's not what you're expecting. Until then, I'll leave you with this thought, which I will soon be exploring in detail. I'll put it in bold and set it off by itself, for I consider this a vital issue, and one that is far too little understood:
To the extent that your time and efforts are devoted to "saving" or "reforming" the existing system, you are necessarily and inevitably reinforcing the system as it is presently constituted.
In case the implication escapes you, let me state that, too: Once a system has passed a certain point, such efforts are necessarily doomed to failure. We in the United States passed that point decades ago.

Does that mean you should despair and give up? It means that only if you think of what is most important in life -- in your particular life, that is -- as involving politics in a significant way. Why would you do that? See "Passing on the Sense of Wonder" and "Cultivate Your Sense of Wonder -- and Live Ecstatically" for more on this.

I'll explain more of what's been on my mind next time.