February 27, 2004

Job Update

Quick, quick:

He starts on Monday. A thousand thanks and blessings to those who sent prayers, energy, and fond wishes. We appreciate you all more than I can adequately express.


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posted by Linda at 12:24 AM : Comments (6)
February 26, 2004

A Pagan Mother's Take on Abortion

by Linda

I was six weeks pregnant when I observed blood spotting my underwear. Terrified, I called my midwife, who immediately arranged an ultrasound at the hospital. My husband met me, and off we went, both of us tight and pale with worry.

The good news is that everything was fine; in fact, she's at home, being tucked in for her nap as I write this. Yet, on that morning in early May of 2002, I was reminding myself to breathe in the face of the gnawing worry that I would lose the child who was conceived in so much love.

At six weeks' gestation, she wasn't much to look at. Roughly resembling a tadpole, the clearest indicator of her developing life was the fierce, hummingbird rhythm of her beating heart. She wasn't a baby, per se; not yet. Without reservation, I'm compelled to declare that I nevertheless fell in love; then, and every day since.

The bleeding, as it turns out, was merely from my cervix. A recent examination had irritated it. However, since the ultrasound tech spotted something that might be a cyst on the lining of my uterus, dangerously close to my child's developing umbilical cord, they scheduled another ultrasound for thirteen weeks' gestation.

At thirteen weeks, I saw a baby. Very tiny, to be sure, and utterly incapable of surviving outside my body, but she had defined limbs and appendages. I saw her skull. Her tiny face turned toward me. I saw her reacting to stimuli. I poked myself in the belly to see what would happen. She jumped and spun in her fluid-filled cave.

Seven weeks after that, halfway through the pregnancy, we saw that she was even better-developed, and were even able to discern gender. From that point forward, we ceased referring to her affectionately as "Tadpole", and instead used her name, which we'd picked out long before we ever conceived her.

This anecdote has a purpose. I mean to really pop the top on the proverbial can o'worms and discuss abortion.

Everyone has an opinion on the matter. What it comes down to, at the red-faced end of every debate, is the question not of when life begins, but whether or not a child in utero possesses a soul.

Really, that is the crux of the argument: when does life begin? Can an embryo feel pain? Is it sentient? All of those questions revolve around soul; the undefinable quality that's had scholars of philosophy and theology tied up in knots since mankind first discovered something called self-awareness.

Anyone can go out on the internet, walk into a bookstore, or take a stroll through a student union building, and see all kinds of arguments for and against abortion. So, let's pause for a moment while I make my position perfectly clear: I would never choose to have an abortion, yet I think that the choice should be available.

In other words, I'm pro-Choice. Dictionary.com defines the word "choice" thusly:

1. The act of choosing; selection.
2. The power, right, or liberty to choose; option.

3. One that is chosen.
4. A number or variety from which to choose: a wide choice of styles and colors.
5. The best or most preferable part.
6. Care in choosing.
7. An alternative.
(Em. mine--L.)

So, in other words, I am in favor of the individual's right to make the decision whether or not to bear a child. Since I embrace the notion that a person has the God-given liberty to make that very difficult decision, that means that the less government interferes with that agonizing quandary, the better.

Now, let me explain why I subscribe to the Right to choose.

First, there is my political philosophy, which is tied directly into my religious beliefs. Namely, I adhere to a libertarian philosophy, as defined (again) by Dictionary.com:

lib·er·tar·i·an n.
1. One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.
2. One who believes in free will.

Therefore, since I believe in minimizing the role of the state, and also because the exercise of free will is a notion that is sacred to me, I want the government to stay out of the personal lives of the people. Yes, that includes the current bullshit surrounding the proposed marriage Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, but that issue has already been tackled on this blog in Loren's most recent and excellent post.

Next, as a Pagan, I believe that all life has a vital essence; soul. I accept the argument that a soul is energy. Since energy cannot be destroyed, only transmuted, I believe that "soul" is indestructible. Since it is indestructible, it must be eternal, and if it is eternal, then the energy must be contained somewhere between transmutations.

Christians call this receptacle "Heaven". Pagans of my particular stripe call it "The Summerlands". Whatever moniker you prefer, it's generally agreed that it's a blissful place.

Therefore, in a theosophical nutshell, I believe that it is no hardship for a soul to wait in the lands of bliss until suitable parents can be found for its next body. Additionally, this thought also comforts me: if a woman is raped, or if bearing a child to term will seriously hurt, or even kill her, then it is the Grace of the Gods that allows her to choose not to carry the child in question. Let the soul wait a little; do not allow a child to come into the world if he or she will a.) potentially be repudiated thanks to the means of his/her conception, or b.) be deprived of someone who will rear him or her lovingly.

However, this is not permission to treat the idea of abortion lightly. Remember, I was there. I saw the miracle of developing life firsthand. Just this morning, she gave me Eskimo kisses and a tight hug, and then laughed up at me.

Whereas I believe that abortion is a personal decision, one to be left between the one/s making the choice, and their God, while also believing that the soul is eternal, and can find more fitting parents, I still believe that abortion is about ending a life. That decision should never be made lightly. Abortion should never be used routinely as a method of birth control.

I'm setting the thorny issues of rape, incest, and health considerations aside for a moment to address the promiscuous. If someone chooses to have sex, and they are neither mature or responsible enough to employ birth control, then they will very likely wind up with an unwanted pregnancy. This is not a good enough reason to choose abortion. (I can think of one exception. But that woman, who will eternally remain nameless, should just elect sterilization. I also think that the abusive, neglectful bitch needs to be gone over with a Louisville Slugger--and that for starters. But I won't go into any more detail.) The bottom line is that there are thousands of loving, capable couples out there who are unable to conceive for any number of reasons. Let stable, mature, responsible people rear the child you were too stupid and selfish to prevent. And next time use some type of prophylactic.

In the instance of rape, so-called "morning after" pills are routinely prescribed. If a woman chooses to take the medication, so much the better. If she does not, then she is opening herself up to the potential ramifications of that decision. She should think long and hard before refusing that pill. Yet, if she decides to do so, the ramifications -- the karma, if you will -- of that decison are hers alone to bear, up to and including abortion.

Incest is sticky, because it means that a male relative has violated the girl. Knowing that it is difficult for girls in this situation to get help -- let alone "morning after" pills -- if pregnancy results, she should be allowed to choose an abortion. She should be able to get one without parental consent. She should also be taken far away from the animal who raped her, and kept safe. But that's a rant for another day.

Facing a pregnancy that endangers the mother and/or child is a very different situation. Knowing people who have been there, it is an agonizing place to be. Ectopic pregnancy, severe toxemia, diabetes, kidney failure, severe and debilitating defects; all of these are situations that can see a pregnancy end, either through spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), or planned abortion. These women, as much as anyone else, have the right to sit down to think and pray. They should be allowed to take counsel with their mates, themselves, and their clergy, to make a decision that is ultimately between them and the Divine.

There may be those who will quibble with my stance, saying that no woman in such an emotionally extreme situation is in any place to make such an important decision. Frankly, that stripe of elitist knows nothing. Who else should make that decision? No, however distressed she may be, it is up to the woman and her partner (if he's around) to make the decision, and reap the consequences.

I know that the religious would also debate the point with me, saying the abortion is an abominaton in the eyes of God. Perhaps. But I don't think of God as a Being who creeps from house to house, peering in people's windows to see what they're doing. Nor are my Gods particularly vicious or vengeful. I believe in the ability of the Divine to look into a person's heart, and see the true motivations behind all their actions. Each case is judged individually, and damnation is applied only to those who are most deserving. I'm sorry that those people have forgotten that they have a loving God. I'm even sorrier that they nevertheless feel authorized to adjudicate the moral decisions of everyone else. Those people are well-intentioned fools.

Finally, there may be those who read this and crow that they found a conservative who wholeheartedly espouses abortion! No, my idiot child. Go back and read this screed again. I merely espouse a woman's right to choose whether or not she will have an abortion, and I do it with a heavy heart. But I am a Constitutional literalist: anything not already provided for therein is nothing that may be regulated by the government.

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posted by Linda at 08:40 PM : Comments (2)

Divide et Impera

by Loren Bliss

Modern-day conservatives belong ultimately to one of two groups: "authoritarians" or "libertarians." These groups are instinctively opposed to one another – often venomously so – but they are nevertheless united under the umbrella of the Republican Party by a common belief in the role of the United States as chief facilitator of global free-enterprise.

This libertarian/authoritarian alliance is simultaneously the Republican Party’s greatest strength and its Achilles heel. The GOP’s ideological melting-pot gives it the potential of speaking to the broadest possible spectrum of the American people – everyone from small business owners to topmost executives of Fortune 500 companies, from senior-citizen retirees to rank-and-file trade unionists of the sort who voted for Ronald Reagan (and view trade unionism an expression of enlightened self-interest), from soldiers and police officers to contractors and consultants. But the alliance has never been truly comfortable, and because the core beliefs of the two conservative groups are diametrically opposed, the party is always in danger of splitting into warring camps.

Smaller in number -- older, wealthier and often more dominant in Republican organizations -- the authoritarians are difficult for me to describe objectively simply because I have first-hand experience of their vindictiveness. In truth, most authoritarians are well-intentioned people who have merely not yet recognized that liberty is essential to the expression of free will and who thus believe overmuch in rigid hierarchies, whether determined by wealth, office or some combination of both. But their ranks include a tiny but disproportionately powerful cadre of Christian fundamentalists -- would-be tyrants whose identity is proclaimed by their self-righteousness, prudery, intolerance and a frightening preference for theocracy over constitutional government. There are also – often in league with the fundamentalists – a few surviving fascists of the Nixon/Pinochet/Franco variety, supporters of oligarchy and corporate colonialism. Indeed, despite his resignation in disgrace, the late President Richard Nixon remains one of the chief authoritarian idols, and there are at least a few authoritarians who no doubt secretly still idolize the late Adolf Hitler as well. Some may belong to the infamously conspiratorial John Birch Society. Others probably have darker connections.

Meanwhile, the libertarians – who include a substantial number of former leftists driven out of the Democratic Party when it was taken over by matrifascists and other authoritarian victim-identity cultists – are Bill-of-Rights literalists, devout believers in the Jeffersonian notion that government is best when it governs least, and passionate subscribers to the concept of "live and let live." They are probably by far the larger group of today’s conservatives – younger, more secular-minded and certainly more committed to the notions embodied in the Bill of Rights. They deeply respect the Founders, especially Thomas Jefferson, and they think highly of Ayn Rand. They are the epitome of what has been described as "South Park Republicans" or "granola Republicans"– as concerned about the environment as they are hawkish on national defense -- and they are unlikely to idolize any modern politician living or dead. But their very individualism often puts them at odds with the present-day Republican hierarchy, and the resultant standoff is undoubtedly a major factor in the growing membership of the Libertarian Party

Despite the conservative community’s vast potential for schism, it is only rarely some controversy actually divides it – and thus nominally Republican voters – into mutually hostile factions. But that is precisely what occurred in Washington state during the U.S. senatorial election of 2000, with the result that Republican incumbent Slade Gorton – a genuine gentleman whose lengthy history of honorable public service had hitherto drawn support from all quarters – lost to the Democrat Maria Cantwell by only 2,229 votes.

Despite Washington’s leftist reputation – President Harry Truman’s postmaster general once referred to "the 47 states and the Soviet of Washington" – it is an instinctively conservative state: definitively conservative ballot measures (like Initiative 200, which outlawed affirmative action) typically pass by 75 percent majorities. But Washington’s conservatives are predominantly either secular or non-traditionally religions: according to census data, only 28 percent of the state’s families regularly attend traditional Christian or Jewish religious services, and the fastest growing religion in the state is Wicca, a branch of Paganism. In this context it became a significant campaign issue when Gorton refused to repudiate the viciously intolerant, harshly authoritarian Christian fundamentalists who controlled much of the state GOP apparatus.

The fundamentalists had run theocracy-advocate Ellen Craswell ("The role of a civil leader is to enable government to fulfill God’s purposes") in a losing campaign for governor in 1996 – and in 2000 the Libertarian Party was poised to take advantage of the secular and non-traditionally religious conservatives’ lingering anger. Hence Libertarian candidate Jeff Jared got 64,734 votes, most of which would normally have gone to Gorton. Cantwell, an anti-Second Amendment eco-feminist, won after an automatic recount, and control of the Senate shifted back to the Democrats – with disastrous results both for President Bush’s appointments and the new administration’s efforts to assert control over the federal bureaucracy.

Another such example of conservative disunity was evident Monday on the Internet discussion-site Lucianne.com, in an unusually long double thread – still running early Tuesday morning – of posters’ responses to disclosures of John Kerry’s hatefully treasonous remarks about U.S. soldiers and Kerry’s equally offensive rants against National Guardsmen. A particularly astute poster who goes by the screen-name NorthernDog remarked that he "had not previously connected Kerry’s trashing of the NG today with the fact that it was NG troops that fired at Kent State," adding that, "I think this is a shorthand way for (Kerry) to tell anti-war protestors of the 1970s that he is still on their side." It was a connection I had not made either – not until I read NorthernDog’s remark – but it surely seems that is part of Kerry’s underlying purpose.

However the greater objective of this especially devious and singularly nasty Democrat strategy was revealed when the contributors to the threads began to discuss Kent State and immediately divided into two increasingly hostile camps: the authoritarians, who like their idol President Nixon applauded the shootings; and the libertarians, who noted that it is an "obscene atrocity" whenever people are murdered for exercising their First Amendment rights – whether at Kent State or at Waco. The Authoritarian quoted below goes by the screen-name Laocoon10; the Libertarians are respectively Shab93 and Wolfgang von Skeptik. Their exchange is abbreviated to save space:

Authoritarian: "The National Guard at Kent State in a very real sense saved America."

Libertarian: "No Guardsmen ever stuck by a story that they fired because they felt they'd been fired upon, or were in any danger whatsoever. An (Ohio) NG officer later admitted...he tried to plant a handgun on the body of Jeffrey Miller...‘Martial law’ was not formally declared. Classes were on...one fatal victim was escorting a hearing-impaired student to class. Another (fatality) was an ROTC student... the ROTC building...was burned down two days earlier... more than an hour after protestors had been disbursed and authorities were in control...and pardon my tinfoil hat, but it was later proven that FBI agents... burned down a campus ROTC building in Alabama in 1969."

Authoritarian: "... I simply don't care about what the leftist Spanish Inquisition squeezed from the Guardsmen in the post-mortem of Kent State. Some are almost certainly forced "confessions" designed to spare the soldiers legal and financial burdens...Kent State was a lot of things, but it was not an obscene atrocity... we owe those soldiers far more than any of us know."

Libertarian: "Anyone who believes Kent State ‘was not an obscene atrocity’ must of necessity then believe the government had equal right to murder the Branch Davidians at Waco..."

Authoritarian: "...With "friends" like this so-called "conservative"assisting the jackbooted secular Democrat statists, you can see why many parts of the nation are in such deep trouble...You and I have absolutely nothing in common. Stick with your Democrat buddies...I want nothing from you or your friends."

This impassioned debate took place Monday on a website noted for its informed posters and intelligent discussion -- and most of all for being several days ahead of the curve in terms of reflecting trends within the greater conservative community. If the discussion of Vietnam-related issues could bring out that much antagonism on Lucianne, what might it do to the Republican Party in general? As a poster who goes by the name of Thomcat put it, the discussion was "what digging up a septic tank would be like." In other words, the re-opening of all those old and bitter wounds – which I believe is precisely the clandestine intent of Kerry’s ploy.

Indeed, when you look at it logically, no other conclusion is possible. The Democrats have no internal need to emphasize Kerry’s military service or that he was decorated for heroism – in fact they have constantly demonstrated that military service is repugnant to them. Nor do they have any internal need to defame the President by linking him to the atrocities the Ohio National Guard committed at Kent State: in the minds of Kerry supporters, those connections – bogus though they are – already exist. Thus, by simple process of elimination, the only purpose for Kerry’s constant harping on Vietnam is to be found outside the Democratic Party – and only in the damage the resurrection of such truculent issues could do to Republican unity.

Which brings us back to the object lesson of the 2000 senatorial election, and the likelihood Washington state has once again been used as John Ehrilchman testified in the Watergate hearings it had so often been used in the past -- as a proving ground for techniques of oppression.

It is an article of faith among most conservatives – at least among the conservatives I know personally, and among the conservatives whose posts I read daily on Lucianne – that former co-Presidents Bill and Hillary Clinton vehemently oppose Kerry’s candidacy. But the emergence of this astonishingly clever divide et impera tactic suggests the opposite conclusion. ("Divide and rule" was originally the slogan of France’s Louis XI, and not a statement by Machiavelli, to whom it is mistakenly attributed.) Indeed, Hillary played a major behind-the-scenes role in the Cantwell campaign, which won precisely by inflaming the selfsame division between libertarians and authoritarians, and it is therefore my best guess Hillary is behind the resurrection of the Vietnam and Kent State controversies too – and for precisely the same reason. America was dreadfully torn by those fevered, often frenzied disputes, and after reading the "Protesting America" threads on Lucianne throughout the day Monday, it was clear the wounds of that wretched time have never healed. And if Lucianne is what I believe it to be – a microcosm of the conservative macrocosm – then this Hillary-type divide-and-conquer operation surely promises resounding success for those who would see President Bush defeated in November.

But I do not believe that is what will happen.

Let me stress that while I have many differences with the President, I believe Bush’s defeat in November would be a tragedy of unthinkable proportions for American liberty and Western Culture in general. The Democrats have already stated they intend to treat Islam’s 1300-year war against civilization as nothing more than a crime problem – precisely the head-in-the-sand stance that invited the attacks of 9/11, precisely the stance that will allow radical Muslims to impose the unspeakable tyranny of their proposed global caliphate on the entire planet.

Moreover I am profoundly uncomfortable with President Bush’s re-election prospects. By renewing the effort to re-enact the so-called "assault weapons ban" – a truly egregious assault on the Second Amendment – Bush has betrayed his gun-culture supporters, and by proposing what amounts to a blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants, he has alienated most of his conservative base – and probably two-thirds of the electorate as well. In my part of the country, these positions have left many people who voted for Bush in 2000 saying, "I’m damn sure not gonna vote for Bush in 2004. He’s no better than the Democrats on guns and immigration, and now with the economy down the commode, a Democrat is exactly what we need. And since all these lost jobs went overseas and aren’t ever coming back, what we need is not just a Democrat, but a Democrat with a WPA-type make-work program." Hence Bush’s growing unpopularity as reflected in the polls.

Meanwhile, there’s the astoundingly venomous intolerance of the conservative authoritarians inflamed by Kerry’s resurrection of the Vietnam and Kent State issues – an intolerance the Democrats probably believe will force libertarian conservatives out of the Republican Party, probably into the Libertarian Party and perhaps even back into Democrat ranks. But in this instance I believe the Democrats have uncaged a tiger that will eventually savage its own handlers. Much as a psychologically dysfunctional family so often pulls together to turn on those who expose its scandals, so will the politically dysfunctional family of America pull together and turn on those who three decades ago spat on its soldiers and now dig up the buried corpses of Vietnam and Kent State and fling shovels of grave-dirt in the face of the entire nation. The turning-about will not happen tomorrow, and it will not happen next week. But by October it should be obvious. Indeed, I think by maliciously unearthing the issues of Vietnam and Kent State, the Democrats may very well have guaranteed the re-election of President Bush.

Loren Bliss was a journalist for 30 years – variously an editor, editorial-page columnist, public affairs writer and investigative reporter. He has covered politics, education, transportation, crime, and sociological issues. He is also a poet and has written several essays on the resurrection of the feminine aspects of the Divine and the resultant renaissance of Paganism. This is his fifth column for Civilization Calls.

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posted by at 05:54 PM : Comments (0)
» Sneakeasy's Joint links with: Divide and Conquer?
February 20, 2004

Resurrecting Vietnam (II)

by Loren Bliss

The passage of years has soft-focused most of the details of a disturbing incident that occurred in May 1970 -- a brief but wrenching encounter with mob violence a couple of months before I left New York City and traveled west to recover from a ruinous divorce and return to college -- and now, nearly 34 years later, all but a few of the images of what happened that night have dwindled into the increasing and often merciful vagueness that so often veils our memories of long-ago. But the justifiably terrified expression in the uniformed soldier’s uniquely colored golden-green eyes remains as clear as ever. I’m sorry I don’t also remember his name – though he identified himself to me with a grateful handshake after we left the sheltering doorway in which we had huddled there on Manhattan’s West 64th Street – and I remember only vaguely his explanation of the adverse circumstances that had dropped him, without a stitch of civilian clothing (and thus all too much like fresh meat flung into an alligator pit), amidst the post-Kent State fury of New York City. And fury it was, with all the city’s colleges closed by student-and-faculty strikes, even the high schools shut down by wildcat walkouts, and – no wimpy pacifist black armbands for New Yorkers – more people defiantly wearing red armbands than the old folks from the Russian neighborhoods had seen since the autumn of 1917 in Petrograd.

Indeed – and this is a confession – in May of 1970 I was part of the red armband legion myself. Like so many in New York – especially those of us in media – I knew that President Richard Nixon had commissioned the Rand Corporation to prepare the rationale for suspending the 1972 elections, and I knew the goons of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department Red Squad were everywhere. As a reporter I had crossed paths with the spooks more than once; I had witnessed the NYPD cops standing by doing nothing save grinning sadistic grins as a mob of several thousand "hard-hat" construction workers beat several hundred non-violent peace demonstrators bloody at City Hall, and I had seen the equally repugnant violent idiocy of the Weathermen in their bombed-out "safehouse" on East 11th Street – I had been at an editorial conference three blocks away when the Weathermen accidentally blew the place up. For me as for so many others it was exactly as a popular song of the period so aptly put it: "paranoia strikes deep/ into your minds it will creep/ it starts when you’re always afraid/ step out of line the Man come/ and take you away."

But I had remained publicly neutral – once vaguely hawkish, now decidedly anti-war though not openly committed to either side – until the Ohio National Guard obeyed an officer’s order to fire a deadly volley of M2 Ball into a crowd of unarmed anti-war protestors. A company of Guardsmen with their .30-‘06 caliber M-1 rifles had thus gunned down 12 Kent State University students, killing four and wounding nine more – leaving one student a permanent cripple -- merely because the authorities were unhappy the students were exercising rights of speech and assembly guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States: the same Constitution that I as a Regular Army soldier (1959-1962) had taken an oath to defend with my life. When President Nixon broadcast the next day that Kent State’s dead and wounded had gotten exactly what they deserved, I (like many of my colleagues) believed this marked the end of American liberty – that the massacre was the beginning of a deliberate nationwide slaughter ordered by Nixon himself – and that now there would be open war between the fascists who sought to impose dictatorship and a hard corps of radicals who would defend the Bill of Rights. When my Marxist neighbor offered me a red armband in the patio of our Chelsea apartment building, I tugged the four-inch-wide circlet of crimson cotton on over my coat-sleeve without a moments hesitation.

I had two girlfriends at the time, and by some quirky and vaguely ironic twist of fate, they lived on opposite ends of 89th Street: Janey lived on West 89th, Stephanie on East 89th, and on this particular night -- perhaps because of the pleasant early-summer weather, perhaps because of some long-forgotten reason related to the diverse motives that prompt New Yorkers to walk more miles than any other Americans, more likely because I simply felt I had sat too long in my newsroom chair that day at The Jersey Journal (where I was variously an investigative reporter and a rim-rat on the telegraph desk), I got off the Eighth Avenue train at West 54th Street station intending to walk the rest of the distance to Janey’s place. My chosen route led me up Sixth Avenue from the mouth of the subway, left along the sidewalk at the southern end of Central Park and right – uptown -- on Central Park West. As always, walking felt good , and my ability to create my own solitude amidst the omnipresent crowds enabled me to contemplate whatever I chose. But at this distance in years, I have no idea what I was thinking about that night, merely that when I reached the byzantine-looking Ethical Culture Society headquarters on the corner of Central Park West and West 64th Street, I decided to head west towards Broadway and accordingly had turned away from the park and crossed onto 64th.

There were dozens of anti-war, anti-Nixon rallies going on throughout the five boroughs of the City, and one of these was underway at the Ethical Culture Society’s temple-like facility; I could hear the yelling and chanting even through the massive masonry walls. When I was about midway up the block, the Ethical Culture Society’s double doors swung open and the mob of people who had been rallying for peace and Nixon’s impeachment boiled out onto West 64th street behind me. On the other side of the street and directly opposite me a uniformed soldier was walking toward the mob. He was dressed in Army Class A woolen winter greens with the leather-visored garrison cap, which marked him as someone from an outland military district (local soldiers were already wearing summer khakis), and his tunic had the unadorned sleeves characteristic of a man fresh out of training. When the peace mob saw the soldier, it let out an enraged snarl. The soldier stopped, gawked, reversed direction and began to run with a frantic gangling gait bred of panic and now as he crossed the street on a long diagonal toward me the peace mob was chasing him and yelling and I remember thinking "this is what a lynch mob is like."

Individuals in the mob were now hurling stones and bottles and bits of garbage and the mob was gaining on the soldier – it is impossible to run very fast in low-quarter Army dress shoes – and without much conscious thought I snatched up a discarded newel-post from a debris pile and hooked my left hand through the handle of a garbage-can lid and raised the lid as a shield and shouted at the soldier something like "here, on me," words that told him I was military too and that he’d found an unexpected ally in this terrible and unprovoked fight. I think I gestured at a doorway behind me and the soldier ducked into it, and I seem to remember a fleeting expression of out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire horror when he saw my red armband. I said something like "no, no, I’m not with them" and turned to confront the front rank of the mob, which as it stopped short on the sidewalk and spilled over into the street I could now see was also wearing red armbands.

I pointed at my own red armband and roared in their faces that they were behaving like Nazis on a Jew-hunt and I roared that they goddamned well should be ashamed of themselves for turning on a fellow member of the proletariat and I roared that they were revisionist pigs for violating the revolutionary solidarity of students and workers and soldiers, and though I was as frightened as I have ever been, somehow the armband and the denunciation and the combination of the impromptu newel-post war club and the garbage-can-lid shield and maybe too my tone of voice and the expression that was probably reflected on my face or maybe all of this together startled some sense into them and they backed off. As the drill sergeants of those years taught, "yew gots to be AG-ile, MO-bile and HOS-tile," and I was surely all of that. But as much as anything else I was thankful for the childhood years of vaguely Marxist indoctrination I had received from my father who’d been a Red in the ‘30s and whose library of political books, which I had absorbed during my teens, had given me just the right words to defuse this terrifying moment. Some of the peace mob now tried to apologize and I knew the soldier was going to be safe at least for now and I laid the newel post back on the debris pile and put the lid back on the garbage can and the soldier put down the dark green wine-bottle he had grabbed from the garbage can while it was open and I leaned against the building to hide the fact my knees were knocking together.

The mob thinned out, and then it dispersed completely, and I asked the soldier where he was going, and when he told me, I suggested we share a cab. He agreed, and during the ride I explained that my red armband "was just a symbol of protest, not sympathy for the Viet Cong or anything" and the soldier explained how he came to be in a winter uniform in mid-May – I don’t remember the details but I think he said he had recently completed advanced artillery training or possibly anti-aircraft school and had then been ordered to a permanent duty station in Alaska but had no sooner arrived than he had been compelled to come home on emergency leave because of a potentially fatal injury to a parent or maybe a potentially fatal illness. In those days you were not allowed to possess civilian clothing until after you completed advanced combat training, which is probably why the soldier had no civvies, or maybe some airline had (typically) lost his baggage. In any case he had taken a cab in from JFK and had decided that to emotionally prepare himself for the sight of his sick or severely injured parent he would walk the last couple of miles to his home, but instead he encountered the peace mob. By now we had reached 89th and Broadway, where I paid my share of the fare and gave the cabbie a generous tip. The soldier thanked me and we shook hands once more and I wished him good luck, and he went on his way in the bright yellow taxi, and I never saw him again.

As I have explained in other columns, I had been in the reserves between my release from Regular Army active duty in 1962 until I was honorably discharged at the end of 1965, and I had been more hawk than dove during most of those years, but I had not been especially passionate about either position. I had hoped for peace and foolishly believed President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s first lie he was a peace candidate and his second lie the North Vietnamese had attacked us without provocation in the Gulf of Tonkin. When I turned against the war in 1969 or more likely early 1970 it was because I had finally grown furious at the U.S. government for pointlessly squandering soldiers’ lives in a meat-grinder conflict it lacked the political will to win or even the command-level competence to properly fight. But the shooting at Kent State followed by Nixon’s enthusiastic endorsement of the National Guard’s deliberate atrocities came very close to changing me into one of those Jane-Fonda-like useful idiots who was willing to not only denounce U.S. policy but to turn against the entire notion of America and dismiss it as a fraud. After Kent State and Nixon’s expression of delight at the bloodshed, it was an easy position to take. Hence I understand fully the temptations that beset John Kerry and his ilk, because in those days the Democrats under Johnson, and the Republicans under Nixon, seemed united in a malevolent twinhood of tyranny. Indeed every man or woman I knew felt profound loathing toward each party and even the government itself during those dreadful years. But apart from the minority represented by Hanoi Jane Fonda and her ideological kindred – a hate-America family-tree that included both the "moderate" Kerry and the "radical" Weathermen – most of us did not embrace the enemy or declare war on our own nation, and we most assuredly did not cheer when Kerry denounced American military operations in Vietnam as "reminiscent of Genghis Kahn." .

In retrospect I would have to say it was a kindness of fate, or more likely the grace of some higher power whose existence in those days I often claimed to doubt, that I had been given a glimpse of the evil at the heart of a mob, and thus – though it would be a while before I fully understood, and many years before I could put it into words -- I had seen all too vividly the darker implications of revolution. Walking west on West 89th Street toward Janey’s apartment that night I was still wearing the red armband my neighbor had given me, but when I got to the doorway into Janey’s building, I was suddenly embarrassed by the armband and the mob viciousness it now seemed to represent, and with considerable self-disgust I pulled the armband off and somewhat furtively tucked it into a nearby garbage can. When I donned a red armband once again – in an anti-war demonstration at college a year later – it was merely because that is what had locally come to distinguish military veterans from the far more numerous pacifists, who wore armbands of black as if they were in mourning for lost relatives.

Because so many years have passed, it is easy to forget that though Nixon got us out of Vietnam, he did so only by the murderous betrayal of our South Vietnamese allies and resultant damage to our national credibility that has not yet been repaired. But Vietnam was truly the Democrats’ war, and the Democrats therefore bear the greater responsibility for the nation’s 58,168 Vietnam War dead. Moreover, it was a war of betrayals from the very beginning: the Democrats betrayed America when Johnson lied himself into office as the peace candidate in 1964, creating a legacy of electoral cynicism that lingers to this day, and the Democrats then betrayed America’s soldiers not once but thrice -- first by fabricating the Gulf of Tonkin incident, next by pointlessly sending our troops into the meat grinder, lastly by slandering the survivors and pelting them with feces when they returned. Now the Democrats are trying to resurrect the Vietnam era and somehow cleanse it of all its anguish and emotional wretchedness so they can rewrite its history and thus transform falsehood and treason into heroism and victory – all this to steal America’s future by robbing America’s past and thereby electing John Kerry as President – John Kerry who (lest we forget) condemned us as genocidal killers in 1970 and has already expressed his intent to leave us defenseless in 2005. In other words, the Democrats are trying to betray us once again.

Loren Bliss was a journalist for 30 years – variously an editor, editorial-page columnist, public affairs writer and investigative reporter. He has covered politics, education, transportation, crime, and sociological issues. He is also a poet and has written several essays on the resurrection of the feminine aspects of the Divine and the resultant renaissance of Paganism. This is his fourth column for Civilization Calls.

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posted by at 06:06 PM : Comments (3)
February 18, 2004

Light. End of tunnel. Hmmm...

Linda opens her eyes after uttering a very fervent prayer, and smiles hopefully.

Remember when my husband got laid off at the beginning of last month, and how he's been home with The Bean ever since? They've had tons of fun together; she's made huge strides developmentally, and they're madly enthralled with each other as only a father and daughter can be.

Yet, our checking account can't stand the strain of being a one-income family. So, while job-hunting, he's been hoping for one particular position to open up with the county. When the position posted, he fired his application and resume right off. This is a job with the same team he was with, and he'd love to work with them in a more secure position.

This job would be a boon for my little family. Better benefits are offered, as well as more pay. We'd be able to sock a little money away for a rainy day, instead of always robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Well, they just called him. Interview. Friday. 9 a.m., MST. Damn glad to see that he'd put his hat in the ring.

Can anyone out there spare a few good vibes/prayers? Please? They'll be returned threefold. I promise.


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posted by Linda at 11:49 PM : Comments (6)

Alliance Assignment: 72 Virgins

It's been a while since I've completed an assignment for the Alliance of Free Blogs.


Omar's last thought was, "I should not have crossed those wir..." Then, everything was eradicated in single bright burst, an instant of searing pain, and finally darkness.

He floated. The substance buoying him up was warm and viscous. He opened his eyes, and was greeted by a pleasant radiance, as of sunlight muted beyond lattice screens. The air on his face was warm. He lifted his hand, and saw that it was bathed in red. He raised it to his lips, and tasted...


He sat up at once, the bright red splashing. Why, he was in a pool of it! A deep pool, as for bathing! He cast around, alarmed. Had he been unclean at the moment of death? He had made all the proper prayers, called out God's greatness, and meditated on the proper method of sacrifice before he set to work on the bomb jackets...

"Allahu..." he began.

"No need," a voice interrupted.

Omar turned. A tall man stood in the doorway, dressed as one of the faithful, his hair and beard thick and luxuriant. This stranger bowed, spreading his hands, "Welcome, warrior. Your time has ended. You have sacrificed yourself in the name of jihad."

"I have come to paradise?" Omar gasped, and then a radiant smile crossed his features, "Oh, God is..."

"You are in the paradise you earned," the stranger interrupted, but gently. "Come. You have bathed in the blood of jihadi martyred in the cause. Now we will prepare you for your other rewards."

"Who are you?" Omar asked as he fell in step with this tall, elegant man. "Muhammed?" He felt a spreading sort of joy; a weakness in his knees. O, to have come to the kingdom of God at last! Here he would dwell in peace forever. Had he not sacrificed every earthly pleasure for this day? Had he not fought to press the message of Submission upon the world? Now was the prize, just as the mullahs had said. Here would he be in Paradise, to rest under the swaying trees, and eat the sweet dates, drink the celestial joy, and know the pleasures of women beautiful beyond the ken of men.

"All will be made clear shortly," his companion said, interrupting his thoughts. "Enter this room. I shall be along soon."

Omar bowed to the Prophet, for this calm, wise-eyed man could be no other. Upon entering the room, he was greeted by veiled women, their eyes dark and flashing as gems behind their modest dress. Men came then, to take him aside and bathe him, while the women brought light raiment, and set to washing his feet and anointing his head.

The oils they rubbed into his scalp and flesh were oddly pungent. They ruffled his nostrils, even though the servants seemed untroubled. He thought, "Perhaps it is because my nose is unused to heavenly odors. No doubt I shall become accustomed to it in time."

He was taken into another room, and laid upon a bed hung with silk. The servants stepped back, out of the way. Wonderingly, Omar settled back among the pillows, and looked around. A tray of food was brought, laden with dates, nuts, cheese, and bread. Rich, red wine was poured into a golden cup.

"Eat. Drink." The Prophet stepped into the room. "It is no longer forbidden." He bore a carved wooden box in his hands. "Do you find this place to be to your liking?"

"Very much," Omar responded with enthusiasm. He leaned forward, almost upsetting the tray beside him, "But I have so many questions I wish to ask of you..."

"They will all be answered," The Prophet responded. "Only drink."

Omar lifted the cup, and saluted the Prophet with it, "I drink to you," he said, "I drink to the glory of this place, and the might of its Master. All your teachings, they never betrayed us." He drank deep of the wine, and thought it tasted strange; smoky and thick on his tongue. Then, the pain and horror suffused him. His eyes bulged. His gorge caught in his throat. His face reddened, and he started sucking in breath before loosing an unending, ragged scream.

"Actually," Lucifer whispered, "All my teaching have betrayed you, and now you are mine forever." He motioned to one of the women, revealed as a succubus with a whip coiled on her curving hip. "Take the Cup of Sorrow away." He nodded to one of the men, a demon with curving horns. "Bring me the virgins."

Lucifer laid Omar back with a terrible gentleness. The bed was also revealed in truth: nails pierced the erstwhile terrorist's back. Too gently, he ran his hand over the condemned man's staring face. The screaming subsided, and Omar looked up at the Prince of Darkness with eyes that finally knew the truth.

"It was but a game of mine," Lucifer told him. "Islam. Submission. That should have been your first clue, for the God of creation imbued mankind with inalienable liberties, among those free will. Anyone who uses fear or promises of rewards hereafter to make you behave are lying to you. It's simple to see, really, but it's been quite effective. Man is so easily controlled through fear that they will betray anyone; anything.

"I needed tools that would fight to destroy the seed of Yahweh's chosen people. Who better than the scriptural offspring of an estranged brother? Who better to set an example for them than a delusional pedophile? You have served me well, even if you failed. The Hebrew people will continue to the end of the world. Nevertheless, I need armies to fight Him, regardless of the outcome."

He paused, opening the box, regarding its contents with an expression bordering on pensive, "The true irony of all of this is that there really is more than one path for a soul to follow. My war with Yahweh, that is only one truth. There are other truths, but I don't expect you to understand that right now. Perhaps you will, later on." He carried the box over with reverence. "It is my role in this universe to be the manifestation of evil. Man has given me many names, across time and space." He dipped his fingers into the box, and began sprinkling its contents over Omar's naked skin. Omar's eyes widened, and he drew breath for renewed screaming. Lucifer's eyes flashed a warning, and Omar bit back his horror, whimpering with the strain.

Lucifer continued, his voice still horrifically gentle. "You served me well in life, Omar. You murdered, tortured, and raped. You committed every heinous act you could think of, in the name of God's glory. You merely misunderstood the greater truth. Every act of kindness, generosity, and love is His. Every act of hatred, deliberate destruction, and betrayal are mine. You are mine, and I deliver the rewards promised you." Lucifer finished emptying the sickening, squirming mass onto Omar's bare skin.

He could hold it back no longer. He broke into fresh screams as the insects began burrowing into his chest, his belly; his thighs, arms and groin. Lucifer, latterly called Satan, smiled with satisfaction. "Your seventy-two virgins," he commented. "They're a particular type of flesh-eating beetle I subverted to my use. They use parthenogenesis to propagate. You should have studied zoology."

He turned, and glided toward the door, gesturing. One of the attending succubi came to him, leaning her body against his. He ran one finger down the side of her face before slapping her away. He pointed to her cat o'nine tails, and then to Omar. She smiled, and began to unwind the sharp coils.

Before he exited, he spared one glance over his shoulder, "Oh, Omar?" Mere groans answered him. Satan's smile turned vindictive, "Welcome to Hell."

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posted by Linda at 07:39 PM : Comments (3)
» The Alliance links with: Precision Guided Humor Round-up: Those Aren't My Virgins!
February 17, 2004

On my mettle

With Loren around here, I feel challenged to post articles requiring more thought and research. Hence, I'm working on a little something.

But forget about me. Please enjoy Loren's latest post about his friend Liam, and the difference between blindly sloganeering, and making a considered stand.

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posted by Linda at 09:40 PM : Comments (0)

Resurrecting Vietnam

by Loren Bliss

I think Liam had the Distinguished Service Cross, I know he had a couple of Purple Hearts he always said were "just medals you get for not ducking fast enough," and he had the rest of the fruit salad they gave you simply for being there in Vietnam. He was a buck sergeant, Regular Army, and did two tours, one and a half of those tours in helicopters. Then the bird in which he was crew chief got blown out of the sky a little south of the DMZ by NVA anti-aircraft fire, and after he was released from the hospital, he spent his last months in country as a combat correspondent for Stars and Stripes, which led to more commendations, an honorable discharge and finally a double major -- history and journalism -- at the college where Liam and I were introduced by a mutual acquaintance. I was merely a Cold War vet, a sociology major who had served an extended Regular Army tour in Korea, but we bonded on the fact we were both RA, volunteers as opposed to draftees, rarities in the hate-the-military/smash-the-state atmosphere of a 1970 college campus.

We bonded further over being older GI Bill students. I was 30; Liam was 26 and had attended a year or two of college before he ran out of money and enlisted, in 1965 (if I remember correctly), much as I had done when I dropped out of the University of Tennessee in 1959. Soon we discovered other common interests, and to make a long story short, Liam and I became Friends, Capital F, the highest expression of which for me is the recognition that someone is trustworthy enough to be my companion in deep woods – an invitation extended to fewer than a dozen people of either gender in a life that now spans 63 years. Thus in that long-ago summer of 1971, Liam and I humped packs into what is now the North Cascades Wilderness Area for several days of back country trout fishing, and thus Liam was there to help when a ledge of rotten rock collapsed underfoot and shortened the trip by inflicting the most crippling sprained ankle I have ever suffered – potentially a disaster, especially when the nearest medical assistance is 60 miles distant.

But our most intense bond grew out of our mutual commitments to journalism. My newspaper career had begun at age 16, working as a copy-boy and writing high-school sports part-time for daily papers while I was still in high school, and Liam’s career had a similar birth. Despite the difference in our ages and our working experience – by the end of 1970 I had eight solid years of full-time reporting under my belt, while Liam had only those months on Stars and Stripes -- Liam was one of the finest newsmen I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and I will probably always think of the lead he wrote on a Page One "Women’s Liberation" story in the twice weekly college newspaper as the best I have ever read: "Some women in town are fixing a stew, and it ain’t in the kitchen."

I have changed Liam’s name only because I cannot confirm a few of my recollections. But I remember vividly that on a bright but rainy February afternoon in 1971, when the Women’s Lib story was still seven months in the future, Liam and I concluded after a lot of discussion that we should help the campus anti-war organization with its agitation and propaganda efforts in the greater, off-campus community. We were infuriated by the fact the government was willy-nilly continuing the practice of feeding men into the meat grinder of a war it had no intention of winning, and our opposition to the war was already well known via the school paper’s editorial pages – Liam was its editor-in-chief, and I was managing editor. Hence, volunteers once again, we visited the anti-war movement’s headquarters in the student union.

We should have known better. The fact we were each military veterans had been included in the biographies that accompanied the announcements of our editorial appointments, and when we walked into the anti-war movement office, we were assaulted by a screaming, cursing mob of students denouncing us in the loudest and most hysterical tones imaginable. Because we had served in the military we were "baby killers" and "Nazis" and "rapists" and "murderers" and "thugs," not to mention illegitimate sons of canines with carnal knowledge of our own mothers. We were "pigs"and "agents" and "spies for vigilante loggers"-- "vigilante loggers" the Pacific Northwest equivalent of the construction workers who had savagely beaten anti-war demonstrators at New York’s City Hall in the early summer of 1970.

Implicit in the labels and class-specific job titles hurled at us that afternoon as curses is an important part of the truth about the Democrats’ war and the war-era controversies the Democrats now want to resurrect. For Vietnam was not only a war in which the sons of the working class bore most of the burden; it was also a war in which the sons of the classes privileged to receive college draft-deferments – the sons of the upper- middle and upper classes and the daughters of these classes too – sneered at those who served. Moreover the sneering was a caste-wide phenomenon that began long before Vietnam was anything more than a name in a geography lesson – which shows that the original core issue was military service itself. And the people who sneered loudest are the dominant Democrats of today.

A member of the working press during most of the 1960s, I interviewed dozens of war protestors, focusing mostly on the rank and file rather than the leadership, and I quickly learned that the issues of the Vietnam War were singularly unimportant to most of the people who sought to dodge the draft -- even those who adopted Marxist rationales and demonstrated under red banners. There were a few genuine pacifists and genuine revolutionaries to be sure, and likewise a few whose draft exemptions were perfectly legitimate. But amongst most draft-eligible collegians, the only real issue was, "I don’t want to." It was, "I don’t want to give up two years of my life," and "I don’t want to get shot at." It was also, "what did this stupid country ever do for me?" Somehow the generation whose courage saved us all from tyranny in World War Two had afterward, in its upper-middle and upper classes, raised a generation of pathologically selfish, amoral children so craven they faked a "revolution" to hide their cowardice -- absolute proof of which is to be found in the astounding speed with which the "revolution" vanished after President Richard Nixon abolished the draft.

From this perspective, the February 1971 confrontation in the anti-war movement office was just another spittle-drenched sign of the times, and once again Liam and I were forced to confront a wrenching personal conflict: how we as former soldiers felt compelled by honor to oppose a war that had become a pointless squandering of soldiers’ lives versus how -- because of the very values that made us who we were -- we were outraged and appalled by most of the attitudes of the anti-war movement. Not that it mattered: the movement rejected us simply because we had each served in the military, which to most of the members of the anti-war movement was forever an indictment, an infuriating contrast to their own shirking cowardice – a cowardice that had become the chief motivating factor of their lives. Even so, rejection on so broad a scale invariably hurt – and no amount of intellectualizing could take away all its sting. How any veteran made peace with all that rage and associated treason – especially its personification in Hanoi Jane Fonda – is beyond my ken. Yet some did – John Kerry among them – for such was the schism that divided our entire generation.

In time, of course, the end of the war created the illusion those scars had healed. But whether now or in 1971, the tyranny of cowardice is such that it demands the belittlement of courage and ultimately its ruthless suppression. Hence the Vietnam dynamic rears its head again in the debate over the Second Amendment, with the selfsame cowards who opposed the war now gathered in the anti-gun camp desperately seeking to disarm all America lest even one armed American inflict embarrassment by demonstrating bravery. The underlying objective here is not merely the imposition of gun bans but also establishing a legal mandate for cowardly behavior. Its antithesis is assertion of the individual right to bravery -- the same real bravery individual Americans demonstrated in the bloody jungles of Southeast Asia, the same potential bravery that so enrages Second Amendment opponents, the same bravery of policy that has turned President George Bush into the cowardly Democrats’ favorite hate object.

Both because of his decorated service and because he refused to abjure that service by joining the down-with-Amerika faction, my friend Liam remained such a hate-object himself, all the more so as a growing number of draft-dodgers gained jobs in journalism and became his ever-more-hostile professional colleagues. Thus, as the years passed, Liam’s commitment to his real friends and to journalism and finally to life itself was weakened by his deepening commitment to oblivion via alcohol and later – after alcoholism destroyed a career that included the news directorship of a TV station and several years of award-winning work as a reporter at a major newspaper – a commitment to hard drugs. I cannot judge how much of this affliction was the result of Vietnam itself and how much of it resulted from the rejection that followed, but I suspect the rejection was paramount, because when I knew Liam in college, he drank only excessively (as all of us did in those days), but in the years after he left school and entered the workforce, he drank ever more ruinously and finally even suicidally.

During his best years, Liam was a scoutmaster, and he frequently took his Scouts on long-distance backpack trips, though Liam had admitted to me when we were camped in the High Cascades in 1971 that he couldn’t carry anything much heavier than a shoulder bag without help from the pain pills he was issued by the local Veterans Administration hospital – these to ease the lingering aches of his battle wounds. But sometime in the late 1970s, the pills stopped working, and Liam turned to street drugs for relief, and that is what finally killed him. The official cause of his death was AIDS, supposedly from a dirty needle, but those of us who knew him well know that in reality he was yet another casualty of that war the Democrats started and mismanaged at a cost of at least 58,168 Americans dead and blood-deep class hatreds that linger to this day -- the war the Democrats now want to resurrect so they can make yet another attempt to obscure not only their cowardice but how they jeered and spat at American soldiers and helped kill brave men like my friend Liam.

Loren Bliss was a journalist for 30 years – variously an editor, editorial-page columnist, public affairs writer and investigative reporter. He has covered politics, education, transportation, crime, and sociological issues. He is also a poet and has written several essays on the resurrection of the feminine aspects of the Divine and the resultant renaissance of Paganism. This is the third of his regular contributions to Civilization Calls.

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posted by at 09:28 PM : Comments (1)
February 13, 2004

Truth and Lies: John Kerry as a Useful Idiot

by Loren Bliss

ONCE AGAIN, SOMEBODY LIED, and once again -- just as Josef Goebbels predicted -- a chorus of malleable morons broadcast the deceit far and wide via the alchemy of incompetent journalism, and a venomous lie was thus transmogrified into an apparent truth.

I started this piece with the notion of quoting Vladimir Lenin on the revolutionary function of "useful idiots" and then following up with a few vivid examples of John Kerry’s useful idiocy – none more outrageous than his 1971 statement to Congress that U.S. behavior in Vietnam was "reminiscent of Genghis Kahn." Since Genghis Kahn is considered the very nadir of murderousness (worse than Hitler or even Stalin), this was tantamount to labeling America equivalent to the most bloodthirsty conqueror in history.

Hence, because I am of the old school and believe fervently in confirming my facts -- not distorting reality a la Maureen (Doctored Quotes) Dowd or simply making it up a la Jayson (Affirmative Action) Blair -- I dug out an ancient copy of Ten Classics of Marxism, a book produced in 1940 by International Publishers, a long-defunct Communist Party printing operation in New York City. I blew the dust of many years off the book’s exposed surfaces, paged dutifully through both "State and Revolution" and "‘Left-Wing Communism,’ an Infantile Disorder," and discovered I could not find the notion of "useful idiots" anywhere in Comrade Lenin’s turgid prose.

Next I turned to Bartlett, got no help there either, and finally embarked on a long Google search that led me to several Marxist websites (who even knew there were such things?) including one that looked as if it might have begun life as an official organ of the old Soviet government. Lots of references in Marxist literature (sic) to "idiots" – typically as a synonym for opponents of Lenin, Stalin and Marx himself – and many more occurrences of the term "useful," but zilch about "useful idiots."

Finally I telephoned the reference department of the Timberland Regional Library, which serves the five-county, predominantly rural district of southwestern Washington state in which I live. I was on a deadline, I explained, and wanted to use Lenin’s "useful idiots" quote in an Internet column, but I wanted the full passage in which the term had occurred and not just the phrase, because before I employed it, I wanted to make certain the context was accurate and that I had indeed chosen the proper tool for the job at hand.

The reference librarian, an articulate and helpful woman named Heather, called me back exactly as promised and read me the following:

"Lenin, it is said, once described left-liberals and social democrats as ‘useful idiots,’ and for years anti-communists have used the phrase to describe Soviet sympathizers in the West, sometimes suggesting that Lenin himself talked about ‘useful idiots in the West.’ But the expression does not appear in Lenin’s writing. We get queries on ‘useful idiots of the West’ all the time, declared Grant Harris, senior reference librarian at the Library of Congress, in the spring of 1987. We have not been able to identify this phrase among his published works."

The source of this passage is a work entitled They Never Said It: a Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions, authored by Paul F. Boller Jr. and John George, published by Oxford University Press in 1989. The text goes on to explain that the phrase apparently first appeared in a John Birch Society pamphlet labeling President Ronald Reagan a "useful idiot" because of some agreement he had negotiated with the Soviet Union.

Astute readers will note (he said, wiping the metaphorical egg off his face) that I too was taken in. I was sure I remembered the quote from the Lenin I had read in my thoroughly debauched youth, repressing my instinctively libertarian sensibilities in vain hope of becoming more attractive to the radical slum-goddess in the pad next door – this in New York City’s East Village of course. East Village years not withstanding, my recollection of quotes and sources is dependably accurate – so the fact repetition of the "useful idiots" Big Lie imposed a bogus memory shows not only how insidiously the Big Lie tactic works, but how diabolically astute was Hitler’s minister of propaganda.

Falsely attributed to Lenin and vindictively hurled at President Reagan, "useful idiot" originally described no truth beyond its fabricator’s malice, but through popularization and endurance, the phrase has become an accurate description of a legitimately disturbing reality. Which brings us back to the subject of John Kerry and whether we want to believe the Even Bigger Lie that a man who could slander his country as Kerry did is fit to be President.

I remember the Vietnam years vividly. I served a Regular Army enlistment including 19 months in Korea that overlapped with the real beginning of the Vietnam War in 1961, was in the reserve during the first major escalations and was honorably discharged at the end of 1965. It is only luck of the draw I went where I did, and if I had been called back to active duty for Vietnam, I would certainly have reported for duty as ordered. After all, that is precisely what I promised to do when I took the oath of enlistment: to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, to obey the lawful orders of my commander-in-chief and all officers appointed over me. Kerry took virtually the same oath.

Like John Kerry, I eventually became an anti-war activist, but that was not until 1970, five years after I was discharged. What provoked my activism was precisely what prompted the activism of so many other veterans – fury at the fact the United States was sending good men into the Southeast Asian meat-grinder on what amounted to suicide missions – missions that were clearly doomed because the politicians at home obviously lacked the will to win the war and thus tolerated gross incompetence amongst the higher commanders in country. (Anyone who doubts this indictment should read The Betrayal, an informative book by retired U.S. Marine Colonel John Corson, published by Norton in 1968 and still available in used bookstores.)

Indeed, if the Democrats want to resurrect controversies about Vietnam -- under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower an obscure duty station for a handful of spooks and advisors but escalated into a full-scale war by Democrat President Lyndon Baines Johnson -- the Democrats would do well to remember it was thus by definition the Democrats’ own war. It was also one of the most outrageous violations of campaign promises in American history.

Some of my old anger – that I voted in good faith for Johnson the Peace Candidate but instead got Lyndon the Fumbling Warmonger – probably still shows. Even so, I did not become a "useful idiot," which by its spurious but now widely accepted definition is someone whose activity provides aid and comfort to the enemy. It is one thing to protest a war, quite another to officially denounce your nation as a genocidal tyranny. I did not equate American soldiers with the murderous savages who obeyed a homicidal overlord named Genghis Kahn. I did not repeat the malicious John Kerry/Hanoi Jane Fonda slander that our soldiers in Vietnam were committing "war crimes on a day-to-day basis." I did not thereby help lay the groundwork for all the subsequent denunciations of "Amerika" as the new Nazi Germany – embodiment of all earthly evil.

But John Kerry did all these things, which as far as I am concerned invalidates his war record as surely as if a court-martial had convicted him of the "useful idiocy" of treason. John Kerry’s 1971 Congressional calumnies gave aid and comfort to the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese enemies and thus betrayed U.S. soldiers still in the midst of battle, and just as other falsehoods have acquired the aura of truth, so did John Kerry’s lies became one of the cornerstones of a Greater Lie that has given aid and comfort to all the enemies of America ever since. And I do not believe – especially now that Islam has renewed its 1300-year war against civilization -- we dare allow such a "useful idiot" to occupy the White House.

Loren Bliss was a journalist for 30 years – variously an editor, editorial-page columnist, public affairs writer and investigative reporter. He has covered politics, education, transportation, crime, and sociological issues. He is also a poet and has written several essays on the resurrection of the feminine aspects of the Divine and the resultant renaissance of Paganism. This is the second of his regular contributions to Civilization Calls.

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posted by Linda at 06:00 PM : Comments (0)

Truth and Lies: John Kerry as a Useful Idiot

This post has moved to a different datestamp on 2/13/2004.

Some individual created a number of redirect URLS to this post which, in themselves evocative of the perpetrator's opinion (and mine), are nevertheless less professional than the tone Loren and I try to set with this blog.

To be brief, the redirect urls include text like "johnkerryblows" and "johnkerryisacoward," et cetera; ad nauseum.

This would be funny except that Civilization Calls was founded to present a rallying cry in as civilized and articulate a way as possible. Such URLs do not represent the spirit of this site, and what we're trying to achieve. Setting up redirects using that sort of text undermines our goal, and will not be tolerated. We are trying to educate. We seek to show Americans that they are not being told the whole truth in mainstream media, and we try to present a front porch view of current events and how they might impact our way of life.

Therefore, Loren's most excellent post, "Truth and Lies: John Kerry as a Useful Idiot," has been moved.

My apologies for the inconvenience to those visiting this site for the first time from one of the many forums or blogs linking this post. Loren and I sincerely hope that you will take a few minutes to look around. The actual post will be easily found by those seeking it. Please enjoy your visit, and feel free to leave a comment. We are most receptive to constructive discourse, and rather enjoy the interplay of observations and ideas left by our small community of thoughtful commentators.

To the individual creating the redirects: we're flattered, but please stop.

Very kind regards,
Founding Author, Civilization Calls

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February 12, 2004


It just occurred to me that to the uninitiated, network support could sound a little dirty:

"First you want to sniff the packets. Then you can bind the port."

That is all.

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posted by Linda at 10:17 PM : Comments (2)
» Ambient Irony links with: Valentine's Day Special
February 11, 2004

Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life For Me...

Comcast makes a hostile bid all-stocks for Disney. Assuming their debt, that makes a $66B deal.

It would also make Comcast a media giant that would be very difficult to compete with. I think this bears watching.

Drink up, me hearties. Yo ho.

Feb. 17th
Disney denies Comcast.

We'll see how Comcast returns the ball.

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posted by Linda at 09:13 PM : Comments (5)
February 10, 2004

Step Right Up

by Loren Bliss

OBSERVING THE PRESIDENTIAL election campaign for the past couple of weeks I’ve been struck repeatedly by how successful the Democrats are at downplaying their suicidal foreign-policy proposals and their authoritarian domestic agenda. This is the party that would revert to the Clinton Administration’s ruinous practice of regarding Islam’s 1300-year war against civilization as merely a crime problem: the very do-nothing strategy that invited the attacks of 9/11. These same Democrats would impose socialized medicine, would torpedo public-school reform merely to serve the (unspoken) purpose of fostering an ever-growing number of voters utterly ignorant of the ideals and history of the United States, and would further balkanize the nation by resuming the official encouragement of victim-identity cultism so characteristic of the Donna Shalala years. Yet thanks to the bias and superficiality of mass media – that and the fact the American electorate all too often has the attention-span of an earthworm – the vital issues to be decided by the outcome of the 2004 election are becoming ever more obscure, all but ignored in the distracting but ultimately meaningless epidemic of journalistic flatulence that results when politics is covered as a mere Superbowl of personalities and pork.

But it is not just the electorate that is duped. One of my favorite conservative columnists and libertarian bloggers – one of the very best in the business – is Andrew Sullivan. Indeed my only real criticism of Mr. Sullivan is that sometimes he squanders too much general-interest bandwidth on special-interest matters relevant only to gays and lesbians – though given his own avowed orientation, it is surely an excess he can readily be forgiven, especially considering the overall astuteness of his thinking. However just last week I caught him in one of his extremely rare errors – an error that illustrates how very effectively the Democrats and their media allies have hidden the electoral stakes of 2004. Writing about the Democratic Party and its campaign to retake the federal government, Mr. Sullivan asserted in his London Sunday Times column (1 Feb 04) that "Democrats have gone a long way to reverse their anti-gun mentality." Which is, of course, precisely what the Democrats want the rest of us to believe – especially those of us who cherish the Second Amendment and take it at face value.

That the truth is something quite different will quickly become apparent to anyone who researches likely input for the Democrats’ 2004 platform proposals. Americans for Gun Safety, a group consistently aligned with Democratic Party strategists, commissioned a poll completed in October 2003 that detailed how to disguise gun control as a "gun safety" issue – the better to impose gun control on the public – and recommended the Democrats adopt just such camouflage. (The poll is available on the Internet at this link. ) Another Democrat strategy group, the Emerging Democratic Majority, has already commented favorably upon the AGS proposal. Meanwhile the hysterically anti-gun New York Times noted with approval (7 Feb 04) that likely-presidential-candidate John Kerry consistently voted for "stiff" gun-control laws; in Timesspeak the only truly "stiff" gun-control laws are those that seek to ban the private ownership of firearms. Hence the probability Democrat partisans have it exactly right when they gleefully speculate that, at the very least, a Kerry Presidency would impose Massachusetts’ draconian permit-and-registration scheme – the most vindictively restrictive gun-control regime in the country – on the entire United States. Most of all there is the fact that Democrat politics are still driven by fanatical anti-gunners – a loose coalition of pacifists, matrifascists and victim-identity cultists, the majority of whom despise not only the Second Amendment but the other nine amendments of the Bill of Rights too.

Though all politicians practice deception – the old joke that a politician is lying "anytime his lips are moving" surely has a basis in fact – I can’t recall any other circumstance in which either one of the nation’s two major parties has so methodically set out to bilk the voters. The fact today’s Democrats are even considering such a ploy tells us not only of their contempt for the electorate but the extent to which they are willing to embrace strategies that were formerly the identifying characteristics of fascists, Communists and Nazis. Hence whenever some Democrat promises Utopia and invites you to "step right up," reflect on carnival-king P.T. Barnum and his infamous credo of a new sucker born every minute.

Loren Bliss was a journalist for 30 years – variously an editor, editorial-page columnist, public affairs writer and investigative reporter. He has covered politics, education, transportation, crime, and sociological issues. He is also a poet and has written several essays on the resurrection of the feminine aspects of the Divine and the resultant renaissance of Paganism. This is the first of his regular contributions to Civilization Calls.

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posted by at 05:33 PM : Comments (1)
» On The Third Hand links with: Carnival of the Vanities #73
February 09, 2004

Valentine Don'ts.

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, I know there are some folks out there wondering just what to give that special lady for Valentine's Day.

As a service to my male readers, I think now is a good time to list the things that might be greeted with only a polite smile and a sudden headache.

Expand the entry to see.

  1. No cards with someone else's name crossed (or whited) out.
  2. No domestic beer. Premiums or micro-brews are negotiable. Make sure it's chilled.
  3. Unless she specifically requested it, things like woolen hair-crusher toboggan hats are typically considered unromantic.
  4. Hand written poems are sweet. Just don't confuse it with your handkerchief.
  5. Any cosmetic labelled 'Wet N Wild'.
  6. Any scent other than her usual.
  7. No stuffed animals that are still damp with dog-spit.
  8. No stuffed animals with kitty litter clinging to them.
  9. No animals with the stuffy's stuffing still clinging to them.
  10. No house-cleaning stuff.
  11. No control-top pantyhose.
  12. No diet books/club memberships/exercise equipment (unless she asks).
  13. Flavored/colored/novelty condoms. (Don't be so obvious!)
  14. If it isn't silk, satin, leather or velvet, don't give it to her in black.
  15. Don't buy bondage wear if it hasn't been clearly established that she gets into that.
  16. The ring that your last girlfriend crushed under her heel before flnging it back in your face? Don't regift it. Put it away. Far away.
  17. Vending machine anything.
  18. No plundered chocolate boxes. Get your own.
  19. No massages that include you showing up with a camera, a box of Kleenex, and lubricant.

I know, I know. That pretty much leaves the Seven Safe Zones:

  1. Flowers.
  2. Chocolate.
  3. (Unmolested) stuffed animals.
  4. Gift certificates.
  5. Real romantic getaways.
  6. Shopping sprees.
  7. Dinner out (or in, if you prepare it.)

Consider one of the above, and you might just be pleasantly surprised with a use for those minty-fresh man wrappers, after all. ;)

This public-service announcement brought to you by the Paper Bag Anti-Defamation League, and the flavor purple.

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posted by Linda at 11:52 PM : Comments (7)

Unprofessionalism in the Colorado Department of Labor

It's no secret that my husband is among thousands of good people out there who have been laid off from their jobs.

For the last three weeks, he has been home with our daughter, job-hunting online while she plays or naps.

When he made his application for unemployment benefits, he received communications telling him to contact the hotline for further instruction on February 8th to find out the status of his claim.

He called the hotline yesterday. The automated hotline asked him if he had made his minimal five weekly contacts?

My husband wasn't aware that he should have been documenting his contacts to date, because he wasn't aware that his claim had been approved, and that he was officially "in the system", as it were. So, he replied in the negative.

The recorded voice let him know that he might not receive pay, and he should contact the customer service department for further assistance. They would reopen on Monday (today).

He called. After waiting 53 minutes on hold, his call was taken by Gloria, with Team 1.

He reports that Gloria was ascerbic, condescending, and actively hostile, abruptly putting him on hold at one point for twelve minutes.

It seems that she did not allow him to explain all his reasons for calling. He had more questions than just the proper process for documenting the contacts he makes.

All she asked was if he had made his five contacts. When he answered in the negative, and started to say, "I want to make sure that in the future, I do this properly--can you clarify the correct process for me;" she interrupted with a tirade:
"Well, you just aren't going to get paid, then. We aren't going to pay you to just sit at home." She also made other comments, "Now I have to take several minutes to send you a letter that you have to sign, so you know why you aren't getting paid."

She told him that he could appeal--if he thought that would be successful. She phrased it thusly, "You can appeal, too. If you want to. If you think it would do any good."

With this attitude, Gloria with Team 1 of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has gone way over the line. I question her suitability for the job she performs. Furthermore, I question the discernment of her immediate supervisor for hiring and maintaining such a person in customer service. In my opinion, by allowing such hostility to represent the CDLE, a message is delivered to unemployed Coloradoans who are desperately seeking work. The subtext could be read thusly: "You are a bad person for being unemployed. If you don't have a job, you must be lazy. Also, since something is so obviously wrong with you that you can't hold a job, we're going to treat you like a child, scolding you and condescending to you, in order to establish your inferiority."

S. and I are taking action. If anyone else out there is interested in making sure that the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment knows that Gloria's sort of reception is completely unacceptable, please join us in writing or emailing them:

Colorado Department of Labor and Employment
Executive Director's Office
1515 Arapahoe, Tower 2, Suite 400
Denver, CO 80202

Otherwise, follow the prompts at this link to use the On-line Form to email the Executive Director of the CDLE.

During such difficult times, people who are laid off, like my husband, do not need the extra stress of dealing with hostile unprofessionals. Regardless of the fact that Gloria may deal with a few deadbeats, it is not acceptable for her to treat all who call with such disrespect.

Should our actions result in a reassessment of her suitability for employment with the CDLE, I wish her luck in the days and months ahead. Let her pray that any experiences she may have as a member of the job-hunting public will be positive, instructive, and helpful.

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posted by Linda at 07:46 PM : Comments (0)
February 06, 2004

Bush was never AWOL

(Thanks to Blackfive for the link.)

Key Evidence for Bush Being AWOL Crumbles

Of course this isn't going to quiet anyone who is so rapid that they're beyond sense or reason.

But the implied, "Now bite me" makes me feel better.

UPDATE: The President releases further documentation that he was present, and fulfilled his duties.

UPDATE #2: FOX ofers up a link to the raw data.

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posted by Linda at 06:10 PM : Comments (3)

Sharon's Brilliant Move

Ariel Sharon declared earlier this week that he intends to order a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Just today, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Ehud Olmert outlined the process for the Bush Administration.

This is so smart. On the surface, it could look like a concession. However, it really isn't.

You see, it's been the IDF who has maintained the peace in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Once Sharon has pulled his people back within the safety of the fence, the IDF can pull back, and we can see the true nature of the Palestinians erupt.

A civil war is brewing among the Palestinians. Arafat's alleged poor health, not to mention the fact that the PLA is broke, will see his grip on the geography rapidly erode. See, it takes a lot of graft to keep murderous thugs happy enough to be disinterested in slitting your throat, and it seems that the Arafish just doesn't have the money to pay them off.

When he dies of natural causes, or gets assassinated, we'll see the PLA blow up in a power struggle to determine the next "elected" criminal.

This can only be a good thing. Should such a civil war break out, the world will see the gloves come off, and sympathy for the Palestinians will plummet when people finally see just how few of the Geneva conventions they're concerned with.

In the meantime, The Israeli people can sit back in increased safety, and watch the various terrorist groups slug it out beyond Israel's borders. After all, that's what Sharon is most concerned about: the safety of his own people. That's as should be. If I were in his shoes, I would do no less.

Never write a blog entry and check other blogs at the same time. I was going to go on and on about the benefits of the security fence. Steven den Beste is way ahead of me, as usual. He expresses it much more completely, so...what he said.

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posted by Linda at 12:20 AM : Comments (6)
February 05, 2004

The Pitfalls of Pacifism

Cara at WhoKnew? has a great post on the dangers of appeasement while revisting a previous discussion on Stockholm Syndrome.

I recommend reading both posts, and giving it some thought.

Her posts resonate with me. As an anecdote, I also used to work in the healthcare and mental health fields.

I took care of a number of violently mentally ill patients, including one who was a convicted rapist and into animal mutilation. One fine day, thanks to a conglomeration of different business needs, I was left alone in the rec room with him.

He made a sexual remark, and I instantly confronted him about it. I told him that I knew all about his mental and legal history, and if he thought that he could intimidate me, he was sadly mistaken. I also told him that he was welcome to try and escalate, but it would see him back in court, and probably jailed. I looked him straight in the eye so he could see I wasn't kidding.

He backed down. After that, he was even respectful. Nevertheless, I never again allowed myself to be left alone with him, or any of the other anti-socials.

Ignoring his behavior, or even trying to empathize with him, could have gotten me hurt. He was known to make even cruder forays, the longer he was ignored. I set down clear boundaries, and maintained them.

On a grander, more complex scale, we have to do that with anyone who would harm us. A murderer, a rapist, a terrorist, has already psychically dehumanized his victims. Trying to treat such an animal with humanity only feeds their aggrandized sense of entitlement. Letting them feel superior only feeds their delusions, and enables them to further objectify the victim in their mind.

No, we have to set our boundaries and defend ourselves with enough violence to make sure that the assailant will never lift so much as a finger against us ever again.

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posted by Linda at 09:18 PM : Comments (1)

Welcome, Loren!

I'd like everyone who reads this blog to welcome Loren to Civilization Calls.

A veteran of thirty years in professional journalism and editing, Loren brings clear-eyed insight to the table.

I shall not tell you too much about Loren, right now. I am more comfortable allowing him to reveal only what personal information he desires; but I can tell you that through messages exchanged in an online discussion group we belong to, as well as numerous email "conversations" about various and sundry topics, I am excited to see him share his insights here.

Give Loren a warm welcome. He shall post as soon as pleases him.

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posted by Linda at 06:44 PM : Comments (1)
February 04, 2004

White Boys. heh

Oh boy. The Screamapillar is so very out of touch...

In this article from The Seattle Times, he is quoted as saying, "We're going to tell all those white boys who run the Republican Party to stay out of our bedrooms."

Er, Howie baby? Hate to break this to you, but, um, you're white, too.

Next up: The Screamapillar reenacts Wally's tirade from, See No Evil, Hear No Evil: "What do you mean, I'm not white! Oh my God, you're right! Does dad know?"

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posted by Linda at 01:20 AM : Comments (2)
February 03, 2004

Busy, busy world.

9:15 a.m., MST
Lots going on in the world today. I plan to spend some time watching events unfold.

It goes without saying that the first item to watch like a hawk is the discovery of ricin in Senate buildings:
FOX News
Via Drudge

Hazarding a hasty opinion, this could be domestic terrorism, you know. Packets containing ricin have so far been mailed to the Republican-controlled senate, the RNC, and the Department of Transportation.

Loony as some Leftist groups have gotten in the last few years, I wouldn't be surprised. But then again, it could very well be that some Islamofascist sleepers are on the move.

Whatever the cause, and I won't give in to tinfoil hat cnspiracy theory, the message is clear: we're putting terrorism (of whatever flavor) on the defensive. It's a classic psychological pattern: when you begin to make it clear that a wongdoer's behaviors are unacceptable, and will not be allowed to continue, their negative patterns will flare up for a time.

Yes, that is a major oversimplification. No, I have never subscribed to the notion that the poor little terrorists are just misunderstood, and that enough therapy will make them all better. In fact, I plan to do everything in my power to make sure that this great nation goes on handing the little pukes their asses.

With enough force, applied long enough, we can break the little shits.

Just hold your focus, America. We're winning.

We ARE winning.

10:46 a.m., MST
Also, President Bush is proposing a $2.4 Trillion budget to boost spending in the technical arena. He's so cute when he tries to emulate spendthrift liberalism.

Of professional interest to me, MyDoom will force a revolution in network security. Mmmm. My capitalist heart sees ways to make money from this--if the behemoth I work for can move fast enough to ride the rising tide.

Or maybe I should go into business for myself. How perfectly, eee-villy capitalist of me.

What? You expected me to hole up in my home? To hell with the terrorists. I plan to go on being unabashedly, unapologetically, successfully, happily American.

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posted by Linda at 07:49 PM : Comments (1)

SCO Fall Down and Go "BOOM".

Despite a week's warning, MyDoom downed SCO's server, right on schedule.

I just... I just don't know where to start with this. On one hand, their business was interrupted thanks to malcode. That's bad. On the other hand... Hello-o? A week's warning?

Question: How do y'all plan to be supreme in the server OS market if you can't even keep your own site up in the face of a threat you knew was coming?

They could have moved the server beforehand. They could have done a number of things, actually, to prevent their outage...

OK, enough. I can't try to be nice about it, anymore. This is the funniest thing I've heard all day.

SCO's Web server went "BOOM!"

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posted by Linda at 12:29 AM : Comments (2)
February 02, 2004

The American People

Howard Dean's primal scream. The so-called "S Factor". Al Franken tackling a heckler at a Dean Speech. Free speech zones. Wesley Clark's real military record. Media bias revealed.

These links and references all provide examples of hypocrisy and elitism in American politics today. Each example is another expression of the campaign to sway the American voter to embrace ideals he or she might not agree with.

The fact of the matter is that a vast number of politicians and media moguls, particularly those on the extreme Left, have forgotten that the American people aren’t so easily misled – or bullied, manipulated, and insulted into submission. In fact, the Left's antics in the last several years, particularly since the election of President George W. Bush, have soured many average Americans not only toward the Left but toward the Democratic Party in general.

A silent majority does exist. Despite what the cocktail-party radicals and tea-house elitists believe, Americans are extremely intelligent, well educated, well read, and extraordinarily attentive. The silent majority tends to fill a demographic of people aged between thirty and seventy years of age. These are mature people who want to keep the majority of their hard-earned wages, meaning that they would like to see their tax burden decrease. They have friends or acquaintances from varying belief systems or political persuasions and from most socioeconomic levels. They have sons, daughters, and grandchildren serving in the Armed Forces. Above all, they want to live and let live – and to do so with as little governmental interference as possible.

The silent majority is the heart and soul of America, and let me tell you something – they're watching.

Mostly, these people let political punditry roll off their backs. They're too busy living to worry overmuch about what some self-appointed expert is saying on the television. In fact, when the "experts" begin lecturing, many Americans just turn the TV off – they don't care for some damn fool with more money than sense spouting off about how he thinks they should conduct their lives. How would he know anything, sitting there in his expensive suit, or in his expensive shirt with the sleeves O-so-fashionably rolled up?

The fact is, the silent majority readily recognize someone who doesn't work hard for his or her money. They see the soft hands, the spa tans, the lack of firmness around mouth and eyes that denotes someone who has never had a real conviction in the whole of his life.

The majority of Americans work hard, play hard, and rest when they can. When a bunch of politicians shout slogans at one another from a podium, most Americans aren’t much interested – or at the very least they take the sloganeering with a healthy grain of salt.

But Americans do notice when they're derided, called names, belittled, pandered to and condescended to. People noticed the "S Factor" column I linked earlier. It angered them. The average man on the street didn't say anything; he just made note of it and moved on.

They heard Howard Dean's frustrated scream in Iowa, and they made note of that, too. Few people outside the media commented, but the consensus is obviously growing that the man is too unstable to lead this country.

Many people know Wesley Clark was recalled in disgrace. People remember he was accused of illegal participation in the Clinton Administration’s murderous attack on the Branch Davidian compound at Waco. People also note Clark’s endorsement by Bill "Slick Willy" Clinton himself. These associations all leave a distinctly bad taste in the mouths of decent, practical, hardworking Americans.

In fact, the alertness of the majority of Americans is enhanced these days, with our nation at war, and so many of our loved ones in uniformed service to the cause of justice and freedom. The Left can scream all it likes: "Not in my name;" "No blood for oil;" or "Bush lied," and it can scream until its throat cracks and bleeds, but the fact of the matter is that the average American thinks the screamers are all traitors or fools.

Many Americans have received letters and emails from their loved ones overseas. These Americans have compared the facts reported in the letters with the tales told by the mainstream media. These Americans note the quiet jubilation in those missives from their children and contrast it with the shrill and desperate cries of "quagmire" voiced by pacifist politicians and echoed by the media, and these Americans decided long ago the media and the politicians are lying.

On the other hand, these same Americans also watch the current Administration's actions with genuine skepticism. The average American feels that actions do speak louder than words, and they aren't very impressed with the President's domestic policies.

The fact is that most Americans just want to be left alone. They want to get up in the morning, do their work, and come home at night with as little intervention from the outside world as possible. Whatever the religious authorities and political pundits try to tell us, the typical American really doesn't care who is sleeping with whom and does not see the need to bother with imposing a legal definition on marriage. The average American is interested in healthcare only insofar as children, spouses, and selves are covered. Americans are glad to see tax cuts and rebates, because that means that they get a little of their own money back. But they detest those who haven't paid a penny of taxes themselves yet dare demand rebates nonetheless. Just whose money is it, anyway?

I will admit, however, that the average American does have two ultimately self-defining, rock-solid political stances: on abortion, and on gun control. On these two controversies, just about everyone has strong beliefs.

Polls show that most Americans – especially those who are themselves parents -- approve of the ban on partial-birth abortion. The reason for this may be as ridiculously simple as it is inexpressibly profound: ask a mother her reaction to what she has witnessed via ultrasound, and she'll tell you about the genuine miracle of the new human life growing within her womb -- and why it's so infinitely repugnant to drive a spike through the skull of any fetus.

Ask just about any man – and many women – about their positions on gun control. You'll hear wildly differing opinions, but from the majority of Americans, you'll hear that the Second Amendment means what it says – and that rather than pass new laws against gun-owners and guns, the government should crack down hard on gun-wielding criminals.

In short, politicians and media today have it all wrong. Moreover, the joke is on them.

Despite what these elitists think, people aren't stupid; they are aware, and they are watching. They recognize the extent to which the traditional politics of issues is giving way to a politics of absurdities -- and they are evermore less impressed.

This election year will be a very interesting one. In the end, no matter what, we will see the true mirror of ourselves: We The People will have the final say in the fate of our nation.

Politicians and media are warned: be authentic in what you say and do. Anything else will only lose you the American mind and heart. We the People of America expect principles. Try having some yourselves.

Thanks go to Loren Bliss for great insight, fact-checking, and outstanding edits.

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posted by Linda at 04:33 PM : Comments (1)
» The Owner's Manual links with: Best of Me Symphony #60