Sunday, August 31, 2008


Ever wondered why democracy works so well?

If you need any further evidence that we have the best system of government in the world, look no further than YouTube.

And if you still have any doubts, try teaching high school civics or history for a few years. That will erase them for sure.

"Ok, Diane, what was a Panzer division?"

"I don't know -- I don't speak Italian."

(Real conversation -- I was there.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rust Belt Reverie

Moloch, whose factories
Dream and croak in the fog...
--Allen Ginsberg

I remember the smoke and the steam and the dirt,
And the muscular steelmen in white tee shirts,
Who through danger, for wages and overtime pay
Made steel in the factory every day.

A sky made of lead and the whiskey poured brown
Had to make do for color in dirty Youngstown;
Poles and Italians, and Croats and jews
Hunkered each in their enclaves and prayed in their pews.

The shrieks of rail cars by a river of rust
Rang into a sky raining soot and black dust;
The wind would blow cinders that stuck in your eye
Till late summer storms came to wash out the sky.

The grimy brick schoolhouse, that poor spinsters' prison,
It was there that I entered the hallways of wisdom.
And there, like a green, pale, and tender young weed
Growing out of an ash pile, learned how to read.

'Tis the Season

It's now the silly season, and I've resolved to stop writing about politics until November, probably two or three times. But I just wanted to say one more thing before I actually do so. Then I'll change the subject.

I'm happy and grateful that Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, even if he doesn't win. Just the fact that he was nominated shows that this country has made progress in the last 60 years, and that the U.S. isn't totally hopeless, weak, and stupid.

This nomination means a lot to many, many people, black and white.

On the other hand, even if he gains the White House, I doubt that Obama would or could ever rock the ship of state by challenging the Empire of the Pentagon, Inc., or the war machine's stranglehold on this country's resources, or Americans' sense of entitlement and specialness, or our refusal to join the human race and stop acting like we own the world, despite his soothing words and good intentions.

He's shown way too much willingness to adapt to the demands of the status quo to make any real changes in that direction.

But at least we got something positive out of this silly season. A black man is running for president, and I for one am grateful for what progress we've made, and I'll not cry about what we're not getting. We'll have to join the human race and say "no" to nuclear madness another year.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Reality Check, Part I

In 1964 the Democrat Lyndon Johnson ran against Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. Johnson was the incumbent, having assumed the office at the time of John F. Kennedy's assassination.

In one particularly effective television ad, Johnson strongly implied that Goldwater was a war lover who might foolishly and recklessly involve the nation in a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.

Following the election, in 1965, Johnson plunged the country into the Vietnam War, a stupid and pointless conflict for which a rational explanation has never been given. During the Vietnam War's first four years most of the country's gold reserves were spent, forcing President Richard Nixon to take the U.S. dollar off the gold standard in 1969.

For today's extended reality check, see

Bo Ring

All people on the blogs want to talk about today is this unknown woman McCain was forced by his staff into choosing for a running mate.

Nobody knows much about her, and the more I read the more I have to conclude there's not much to know.

He wanted Lieberman. He was willing to settle for that other guy -- Pawlenty. And he ends up taking somebody from Alaska who was chosen only because she's the opposite of him, i.e., young and female.

This is about as much fun and about as useful as watching paint dry.

The Final Insult

Several threads have gone up at Beliefnet lately with the common theme that the U.S. economy is improving, that we are better off now economically thanks to Bush than we were before, that the hardship many Americans now suffer is "psychological," and we need to stop whining, and instead should feel grateful for all that's been done with us.

This morning's Paul Krugman column in the New York times effectively demolishes these evasions and fantasies, which can now take their rightful place alongside other rich works of the human imagination such as The Da Vinci Code and The Celestine Prophesy. Krugman cites simple, straightforward U.S. Census Bureau information which shows that adjusted for inflation, median household income in the U.S. declined by $1175 a year between 2000 and 2007, while during that same time median household expenses increased by $4655.

And that's not even counting the worst year, 2008, when the poo hit the air conditioner.

On top of this, last week one of McCain's "health policy" advisors, a certain John Goodman, added insult to injury by declaring that there's no such thing as citizens with no health insurance in this country, because uninsured people who are hurt or sick can always go to the emergency room.

The McCain camp reacted quickly. Responding to inquiries from a reporter at the blog Talking Points Memo, "First, the McCain camp denied that Goodman was an advisor. Then, after being confronted with evidence to the contrary, they went on to issue what amounts to a non-denial denial and a repudiation of Goodman's emergency room statement."

But the neocon message had already been delivered, and it was just this: "We got ours -- so why don't you go get yours? You want some? Screw you, go get your own."

How about you, Mr. Goodman? If you step on a nail in your back yard or get an ear infection, do you go to the emergency room? I thought not.

In my not-so-short life I haven't been this grossly insulted too many times. And what Mr. Goodman said, this McCain campaign non-advisor advisor, insults millions more just like me.

It's the last insult we ever need to take from this crew. I hope they're careful that the door doesn't hit 'em in the ass on their way out.

The Democrats, via Obama's speech last night, implied that they plan re-allocate some of the resources currently being hogged by the Empire of the Pentagon, Inc., and redirect them to the service of the health and well-being of the country's citizens. God help them if they fail to do so.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Autobio, Part II

I decided to overcome depression by taking advantage of what's sure to be SF's warmest day of the year so far and doing the nostalgia walk. I try to do a version of it once for every month-long stay in San Francisco. So about 10:00 it was off to the "N" Car stop and the short ride under Market Street to Montgomery station.

For once I was glad to be alone. I usually do this with someone, but that defeats the purpose because you give all your attention to the other person (or people) and don't attend to business, i.e., reviving ancient memories and using them to draw inferences about the present.

I started at Number One Montgomery Street, where I worked for a few months in early 1969, as a temp in a bank, filing the annual reports they got from other companies and routing mail. At the time Julie and I were living with another couple on upper Montgomery, so home-to-work-to home was a ten-minute downhill walk in the morning and a fifteen-minute climb in the afternoon. Except today it was about a half-hour climb, because now I'm an old man with emphysema rather than a young, bulletproof idiot able to sit at a desk all day smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee, then scramble effortlessly up a 45-degree grade at five in the afternoon.

I still made it though, but at the top couldn't figure out what house we'd lived in. I think it was the one right at the top of the stairs, at Union Street. It was owned by Melvin Belli, the famous attorney who defended Jack Ruby in Dallas and shit a pile of little green nickels on TV when he couldn't get him off. And Belli's people evicted us and our housemates Barbara and Larry, I remember that.

Three blocks down I took a trip along Broadway, now a scene of nearly total desolation. All the joints at street level are either closed or about to, and looking up to the second and third stories I realized there are still flophouses in North Beach. I lived in just such a dreadful, filthy place when my parents pushed me out of the ancestral home in Marin County, in 1966. I didn't know how to take care of myself and became dirty, malnourished, and a little bit insane.

When Julie and I picked each other up we were at 67 Fresno Alley, right behind Broadway. It also now looks like a slum, and has been obviously broken into so many times that it no longer presents even the appearance of a secured dwelling. It looked a lot better even just a couple of years ago.

Julie and I first hooked up in 1968. There was a war going on, and Hubert Humphrey the Democrat was running against Richard Nixon, following a tumultuous and shocking series of civil disturbances on the streets of Chicago during the Democratic convention. However, there was no point to voting for either, since both candidates and both parties were creatures of the War Machine, and both parroted its silly rationalizations justifying the war it was waging at the time.

Nothing has changed. Life is a zero-sum game.

I went by City Lights Books because I wanted to go there specifically and buy a copy of Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl." This is, I think, the second time I've done that.

Ginsberg asks: "What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Whore Rides a Monster

The latest McCain attack ad was predictable enough. It goes after Obama for not being a tough guy, characterizing him as a wimp, unwilling to do what needs to be done to protect the Empire of the Pentagon, Inc. from jihadist dangers and the perversions of the Persians.

Assuming that Obama actually said what the ad claims he did -- that Iran is a "tiny" country which offers "no threat to the United States or Israel," the only part I find to disagree with is the "tiny."

The McCain video, of course, thumps away monotonously on the usual lie -- that Iran is threatening us with a nuclear weapon she doesn't have, which she is about to acquire by way of a nuclear weapons development program which she likewise doesn't have, as we were informed last year by the Empire of the Pentagon's very own intelligence services.

However, cheerleaders for imperium and the spoil of free oil for everybody never let the truth stand in the way of a useful grudge and a possible war. Iran makes for a particularly useful object lesson, because its history shows what happens when one of the Empire of the Pentagon's prize possessions manages to stage a successful revolution and slip out of the Beast's claws. That, and the fact that the movement now known as "jihadism" began there, is Iran's real crime, not their supposed ability to drop a big one on us or on Tel Aviv, as the fantasy cooked up in feverish and overheated imperialist brains would have it.

Those who would grasp the levers of Empire never forget anything, and they never learn anything.

Tim LaHaye, I'm sure, would disagree, but watching the McCain attack ad this morning I was reminded of the passage in "Revelation" in which a whore is riding a beast with seven heads and ten horns. I haven't read LaHaye's take on this powerful image, but if his interpretation is literal, which I suspect, he misses the point. Writing in about 95 CE from the rock called Patmos whence he had been banished by the Emperor, John may have been describing the first seven emperors (Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius called Caligula, Claudius, Nero, and after the turmoil of 68-69, Vespasian and his son Titus, and Domitian) and the ten main possessions of the Empire: Africa, Egypt, Cappadocia, Asia, Greece, Britain, Gaul, Germania, Hispalia (Spain), and Italy. Of course I'm guessing, since there's no way of knowing exactly what John of Patmos had in mind.

But he was certainly writing about the Empire, and in a way, describing all empires, which are all founded on the universal instinct, so productive of bloodshed and tears, to dominate and control others. For their own good, of course.

Some of our instincts enhance our survival; others are sent straight from hell, and work from within for our destruction. The instinct which causes subjects who used to be citizens to chant "USA -- Number One!" and causes a whore like McCain to ride the beast is one of the latter.

The Empire of the Pentagon, Inc., as no longer a country, but a for-profit enterprise. As long as we're an empire, we will never be a democracy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

He Stumbled to the Podium

The consensus is that Hillary's speech just now was the greatest speech I never heard.

True, I didn't hear it, but I know what I'm supposed to think of it. I've been tipped off by the Associated Press:

The packed convention floor became a sea of white "Hillary" signs as the New York senator strode to the podium, and thousands of Democrats cheered as she took a pre-speech sip of water.

She drinks water and the crowd goes nuts! What would they do if she took a shot of Jack Daniels?

Please note the story says she "strode to the podium." That's what Eisenhower always did when he was running in 1952, as written up in Time Magazine. He "strode" to the podium, whereas the Democrat, Adlai Stevenson always "ambled." It made Stevenson sound like the missing link.

I remember that even though I was only eight years old at the time. I remember my Dad calling my Mom's attention to it, and they had a giggle over silly Henry Luce and his mag. That was at a very early stage of my political education.

I'll be watching closely to see what verb the A.P. chooses to describe Obama's perambulation to the podium when he arrives to accept the nomination. The verb the writer chooses will communicate to us how we're supposed to feel about it, and him.

I believe that after you plus the New Yorker and minus Fox News, there is a single, unified, mass media narrative.

And I'll see out takes from Hillary's speech on Youtube tomorrow. I'll just watch the juicy parts.

Difference Between the 2

Dennis Perrin has let go another scorching anti-Democrat screed from Denver, or "Demver" as he calls it. But even he admits he got emotional in 1980 when Kennedy spoke as he stood up to oppose Carter.

So did I. Kennedy, who is now fading quickly, was the last of the generation of Democrats truly committed to actual social change. No more like him are being made, nor ever will be.

To keep this very simple, people keep saying to me, "You've got to admit they're (Democrats) better than the Republicans." And I do admit it. They're obviously better.

At least they're not fascists. That's about the nicest thing I can think of to say about them. And how much better are they, really? Are they better enough?

I compared the Clinton administration to the one we're still suffering from. Clinton didn't run an endless war, but he had an on-again off-again bombing of Iraq going on most of the time he was in office. How many civilians, I wonder, died in that years-long, casual dropping of explosives? Also, to keep his cred with the war machine, Clinton took advantage of the opportunity to put on a splendid little war in Kosovo, "to stop the atrocities," as it were, although some political observers such as Chomsky believe Clinton's war there was the cause of atrocities rather than the result of them.

Bush's budget for the Pentagon this year is $455.5 billion -- the highest it's ever been, and that's not even counting the $200 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's the most ever except for 1968, when the war machine's tab was somewhat over 460 billion in 2004 dollars. The smallest Clinton era defense budget was $315.8 billion. That's better.

So if I do the calculation 315.8/455.5, it yields .6933, which tells me that the Democrats will spend about 70 percent as much as Republicans on wars and maintaining the Empire of the Pentagon. Doing the math, that means the Democrats are about 30 percent better than the Republicans.

Other than that, they're just as tiresome and silly to listen to, and Barack Obama is already rolling up his sleeve with the intention of keeping a war going in Afghanistan for a good long time.

Not good enough, I'm afraid. The Democrats are less overtly bloodthirsty and jingoistic than Republicans, slightly more inclined to social programs to address societal ills, and certainly not as ridiculous in their assertions of manly virtue and moral superiority, but nonetheless unacceptable.

When it comes to war, the Democrats are kind of like the kid who wanted to "just do it until I have to wear glasses."

We need to overturn the status quo, not live with it. The solution to our problems is not to be a nice, tame liberal, then vote for Bush's war. That's hypocrisy, and all the posturing at the Democratic convention is just too much monkey business for me to be involved with.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Big Blog Attack

Amazing Grease

Dennis Perrin, the former comedy-writer, now a professional fire-eating radical and author of the anti-Democratic-Party broadside "Savage Mules," writes of sitting at a red light in his home state of Michigan a couple days ago with a lone driver in the lane next to his who appeared about ready to pee his pants.

He's heavy-set, balding, wearing a teal shirt and loosened dark tie. His big hairy hands are pounding the wheel. He's looking back and forth, as if seeking an opening. The light remains red. Finally, he can't take it anymore, hits the gas and runs the light. A couple of cars stop and honk, but the guy flies past them. Maybe he's having a heart attack, I thought, or has to use the can. A minute or so after this, the light is green, and I push ahead, Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" shaking my dash. I must have been going faster than I thought, for suddenly the guy's car is just ahead of me. He slows, flips his left turn signal, then pulls into a McDonald's drive-through.

I'm sure Dennis remembers, as I do, that back in the 70's that was called a "Big Mac Attack."

Two-Dimensional Candidate

Meanwhile, everybody's favorite political cartoonist, Tom Tomorrow (Okay, so he's not Assrocket's favorite cartoonist) is at the awesome and very unique Democratic convention in Denver, where he has posted a picture of himself posing with Barack Obama, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

Senator Benzadrina

Writing at Jonathan Schwarz's blog, "Tiny Revolution" the mathematician Bernard Chazelle exhibits the same disdain for the Democrats' pick for the VP spot as seems to infect radical extreme left-wing anti-war pacifist terrorist sympathizers all over the flippin' net. So the guy voted "Aye" on Bush's war resolution five years ago. Can't an honest legislator make an honest mistake once in a while?

Like Jonathan, I am having trouble containing my excitement about Joe Biden. I heard on NPR that, unlike Obama, Biden knows where the bathrooms are in the White House.

That's very exciting news. But... how would NPR know? Did Neal Conan or Robert Siegel actually ask Biden to count, locate, and describe the White House urinals? Did they ask him whether he made use of the facilities and, if so, why? If the president calls you into his office to share with you his latest plan to carpet-bomb a poor Muslim country, do you go "Hold that B-52 thought just a sec, Mr President, where's the restroom?" Wouldn't that say something significant about your ability to lead? If you can't plan ahead to use the bathroom before meeting the president, why should I believe you can plan the reconstruction of a nation after you've annihilated it? I read that Napoleon lost at Waterloo because he had a bad case of hemorrhoids (think about it: if not for hemorrhoids, you'd all be speaking French.) A politician's intimate knowledge of White House plumbing should be cause for worry not reassurance. Trust NPR to miss that.

If you think my fears are ill-founded, check this out.

Six months before the invasion of Iraq, four US senators asked the CIA to produce a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq's WMDs. Ten days after the report came out, Biden joined the majority of the Senate in authorizing war.

Biden read the report and saw immediately that the White House was peddling major-league crapola.

"I did read it, and that's why I took issue from the very beginning, as you'll recall, from the very beginning, saying that what they were saying was not accurate."

So, what ya gonna do when you're a legislator who realizes the executive is feeding you a line of bullshit? You give 'em what they want anyway, if you value your status and rank in the D.C. pecking order.

Chazelle doesn't say this, but I will: Biden's hypocrisy isn't entirely his fault; it simply shows what's happened to the checks-and-balances form of government that's described in that archaic document, the U.S. Constitution.

If you want to play ball in that town, you got to defer to the real power, or get left on the bench.

That's just one of the reasons I have almost no interest in politics this political season. I find political activity in the U.S. as it's presently incarnated, and in other countries with similar forms of government such as, for example, El Salvador, profoundly uninteresting.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Old and In the Way

Old and in the way, that's what I heard them say
They used to heed the words he said, but that was yesterday.
--David Grisman
"Old and In the Way"

There are a lot of older people who are alone and lonely. They seem to have a hard time hooking up with each other, for some reason.

You run into them all over the internet and see them in the streets and cafes -- solitary souls in their 50's, 60's, and 70's who have experienced an unexpected divorce or the sudden death of a spouse.

Sometimes I think they're mostly people who never planned on being alone. They find themselves unmarried, unemployed, without many close friends, and often with no one interested in paying the least attention to them. In many cases this isolation enters their lives suddenly, and without warning.

Most of them have children, but the children are busy with active, married lives of their own.

Victor Hugo wrote in "Les Miserables," "The misery of a child interests a mother, the misery of a young man interests a young woman, the misery of an old person interests no one."

Anton Chekhov wrote in "Gooseberries" that no matter how happy we are, "sooner or later life will show its claws."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

That's What I Like About the South

A McClatchey News Service story based on a poll of the eleven southern states shows that McCain has a big lead there.

Anybody remember Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy?" The Republican presidential candidates have been living off it since 1968.

That's forty years, my friends.

And, the further into the South you go, the larger McCain's lead grows, the poll of likely voters in 11 Southern states shows.

Likely voters in the Deep South — those in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina — preferred McCain by a 25-point margin, 56 percent to 31 percent.

Sounds about right to me.

That's because they don't like evolution down there. Everywhere else in the country, evolution is a fact, but in the Deep South it's the missing ingredient.

Keep in mind, however, I'm writing this in San Francisco.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Staggering and Stumbling from Stagflation

"Stagflation" is a term the media aren't using right now, even though it's back. An A.P. story at Yahoo is calling it "dueling economic cross-currents." Anyway, stagflation or dueling banjos or whatever you want to call it is the economic news right now.

Stagflation is the synonymous occurrence of rising prices and rising unemployment. According the economics textbooks I studied as a kid, that couldn't happen. If there was low employment and weak economic activity, prices were supposed to go down because there would be too many unsold goods and services and competition would be stiffer.

Both in the 80's and now, the "flation" part of stagflation is driven by rapidly rising commodities prices. Especially oil prices.

Ben Bernanke doesn't use that 80's word either, but that's what he was talking about today.

"Although we have seen improved functioning in some markets, the financial storm that reached gale force" around this time last year "has not yet subsided, and its effects on the broader economy are becoming apparent in the form of softening economic activity and rising unemployment," Bernanke said in a speech to a high-profile economics conference...


The Fed, he said, would monitor the situation closely and will "act as necessary" to make sure that inflation doesn't get out of hand.

The economic news today was good though. The stock market went up almost 200 poohs, and the price of oil dropped six bucks, after it had risen six bucks yesterday. Menza menza. As long as they're selling beans at Safe-a-way, I'll be all right. A little gassy perhaps, but doin' O.K.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another Fine Mess

OK, the price of crude oil has jumped up to $122 this morning because a bunch of neocon cowboys with guns who happen to be running this country are messing around in Eastern Europe and pulling Putin's chain.

We really don't want to mess with the Russian bear. He's not only dangerous when provoked, but he's also at present the world's biggest oil producer.

I wonder when we're going wake up and realize we can't live with this neocon belligerence. It has too much of a negative effect on our daily lives, and causes real people real pain.

There's an election this year. The Republican in the race would simply continue the same mindless, destructive, belligerent policies that are wrecking the economy, making us enemies all over the world, and messing up people's personal lives.

Why do we worry so much about what other people are doing instead of what WE'RE doing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

la Ultima de Lavanderia

Norberto Longo was the ruler of Costa Mierda. He had been for as long as anyone, himself included, could remember.

He was only 13 when his father met a violent end, assassinated by revolutionaries of the Partido de las Morsas y los Carpinteros. That had been 75 years ago, when the presidential palace was still a split-level ranch house, and things moved a lot slower in Costa Mierda and her capital city, Cerrote Amarillo. Still Norberto had ruled with an iron hand from the very beginning, even though he was not much more than a little kid. Finding himself having to survive among the piranhas, he became a shark.

He once kicked a guy in the penis.

Checking In

It was foggy and misty and cloudy and very, very humid this morning; about 70 degrees. Altogether, a great morning for a walk.

I decided to go to Golden Gate Park, where there's free admission to the Japanese Tea Garden on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 9:00 and 10:00 in the morning, like I usually do. I like to check in with the Buddha a couple times a week.

I first went there and saw him in, I think, about 1965. He hasn't changed much since then. He's still about three times life size, and made of bronze. He was cast in Japan in 1790 and brought to his present location in 1949, where he's sat with his back to the goldfish pond, facing a bamboo grove ever since. Through wars, presidents, booms and depressions he's sat there with his unchanging expression.

The tea garden was already old in 1949, when the Buddha sat down in it. It was laid out in 1894, and a Japanese family called Hagiwara was brought over to tend it. Besides taking care of the garden, They lived in it until 1942, when they were sent to a concentration camp, never to return to the tranquil spot they called home for almost 50 years.

The Buddha sits in the garden with his enigmatic half smile and his eyelids almost, but not quite closed. His big face is serene, mirroring the tranquility of the place. His left hand appears to be making the barest hint of a gesture we interpret as obscene. Maybe that's for what we did to the Hagiwaras.

Rice Puffs

Condoleezza Ricepuffs was in Poland today, inking the new "defense" treaty with the Polish heads of government while sniffing and puffing at the Russians.

Rice dismissed blustery comments from Russian leaders who say Warsaw’s hosting of 10 U.S. interceptor missiles just 115 miles from Russia’s westernmost frontier opens the country up to attack.

Such comments "border on the bizarre frankly," Rice said, speaking to reporters traveling with her in Warsaw.

"When you threaten Poland, you perhaps forget that it is not 1988," Rice said. "It’s 2008 and the United States has a ... firm treaty guarantee to defend Poland’s territory as if it was the territory of the United States. So it’s probably not wise to throw these threats around."

Oh, boy.

But, she's right about one thing: it's not 1988. What she hasn't figured out is that it's 1962.

Anybody remember the Cuban missile crisis? A Russian missile installation in Cuba?

I don't think Khrushchev was ever clueless enough to say that the Kennedy administration's reflexive escalation of the threat of war over his missiles being parked on our doorstep "border on the bizarre, frankly."

Does this woman ever listen to how ridiculous she sounds? It does not border on the bizarre, Frank Lee.

This has been another installment of that ongoing comedy routine in the form of a question, "Just how gullible and/or dishonest and/or hypocritical can Americans be?"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The French Disease

Syphilis has always been somebody else's fault.

The English called it the French disease.

The French called it the Spanish disease.

The Russians called it the Polish disease.

Personally, I call it the blue dog Democrat disease.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Attack of the Bloodthirsty Donkeys

OK, so maybe our U.S. intelligence agencies told us last year that Iran DOESN'T HAVE a nuclear weapons program, that they scrapped it in 2003, and that it's still frozen to this day.

So it's fairly obvious that only a low-life lying scumbag would maintain in the face of known facts that Iran is a potentially dangerous nuclear power and a threat to the U.S. and Israel. And if you assume that I'm talking about a bunch of neocon Republicans, you're...(wait for it) wrong.

I'm talking about the Democrats, and their inclusion in the 2008 party platform of the item "Prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."

Why is a party which is supposedly the opposition allowing the most violent and ideologically rabid neocons the Republicans have to offer to set the agenda for all of us? Probably because they're figure if they're too truthful, voters will regard them as wimps, and unmanly.

When both the major political parties in the country that's the world's biggest nuclear power try to depict a country that doesn't even have a nuclear weapons program as a dangerous and potentially genocidal loose cannon, we've departed from the realm of political debate, because we're dealing with delusional sorts of ideas that aren't wrong, but psychotic. These are the kind of people who see little green men under the bed.

I'm sick of these two-faced, lying hypocrites who call themselves Democrats, and I think somebody should write a book about their bloody and duplicitous history. Maybe it could be called "Savage Mules."

Surprise! Somebody has written that book.

Are you as sick of I am of listening to warmongers like Evan Bayh whine that they were "duped" into supporting the Iraq invasion? Then visit the author's website.

To hell with these Republicans AND Democrats. It's been obvious to me for some time that anybody in this country who has the least interest in being honest is going to have to make his or her own damn future.

Thanks to Jonathan Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution who provided all the factual information for this post.

You Got to Be a Macho Man!

Now that Russia's violent smackdown of Georgia and its brash President Saakishvili is winding down, it's becoming obvious how it all happened, who did what to whom, and who got paid.

As perennial politics watcher Robert Scheer revealed in an article at Global Research a few days ago, Saakashvili was the aggressor in the conflict, egged on by the Republican presidential nominee McCain, who was in his turn egged on by his foreign policy and national security advisor Randy Scheunemann, a long-time neocon-about-Washington who has been on Saakashvili's payroll for several years as a lobbyist for the Georgian government.

This Scheunemann has a history of mischief. He was one of the directors of The Project for a New American Century at the time that nest of hooligans was plotting the invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein. And there's speculation that Saakashvili paid him $200,000 specifically for enlisting McCain's support for the Georgian aggression in the breakaway provinces.

McCain's motivation in urging the Georgians to violence, then growling and menacing when Putin responded at a level that could only be called excessive, was to engineer a situtation in which he could assume a tough guy pose, knowing voters would compare his macho and threatening postures to Obama's weak, wimpy, delicate, and anemic responses.

McCain is very much aware that Americans vote for REAL men -- regular guys who wipe their asses with sandpaper and start the day by drinking a lite beer and killing a small animal -- and turn away from girly men who talk about things like "hope" and timidly shrink from violence. We Americans want a guy in the White House who's not afraid to kick some ass, drink some beer, watch a little football, and beat up a queer.

Even the Iranians showed a preference for dealing with the manly and macho Reagan, who offered to give them sophisticated armaments in return for their ordering Hezbollah to release the hostages they were holding in Lebanon. They certainly favored him over the effeminate and nervous Carter, who for all we know wore pink silk panties with ribbons and bows on them underneath his gray suits.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

When Will We Learn?

This whole "stand up and support the noble Saakashvili and plucky little Georgia against the despotic Putin and evil Russia" is the biggest crock of steaming B.S. I've ever seen.

Saakashvili was egged on in his foolish attempt to secure breakaway territories using force by McCain and a former lobbyist for the Georgia government who happens to be working in the McCain campaign, his top foreign affairs and national security advisor Randy Scheunemann, as revealed by Robert Scheer at

This Scheunemann is not well known, but he should be. Formerly director of The Project for a New American Century, he was part of the neoconservative plot on behalf of the military-industrial complex to take this country to war in Iraq.

Apparently Iraq has not been violent enough to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the war machine, which constantly needs new enemies so we can build new weapons systems. Vladimir Putin is made to order.

Don't expect Obama and the Democrats to mount any defense against this further hijacking of our country's resources. They'll lie down on our expensive new cold war with its occasional hot spots just like they lay down for Iraq.

The war machine is the biggest con job in history. This is YOUR Social Security and the quality and/or availability of YOUR medical care we're talking about here.

Here's a news flash: the captains of late-stage, unrestrained and predatory capitalism don't hesitate to use war and violence as for-profit enterprises. They're the most violent people who ever lived with the possible exception of the Nazis.

And war is good for business; invest your son.

We're not done with these neocons yet. If they can't get elected, they'll worm their way into positions of influence like this guy did, and they'll steal the nickels off our eyes when we're dead if we don't do something about them.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Violence as a Disease

I walked out this morning on my way to the bank and the store. The street was quiet and peaceful. There was sunshine, a light breeze, and the occasional car going by. A young mother walked by with her two little kids in tow.

What kind of world are those kids going to live in? Better than the one they're living in now, I hope, but I doubt it.

I was thinking about the war. Not the Iraq War, although that's part of it. I thought of the bloodshed, the violence, the bombs, the desperate struggle of men to stay alive in a burning hell of bullets and explosions, and wondered why.

When I think about the wars of the last 100 years, from World War I to Iraq, the primary feature of all of them is senselessness. There were excuses for all those wars and all that violent death, but no real reasons.

The terrifying slaughter of World War I was deliberately set off by childish colonial and commercial rivalries among the ruling classes of Europe. Hitler ignited the worst war the world has ever seen using the fantastic pretext of a perceived need for Germany to expand her territory. His rage and thirst for blood were not satisfied with a world-wide conflagration, and he compounded his crimes by murdering millions of innocents in death factories.

In this country the last two generations have seen the pointless bloodletting and violent, deep-soul trauma of the imbecile Vietnam campaign, and most recently in Iraq, the muddled, violent attempt of a failing empire to secure supplies of a diminishing resource halfway around the world, in an ill-advised attempt to prop up a way of life scheduled for extinction.

All these conflicts except the first saw the violent deaths of as many civilians as combatants, and the blood of the innocent, in the words of Genesis, cries up from the ground for retribution.

Why did these things happen, and continue to happen? Those who started these wars always blamed the enemy -- if only he had been willing to listen to reason...if only they were less like themselves and more like us, pure, virtuous, and good -- and anyway He attacked Us first...

But the real reason, the inescapable truth about these pointless convulsions of bloodshed and violence over the past century is that they were expressions of violent rage perpetrated by violent, fearful, and enraged men. Look at our highest-level politicians and our captains of industry. You can see the violence in their eyes. You can hear it in their words. Turn on the TV to any cable news channel, and you find yourself in direct confrontation with the pathology of violent souls.

For the United States, which spends as much money on the means of violence, bloodshed, and destruction as the rest of the world combined, the responsibility for the level of violence in this beaten and traumatized world rests especially heavy. We have the world's biggest war machine, and that makes us the most violent.

What we're dealing with here isn't really politics, but medicine. Sick minds and sick souls need treatment. Instead, the sickest among us are talking about the need to do violence to the Iranians.

We don't need to worry about the Iranians. What we need to worry about is the state of our souls, and really, sincerely, to stop acting like we're out of our minds.

Attacking Iran -- that's what I'd call a little hair of the dog that bit you.
U.S. out of Iraq Now

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pot, Allow Me to Introduce Kettle

President Bush decided to lecture Russian President Vladimir Putin on the finer points of what it would take for Russia to become a prudent and respected member of the world's community of nations. Like us.

"To begin to repair the damage to its relations with the United States, Europe and other nations and to begin restoring its place in the world, Russia must keep its word and act to end this crisis," Bush said.

Then he sent Condoleezza Ricepuffs to Paris, where she was last seen inhaling the fumes of a glass of absinthe at Folies Bergere with that dog, Nick Sarkozy, while Dubya stayed home, screaming loudly and brandishing his toothpick.

Let's Make a Deal

According to Talking Points Memo this morning -- and it's up now on the wire services as well -- the Clinton and Obama camps have reached agreement on how the convention, the reeeeaally big shew, will be scheduled, choreographed, synchronized, and homogenized. Clinton's name will be placed in nomination; Obama will win the vote; she'll support him; everybody will go home happy.

This should put an end to Maureen Dowd's regular Hillarophobic moans in Sunday's Times. However, Dowd's observation that Hillary is already running for 2012 is correct. No one as ambitious as Mrs. Clinton could be expected to take her eyes off the brass ring for even a second, even when it's a long shot.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


On this lovely summer evening in San Francisco, I'm planning to get on a bus in a few hours and head down to the Mission District, to an obscure little hole-in-the-wall bar called "Amnesia."

I go to Amnesia quite frequently, even though I don't drink, because the music is generally good, and tonight's band is one of the best around, a local group called "Gaucho," consisting of six accomplished musicians who swing hard, but don't rock. When your instrumentation is two acoustic guitars, stand-up bass, drums, sax, and accordian, you're not exactly setting out to rock this town.

Ask any of the members of Gaucho what type of music they play and they'll tell you "Gypsy jazz." That's kind of a code term meaning "heavily influenced by the music of Django Reinhardt."

Reinhardt, the legendary French Gypsy guitarist who recorded prolifically with his own group in the 30's and died young in 1954, still casts a very long shadow over the world of music. If anything, his influence has grown rather than diminished in recent years.

There's only one very brief film clip of Django playing, and it does reveal a little for those curious to learn more about his almost superhuman technique. The thing about Reinhardt is that he was disabled. Burned in a caravan fire at 18, the fourth and fifth fingers of his left hand -- his fretting hand -- were paralyzed and useless. He played all those amazing solos with two fingers.

It's audio only, but if you've never heard Reinhardt (or even if you have), check out the Youtube of him playing "When Day is Done" with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. It might bring tears to your eyes. It does mine.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Australian Navels

It's a beautiful day here in San Francisco, and a very quiet and peaceful one in the Cole Valley Cafe where I'm sitting right now. Brought my own sheepskin to sit on because my butt's so bony I've got no glutei to cushion the spine against that hardwood bench.

Yesterday I wrote a single sentence that said it all: "The truth is, all my happiness was dependent on another."

How's that for an admission of co-dependency?

And the additional truth is, that'll never happen no more. I'm divorced and alone, maybe for good, and if I'm ever going to be happy again I have to learn how to be emotionally self-sufficient.

Better late than never, I guess.

So with that in mind, I rolled out this morning determined to write a gratitude list. And the truth is, I have no business feeling sorry for myself. I have a great deal to be grateful for.

To wit: I'm a non-drinker and a non-smoker. I banished alcohol from my life a long time ago -- it's been almost 15 years. Smoking went out the window a little more recently -- it'll be a year on October 10.

Beer and cigarettes always got me in trouble, especially when I did 'em both together. So for anybody out there who's having trouble with alcohol and/or nicotine, all I can tell you is there's a better life, if you're willing to crawl through a swamp full of alligators to get to it. If you can do that, you'll be glad you did. And I'm grateful for it.

Here's another thing: I suffered most of my life from inflammatory bowel disease, but now it's completely under control as long as I watch what I eat and don't get careless with hanging around in restaurants or swallowing processed food. A few simple dietary changes is all it took; now I live on raw fruit and boiled eggs, mostly, supplemented with a little bread and cheese and vegetables cooked in chicken broth.

Good fruit is a miracle food. Oranges bathe the intestines in citric acid, a natural anti-inflammatory. Australian navels are the best this time of year because it's winter down there right now. And eating an avocado a day will do wonders for a person's skin and hair.

However, the first rule when it comes to eating is to avoid doing too much of it. For me, that means what I see when I stand in front of a full-length mirror with nothing on, like I did this morning, is a 64-year-old guy with a healthy peanut tan color and a full head of gray hair who carries something between 120 and 125 pounds on a very spare, five-foot nine-inch frame. And I'm grateful for that. Some people tell me I look like a concentration camp escapee, but I kind of like the way it looks, and as long as my guts function the way I want 'em to, why not?

Finally, there's yoga practice, which over time gets more frequent, deeper, more significant in the impact it has on the rest of my life, and directly addresses the question that started this meditation: what do I need to do to get emotional self-sufficiency, and put an end to co-dependency? If you put any credence in the philosophy embedded in the source document of the ancient practice of yoga, the Sutra of Patanjali, the way to inner peace is a matter of very specific kinds of mental and physical discipline. But I won't attempt to explain here a teaching which I'm only just beginning to apprehend, and have little understanding of at this point.

I'll just say I've got the opportunity to learn more, and I'm grateful for that.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sun's Gonna Shine in My Back Door

Sun's gonna shine in my back door someday;
You hear me talkin' pretty mama?
Wind's gonna change and blow my blues away.

--Tommy Johnson
"Big Road Blues"

Finally, a warm, cloudless, sunny day in San Francisco. Mark Twain famously said that the coldest winter he ever experienced was a summer in San Francisco, and I know exactly what he meant. I arrived here Tuesday, a cold, glurky day whose weather persisted the entire rest of the week. But today is different.

I'm here house sitting for my daughter again, while she travels the world pursuing her art, much to the delight of her legions of adoring fans. She persisted in following her dream, endured some scrapes, bumps, and hard times, and now...well, it's sufficient to say I'm extremely proud of her.

The picture of us is a couple of years old, but that's ok. That was the same kind of summer day as this is, and we don't look any different now than we did then. Possibly, a degree of the sadness and loneliness that has been my portion since we took that photo has crept into my features, but that could be dispelled quite easily.

I'm not used to this. I was very happy for the longest time. I was happy even when I thought I wasn't, but most of the time I was very aware of that feeling of satisfaction.

How long do I have to wait before that happiness comes back to me? How far away do I have to move, and how many times?

Or will it ever return? Is what I've got what I'll get? From now on?

The truth is, all my happiness was dependent on another.

What does it take to learn emotional self-sufficiency?

But enough of this. It's time to go for a walk in the sun.

Here Comes the Sun

And there it went. Short day.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Only the Lonely

Sometimes when I look around me it seems the whole world is suffering from the same loneliness, boredom, depression, and ennui that have become my lot in life the past couple of years. About half the people I see out on the streets and in the cafes look unhappy. Or constipated, one or the other.

Lots of people try online dating. I've thought about it, but haven't done it. Suzie, writing at Echidne of the Snakes (sorry, you'll have to scroll down; I couldn't capture the exact link) says, "Anyone who needs reminding that people can be anyone they want to be on the Internet should try online dating. If I ever do it again...I need to put in my profile: 'I enjoy investigating. Do not contact me if you have something to hide.'"

Maybe the solutions to this problem of loneliness and purposelessness have more to do with going back to work, trying to be of service (nothing like getting outside of oneself), and helping others. But then, I know a woman who does all these things, and she's lonely. And she subscribes to an on-line dating service.

"I dislike," Suzie continues, registering a strong protest against the sleazier aspects of the biology of sexual attractiveness, "that most men are looking for younger women. A WaPo article says many women now want younger men. This is the hook of the article, which goes on to acknowledge that men want younger women, which is dog-bites-man.

"The article describes eHarmony: “… members are matched according to a psychological profile and personality characteristics.” I was matched with men who had nothing in common with me other than we were all carbon-based life forms. "

I don't know how old Suzie is, but I'll bet she's younger than me. At this long-shadowed point in my life, my solutions to whatever problems arise will have to come from within. There'll be no more hot times in the old town, in whatever old town I happen to find myself in. And I'm not going to get involved with on-line dating.

E-Harmony will have to continue on without me.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Natural Radiance of the Mind

One of the hardest things for any normally developed human mind to do is to think of nothing for any extended period of time. For the mind to be full of worries, anxieties, pleasurable thoughts, fantasies, reveries, plans and anticipations is the usual state of affairs, and our awareness is ordinarily so taken up with those kinds of mental ripples that as a consequence we are mostly unaware of even the details and nuances of our immediate surroundings.

And if we find it difficult to focus our awareness on our immediate environments, and it's a task of no easy accomplishment to eliminate the mental static that interferes with doing so, how much more difficult would it be to take as the mind's object an awareness of only awareness itself, or in other words, to think of nothing?

The teacher of my teachers, Gary Kraftsow, refers to this kind of pure awareness as "that which never changes," as opposed to those malleable, finite, and short-lived thought formations which are the normal and ordinary objects of our consciousness. Pure awareness, then, would be a subject with no object, and aware only of itself.

I've been finding out first hand just how hard it is to achieve this rare and fleeting state of mind. The mind abhors an empty room, and seeks to occupy itself with any object that comes conveniently to hand. This morning as I attended to my breathing, I attempted to prevent the natural inclination of my mind to grasp for an object -- any object -- if left unattended for more than a fraction of a second. I actually succeeded for brief periods of up to maybe half a minute, in keeping at bay any mental object other than an awareness of the breath.

What happened during those brief seconds was unusual for me (although I'm sure it wouldn't be for those accomplished at this sort of thing). I felt as if the mind's eye was seeing, at some distance, a white light or white radiance of some sort, although where it was coming from I couldn't tell. It seemed to arise somewhere on the left side of the inner vision.

I'm pretty certain more will be revealed.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Live Blogging from the Cole Valley Cafe

The couple who just came in either don't or can't speak. They're signing very large to each other and dragging chairs around.

Lots of kids in here today. They're kind of disruptive, but also they're a good sign, in a way.

In the Empire of Sado-Masochistic Sociopathy

Wolcott appears to be reading Kunstler again. Like a lot of us, JW swore off the Jeremiah of Peak Oil after he went ape shit at the time of the most recent Israeli invasion of Lebanon, proving only that most of us sometimes think with our blood instead of our brains. But nobody can stay mad for long at a guy can who sees a thumbnail of the American psyche in the country's most popular movie of he moment.

"My pathological interest" Wolcott says, "is piqued by James Howard Kunstler's entrail reading of what the movie says about the impotent fury of America's death wish," then quotes Dr. K:

The most striking thing about the new Batman movie, now smashing the all-time box office records, is its emphasis on sado-masochism as the animating element in American culture these days. It must appeal to the many angry people in our land who want to hurt others, even while they themselves feel deserving of the grossest punishments. In other words, the picture reflects the extreme depravity of the current American sensibility. Seeing it all laid out there must be very validating to the emotionally confused audience, and hence pleasurable, in all its painfulness.

Yepp. Welcome to the nuttiest country on earth. If he was still alive, Dr. Jung could mine a rich vein of self-hating, self-pitying narcissism were he able to get the vast majority of the TV-addled citizens of these dysfunctional and disunited states onto his big couch.

Weather in the Big City and in the Southern Shitty

It's about 50 degrees here, and foggy/cloudy with a cool breeze. It feels like paradise after having spent nearly a week in the monsoon conditions currently oppressing Desert Hot Springs -- 99 degrees most of the time, with 40 percent humidity. Forget the swamp coolers! Only air conditioning can save you now, and I hope your unit is working.

Johnny the Pimp

By now, everybody with any kind of political inclination has heard about how McCain tried to pimp his wife out at a biker rally in South Dakota a couple days ago.

Leave it to the inimitable Grace Nearing, however, to descend into the caverns of the comments mine at the Free Republic blog to discover this priceless observation re: McCain's offer to enter Cindy in the Miss Buffalo Chip pageant at this Sturgis, S.D. event which features a machine-gun shooting contest in addition to the topless and, reportedly, sometimes bottomless beauty pageant. The mini-essay presented herewith, typed (and rather well, too) by one Nathan Zachary, is either a masterpiece of withering sarcasm or a museum-quality example of unconscious irony. Mr. Zachary says:

They ("liberal" critics of McCains behavior at the rally) are just jealous that they (sic) only crowds that Obama gets warm applause from are large crowds of queers in SF, black males on the down low, lesbians, and Muslims who hate America and the very thing these bikers symbolize- America, land of the free, home of the brave.

Well, now that you put it that way, Nathan, I guess I have to agree. If the best Obama can get is a bunch of faggots, negro freeloaders, bull dykes, and ragheads, while McCain pulls the quality crowds -- you know, the ones who like tits and machine guns -- I guess it's going to be "no contest" at the polls in November, because, as we all know, red-blooded virtue always prevails over effeminate and effete decadence.

The Guy Ain't Here

There's a guy who hangs out here a lot. I mean, like every day, for hours and hours. He's middle aged or close to it, but he dresses very young and trendy. The first time I saw him he was wearing a very good-looking knit hat and a gray tee shirt with a darker gray number "2" on it. I was curious. Why "2?" Nobody wants to be number two, if you know what I mean.

He never talks to anybody. At all. He orders food and coffee, and sits tappity-tapping on his lappy. Every once in a while he smiles or giggles kind of under his breath a little bit.

But he's not here right now.

What's his story, I wonder? There are three-quarters of a million stories in the Nude City, and I don't know this one.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Obama is a Dumb Poophead with Big Hairy Ears that Stick Out

We're really in trouble if Obama gets elected. For one thing, he says he will "borrow" the homes of some Americans so the government can use them to house the illegal aliens he plans to welcome in.

But the main issue of course is that we could never trust anyone as inexperienced as Obama. Why just look at not only the AMOUNT of experience that Obama's opponent has, but the QUALITY of it. Not only that, but many Democrats are unhappy with him because he's behaving just like a politician. Who'd have thunk it?

And besides that I don't like him. He's a flip-flopper, and he looks sort of French. He's too thin and too young. And besides he's dumb, and a ninny.

Get all the details from Tom Tomorrow.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Tuesday Migration

Tomorrow I'll be traveling again, and I'm hoping for an easy 7:00 a.m. flight back to San Francisco where I'll spend the remainder of August.

It's horrible here in the desert right now, with temperatures in the high 90's to low 100's and 50 percent humidity, so that a swamp cooler avails the sufferer nothing, and only a flawlessly-functioning air conditioning system affords any relief. My AC is good, but unreliable, so I'm glad to be getting out of here.

I'll return here shortly after 9/1 and hope to escape SoCal permanently in the fall, but with the housing market being what it is, my hopes are not exorbitantly high.

There'll probably be light posting here for the next couple of days, partly because I'll be on the move and partly because I'm finally making the big switch from PC and Microsoft to Mac, and I'll be learning how to get around on that "other" kind of computer.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Days of Wine and Psychosis

Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist, is saying that at a recent get together in the vice-president's office, Cheney was meeting with a bunch of his buds, and one of the items they discussed was the idea of disguising American sailors -- Navy Seals to be precise -- as Iranians and then having them attack American ships. That way, Cheney would be able to get the public support for the Iran War he's been nuturing in his viper's bosom since day one.

Shouldn't an assertion like this be followed by shrieking headlines in all the newspapers and lead-story treatment on all the networks? I'll answer my own question, and say that in a sane country, one that hasn't gone all the way around the bend, it would be.

Headline News: We're not just being governed by lunatics, but by evil lunatics.

But Hersh's revelation is nothing more than inaudible background noise in the blaring soundtrack for daily life in the nuttiest country on earth, worthy of nothing more than shrugged shoulders and a few blog posts by so-called radicals.

Jonathan Schwarz steered us toward this nugget from his steady and constant guardpost at

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Home Gardening for Fun and Profit

I haven't been home for a couple of months, so my sick-looking rose garden was full of weeds. I pulled most of them out this morning which made me feel real virtuous, but unfortunately I hurt my back doing it.

Getting older sucks.

There goes my other virtuous plan -- my resolve to do my self-guided yoga practice today (it would have made a whole TWO days in a row!).

Other than that, retirement is treating me pretty good right now, despite the 111-degree, 54-percent-humidity weather we're enduring here at the moment. My air conditioning works, so poo on the weatherman.


I don't mean to knock gardening, though. It can be a lot of fun. Profitable, too.

I'm almost done reading a New Yorker article on the medical marijuana industry, "Dr. Kush" by David Samuels, in the July 28 issue. It really is an industry now; pot is the country's number-one cash crop these days, edging ahead of maize corn, currently high-priced because of the nutball and corrupt ethanol craze, in about 2005. Kush writes:

A drug-policy analyst named Jon Gettman recently estimated that in 2006 Californians grew more than twenty million pot plants. He reckoned that between 1981 and 2006 domestic marijuana production increased tenfold, making pot the leading cash crop in America, displacing corn. A 2005 State Department report put the country’s marijuana crop at twenty-two million pounds. The street value of California’s crop alone may be as high as fourteen billion dollars.

The Medical marijuana movement is a lot more than just a bunch of druggies trying to find a way to legally get fucked up. If that's all they were interested in, they could take Vicodins and drink wine. To my way of thinking, this is just the latest wrinkle in the movement that began shortly after World War II in Greenwich Village and North Beach, San Francisco, and by the mid-60's had evolved and grown into what was then called "the hippies" or "the counter-culture." What it is, really, in its essence, is a different sort of social consciousness, called into being by the grotesque and deformed nature of society and politics in this debased age we're living in.

Because medical marijuana is not just pro-getting-stoned. It's also anti-drug industry, and killer bud is offered as a social antidote to Prozac, Xanax, Welbutrin, Zoloft, and all the other heavily-advertsed anti-depressant, anti-anxiety medications offered by the OTHER culture -- the Evil Suit Guys.

The culture wars are not over. Social reactionaries and cultural gangsters have had everything their way since Reagan came in back in 1980, but they're about spent, and we're not only still here, but more numerous and more committed to real change than ever. We're the people your mom and dad warned you about; the same people New Yorker author Samuels rather dismissively refers to as "holistic health nuts, masseurs, d.j.s, art-school dropouts, and New Age types who populate the medical-marijuana scene..."

Hmmmm. He left out belly dancers. My daughter will be pissed.

I don't know whether I'm a "New Age type" or not, but I do know I'm alienated from mainstream American society and politics and ways of doing business; I'm once again contemplating "dropping out" to the extent that it's possible to do so, and living in an alternative society peopled by like-minded individuals. I have images of the god Ganesha in my house rather than images of Jesus, and I'd consider myself a real revolutionary if I could get rid of my car.

Also, I'm a 64-year old hippie, sober alcoholic, and ex-cigarette smoker, and I live on eggs, fruit, caffeine, and cannabis. The latter two -- the drugs -- I consider relatively harmless and psychologically beneficial in numerous ways.

A friend of mine, Tom Hegarty, wrote a song called "Caffeine and Cannabis," and I've got it on one of his homemade CD's, but the CD won't play on my machine, so I haven't heard it yet. Maybe I'll ask for a command performance.


I'm going through a little dance with a sort of girlfriend of mine which I call "infatuation termination." First she was slightly infatuated with me, and thought of me as a "great artist" and a "great thinker." Then the infatuation cooled and I fell from my pedestal, to become, if I can judge by her behavior toward me, something of a worm.

The fact is, I'm neither a great artist, nor a great thinker, nor a worm. I'm a 64-year-old hippie who does art and enjoys thinking and drinks coffee and smokes weed.
I wish people wouldn't put each other on pedestals, because the fact is there ain't nobody here but us flawed and imperfect humans, and we don't belong on pedestals, from which we will invariably fall.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Gas Prices Rise on Evidence of Personality Disorder

I've been having a hard time getting my head into politico-economic subjects lately, I think for two reasons: a) You can tell what the various pundits and pols and players are going to say about any person, place, or thing before they say it, and b) more importantly for me, large events in my personal life have assumed primacy over the predictable and depressing devolutions, devaluations, and slow dissolves of public events.

However, I couldn't help but notice today that when a warmongering Israeli deputy prime minister rattles his cage and throws a shitfit in Tel Aviv, the price of oil goes up all over the world, with the end result that Californians will pay more for gas.

Oil market traders grew jittery after news reports quoted Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz as saying that Iran's nuclear program was nearing a "major breakthrough" and that his country must be "prepared for every option."

Crude jumped more than four bucks immediately after Mofaz belched his warnings in the general direction of the Iranians, but settled back down to an increase of a little over a buck by the end of the trading day.

This is insane. It's insane for starters that we're still using oil, and truly weird that we permit even a miniscule fragment of our economic well-being to fall under the influence of an overseas sociopath. It's almost as crazy as allowing the quality of our lives to be controlled by a bunch of fundamentalist anachronisms, such as the Saudi Royal family.