What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Why, do you think, did Michael Cohen plead guilty to two felonies in violating campaign finance laws?

He must know, as we all do, that even a violation of that law is extremely difficult to prove.  If there is any other personal motive for  the outlay,  it’s not a violation. They couldn’t even convict John Edwards!  Menendez still has his seat in congress.

And why would he plead guilty to felonies, when apparently it is not at all settled that a violation is civil or criminal?

Finally, what did he get for it?  Three years is a loooong sentence.  He does not seem to have struck much of a “bargain”.

Why not just say, you’ll never make it stick; I’ll take my chances with a jury?

Does what he did make sense to anybody out there?

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I Will vs. I Am?

I just read a phrase in James : ” the hopeless inferiority of voluntary to instinctive action”.

Twice, I’ve seen males: one a boy, one a man– put out fires with their bare hands, to protect a female.

Oh, admittedly, not big fires.  The boy did it in high school when a science project malfunctioned.  The man did it  at his retirement dinner, when one of the servers  at the buffet accidentally ignited her own hair.  ( An Afro, so quite spectacular…)

But I thought to myself on both occasions: this is raw courage, this is inborn heroism,  it cannot be faked, it cannot be fabricated: an instinctive response.

One can “will” heroism.  That is what the words “Nothing in his life became him so well as the leaving of it, ” describe.  You know: Sidney Carton and his ilk.

But I’m moved to write to you tonight about that nerdy, unpopular boy, and that somewhat embattled Irish-American doctor:

They HAD it, the hero gene!

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Gathering Storm

“These are the clouds about the fallen sun,/The majesty that shuts his burning eye:/THE WEAK LAY HAND  ON WHAT THE STRONG HAS DONE,/Till that be tumbled that was lifted high/And discord follow upon unison,/And all things at one common level lie.

And therefore, friend, if your great race were run/And these things came, so much the more thereby/Have you made greatness your companion,/Although it be for children that you sigh:/These are the clouds about the fallen sun,/The majesty that shuts his  burning eye. ”   –Yeats

 

(I promise you,  I have a lot of poems by other poets memorized, but, idk, Yeats just seems particularly apt for these times.   He was  a wartime poet, after all. )

I capitalized one line of this poem; you will know why.  Trump is a giant, our champion, no one else could have avhieved what he did!  And he has made good on his promises with unprecedented rapidity, and to an unprecedented extent.   But the etiolated pale bureaucrats, the envious Cascas,  now “lay hands” and oh! there  are so many  of them; their name is Legion.

But that is the fate of the strong, maybe even the hallmark of greatness.   If  the laudable project fails, is tumbled d by the weak,  it is our children who will suffer.  Pity them.

(Note:  This is what the poem says to me.)

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Mindfulness: A No-Brainer?

A devout Catholic friend of mine is all incensed (!) about a segment of Oprah which dealt with “mindfulness”.  She sees it as a direct threat to Christianity, a competing religion in itself, even though it pretends NOT  to be a religion.   She says the guest ,  (probably Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who has the latest book on this far-from-new topic)  claimed that in hunter-gatherer societies people lived in the moment, that when they  sat around the campfire at night, they thought of nothing! They just were, there in the moment as the sparks flew upward.

I don’t think there has ever been a human society, no matter how primitive, which did not tell stories, and that,  if you think about it, is kinda the polar opposite of living in the moment.  (And why? In my opinion, because we dream, and dreams “prove” conclusively to our species that the consciousness can leave the body.) Also I’ll bet those exhausted hunter-gatherers around the fire were probably worrying about the next day’s  game and harvest.   That’s why they had rituals and superstitions involving their tools and weapons which were intended to guarantee  the success of the next  foray.  That’s my educated opinion; Dr Kabat-Zinn is entitled to his.

I can make sense of my devout friend’s angst  if I recall  Pascal’s divertissements:  all human activity, actually, except prayer  and contemplation,  is a mere pernicious diversion because it prevents us from thinking of eternity and the awful judgment awaiting our souls.   Concentrating on being “mindful” only of the moment, willfully excluding all anticipation or regret from one’s consciousness, is just another attempt to forget our true human condition, and that is ungodly.

Or maybe just delusional, depending on your beliefs.  It is unpleasant to contemplate our situation:”Sick with desire/And fastened to a dying animal” as Yeats put it–whether you believe in an afterlife or not.  We have to be “in denial” about death, or we can’t summon up the heart for life.

Yeah, but here’s what I wanna tell you: “Mindfulness” is just a placebo.  It’s harmless in itself, in my opinion, and actually quite consistent with  a lot of OT and NT scripture which I could quote.  It creates a pleasant but transient effect.

But  time flies, whether you’re enjoying yourself or not.

Without using the term, I was determined to be, and was, “mindful ” of the experience of mothering an infant, especially of nursing.  I got used to the routine, one gets used to anything! but I never allowed myself to read, watch TV, talk on the phone, while we were joined. I was there.  I did not take it for granted.

But…it’s over now–gone as irrevocably as if I had done it on automatic pilot.  Do I remember it better  than I might otherwise? Maybe. I don’t know.   But it IS only a memory, still.   There is no holding on.

“Nor hope nor dread attend/ A dying animal. / A man goes to his end/ Dreading and hoping all.”  (Yeats again..)

Rituals  of “mindfulness” are a mere drop into the ocean of this boundless void we dread.  They can never fill the place of, nor even threaten, religion.

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J’accuse (deux)!

They’re closing the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, after the Arc de Triomphe was defaced.

Uh…… what did you think was gonna happen, Macron et al., after you subordinated France’s sovreignty to the latest Ozymandias?

There is no mob like a French mob.  Fear it!  They’ll carry your headless corpse on display  for miles, like they did with the Princesse  de Lamballe.  They’ll cut out your heart, roast it on the street and eat it, like they did to  Ravillac.  They’ll sit placidly knitting under the guillotine while your blood bespatters the yarn.  Do you doubt it? 

Let Paris rise like a phoenix out of the ashes of a failed and bankrupt pseudo-alliance, a mere bankers’ tryst.  It was not worthy of the fearless  populace which mobilized for total war in 1792, whose Grande Armée  ravaged the known world, toppling thrones and desecrating altars.

I hope, again, “Le jour de gloire  est arrivé!”

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On the Threshold

Every year when the season of Advent  approaches, I make a determined effort to enter it with the intent of holding on,  like Jacob wrestling with the protean spirit: I will not let thee go, except thou bless me!   Yes, of course:  the day breaketh, dawn will come, the season will end, we will return to quotidian tasks and a prosaic state of mind.  Don’t think about that now.  Be here! among the light and music.

I attended a Christmas concert last week, and when it was over  my friend and I had the same thought:  we could be doing this kind of thing all year, the music, the candles, everyone singing! but we don’t.  Only at Christmas.

Here are some familiar  lines from a poem by George Herbert, 17th Century, which are not about Christmas ( the festival may even have been banned in England by the time he wrote this)  but famously, about prayer.  The poem is referred to as Prayer (I).

Still, to me these particular lines mean Christmas, they describe the heightened consciousness, enchantment,  and festive anticipation of the season.  I don’t know why.  But I hope you will enjoy them:

 

“Heaven in ordinary, Man well-dressed,/ The Milky Way, the Bird of Paradise,/Church bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood, / The land of Spices, something understood.”

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Stung!

The Yellowjackets have won!  Macron suspends the punitive carbon tax.

The EU is the Devil’s Commonwealth.  I hope we may witness its dissolution.  Bliss is it in this dawn to be alive, pace  Wordsworth…

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A Gift of “The Magi”

“Now as at all times I can see in the mind’s eye/In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones/Appear and disappear in the blue depths of the sky/With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,/ And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,/And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,/ Being by Calvary’s turbulence insatisfied/ The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.”

i have read  Yeats’  poem The Magi thousands, nay millions, of times.  I would recognize any line or phrase from it.  But I never memorized it, and last night,  ( after listening to a recording of T.S Eliot reading his own poem The Journey of the Magi —harsh!) I decided to learn it.

And the “gift”?

When I spoke the poem aloud, for the first time,

I could see them, the Three Kings! The boardlike gold robes and glinting helmets, gleaming fitfully like. a constellation against velvet  sapphire of a midnight sky, the ageless weariness and dogged determination of the quest,   the consummation vouchsafed to them!  to witness the luminous Godchild writhing and squalling  in the golden straw,  which they can never unsee, and want only to see again, and ever.

The mind does have an “eye” indeed, but as often as I’ve mouthed the phrase, I’ve never gazed with it so  piercingly. it was as if a jewel box sprung open before me.

All things come of Thee, O Lord!  not least among them: the poet’s gift.

Come and worship!

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RIP a “Kinder, Gentler” America

Yeah, sounds great, but it was the beginning of the GOP namby-pambyness, compassionate conservatism.

(and yes I know GHWB  was a war hero.  So was McCain)

I just read that Trump , as they say, ” railed ” (cuz you know Trump never talks, he always rants, rails, sputters, postures, etc.) .against this meme back in the Nineties.  At one point he said,

if America gets any kinder and gentler, it will cease to exist.

Bullseye! 

By which I mean, bring me my bow of burning gold, etc.

Now is the time to fight.   If it’s not too late.

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Mad as Hell

“Why should not old men be mad?/Some have known a likely lad/That had a sound fly-fisher’s wrist/Turned to a drunken journalist./A girl that knew all Dante once/Lived to bear children to a dunce,/A Helen of social welfare dream/Climb on a wagonette to scream.

Some think it a matter of course that chance/Should starve good men and bad advance./ That if their neighbors figured plain/As though upon a lighted screen,/ No single  story would they find/Of an unbroken, happy mind,/ A finish worthy of the start./Young men know nothing of this sort./Observant old men know it well,/And when they know what old books tell,/And that no better can be had/Know why an old man should be mad.”

–WB Yeats

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Democracy Good, Populism Bad?

“Democracy”  is rule according to the will of the demos, the people,  meaning those citizens who have rights and duties in a polity .  Either directly or indirectly those citizens choose their country’s leadership by force of numbers. Do you agree?

“Populism” is what it’s called when a majority of the people feel they aren’t getting what they want from their government, and begin a movement or profess support for a leader who think she the same. Agreed?

I just read that democracy is a form of government, populism is an ideology.  (But isn’t populism the underlying ideology in a democracy?)

Populism the ideology  can be a corrective in a democratic society, when the means of choosing its leaders and legislators and/or or the protections they enjoy in power insulate them from the will of the people.

But they say, populism is dangerous , leads to autocracy and demagoguery.

Populist leaders might aggregate power to themselves only to frustrate the goals of their opponents and impose their own agenda on the nation.

Well, um……isn’t that what we mean when we echo Buraq Hussein’s immortal words: “I won.  Elections have consequences.”?

Where does this leave us?  People who want to govern in a democratic society like ours, have to, and do, appeal to the electorate, speak to them, win them over.

And so would a “populist”.  Right?

I get that to “compare” democracy to populism is an apples/oranges type thing if populism is “only” a philosophy and democracy is a comprehensive system of government.

And I get that democracy contains checks to prevent “tyranny of the majority”, but it occurs to me that that’s idea might occur to a populist as well: there’s nobody in America, (or there didn’t used to be) who doesn’t see herself as sui generis.  Our most beloved poem, I read somewhere, is Frost’s The Road Not Taken.  We all  like  to think  we took the road less travelled.  Populism as an ideology in America does not mean voluntarily succumbing to mind control; it means the opposite.

So Ratty, I am humbly asking:

Why is democracy good, populism bad?

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Gaza Into The Future

In May 2018 I wrote 2 posts Elsewhere Clueless in Gaza, I and II.  The first was promoted to MF.   They were about the constant slow suicide being orchestrated at the Israel/Gaza border.

Israel vacated Gaza 14 years ago now,  forcibly removing its own citizens from their homes.  It left the infrastructure it had constructed intact.  Gaza won!  It had driven out the civilizers–uh, oppressors,  sorry.

As the world knows, left to themselves the Gazans effed  it up big time.

Or does the world know this?

If so,,why are these hapless bozos,  throwing rocks and rolling burning tires, hellbent on committing suicide by soldier, sending their little children ahead to certain death or grievous bodily harm–

somehow regarded as oppressed victims  to be pitied for their self-imposed misery?

How is this possible, I used to wonder.

i wonder no more.  Our southern border is now Camp of the Saints.  Although it’s bad taste to ask who the puppet masters are, a mass of people, well-fed and fit to judge from the photographs, have been induced to voluntarily leave their homes  to come to encamp on our border.

Quite predictably, they are now becoming sick due to overcrowding, exposure, concentrations of diseases endemic in their countries, inadequate sewage facilities.

Niw the Left can call it a “humanitarian crisis”! YAY!!!! Cuz once you affix that label, no one inquires as to the cause of the misery, we can’t even ask who supplied the brand new busses that got them here! and anyone who even attempts to do so is a heartless racist.

We saw this with the children’s exodus from Guatemala in response to Buraq Hussein’s dogwhistle.  Um…who packed up those kids and put them on The Beast?  They didn’t initiate the journey on their own!  But who cares?  They’re here now,  and it’s OUR problem, you stingy old meanies!!

And:  Winter is coming.  (Uh, surely they must’ve known that…?) 

What did they think was going to happen?

But as in Gaza, it’s  useless to say,

hey!  Turn around!  Look back at your own country, right behind you, a place where you, a native, can hope to exercise some autonomy.  Where, if nothing else, you did have food and shelter.

No, the US is Israel now, and the southern border is Gaza.  These people have created or at least colluded in creating their own wretched physical misery, they will not accept any help or solution that does not involve total capitulation by the US and abandonment of our laws.

And this is just the beginning: no matter what happens to the present swarm, there will be more, and more, and more, right behind them.

Just like Gaza.

This is our future.

Prove that I lie. 

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Wanna Lay Odds?

Today, some “peaceful” migrants.”only seeking a better  life” were repelled with tear gas as they tried to violently storm our border.

What do you think?  Will this be Family Separation II?  The senator from Hawaii has already indicated as much. “A new low” he called it…

Our police, as I can unfortunately attest from first-hand experience, carry teargas, and will use it on the civilian population at the slightest indication that a motorist they’ve stopped  is, ah, annoyed with the situation.  It is unpleasant, and in my opinion unwarranted within the country for infractions like missing tail lights,  but has no deleterious long term effects.

In my opinion, we are at a critical point.

If we see outrage from the populace at large because of the use of this relatively innocuous weapon, it means the people do not support national  sovereignty as a legitimate ideal.

and then–what?

Do you wanna lay odds: is this the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning?

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May’s Newfangled Mirth

So, Britain still gets to trade within the EU same as before, and still has to abide by any ludicrous, intrusive regs  the EU Parlianent (where it’s no longer represented) chooses to impose on it, same as before?   Oh and it’ll have to cede Gibraltar to Spain.  (Well—that’s  new.)

And they want a  re-vote on the Brexit question?

Why?

Now that they know what  Brexit à la May looks like, I doubt the British would bother going to the polls.

Lets face it, democracy is a sham across the world.

The people speak!

Yeah.  But if the Prog  One-Worlders don’t like what we said,  they make a great show of being about the people’s business, while in reality crafting a way to circumvent our clearly-expressed desires.   That’s what the GOP Congress has done for 2 years.  Oh! They must be so  relieved to shed the burden of actual power!

We “May” as well just give up.

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