Thursday, July 28, 2016

Not Much Interested

Can't say I've been following the campaigns or the conventions with anything like the interest and involvement I once had. No, not at all.

It's not so much the sham and charade of it all as it is the fact that at some point you learn that the spectacle has a particular purpose: to keep the Rabble amused and distracted sufficiently -- divided and at one another's throats if need be and possible -- to enable the continued exploitation and looting by the privileged elites.

It's a basic principle of rule.

Whatever else goes on, the Rabble must never be allowed to express their own interests and govern their own lives. Ever.

I have essentially no interest in either of the two major candidates for the presidency of the United States, for example. They may be a tremendous contrast to one another (or maybe not), but neither has shown a determination to enable the People's liberation.  Instead, they both show a strong tendency to want to order and command the Rabble to extract the most power from them. The idea of self-governance doesn't occur to either of them. It's more a matter of who can assert dominance over the masses "better."


Of course the electoral process was irreparably damaged when the Supreme Court lawlessly intervened in the 2000 election, handing the presidency to George Bush the Lesser and his enforcer Mr. Cheney.

I'm old enough to remember some other lawless interference, including the assassination President Kennedy in 1963, and numerous subsequent assassinations, upheavals, bewildering government behaviors (such as wars and what have you) and constant economic exploitation and social and political repression.

But the election interference by the Supreme Court in 2000 was unprecedented, and it essentially put the lie to the whole idea of "elections." If they don't produce the "correct" result within a certain time frame, then they will be canceled and the Supreme Court will decide the outcome.

In the interim since then, we've seen, over and over again a plethora of electoral outcome shenanigans, from outright voter intimidation/suppression, to fungible machine counts, constantly off kilter polls (ha!), and media collusion for desirable outcomes. The Supreme Court hasn't had to interfere again, so that's good, I guess. But the mask came off, and I think more than a few people understand that if the outcome isn't satisfactory to the PTB, then the Court can and will intervene again. But it's almost impossible to imagine that the outcome cannot be remotely manipulated to produce the desired result so as to obviate direct intervention.

So. Don't think your vote really matters. It doesn't.

Besides, we've been given such dismal choices this time around. At least Obama had charm and grace. Neither of these two -- Clinton or Trump -- have either. Many have speculated that if Obama could run again, he'd be elected in a heartbeat over either of these two, and that's probably correct.

Can't say that Bernie has/had much charm or grace, either.

Of course, this has nothing to do with policy. It has everything to do with personality, and that's what our elections for president have been running on for practically ever. It's not about the policy. It's about the personalities on offer.

Those of us who try to keep things on a policy plane (heh) say that really, neither of the major candidates has anything to offer the Rabble besides more pain, suffering, and exploitation, and it appears from the signs and portents that one of them, Mrs. Clinton, is eager to get her war on, while the other, Mr. Trump, may wish to delay it for a bit, until the US itself is "cleansed." Yeek. Neither is really a palatable option in my view.

I will say that it was obvious to many of us during the 2000 election that Mr. Bush and his familiar Mr. Cheney were more than eager to gain the White House and get their war on. I remember online bets being taken over how long it would be before Bush-Cheney involved the US in a major armed conflict. I said "6 months," and of course lost because it actually took 9 months to get things started.
But that war started so long ago now, many young people who will be able to vote in the 2018 congressional elections (if they want to) can't remember a time when the US wasn't at war abroad and at home... It appears to be a permanent state of war -- which is what Bush-Cheney wanted apparently -- that the Rabble can do nothing about.

Trump wants to expand the imperial wars against Muslims, whereas Clinton seems to want to expand the Empire -- by any means necessary including nuclear confrontation -- to absorb/dismantle both Russia and China.

Whichever one succeeds in gaining the White House, they are both mad, and their warmongering policies are utter madness. But that's where our governing class is these days -- delusional, insane, dangerous, mad.

There is this notion that Clinton is somehow the consummate E-Ville of All Time, and Trump is not, but this is silly. They are both products of a corrupt and evil system, only one is slicker at it than the other, and one will be slightly sly-er at accomplishing the ends that system desires than the other. The system itself is evil, if you will, and it will only produce choices-candidates who fit the interests of the system. Don't fool yourself that one is uniquely evil and the other is not. They are parallel products of the same system. Both equally nasty.

So what do you do?

Clearly, the system is not self-correcting. If anything, it's getting worse. The option many have chosen is to withdraw and build a better -- but separate -- society that exists outside the parameters of government and rule.

That may be sufficient over the short term, but the long term looks pretty bleak. There is no escape from the vicissitudes of climate change, for example, and it looks from the evidence that the Empire will grind on like the Juggernaut it is, rolling over everything in its path in perpetuity. In other words, there's no permanent escape from the Juggernaut of Empire, either.

Stopping the Juggernaut will take some doing, and so far, nothing has proved effective against it. On the other hand, you never know what will be effective until you try it.

We are in such interesting times, no?

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Killings

Once again we are awash blood. I used to say that Los Angeles suffered from a Killer Culture, but in fact, the Killer Culture pervades the United States, has done from the beginning, and every now and again the blood-baths and deaths break out domestically and abroad. Shooting and killing at home, assassinations and wars of choice abroad.

Interesting that the identified shooter in Dallas is said to have served in Afghanistan, yet another victim, I'd say, of that Killer Culture that sees all defined Others as expendable and worthy of death. US official killing sprees, domestically and overseas, have been with us from before the beginning. It's an identity thing. 

The identified killer in Orlando was a trained security guard who wanted to be a cop so they say.

Two black men were killed by police a few days apart, essentially because the police were... scared. Not for any other known reason. Say "gun!" in the presence of a black male suspect and that's it. Bam bam bam. Dead.

Hundreds and hundred of Americans have been killed by police so far this year, killings that are on pace to exceed the death rate from police action in 2015. An average of three or more a day, dead at the hands of police, year in and year out.

That's the norm. Three a day, day in and day out, year after year, and if somehow the target is missed over a period of days, our valiant boys in blue make up for it with a spate of killings all in a row.

The wonder is that something like the Dallas shootings of police officers hasn't happened before now. Except something like it, without the dead officers, did happen. In Dallas. Just last year.

A man bought a de-commissioned Dallas PD SWAT van, loaded it up with weaponry and went over to the DPD HQ and commenced firing. Oh yes. Shot the place up good he did, but it was late at night and there weren't a lot of people around. He is said to have placed bombs, too. There was a shoot out down the road, and according to accounts the perp was... dispatched when one of his bombs blew him up. Or something. The denouement was never entirely clear.

The incident was considered bizarre at the time, but now it seems to fit somehow. A prelude, let's say.

But the wonder remains that attacks on police officers and police stations are exceedingly rare. No more than a handful of police officers have been killed in the line of duty over the last few years. In fact death from heart attack, car wrecks and so on are far more prevalent among officers than death by perp.

Yet cops kill more than a thousand civilians every year, and they almost always get away with it  -- by saying the magic words: "I feared for my life and the safety of others."

In most cases, that's all they have to say, no matter what the objective facts of the situation, and they are home free.

How anyone can live in that kind of constant fear, I don't know. But because black and brown (and homeless and mentally ill) victims are targeted and killed by police disproportionately, one can or should understand that these segments of the population live in constant fear of the police, no?

The killings must stop, but nothing seems to be done to stop them in the aggregate. The rate of killings -- both by police and homicides among civilians -- seems to be a constant, baked in. How odd, but there you are.

And so we are led to mourn, to offer up "thoughts and prayers," to express our impotent rage, to march and to hold vigils.

Nothing more.

Nothing more.

How strange. How bloody and strange.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


I started a post yesterday in which I attempted consideration of US Independence Day vis a vis the Current Crisis of Britain as a consequence of the Chaos following the Brexit vote -- seen through the lens of my newly found British ancestry. Well, not surprisingly, it didn't work and I never completed the post. It may languish in draft form for the foreseeable future, or maybe I'll just delete it.

This post will take something of a different tack.

Today marks my father's 115th birthday. He was always very proud that he was born on the 5th of July (1901), as that made him a patriotic child of the new century. His birth, he thought, marked the transition from what used to be to what would become -- the Future in other words.

My father considered himself to be Irish-American through and through. His father was the son of Irish immigrants who arrived in the United States in 1850 -- or thereabouts. This date contrasts with the story I was told about them, but that's another story...)

Actually, I haven't found the immigration date of my father's grandfather James, but James's parents (Alexander and Mary) arrived in 1850 along with several of their children and in-laws. James is not listed among them, nor are a couple of other of their children. I'm assuming they were still in Ireland and came over later, probably in 1852 or so. Family histories are murky about dates and such. At any rate, James, my father's grandfather, got to the US somehow at some date, and after settling into Iowa (his parents and siblings, after a relatively brief sojourn in Ohio where there were uncles and cousins, moved to Iowa in 1856), he acquired farms and land in Scott County, outside of Davenport. James married Alice (also an 1850s immigrant from Ireland) and they started a family on the farm. Alice died shortly after my grandfather's birth in 1869). James married again three years later, to a woman named Margaret -- who was also an 1850s immigrant from Ireland -- and they had one son together. As time passed, James retired from farming and moved upriver to Clinton, where his son (my grandfather William H) had a law office and James's daughter Katherine (also spelled Catherine) had lived for some time with her husband -- who was also descended from Irish immigrants.

My father's mother was German-American. Her mother, Veronica, was said not to have spoken English. Her father, Reinhold, did speak English, though his accent was said to be heavy. My father never knew Reinhold, his grandfather, because Reinhold died in 1901, two weeks after my father's birth. My father had little to say about his mother Elizabeth Veronica. She died in 1940, about a year before my father's father William H died, so I never knew either of them as they were long dead by the time I came around (in 1948). I heard some things about Elizabeth, my grandmother, specifically about how she faced prejudice during WWI, because of her German ancestry. My father indicated that her family were well-off enough to get through that difficult period, but he seemed to resent the fact that his mother had had to face the cruelties of American xenophobia at all. It seemed to affect him, though, in that he essentially buried his own German-American ancestry, rarely mentioning it, and typically focusing on the fact that he was Irish-American, and that's what he passed on to me. I therefore was Irish-American as well.

Yes, well... but what about my mother?

She claimed not to know much about her ancestry, but from what she did know of it, she claimed an aristocratic lineage. What she liked to say was that she was "a direct descendant of Marie Antoinette!" With a toss of her auburn haired head to express the exclamation point. Well, no, I don't think she was actually the sad French queen's descendant, but when I looked into her ancestry, I found it led back -- and back and back -- to the Drakes in England. Through the Drakes, she may indeed have had some tiny fraction of English royal blood, though I found no direct connection with English kings and queens.

I had long thought that her grandmother Ida was an immigrant from England. This was because my sister had had one encounter with Ida when she came out to California to visit from her home in Indiana -- where my mother had been born in 1911.

My sister said she thought that Ida was British because she spoke with an accent and had "that demeanor" about her.

Well, it turns out that Ida was not from Britain. She was born and raised in Indiana. Her father was from New Jersey, though, where his family had been since the 1600s. Their ancestors, in turn, were from England and it is through them that I found the connection with the Drakes.

There was also a connection with a New Jersey character named "Princess Snowflower," the daughter -- or perhaps the sister -- of "King Nummi," the "last of the Lenni-Lenape Indian chiefs of Cape May, New Jersey." Princess Snowflower was -- apparently -- my mother's grandmother's great grandmother. Got that? Good.

There is some dispute over whether "Princess Snowflower" was actually an Indian Princess at all, however. Some accounts say that the story of "Princess Snowflower" was made up in the 19th century to romanticize the history of a girl -- who was actually a descendant of someone who came over on the Mayflower. You would think her actual ancestry would be romantic enough, but apparently not.

I don't know what to believe about it. It's just another data point. At any rate, through her female line, I found nothing but English ancestry -- except possibly for "Princess Snowflower."

My mother's father's side provided some roadblocks, however.

My mother didn't know much about her father as he was killed when she was five years old, and she was raised by her mother and step-father. They didn't have a whole lot to say about her biological father.

I was able to find out a lot about him through and various newspaper archives, none of which provided a flattering picture, but I ran into a roadblock tracing his ancestry. I could find nothing regarding his paternal ancestry prior to his grandfather who was apparently born in Virginia in 1798. Where the parents came from is something of a mystery. Possibilities include England, Ireland, Scotland, France or even Spain.

My mother's father's mother, however, was much easier to trace, as she was a descendant of the Lawrences of New England -- which would make her heritage English quite solidly.

If my mother's mother was (mostly) British, and my mother's father was (mostly) British, that would make me at least half British wouldn't it? Kind of puts the kibosh on my Irishness, no?

It's definitely disorienting.

I never had much regard for the British, and the current hoo-hah over the Brexit vote is kind of funny, actually. My Irishness makes me instinctively suspicious of British motives and actions -- there is little reason to believe much of what is presented as "truth" by the British because they lie. It's part of the culture. Who knows, maybe it's genetic.

Consequently, much of what we're told by the British is probably false, and the spectacle surrounding the Brexit vote is likely mostly phony and for show. That Tony Blair is being resurrected to explain is a sure sign of duplicity at the least.

There's also been some chatter-- yesterday at any rate -- that proposes the American Revolution was somehow a "mistake." Would things have been better if it had never happened? Possibly, who knows.

But it did happen, and here we are.

So many things that might have been never were and won't be because of what actually happened.

There is more and more speculation that Britain will not actually leave the EU, but that the kingdom itself may break apart. The breakup of the British Isles into component parts is somehow pleasing to an onlooker like myself, almost as if it were inevitable like the break up of the Soviet Union and so much of Europe following the collapse of the world that used to be. The EU has not been a pleasant replacement, far from it. So the EU may collapse as well. Led by the Brits.

If that were to happen, it would eventually mean the end of the USA as we've known it, wouldn't it?

Ah, that remains to be seen, but if it happens...