You know how we grew up hearing about American democracy, majority rule, honor, and all that? Well, I did, anyhow. But I’m a pre-boomer, so… All lies.
Remember when everybody mocked the NRC after Clint Eastwood’s stunt with the empty chair? Well, maybe the joke’s on us. Advise and consent. Yeah! But what if it’s advise, but don’t hold your breath waiting for consent? Sure, the president can get the consent of a majority of senators. However, because Republicans have chosen to destroy democracy by abusing of the “gentlemen’s agreement” of filibuster, a majority isn’t enough. The minority rules. We mocked the NRC Convention, Ho-Ho. But they’re mocking our system of government. Nothing to laugh about there.
Today Congress essentially told working Americans to drop dead. House Republicans pushed through a dangerous bill that would paralyze the National Labor Relations Board, blocking the only path that workers have to workplace justice.
H.R. 1120, the “Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act,” is designed to advance a recent U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decision, known as Noel Canning v. NLRB, challenging the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s recess appointments to the board.
Under the decision, the NLRB only has one Senate-confirmed member – Chairman Mark Pearce, a Democrat whose term expires this August.
Now H.R. 1120 seeks to freeze all activities of the NLRB that requires a full quorum, or three members. It would also bar the NLRB from enforcing any decisions it has made since Jan. 4, 2012, when Obama made those disputed recess appointments.
So here’s the Republicans’ dream meeting of the NLRB, an essential protection for the rights of American workers in particular, and for human rights and justice in general. Think of it as an application of the Clint Eastwood ideal.
A passage from “The Rocking Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence:
And so the house came to be haunted by the unspoken phrase: There must be more money! There must be more money! The children could hear it all the time though nobody said it aloud. They heard it at Christmas, when the expensive and splendid toys filled the nursery. Behind the shining modern rocking-horse, behind the smart doll’s house, a voice would start whispering: “There must be more money! There must be more money!” And the children would stop playing, to listen for a moment. They would look into each other’s eyes, to see if they had all heard. And each one saw in the eyes of the other two that they too had heard. “There must be more money! There must be more money!”
Consider Mr. Creosote from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. Let’s think of him as “Mr. GOP Job Creator.” He doesn’t actually create jobs, of course. In fact, he destroys jobs and workers, and consumes more and more – just for himself. How greedy can these bastards be?
“There must be more money!”
For them, that is. Their gluttony grows. It can never be satisfied. In Lawrence’s story, the greed causes the death of a child. In the movie… well, see below. In contemporary U.S.A.? What happens to a dream deferred? What happens when that dream is dangled close and the snatched away? We’ll see. As Martin Luther King said, the powerful never voluntarily give up their power.
Meet Mr. Job Creator:
See Mr. Job Creator, already bloated to the point of disgust, insist on consuming more:
See Mr. Job Creator seize and consume even more of others’ share of our nation’s wealth:
See Mr. Job Creator explode and spray the results of his gluttony on the rest of us:
Here’s the evidence! Queen Titania is definitely toast!! Not physically, maybe, but certainly in respect to status, power, wealth, and – most of all – magic.
As everyone knows, in Oberon’s kingdom fuchsia is by far the most valuable element; so of course that’s the element Titania negotiated for the bail-out parachute she’d need in case of a forced resignation or voluntary retirement. We don’t yet know why or under what circumstances she took recourse to the parachute, but we do have concrete physical evidence that she did so.
What she didn’t realize is that when one reality-warps from Oberon’s realm to Bottom’s, much more than mere “atmosphere” transmogrifies. She didn’t foresee the sad ruin we see here: A glowing, incandescent fuchsia treasure has been reduced to a worthless, faded decoration from a waaaay overpriced cocktail, discarded along the side of a road.
One assumes Titania must by now have been seized by a human/former-fairy trafficker for unspeakable purposes … or, mercifully, squashed like a bug beneath some right-wing extremist’s jack-boot. Very sad.
This is all just dreamy speculation, of course. In reality Titania probably continues to reign as Oberon’s consort in their alternate reality.
You don’t believe in alternate realities? Then please, please begin watching Faux News, subscribing to WorldNutDaily, and checking regularly the websites of Congressional Republicans. What you’ll find there is an alternate universe so bizarre that Titania, Oberon, Bottom, and even Shakespeare would find too implausible to credit … to credit, not just the fantasy, but the mere suggestion that some rational being would take it seriously.
[First episode. Many more to follow, number depending on how long I remain functional.]
Last night I read myself to sleep, as I usually do. This time I read Edgar Allan Poe’s A Cask of Amontillado (in Italian translation, making it more fun).
Probably the best known line from the story is its very first. Here it is, in contextt:
The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. AT LENGTH I would be avenged; this was a point definitively settled — but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish, but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.
So, what revenge does Montressor, the narrator, choose? Taking advantage of Fortunato’s vanity about his wine connoisseurship, and of his inebriation, Montressor lures him back to the deepest part of his catacomb/wine cellar, ostensibly to get his opinion on a cask of Amontillado wine. Suddenly he slams the drunken Fortunato to the wall of a niche, and fetters him there with hand irons and a chain. Then?
”The Amontillado!” ejaculated my friend, not yet recovered from his astonishment.
“True,” I replied; “the Amontillado.”
As I said these words I busied myself among the pile of bones of which I have before spoken. Throwing them aside, I soon uncovered a quantity of building stone and mortar. With these materials and with the aid of my trowel, I began vigorously to wall up the entrance of the niche.
So how’s this relevant to contemporary politics? Start with the fact that Montressor feels so aggrieved, so certain that Fortunato has wronged him, he’s willing to commit murder. Murder by a particularly cruel means.
Montressor says that Fortunato has “injured” him a thousand times. After all these injuries, what finally pushed him over the edge? that Fortunato “insulted” him. Say what? Yes, the final injury that pushed Montressor to commit a horrifying murder was a perceived insult. I say “perceived” because he doesn’t say how or about what he was insulted. Perhaps most others would never have considered the act or comment insulting.
But if he won’t allow us to know or judge the final “insult,” then what about the other thousand injuries? What were they? Suppose we stipulate that Montressor wasn’t just lying, but honestly perceived whatever happened as a series of “injuries.” If he had actually specified what happened, would others have perceived that as a series of legitimate, meaningful “injuries”?, let alone truly significant, injuries?
You’re the kind of person who cheers Glenn Beck at the NRA convention? the kind who blows up the Oklahoma City federal office building? the kind who kills and injures members of a congregation of Unitarians or of Sikhs;? the kind who insists President Obama should be impeached? the kind who insists that the U.S. Congress (or the faculty of Harvard Law School) is dominated by “communists”? the kind who sees the Benghazi incident as evidence of a vast conspiracy? the kind who thinks the U.N. wants to seize our golf courses? the kind who thinks the “feds” are buying up ammo and plan to confiscate your guns? etc…?
Then obviously you must feel you’ve suffered a thousand or more injuries from _____ (fill in the blank with your particular bête noir). Will you spell out and document those injuries so that the rest of us can assess the validity of your claims? Will you name names? name specific acts? provide the “footnotes”?
If you can provide such specifics and documentation, then we’ll take you seriously. If not? We might consider you personally dangerous (like Montressor), but we’ll have no reason to take seriously your knowledge, your reasoning power, your fears, or your charges.
Nearly 60 percent of the detainees at Guantanamo are currently on hunger strike, in what experts and their lawyers say is a protest against their indefinite incarceration there. Amid the crisis, President Obama announced this week that he will renew his administration’s efforts to close the prison.
The events sparked a debate on CNN last night, prompting former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer to defend his former boss’s decision to open Gitmo to begin with. “We have it because these people did not even follow the law of war, let alone the rule of war,” he said, adding, “These people didn’t even wear a military uniform. They engaged in battle against America as terrorists, a violation of the laws of war. That’s why Guantanamo got invented.”
To start with, I’m not sure how Fleischer understands the distinction between “law of war” and “rule of war.” Regardless, he believes that those held at Gitmo did stuff that violated international law. And because they violated international law, it was OK for Bush to violate international law – in fact, to do them one better: to violate not just international law, but also U.S. law and U.S. Constitution, all at the same time.
Their most outrageous violation, Fleischer suggests, is that they (sic) “didn’t even wear a uniform.” Uhhhh… Ari… Exactly which uniform do you suggest they should have worn? They’re civilians!! Yes, a minority of them might indeed have participated in violence against the U.S. or its allies. But they were captured or kidnapped in various places, and they’re citizens of various nations. So, again, what uniform should they have worn?
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This uniform thing must really seem important to Fleischer, because under pressure he went even further:
They [the Germans] followed the law of war. They wore uniforms and they fought us on battlefields. These people are fundamentally, totally by design different. And they need to be treated in a different extrajudicial system.
Hate to break it to you, Ari; but apparently you have bullshit for brains. One word, pal: “Nuremberg.”
Shortly after WWII ended in May 1945, Allied governments jointly agreed that those responsible for wartime atrocities must be held accountable and punished for their crimes. The International Military Tribunal (IMT) was organized in the German city of Nuremberg in order to do just that.…
The four counts of the indictment were: 1- Conspiracy to commit crimes alleged in other counts; 2- Crimes against peace; 3- War crimes; 4- Crimes against humanity. The Nuremburg trials were one of the first organized attempts to apply principles of international law, and established new precedents for the international community.
Today on BagNewsNotes, Michael Shaw posted this picture along with several others for discussion. My first thought, following the “Cricket 22 Rifle given to five-year-olds shooting, concerned the way adult violence works its way down to kids. Here’s a visual indication of how my thoughts have been running.
Ideology – religious or a-religious – can inspire hatred and even violence. Granted. But the question here is focused and specific, not floating in the gauzy speculativeness of Cloud Cuckoo Land. If a “person” (flesh and blood, corporate, institutional, ideological, or whatever) can be known by his/her enemies, then what does Islamophobia teach us about those consumed by it?
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“Cognitive mapping” — biological predisposition shaped and reinforced by nurture — is obviously a factor in Islamophobia. So is fear, of course. The question is whether morality — or, beyond that, something one might even call evil — is also a factor.
I’m not a religious believer. I’m not a believer in paranormal or extraterrestrial influence on human character. I don’t expect to find a logical explanation. I’m just looking for some kind of concept … or at least phrase … I can grasp as an anchor.
Tentatively I’ve embraced a concept offered by Herman Melville. The articulation is found in the novella Billy Budd, chapters 10-11. Here’s the key passage, expressed by the narrative “voice” or “persona” at the very end of chapter 11.
What defines the man characterized by “natural depravity”? That,
though the man’s even temper and discreet bearing would seem to intimate a mind peculiarly subject to the law of reason, not the less in his heart he would seem to riot in complete exemption from that law, having apparently little to do with reason further than to employ it as an ambidexter implement for effecting the irrational. That is to say: Toward the accomplishment of an aim which in wantonness of malignity would seem to partake of the insane, he will direct a cool judgement sagacious and sound.
These men are true madmen, and of the most dangerous sort, for their lunacy is not continuous but occasional, evoked by some special object; it is probably secretive, which is as much to say it is self-contained, so that when moreover, most active, it is to the average mind not distinguishable from sanity, and for the reason above suggested that whatever its aims may be — and the aim is never declared — the method and the outward proceeding are always perfectly rational.
Got that? We’re talking about the kind of person who keeps a calm, controlled demeanor while using rational means to accomplish irrational (and often wantonly destructive) ends. In other words, we’re talking about evil.
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Bryan Fischer – Suspend Muslim immigration, Muslim military service, building of mosques Posted by Bryan Fischer – May 02, 2013
Of course, the majority of Muslim immigrants do not want to kill us, but they are not the Muslims we have to worry about. The problem is we have no way of distinguishing the Muslims we do have to worry about from the ones we don’t. And we can’t watch them all.
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In essence and in most manifestations, Judaism is a religion of peace, compassion, and service. Same with Christianity. Same with Islam. Fundamentalist fanatics of these faiths and of many others often promote hatred and exclusion and even violence. Aberrant, “naturally depraved” individuals like Osama bin Laden of current history and Melville’s fictional John Claggart might prove destructive, on whatever scale.
Essentially, though, people like them are rogues, outliers, fanatics. Theirs all are religions of peace. The rogue fanatics should be rejected and the faiths they profess acknowledged for the positive forces that — at their best! — they really are. Aberrations who preach fear, hatred, and violence should be acknowledged, obviously. But they should be acknowledged and dealt with as the dangerous aberrations they are, not as exemplars of the faith they claim to represent.
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Think of it in terms of perspective. We know how matters look from our position. How might they look from another part of the table? (The table is a subtly rounded polygon, not a rectangle. Facets can merge, blend, overlap almost imperceptibly.)
What do we lose by hating one another? by fearing one another? What might we gain by accepting and understanding one another? We cannot allow terrorists to rip apart our nation, let alone our world. The more we listen to and heed “naturally depraved,” hate-driven false shepherds like Bryan Fischer, the more we allow terrorism to control us. We hate and fear? Then the forces of evil win. We accept, tolerate, try to understand one another? Then what’s best in humanity wins!
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I really don’t like the “winning/losing” analogy. It’s late, though, and I’m tired. I might edit this tomorrow.