Observation – May 5th, 2020, Tuesday

It is a bright morning

There is a plane flying overhead, though the city is quiet

There is a robin chirping in the tree outside my window

My lady is working at loom, weaving on a hoop

Kitty is begging for butter

Seventy thousand Americans will have died

From complications due to COVID-19

By the end of today

The news is increasingly grim

There are politicians telling us to prepare

Be ready to lose more

Americans must be ready to sacrifice

Like they did in World War II

This time we march into the jaws of a faceless beast

To feed an economy, that is hungry for our lives

As valuable as kibble, scattered on the floor

Truth – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

06.01.2019

Truth

All politicians lie. Even my favorite ones.

They lie about their intentions, they lie about their motivations, they skew the data to support their position, the promise what they know they cannot deliver.

Such is the nature of politics.

We lie to ourselves when we give credence to them, when we take the hand that we are offered as they lead us down the primrose bath. We slip on the shaded lenses, focus on the technicolor dream, narrow our criticism while they slip on the blinders. We are willing accomplices in all this.

Have we entered a new era? It seems that we have.

Truth itself is under attack, our ability to understand it to predicate policy on it, to cleave to its norms, those things too have seemingly been swept away.

We used to be able to acknowledge and appreciate a difference between the elected (political) leadership in government, and those career bureaucrats who keep the institutions running, year after year, through all of the ups-and-downs in the political fortunes of either party.

The safeguards that protected those structures have been undone.

We are in a dangerous place.

I listened to Mitch McConnell coyly suggest that if a vacancy in the Supreme Court were to appear in the presidential election year he would seek to fill the seat, he laughed as he said it, remembering how he refused to have hearings on President Obama’s last nominee on the grounds that it was a presidential election year, and the voters should decide.

He was lying about his motives then, he gave a deceptive rationale. He overturned constitutional norms to have his way, and now he would gleefully go back on himself.

President Trump nominated men to the highest court who told bald faced lies to the Senate in their confirmation hearings, perjuring themselves before the bar of justice, so that they could ascend to the highest place.

They had no regard for the truth.

The truth is under constant assault.

All politicians lie, but none have ever lied as much as Donald Trump, or dragged so many with them into the morass of lies as he has, just because they fear for their political life, or things they might enrich themselves from the little crumbs that he might drop from the table.

How did we get to this place where a bankrupt TV star, the World’s biggest loser, one Donald J. Trump, conspired with our adversaries, the Russians to get himself elected President of the United States, and nearly half the country does not care.

He get up on TV and lies to the American people everyday, and they do not protest.

They repeat his lies when he says that Mexico will pay for his wall, that China is paying for his tariffs, that he cut taxes for the average people,

They accept his love affair with the leader of North Korea, and the unreciprocated bro-mance he has going with Vladimir Putin.

What has happened here?

Where are the patriots among the republican electorate?

Why don’t they abandon him?

The republican party is anathema to America. They do not want a constitutional government, they are not worthy of the name republican. They do not want to live in a representative democracy, they are afraid of the people and an informed electorate.

They lie, cheat, and steal, because they hate America.

War and Delusion

Nature is red in tooth and claw, or so Saint Augustine said

See beneath the placid waters of the calming lake, where it is eat or be eaten

There is always a bigger a fish

 

Peer beyond the gold and purple of the meadow, flowering

The snake and the fox are on the hunt, the spider is weaving, and the cat is prowling

We humans are the worst of all 

 

We languish in the comfort of peace, smothered in its balmy illusion

Delighting in the sweet euphoria of the warming breeze, soft and wet, and smelling of the sea

We are the swine-herd of Calypso

 

The world is at war and its burning with a magnificent heat, a nuclear fire

Violence tearing continents apart, consuming cultures, and nations, and tribes, devouring them 

Hungry America, daughter of Liberty

 

She walks the earth like a Titan, pissing and shitting everywhere

Leaving fields of corpses, each body a seed of resentment, filling rivers with blood, and waste

She is not America, she is Kali Amer

            Amer Kali, the goddess, The Destroyer of Worlds, bitter and raw

                       

It happens in an instant, depending on how you measure time

A tiny event, a million minutes, a blink of the eye, an episode of pain

A flash of white and it is gone

 

We view the past in abstracted pieces, frame by discontinuous frame

Memory never captures reality, it reconstructs, creating something new

A conditional aesthetic

 

A lawn chair, a sun tan, the oil coated skin, bright and glistening

Bronzed and warm, fractals repeating, a desperate nation, a starving child

The intoxication of peace, inebriating war

Our comforts are not free

 

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day set aside; and meant for us to honor our fallen dead.

The meaning of this day has changed much since its inception. Originally, it was meant to honor our African American soldiers; both free and former slaves who gave their lives, both men and women, both mothers and fathers, sons and daughters both, to keep the union whole.

They died for an America they only dreamed existed. They died for these United States; for this reality, which is still in a state of becoming. They died for us; for good or ill, they died for us.

We honor our dead; our soldiers and sailors and airmen, our police and firefighters; we honor them. We honor all of our citizens who spent their lives, who spend their lives in public service; we honor our doctors and nurses and teachers, the good works of our ordinary citizens, of our friends and neighbors, we honor everyone’s sacrifices; known and unknown, and yet to come.

On this day of all days, do not make the mistake of thinking that it is our service women and men who keep us free. It has been at least sixty years since America faced an “existential” threat from a foreign power.

The real threat we face is from ourselves. It is only we; who can protect us from ourselves.

Our own apathy, our prejudice, and our ignorance; these are more dangerous to us, to our freedom, than any power in the world. To honor our fallen dead; you must do your part to keep us free. You must participate in our democracy.

Vote, stay informed, organize.

Our collective failure has allowed the Supreme Court to name corporations as people, and money as free speech, while those same justices have told ordinary American’s that the right to free speech does not include the right to be heard, and that the right to vote does not include the guarantee that your vote will be counted.

That rank cynicism is more dangerous to our freedom than any rag tag group of militants half way around the world, more dangerous than immigrants looking to us for a better way of life, as my forebears did when they came here.

Honor our fallen dead. Not with cards and flowers and barbeques (but do those things because they are good), honor them by standing up to racism, bigotry, religious zealotry, corporate greed, scientific ignorance, xenophobia, and corruption in public officials; honor them by participating.

Rebuild America, reform our institutions, for the sake of Americans and our future generations. Take responsibility for your own freedom. Honor the fallen.

Jay P. Botten, Veteran, U.S.N., Hospital Corps, 1990 – 1994

Given 1st 2015.05.25

Revised 2016.05.31

The Deal with Iran – Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

01.23.2015

The Deal with Iran

The United States of America; our government did something good this week. We entered into a fundamentally new, and different relationship with the nation of Iran. Iran which has been our “enemy” for these past thirty-seven, the theocracy of Iran, Iran took our people hostage in 1979 and held them for four hundred and forty-four days, Iran who leaders refer to America as the Great Satan, Iran who we name as the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism, Iran whose people gather to shout in ritual “death to America” and “death to Israel” our ally; we struck a bargain with Iran, and we are keeping it.

The United States of America, together with the United Nations asked the Iranians to give up their program to develop atomic weapons. Their pursuit of those weapons had brought severe economic sanctions to the Iranian people, locking them out of trade and commerce, and locking us into a mode of antagonism with their government that to many observers seemed intractable.

In the United States Congress there was united opposition among republicans, together with some opposition among democrats, those office holders did not even want us to talk to Iran, let alone make a deal.

Our ally Israel lobbied vigorously against the deal once the structure was in place. Their prime minister came to America and spoke directly to congress urging them to oppose it, threatening unilateral military action against Iran, and cheered on by the bellicose right wing in our country.

Nevertheless, the wheels turned, diplomacy prevailed, the bargain was made, and the initial terms of the agreement were met by Iran, this week. Allowing the United States and all of those other nations who came with us to the bargaining table to announce an end to those sanctions, providing relief to the Iranian people, freeing billions of their assets, and creating a basis for future cooperation between them and us.

The first fruits of that new relationship came the first day, as the Iranians released a number of United States Citizens from prison, allowing them to return home, and we did the same for them. This exchange of prisoners was not formally built into the agreement on nuclear weapons, but most people believe that it was “baked in.”

What is best about this deal, as far as I am concerned is the prospect of having normal relations with Iran. “Normalizing” relations is a long term goal, no one our government will even use those words, but with these steps we are moving in that direction, whereas one year ago, we were still drifting apart.

This is what we should all hold in mind. Iran is Persia. All of the Iranians I have ever met refer to themselves as Persians. Persia is a civilization stretching back in time for thousands of years, they are cultured, they are modern, they have split the atom…of all of the nations in that region, they are our natural ally, more so than most of the Arab states, more so than the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose tribal societies are so corrupt they may as well be lawless.

The Islamic militants that we are struggling with in the Levant come from that lawless Arabian culture. There backward interpretations of the Qur’an come from the fundamentalist madrasas funded and operated, exported to the Muslim world by the House of Saud.

This is not to say that the Iranians are free from the coercive forces of rightwing militant fundamentalism, they are not, they are a theocracy. The United States is not free from the forces of rightwing militant fundamentalism, there are many in our country who believe we are a “Christian” nation, and that have a sacred obligation to wage war on the enemies of Israel (as they perceive them to be), or the enemies of Christ (as they perceive them to be), even though Jesus himself had no enemies.

What Iran does have, is a society and a culture that is thousands of years old, that is rooted in law, and order, and science and technology, which is something that our other, so-called allies in the region are not.