Monday, January 12, 2009

Bigotry and Collapse


I gotta hand it to James Howard Kunstler. His regular Monday “Clusterfuck Nation” piece this morning pointed directly at the elephant in the room that no one has been mentioning – anti-Jewish prejudice in the face of the Israeli assault on Palestine, err… Gaza, and the meltdown on Wall Street.

Kunstler has defended Israel’s heavy military response to having Hamas send rockets their way and wounding or killing some of their citizens. And, yes, if one of my relatives had been wounded or killed there, I would be angry as well. But, the whole thing just seems so reminiscent of the Warsaw ghetto and the extermination of the Jews in Germany as well as the war in Vietnam, that it is just unnerving. Seeing phosphorous bombs in the sky over neighborhoods and burned and blown up civilians overwhelming the hospitals is atrocious. I thought the point of all those Jewish memorials was to “never let this happen again.” It is appalling to me that Israel would be engaging in this behavior. So, I don’t support Israel. God knows, I don’t and didn’t support the war in Iraq or Afghanistan either.

The Palestinians have been a pawn in a larger game in the Middle East ever since I can remember. Their misery could have been mitigated by other surrounding Persian or Arab countries, but it hasn’t been. Israel could have reached out and made peace with these people. With all the billions we have sent Israel in military aide, we could have probably sent every Palestinian through graduate school. Everybody could help them and nobody does. Apparently it is in the interests of the militarists and tribalists of one sort or another to keep this travesty going on. There seem to be no “good guys” in this fight. It was reported that Hamas went through Gaza and executed 35 El Fatah political prisoners in case they might get sprung out of jail and support Israel. Then they went to the El Fatah relatives and shot them in the legs and crushed their hands. Personally, I don’t get how one can support either side.

But on the other hand, the hate mail that Kunstler has received goes way beyond any objection to the war. You really have to read it to believe it. Click on “hate mail” in the essay. It is truly personal, sickening and obscene.

He looks at it this way;

“…Lately, public Jew-hating has made a comeback in the USA among two distinct groups: one is the extreme right-wing crypto-Nazi step-child of the old John Birch Society bunch, the idiots who believe the world is a web of conspiracies against wholesome Christian white folks. As a young newspaper reporter with an interest in political pathology back in the early 1970s -- a heyday for extremism -- I used to cover the Birchers' antics (and study their belief system, if you could call it that). Their paranoid ideology has survived the decades marvelously intact, complete with all the colorful leitmotifs including The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Orders of the Illuminati narrative, the Bilderburgers conspiracy story of world domination, and a Jesus-soaked crusade against "socialism" that has mutated far beyond the quaint sepulcher of John Birch into a broad mostly Southern evangelical, Nascar-tinged, aggressive apocalypticism.
Lately, another large cohort on the political Left adopted the Palestinians as their "pet oppressed minority group du jour." This branch of Jew-haters emanated out of the humanities departments of the universities, when the faculty got bored with the Nazi holocaust, or wished to stake out some new turf in the arena of multiculturalism for the sake of academic advancement.”

Well, that seems to me to be a somewhat self-serving discount of humanities departments in general. I mean, given the prevailing prejudice against any sort of Persians, Arabs (and, let’s face it, most of us don’t know the difference between them any more than we know the differences between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes in Rwanda), “sand niggers” and “towel heads,” any sympathy toward any people who are Muslim probably is a baby step in the right direction.

But, what about this prejudice against Jews, Muslims, (and, for that matter), Blacks, Christians, gays, or whomever serves their purposes, on the internet sites? I am starting to see it all over the place. I don’t know when it started, but at sites like “The Truthseeker” and Steve Quale more and more I found myself skipping over stories that denigrate blacks, feminists and Jews to find stories criticizing Bush or anticipating The Crash. Suddenly, these aggressively evangelical writers are uniformly sympathizing with Palestinians?? Since when?

Since they joined up to bring on the Apocalypse, that’s when. Now, there’s a conspiracy theory that even Kunstler can sink his teeth into.

And, what’s happened to Rense? Look at the over-the-top mud-slinging at Obama. Is that political or ideological outrage or just flat-out racist, foaming at the mouth bullshit? I can hardly find a decent UFO story anymore between the Obama as a gay, Anti-Christ, secret Muslim diatribe, and the Jew baiting financial stories. You would think that I just wandered into a chat room of the Ku Klux Klan.

And, as the financial and resource collapse continues to unfold, I fear that it will get even worse. To quote Kunstler once again:

“My own theory-du-jour goes something like this: The current orgy of Jew-hating is prompted by rage actually derived from the perceived "Jew-run" Wall Street companies who have now utterly wrecked the US economy -- Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, et cetera, not to mention the Jewish players leading the cast of this show -- Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Sandy Weil, Bernie Madoff, et al., a veritable Jew-O-Rama of money-grubbing (i.e. a Jewish trait) scoundrels who have utterly pranged the American Way of Life in order to hide their private billions in the Cayman Islands. These Jew villains, the story goes, have taken Little Debbie Snack Cakes out of the mouths of millions of squalling KMart-Shoppers-in-Training! And must now be called out to punishment! The fear and anger over the losses on Wall Street -- and the personal accounts of millions of investors -- is being deflected (for the moment!) onto the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Ho, ho , ho…. Kunstler has a way of expressing himself that does, indeed, invite abuse because he is so bitingly sarcastic. But, nobody has been a harsher critic of Greenspan, Rubin, Madoff, et al, than Kunstler, despite the fact that they are Jews. He has been critical of their policies, not their ethnicity. But, this debacle on Wall Street is going to bring out the anti-Semites like flies to road kill. The same thing goes for Obama. Every neo-Nazi white supremist knuckle-dragger out there is going to be bent out of shape over the election of Obama. Even those of us who don’t consciously realize our own racism or bigotry are going to find ourselves invited to or engaging in pity parties and blame games that we normally wouldn’t participate in. And, a lot of them are going to be racist.

Now, maybe in the long run, this will be a good thing. It will give us a way to deal with the “shadow” side of ourselves as a people and hopefully get over it. Shed some light on it. Fix it. Heal it. But, right now, it looks like a tragedy in the making.

I remember back in the anti-Vietnam days and the civil rights struggle, the Minute Men militia gathered around a water tower in a small town next to my home town. They were convinced that the “white panthers” in Detroit were going to drop acid (LSD) into their water supply. We hippies thought they were nuts. We knew a few of those “white panthers.” Therefore, we knew that there was no way in hell these guys were a threat to anybody. Plus, can you imagine how much acid it would take to affect a town’s water supply? The militia was delusional.

The same thing is happening now. Even I am confused. Maybe I am delusional. With the world-wide banking and corporate mergers, the global politics, the trillions of dollars of debt servitude spread around, the poisoning of the environment, etc. etc, it is difficult not to believe in a conspiracy of evil doers. Hell, MULTIPLE conspiracies at multiple levels. GALACTIC forces. I have to admit that I do believe that there is serious shit going on and there are conspiracies to be reckoned with. One could start with the Harvard School of Business… but, I digress.

Anyway, my point is, that we need to be careful not to become the small minded, hard-hearted, poisonous, rabid intolerant jerks that we despise. We need to remember that for every miscreant, criminal, or cretin of a certain race or religion, hue, or gender, there are ten more who are good, honest, kind, hard-working, talented folks who are a blessing to us all. As times get tougher and money gets tighter and suffering increases, we could start to turn on each other in an orgy of hatred and blame. This would be a mistake of tragic proportions.

We have the opportunity to reach out to each other in tolerance and understanding. We need to be focusing on what we have in common, not what is different. We need to oppose wicked stereo-typing, even when it is seemingly deserved.

Once the Bushistas are out of office, I believe that it will be time to shift gears and look for the positive people and policies that we can support. Because if we just continue to take a negative attitude, it will be aimed at whomever is still standing. That won’t be fair and it will interfere with what really needs to be done.

We have a planet to save. We have a world to change. Battles will need to be fought. Let’s make them the right ones.


Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

Hmm, I am reminded of the old adage that just because you are paranoid it doesn’t mean they are not out to get you. Similarly, just because people are becoming over faced with conspiracy theories it doesn’t mean that conspiracies don’t exist.

What seems to me to be important is to identify the aims of the pivotal groupings and relegate the rest to a sideshow. These sideshows, unfortunately contain some pretty big stuff, like two world wars for a start. The latest Israeli Hamas scene in the current act, tragic though it is, should be viewed in perspective. Israel is in a time frame, they have another week to get the curtain down on this particular diversion. By summer the Palestinian cause will have fallen down the league table of world events to be replaced by the India Pakistan coconut shy. That in turn will be replaced by something else, maybe involving China and maybe not and current events will be relegated into the same division as the plight of the Tibetan monks - and so on until we are completely overwhelmed by compassion fatigue. Keep your eye on the stage director though even though he never puts in much of an appearance. All the rest are just performers who are there to entertain and mesmerise you. And after the show is over it might be worth hanging around to see who is emptying the box in the box office. GATT and WTO summits are the peacetime sideshows of the same Actors who send their envoy’s to attend but never themselves, put in a personal appearance. It is a fact of business that the performers have to be paid and operating costs met but most of what is emptied from the box office finishes up in the producers pocket. In the overall scheme of things one may ask if these people are really interested in a plot of baked earth on the far shores of an inland sea when there is a much bigger prize to be won.

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

“We have the opportunity to reach out to each other in tolerance and understanding. We have a planet to save. We have a world to change. Battles will need to be fought. Let’s make them the right ones”. I agree but also remember that “The meek shall inherit the Earth – if it is alright by you.” It sure seems like it is time for the meek to be resolute.

freeacre said...

It's so difficult to know what is really going on at the macro level. We just don't have enough hands-on knowledge. Is all this crap just smoke and mirrors acting out a war between banking factions? Interest vs. no interest? Are we once again fighting the Crusades? Are "They" really going to tank the world as we know it and hide out in underground facilities? Who the hell knows? Not me. The more I read, the less I seem to know.
Meanwhile, at state, county, and local levels, we can be more effective and knowledgeable. And resolute, Belgium. I think we could ratchet up our opposition to the banker bailout. Tell our congressmen that we are going to cut up any credit cards from banks that receive a bailout. Switch our accounts to credit unions - or Mason jars.
And, on the home front, join local fraternal organizations, plant gardens, raise animals, get out of debt, drive less, live a non-materialistic lifestyle as much as possible. Cultivate community, be generous...
At least on the local level, it's not that hard to figure. This may change, though, as things deteriorate. Anybody else noticing more bank robberies and bomb scares?

Dave said...

It seems most intuitive to me that as peoples' fortunes decline they look for scapegoats.

In addition, crime predictably rises.

The the going is good, people can "afford" to be civilized, but at other times civility takes a backseat to survival.

I fear things will get worse. People will become less tolerant of others and crime will rise. This is why it's important to form new, small communities that can reestablish civility among their own little enclave. It's too much to ask to restore civility at the macro level when such momentous macro events are directing the course of history.


RAS said...

I was really disappointed in Kunstler when I read that essay. He is too smart to make the mistake of over-simplifying the world into "us vs. them" categories. He seemingly can not understand that one may not support Israel's actions without being anti-semitic.

Xenophobia tends to rise in times such as these. It doesn't help that the world is becoming smaller and more local again at the same time. The biggest factor that will determine how bad things get is how strong our local communities are, which is why building community is so important.

I have never understood how someone can look at someone and say "you are no good because..." (race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, yadda yadda yadda).

stoney13 said...

Oh, Brothers, and sisters! If you think it's hot on the internet, you ought to hear the tripe getting pedaled out her in good old Carolina!

All I hear are Republican Free Market Types shrieking about how the Wall Street debacle has played merry hell with their 401 Ks and IRAs!

I was with Hazel at the hospital last week, and you never heard such a stir! All of the retirees in the waiting room sounding the alarm about those "Dirty Jew Bankers, and how they were "Draining America dry"

When I put forth the idea that it was The Republicans and their deregulation drive that took the oversights away that kept the big money from making these dumb-fuck maneuvers, I was sitting with nobody but the liberals in the room! All three of them! And they all turned on me as soon as I let it slip that I owned firearms, and kept them loaded, and at my disposal!

One of them actually suggested that I not only keep these firearms unloaded, but to actually disassemble them and hide the pieces in separate cabinets!

When I suggested that burglars, and other sorts of people that might invade my house to do me and my family harm, might not be patient enough to allow me to reassemble my firearms to counter their violent actions, she actually told me that I should "reach out and hug them"!

"I don't want to hug them, I don't know where they've been!" I replied.

"Guns kill people!" she countered.

Guns don't kill people! Bullets kill people! Guns just make them go real, real fast!" I offered.

"Guns aren't good for children!" she anounced

"I know! That's why I taught mine what guns are for, how to use them safely, and why they should leave them alone unless there's an emergency."

That's when this "Perky People Person's" face drained of all color! She looked skyward like the saints must when confronted by a taping of "Girls Gone Wild".

"YOU TAUGHT YOUR CHILDREN TO USE GUNS!!!!" she wailed at the acoustic tile overhead, clutching at her bottle-bleached hair.

"Yes of course! And my youngest is nineteen, and has been handling firearms since he was ten!" I said quietly, "And there has been no Columbine scenario at the local schools, as all the students there have pretty much decided that guns at school are a bad idea!

"And they came up with this on their own, like young people do when they are educated, and given the chance to make the right decisions!"

What followed is hard to describe, and impossible to transcribe! The closest I can come to it, is she started doing the "Chicken Dance" and speaking in tongues! That's when I decided it would be a good time for a cigarette, and took my leave to enjoy one.

While outside at the approved smoking area, an elderly lady approached me with small, ancient Bible clutched in her time-worn hand.

"Shall I read to you from the word of God?" she asked

"No thank you Ma'am" I replied, "I've read that book through seven times, and there's nothing in it that I haven't heard.".

That's when she started doing "The Chicken Dance", and speaking in tongues!

It's lonely in the middle! *sigh*

freeacre said...

OMG, Stoney! That's a classic tale!
You made me laugh my butt off. Great! Hope H. is feeling better.

Jacques de Beaufort said...

Kunstler disappointed me in that essay.

Israel is clearly engaged in repression, if not a type of genocide, of the Palestinians. Why don't they just give back the territories they took in The Six Day war ? Do they really need to occupy them FOREVER ? I don't see any opportunity for integration. The Palestinians will fight to the death, or they will gain autonomy. There is too much hatred on both sides for any sort of assimilation.

Israel has a right to exist, but it is one of the more poetic ironies of the last century that they now find themselves the creators of poverty stricken ghettos and the stewards of a long drawn out Palestinian holocaust.

Just because one has a distaste for ethnic cleansing doesn't mean one is anti-semitic.
Not really sure how that got conflated...

murph said...


Great tale of trials and tribulation in the bible belt.

On Monday, we were visited by some Jehovah Witnesses. I stepped outside in my grungy work clothes stained with rabbit blood cause the sun was warm and bright and I didn't want to mess up the internal feng shui with holy people. They of course offered me their tract, even opened it up to their favorite monthly section and started to read to me. Thank goodness it was short, I started to get edgy. I stated that I didn't think they could support a statement like that and there was nothing in the bible that supported paying taxes and such. What got them eyebrows upraised was when I mentioned that Jesus was an anarchist. There was a bit of a pause at this time and I waited patiently for an explosion and praying for my soul. It didn't come. The guys seemed to actually be interested in where I was coming from. One guy actually admitted that the Christian history was rather dark and violent by people claiming to be Christian. For the next 45 minutes we covered Biblical archeology, methods of dating ancient stuff dug up, matching historicity and archaeological discoveries, books left out of the bible, political intrusion into that decision making and separation of church and state. First time I've had a discussion with these people that actually made some sense and they didn't even offer to hold my hand and kneel down and pray. And, they didn't do the chicken dance, thank goodness. There is actually some hope for these folks, maybe, maybe not.

murph said...


Boy are you right on with the statement,"Just because one has a distaste for ethnic cleansing doesn't mean one is anti-semitic".

As I understand it, in 1947 the state of Israel was formed by shoving people that had lived there out of the way. When they objected, the fighting began. The Palestine nation has been stepped on, lied to, lied about, starved and oppressed unmercifully. So they make home made very large bottle rockets and shoot a scad of them at Israel. They aren't missiles. I would too. As Freeacre mentioned, the other Arab nations are so intimidated by the American defense of Israel that they won't help their brethren. There will come a day though.

Anonymous said...

I too, was very disappointed with JK's post this week. I don't know what type of anti-Jew rants he received but I did read a few of the comments and a good many of the respondents stated that they weren't anti-Jew, they were anti-Zionist and explained the difference.

Kunstler seems to think that Palistinians have no right -to their own land and that they shouldn't retalliate or resist living in squallor in refugee camps. Refugee camps in their own country? Geez, I don't know ladies and gents, but I probably wouldn't be too happy if someone kicked me to get off my land, at gunpoint, made me live in a small apartment in a ghetto with no more land to farm, no job, no rights to protest your encampment, no freedom of movement, etc., etc.

Kunstler also believes the 'official' cospiracy theory that 9/11 was caused by 19 Arab hommies and a few dudes hanging out in caves in Afghanistan. Right. And pigs fly. Another reason not to get his books.

It's all so horrible. And the worst part is that my tax money is going to the death and destruction of Gaza. And our media gives us what? The plight of the Israelis only -or Caylee, or Idol or Obama's dog, etc. Anything to take our attention away from the real.

There were thousands of protests throughout the world consisting of hundreds of thousands of protesters marching against Israel's attack on Gaza this past weekend, but did we hear about them on NBCCBSABCCNNFOX? Nope -not allowed to know about such things.

I lived in the Middle East for over 5 years during and after Gulf War I doing things for a merc. company, a predecessor to Blackwater and I gotta tell ya, we're not getting any real news here whatsoever. None. Even if they're reporting a warehouse fire somewhere, I'm leary of their alledged facts of the fire. In the "Free Press" catagory, 'Murika's so-called "free press" is ranked 32nd in the world. It's ranked that low for a reason.

I don't know.....

I'm reading soooo much crap, it's hard to stay upbeat. The very few people that I do know think that Obama will make things better. I have no such delusions. I really don't think anything will change. Maybe things won't get as ugly -when things go ugly soon. But I think of it this way, if I'm going to get screwed (and that's a definite) at least I'm going to get screwed by someone who's very smart and has mastered the English language.

As I've said before.......






Anonymous said...

JHK lost me a post or so ago when he went on with a similar blurb regarding the situation in Gaza. With regards to what is happening inside the USA he is a like minded person, yet it amazes me he is so strong minded regarding the Zionist versus Palestinian peoples.

I am not Jewish, no intent to ever be nor do I bode their particular race or religion any type of foul or harm. I come from the school of thinking that we need as a species to try harder to get a long to get along, yet this species fails miserably at just that.

For me there just too many days I view what is happening on this planet as a travesty, often to the point that mankind is fortunate I am not the hand on the power flush lever. I am to the point where I believe the only way to get this global mess sorted is to visit the potential extinction of the human species.

..and before some jump me and give reminder that there is good out there, I will say yes there is, trouble is the bad out there is dominating in every respect and while the good few and I believe it is a few, do nothing it is getting to be as though the good do not exist.

I am not sure how many that grace this campfire are in the position to have been part of a generation handing down or passing from one hand to another land settled by grandparents or even great grandparents. To have to watch as an invader with far greater resources for destruction and death pushes you from your land, destroying what your forefathers built, to watch your livestock decimated, your farmland plundered, groves of olive trees dozed over replaced by illegal settlements in their stead. To see forbidden communities with lush green lawns and shrubbery adorning these properties while your family and your community has barely clean water to survive....

Damn rights I would retaliate. Over grown bottle rockets and whatever I could get my hands on.

What the Israelis are doing to me is akin to having the neighbor kid through stones through my window when I am watching TV and me being allowed to go out with my shotgun and blast the little fuc*$R away, then tell his family to clean up the mess giving them a small window of time to do so then start firing at the family when they exceed that allotted time.

I have no hate for Jews, really I have no feel for them at all, same as I have toward Africans, Muslims, Americans, etc. In fact I will get along with almost anybody and anything if I have my preference. Still what I see happening regarding the Palestinian people, I cannot help but foment a righteous hate toward the Zionist handlers.

Will there be a resolution to this conflict....yes when the last drop of Palestinian blood is washed into the earth by the last standing Israeli.

just me.... Ely

murph said...


You said, "Kunstler also believes the 'official' conspiracy theory that 9/11 was caused by 19 Arab hommies and a few dudes hanging out in caves in Afghanistan. Right. And pigs fly. Another reason not to get his books".

For myself, I seldom read an author I agree with even 95% of the time but because I disagree with some of his stuff doesn't mean he hasn't valid statements most of the time. We have several of Kunstler's books and frankly, he appears right on for most of his takes on stuff. Some time back we talked about his novel and there was criticism about that also, (we had criticism of it), but the majority of the novel contained concepts that I thought were of value; that is, a vision of a high probability scenario when things go belly up. I personally think Kunstler's take on 9-11 is really naive. On his Jewish take on the Gaza conflict, I think he is expressing a tunnel vision, completely discounting what appears as a situation that the Israelis brought on themselves. But doesn't mean he is 100% wrong and does not have something valid to contribute to the discussions going on.

By the way, I think his book "The Long Emergency" is well thought out and precise and worth the read.

murph said...


Yup it sure enough appears that near annihilation of the human species is the only way to resolve these conflicts. Is this a condemnation of complex civilizations and societies or of human hard wired behavior?

Anonymous said...

Hey Murph,

We used to get the soon-to-be-Mormon Missionaries around our 'hood to practice their new preaching skills on the local heathens -us. When I ask them to give me PROOF of Jesus's existance besides the 'stories' in the bible and they start blabbing about the bible anyway and I quickly ask them if Nazerith was a town during the time of Jesus's alledged existance. I then tell them that it was NOT in existance and then I ask them if their Mormon attire is the result of two different types of material. They sorta look at me with that lemming-stare and so I tell them that according to their bible, in particular, Lev 19:19, that wearing garments made of two different kinds of material (cotton & polyester) is grounds for stoning, and they sorta start mumbling and backing away from my doorstep.

Needless to say, we don't get any missionary wannabe's on our doorstep anymore. But, we're also probably on top of the list of undesirables to be rounded-up when they want to instigate "Mountain Meadows Masacre, part II." Shit.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I know I shouldn't disqualify JK for his naivity on 9/11 and I've enjoyed his writings on his website for the past couple of years now,

but, if he's naive about something that important, what else is he being naive about? Can his opinion be trusted about other important things? That's what I wonder.


RAS said...

Stoney, lol. It is hard being in the middle, no?

Dude, Kunstler's books are well worth reading -particularly The Long Emergency. His novel pretty much sucked but still had some valid concepts in it.

Regarding the Gaza situation, Jon Stewart (who does happen to be a Jew) came out with a damn fine salvo against the Israeli invasion the other day. It's spot on, and funny as hell (despite the subject). You can watch it here:

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

Stoney, what a hoot! That must have been some experience; you must have had a few beers recounting that one. I guess in a way, they are just as entitled to their loony prejudices as we are to our loony prejudices; the difference is just that ours are right – lol.


That story brought back some memories. Largely, the trouble in arguing with Jehovah’s Witnesses is getting past the Intelligent Design argument. Things happen because God wants it that way. I remember as a young man, spending a similar time on the door with a couple of JW’s. We or at least I talked on everything from why giraffes’ have long necks to continental drift and why there are mountains on the west coast of America, which had nothing to do with Gods will. In the end we agreed on a failure to agree.

Dave – Ras –Dude - Ely

I seem to remember kicking the ‘Why can’t we all just get along together’ theme around here about a year or two ago. As memory serves, I think that although we recognised it was a desirable state, it was naïve to expect it to actually come about, on the larger scale at least. People just are different. For example city types and country types where the differences outweigh the similarities. You know, Wall Street goes down on the farm. On the larger scale it is difficult for many to see through the implanted deceptions. For example, whilst we largely recognise that multiculturalism is better than xenophobia and respect cultural and religious differences between peoples; those 17 *Muslim* crazies who drove those planes into the towers……. So here the linked words are Muslims; crazies and terrorism. Hell, we are not saying that these are traits of Islam but the media has done its job and linked the words. A Berlin wall has been quickly created between cultures which will take a long time to come down especially since certain classes can profit from escalating bad feeling. But just like the original Berlin wall, it will eventually fall because its premises are built on sand. In the meantime, small is beautiful.


You wrote “Israel has a right to exist, but it is one of….” I am not saying whether I agree or disagree with this but I am interested in why you seem to regard as a given. You see, the difficulty of accepting this premise is that it follows (at least to my mind) that you must also accept the Tito borders of Yugoslavia (You know what I mean by that) and that all of these newly formed independent states should be occupied by and form part of a greater Serbia. Now the world went to war to right this apparent wrong (;-)) but is complicit in defending Israel’s right to occupy Palestine. Either it is right to break up Yugoslavia into smaller independent states or it is wrong to allow Palestinians to occupy their former homeland. It has to be one or the other. There is however a third option, but not one I think you will readily like and that is to admit to having double standards (ambivalence is a nicer word). This is not necessarily a bad thing so long as you are out front about it. For instance, I think every parent should want their daughters to be virgins on their wedding night and since this is the night the young lady has looked forward to all of her life, the young man should not be so inexperienced that he messes it up for her. Therefore, for the girl’s sake, boys should have experiences that young girls don’t have. There is a double standard that is sort of OK so long as you rationalise it and are out front about it, lol. In the above example, Serbia was pushed back into the original borders of the land it always occupied whereas the Jews had not occupied the lands of Israel since biblical times. We all have heard that possession is nine points of the law and the Jewish claim to those lands is now somewhat tenuous, or was in 1947.

As an aside, the original people of Samaria were so universally disliked; the story of a good one has survived over two thousand years and they are still getting a bad press today even in these times of controlled media.

Anonymous said...


You know I just don't know....

“Is this a condemnation of complex civilizations and societies or of human hard wired behavior?”

I wonder if it the crap that takes place daily is because of complexity at times, yet I still see tribes in certain parts of the world who, are basic in their very existence, who would like to wipe out other tribes as they have so wished for generations, so me this is where complexity fails. Yet I view our society, say for example what we call the nuclear family as it were and we have built a lot of complexity within... a quick example, perhaps an over simplistic example is buying a movie ticket, I now have options, I can do it say the old fashion way go to the ticket booth or go on line and secure one. It was a heck of a lot less complicated when you had to go to the theater to buy the ticket but technology in this case has altered my behavior.

Maybe then...

Are humans hard wired to this behavior, are we hard wired to do such dastardly things unto one another? Again another good question and for my part I do not really know. I do know that when a person does something long enough it becomes almost of second nature.... perhaps that could be construed as becoming hard wired and if one has a hate or bent toward disliking a person, a group, a society, a race, a skin color, a religious belief of a group with a long enough duration it may become a hard wired response to want to destroy them??

I just don't know....

What I know is that as a species we prove time and again we are capable of being better than we are. We have developed in many ways, we have improved on many things, we have a capability of looking toward the future with plans on how to get there yet we are incapable of developing a world where all can coexist in relative harmony. How sad ..... and lately I can not seem to look at the news, read the internet, listen to the radio, read periodicals without seeing that the global society is coming apart at the seams.

Is there a continent that does not have some kind of strife? It may be environmental, political, social but it seems the planet is in dire circumstances and yet there is no real movement to correct any of it.

Atrocities that can be attributed to the human condition should be attended to, yet unless it involves some exchange of monetary gain the carnage is left to continue. Where will it all end?

If this were the playground and I was the games coordinator all these kids would be sent home damn straight. Maybe the creator, and yes I believe that there is a creator, should do just that send the kids home...

On a lighter note, but not totally unconnected from the topic here is a video link. I found it humorous yet poignant as well. It does say a lot about what we have become as a society if one thinks about it.


murph said...


That is an awesome link you put up. We had figured that show "worlds dirtiest jobs" was just another put down of the working class. Looks like we were wrong about that one.

This guy Mike Rowe is one of the best storytellers I have seen.

Thanks again for that link.

Palooka's Revenge said...

i had a phone chat with a friend down in austin couple days ago and she said, oh btw... i tripped up on an english speaking talk radio station in israel and have been listening in just to see what the chatter is. especially re gaza. i said, well... enlighten me. she said there's a lot of chatter defending the view that they, the israeli people, are mandated by god to occupy this land. and if they don't abide they will suffer the wrath of god.

so the israelis beleve they are fighting, as dylan wrote, "with god on our side". thats not unusual. so does hamas. and hezbollah. and the taliban. and the christians who are still fighting the crusades. and so on.

it is a religous war. thats not unusual either. but the twist in this one is not so much fighting with god on their side as it is fighting because of what they believe will be brought upon them it they don't according to that chatter.

most wars have deep religious underpinnings to them. in this case it goes deep into this held belief system and interpretation that has concluded that if they don't abide by that mandate there will be hell to pay. literally! and so, that is tied deeply into guilt. guilt clamped down on frozen interpretations of what is demanded by a punitive god and why and what we have here is a massive guilt reflection playing out.

from our view, none of that justifies the mass killing of innocent palastinians trapped in gaza as if rats in a hole. but in the guilt ridden minds and hearts of the israelis (why do you think they call it the wailing wall?), its justified. and if that is so, it explains alot.

if kuntsler holds some sort of alignment with that view... well, i'm not saying he does cuz i don't know. but if he does, that explains alot too.

does anyone see a connection here to the born-agains who believe they... check that, who believe ALL men ..., with the exception of the likes of the islamic jihadists who they consider evil incarnate, were born sinners subject to the wrath of a punitive god unless they repent? its a form of the same thing tied deeply into guilt. and in that it can align with the israelis.

and so what in god's name is fueling all this jew hating? can you say alignment with nazi essence?

Jacques de Beaufort said...

on second thought I'm pretty lukewarm on the idea of nations having the right to exist or not. Nations are generally pretty lame ideas all around. It's not a question of rights or ethics, but more just taste and style.

on another note....

does anyone wish to predict when we will begin having noticeable interruptions in internet service ?

that's when the real darkness will descend.

freeacre said...

I am pleased that we are having this conversation that attempts to sort out our feelings and beliefs and observations regarding the bigotry that seems to be rampant in our world. Like the references to "Jew bankers" in Stoney's story. It seems the emphasis should have been on the "bankers" not the "Jews." Whether the bankers are Jewish, English, French, Irish, or Catholic, Protestant, or whatever, the fact is that they are all BANKERS. Bankers should be the operative term.
After all, look at Jon Stewart. That piece that ras referred to was outstanding. In my opinion, at least, he is one of the best political analysts on the tube - and he does it on a comedy show! We also have Steven Spielburg, Einstein, Bob Dylan,Frank Capra, Rogers and Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein. Musicians, artists, actors, directors, doctors,play writers, authors, scientists and a whole array of brilliant Jewish individuals who have enriched and shaped some of the best things in our national character - who are all Jews and all Americans. Maybe American should be the operative word in this case as well.
And,look at Bush, Chaney, Rumsfield, et al. What is their ethnic heritage? I don't know. Most of our contemporary villains are White Guys in Suits. Shit, maybe it's the damn suits that turns humans into greedy bastards.
We just watched this great documentary entitled "The Real Dirt on Farmer John." This farmer, John, told his story about trying to maintain his family farm through the tough times of the 70's through now. He suffered all kinds of prejudice from his neighbors in the 70's because he went to college and came back a free thinker and artist as well as a farmer. His neighbors ended up thinking he was a satanist and cultist and all sorts of stuff that made his life a living hell for many years. The path he has traveled is well worth watching.
Intolerance is what the Buddhists identify as a source of suffering on this plane. Hating or fearing anything or anyone at all who seems to be even remotely different from ones self is like a mental plague.
I don't know what's to be done with Israel. It seems to be a predicament, not a problem. Maybe there is no solution. I wrote a screenplay once where the Ark of the Covenant came back to life and shot out a beam that took all the residents of Israel and moved them to Ethiopia. Probably would have worked out better there...

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

On the subject of internet access, the limited chatter I have picked up is that instead of a symbolic pulling of the plug on a certain date, many sites will be retired so that availability will be gradually restricted to several thousand sites. The overall thrust of site content will determine its outcome so that eventually site content will be more restrictive than now exists in China. Maybe there will be moderation by the ‘authorities’. If this is the overall plan then I would be very wary of any alternative news sites which are left, they could be the devil’s workshop wrapped up in a Christian message.

RAS said...

Ely wrote: "Will there be a resolution to this conflict....yes when the last drop of Palestinian blood is washed into the earth by the last standing Israeli."
Actually, I don't think that will be the end. I think the end will be when Israel is wiped off the map by the surrounding nations. Much as I hate to say it, that is the logical conclusion I see. Israel has not made itself any friends in that part of the world. It is surrounded by armed enemies who would love to destroy it. The only thing protecting it is the U.S. Israel has been acting as if that protection would last forever but if and when the U.S. become unwilling and/or unable to continue it, they will be in for a very rough time indeed.

Belgium, how is Chris?

Anonymous said...

'' Hating or fearing anything or anyone at all who seems to be even remotely different from ones self is like a mental plague.''
Thank you sister, this one sentence is the one that tripped me out.
And also murph's, ''Are humans hard wired to this behavior, are we hard wired to do such dastardly things unto one another?''... was the other one that tripped my interest in why humans act the way they do and isn't this what this whole set of comments and posts is all about in the final scheme of things?
Wellllll, i find this fascinating and its been a search that seems to be the truly only great game in town that has any actual significance as far as the survival of the two legged;s and all our relations is concerned,
''guilt'' invented by the jews? some say, but looking closer at my own heart and in this foray into the whys and the ways of why we do things is simply an excuse to legitimize something we would do anyway just because it feels so good to kill people , hummm. bullshit, after peering into the abyss of the human soul i see reasons, reasons, reason, and not a goddam one of them have one single valid point as a reason to do anything other then to fulfill some bullshit directive issued by who or whatever;
For instance, one single cell in the human body, its substance is to survive, period,even though it is sometimes sacrificed to benefit its encapsulated set of programs or programer,it is for the the benefit of the whole of which it sees no difference,
the biological organism is hardwired to survive as the whole is no different then the single cell so that explains the easy part, you try to kill this organism it will try to kill you, simple to see this.
the unsolved part, this is not so simple, but is solvable, however it is an unpopular trail to follow because of the fact that we are soft-wired to set on the couch and drink beer and copy all the shit that a cleaver person can come up with in order to control other people's actions, right?
this is serious shit to me, because this is where it all begins, in the you and the me, right?
and as a result of swallowing the bullshit hook line and sinker as it were it becomes eventually you verses me. and this takes place without ever having one grain of understanding what the fuck a you or a me actually is, and there it goes,
without this understanding how i ask ya is there ever to be one minutes peace?
i am not talking about the escapes that the cleavers have thought up to amuse us so we will not cause trouble as they go about raping everything in sight.
as mostly the entire panorama of the human experience is as it looks to this one,
anything to avoid looking into the abyss that keeps the killing and the raping in the prime time game show of fun things to talk about,
yep thats the human condition alright, avoid,avoid, look the other way,,it ain't me we say, its the one armed man, he did it!!
ain't my fault, i did every thing right,,,, how was i to know that would happen,!
i mean i was just preying (haha) my ass off in church. i am a good guy, so fuck off with your accusations, i thump my bible right good so don't tell me nothin/

sooooo/ where do we stand brothers and sisters, the ones of us that have had a glimpse of our inner workings and know that the truth is a genuine mother fucker of a bitch, and absolutely not for the faint of heart, to go poking around in without the resolve of a psychopathic pit-bull on steroids, seriously, this is big business, and can be dangerous but what the fuck, ain't that the fun of it? to go around just looking for something to get into that the preacher motherfucker says will put us into eternal damnation and hellfire, ha!! i say fuck it , BRING IT ON BITCH,!!

ps and have a nice day folks, there actually is love even though it is rarely mentioned on this site,

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

Hi Ras,

Chris is fine, thanks for the thought it is much appreciated. She always was one who preferred warmer climates but since the operation her thermostat has gone completely wonky. When we move we are going to get an end bill from the gas and electricity supplier which I am definitely not looking forward to. I have a feeling I am going to have to roll it over. Still, the move is all for the better. She now has a new speech therapist who she likes very much which is just around the corner from where we are now so there is no longer a need to go to the revalidation centre which is a 40 min bus ride into town then a second bus through the tunnel under the river. Recovery is all small steps but it is going well. Thanks again for asking.

When things settle down after the move I am going to sort out my email boxes, again and ask if you can send me your novella if that is possible.


Anonymous said...

hello friends,
you know, i don't say much about the affairs of the world here at the council fire because in the first place i can barely come to grips with some of the weird shit that happens in my own little village, and even closer some of the weird shit that happens in my own house from time to time.

we can go to the moon (they say) but cannot explain why the thought of someone else fucking our mates leads us reach for the gun, or maybe a thank you great father maybe the bitch will leave, or something in between.

the story of what goes on between the ears is my most earnest compassion and passion.
bug says i'm a loon and i guess she is right but that doesn't change a damn thing does it and i say so.
no she says and goes on to say that the red path is a walk that is taken alone except for the few that have been joined with as an ally by the great spirit as a guide to the world of gia,, ...langosta is of the nature of one of the formless ones except for when they chose to take a form for reasons of their own. she has come to me as a helper but understanding the pictures she issues up is sometimes distressing to say the least.
she will say something and a week later it will finally make sense.
a single word will light up a conversation that will last all day to its origin, or origins would be more accurate , because words are really definitions according to ones own experience and nothing more and to use them as an actual means of understanding one self, much less anyone else is an ex-cerise in ludicrous ignorance she says,and are biased on nothing more then prejudiced opinions with meaning a mystery even to the ones that throw them out to be witnessed as something akin to some truth.
what the fuck i say,? do you mean that communication cannot be period,? after a pause she sighs and says yes, it is sad but it is true, what you perceive as meaning is nothing more them a relaxing picture the mind has formulated up to give the biased mind a rest in the fantasy world of illusion'..
we just think we understand but it is not true is it, yes she says it is not true by any long stretch of the imagination.

i'll wager that tit surgery is more fun then this i say, she says maybe.

i says how can we come grips with this bullshit bug, she looks at me with really sad eyes and says your spirit given power to understand the world you are born into was taken from you by the clever ones in the beginning and few are ever given the opportunity to see this and to regain what is rightfully yours, the inheritors of this beautiful world. to live in peace with your fellow beings in your pure natural state of living loving grace for all you can see. but it is possible to regain this state and there are many at this time being called forth to perform this miraculous task,
but it is so goddam hard i say, she says yes it is but when the light shines you will see it and you will know that it is good regardless of the condition of the apparentness that you think is the actual world. for the world of illusion is dissolving as we speak and the outcome for those that hide in that world would rather not be born because the insane will shine to; and there will be nothing you can do about it.
that sucks i say, you mean limitation is a real thing,? only in the mind as it exists now but as the new awareness reaches more and more people it will become laughingly apparent how funny that concept really is.
im not laughing, she senses my confusion and looks at me with that look that i don't think i will never understand and says, the blockage you feel is also an illusion but feels real because its all you have ever known, this will pass, ..... you work to hard at this she says and laughs, its as easy as falling off a log she says, its only a matter of letting go of that in your mind that simply must be in a position of control, it is not in control and never has been, ok?she says.
man i am lost on that one and ask what is the secret of letting go i say, i mean let go of what , not what she says just let go,..... what you hold on to is nothing but an idea along with all the rest of the mostly useless baggage that comprises the actual state and content of your so called mind/
god at this point i am fried and she says go to bed and i do.

ps thank you p,f,m,r,s,r,and all the rest that come here to bear witness to the beginning.

Anonymous said...


I was surprised by Mike Rowe. True his program is one that if I am looking for something to occupy my head for a while I would stop and watch. Never gave it much thought really, just some educated guy trying to see if he could hold up to the uneducated, in a lot of cases, dudes and be able to say to the world that hey, that is not that bad...

He makes some good points though. Often the educated and often as in this case the humane way so say the experts is best is not always the case. I know this from the farm days, many a day there were University educated people showing up with the so called better and more modern way of doing things only to have my father with patience of Jobe sp? have them agreeing that their ways were flawed. The ones that could not see the light they usually left in a huff...

Still this society has worked really hard to marginalize those people that really do make a huge difference, and who without their efforts the society would grind to a halt in a hurry. For years parents have been telling their children to stay away from the trades, as if getting your hands calloused and dirty was a bad thing, yet without the trades who would build your house, fix your car, sew your wedding dress etc etc.

This video was a pleasant surprise for me. Not only did Mike address this situation but did so in front of the very people who often view those in the trades as some sort of sub class under achieving group of society. I can imagine in that room of engineers and computer design and software developers this was a bit of foreign territory. In the end though I am doubtful that it would have had any lasting impact... I have worked with the type and yes they view themselves on a different plane until the shitter does not take the turd away then the plumber is a living

I am glad you enjoyed the video...


RAS said...

Belgium, I'll be happy to send it to you if give me your email address. Does Chris have any thermal underwear? They are godsends. Long sleeved, long pants and lightweight for all that they are very, very warm. You can get a pair here in the states for about 5 bucks. They also have thermal pants for going outdoors.

Alabama is frozen, folks. Not as much as the rest of the nation but it still is. We had wind chills in negative terrority last night and they are not much higher now. I woke up this morning with the menagerie of animals in bed with me. I was cozy. ;-) This is the worst winter we've had in a long time. The question is, is this merely weather, or part of climate change? If it's climate change, is it just a storm worsened by the change or is something else going on? Has enough water been dumped into the Atlantic from the melting of Greenland to stop the current? Only time will tell.

I don't think any of this sh*t people are doing is hard wired into our brains. That's a cop out, like a serial murderer saying "Satan made me do it." No such thing, bro. All of this crap is a product of our sick, twisted culture. We are capable of so much more than this. Once we wake up maybe we'll realize that.

Anonymous said...

Great post...I too have been tugged on lately by my thoughts, wanting to scream something about the horribly inhumane acts of the very Nazi like Isreali Gov. As in the daze of Hitler, the whole world watched and did nothing. There are many many Israeli's and American Jews who adamantly disagree with their government. If all Americans were held accountable for the Bush era we'd all be in jail. Somebody once said if Israel wanted peace they'd have it. They're certainly not going to get it this way. They're ramping it up now and have been for how many decades, eons? Idiots. And the U.S. is equally lame for not condemning it! They're putting the whole world on the chopping block again. You can't put an animal into a cage, cut off it's food and water and expect it not to act out. The whole thing is perverse ape like moronic low level chaktra. Israel has a long long way to go before it evolves. It's evil twin the U.S.A. should cut it's own cord. That's what I think and it has nothing to do with the Jewish's just their run amuck perverse government who has created Hamas, et al. The whole world apparently has agreed with the Palestines demands...except for U.S., Israel, and Australia. So who's out of sync? They don't want peace, they have nukes and they're above the law and could care less what anyone thinks.

The more energy you throw at something the worse it gets. They're keeping the jihad alive and working very hard at doing that. It's obvious why the other side is so desparate and plays right into the game. They have been beaten down repeatedly for decades. They have nothing else but desparateness from their prison walls. But one has to wonder how and why the Israeli PTB could be so dumb?...Or are they just also tranced by their own hatred. They will never take the high road because they don't have to. But the U.S. must at some point take the high road or it too will perish. It's probably too late for that. Sad. Very Sad that the world has become so unaccountable and so Ape-like and has learned nothing.

FA, you stir me as usual. mrsp

Anonymous said...

Geez, BofA is falling apart, more banks are stealing MORE of MY money, Citigroup is dead, Circuit City is closing all stores, newspapers shutting down, car companies going down the shitter, states going bankrupt, almost every company in 'Murika shedding employees....

and the stock market is up.

Can you say "manipulation?"


Anonymous said...

"Birds Linked To al-Qaeda Attack Plane

January 16, 2009,
Yesterday, in the skies over New York, birds believed to be linked to al-Qaeda attacked US Airways flight 1549. Thankfully, due to the actions of veteran pilot Chesley Sullenberger III, the plane completed a textbook emergency water landing in the Hudson River, after which all 155 souls on board were rescued.

According to US intelligence agencies, numerous radical Islamic websites posted a statement by Ayman al-Zawahiri claiming that the birds had been trained at a secret al-Qaeda run camp in Pakistan. Unnamed US intelligence sources have said that they believe that the operatives most likely arrived in the US in the fall and covertly assimilated themselves into the migratory patterns of North American birds.

The White House has yet to confirm the link between the birds and al-Qaeda, though it is believed that the FBI has taken several hundred birds into custody since the incident and is holding them at an undisclosed location."

freeacre said...

As usual, Montana, I have very little understanding of what you and the bug are talking about... but some sort of transformation seems to be going on. Yes, like the Dude notes, all sorts of things that seemed fixed (banks, newspapers, auto industry, chain stores,etc.) are tanking or dissolving. It feels like an earthquake is going through the ground that you thought was solid and now seems like Jello. So, probably, Langosta's advise to "let it go" is probably the easiest way to ride this thing out. Just let it all go and see what happens next. A new illusion to take the place of the old one.
I know that unusual things are happening. It's like the Universe is listening to my thoughts and responding big time. Yesterday, a massage therapist offered to give me 90 minute massage treatments DAILY for weeks for free and offered to pay for leg wraps, etc. herself! She just needs somebody to practice this lymph detox treatment on... how cool is that? I've been wishing I had some structure to help me meditate more - so how about 90 minutes of gentle massage while I'm at it? For free. Thank you, Universe! (Of course, I will show my appreciation with a shower of eggs, bread, quiche, pies, etc.)
Plus, our dog, Brie, keeps becoming more and more tuned into both the computer screen and the TV set - watching intently for any dogs or animals, mostly. She gets bored watching text, so she'll jam her head into my hand on the mouse insisting that I show her some dog pictures on the internet. Jeez. Weird/wonderful stuff is going on...

Anonymous said...

P.S. to FA
I forgot to thank you for the wonderful instant laugh you gave us with the dog talking video. The animals are more evolved than we give them credit for. Now I know why somebody used to say, "we should just buldoze everything and let the dogs and children take over." Love & dog biscuits, mrsp

Anonymous said...

P.S. to FA
I forgot to thank you for the wonderful instant laugh you gave us with the dog talking video. The animals are more evolved than we give them credit for. Now I know why somebody used to say, "we should just buldoze everything and let the dogs and children take over." Love & dog biscuits, mrsp

Anonymous said...

Sorry Double entry. Whoa don't know how that happened. Just wanted to also say that mf & bug makes a great deal of sense about us all trying to make sense of this crazy story we're in while we're in it. Thoughts are things. I so enjoy reading mf & the sea bug's thoughts they seem to come from another world. mrs p

Anonymous said...

I also wanted to mention that a close and very admired lady friend of ours passed away suddently a few mondays ago. It seemed so out of order as she was so young and we were forced to pause and think about how fragile our lives are.

She once told us that "evil always shoots itself in the foot".

As did Hitler when he unknowingly reversed the swasticka stealing it from the Tibetans, American Indians and Eastern Indians. I guess he was drawn to and fascinated by the Spiritual and yet he was cursed by it. It may take a few centuries but evil always does shoot itself in the foot. It seems as though much of what has risen to the surface lately is all the crud floating to the top of civiliazation that refuses to evolve, refuses to let go of the old broken record.

And as for the conciousness of the Israeli cabinet it too has sucked itself into it's most hated enemies' persona. In the micro or the macro evil will shoot itself in the foot. Both sides are loosers when vengence and violence rules and so the blood story runs along and no one is ever a winner.

This old game must be discarded in life and on paper. There is no defense of such tactics on either side in life's actions of form or of the pen's lashing out. It must be discarded in hearts and minds and you will never find in all the spiritual books of the Universe that this current course would be advocated as Kosher from either side.

Isn't time for the little green men to enter and tell us to wise up, go to our rooms and read our books or else they'll fry us?

When you unexpectantly loose a friend from this life it certainly tweeks your perspectives. mrsp

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,


“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven of God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband”.

Hope this helps. Mind you modern thinking is that the John who wrote this stuff was also high on mushrooms as were of course all of those al-Qaeda albatrosses who are awaiting the arrival of seven virgin albatross’s each. Meanwhile those birds that didn’t make it across the great divide are being debriefed by DHS to see what twitter they picked up whilst perched on the telegraph wires. Incidentally, if any of the martyred albatross were female, would they each be allocated seven virgin boy albatross’s or is that not the way it works?

Dude, I have posted this list here last year but it is worth repeating.

Ann Taylor closing 117 stores nationwide.

Eddie Bauer to close more stores after closing 27 stores in the first quarter.

Cache, a women’s retailer is closing 20 to 23 stores this year.

Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines closing 150 stores nationwide

Talbots, J. Jill closing stores. Talbots will close all 78 of its kids and men's stores plus another 22 underperforming stores. The 22 stores will be a mix of Talbots women's and J. Jill.

Gap Inc. closing 85 stores

Foot Locker to close 140 stores

Wickes Furniture is going out of business and closing all of its stores. The 37-year-old retailer that targets middle-income customers, filed for bankruptcy protection last month.

Levitz - the furniture retailer, announced it was going out of business and closing all 76 of its stores in December. The retailer dates back to 1910.

Zales, Piercing Pagoda plans to close 82 stores by July 31 followed by closing another 23 underperforming stores.

Disney Store owner has the right to close 98 stores.

Home Depot store closings 15 of them amid a slumping US economy and housing market. The move will affect 1,300 employees. It is the first time the world's largest home improvement store chain has ever closed a flagship store.


Macy's - 9 stores closed

Movie Gallery – video rental company plans to close 400 of 3,500 Movie Gallery

and Hollywood Video stores in addition to the 520 locations the video rental

chain closed last fall as part of bankruptcy.

Pacific Sunwear - 153 Demo stores closing

Pep Boys - 33 stores of auto parts supplier closing

Sprint Nextel - 125 retail locations to close with 4,000 employees following 5,000 layoffs last year.

J. C. Penney, Lowe's and Office Depot are all scaling back

Ethan Allen Interiors: plans to close 12 of 300 stores to cut costs.

Wilsons the Leather Experts – closing 158 stores

Bombay Company: to close all 384 U.S.-based Bombay Company stores.

Dillard's Inc. will close another six stores this year.

Freeacre, quiche and a 90 minute massage sure seems like a New Jerusalem to me.

Mrs p, a lot of peoples perspectives were tweaked following 9/11. I don’t know if time has restored normal service. Sorry to hear of the loss of your friend, these are events which bring you up with a jolt and make you take stock of the whole situation.

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,


Thanks for the reminder, I gave her a couple of pairs I used to use when I did winter gardening a few years back, they will do for now underneath her leggings. I will take her out next week and get a few pairs that actually fit her.

Cable TV gets moved next Tuesday and the cable modem on Wednesday. I may be off line for a day or two whilst other things get moved across also. I hope I have the new laminate floor down by then otherwise we are in problems :-\

freeacre said...

This is so good that I have to reproduce it in its entirety (From Smirking Chimp):

So, How'd You Like Your Beer?
George W. Bush
by David Michael Green | January 16, 2009 - 1:31pm

article tools: email | print | read more David Michael Green

Go on. Admit it. You never thought this would end, did you? You never thought they'd actually leave, huh? With only days remaining, you still have nagging doubts, don't you?

Finally. Mercifully. Astonishingly. Incredibly. The insane adventure in national suicide known as the Bush administration is at last coming to an end.

This was a ride that beggars belief. Even after McCarthy and Nixon and Reagan and Gingrich, nothing prepared us for the last eight years, and I for one have difficulty finding the words that could begin to do justice to describing this historical folly of epic proportions.

The list of self-inflicted wounds is endless, running from the fiscal irresponsibility, to the lies about war, to the incompetent execution of every policy, to the extreme recklessness of environmental catastrophe, to economic meltdown, and to turning one of the most admired countries in the world into one of the most reviled.

It is a breathtaking record. It really is. Indeed, one might argue in complete seriousness that it would be far easier to list the one or two exceptions to a blanket rule of disaster than to catalogue the endless list of travesties themselves. It would certainly take a lot less time to specify any successes than to climb the mountain of wholesale failures. In short, it literally involves almost no exaggeration to describe this adventure in catastrophic governance by means of a simple covering adage: If there was a way the Bush administration could have diminished America, it did.

Given this endless chronicle of national implosion, I won't try - for the umpteenth time - to catalogue the crimes and catastrophes here, despite the fact that this week offers a good opportunity for summing up our world of hurt. There are too many, and they are too well known. Except for those that are not, of course, of which I expect there is a huge quantity. Not for nothing did the administration - in one of its very first acts in government - rewrite the rules concerning the release of presidential documents, so that it could control them completely, despite the fact that they belong to you and me, not Alberto Gonzales. Not for nothing has Mr. Cheney's shredder needed sharpening every morning for the last six months.

As tempted as I am to once more list what has been lost by an America that has lost so very much, I will instead confine myself here to two simple, albeit not simply answered, questions: What happened? And, Why?

The first one is easier than the second, though I contend that most Americans still don't know the correct answer. My guess is that most people think the Bush administration has been highly ideological and partisan, and indeed it has. I think they believe the Bush people were largely incompetent at governing, and they were. Many Americans might have a sense of the corruption attendant to Bush's team, and they rightly should. Lots of them probably see the president as simultaneously arrogant and over his head, and they're quite right to do so.

But I'm convinced what most Americans fail to perceive, even to this day, is the true depth of the evil here. What they don't understand is that the incompetence and the partisanship and even the garden-variety corruption are the least of what just happened. What they don't get is that the major reason the Bush catastrophe was so catastrophic is that these people never came to Washington to do good, in the first place. They came instead to do well, and boy did they.

If this child in the body of a man were named Putin or Castro or Kim, Americans would get it. If they were observing the country from the perspective of Zimbabwe, instead of the other way around, then they would get it. They can understand the notion of some foreign thug who means to do harm to our country. They get the idea, in other places, of a domestic thug who seeks to plunder his own country. They just can't imagine it happening here. And, therefore, they don't see that it just has.

Most people have completely failed to perceive the magnitude of the Bush crime, because they see it as limited to 'merely' dumb policies, poorly implemented, by incompetent stewards of government. Would that that were so. We'd be so much better off as a country and as a world had it been only that.

Instead, this was an American Stalin, seeking to use military power for purposes of overrunning and raping other countries. Instead, this was an American Mugabe, seeking to steal power by any means, in order to plunder the wealth of his own country per the interests of a narrow band of cronies.

This president - and indeed the entire movement of regressive politics these last three decades (which I refer to as Reaganism-Bushism) - can only be properly understood as class warfare. Its purpose was never to make America a better place. Indeed, if we define America as a country belonging to its 300 million inhabitants, then the purpose was actually precisely the opposite. The mission of this ideology was in fact to diminish if not impoverish the vast bulk of these citizens, so that the already massively wealthy among them could instead become obscenely wealthy.

Where you or I might have looked at the middle of the twentieth century and seen the moment when America finally did justice to its national promise by introducing a measure of serious economic equality for the first time, and thus vastly expanding the middle class, the plutocrats behind Reaganism-Bushism saw a filthy aberration to the natural order of master and slave that had long existed in human history. They therefore set about to overturn that aberration and return to 'better times' through a process of class warfare. That meant that labor unions had to go, along with workplace protections, good wages, decent benefits, government protections, and a far-too-moderate average CEO to lowest-paid worker salary ratio on the order of fifty-to-one, replaced instead by something closer to five-hundred-to-one.

And, where Washington was concerned, that meant that government was to become a vehicle to serve not the 300 million, but rather the 300 families at the top, who already owned the most but craved ever, ever more. It was a cash cow that could provide enormous riches to buccaneers who make the Somali pirates look like Campfire Girls in comparison. Social Security is not, from this perspective, a program to serve seniors and keep a roof over their heads during their final decades of life, but rather a pool of money which the government had been kind enough to already collect and centralize, just waiting for barons to come along and robber it. Deregulation is another important purpose of the federal government. Protecting the long-term integrity of the economic system from the exploitation of short-term Ponzi schemers with their derivatives and their garbage loans was so mid-twentieth-century, you know? And then, chief among all purposes of government under Reaganism-Bushism, are the tax cuts for the wealthy, even if - especially if - they can be made more massive by borrowing from suckers' - I mean, citizens' - children in future generations.

In short, if you merely hate the Bush administration for driving the country into penury, making us hated around the world, bringing on a global economic crisis, ignoring when not exacerbating a looming environmental catastrophe of planetary proportions, killing a million Iraqis on the basis of a host of lies, letting New Orleans drown, trying to wreck Social Security, sleeping through (at best) the worst terrorist attack on our shores, allowing when not assisting the Middle East in going up in flames, or dividing our country internally - if that's 'all' you've got against these guys, then you have no idea how bad it really is.

Because how bad it really is can be found in the same place where one sees the difference between first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. The latter is a crime of ineptitude, the former one of intent. If you are fooled into thinking - as I suspect that most Americans have been - that the Bush administration was just a bunch of bungling ideologues who governed like Keystone Kops, then you will have been duped by the crime of the century. For at bottom these were kleptocrats, pure and simple. They came to steal, not to serve, and - with the chief exception of their foiled Social Security raid - they accomplished their mission rather handily. This was class warfare, and we lost badly. The rich in America are now far richer than they've been since 1929, while we and our government are infinitely more impoverished than we've been since the New Deal.

Of course, a movement representing one-half of one percent of the American public is never going to win elections as such, even as imperfect as is America's democracy, and so the kleptocrats had to do three things. First, they had to lie about their agenda. Second, they had to enlist others as unwitting agents in their crime. And, third, they had to steal elections. The three are, of course, heavily related. By pretending to be hyper-patriots, and by dressing up tax code changes, privatization and deregulation in the vernacular of freedom and the unleashing of economic dynamism, they could give their agenda a plausibility sufficient to fool those not looking too closely. Recruiting a few jive economists from academia to flak for not-so-funny-after-all Laffer Curves and the like gave the thing an additional patina of legitimacy.

Then, by pretending to give two shits about religious piety or national security threats, the kleptocratic junta could enlist the shock troops of the religious right and enough lazy and selfish voters necessary to seize power through elections (albeit with an occasional assist from regressive Supreme Court justices or swing-state secretaries of state) and fulfill their mission. As if they ever cared a whit about either of these grand diversions of religion or national security. These predators would have happily sold Saddam Hussein the very nails to put Jesus himself up on the cross if there was money to be made in it.

This has been, indeed, the crime of the century, and my only hope at this point is that it will ultimately be recognized as such. Right now, we are far from that. Most Americans abhor the Bush administration, to the point where quite a large percentage would probably be willing to call it the worst in American history. But that fails completely to do it justice, because it still misses the crucial question of intention. The difference between the perception of the Bush administration and the true reality of its mission accomplished is the difference between a well-intentioned bungler and a vicious though friendly predator.

There is so much that is amazing (in the same sense that witnessing a tsunami or a hydrogen bomb test is amazing) about these last eight years and the two decades preceding them, but if you're looking for something to top the list, consider the fact that the regressive right in America has now been reduced to using wholesale incompetence, gross negligence and catastrophic outcomes as its alibi. Think of how ugly and deep the real crime you're hiding must be if those are your diversionary tactics.

What's more, it's crucial to note that the danger of historical misinterpretation is far from the only one lurking here. In that respect, we would be well advised to remind ourselves that - even after eight years of devastation, even with homes being repossessed in droves, with jobs being lost, with medical conditions untreated because of insufficient funds, and even with an anodyne and centrist Democratic presidential candidate running a near-perfect campaign against a buffoonish McCain-Palin ticket - even after all that, we should remember that Barack Obama won in 2008 by a mere six percent of the vote.

And the resulting possibility that we could experience yet more Reaganism-Bushism brings us to the question of how this could have happened in the first place. What drives people to embrace stupidity, aggression, recklessness, destruction and contemptuousness as national policy, especially when they have other choices? Even worse yet (though that is hard to imagine), what impels them away from perceiving the even deeper crimes lurking below the death and destruction on the surface?

This second of our two questions is less easy to understand, but I believe the short answer is fear. Which is fairly astonishing, when one considers that we have long been the richest and most powerful country on the planet, by leaps and bounds. And yet this is a country whose populace strikes me as riddled with all manner of fears, in myriad aspects, whose ugliest political operatives understand this as well as they do the very concept of breathing, and who have become so used to preying on those fears that they engage in both practices both with about equal forethought.

It's been long said of George W. Bush that he wins elections because he seems like the kind of guy voters would be most comfortable having a beer with. That says a lot - an unfortunate, awful lot - about us fearful Americans. How frightened and insecure do you have to be, after all, to deliberately choose mediocrity for your government - with all the perils affecting you and your children such a choice entails - just so you won't be reminded every night as you watch the news that you're not as accomplished as the guy in the White House? Would we want our heart surgeons and airplane pilots to be equal exemplars of mediocrity? Would we enjoy the beer we'd be sipping with them in the afterlife, once they'd managed to get us killed? Nor is this just clever and fun, but specious, analogy. Just ask the thousands of Americans dead in Iraq, or because of absent health insurance, or a government that was partying instead of protecting them when the bad guys hijacked airplanes, or when the hurricanes came onshore. A certain American vice president likes to say that "elections have consequences". Well, indeed they do, Dick, and some of them can be quite lethal as a matter of fact.

The simple fact of George W. Bush as two-term president of the United States and leader of the Free World - as opposed instead to, say, the could-never-grow-up, could-never-stay-sober, sixty-year-old-frat-boy-cheerleader, Midland-Texas-Elks-Club-Secretary-Treasurer-who-couldn't-actually-keep-the-minutes-or-balance-the-checkbook, local-car-crasher-extraordinaire - will not exactly acquit us all very well in the history books. At least the Romans had the excuse of monarchy to explain Nero and Caligula. We don't. Nor can we plead ignorance. Our friendly neighbors in Europe dropped their collective jaws and looked on in astonishment from Day One. "You guys chose what? Out of 300 million of you? You put a dude in charge of a planeticide-capable arsenal who can't even properly pronounce the word 'nuclear'? Are you freakin' kidding?"

Maybe the one thing I got out of the horror of the last eight years was a lesson in political culture. I learned that he who goes looking for rational thought or dialogue among the ranks of the regressives will come home a confused, addled and empty-handed fellow. That's what I was half a decade ago when that revelation whacked me across the forehead. I couldn't believe what I was witnessing. I couldn't believe that most of my fellow citizens could believe what we were witnessing.

But my mistake was to conceive of an America characterized by rational thought and some rough approximation of deliberative democracy. It's so long ago now, and no doubt my memory is foggy, but it seems to me that's what we had in my younger days. Yep, even with Vietnam and Watergate, even with Nixon and McCarthy, we seemed so much closer then to the Enlightenment ideal of the country's Founders. But something went desperately wrong - beginning in the late 1970s or early 1980s and culminating with this reign of the American Caligula - and it strikes me that there has been a paradigm shift in this country's cognitive architecture. Which is just a fancy way of saying we got ourselves real stupid, real fast. And real willfully, too.

I don't know what explains that, but I like to take the long anthropological perspective on these questions, and one can't help noticing that this is the exact moment that the wind went out of the sails of the American standard of living. Ever since then - following an economic rocket ride in the post-war period - it's been static, if not a real-value decline, for the American middle class (and we don't even bother talking about those in poverty any more). I think what happened is that we hit a wall and began having to get very creative in stealing from ourselves and from others and from our children in order to maintain a semblance of the old mass-consumption lifestyle. And I think we went looking for a politics that could justify and personify that expression of wholesale greed, which the regressive movement and the Republican Party were more than happy to provide. Thus did the most gluttonous faction of the most gluttonous tribe of the most gluttonous species come to rule the planet. And thus have we wrecked everything in sight.

I think we lived in some kind of deep fear that someone would take our toys away from us. And, worse, since we had so foolishly come to also imbue those toys with a sense of meaning, we thus added the existential fear that their loss would also mean taking away our very purpose for living as well. I think a political movement arose which understood that it could get additional subsequent money and power (and entertainment) out of stoking such fears by means of prior thefts of money and power from a frightened people. Give them employment insecurity and financial woes by siphoning their wages into the coffers of the already super-rich, and they'll just turn around and choose politicians who will then do far more of the same. It was the ultimate racket, and it lasted an astonishingly long time.

Nor is it even at all clear that people are the wiser, still at this late date. It's curious enough to ask how it is that Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter got ridden out on a rail, while this Thing continues blissfully on in office. How is it that he is not hated and despised? How is it that he dares show his face in public? How does he continue doing inane farewell interviews and presidential speeches without being confronted with even a sliver of reality?

Perhaps it is that the same fear which led us in this direction originally now also prevents us from reckoning with our wreckage. Perhaps our cowardice has now morphed from solitary failing to enduring habit.

But, of course, what isn't paid for now is only paid for later, at a much higher cost. I will be amazed if the coming decade or two isn't a period characterized by multiple and profound self-made catastrophes raging home in an amphetamine-stoked frenzy, each of them furiously seeking Mama, looking for a hug. That's an embrace we surely won't desire, but just as surely neither will we be able to avoid it.

We've been on a bender of exquisite proportions for thirty years now. We've done everything there is to do, to everyone there is to do it to, and more or less gotten away with it all. But now our creditors - literal and figurative - are lined up around the block, knives in their teeth, and they don't look happy.

All I can say, America, is that I hope it was worth it.
I hope you enjoyed the free ride you took by offloading your woes on the rest of the world, including your own children.

I hope you feel good about yourself.

And I hope you liked your beer.

RAS said...

"The downfall of the American empire truly began with the reign of Bush II. It not only began with his reign, but accelerated manyfold during his latter days in office..."
(Probably text from a future history textbook.)

stoney13 said...

Hazel's back from the hospital and all things look great! All those healing energies and prayers did the trick!

When they went in to do the stent yesterday, they found NO BLOCKAGE!!!! NONE!! NADA!!! ZERO POINT HUH UH!!!! The doctor actually pulled out the disc which had the recording of the test procedure on it, and checked it again! THE BLOCKAGE WAS GONE!!!!!

Now she's home with strict orders to rest, and take it easy. Of course, now she seems to have boundless amounts of energy, and is looking for things to expend this energy on! I keep reminding her how many different knots the United States Navy taught me to tie, and how much good half inch line I have lying about, but so far nothing seems to work! It's 11:45 PM and now she wants to mop!

Maybe I should do "The Chicken Dance" and speak in tongues! *sigh*

freeacre said...

All Right, HAZEL!! You go, Girl! You are awesome! You've got three happy guys at home - and all the rest of us at the Campfire celebrate your perfect health.

I'm lighting another candle - this one's in gratitude! Yea!! You take it easy now.

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

Hazel has all of our best wishes at heart. Listen to the advise girl, it may be at odds with the way you are feeling but these people have been there before and know what they are talking about. In any case I never heard of rest doing anybody any harm. Hazels well being does seem to be in reciprocal proportions to that of America in general. Thanks for putting that article up in its entirety Freeacre .Perhaps the American people were living in a state of total ignorance but with only the faithful right subscribing to Fox News and so much alternative stuff available that is hard to believe that is really the case. Maybe, as the guy argues, the intent was disguised but if the people didn’t stop it then they are as culpable as the perps. Maybe they put too much faith in Nancy and when she failed to perform they said “what the hell, there isn’t long to go now”. But as was said there is a price to be extracted. Unless that is, BO (I never thought of the significance of those initials before) does a 1,000% devaluation which will hurt the rich more than the poor; the ones who still have their wealth in dollars at least.

I must say here that I personally have no right to the moral high ground. About 20 or so years ago there was a move by the European Parliament to curb the excesses of the European Commissioners but it seems the professional blackmailers trumped the amateur blackmailers and things just carried on as normal. And the people of Europe just looked at the show provided and did Jack Sh*t.