Posts Tagged ‘ronald reagan failed the country’

SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

August 9, 2012
Ant Farm

EXCERPT from Common Lives, a novel

This piece won 98th place in the 80th Writer’s Digest Annual Awards literature and mainstream fiction category – in competition with 11,800 others. 98th! I’m 98th! LOL.

“In the Beginning”

Lost in the formless void of space, an electron came spinning out of nowhere to collide foolishly, randomly and willy-nilly with some microscopic other thing and a large explosion resulted. When the debris settled and the dust cleared, when the incredible multitude of subsequently tossed, collided and bumped other things slowed their rate of reaction, space became again a relatively calm place – although, it was now decidedly more cluttered, larger things having been mashed together from the smaller ones. As one can well imagine, that lone electron must have been in an incredible hurry, and the resulting accident at Lexington and Forty-First was a big one, with traffic backed up in all directions, clear to the edges of the city. It was later inferred by a philosopher-scientist in an ermine robe while speculating before his medieval books of alchemy that the electron may have been drinking.

For Eugene R. Formsby, the amazing thing about the Universe was its consistency; it had a beginning, middle and an end. Some scientist in Cleveland, staring through a telescope in order to bring the macroscopic down to earthly size, suggested that the whole thing was a sort of gigantic bubble of slowly expanding gas, which would eventually collapse, as bubbles always do. Eugene had once seen a bubble-blowing magician on television impregnate a soap shell with cigarette smoke. Eugene thought the end of the Universe would be as fleetingly unspectacular as watching the magician pierce the soap shell to allow the cigarette smoke to escape in a dirty, gray-white rush, to dissipate in the broader air. The soap shell itself collapsed with a wet spurt; all very satisfying as a television show, but lame as a proper end to the Universe.

Eugene felt a little disappointed with the magician. There were just so many things one could do with soap shells: spin them, encase one inside of another – rings of air, worlds of air, nested like wooden, brightly-painted Russian dolls – tie them together like balloon puppets, or whatever, the bubbles always vanished with the same, wet spurt.

Which made Eugene think about beginnings. He, Eugene, was the product of a minute, wet spurt, which – reacting, colliding – forced masses of other inert (or nearly so) materials to react and collide with…an endless series of seemingly chaotic, entirely trivial and absolutely fascinating mini-events, resulting in one Eugene R. (for “Robert”) Formsby. Life, Eugene decided, was funny that way: there was no accounting for it. Multiplied by all of the other minute, wet spurts, amid the howling, moaning, grunting and groaning cacophony of all the copulating creatures since the dawn of auditory, vocalizing creaturedom, Eugene felt quite insignificant and more than occasionally like a supernumerary.

Still, Eugene tried to please everybody, tried to appear like a superstar (which he was not), cleaned his supper plate assiduously – hearing the voice of his long-dead Mother chanting, “Starving children and half-mad dogs. The world’s a savage place, Eugene. Watch your step and don’t lose your way. Be careful crossing streets, Eugene, and always eat your peas.”  Eugene always ate his peas. He ate them first, to get that little chore out of the way.

“Eugene,” his mother would say. “Eu-gene,” she would whine. Eugene was a name made for being whined; a name one could get one’s nose tightly involved with. It was possible to draw the “Ewe” up and the “geene” out, so that the name was at one and the same time, an attention-grabber and an accusation, laden with extreme, resigned disappointment. The way his mother often said it sounded like, “You jean” – as if a jean was a poor thing to be, fit only for covering up assholes and crotches when skinning down trees and mud banks, and ending up dirty (which Eugene often was, being a relatively normal child.

Non-human creation fascinated Eugene early on, being less harmful and generally more peaceful than the World of Men. He identified with Kipling’s hero Mowgli in the Jungle Book, delighted in the savage tales of Tarzan, who defeated evil by breaking its back, or by stabbing it in the chest with his “mighty tooth” – which was really a knife, only being raised by apes, Tarzan didn’t know any better. Years later, Eugene equated the knife with something Sigmund Freud speculated about – but, as a boy, Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Conqueror (“eventually over-muscled by Arnold Schwarzenegger,” he said), and Tarzan of the Apes (“bloatedly defiled by a decaying Johnny Weismuller,” he lamented, “and prematurely denatured by Bo Derek and her cynical, self-styled Svengali of a husband”) stood for all that was wholesome, romantic and achievable. The orphan of the apes grew up to move freely, though begrudgingly, in society’s upper circles; Conan became King of Aquilonia; and Johnny Weismuller apologized for the racial stereotypes populating his naive, little films.

From such stuff, and its subsequent manipulation against real life, Eugene gradually formed the notion that under every rock, there was apt to be a disgustingly formed grub.

Nonetheless, Eugene loved nature and spent hours happily hiking woods, warmed by nature shows aired by public television, or sitting on a rock observing ants busily dismembering butterfly carcasses. He found fascination in small things, from which he extrapolated theories about the governance and overall uniformity of large things. Things became ever more complex as their size increased. Just as corporate machinery had to expand the secretary-typist’s pool to encompass and accommodate modern computerized word processing, so too, extra parts were required to adapt the feeding apparatus of an amoeba into the mouth of a moose. Yet, regardless of scale, the end purpose remained the same: one to reproduce words in frozen lines of print; the other, to feed the living organism, so that it might go on to multiply and/or divide, before ultimately subtracting itself altogether from the Universe as this specific amoeba, or that unique moose.

Uniqueness was a particularly troubling theme to Eugene, for he felt that each entity was unique, never-before-assembled, yet so integrally related to the Whole that, it was difficult to tell where something ceased to be a part of something else, and where it became, separately, all there was to one sort of thing alone. Within his own body, he knew that there were entire colonies of contributing members, which scurried about tending and maintaining him, so that he, the amalgamated Eugene, could continue to function and so maintain them – a fact which made Eugene sometimes wonder if he was really self-motivating when left to his own devices, or simply the end product of a committee decision, which predicated that Entity Twenty-one-billion-and-eight should be entitled Eugene R. Formsby, Consolidated Research Unit, Model X-4-D, and should now, by unanimous consent of the governing board members, sit down and eat.

“What do you think about life so far?” Father Randolph “Teeth and Tongue” Nornocker once asked Eugene as the two sat in the pastor’s study. Eugene was at that time a somewhat precocious eleven and expected by his elders to be able to philosophize to a limited extent. Father Nornocker was, appropriately enough, a big, knock-kneed man with a virtual awning of overbite, a high starched collar and dirty fingernails. Even as a child, Nornocker’s nails gave Eugene pause. As far as Eugene knew, Nornocker did no real work – a gardener tended the parish grounds; a handyman did the repairs; a housekeeper cleaned and cooked – but the pastor consistently had dirty nails. Eugene attributed it to lint in the padre’s pockets.

“About life?” Eugene asked blankly.

“Yes,” Nornocker said, nodding, threatening to bite himself in the neck to Eugene’s fascinated gaze. “Life,” said Nornocker, “the Universe, God.”

“I like God,” Eugene said innocently.

“Very good.” Nornocker smiled, audience ended.

Eugene’s conversations (if they could be called that) with Nornocker always ended anti-climactically. Nornocker gave no direct advice for daily living, except from the pulpit (“Repent or you are damned!”), or in formal counseling sessions held particularly for about-to-be-marrieds (“Are you on birth control, dear? Ah, yes, I see. You do know that’s a mortal sin?  See me for confession, dear.  We can handle it.  Don’t worry.  God is understanding. Do you, Jim, know the real meaning of the words, ‘husband’ and ‘father?’  Ah, good. Rehearsal’s at eight – sharp.  I don’t like latecomers, so don’t be tardy, we lock the doors!“). Eugene thought being locked out of one’s own wedding might possibly be a blessing in disguise.

Marriage appeared to him to be a particularly militant institution, populated by unwilling combatants who had taken an oath of service while under emotional duress – amounting to temporary insanity as fired by engorged genitalia. While Eugene’s own parents rarely fought, rarely spoke, rarely looked at one another, they were nonetheless at war. During momentary fits of lust, however, they apparently copulated – well after dark, when the children were sleeping, the doors were all locked, and neither partner had to directly see the other’s naked, flaccid body. Eugene had a rather bizarre childhood view of sex as a result, believing that the female navel somehow accepted the male organ; hence, he believed, his mother’s dismay over baby sister’s extruded umbilical orifice, referred to as an “outy,” and known to be cause for a tragic lifetime with no release from one-piece bathing suits. Boys might have an outy without undue comment, since no one was ever going to stick anything into it – unless, of course, they were trapped in, or naturally inclined toward the restrooms in Greyhound bus stations.

This set of views, as well as others, gradually led Eugene to believe that certain kinds of information were “wrong,” “prejudiced,” or “totally unreliable.” Unfortunately, he couldn’t easily tell which was which, and so left the whole affair to chance, operating on the best of what was currently available, while guarding his rear against yapping dogs and angry, leathershod feet.

Eugene was again the small boy who stood on the steps of the great cathedral, awed by its spires and turrets, its filigrees and gargoyles, its stained glass windows and golden crosses. Inside was the dark perfumed lair of the Lord God, with its high altar overhung by the bloody plaster body of Jesus Christ, His only begotten son. The outer aisles containing the sea of pews were marked by the boxed dioramas of the Stations of the Cross, which led to the place where the Son died. Old ladies in pillbox hats with veils sat on age-oiled mahogany seats beside straight old men with stiff collars and rose-oiled hair. The air was rich with incense, cologne and perfume. Altar boys ringing bells and flame-tipped candles filled the imagination with flickering images of high holiness, augmented by the mysterious repeated chanting, the rigorous standing, kneeling and sitting – all of which confused his small, earthbound brain and threatened rather than uplifted him. He knew nothing of the acts being performed, wished fervently to leave that enchanted, terrifying palace of extraterrestrial power for some richly-grassed sunlit park, where birds sang sweetly and he could hear the speakers from the ball grounds, buy a hot-dog and a cold drink, watch a butterfly investigate the flowers and close his eyes and dream with the sun’s warmth full on his face.

Eugene often dreamed. In dreaming there was escape and in escape there was peace. For a time, he did not have to do what all of those others wanted – the “big people” who ordered him this way and that, preparing him for “responsibility” and “correctness” and a “grand sense of the indomitable self” unsupported by the frailness of his small body or the muddle of his pliable mind. The world was so confusing, so mixed up with “thisses” and “thats,” propounded by robed men, collared men, high-hatted women, women in scarves, ermines, overalls and nothing at all. There had been a time when nylons had confused him and girls’ underpants had almost consumed him. He could not possibly enter a church when the solitude of confession alone nearly reduced him to paralytic fear and terrible, self-accusatory embarrassment.

But the small boy’s mother stretched out her hand and drew the child up the steps of the cathedral, toward the towering open doors and through the yawning mouth of the massive portal, into the secret, dark sanctuary of the blooded God within.

The Beatniks were fading out, bearing Kerouac’s limp body with them, and the Hippies were coming in, bearing narcotics and flowers, when he first attained political consciousness. One group was too old for him to be a peer; the other was too young to see him as anything except suspicious. He was fascinated and excited by both, but became a member of neither, remaining that impossibility: a non-conforming non-conformist. Left to his own devices, he became one of the first generation of television addicts. He grew up living the lip service on so many lips. As a goal, as a model, the myth reeked of individual power, but the first Superman he ever knew, George Reeves, blew his brains out. How could Superman put a bullet in his head? He wondered. Wouldn’t it just bounce off? The myth, in practiced fact, was a conditioner: a view of the world in carefully molded packaging. Careful, my son, don’t remove the plastic wrap if you don’t want the contents to lose value. Use caution, my son, when stealing peeks into Pandora’s box.

Later, he read the Book of Daniel and the Unquiet Death of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, refreshed himself on the case of Saco and Vanzetti, the lunacies of Attorney General Palmer’s Great Red Scare, Joe McCarthy’s witch hunts, and narrowed the glass to Ronald Reagan, the CIA, both Bushes, an Ashcroft, a Gonzales, and the “Moral” Majority. Rambo bulged out of the silver screen in living blood and the whole, mad, delirious killing frenzy danced on, with kids carrying submachine squirt guns and rubber knives the size of Route 66. The myth versus the reality: it echoed. Properly connected, with the correct measure of rising and falling sounds, clicks and “syllabalings,” words conjured up any sort of world. Once believed, the words structured reality and even reinforced the impulse to self-destruction.

Sadness to relate, Lamentation Number 4-billion-and-something: the scientific humanists have turned us into mechanical appliances. The corporate boardroom bastards have turned us into assembly line spare parts. And, the religionists have turned us into dependent, frightened moral bankrupts.

Why did I have to awaken? He wondered. Why couldn’t I have remained as mindlessly narcotized as my peers, skipping to the top, mesmerized by depilated crotch in designer bathing suits. The clever little ripper on his way to a semi-lifetime in the pen, darts in and out of the Square John crowd, putting time and distance between himself and the scene of his most recent petty crime. Xerox sells obsolete product two weeks before new product release, saying nothing to the client. The fossil-fuel barons, the Koch brothers, are poisoning the planet and opposed to all life-affirming change. Are they all the Devil’s helpers?

Q: What’s the fastest animal in the world?

A: A chicken crossing Darfur.

NEW BOOK: 

The COPPER-HANDLES AFFAIR: The Great San Francisco Earthquake, Fire and Bank Heist by John Patrick Legry (Oct 20, 2010)

NEW NOVEL at Amazon.com, etc.

THE COPPER-HANDLES AFFAIR: The Great San Francisco Earthquake, Fire and Bank Heist, begins with the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and a simple opportunistic bank robbery, plunging John Law Copper, accidental thief, and Frederick W. Handles, the pursuing policeman, into the greater game of big money power politics and civic corruption on the Ragtime U. S. Pacific Coast. The chase takes them through the vanished garden world of northern California to the dangerous shanghai town of Portland, Oregon. 50 b&w line drawings and two maps.

From reviews:

“FARGO meets LES MISERABLES meets LONESOME DOVE”

“John Legry’s novel “The Copper-Handles Affair” will especially delight lovers of history as well as those who enjoy a good cops-and-robbers story. Set at the time of the San Francisco earthquake, the reader follows two men: a thief, John Law Copper who stumbles across $400,000 in bank money during the aftermath of the quake; and Frederick W. Handles, a detective bent upon bringing Copper to justice.
The chase between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon exposes both characters to a variety of angels and villains and so the story’s pace never slackens. One twist follows another until the conclusion which surprises with a laugh.
The settings are authentic, the characters believeable and the writer’s drawings are beautiful renderings of the period. I can think of no more pleasant way to experience a bit of history while having a good read.”

“A great fast paced read. …hard to put down.  …characters are fully developed and believable. …the literary style of switching back and forth from Copper’s escape to Handles pursuit kept the adventure moving… Many of the “switches” ended in a cliffhanger that compelled the reader…on. Besides being a good read, this book takes you on a geographical and historical tour of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.”

Click on images below to sample the flavor of the story:

Thugs in the Parlor
Quarantine

The COPPER-HANDLES AFFAIR: The Great San Francisco Earthquake, Fire and Bank Heist by John Patrick Legry

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RONALD REAGAN WRECKED US

February 8, 2011

Bedtime for Bonzo 1951

 ABSTRACT: Ronald Reagan’s 30-Year Time Bombs By Robert Parry 1-28-2011

Why did it take three-decades to nail Ronald Reagan for starting the nation on the path to disaster? Because almost everyone shies from blaming him for anything. It’s Washington wisdom that it’s political suicide to criticize him. It’s safer to accept him like MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews as “one of the all-time greats.”

His reputation rests on the Republican propaganda machine, timid Democrats and media, rather than actual accomplishment. Many of the worst national and international problems can be traced to Reagan-era misjudgments and malfeasance: swelling national debt; out-of-control banks; decline of the U.S. middle class; inaction on energy independence; the rise of Islamic fundamentalism; and, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

The most insidious residue is manipulating information – what Reagan officials called “perception management” – as a means of societal control. Reagan’s team aimed at control of two key information entities: CIA’s analytical division and Washington press corps to manage the Washington insider community and the American public.

Reagan exaggerated the threat posed by the Soviet Union (after his CIA chief William Casey and deputy Robert Gates purged CIA analysts who reported a decaying empire eager to live with the West). Well-financed right-wing operatives and the administration marginalized mainstream journalists (“liberal press”) who raised questions about Reagan domestic and foreign policies. The strategy was deadly when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney coerced CIA “analysis” on Iraqi WMD and manipulated the Washington press corps to go to war. The “Reagan narrative,” demonizing government, limits President Obama’s problem solving options. [See “Obama’s Fear of the Reagan Narrative.”]

A Central Narrative

Reagan’s Legacy is the Republican/Tea Party narrative: to solve domestic problems cut taxes, slash government regulations and trust the private sector; to fix international threat talk tough and take down governments that won’t obey. Republicans force all issues into Reagan Orthodoxy; rightwing media generates hostility to alternatives. Progressives lack media to counter the narrative and Democratic politicians risk retaliation for a challenge. Rather than admit his responsibility, Reagan is sainted.

Reevaluation of Reagan starts with reassessment of “failed” 1970s presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, who addressed systemic challenges from oil dependence, environmental degradation, arms race, and nuclear proliferation – issues Reagan ignored that now threaten life. Confronting rebellion from Reagan’s Republican Right in 1976, Ford abandoned “détente,” and let hard-line Cold Warriors (and a first wave of young intellectual neoconservatives) pressure the CIA’s analytical division (the “Team-B Experiment”), and brought in a new generation of hard-liners, including Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Powerful vested domestic and foreign interests sabotaged progress. By 1980, Reagan was Pied Piper luring Americans away from tough choices that Nixon, Ford and Carter defined. [See Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

Sunny Disposition

With a superficial sunny disposition and a ruthless political strategy of exploiting white-male resentments, Reagan convinced millions that the threats they faced were: African-American welfare queens, Central American leftists, a rapidly expanding Evil Empire based in Moscow, and the do-good federal government. In his First Inaugural in 1981, Reagan declared, “Government is the problem.”

When it came to cutting energy use, Reagan signaled auto industry to make gas-guzzlers. He intentionally staffed Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department with officials hostile to environmental protection regulation. He pushed deregulation of industry, including banking; slashed income taxes for the wealthiest in a “supply side” economics experiment, lying that cutting rates for the rich would increase revenues and eliminate the federal deficit. Over the years, “supply side” evolved into a rightwing secular religion, but Reagan’s budget director David Stockman said it led to red ink “as far as the eye could see.” Conceding that some Reagan economic plans did not work, his defenders hail him as a great President because he “won the Cold War.”

Well before Reagan, the U.S. intelligence community believed the Cold War was winding down in the 1970s; the Soviet economic model had lost the technological race. Top CIA reported the USSR headed toward collapse, not surging to world supremacy, as Reagan and his foreign policy team insisted in the 1980s.

CIA analysis spurred détente by Nixon and Ford, seeking negotiated solution to the most dangerous remaining aspects of Cold War. In that view, Soviet military operations in Afghanistan were defensive, supporting a secular pro-communist government working to modernize a country beset by Islamic fundamentalists with covert support from the U.S. (originated by Carter’s national security adviser Brzezinski, but really ramped up by Reagan and CIA Director Casey, who traded U.S. acceptance of Pakistan’s nuclear arms program for help shipping weapons to Afghan jihadists (including a young Saudi, Osama bin Laden). [See “Reagan’s Bargain/Charlie Wilson’s War.”]

Making Matters Worse

Reaganites cite Soviet defeat in Afghanistan as key to “winning the Cold War.” It may have sped final Soviet collapse, but Reagan’s over-reaction to the Soviets in Afghanistan created worse long-term threats to U.S. national security: the rise of al-Qaeda terrorism and the nuclear bomb in unstable Islamic Pakistan.. He did not “win the Cold War,” he extended it unnecessarily – at great cost in lives and money.

Reagan damaged long-term worldwide U.S. interests. In Latin America, his brutal arming of right-wing militaries to crush peasant, student and labor uprisings created anti-Americanism that surfaced in new populist leftist governments. Hostility to Washington is now the rule, benefiting China, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and other American rivals.

Reagan established a young generation of neocon intellectuals who pioneered “perception management” to shape how Americans saw, understood and were frightened by threats from abroad. To marginalize dissent, anger was fueled against challenges to feel-good optimism. Critics were un-American defeatists. A right-wing infrastructure took shape, linking media with well-financed think tanks churning out op-eds. Attack groups went after mainstream journalists who dared to poke holes in Reagan’s propaganda.

Reagan’s team created faux reality for the American public: civil wars in Central America between poor peasants and rich overlords became East-West showdowns; U.S.-backed insurgents in Nicaragua, Angola and Afghanistan were transformed from corrupt, brutal (often drug-tainted) thugs into noble “freedom-fighters.” Reagan’s Iran-Contra revived Richard Nixon’s imperial presidency to ignore the nation’s laws and evade accountability through criminal cover-ups. It reared its ugly head again in the war crimes of George W. Bush. [see: Robert Parry’s Lost History and Secrecy & Privilege.]

Wall Street Greed

The American Dream dimmed during Reagan’s tenure. He played the role of kindly grandfather, but his operatives divided people with “wedge issues” to deepen grievances especially of white men urged to see themselves as victims of “reverse discrimination” and “political correctness.” Even as working-class white men rallied to the Republicans (so-called “Reagan Democrats”), their economic interests were savaged. Unions were broken and marginalized; “free trade” policies shipped manufacturing jobs abroad; old neighborhoods decayed; youthful drug use soared. Unprecedented greed was unleashed on Wall Street, wrecking old bonds between owners and employees. Before Reagan, corporate CEOs earned 50 times an average worker salary. By the end of Reagan-Bush-I in 1993, it was 100 times more. At the end of Bush-II in 2000, it was 250 times more.

Other Reagan trends corrode U.S. political process. After 9/11, neocons reemerged dominant, using “perception management” to make “war on terror” a terrifying conflict between good and evil. Hyped Islamic threat mirrored the neocons’ hyped 1980s Soviet menace. Many Americans let emotions run wild, burning to invade Iraq for revenge.

Descent into this dark fantasyland that Ronald Reagan began reached nadir in the flag-waving early days of the Iraq War. Gradually, reality rose as the death toll mounted, and Katrina reminded Americans why we need effective government.

Other disasters set in motion by Reagan: G. W. Bush’s Reagan-esque tax cuts for the rich blew another huge hole in the federal budget; Reagan-esque anti-regulatory fervor led to massive financial meltdown throwing the nation into economic chaos. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission majority blamed the banking crisis, in part, on “30 years of deregulation and self-regulation;” (the four commission Republicans refused to sign, blaming government policies encouraging home ownership.)

GOP Icon

Republicans see Reagan as untouchable icon; memory and policies to be revered. With GOP control of Congress in 1994, the party rushed to name public sites after their hero to elevate him to the stature of martyred leaders John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Democrats honored him as an easy gesture of bipartisanship, unaware of, or unwilling to contest the larger GOP strategy to sanctify Reaganism as much as Reagan. Early in Campaign 2008, Barack Obama positioned himself as a bipartisan figure who could appeal to Republicans, bowing to Reagan mystique, hailing him as a leader who “changed the trajectory of America,” justifying his correction because of “all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s, and government had grown and grown, but there wasn’t much sense of accountability.” Obama later clarified that he didn’t mean to endorse Reagan’s conservative policies, but seemed to suggest that Reagan administered a needed dose of accountability when he actually did the opposite. Reagan’s presidency represented a dangerous escape from accountability – and reality. [“Obama’s Dubious Praise for Reagan.”] Obama and congressional Democrats continue to pander to the Reagan myth. In 2009, President Obama hailed Reagan and created a panel to honor his 100th birthday.

It may take years before a mainstream politician or journalist dares speak truthfully about the grievous harm Reagan inflicted on the American Republic and people of Planet Earth.

[For more, see Robert Parry’s Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available.

El Amigo del Pobre

SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

February 1, 2011

Ant Farm

EXCERPT from Common Lives, a novel

This piece recently won 98th place in the 80th Writer’s Digest Annual Awards literature and mainstream fiction category – in competition with 11,800 others. 98th! I’m 98th! LOL.

“In the Beginning”

Lost in the formless void of space, an electron came spinning out of nowhere to collide foolishly, randomly and willy-nilly with some microscopic other thing and a large explosion resulted. When the debris settled and the dust cleared, when the incredible multitude of subsequently tossed, collided and bumped other things slowed their rate of reaction, space became again a relatively calm place – although, it was now decidedly more cluttered, larger things having been mashed together from the smaller ones. As one can well imagine, that lone electron must have been in an incredible hurry, and the resulting accident at Lexington and Forty-First was a big one, with traffic backed up in all directions, clear to the edges of the city. It was later inferred by a philosopher-scientist in an ermine robe while speculating before his medieval books of alchemy that the electron may have been drinking.

For Eugene R. Formsby, the amazing thing about the Universe was its consistency; it had a beginning, middle and an end. Some scientist in Cleveland, staring through a telescope in order to bring the macroscopic down to earthly size, suggested that the whole thing was a sort of gigantic bubble of slowly expanding gas, which would eventually collapse, as bubbles always do. Eugene had once seen a bubble-blowing magician on television impregnate a soap shell with cigarette smoke. Eugene thought the end of the Universe would be as fleetingly unspectacular as watching the magician pierce the soap shell to allow the cigarette smoke to escape in a dirty, gray-white rush, to dissipate in the broader air. The soap shell itself collapsed with a wet spurt; all very satisfying as a television show, but lame as a proper end to the Universe.

Eugene felt a little disappointed with the magician. There were just so many things one could do with soap shells: spin them, encase one inside of another – rings of air, worlds of air, nested like wooden, brightly-painted Russian dolls – tie them together like balloon puppets, or whatever, the bubbles always vanished with the same, wet spurt.

Which made Eugene think about beginnings. He, Eugene, was the product of a minute, wet spurt, which – reacting, colliding – forced masses of other inert (or nearly so) materials to react and collide with…an endless series of seemingly chaotic, entirely trivial and absolutely fascinating mini-events, resulting in one Eugene R. (for “Robert”) Formsby. Life, Eugene decided, was funny that way: there was no accounting for it. Multiplied by all of the other minute, wet spurts, amid the howling, moaning, grunting and groaning cacophony of all the copulating creatures since the dawn of auditory, vocalizing creaturedom, Eugene felt quite insignificant and more than occasionally like a supernumerary.

Still, Eugene tried to please everybody, tried to appear like a superstar (which he was not), cleaned his supper plate assiduously – hearing the voice of his long-dead Mother chanting, “Starving children and half-mad dogs. The world’s a savage place, Eugene. Watch your step and don’t lose your way. Be careful crossing streets, Eugene, and always eat your peas.”  Eugene always ate his peas. He ate them first, to get that little chore out of the way.

“Eugene,” his mother would say. “Eu-gene,” she would whine. Eugene was a name made for being whined; a name one could get one’s nose tightly involved with. It was possible to draw the “Ewe” up and the “geene” out, so that the name was at one and the same time, an attention-grabber and an accusation, laden with extreme, resigned disappointment. The way his mother often said it sounded like, “You jean” – as if a jean was a poor thing to be, fit only for covering up assholes and crotches when skinning down trees and mud banks, and ending up dirty (which Eugene often was, being a relatively normal child.

Non-human creation fascinated Eugene early on, being less harmful and generally more peaceful than the World of Men. He identified with Kipling’s hero Mowgli in the Jungle Book, delighted in the savage tales of Tarzan, who defeated evil by breaking its back, or by stabbing it in the chest with his “mighty tooth” – which was really a knife, only being raised by apes, Tarzan didn’t know any better. Years later, Eugene equated the knife with something Sigmund Freud speculated about – but, as a boy, Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Conqueror (“eventually over-muscled by Arnold Schwarzenegger,” he said), and Tarzan of the Apes (“bloatedly defiled by a decaying Johnny Weismuller,” he lamented, “and prematurely denatured by Bo Derek and her cynical, self-styled Svengali of a husband”) stood for all that was wholesome, romantic and achievable. The orphan of the apes grew up to move freely, though begrudgingly, in society’s upper circles; Conan became King of Aquilonia; and Johnny Weismuller apologized for the racial stereotypes populating his naive, little films.

From such stuff, and its subsequent manipulation against real life, Eugene gradually formed the notion that under every rock, there was apt to be a disgustingly formed grub.

Nonetheless, Eugene loved nature and spent hours happily hiking woods, warmed by nature shows aired by public television, or sitting on a rock observing ants busily dismembering butterfly carcasses. He found fascination in small things, from which he extrapolated theories about the governance and overall uniformity of large things. Things became ever more complex as their size increased. Just as corporate machinery had to expand the secretary-typist’s pool to encompass and accommodate modern computerized word processing, so too, extra parts were required to adapt the feeding apparatus of an amoeba into the mouth of a moose. Yet, regardless of scale, the end purpose remained the same: one to reproduce words in frozen lines of print; the other, to feed the living organism, so that it might go on to multiply and/or divide, before ultimately subtracting itself altogether from the Universe as this specific amoeba, or that unique moose.

Uniqueness was a particularly troubling theme to Eugene, for he felt that each entity was unique, never-before-assembled, yet so integrally related to the Whole that, it was difficult to tell where something ceased to be a part of something else, and where it became, separately, all there was to one sort of thing alone. Within his own body, he knew that there were entire colonies of contributing members, which scurried about tending and maintaining him, so that he, the amalgamated Eugene, could continue to function and so maintain them – a fact which made Eugene sometimes wonder if he was really self-motivating when left to his own devices, or simply the end product of a committee decision, which predicated that Entity Twenty-one-billion-and-eight should be entitled Eugene R. Formsby, Consolidated Research Unit, Model X-4-D, and should now, by unanimous consent of the governing board members, sit down and eat.

“What do you think about life so far?” Father Randolph “Teeth and Tongue” Nornocker once asked Eugene as the two sat in the pastor’s study. Eugene was at that time a somewhat precocious eleven and expected by his elders to be able to philosophize to a limited extent. Father Nornocker was, appropriately enough, a big, knock-kneed man with a virtual awning of overbite, a high starched collar and dirty fingernails. Even as a child, Nornocker’s nails gave Eugene pause. As far as Eugene knew, Nornocker did no real work – a gardener tended the parish grounds; a handyman did the repairs; a housekeeper cleaned and cooked – but the pastor consistently had dirty nails. Eugene attributed it to lint in the padre’s pockets.

“About life?” Eugene asked blankly.

“Yes,” Nornocker said, nodding, threatening to bite himself in the neck to Eugene’s fascinated gaze. “Life,” said Nornocker, “the Universe, God.”

“I like God,” Eugene said innocently.

“Very good.” Nornocker smiled, audience ended.

Eugene’s conversations (if they could be called that) with Nornocker always ended anti-climactically. Nornocker gave no direct advice for daily living, except from the pulpit (“Repent or you are damned!”), or in formal counseling sessions held particularly for about-to-be-marrieds (“Are you on birth control, dear? Ah, yes, I see. You do know that’s a mortal sin?  See me for confession, dear.  We can handle it.  Don’t worry.  God is understanding. Do you, Jim, know the real meaning of the words, ‘husband’ and ‘father?’  Ah, good. Rehearsal’s at eight – sharp.  I don’t like latecomers, so don’t be tardy, we lock the doors!“). Eugene thought being locked out of one’s own wedding might possibly be a blessing in disguise.

Marriage appeared to him to be a particularly militant institution, populated by unwilling combatants who had taken an oath of service while under emotional duress – amounting to temporary insanity as fired by engorged genitalia. While Eugene’s own parents rarely fought, rarely spoke, rarely looked at one another, they were nonetheless at war. During momentary fits of lust, however, they apparently copulated – well after dark, when the children were sleeping, the doors were all locked, and neither partner had to directly see the other’s naked, flaccid body. Eugene had a rather bizarre childhood view of sex as a result, believing that the female navel somehow accepted the male organ; hence, he believed, his mother’s dismay over baby sister’s extruded umbilical orifice, referred to as an “outy,” and known to be cause for a tragic lifetime with no release from one-piece bathing suits. Boys might have an outy without undue comment, since no one was ever going to stick anything into it – unless, of course, they were trapped in, or naturally inclined toward the restrooms in Greyhound bus stations.

This set of views, as well as others, gradually led Eugene to believe that certain kinds of information were “wrong,” “prejudiced,” or “totally unreliable.” Unfortunately, he couldn’t easily tell which was which, and so left the whole affair to chance, operating on the best of what was currently available, while guarding his rear against yapping dogs and angry, leathershod feet.

Eugene was again the small boy who stood on the steps of the great cathedral, awed by its spires and turrets, its filigrees and gargoyles, its stained glass windows and golden crosses. Inside was the dark perfumed lair of the Lord God, with its high altar overhung by the bloody plaster body of Jesus Christ, His only begotten son. The outer aisles containing the sea of pews were marked by the boxed dioramas of the Stations of the Cross, which led to the place where the Son died. Old ladies in pillbox hats with veils sat on age-oiled mahogany seats beside straight old men with stiff collars and rose-oiled hair. The air was rich with incense, cologne and perfume. Altar boys ringing bells and flame-tipped candles filled the imagination with flickering images of high holiness, augmented by the mysterious repeated chanting, the rigorous standing, kneeling and sitting – all of which confused his small, earthbound brain and threatened rather than uplifted him. He knew nothing of the acts being performed, wished fervently to leave that enchanted, terrifying palace of extraterrestrial power for some richly-grassed sunlit park, where birds sang sweetly and he could hear the speakers from the ball grounds, buy a hot-dog and a cold drink, watch a butterfly investigate the flowers and close his eyes and dream with the sun’s warmth full on his face.

Eugene often dreamed. In dreaming there was escape and in escape there was peace. For a time, he did not have to do what all of those others wanted – the “big people” who ordered him this way and that, preparing him for “responsibility” and “correctness” and a “grand sense of the indomitable self” unsupported by the frailness of his small body or the muddle of his pliable mind. The world was so confusing, so mixed up with “thisses” and “thats,” propounded by robed men, collared men, high-hatted women, women in scarves, ermines, overalls and nothing at all. There had been a time when nylons had confused him and girls’ underpants had almost consumed him. He could not possibly enter a church when the solitude of confession alone nearly reduced him to paralytic fear and terrible, self-accusatory embarrassment.

But the small boy’s mother stretched out her hand and drew the child up the steps of the cathedral, toward the towering open doors and through the yawning mouth of the massive portal, into the secret, dark sanctuary of the blooded God within.

The Beatniks were fading out, bearing Kerouac’s limp body with them, and the Hippies were coming in, bearing narcotics and flowers, when he first attained political consciousness. One group was too old for him to be a peer; the other was too young to see him as anything except suspicious. He was fascinated and excited by both, but became a member of neither, remaining that impossibility: a non-conforming non-conformist. Left to his own devices, he became one of the first generation of television addicts. He grew up living the lip service on so many lips. As a goal, as a model, the myth reeked of individual power, but the first Superman he ever knew, George Reeves, blew his brains out. How could Superman put a bullet in his head? He wondered. Wouldn’t it just bounce off? The myth, in practiced fact, was a conditioner: a view of the world in carefully molded packaging. Careful, my son, don’t remove the plastic wrap if you don’t want the contents to lose value. Use caution, my son, when stealing peeks into Pandora’s box.

Later, he read the Book of Daniel and the Unquiet Death of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, refreshed himself on the case of Saco and Vanzetti, the lunacies of Attorney General Palmer’s Great Red Scare, Joe McCarthy’s witch hunts, and narrowed the glass to Ronald Reagan, the CIA, both Bushes, an Ashcroft, a Gonzales, and the “Moral” Majority. Rambo bulged out of the silver screen in living blood and the whole, mad, delirious killing frenzy danced on, with kids carrying submachine squirt guns and rubber knives the size of Route 66. The myth versus the reality: it echoed. Properly connected, with the correct measure of rising and falling sounds, clicks and “syllabalings,” words conjured up any sort of world. Once believed, the words structured reality and even reinforced the impulse to self-destruction.

Sadness to relate, Lamentation Number 4-billion-and-something: the scientific humanists have turned us into mechanical appliances. The corporate boardroom bastards have turned us into assembly line spare parts. And, the religionists have turned us into dependent, frightened moral bankrupts.

Why did I have to awaken? He wondered. Why couldn’t I have remained as mindlessly narcotized as my peers, skipping to the top, mesmerized by depilated crotch in designer bathing suits. The clever little ripper on his way to a semi-lifetime in the pen, darts in and out of the Square John crowd, putting time and distance between himself and the scene of his most recent petty crime. Xerox sells obsolete product two weeks before new product release, saying nothing to the client. The fossil-fuel barons, the Koch brothers, are poisoning the planet and opposed to all life-affirming change. Are they all the Devil’s helpers?

Q: What’s the fastest animal in the world?

A: A chicken crossing Darfur.

NEW BOOK: 

The COPPER-HANDLES AFFAIR: The Great San Francisco Earthquake, Fire and Bank Heist by John Patrick Legry (Oct 20, 2010)

NEW NOVEL at Amazon.com, etc.

THE COPPER-HANDLES AFFAIR: The Great San Francisco Earthquake, Fire and Bank Heist, begins with the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and a simple opportunistic bank robbery, plunging John Law Copper, accidental thief, and Frederick W. Handles, the pursuing policeman, into the greater game of big money power politics and civic corruption on the Ragtime U. S. Pacific Coast. The chase takes them through the vanished garden world of northern California to the dangerous shanghai town of Portland, Oregon. 50 b&w line drawings and two maps.

From reviews:

“FARGO meets LES MISERABLES meets LONESOME DOVE”

“John Legry’s novel “The Copper-Handles Affair” will especially delight lovers of history as well as those who enjoy a good cops-and-robbers story. Set at the time of the San Francisco earthquake, the reader follows two men: a thief, John Law Copper who stumbles across $400,000 in bank money during the aftermath of the quake; and Frederick W. Handles, a detective bent upon bringing Copper to justice.
The chase between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon exposes both characters to a variety of angels and villains and so the story’s pace never slackens. One twist follows another until the conclusion which surprises with a laugh.
The settings are authentic, the characters believeable and the writer’s drawings are beautiful renderings of the period. I can think of no more pleasant way to experience a bit of history while having a good read.”

“A great fast paced read. …hard to put down.  …characters are fully developed and believable. …the literary style of switching back and forth from Copper’s escape to Handles pursuit kept the adventure moving… Many of the “switches” ended in a cliffhanger that compelled the reader…on. Besides being a good read, this book takes you on a geographical and historical tour of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.”

Click on images below to sample the flavor of the story:

Leaving Red Bluff

Thugs in the Parlor

Quarantine

The COPPER-HANDLES AFFAIR: The Great San Francisco Earthquake, Fire and Bank Heist by John Patrick Legry

CRUSHING AMERICA

September 18, 2010

"Play it again, Sam!"

[Click image for MORE]

PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS:

PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS:
Speaking about the Repuglicon “fear” factor, why don’t they cooperate, et al?  The neocon bottom line is outrageous: they really wish the United States to fail.
Their GOAL is to preserve, protect and defend special privilege from the democratic rule of law and the American nation.
Over half a century ago, in the early 1950’s, what I call a CTPPD (a Consensus To Preserve Plausible Deniability), including oil and energy millionaires, bankers, big-ticket real estate developers, medical insurance providers, investment firms, wholesale raw materials providers, and so forth, began a concerted and integrated campaign in part coordinated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to discredit, loot and crush the American government. It included inserting “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance, blatantly breaking the separation of church and state, and their first effort through President Eisenhower to drag Social Security and the Tennessee Valley Power Authority into private ownership.  They also passed a two-term limit on the office of president.  My father called it, “Stomping on Franklin Roosevelt’s Grave.”

I was told by Congressman Barbur Conable (R I-forget) in ’73 that compulsory public education was unconstitutional and undemocratic and vouchers and home schooling would be introduced forthwith – it would be “most helpful in educating children with the right understanding for when they become adults.”  Keep the little nippers clear of all that subversive democratic crap and real history.  The John Birch Society injunction to its members in the early 1960’s was, “Join your local PTA, and take it over!”

I stood witness to the shenanigans surrounding local government’s share in the Savings and Loan Scandal (watched Orrin Hatch and the Mormons spirit Jake Gaarn, Mormon hero astronaut-senator who led the S&L thieves on the Senate side, away to Salt Lake City and out of the public eye before the “s” hit the fan, while the Congressman sponsor on the House side took the fall – I think this was their rehearsal for George W. Bush’s Great American Mortgage Collapse – it has the same modus operandi.  We should never elect Mitt Romney to anything).

Reagan assaulted government itself – “The ten most dreaded words…’I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” Reagan went after the Air Traffic Controllers and made the first significant breach in federal protection for unions. The list goes on, as if subject to a consistent and integrated general game plan worthy of the best hostile takeover experts.  Clue.

The people’s government is the one force that is able to withstand and force these self-interested robbers to change. Therefore, the people’s representatives had to be bought, or as many as necessary, depending upon the moment’s tactical need, to shill for and protect corporate interests. The Republican Party (as the easiest – smallest, most uniform, least principled – simplest to corrupt and manipulate had to become ascendant for a short time to gain control of the government appointment process and “fix” institutional areas that were most intrusive on the corporatist ability to do pretty much as pleased, including “enslave” people (wage-wise), or “waterboard” them (use any pressure or torture to force compliance and contribution to the corporate will).  They had a lot of practice at it in Chile and Peru, Argentina and Nicaragua, and simply needed to apply it to us.

They stole the people’s treasury – carried it out under the glad hand of their born-again rich president Geo. W. Bush.  If we’re broke we can’t afford to fight them, right? Dick Cheney is not an accident, but a premier product and instrument of a rapacious piratical, and practically pathological, corporate elite: profit before honor.  These are generationally all pretty much the same guys playing the same ugly way, administration after administration.  They are a scary bunch and they are not American patriots.

The neocon corporatist tactic is to wave the weak hand – the Republican Party cum Tea Party – to obfuscate, delay and confuse, while the real work goes on with the anti-change Rubin clones and lobbyists surrounding Obama and the Congress. It is a real mistake to think that we can continue by reconstructing the past – our environmental jeopardy and social crisis require innovations and new directions that cannot include corporate capitalism – but while we must develop lower economic expectations, we don’t have to give up on a compassionate civilization.

The continued private dismantling, bankrupting and removal of America’s manufacturing capabilities to foreign climes is still in hemorrhage. Leading the list of outsourcers are well-known American companies, including the Xerox Corporation, the Oracle Corporation, The Hewlett-Packard Company, Accenture Limited, International Business Machines Corporation and Perot Systems (old Ross warned against NAFTA that there would be “a great sucking sound as business went south.” His firm went with them).

The neocon corporatists are not trying to fix the broken Republican Party – it is in the game plan to eventually destroy the two-party system and run with one party: “cheaper, more efficient, less wasteful” (ha!). Steele, Limbaugh, Beck, Cantor, Boehner, all the rest, are handy decoys, making a lot of noise all around the edges so that public attention is diverted from the corruption still proceeding.  Corporatists like the wingnut Tea Bag Republicans because they are obediently silly followers – ignorant and superstitious; the Big-Tent Democrats are apparently programmed to self-destruct, which would leave us with a permanently dysfunctional and therefore easier to manage wingnut government?  Garbage in, garbage out.  The dog-eat-dog social consequences are devastating to consider.  The cynicism is appalling.

The Republican circus masks the real working level where the boodle bags are still being packed. They are not working with us, because the neocon corporatists are still using and stealing from us. They don’t expect any retribution or punishment for it; it is the culture. They are so highly placed that they expect to tiptoe through the tulips while the rest of us fry in the ozone hole. They believe the “highest and best use” of any piece of land is how much money you can make off it, not the future it may provide if unmolested for all life as we know it.  They seemingly don’t care about life at all.  Chaos and disorder are the diversions necessary for on-going thievery and murder.

In 1991, a senior assistant from President Bush Sr.’s office met National Association of Counties (NACo) President Michael Stewart (R – Salt Lake Co.) at a cocktail party at the Annual Conference in Salt Lake City. I overheard them discussing the “best” form of government, ever. They agreed that it was Medieval England. Its benefits?

  •  The king is the sole authority, secures obedience, neutralizes all possible challengers; gains the monopoly of force; and, maintains law and order.
  • Patriotism is focused on the nation, not on the localities that comprise it, transferring identity from the local to the national level, putting it at the disposal of the king.
  • The state dominates or controls the religious life of society, or at least allies itself with the representatives of a single authoritarian religion to more easily manage the mob to the king’s totalitarian advantage.
  • The state exerts control over economic life to facilitate circulation and exchange of goods, and to grasp as much as possible of the national wealth for the king and his allies.

In the medieval model stability is created through divine hierarchy. The king rules all, the church prays for the soul and calms the mass, the military fights to protect the bodies and property of the “community”, and the peasants work to feed everybody. It’s a simple model, which allowed it to last for several hundred incredibly stultifying and repressive years in which the majority of humankind subsisted on the level of cattle, or swine, and wars were fought at personal whim of a vainglorious, and occasionally religiously demented elite. Does this ring bells, or what?

The important men at the 1991 cocktail party didn’t intend to install a king or a single church in America, but in variation, updated and recycled form, they favored state identification and alliance with a majority religion and a CEO working with a board of directors (perhaps preserving a faint hint of representative government – old habits, even bad ones such as participative management, die hard). Call king and court president and cabinet, or rose and garden, they envisioned a tyrant working with an oligarchy of the privileged elite that they believe is, of course, best suited to govern, operating above government and for the privileged elite.  They think they’re nobility.

They were deadly serious and not at all amused when I asked if they had ever heard of Robin Hood or the Magna Carta.  They looked at me as if I’d pooped their shoes, then ignored me.

“Americans deserve the government they elect,” my father used to say, but we didn’t elect Bush. Kings, as I recall, are divinely chosen – in our case, by fat cats and the Supreme Court. Kings and aristocracy represent the elite status quo, which presently resides in Wall Street. Wall Street wants to govern everything by itself, without any interference from the rest of us.  Father knows best.  [The ultra rightwing Koch Brothers are Pappies Nr. 1 and 2 – PUBLIC ENEMIES 1 and 2 ].

In Conclusion, there’s a Fuse on All this

Our species probably won’t be around long enough to figure out how to change from consumerist overpopulating inattentive polluters into minimalist birth-controlling aware conservationists.  We’ll overgraze our range soon.  One can see our rapidly escalating devastation of the planet.  Corporatists and their idiotic and/or greedy followers accelerate it even more; they “rationalize” irrational actions with fantastic myths to justify unreasonable behaviors.  They lie like freaking rugs. There are only a few values in their make-believe world that are any good, and they are, of course, common and obvious to all humankind: love, mercy, truth, honor, and justice – those sorts of universal things, echoed by every other life philosophy ever conceived, that is, invented by man; hypocritically enshrined by corporatist Republican and Tea Bag spin meisters who speak of, but don’t live up to them.

They have created and are attempting to retain dominance in an amoral, or consciously immoral world of corruption, thievery, and violence, instead of trying to eliminate or improve conditions that would remedy or heal it.  They are in fact, the enemy of humankind and non-human creation, and clear-thinking people who treasure compassion and cooperation must vigorously oppose them.  If a beast is contrary to the health and safety of the world, it should be contained and defanged.

The world is a dangerous place.  The fact that so many choose – even, hysterically – to resist change, do so at their peril, and endanger the rest of us.  Keeping silent about abuse, perversion, injustice, greed, vandalism, or prejudice is self-defeating, irresponsible, and destructive.  Self-willed ignorance is a socially and spiritually criminal act.  Pericles was right (in democratic ancient Athens, or the U.S.), “People who say they have no business here with government have no business here at all.”

Final words:  Keep on keepin’ on. We, the people, need each other.  We can win this fight against the self-styled elite.  We outnumber them.  Vote Progressive as if your life depended upon it – it very well may, and cliché or not, every election is truly the most important election since our Constitution was ratified.  Best regards to us all,  j

Just Say, "Yes!"

IS IT SAFE TO COME OUT, YET?

July 30, 2010

OUR SHAME

Oil Leases Cancelled in Gulf, Atlantic
The Center for Biological Diversity applauded this Wednesday when the Obama administration cancelled two offshore oil and gas lease sales: one in the Atlantic, off Virginia, and one in the western Gulf of Mexico. The Atlantic lease sale was in a controversial area approved by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for expanded offshore oil development after the Bush administration lifted the Atlantic drilling moratorium. The lease sale in the Gulf was scheduled to take place next month. In cancelling the sales, the government admitted it needs more time to improve the safety of offshore oil and gas development and provide greater environmental protection to  substantially reduce the risk of catastrophic events like another massive oil spill.
“President Obama’s decision to cancel these lease sales recognizes that risky offshore drilling needs reform,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center. “In light of the BP oil spill, the president should pull back from the entire plan to expand offshore drilling and instead pursue clean energy.”

Check out our press release and learn the latest on the Gulf disaster. Then take action to tell the administration to end all dangerous offshore drilling.

LIFE INSURANCE FOR THE PLANET:

There is no life insurance policy for planet earth.  The fate of our planet is painful to think about.  It is decades since we first became concerned about pollution, water scarcity, wastes, pesticides, overpopulation and erosion.  Under Ronald Reagan the country turned away from such problems, but today they are the problems we fear most.  They are global and potentially irreversible.  They include the build-up of greenhouse gases, the thinning of the ozone layer, destruction of rain forests and accelerating extinctions of other species.  Some would say they are impossible to stop.  The world’s economy is built into them.

Yet, as Jonathan Weiner writes in The Next One Hundred Years, the changes trouble even those who try to ignore them and worry only about whether the old garage is sagging or the mortgage is due.  A question mark curls above our roofs and makes a mockery of our hopes.  If the earth is falling apart, there go the plans for summer vacation.

As we locally chop down trees and cover arable earth with concrete, we should bear in mind the ecological limits of what we do.  The same is true of the industry we attract and of the population we propose to support in our regional environment.  In Multnomah County, Oregon, they plan to add more hundreds of thousands of people by deliberate design, less an act of planning than of whistling while walking through the graveyard.

There are public policy questions that have not been adequately presented and debatedLocal media, elected officials, governmental staff and economic development and business communities have consistently pursued the “cutting edge” of the latest “growth opportunities” without equally weighing the adverse impacts potential in each of these proposed, but too often unrelated developments.  Never has the time for comprehensive and thoroughly cooperative deliberation and action been more urgent.

Common needs for clean air, clean water and a livable future have been subordinated in the rush to insure our immediate economic well being.  While motives may be benign, it is patently obvious to all but the most self deceiving or self serving that we are in the midst of a global crisis which calls for a philosophy which protects, defends and advances the common interest. In the context of a rapidly diminishing resource pool, in the face of rising and conceivably irreversible environmental damage, it is beyond foolishness to persist in an economic expansionism that degrades and erodes the livability of our common home.

All local elected officials should plan from a basis which explores the possibility of sustainability, including revenue sharing to decrease conflict over development opportunities and inappropriate public incentives which pit one community against another.  No jurisdiction should function without regard for its neighbors and friends and our shared earth.

Never in world history has humankind been so powerful in its geophysical impact on the planet.  As hard as the weaning may be, business as usual no longer makes sense.  If we are, as some scientists term us, homo sapiens sapiens, man the doubly wise, let’s prove it before we lose it.

Choices.

LET’S HEAR IT FOR BIOMASS!

“To the massmoss with this wingéd fruitcake!” – The Tyrant, Barbarella.

Hemp biomass for fuel would be cleaner and more economical than any other source.  Corn is the least efficient and most costly.  Hemp is easily grown almost everywhere, and completely renewable.  It is a carbon sink, cleaning the air.  10,000 acres of hemp yields as much paper as 40,000 acres of wood pulp.  It gives a far greater yield per acre, and is better for the overall health of the land.

Sources below will tell you what there is to know in great well-documented detail.  Plus, you get to “meet” Jack Herer – a man the mystics call a “great soul.”

Emperor of Hemp – narrated by Peter Coyote, VHS, DVD, 59 min.  Bill Maher calls it “A triumph for the open-minded.”  The story of Jack Herer, author of:The Emperor Wears No Clothes, best selling book that blows the lid off the anti-hemp conspiracy and explains all there is to know about one miraculous plant.  Available at the web site: www.emperorofhemp.com; Jack Herer’ web site home is athttp://www.jackherer.com/Both are also available through www.Amazon.com

VIDEO: Obama Preserves Inherited Bush Abuses Friday, July 30, 2010 by The Rachel Maddow Show. http://www.commondreams.org/video/2010/07/30-0