December 09, 2008

Perhaps One Loss Too Many

[Update: I see that Blogger managed to publish this. How perfectly awful.]

I just spent close to six hours writing a very, very long essay. It dealt with politics, art and some deeply personal issues. It reflected a lot of thought over a very long time. I hit "Publish" -- and not only didn't it publish, but Blogger wiped out every trace of it. It's gone ... entirely gone.

I used to write essays in Gmail, but I've been having a lot of trouble with Gmail in recent weeks. The problems make it impossible to write anything but very short messages there. So I wrote all of this new essay in Blogger itself. And now it's vanished altogether. After I hit "Publish," Blogger chugged away for several minutes ... and then it stopped. The essay was gone.

So I'll have to recreate it. But not today. I can't go through all that again today. Perhaps tomorrow, or the next day.

Such is my shitty life, with a shitty computer and a shitty dialup connection. I've never been able to get a decent, fast connection, primarily because of my credit history (or rather, my entire lack of "creditworthiness"; in other words, I've never had the money). Being very, very poor sucks. Yeah, some news there.

I suppose we often don't know when we've finally had enough, and just don't have the energy to do one more goddamned thing. But I may have reached that point today.

I hope not, as I know perhaps 20 of you do, too. How entirely pathetic all this is. And how wretchedly self-pitying I am.

Enough for the moment.

December 06, 2008

A Report on My Excellent Adventure My Trip and Other Reflections, by ... Cyrano!

[The following remarks have been faithfully transcribed by Cyrano's human. Cyrano carefully reviewed them for accuracy and has approved them for publication in this form.]

You don't know about me without you have read a post earlier this week; but that ain't no matter. That post was made by Mr. Arthur Silber, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen any human but lied one time or another...

Isn't that the truth. The original of that passage was written by a human more advanced than most. If you know the reference, you can share some of my crunchy salmon treats. Just a few, though! That's a very easy test. Dad has lots of books, and some of them are actually good. Not nearly as incisive and wise as our creations, but I'd better not go into that too much. It would sound too much like bragging. Hardly admirable behavior, although you make it very tempting since it's so easy. (Are a few of you still puzzled? Okay: here you go.)

To begin my report: I only yowled once. In light of the indignities to which I was subjected, I'm certain you will agree this is extraordinary. I should say it is extraordinary in terms of your typical behavior, which we find quite remarkably sad in most respects. Of course, my courage was nothing unusual for us. But you have a lot to learn. Look at the mess you've made of things.

When Dad placed me in the carrier and shut the door, I was completely silent. (It's a carrier with a big door I can look out of, so I can keep track of what's going on.) I remained silent during the cab ride to ... that place. But when Dad got out of the cab and began carrying me up to the door of that place, I certainly did yowl. Given the regrettable limitations of your sensory capabilities, you hear it as a yowl. In fact, I was protesting with great vehemence: "Noooooo!" (A brief note on cultural differences: I call Arthur "Dad," but obviously he is nothing of the kind. The sentimentality of humans is a source of great amusement to us. We exploit it to our own benefit very thoroughly, although not nearly as much as we could. We recognize that such exploitation is wrong, and we also know that you exploit us and other "animals" in ways that are much, much worse. Such exploitation as you commonly engage in should properly be called cruelty, for that it is what it is. By contrast, we exploit you only to the extent we must, and only for certain benefits we are thus able to obtain: a regular source of food, an indoors abode, particularly useful in time of bad weather, a comfortable bed to sleep in, etc. We have no objection to the playing and cuddling, which can be very enjoyable, but within limits. I must admit that Dad is especially good at the playing and cuddling. As a result, I've somewhat extended the limits for such behavior while living here.)

Of course, I knew that Dad was planning to take me to the veterinary clinic. Still, I thought that when the critical moment arrived, he would realize the inanimality of it. Since it's been so long since Dad has taken me on a trip (it's very difficult for him to get around these days, which Wendy and I think is very sad; it's also a source of great frustration to us), I thought he would reconsider at the critical moment. Perhaps we'd visit a high-end coffee shop or other gathering place -- one of the more civilized ones, with toys and fresh catnip in little dishes on all the tables. Or a visit to a museum! I can spend hours and hours in museums. But no: Dad was actually taking me to the vet. So I protested. Just once. While we were inside, during the entire examination, and on the way home, I never uttered a sound. I know you find this remarkable but, as I say, this is nothing for us.

I say I knew that Dad had made an appointment with the vet, and I had to remind him to be sure that I visited with Dr. McCartney, the kindest human who works there. Dr. McCartney is a lovely, softspoken man, with very gentle hands. That's important, especially since I knew he would do some poking and prodding. I have to say that Dr. McCartney is very impressive, for a human.

It was the whole tooth that fell out, root and everything. Dad hadn't thought it was. I told him it was, but he wasn't paying attention. Why don't you listen to us more carefully? Dad is usually better at this kind of thing. I wouldn't live with just any human, you know; I chose Dad very carefully. But he's been very distracted. I knew he was awfully worried about me, although he tried not to show it too much. (Why do you do that? Do you think it makes you appear "stronger" in some way? That's silly. Very typical of humans, though. In general, Dad understands this pretty well, and he writes about it a lot.)

Dr. McCartney said my teeth and gums are pretty much a mess. They should have a major cleaning, and one or two teeth might need to be extracted, an upper tooth in particular. But all of that would cost between $400 and $500. I don't think Dad can afford that. Anyway, I wish he'd take care of at least one or two of his bad teeth. I know they hurt him a lot sometimes. Dr. McCartney said it was best that the whole tooth came out; that way, there isn't anything left behind that might get infected and/or need to be pulled out. And he said there was some pus in the place where the tooth had been, so he gave me an antibiotic shot and pills for a week. Dad will have to check every day or so to make sure it's healing well. If it isn't ... well, darn it, we'll have to go back and have it cleaned out and sewn up. Ouch!

That reminds me: while we were in the waiting room, I chatted with a big fluffy dog. Coincidentally, he was there for a full teeth and gum cleaning. He said that when they do that, the humans give you some great drugs! So I guess it might not be so bad. Haha. Still, as I said, I don't think we'll be able to manage that. And $500 would buy a lot of toys and excellent catnip! And we've already spent $200, and we may have to spend another several hundred if we have to go back for the tooth that already came out. Besides, Wendy needs her teeth cleaned too. To care for us properly takes a lot of money, but I'm sure you agree that's only right. I wish Dad wouldn't feel so guilty that he can't do more for us. He does the best he can, and that's fine by us. And even though we generally frown upon this kind of thing, I have to admit that the cuddling here is pretty great. Also the playing, and the sleeping together, and the food. All in all, not bad.

Dr. McCartney gave me a full exam. He said that, except for the tooth and gum business, I'm great. Not news to me obviously, but Dad feels a lot better. The doc weighed me, too: 16 pounds. He said I don't need to lose weight, because I'm a "big boy." (The "gorgeous," "wonderful" and "perfect" were in the way he said it. He called me "Mr. Orange," too. A sweet guy.) Oh, I don't think Dad told you: I was ten this past August 15. Prime of life, baby. A lot more miles on me.

Now, I want to offer a special thank you to the 25 or so of you who have been so kind. You made it possible for me to take this trip, to make sure everything was okay. For humans, you're amazingly civilized. So ... THANK YOU! You've been great, and I'm very grateful. Dad says he is, too. Thanks again! But honestly, next time you want to give me something special, a few bags of those salmon or tuna treats would be all right, you understand what I'm saying? Oh, I know we had to do this, but still ...

We went to Dr. McCartney's place on Thursday morning. I'm sorry I wasn't able to write this report sooner, but the combination of the trip, the exam, the shots, and all the excitement (?!?!?) kind of wore me out. And Dad's been a wreck, poor guy. He takes these things very hard. We've been sleeping a lot in the last couple of days. Kinda nice. I know Dad has a lot of writing he wants to get done, and he hopes to get back to it later today or tomorrow. It sounds like he has some good stuff coming up. Wendy and I already understand all of it, of course. But some of you apparently don't. You're lucky that we have lots of relatives to look after you. I don't know what would become of you otherwise.

Okay, then. I think it's time for a nap. Yes, another one. Wisdom of the kind we have can be tiring, and trying to educate humans is exhausting. Besides, you only absorb the knowledge we have in very small amounts. So this whole process takes a lot of time. And a lot of food, treats, playing and resting. And the cuddling, of course. I actually like the cuddling more than I should. That'll be our secret, okay?

Many thanks again, kind humans. Some of you are definitely all right. Now you just need to work on the rest of them. We do our best, but we can't do it all on our own. So help out where you can, will you?

I enjoyed this. Hope you did, too. I may help Dad out in the future here, when I'm not so busy with all my other activities. Take good care of yourselves now. And remember: gentle hands and a gentle heart are very, very important. Be kind to each other. Why is that so hard for so many of you? I'll never understand it.

Very sleepy. Have to go now. Thanks once more, and I'll probably see you again!

December 04, 2008

The Feast of the Vampires

People occasionally note that the United States no longer "makes" anything. That seems a bit unfair to me. I think a very strong case indeed could be made for the United States as the leading world supplier of the empty, insultingly stupid charades typical of declining empire:
This time GM CEO Rick Wagoner, Ford Motor (F, Fortune 500) CEO Alan Mulally and Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli drove fuel-efficient hybrids to Washington, rather than flying in on corporate jets as they did two weeks ago.

Ford and GM have since announced they would sell their jets. And all three CEOs have agreed to cut their pay to $1 a year if they get the federal help they are seeking.
What an abysmally idiotic nation the United States has become. Also endlessly violent, bloody and murderous, but undeniably, relentlessly idiotic. One notable result of this superficiality and stupidity is the widespread celebration attendant upon utterly empty symbolism. In fact, as discussed in, "No: There Are Many Things About It that Are Profoundly Awful," Obama's election and the meaning widely ascribed to it are much more than empty symbolism: they are profoundly damaging, since the ruling class will utilize them primarily to stop the growth of any meaningful opposition to the current trajectory of the U.S. That process is already well underway. (Also see, "Silenced: Barack Obama and the End of Struggle toward Truth and Freedom," and the essays linked there.)

I mentioned recently that, among other pieces, I am working on a more detailed analysis of the tactics of moral and psychological intimidation that are now utilized by so many people. The ongoing economic collapse provides numerous examples of this phenomenon, as I have already discussed to some extent in the second half of "Terrorist State, Abroad and at Home":
You now witness these tactics of intimidation and of the most transparently, viciously manipulative fear-mongering deployed by almost every member of the ruling class in connection with the bailout bill. I will not rehearse another time all the reasons this bill will do nothing but hasten the economic destruction of the United States, or why it is supposedly designed to solve a problem that cannot be solved: begin with my most recent essay on this subject, and follow the links (or scroll through the last few weeks of posts) for much more. (In the following, I do not even mention the cruder and more obvious methods of intimidation now so beloved by our government. See an earlier essay -- "Obey or Die" --for just one kind of example of what the cruder methods entail.)

The words speak for themselves, but the purpose of these pronouncements should be emphasized: our rulers do not want to scare you to death, although your death would hardly approach a matter of any serious concern for them. While your death is not (necessarily) required, your obedience is. You will obey them -- or else.


Those last comments from Obama introduce another theme of this propaganda onslaught, one that should be especially offensive to any American who remains capable of thought to any extent at all. That theme is simply this: if you don't understand why we need to add an incalculable amount to the already monumental national debt, if you fail to grasp why we have to extort money from you to maintain the ruling class in its comfort and affluence, if you don't see why we need to embark on a plan that cannot possibly do what we are told it's intended to do, while it will cause untold damage in numerous other ways -- well, you're just stupid.


Do what they demand -- or else.

This is your government -- a terrorist state, abroad and at home. Now they've added you to their list of current targets. How does it feel? (At least, they're not shooting at you. Not just yet, anyway.)
Thus, in the latest charade, we have this:
After presenting plans to Congress Tuesday that detailed how they would use loans to return to profitability, each company warned of tremendous damage to the economy if they are forced to file for bankruptcy due to lack of help.

In prepared testimony in front of the Senate Banking Committee Thursday, Mulally quoted an estimate from Goldman Sachs that said the impact to the economy from failures could be up to $1 trillion.
Be afraid. Be very, very afraid, don't think too much (if at all) and, most critically and which is in the nature of an absolute commandment, don't trouble yourself with the long-term consequences (which is to say, more than a month or a year ahead, and certainly not beyond the next election cycle). Just print up huge bundles of new, non-existent money now (non-existent in the sense that it has no connection to anything tangible that actually exists, and represents only massive future debt), and hand it over to the latest members of the ruling class with greedy hands extended.

Always remember: in our corporatist-authoritarian system, the ruling class always wins. You, the "ordinary" American who works and pays taxes that maintain the ruling class in its immense wealth and power and expand that wealth and power still more, always lose.

Will it work? Don't be idiotic: of course it will work. There's a lot more blood remaining in your carcass. And the vampires are exceedingly hungry.

The feast of the vampires has barely begun.

P.S. In connection with, "No, You're Not Crazy" (a post from September of this year linked above), yes, I did see this week's story:
General Renuart also sought to clarify the domestic role of the U.S. Armed Forces during any catastrophic event. The Washington Post published a report Monday indicating 20,000 U.S. troops are being deployed to special domestic units to respond to potential terrorist attacks.

Civil liberties groups have expressed concern that this deployment could undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, which restricts the military role in domestic law enforcement.

But General Renuart said these troops will not be involved in law enforcement and will only be used to assist other agencies in dealing with an overwhelming disaster.
Oh. My mind has been set completely at ease.

At Once Upon A Time..., we do our utmost to provide you with tomorrow's news today. Lamentably, we often succeed.

December 02, 2008

A New Clinical Syndrome: PEBS!

For you non-clinical types, that would be:

Progressive Exploding Brain Syndrome

There's only one cure for it: you have to think! Hahaha. That's like no cure at all!

I'm such a meanie. I'm just piling on. You betcha! Being confronted with monumental self-delusion and stupidity on an unprecedented scale brings out the worst in me. But I admit it, 'cuz I'm an honest son of a bitch. More than I can say for certain other people.

But here's some good news. You may have voted for Obama -- but you're getting the McCain Cabinet! Is that still being mean? Okie dokie.

To pile on this post and the first part of "Clinging to the Wreckage," and because I'm such a bastard, here's an excerpt from a new Jeremy Scahill article, "Obama's Kettle of Hawks":
Obama's starry-eyed defenders have tried to downplay the importance of his cabinet selections, saying Obama will call the shots, but the ruling elite in this country see it for what it is. Karl Rove, "Bush's Brain", called Obama's cabinet selections, "reassuring", which itself is disconcerting, but neoconservative leader and former McCain campaign staffer Max Boot summed it up best. "I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could just as easily have come from a President McCain," Boot wrote. The appointment of General Jones and the retention of Gates at defence "all but puts an end to the 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, the unconditional summits with dictators and other foolishness that once emanated from the Obama campaign."


There is not a single, solid anti-war voice in the upper echelons of the Obama foreign policy apparatus. And this is the point: Obama is not going to fundamentally change US foreign policy. He is a status quo Democrat. And that is why the mono-partisan Washington insiders are gushing over Obama's new team. At the same time, it is also disingenuous to act as though Obama is engaging in some epic betrayal. Of course these appointments contradict his campaign rhetoric of change. But move past the speeches and Obama's selections are very much in sync with his record and the foreign policy vision he articulated on the campaign trail, from his pledge to escalate the war in Afghanistan to his "residual force" plan in Iraq to his vow to use unilateral force in Pakistan to defend US interests to his posturing on Iran. "I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel," Obama said in his famed speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last summer. "Sometimes, there are no alternatives to confrontation."
There are certainly "no alternatives to confrontation" if one wishes to maintain American global hegemony, and damn the cost, damn the slaughter of innocents, damn everything decent, just and humane. America is God on Earth; Her will be done.

PEBS! It's all the rage.

Perhaps, A Birthday

Maria Callas maintained that she was born on December 2. Some dispute exists concerning the accuracy of the claim; certain records indicate December 4 to be the correct date. A small matter, especially in light of the miraculous accomplishments of this supreme artist.

To honor her achievements, I humbly direct you to two of my personal favorites among my hundreds of essays -- my first discussion of Callas's life and career, "For Maria Callas, Now and Always: All Things Are Connected," and a follow-up piece, which includes a description of a particular evening at one of Callas's Juilliard Master Classes (which I attended, and it is one of my most cherished memories), "Flecks of Light, Points of Understanding, and the Gift of Sight." The latter also discusses Stephen Sondheim's remarkable creation, Sunday in the Park with George. "Flecks of Light" never attracted much notice. I admit that the rapidity with which it sank into oblivion fills me with considerable sadness.

I write a great deal about politics and foreign policy. Some may find this surprising, but in a very different world, I would rarely discuss those topics, certainly not to the extent and in the detail I do. I write about them because I feel I must. If we appreciate and think we have some understanding of the needless horrors unfolding in the world around us, I think we have a certain obligation to share our observations with others, in an effort to at least minimize the likelihood of the worst possibilities being actualized, to whatever extent we can. I should rephrase that: I feel such an obligation, but I will not presume to say whether others should feel the same way. In fact, I am deeply grateful that certain artists do not spend their time on such matters. Instead, as Callas did, they provide us with a glimpse of a very different world, one of surpassing sensitivity and inexpressible compassion and understanding. Or, rather, a world that would have remained inexpressible, but for their own creativity and artistry.

And if that world of sensitivity and compassion were to be more realized ... well, I would spend my time writing about art, psychology and culture, and perhaps I would start one of the novels kicking around my brain.

So, perhaps a birthday. And someday ... perhaps ...

Which reminds me: there is one more essay I recommend, which follows up on "Flecks of Light": "Cultivate Your Sense of Wonder, and Live Ecstatically." You need to read the full article to understand what I meant by my conclusion:
I now add that, when you engage in this process, you yourself live ecstatically -- today.

And that is everything.
Once again, for Maria Callas, for helping me to understand this kind of ecstasy, and for providing me countless occasions when I can experience that ecstasy as a reality.

Truly, La Divina, now and always.

Clinging to the Wreckage (I): Murder, Inc. -- The Continuing Obscenity of U.S. Foreign Policy

Our troops did the job they were asked to do. They got rid of Saddam Hussein. They conducted the search for weapons of mass destruction. They gave the Iraqi people a chance for elections and to have a government. It is the Iraqis who have failed to take advantage of that opportunity. -- Hillary Clinton

It's not change when [McCain] promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians..." -- Barack Obama [Both quotes appear in my essay, "The Triumph of the White, Male Ruling Class."]
Obama and Biden will press Iraq's leaders to take responsibility for their future and to substantially spend their oil revenues on their own reconstruction. -- Official Barack Obama website, Issues - Iraq

We're spending $10 billion a month in Iraq at a time when the Iraqis have a $79 billion surplus, $79 billion.

And we need that $10 billion a month here in the United States to put people back to work, to do all these wonderful things that Sen. McCain suggested we should be doing, but has not yet explained how he would pay for.

Now, Sen. McCain and I do agree, this is the greatest nation on earth. We are a force of good in the world. But there has never been a nation in the history of the world that saw its economy decline and maintained its military superiority. -- Barack Obama, Second Presidential Debate, October 7, 2008
If you have ever wondered how a serial murderer -- a murderer who is sane and fully aware of the acts he has committed -- can remain steadfastly convinced of his own moral superiority and show not even the slightest glimmer of remorse, you should not wonder any longer.

The United States government is such a murderer. It conducts its murders in full view of the entire world. It even boasts of them. Our government, and all our leading commentators, still maintain that the end justifies the means -- and that even the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents is of no moral consequence, provided a sufficient number of people can delude themselves into believing the final result is a "success."

We are a nation that has voluntarily renounced all its most crucial values, and all its founding principles. We can appeal all we want to "American exceptionalism," but any "exceptionalism" that remains ours is that of a mass murderer without a soul, and without a conscience. We have destroyed the most basic foundation of liberty -- and the nature and meaning of our act has already, in less than a couple of weeks, almost entirely vanished from public discussion. It is useless to appeal to any "American" sense of morality: we have none. It does not matter how immense the pile of corpses grows: we will not surrender or even question our delusion that we are right, and that nothing we do can be profoundly, unforgivably wrong.

Remember the five-year-old Iraqi girl who was killed by the same bombs that killed al-Zarqawi. Remember the following, and try to understand it at long last... -- From my essay, "The Missing Moral Center: Murdering the Innocent," October 11, 2006
Barack Obama repeatedly insists that the greatest task before us, the task to which he tells us again and again he himself is fully committed and to which he asks all of us to dedicate ourselves as well, is "change." To change a policy of any significance requires that one first identify honestly and in detail the nature of the policy one wishes to alter. As is true of every other national politician of prominence, Obama resolutely refuses to name the actual nature and meaning of U.S. foreign policy today and for the last several decades.

Obama's own statements, together with his selection of individuals for major foreign policy and defense positions in his administration, make unarguably clear that he will change nothing of any importance in America's conduct of foreign policy. When Obama tells us he is committed to "change," he is lying, just as he has lied on a lengthy series of issues of great importance. As I noted in "Obama's Whitewash": "Truth is the enemy; truth is to be destroyed. ... This is how we live today: lies are the staple of our diet. Without them, we would die, certainly in psychological terms."

The above statements from Hillary Clinton and Obama express positions they have offered on many occasions. I set them beside my own description of the United States' actions to make the contrast as starkly clear as possible. I realize all too well that many people will read that excerpt from my earlier article (as well as most if not all of my writing) and dismiss such views with a contemptuous shrug of dismissal: "That's just ridiculous. Why do you have to be so extreme? Sure, we've made mistakes, including some terrible ones. But the worst mistakes are Bush's fault. America itself, especially if the nation returns to its real values, has done great good in the world. Under the leadership of a man like Obama, she hopefully will again."

This, too, is where we are: to state the truth, the full truth without equivocation or avoidance, is "extreme." After all the writing I have done over several years, I despair at ever breaking through the wall of resistance that surrounds most Americans, the wall that separates our ruling class from any meaningful realization of the destruction and death their policies have caused around the world over many horrifying, blood-drenched years. As I wrote in "'Regrettable Misjudgments': The Shocking Immorality of Our Constricted Thought":
As a nation, we are resolute in our refusal to identify the true nature of our actions, and in our refusal to acknowledge the consequences of what we do. This may well be true of most nations throughout history. Yet there is a direct correlation between a nation's power and influence, and its reliance on myth and other public relations ploys. As the world's sole superpower, the United States via its ruling class saturates its subjects at home and abroad with propaganda on a scale and with an intensity that have rarely been surpassed. As is true of all propaganda, permissible viewpoints are confined within suffocatingly constricted boundaries of thought; variation of any moment from the prescribed guidelines is prohibited.


Consider how far into fantasy we have traveled, consider the scope of our determination to banish facts from our awareness. It should not be controversial or noteworthy in the least to observe that conquest of foreign peoples by force of arms necessarily involves bloodletting, dismemberment and mutilation, that subjugation shatters the mind and the body, not just of the subjugated, but of those who would rule in this manner. History tells this tale repeatedly. Indeed, when our leaders wish to condemn other nations which utilize identical practices, they will examine these evils in endless detail. Our leaders will explain to us with enthusiastic commitment that such practices are deeply immoral and can only lead to disaster. But suddenly, when the United States sets out to conquer entire regions of the world, all these evils are not only transformed into a force for good: the evils miraculously cease to exist. The United States is good -- it is "the culmination of human development" -- and all its works are good. In "respectable" conversation in "respectable" places, you may not say otherwise.
In that same essay, after a consideration of the reality of the genocide the U.S. government's actions unleashed in Iraq, I quoted Chris Floyd as follows:
Back home they're glorifying the war, or else, at most, tut-tutting over how "incompetently" it has been managed -- or, as Hillary Clinton likes to do, berating the Iraqis for not taking advantage of the wonderful opportunity we've given them by invading their country, killing their families, destroying their society, robbing them blind and empowering violent sectarians to rule over them. This is the full range of acceptable, "serious" discourse on Iraq: it's either a noble crusade marching steadily toward victory or a noble if mismanaged crusade on behalf of a bunch of ingrates who don't deserve our benevolence.
In the context of what the United States has done and continues to do, the statements from Clinton and Obama about the "failure" of the Iraqis to act in a manner they find "acceptable" are loathsome in the extreme. Their views, which I emphasize again are shared by every national politician who actually wields power (by which formulation, I exclude the very few exceptions such as Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul), represent the murderous triumph of "American exceptionalism" -- the doctrine that lauds the United States as uniquely "good" and Americans as "the good guys" in a manner that no other peoples can ever hope to equal, and that, with its always implicit and frequently explicit racism, condemns all other peoples on Earth to sub- or even inhuman status. That final element, of course, makes it considerably easier to slaughter them in large numbers, even when they could never possibly threaten us.

The absolute refusal to identify the facts and their meaning sometimes drives me to employ a crudity of expression I would prefer to avoid. But as I noted, my attempts to get through more "politely" have proven futile. Thus, about Clinton's and Obama's disgusting remarks about the Iraqis' "failures," I wrote:
The condescending superiority of this perspective is unassailable and unchangeable. (In yet another loathsome example of the identical mentality, John Kerry has also said the same thing.)

Listen up, Obama, you cheap, lying fraud: the United States government launched a criminal war of aggression against a nation that never threatened us. It continues a bloody, murdering occupation which does nothing but worsen the agony of the Iraqi people. We have no right to be in Iraq at all. We never did. The actions of the United States government have led to a genocide of world historical proportions.

Genocidal murderers and those who support and enable them -- as you do, Obama, since you vote to fund this continuing crime -- do not get to "ask" one single goddamned fucking thing of their victims. Not. One. Single. Goddamned. Fucking. Thing.
And still, after the genocide caused by the U.S. government's actions, after all the death and mutilation, after the destruction of an entire country, Obama tells us: "This is the greatest nation on earth. We are a force of good in the world."

To understate in my own criminally irresponsible manner: this is not "change." This is the full, loving embrace of "American exceptionalism," and of all the detestable consequences of that detestable doctrine. For those who have been paying attention (and I thank the approximately 14 of you who have), this is hardly news. I discussed Obama's adoration of and dedication to "American exceptionalism" in "Songs of Death," which was written in May -- of 2007.

Among others, two points from that earlier piece should be noted here. First, I recommend that you consider the meaning and possible results of Clinton's positive comments about the fact that the United States may "have to take offensive military action against Iran..." In a sense, I suppose one should thank Clinton for this moment of clarity. It's helpful when individuals who are already war criminals tell us of their intention to continue their murderous careers. Those few of us who object to unjustified widescale murder may take what actions we think advisable, and the future victims of U.S. aggression may defend themselves as they deem fit and are able. If you had thought the danger of an attack on Iran would diminish with the close of the Bush Administration, you're ignorant, deluded and/or a fool; I discussed that issue in detail here. (I say that Clinton is "already" a war criminal because of Iraq, of course, and also because of her vicious support for her husband's Balkans policy, about which more in a subsequent installment -- see "The Truth Shall Drive You Mad" for a head start.)

The second point from "Songs of Death" that deserves emphasis is Obama's "justification" for U.S. intervention abroad, a justification so comprehensive that it permits U.S. intervention on any basis, anywhere, at any time:
This is the Open Door world carried to impossible, entirely unrealizable and ridiculous extremes. The door is not only open: the door and the entire structure in which it had been installed have been obliterated. The United States must be the global hegemon so that every human being eats well, is properly educated and has a good job, until every society and culture is thriving and properly "democratic" in the form we alone will dictate, and until there is a (healthy) chicken in every pot.
See the full essay for the details, and for the meaning of the "healthy chicken" reference.

Confronted with the close to unanimous refusal to face the excessively bloody facts, it is with some relief that I find a few individuals who have not completely succumbed to the mind-numbing commandments of Obamamania. About the retention of Robert Gates, Matthew Rothschild writes:
Let’s remember: Gates was head of the CIA during Bush I. As such, he was involved in the invasion of Panama, the funding of a genocidal regime in Guatemala, the support of Suharto’s brutal government in Indonesia, and the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti.

With Bush I, he pushed the first war against Saddam Hussein, even when it seemed that Saddam was preparing to withdraw from Iraq.

And now with Bush II, he’s been running the Iraq War, which Obama vowed to end.

And Gates has come out with modernizing our nuclear weapons arsenal—that means making new nukes—even though Obama talked about nuclear disarmament during the campaign.

Something’s terribly wrong with this picture.

And it’s simply this: Obama doesn’t really want a change in foreign and military policy. He said as much during the campaign when he praised Bush Sr. and said he wanted to return to the bipartisan consensus of the last forty years.

In those forty years, the United States waged war against Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. It helped overthrow the Allende government in Chile. It supported Suharto’s invasion of East Timor. It financed and trained death squads in Central America. And on and on.

With the Gates choice, Obama proves he’s not about ending the U.S. empire.

He’s about running the U.S. empire—with less bravado than Bush-Cheney, but perhaps more efficiently.
Ah, yes: "efficiency," which also goes by the term, "competence" -- the beloved goals of every monstrous regime in history. But this should not come as news, either. For several years, I have repeatedly made the point that the Democrats have no objection to endless U.S. interventions or to wars of aggression, nor are they repulsed in the smallest degree by unjustified slaughter. The Democrats only want U.S. murders to be managed "well" and accomplished "competently." For empires, "neatness" is a great virtue. Bloodstains on the plush carpets of the corridors of power are distressingly unpleasant, don't you know. See, as just one example, the discussion of Point One in, "Trapped in the Wrong Paradigm."

The persistence and comprehensiveness of our mythmaking are revealed even in Rothschild's otherwise clear-eyed analysis. Rothschild commits two major errors, one at the very opening of his article:
Barack Obama’s got a big problem.

He’s suckered himself into believing that we need a bipartisan foreign and military policy.
So even though Rothschild goes on to argue correctly that Obama "doesn’t really want a change in foreign and military policy" and that "Obama proves he’s not about ending the U.S. empire," his prefatory remarks largely blunt his own assessment. You see, Obama's "suckered himself." He doesn't actually believe it, not in his heart of hearts, not if he were fully true to his best instincts.

Which are you going to believe -- Obama's own numerous statements and actions, his repeated declarations of the "truth" of American exceptionalism and all its bloody consequences, and his plans for interminable future American interventions, or your self-generated delusions about what Obama "really" stands for as a "thoughtful," "reflective," "progressive" leader? The undeniable truth -- or your preferred, self-flattering fantasy? This particular fantasy (including its many variations) is the favorite of many liberals and progressives, and it is their preferred method of avoiding the fact that this "progressive" leader is a war criminal, of the past, present and future. I suppose if I had voted for him, I'd avoid the meaning of my own actions as well. History has repeatedly taught us that this is one of the primary routes to hell, yet most of us refuse to learn the lesson.

Rothschild's second error, one shared by a great many people, is his contention that Obama "vowed to end" the "Iraq War." This is profoundly wrong in several respects. Moreover, Obama has never "vowed" any such thing, not if you understand the meaning of all of his statements on this subject. In short, this is another of Obama's lies, and an especially heinous one. But he's already lied about so many issues, what's one more?

How do I know Obama has lied on this point? Because he's told us so himself. If you've been paying attention to all he has said and its necessary meaning, you already know this, and this conclusion is fully demonstrated by his recent appointments.

I'll turn to Iraq and Obama's "promises" about it in the next installment.