The Last President

That’s the last president in the picture,
looking as if he still leads our great land.
I can’t help to wonder about him; all
his talk of giving people their demands.
But don’t linger too long on him. You
should admire this painting of our founding
fathers. They understood the true purpose
of the republic, at first sounding
to give only land owners the right to
vote. Don’t even teach this in school these days,
do they? Preferring instead to fill
impressionable minds with fairy tales
about equality and good will. Kid,
what they wrote to Georgie the greedy king
was just trash. Only that dimwit Jefferson
actually believed it. You still looking
at that picture? No, I would not take it
down; he was a leader of the greatest
nation on Earth, and his election must
always stand—a reminder that (the best)
humble stockbroker like me can be
president. But that one, well, we can show
his heart bled the wrong color—not blue like ours.
If too many are free than none are, we know.
We must take our cue from the ancient Greeks;
the only true democracy to exist
had more slaves within her walls than franchised.
Neither he nor his party understood this.
Too generous to the masses by far.
And he was tough, charismatic, I confess.
We could not allow him to prevent us from
legislating power to big business,
indebting consumers to them for life.
Why couldn’t he see what we’d given him?
We could not tell him (he would not listen),
“Your ideas are nothing more than a whim.”
He disgusted me; he sickened us all.
Oh, sure, he respected the elite,
but he pretended to care for everyone.
No, it was not true, but he would still defeat
us, ruin us soon enough. Look at that
charming smile on his arrogant face!
As if he still leads this great land.
But we did not let that stand in place.
Now he leads no one, except perhaps the
assembly line. So you might as well forget
him now; Congress is meeting in
the chamber below, and I have no regrets,
only duties, there. You, my intern, should attend.
I promised to teach you all I know
about regulation. What is your name again?
Oh, not from a prominent family, are you?
Perhaps I’ve said too much.
Then again, you could make a fine
politician. You might have the touch.
Now here’s a portrait of a truly great man—
Alexander Hamilton in his study,
who had a fairly ingenious plan—
provided by our patron, the Bank of America!

(I wrote this for my poetry class at TU. It is an allusion to Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess.” At the time, I was stil naive enough to think Obama would be a good president. I should have known better, of course).

Modern Slavery

http://therealnews.com/t2/component/hwdvideoshare/viewvideo/76934

Prisons. Health care. Privatization. Global debt. All of this equals slavery. Enough said.

English: Christian slavery in Barbary - The hi...

English: Christian slavery in Barbary – The history of slavery and the slave trade, ancient and modern. The forms of slavery that prevailed in ancient nations, particularly in Greece and Rome. The African slave trade and the political history of slavery in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Two girls protesting child labour (by calling ...

Two girls protesting child labour (by calling it child slavery) in the 1909 New York City Labor Day parade. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m So Full of It, Apparently (until I can find a better title)

I had a heated debate with my brother tonight about various subjects that left me deeply disturbed afterward. He was also disturbed, to my discredit, because he came to the conclusion that I was trying to force my opinions on him. This is not so, however; all I really wanted was to help him understand the facts that have helped me to form my opinions.

I must say that I did not give him the credit he deserved. He has learned some things which I have not, and some of his opinions are also based on facts. Or they would be, if he had not remembered them incorrectly or perhaps misrepresented them; I am also inclined to agree with him that I gave him about as much chance to express his view as he gave me. For this, I must admit I was wrong. We both agreed it is more difficult to remain rational among people with which we are most familiar, since I have never had such emotional debates with people of different opinions in college. Mostly, though, I believe his opinions are based on the indoctrination imposed on us by our leaders and strongly prevalent in our culture.

Unfortunately, I promised never to engage in discussions of this nature with him again, and I can’t tell him what I’ve learned. Very frustrating.

So I have decided to sort out which of the things I tried to explain to him were opinions and which were not. This is not because I am so sure he is wrong, but because I want to know where I’ve gone wrong, although I will try to determine which of the things we both said were facts are accurate.

What disturbed me the most was his attitude that all or most of the people in certain countries are bad and that they have little or no actual reasons to hate Americans and other Western countries. He also said he thinks we should “go over there and bomb the hell out of them all.”

He mentioned that the “Vietnamese were torturing and killing their own people.” However true this is, does it mean that the Vietnamese people who were tortured and killed deserved what happened to them? After all, they were “their own people,” right? If most of them are bad, they must have deserved it anyway. So why go fight for people who deserved it? I don’t think my brother realizes that he implied this, and if I had tried to explain it he would have denied it.

Of course, I think it is very unfortunate that he would make such a statement and believe it so strongly.

I started the discussion by relating what I recently learned about the atomic bomb

English: United States President Franklin D. R...

English: United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the declaration of war against Japan, in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. President Eisenhower was against it; he said the Japanese people were “already defeated” and such an extreme action was unnecessary.[1][2] General MacArthur also said he “saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb” and clearly stated why: the Japanese had already agreed to surrender as long as they could keep their Emperor. [1][3]

When my brother said the military obviously did not believe it, I asked him why he would believe the people who want any excuse to kill and feed the industrial war machine, he countered with the same thing for Japanese: “So you want to believe people who engaged in suicidal attacks and the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor?”

It’s a good point, too, I admit. I’m not saying the Japanese at the time were any better. They were imperialist, just like the US. However, the Japanese did not resort to atomic weapons, which destroyed entire cities, killing nearly everyone and leaving the survivors to die anyway of radiation poisoning. Let’s not forget the “black rain” that continued after the attacks.

Looks like I was a bit off in this regard as well. It wasn’t just MacArthur. Quite a few of the US military officials believed it was unnecessary: Assistant Secretary of War John McLoy, Admiral William Lehy, Director of Military Intelligence for the Pacific Theater of War Alfred McCormack, Deputy Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence Ellis Zacharias, Brigadier General Carter Clarke, and more. Not to mention that many said a non-lethal demonstration would have been sufficient, and that there was still no reason to drop them on populated cities instead military targets.[1]

Of course, all of this begs the question, “Then why did the US use atomic bombs on Japan at all, let alone populated cities?” According to New Scientist, it was meant to “kick-start the Cold War rather than end the Second World War.” [10]

In an earlier, related discussion, my brother said that the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred during peace negations. I had learned the opposite, that the US and Japan were in the middle of signing a declaration of war when that attack occurred and that some American officials might have known about the attack beforehand. It appears we were both wrong. I have not discovered if there were any negotiations before the declaration, but the declaration itself came the day after the attack. I don’t know what gave me the misconception that the US needed representatives from Japan to declare war (an obviously silly idea, and is also a case of inaccuracy in memory; would be nice to have an eidetic memory).

However, it is interesting to note that “most Japanese were surprised, apprehensive, and dismayed by the news they were now at war with the U.S., a country many Japanese admired.” Apparently the Japanese government had resentments about American racist policies, too, which were definitely prevalent, when it came to Japanese Americans. The US also did not like Japan’s invasion of China, which is hypocritical since European settlers and then later the US government invaded North America and swept across the continent in obviously imperialist capacity. It does not mean the Japanese were right; it merely means that the US did not have any moral grounds to dispute them.[4]

Something else I find very interesting is the “Hull note”:

On November 25 Henry L. Stimson, United States Secretary of War noted in his diary that he had discussed with US President Franklin D. Roosevelt the severe likelihood   that Japan was about to launch a surprise attack, and that the question had been “how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.'”[5]

As for the danger, it seems like it backfired. It turned out to be very dangerous for Americans in Pearl Harbor. The note itself “demanded the complete withdrawal of troops” from China, which the Japanese government took as “an ultimatum.” It does not justify their attack, but trying to “maneuver” into such an attack is hardly justifiable, either.

My brother also, like many people I have encountered, insisted that most of what I say is based on “conspiracy theories.” I actually do not talk about conspiracies most of the time; I merely discuss things that are already out in the open. They may have been conspiracies at one time, but the truth is out now and there is no more need for secrecy.

One thing he told me was that Palestinians stormed the Christian church in Jerusalem during the Crusades; it was something he saw in a documentary. After checking this out, I have learned this is completely wrong.

First, “Palestinians are the descendants of everyone who ever lived in the land, just as modern Britons are descendants of ancient Celts, Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Huguenots, Jews and recent migrants from the Caribbean and south Asia”[6] (emphasis added). I will admit I did not know this, even though it supports my point of view. Second, it was the Turks who sacked the churches to begin the First Crusade[7][8][9] and, if the above is correct, many of the Christians they slaughtered were Palestinian. So, at the very least, my brother must have misrepresented what he saw and heard in that documentary.

While people from many religions still kill each other over religious differences, that doesn’t negate the fact that Israelis are settlers and Palestinians are the indigenous people of what is now called Israel.

Two things my brother said that are facts:

1. There are many people in the world (including the United States) who hate others based on misguided religious fanaticism (and racism) without any real basis otherwise.

2. Communists supplied weapons to the North Vietnamese to subjugate the South Vietnamese.

Now here are the things that I talked about:

FACT: There are things that Western nations, especially the United States (because it is the most powerful of them) and their corporate rulers have done to make people in other parts of the world (and right here) hate us. As much as many people want to believe otherwise, it is not all about religion or whatever other nonsense we’ve been told. If I must, I will come back and list some of these instances for specificity.

OPINION: Denying the fact stated above only contributes to the problems in the world today. While I cannot verify this as fact, I strongly believe it is true because of the fact stated above.

FACT: Modern “Israelis” are settlers from Europe (and perhaps other parts of the world) after the holocaust of World War II. They are descendants of Jews who had been scattered across the world in ancient times (which makes them descendants of Palestinians, ironically), but they did not live in that land before then. The Palestinians did.

FACT: Since 1948, the Israeli state has continued to force Palestinians from their homes to build more settlements for Israelis.

OPINION: If that is not a reason for Palestinians to hate them, then what is? It does not justify suicide bombings, but it does explain their animosity. If this had not happened and did not continue to the present, much of the unrest in that region might not exist (which does not mean all of it would not exist).

FACT: The US supports Israel’s occupation and settlement policies. They did the same thing themselves with the indigenous people of North America and still keep those people marginalized and living on “reservations,” refusing to honor the treaties made with them at that.

FACT: The US does not actually “make the world safe for democracy,” no matter how much the government wants us to believe it. They often choose places where they have a stake in the resources for the benefit of their corporate masters or to keep feeding the war machine. They even sell weapons to the very people who eventually end up using them against us because they only care about profits. The US also has denied aid to people who wanted democracy in the past and supported the despots (Iran and the Shah, for instance), or people who requested aid against despotic regimes (ironically, the very same regimes they later went to war with anyway).

OPINION: Uh, never mind. It’s a FACT, too. The US is imperialist (always has been; hence Manifest Destiny) and fascist.

FACT: At least some, if not many, of the South Vietnamese did not want us there and fought to keep us out too.

OPINION: While I cannot prove it, I still say it is foolishness to believe everyone or even most of the people in certain countries are bad or hate us for no reason except for misguided religious fanaticism. This only makes matters worse.

FACT: The US, Germany, and Japan all had imperialist policies. It was inevitable that they would eventually clash, since they all sought to acquire the same resources (in one way or another) which were not theirs in the first place.

FACT: The US used atomic weapons on populated cities in Japan instead of military targets when they should not have been used at all or, if anything, used only in a non-lethal demonstration. While there may have been civilians in Pearl Harbor, it was still a military base–not a city.

FACT: The sources I used are subject to debate and would not pass the scrutiny of a college professor. I promise to dig deeper and find more reliable sources as soon as possible.

This post probably needs more work (besides just updating sources). If anyone spots something that’s a little off or needs correction, well, it isn’t your job do it–it’s mine–but I would welcome the help nonetheless.

Too bad I can never bring this up to my brother again. I wonder if he’d still conclude that even if he had all the facts he would feel the same.

[1]Washingtonsblog, The Real Reason Americans Used Atomic Bombs On Japan. Web.
[2]Eisenhower, Dwight D., Mandate for Change, 1953-1956: The White House Years, A Personal Account (380). Print.
[3]Bernstein, Barton J., The Atomic Bomb (52-56). Print.
[4]Wikipedia, “Results of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.” Web.
[5]Wikipedia, “Hull Note.” Web.
[6]McRoy, Dr. Anthony, “The Forgotten Faithful.” Web.
[7]Wikipedia, “Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem.” Web.
[8]Wikipedia, “History of Jerusalem (Middle Ages).” Web.
[9]Cause of the Crusades. Web.
[10]Edwards, Robert. New Science. “Hiroshima bomb may have carried hidden agenda.”

Apologies

Please, everyone who had been following my blog until I stopped posting, accept my apology for being absent so long.

I was in a lot of pain for nearly two months and it was very difficult for me to concentrate. However, the pain actually receded about three weeks ago. I tried to log in to WordPress several times but I had forgotten my password. I tried to reset it several times too, but I never received the email from Worpress and could find no way to contact someone directly.

Thing is, I had the password saved in a Works document on another computer (nominally mine, but actually my son’s–it’s a long story). My son one day, while I was still in pain, decided to disconnect the thing and put everything away! So I really must apologize for not making the effort to set it back up to get my password in a more timely fashion.

Anyway, I’m back, for now. I have already started work on a relevant post and should have it ready either today or tomorrow.

What is Fascism?

I’m so tired of defending my understanding of social democracy. The way many people tell it, all forms of socialism are bad, citing the U.S.S.R., China and Cuba as examples; they’re all somehow inherently totalitarian oligarchies.

However, if we follow this logic, how are we to view the United States? The U.S. is supposed to be a “representative democratic republic,” not a corporate oligarchy (fascist plutocracy). This is what it has become nevertheless, and it has become one of the biggest bullies in history. The U.S. is an imperialist corporate oligarchy, well on it’s way to becoming totalitarian in it’s own right. I understand it hasn’t reached that point yet; it hasn’t begun to wage war against its own citizens in earnest, although it has been very aggressive abroad–whether or not it was necessary for any reason other than profit.

It is also clear that the U.S. was never really democratic, at least not for everyone. It was always an imperialist bully.

Shall we conclude that all democratic republics are inherently imperialist corporate oligarchies just because the U.S. is? Keep in mind that the Soviet Union and China count as democratic republics, because socialism is a form of democracy. They are obviously not corporate oligarchies although they are totalitarian (or were, in the case of the U.S.S.R.). No form of democracy is inherently totalitarian. If anyone wants to contest that and say that fascism is democratic too, they should know that no form of government where only a few hundred people or so have most of the power is democratic–far from it.

It is absurd to say the Soviet Union was fascist because there was nothing at all “corporate” about their system. “Totalitarian” is the correct word. Those who wish to change the definition of fascism should say so before they declare that certain totalitarian regimes, ones founded on socialist principles, were fascist; otherwise a social democrat will ask them what the hell they are talking about.

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

Official Portrait of President Fascist Crony (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. is showing signs of becoming totalitarian; Ronald Reagan opened the way for corporate fat cats to take over and they have done a fine job of it. It was quite easy to subvert the democratic process once those pesky regulations were lifted, too, because U.S. citizens had been primed for it early. Just ask all the people who were oppressed over here from the very beginning; as far as the United States government was (and many of its citizens were) concerned, some of those people were spoils of war; now just about everyone other than our true leaders can be called a “commodity.” Yet, this does not mean it is becoming socialist, any more than a socialist regime becomes capitalist when it moves into totalitarianism.

Most people who insist that socialism is synonymous with fascism will often be adamant that capitalism is synonymous with democracy, which simply isn’t true. Democracy doesn’t have to be capitalist, socialist, communist, direct, representative, corporatist, or totalitarian. It can be any of these except corporate or totalitarian.

This is a special case, now. Corporatism is not necessarily totalitarian, but it isn’t democratic either. Even if a corporate state does not reach the excesses of World War II Italy, it tends to make life difficult for hard-working people and people who want to work. And they thrive on turning those people against each other. This is close enough to totalitarianism to make it a threat to democracy.

Let’s examine the definition of fascism a little closer, just to be clear. Wikipedia has this to say:

Hostile to liberal democracy, socialism, and communism, fascist movements share certain common features, including the veneration of the state, a devotion to a strong leader, and an emphasis on ultranationalism and militarism.

Totalitarianism is an extreme form of nationalism (i.e., Nazi Germany), and fascism is a form of totalitarianism that caters to the will of large corporations (i.e., their allies in Italy). It is “hostile” to socialism and communism–hostile to working people. And it is hostile to democracy as a whole (although it isn’t the only system like this).

This is not the only source for the definition. Merriam-Webster’s does make it sound like nationalism in general, but I would still argue the point and say it is just one kind of nationalism. Of course, for one of the examples of fascism, it quotes Anne Applebaum from the New York Review of Books who says:

On one side stood Hitler, fascism, the myth of German supremacy; on the other side stood Stalin, communism, and the international proletarian revolution (25 Oct. 2007). (Fascism, Merriam-Webster.com)

Clearly indicating how they were both totalitarian and yet completely different in almost every other way.

Another source is the leader of WWII Italy himself, Mussolini. [Edit] This quote of him saying that fascism is a melding of corporate interests with the state has been disputed. However, he has said:

The Socialists ask what is our program? Our program is to smash the heads of the Socialists. (Benito Mussolini, Wikiquotes)

Something that is hostile to socialism is obviously not socialism. And socialism is a long way from being “corporate.”

Socialism isn’t the enemy. It isn’t inherently totalitarian. A system founded on democratic principles only becomes totalitarian when the people in charge have too much power and will do anything to keep it.

The enemy of the people of the United States, and much of the world today, is corporate, obsessed with profit and ownership. That is fascism. It is unequal, unfair, and very, very undemocratic.

Saying “life isn’t fair” is also just an excuse to abdicate responsibility to the human family. Nature is indifferent, seemingly cruel, but humankind is capable of fairness, and this is all the more reason to be as fair as possible in all of our interactions.

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The Diva

Sultry shadow, whistle a ride.
Without sharing, the diva confides.
Casting her ballot, petting her purse
jeering eyes, titters curt.
Tempting cowards
won’t look backwards
sniveling bastards.

Greedy masters serenade
death and hunger when the diva parades.
They turn smiles into cries.
Peasants swear by the diva’s big lie.
Tempting cowards
won’t look backwards
sniveling bastards.

Sultry shadow, stealing their pride
only her touch ever satisfies.
She’s so flaunted, setting them high
now all the people quiver and die.
Tempting cowards
won’t look backwards
sniveling bastards.

~*~

[This is still a work in progress. So far, the one person to look at it hasn’t recognized it. It’s an allusion to another work. Anyone know what it is? Once someone brings it up, or I get tired of waiting, I will update this post with the answer. I think it’s unclear what the diva represents, too, and it needs clarification. Can anyone figure it out? I probably gave it away, though.

English: Logo of Black Sabbath reunion

English: Logo of Black Sabbath reunion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gah! I can’t help myself: Except for adding some punctuation and removing caps, it follows “The Wizard” by Black Sabbath. I give in too easily. Someone might have seen it. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my tribute. I’m telling you, I have a thing for this style of writing.

I hope it’s clear that the only reason money has “feminine” attributes in this piece is because the sniveling bastards see it that way. Of course, I’m sure there are plenty of women who love money just as much.]

Fix the Fool

On the playground, in the gym or the locker room, the cruel kids
play target practice with the nerd. They know they’re the cool kids.

Pinch the beat, whip his dignity—they’re the best at that too.
And when they go home they’ll laugh about it at the pool, kids.

Stand together, lean against the lockers, leer at the girls.
Make sure even the teachers know they’re the cream. They rule, kids.

Follow him through the hall; corner him in the stall. Fix him.
Thinks he’s smart, thinks he’s better than them, but he’s a fool, kids.

One day he’ll remember crushing flowers, reaping virtue,
and want to blame his defects on them, those other school kids.

Excuses, excuses, a shield for his own abuses.
And to forget, he’ll do enough drugs to drool, kids.

Get up, get up, Four Eyes, before bitterness strangles you.
Drop the sack on your back and stop being such a fool, kid.

~*~

[I wrote this for my poetry class too, back in 2011. I've been thinking about possibly working with the point-of-view, but still haven't figured out a way to do it that satisfies me. For the moment, I'm going with italics.

I wanted to wait for a while before posting this, since Dilliproduct had posted a ghazal earlier. She hasn't posted anything else since, so I will go with it. However, hers is a wonderful read; a very thoughtful visualization of the life of a full-time college student, and all the work and pressure that entails. If you read it, I am sure you will not regret it. It's called "All Nighter."]