Sunday, November 29, 2009
Doesn't seem quite right that long hours and short days go together.
Still dark when I get up.
Dark again long before I'm done.
6 o'clock seems like midnight.
Twilight starts about noon.
But 22 days from now, the Sun will begin it's long journey back to the throne.
Days will start getting longer again, and warmer.
A lot of Winter lies ahead.
And when Winter's at its darkest and coldest,
it's good to remember that it's not going to last forever.
Knowing about the cycle saves you from despair.
Made it through Winters before.
Will make it through this one, too.
Just need a wool coat and a good pair of boots.
Keep Winter on the outside.
It may numb the nose or cheeks.
But not the Heart.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Remember Robin Hood?
He stole from the rich to give to the poor.
Nowadays, of course, we do it the other way around...
Word is, Ridley Scott has started up principle photography on a new version of the story to star Russell Crowe as the bandit of Sherwood -- joining the likes of Kevin Costner, Patrick Bergin, Douglas Fairbanks and, my favorite, Errol Flynn, in tackling that role.
"Robin Hood," or some derivation of it, dates back to the late 13th century as a term for thief or felon. Whether Robin Hood was a real person or a fictional character is a matter of some debate.
In the 16th century, they tried to re-cast him as a dispossessed nobleman, but in the earliest ballads, he was a fed-up commoner. Little John, Will Scarlett an Allan-a-Dale seem to have been part of Robin's crew from the beginning. Maid Marian and Friar Tuck showed up much later.
Dozens of films have been made about Robin Hood, including everything from slapstick to porn, and you might count his American descendant Zorro, and that genre as a spin-off, too.
Seems like Robin has gained a certain immortality.
We can't let him go.
We need him.
We need SOMEONE on our side, someone who will look out for us, protect us, bring us justice.
Someone who is ready, willing and able to do what needs to be done, and who does it only because doing it is right.
- Prince John: Bring Sir Robin food! At once, do you hear? Such impudence must support a mighty appetite.
- Robin: True enough, your Highness. We Saxons have little to fatten on by the time your tax gatherers are through.
- Prince John: Do you feel you are overtaxed?
- Robin: Overtaxed, overworked and paid off with a knife, a club or a rope.
- Marian: Why, you speak treason!
- Robin: Fluently.
Friday, November 27, 2009
After posting “Thanks, but No Thanks,” I had an exchange with a Reader that provoked me to elaborate on my view of the holiday. The Reader said:
Myself and many others do it (celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday) out of tradition....
And In regard to the 17th century massacre:
The fault lies with the soulless people who did it way back then.
True --- to a point.
I understand that most folks mean well -- or at least mean no harm by participating the the official Thanksgiving festivities.
But perpetuating the myth behind it -- "myth" is a polite word for "lie" -- is harmful.
And it’s harmful to everyone.
When you "inherit the family business," you take on the company’s debts as well as the company’s assets.
You get that million bucks that's in the bank, but you're also obliged to pay what the business owes to its creditors.
You can't just say "Well, it wasn't me, personally, who made that deal so I don't have to honor it."
Benefits and obligations.
They go together.
Like liberty and responsibility.
Most Americans are perfectly happy to enjoy their liberty (or whatever's left of it) even though they themselves, personally, have done nothing, individually, to earn it. Liberty was theirs by accident of birth.
That liberty was bought and paid for a long time ago, by others.
And paid for in blood.
Nevertheless, Americans yet unborn at that time, are content to live on the fruits of others' sacrifices. They didn’t, personally, fight Redcoats or Nazis, they didn’t, personally march in civil rights protests. But they accept the benefit of it, for free, as if they were entitled to it, with no sense of moral obligation, or apparent appreciation.
(By “appreciation” I’m not talking about flying the flag, or putting a yellow “support the troops” ribbon on your car. I mean savoring the gift, taking good care of it and passing it on or sharing it with others.)
However, when it comes to paying the debts of their predecessors, it seems most Americans don't want to be held responsible, because they, personally, never shot an Indian, or owned a slave.
They want the benefits without the obligations.
All the taste, none of the calories.
You know, if I were to steal your car and give it to my son as a birthday gift, it doesn't rightfully belong to him even though he isn't, personally, the one who stole it.
And he can't say "Yes, I know it was stolen, but I didn't steal it so it's ok for me to keep it and it's mine now."
The law usually calls that “receiving stolen property,” and most places that’s a felony.
I think returning the car to the rightful owner, or the owner's heirs, is a moral imperative.
A debt of honor.
All of us in America today are guilty of receiving stolen property.
If we had any honor, we’d feel it a moral imperative to make amends.
The Reader also said:
I can have black friends and Jewish friends (.... spend Christmas Eve with us) and not carry the past into each holiday.
“Not carry the past into each holiday?
Sure you do.
That’s what holidays are for.
If you’re a Christian, Christmas isn’t a day to celebrate garish decorations and conspicuous consumption – it’s about carrying the past (the birth of Christ) into the present.
If you’re a Patriot, the 4th of July isn’t a day to celebrate beer-drinking, sunburn and noisy fireworks displays. It’s about carrying the past (the defiant courage to rebel against your lawful king) into the present.
The trouble with the past is that, whether you like it or not, whether you intend it or not, whether you know it or not, the past creates the present and thereby determines the future – unless you do something about it.
That's why we study history, right?
To avoid making the same mistakes over and over?
The lives that were wrongly taken long ago – I cannot restore.
But being aware of it allows me, I hope, to immediately recognize that murderous pattern when it comes around again. And maybe if I recognize it early enough, and blow the whistle, maybe I can stop it.
Compare, for example the rhetoric of the Indian Wars with that of the Vietnam War and now, the War on Iraq. I’d be willing to bet my last shot of tequila that if I scrambled some of these statements around, you’d never be able to guess which one came from which war.
What that reveals is that the kind of thinking, the kind of world view, the kind of belief system, that brought death and destruction to so many innocent people in the past, is precisely the same kind of thinking, the same world view, and the same belief system, that brings death and destruction to so many innocent people today.
I7th century Puritans wanted the land and resources that belonged to the native inhabitants and considered themselves ordained by God to take it, even if it meant killing a whole lot of innocent Indians, including women and children, to get it.
In the 19th century, the Americans wanted the gold in the Black Hills grasslands for grazing cattle instead of bison, and so considered it their "manifest destiny" to go in and take it, even if it meant killing a whole lot of innocent Indians, including women and children, to get it.
Today, the Americans want the oil in the middle east and consider it their "right" to go in and take it, even if it means killing a lot of innocent Iraquis or Afghanis including, women and children, to get it.
As the French say, "La plus que change, la plus le meme chose."
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
You see, ff you don't deal with the entire Truth of your past, then your entire Present is a fabrication.
And If you want a future that's different from your past, you’ve got to step up, take responsibility for it, and make amends wherever you can.
Redemption, whether for an individual human being or for a nation, begins with telling the truth, no matter how bitter, sad, painful or repugnant that truth might be.
If you’re incapable of admitting you’ve got a problem, you’ll never be able to find a solution to the problem.
Because you won't go looking.
And that means you will go on making the same mistakes, over and over, you will go on spreading hurt and harm, both to yourself and to innocent others, unless and until somebody or something stops you..
Now, that, I think, would be my idea of Hell.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Harvest festivals go back a long way, and are common among many different Peoples who lived close enough to the Earth that they understood how precarious life is, and how blessed they were that Nature provided for their needs.
It’s a good thing.
A humble thing.
But don’t confuse the Harvest Festival with Thanksgiving Day.
It’s true that the Indians shared food with the Pilgrims – otherwise all the Pilgrims would have starved.
But “The First Thanksgiving” had nothing to do with Pilgrims and Indians sitting around a table together for a turkey dinner with all the fixin’s.
It was proclaimed by the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637 to commemorate the massacre, near what is now Groton, Connecticutt, of 700 Indian men, women and children who were celebrating their annual green corn dance- a harvest festival, or “thanksgiving” if you prefer.
They were gathered in their meeting house when they were attacked by Dutch and English (and Blackwater-style mercenaries). The Indians were ordered to come out, and when they came out, they were shot down.
Those that didn’t come out were burned alive inside the building. (Think: Waco, Texas.)
The next 100 “Thanksgiving” celebrations were to celebrate this event.
The sanitized myth of the “First Thanksgiving” emerged in the middle of the 1800’s.
That “official story” became an official national holiday in 1941.
Don’t get me wrong.
I believe you should always be thankful for what you’ve got.
Every second you're alive is a gift.
Every day should be "thanksgiving" day.
And I’m absolutely in favor of getting together with people you love and sharing a communal feast, and counting your blessings. Hell, maybe you might even share some food with a hard-up stranger, the way the Indians did with those starving Pilgrims.
What I don't believe in is celebrating on command to perpetuate a self-serving lie that simultaneously facilitated and denied the merciless genocide that the greedy elite of the United States perpetrated against the Indians in America, in much the same way and for much the same reason – profits – that they are murdering people in Iraq and Afghanistan today.
So when it comes to Thanksgiving, I sincerely say, "get stuffed."
Friday, November 20, 2009
General Smedley D. Butler was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps and, at the time of his death in 1940, was the most decorated Marine in U.S. history.
He is one of only 19 people to be twice awarded the Medal of Honor, one of only three to be awarded a Marine Corps Brevet Medal and a Medal of Honor, and the only person to be awarded a Marine Corps Brevet Medal and a Medal of Honor for two different actions.
I think even the most rabid right-wing flag-waver would be obliged to acknowledge that General Butler could not be described as a pinko-coward-commie-faggot-traitor --- or whatever today's preferred ad hominem slur is.
Butler was a stand-up guy. An "eagle scout."
He wrote a little book called, War is a Racket, and it's still the news.
You should read it.
Here's a piece from it:
I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers.
In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914.
I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in.
I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street.
I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912.
I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916.
I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Had to say good-bye to a couple of great horses.
Redundant, there; they're all great horses.
Every damn one of them...
They're not mine and the decision to let them out of this world isn't mine, either.
Hard decision, no matter what, and I'm not second-guessing.
One seems to have been dancing his last dance for the last week or two.
Lost weight. Not interested in eating much.
Been lying down all the time.
Has that 2000 yard stare in his eye...
Yesterday, I saw him upright in the afternoon, facing the setting sun.
Then he went down.
Tries to get up, like a finished fighter trying to beat the count.
But he hasn't got anything left.
I'm glad he had that last moment in the sun.
The hardest word in the English language.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I can't speak with sounds that show no pain
I can't hear the echo of my footsteps
I can't remember the sound of my own name
If only my one true love was waiting
If I could feel her heart softly poundin'
If only she was lying by me
Then I'd lie in my bed once again'
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Spying on Americans: Obama Endorses Bush Era Warrantless Wiretapping
By Tom Burghardt
President Barack Obama instructed Justice Department attorneys to argue last week in San Francisco before Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker, that he must toss out the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Shubert v. Bush lawsuit challenging the secret state's driftnet surveillance of Americans' electronic communications.
This latest move by the administration follows a pattern replicated countless times by Obama since assuming the presidency in January: denounce the lawless behavior of his Oval Office predecessor while continuing, even expanding, the reach of unaccountable security agencies that subvert constitutional guarantees barring "unreasonable searches and seizures."
Read the rest at:
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
And they can get away with.
See how many times a law enforcement officer of any kind is held accountable for the use of excessive force, no matter how egregious, or for any other violations of the law they're supposed to uphold.
And let's not hear all that whining about "putting their lives on the line every day" as an excuse.
According to the Departement of Labor, in 2009, the most dangerous jobs in America are:
1. Fishers and related fishing workers
3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
4. Structural iron and steel workers
5. Farmers and ranchers
6. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
8. Electrical powerline intallers and repairers
9. Traveling sales/truck drivers
10. Taxi drivers.chaffeurs
Being a cop isn't even dangerous enough to make the top 10.
When was the last time you heard of a farmer shooting somebody and saying, "I put my life on the line everyday to feed this country" as a defense?
Some cops have said "it's a war out there."
That's the inadvertant truth.
It is a war,
And we are the enemy.
"Serve and protect" is out.
"Search and destroy" is in.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Just like Vietnam.
We had to destroy it in order to save it.
Suspiciously reminiscent of the Witch Trials.
Torture and burn her body in order to save her soul.
They're doing it all for our own good.
The money they're raking in is just a coincidence.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Had a chance to talk with one of my favorite people the other day.
Ok, I don’t like very many people, so maybe that’s not much of a compliment.
D.W. is a horseman.
He starts a lot of ponies for a lot of people around here.
Good at roping.
And a decent guy.
One reason I enjoy talking to him is that he’s one of the few people who understands the threads that connect a lot of things that don’t look connected to the untutored eye. In our discussions we’ve explored many times the foundational similarities between horsemanship and, for example swordsmanship. Or dance. Or skiing.
This was one of those times.
I’d just watched him work with a particularly difficult horse (bad history of abuse before he was rescued) in the round pen, and also had the extraordinary opportunity to work with three ponies, myself, while D.W. coached me. Afterwards, we had a chance to sit, have a coffee, and reflect.
In situations like that, I like for him to talk while I listen.
One of the things he says about his approach is that if you give the horse what he needs, he’ll give you what you want.
First, the horse has to have his physical survival assured.
Then to feel secure and safe. Next is a social need, to be part of the herd – which, of course reflects back on survival, doesn’t it? After that it’s about knowing his place in the herd, dominance or non-dominance. Then, at a higher level, when the right horse finds the right job, he does it like he was made to do it, like he really enjoys it so much, he might do it even if some two-legged wasn’t asking him to.
If this all sounds strangely familiar, it’s because this is pretty much Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
It made me think about the highest need in that pyramid, what Maslow called “self-actualization.” This would be that thing that you love to do, that’s so rewarding, so satisfying that you’d do it even if there were no such thing as time and no such thing as money. It’s the thing that feels “right” to you, the thing that you were made to do. It’s the activity where what you do and who you are, are the same thing...
There’s a trail my partner and I ride. At one point, if we go to the right, we go to a big old hayfield and walk the perimeter. If we go to the left, there’s a flat, grassy clearing that’s a natural arena, that we’ve used to trot and canter some circles.
Last time we went out, when we were approaching that fork in our road where we had to choose which way to go, I let his reins out all the way to the buckle, and took my leg completely off. I closed my eyes, tried to remain centered and relaxed – kind of “non-existant.”
I wanted him to choose which way to go.
He chose the arena.
And as soon as we got there, he picked up a trot, and then a canter…
I picked up the reins at that point, feeling like he’d invited me to play, and it would have been rude to refuse.
But I followed his lead.
We trotted when he felt like trotting, cantered when he felt like cantering.
Then, when he was finished, we stopped and ate some grass before heading back home.
Most people say horses (and humans) will always do the easier thing.
And maybe most of the time it’s true.
But not always.
Not when a horse (or a human) is motivated by the need for self-actualization.
I think, to my intrepid companion, cantering feels good because it makes him really feel like a horse, like the ultimate cosmic expression of “horse.”
What’s your “self-actualization?”
Are you doing it?
If not, why not?
Tempus fugit, daddy-o.
Obama's Latest Use of 'Secrecy' to Shield Presidential Lawbreaking
What was once depicted as a grave act of lawlessness -- Bush's NSA program -- is now deemed a vital state secret.
by Glenn Greenwald
Published on Sunday, November 1, 2009 by Salon.com
The Obama administration has, yet again, asserted the broadest and most radical version of the "state secrets" privilege -- which previously caused so much controversy and turmoil among loyal Democrats (when used by Bush/Cheney) -- to attempt to block courts from ruling on the legality of the government's domestic surveillance activities.
Obama did so again this past Friday -- just six weeks after the DOJ announced voluntary new internal guidelines which, it insisted, would prevent abuses of the state secrets privilege.
Instead -- as predicted -- the DOJ continues to embrace the very same "state secrets" theories of the Bush administration -- which Democrats generally and Barack Obama specifically once vehemently condemned -- and is doing so in order literally to shield the President from judicial review or accountability when he is accused of breaking the law……
Read the whole article at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/11/01-0