I've been having my derrière kicked for several weeks and apologize for the relative silence you may have been enjoying here at elle est belle la seine la seine elle est belle. I suggest you replace your earplugs as I am going to give writerly discipline another go.
The news is on, and one of the best ways I know to destroy the boulder of writer's block is to react to the news. Not something I'm known for, of course, but using new muscles might be a thrill. Snicker.
Young Snowden, first of all. I've bounced with the unreliability and exuberance of a human Super Ball over the course of the last few days. I'm not in the least concerned with his person, where his person might be sneaking about, though I admit to spewing coffee via the nares when I heard he had "fled" to Hong Kong.
I know Hong Kong, and Young Snowden? Hong Kong, particularly, I imagine, the Hong Kong of today, is no place to flee. Perhaps back in those lovely days of yore when the harbor was filled with the poverty of boat people practically floating on top of each other. Now, however, a travel article corrects my memory of the junks: the term formerly applied to traditional Chinese fishing boats now refers to any motorized pleasure vessel.
All I am saying is, well, c'mon Young Snowden, you could have packed a small valise and loaded up a picnic basket and boarded a motorized pleasure vessel instead of checking into a luxury hotel under your own name.
The way he did what he did sucks royally. And yet, despite the suave reassuring tones of the administration, suddenly sounded so much like some of the worst of our administrations in terms of hypnogogic monotones, I am not convinced that he had another avenue open to him that he, abutting as he did the world of spooks, felt he could trust. Personally, I know there were other ways, but since it is done, we now have the pleasure of dealing with what he disclosed -- and the disclosures apparently still to come.
I am thankful for the information about how masses of data are being scooped up and stored, never ever used, of course, until some future instance requires it.
And all I can think of is Nixon and John Mitchell, Robert McNamara (whose middle name was, suitably, "Strange") -- which is just the warm-up for my brain. Because first, we should remember that Nixon apparently always was basically paranoid to a degree approaching insanity, and surrounded himself with those whose job was to alternate between feeding that paranoia and assuaging it. Liddy, Magruder, Dean, Hunt, McCord.
What we should all remember is the order to burgle and the bumbling idiots chosen to do the deed of burgling the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate Building. On my first visit to Washington, D.C. as an adult, I took three pictures of the Watergate, a nondescript building, and none of my sweet but exceedingly odd aunt and uncle who hosted the visit, both longtime patriots and government employees. So, yes, I am of the Generation That Lost Faith.
In terms of harm to the United States of America, to the world, to the lives of real people, most of us know that other sanctioned crimes were far more grave. The Iran-Contra "Affair" --
"Affair": I've never understood "affair" in this instance. I recognize the legitimacy of the movie title "The Thomas Crown Affair," a deep cinematic investigation of the phenomenon of theft for personal amusement. I understand having a sexual or emotional affair, a way of cheating on a partner. I can see it as a global, glossing word designating something that I'd normally mime by a huge sweep of my arm in empty space. But as the proper designation for funding the Nicaraguan Contras by sales of arms to Iran, both actions blatantly illegal, I don't fathom the use, cannot riddle the gibe. People died, far more than we know about; People died, and very few of us still living cared to look at that, preferring to speak of abstract affairs and calling that huge sweeping arc in empty space a "political" error in judgment.
I'm not naive. Well, I don't consider myself naive. You may not interview my close associates on the matter. I'm telling you what I know: There is some ugly shit that has to go down in this world in my name, in your name, and we can choose to sorrow over it, pretend we know nothing of it, work to make it less necessary, or be thankful that there are those putting life and soul on the line for our well-being. And a hundred other ways, besides.
Nixon and Reagan both felt they were dealing with a narrow situation, with narrow political affairs, though both suffered from sufficient egomania to think that the overriding concern was to maintain themselves in power for the betterment of the world.
I still support President Obama. I am still a fan. I still trust him. (But I'm not naive!) He has not lived up to the promises of transparency that so thrilled many of us when he was a candidate. Also, he has not used the Presidency as the bully pulpit as I have so often wished, after the years of Bush. I wanted him to transparently cram a few things down the Bushites throats. (I'm not naive, but I have an elephant's trumpeting memory.)
But think, what if it were Nixon or Reagan in power in the post September 11, 2001 world, what if they were gifted with something as broad and as bereft of oversight as "The Patriot Act"? The very marrow of your bones should be as ice at the thought.
So, thank you, Young Snowden. I fear the big whammy claw end is being readied to come down upon your head in ways that will outshine the bang-bang of Maxwell's silver hammer. It would be good if we could recall that there's burglary and then there is burglary... but we won't.
Merely six weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Congress passed and Bush signed the "Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001." Twelve years later, we are shocked and surprised to find ourselves under surveillance, and are invited into yet another "national conversation," that comes far too late to undo many, many wrongs. Guantanamo Bay's "detention" center remains open, its inhabitants uncharged, hidden, some suicidal, some relying on USAmerican old standards of protest for righteousness. Drones fly over villages, and the mere sight makes innocent men lose control of their bladders. The Fourth Estate, an honorific of the press as an arm of government, really, is under attack by that government. The Internal Revenue Service, in what many consider (in their lusting hearts) the first sane thing it has ever done, has targeted right-wing Tea Bagger organizations for harassment -- but "progressives" and "leftists" and "commie pinko fags," even, know the IRS has smudged the line in the sand.
The United States has yet to answer for its international crimes, a big part of why the United States does not embrace international law. Think of the ICJ ruling in 1984 in favor of Nicaragua, not just for funding and arming the Contras, but for mining Nicaragua's harbors with explosives. Can you imagine the guffaws in the Oval Office at hearing we aren't supposed to violate another country's "sovereignty," that we aren't supposed to "use force" against these purportedly sovereign states? Oh, what was that other thing? Oh, yeah! The Iraq War. The Iraq Affair.
Do I think we have one of the dumbest electorates in the entire freaking world? Yes, I do. Tell the USAmerican people a lie, not even a clever lie, and when the lie is proven a lying lie but the liars don't even blink, they just wet their lips so as to more clearly repeat the lie, and our governing policy (which apparently consists of polling results) aligns itself, with public support, with the lie.
Oh, my. Maybe I should not return to blogging after all. Calling USAmerican citizens idiots won't win me any new readers.
Let's see. Something else the television is chattering about is the manner in which the military handles allegations of sexual assault. It appears the old white boys have won again, and the management, the deep tissue massage such allegations require, shall continue to remain under the authority of the military chain of command. These are the same people who cannot discern the difference between an unfriendly work environment and rape, seeing them as part of the same continuum. The ringing repetition in this discussion is "same, same, same." That one is, indeed, part of that catch-phrase of "culture," in that, yes, sexism is part of the military culture (add other -isms as you see fit, and can, of course, support). I am also kind of proud that of the progress the military has made in policing itself on that matter. Allowing women to serve in combat roles was a great move forward, and the repeal of DADT turned out to be incredibly less painful than I thought it would be. But the military does not have any credible record on which to stand to give their promises of reform in prosecution of sexual assault any support whatsoever. It's a violent crime that is not sexism run amok, certainly not in the eyes of the many young men who have been raped and otherwise violated, and as such, can only be dealt with by prosecution. And given known instances of intimidation, and abundant evidence of ignorance, that prosecution, for the foreseeable future, at least, needs to happen outside the military chains of command.
An aside? I'm overdue, really, and have done so well staying on topic, that topic being "news of the day," and, by God, I want what I am due. Whose blog is it, anyway?
I know of two women, both married to career military men, both stationed with their husbands and children overseas, who were subjected to spousal abuse -- physical, sexual, and emotional. They followed the advice of their tea-serving military spousal friends (talk about a freaking intelligence agency, Lordy!) and went, both of them, first to their husband's commanding officers. Both then suffered the beatings of their lives -- and threats of a supreme level of threatitude. Both brave souls continued on and went to the base commanders. Both wives, along with their children, were immediately shipped state side. It's a familiar move that recalls the savvy practices of the Holy Catholic Church: Evil? Here? Well, watch carefully as we shuffle these shells.... because POOF! The evil is no longer here!
Because we moved the evil over there when you weren't looking!
Ach. I knew this was going to occur. I'm tired and I cannot see. I could lie and say I've important things to do but I won't. I need to write a poem promised to a contest... which I "somehow" managed to delete last evening. Seriously, as my vision leaves me, my computer seems to delight in ridiculing me, making files disappear, making it seem to any investigatory congressional body that I pushed the wrong button, instead of encouraging them to look into the evolution of artificial intelligence that has peaked, universally, in the confines of my bedroom.
There is an innate sadness to this day -- watching (okay, peering) at footage of Medgar Wiley Evers, Byron De La Beckwith, Jr., George Wallace, John Kennedy, the University of Alabama, Vivian Malone, James A. Hood. Vivian Malone's sister, married to the Attorney General of the United States
Do you know what Wallace said in his stand at the "school house door"? Count the number of chills that run up your spine -- it's hard to do, but give it a try. He interrupted Deputy Attorney General Katzenbach's instructions that he step aside to allow the two African-American students to enter and railed against Big Brother's warrantless intrusion into his domain:
The unwelcomed, unwanted, unwarranted and force-induced intrusion upon the campus of the University of Alabama... of the might of the Central Government offers frightful example of the oppression of the rights, privileges and sovereignty of this State by officers of the Federal Government.I know that the populace of the USA is not composed of idiots. It's just that, well, all it takes is one with charisma and a camera, gifted with grandfathered power, inherited wealth, and a list of laudable accomplishments upon which to hang their misguided belief, or their plotted evil -- magnets for people who are too scared to think for themselves, to gather information and do the work of sorting wheat from chaff.
I'm even beginning to be fond of people who are questioning the traditional two final piles of valuable wheat, here, and useless fly-about chaff, there.
So darlings, this is where I am at: ensconced in bed, as sitting in the wheelchair is too painful, losing acuity of eyesight at a rapid rate, wincing at the thought of weeks of George Zimmerman and the "national discussion" that shall ensue, as well as the verdict.
Fred is doing somewhat better, still laughing freely, still having trouble with his hearing in one ear, that remains, after all this time, infected. You may not know, but Fred is a bona fide audiophile, one of the blessed who can see music, and in color. I remember, early on in our relationship, listening for the umpteenth time to Harry Belafonte's live recording of his concert at Carnegie Hall, an audiophile standard for its high quality. Good thing it's a great album, too, for those of us who simply hear songs.
Anyway, he glanced over at me, a Diet Coke in one hand, a cigarette in the other (those were the days!) and calmly informed me that Harry Belafonte, clad in a salmony-pink shirt, was sitting on my lap.
In fact, tonight is the first night in about two months that he will attend rehearsals of the renowned Existential Congregation Ukulele Band. I was thrilled to hear that he's going, as he needs, desperately, to have time away from me.
Because I am back to screaming in my sleep. I am the Queen of Dropping (and Deleting) Things, of identifying a flash of sunshine on the floor as spilled milk.
Next Wednesday comes my chance to hypnotize the ophthalmologist so as to have her agree to remove these thickening, ripening cataracts from my eyes. She whines about the difficulty of doing so amid glaucoma run amok, but mostly she kvetches about the bacteria that controls my body and its notoriety for attacking eyes post-op. I shall have her scheduling the slice-and-dice within minutes of manipulative mesmerizing.