Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Random Observations As We Race to the End of the Mayan Calendar

by John Harris

You Didn’t Write That”
A few weeks ago, President Obama committed the infamous gaffe (allowed to leak through the media because The Fourth Estate could not itself discern any problem with his sentiments) of announcing that none of us has ever accomplished anything on his own. I noted at the time in my weekly ramble that Mr. Obama had neither written his own speech nor “evolved” his own ideas on the subject, because I had heard the same spiel four decades ago as an undergraduate. In my Economics class, however, the lines of dependency clearly led to other workers, not to a huge state bureaucracy; and while the work force is indeed public-sector in a socialist republic, Obama’s engineers had originally intended the facilitators in the allusion to be guys with wrenches and shovels, not desk jockeys.

I serendipitously ran across the following passage this week in a short story, “El Hijo del Camino”, composed by Jacinto Octavio Picón for his collection, Cuentos de mi Tiempo. The central character has labored at dozens of blue-collar jobs for years when, in the course of doing some drudgery or other, he blunders into a lavishly decorated room. He grows yet more dazzled when the most beautiful woman he has ever seen parades through the glittering space on her way to a regal entertainment, dressed to the hilt. These are his thoughts (in my translation):

The young man, ignorant and uneducated, incapable of analyzing what he was experiencing—yet a man, when all was said and done—felt the temptation and the anxiety that a ripe fruit produces when placed before a child’s mouth.

At first he remained suspended in a spasm of surprise, then he murmured to himself with the speed of thought that everything contained in this wondrous precinct and everything embodied in the beauty of this extraordinary woman had been passed during its birth, in one way or another, through his own hands. Coal wrenched from the bowels of the earth and converted into torrents of light… crystal molded in the furnaces that had seared his throat… iron forged in the fires where he had scorched his fingers… silks synthesized from substances that had poisoned his lungs… everything—he had contributed to all of it! And none of it—nothing—was for him!

It was then that Lucy appeared to his desire as a marvelous creation in which he had put the bone of his bone and blood of his blood until he had produced a fusion of all human riches. Why did she not belong to him by right? Were they bound to live eternally close together and separated at the same time, like a courtesan and her slave? What cruel law was handling him thus? Who was its author?

Of course, the encounter doesn’t turn out well for our protagonist. Chased out of the mansion for pawing over this child of privilege, he returns with a bomb, is caught, and ends up on the scaffold. And by proxy, he could be said to have built the scaffold, too! All the work and none of the reward… do you get it now?

Cuentos was published in 1895. That’s EIGHTEEN-ninety five. Progressivism, as we readily see in studying its life cycle, progresses at the speed of a molasses glacier.

Thirty Percent or Forty-Seven?
In a piece that I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I speculated that probably one American in three is an immovable Obama supporter. I had no hard stats upon which to base my claim—only personal experience. Two members of my immediate family will vote for an extended Obama reign, beyond the shadow of a doubt; or the second will, at any rate, if he can only bring himself to get out of bed and venture into the land of live people for a few minutes. The first, whose support is granite-hard, is actually voting for a self-serving construct in which Obama’s silhouette occupies a keystone position. If he did not exist, she would have to create him—and he indeed does not exist as she imagines him, and so she has indeed created his legend, his eidon: the Platonic idea of The Enlightened One. That the egotistical pustule which encases her civic-consciousness is eminently vulnerable to the lancet of clear thinking explains why no one can engage her in a political conversation (no one, that is, except other emotional cripples in her tiny pool of public service employees, among whom she is certain to find only confirmation). A sudden access of sane understanding would force her to overhaul her entire existence.

Such people are the truly invincible foe, from Mr. Romney’s perspective. He misidentified them in drawing his calculations from “objective statistics” that reflect the number of Americans on the dole. His faux pas, to the extent that he made one, was therefore to assume that a single mother of three who depends upon taxpayer handouts for survival is fully comfortable with that arrangement. I and many others believe that he was mistaken in this assumption. Again, I just have a hunch: but I strongly suspect that a black unwed mother with no high school diploma is far more likely to leap at the chance of altering her situation than a white college-educated spinster professional who simply cannot survive psychically if she doesn’t believe herself smarter and better than everyone else on the block.

Sometimes Romney is too much of a businessman. He needs to pull his head out of his figures occasionally and ponder the dark mysteries of human nature. It really isn’t the economy, Mitt—not at rock-bottom. It’s the values.

Collateral Damage in Operation “Nuke First Amendment”
What do slain border agent Brian Terry and slain ambassador Christopher Stevens have in common, besides being dedicated and courageous public servants? Little to nothing, let us hope.

But the question is increasingly being asked, by Sean Hannity and others, “Why was Ambassador Stevens unguarded on the eve of his death? Why is it that even the Navy Seals murdered at his side had not actually been designated to protect him?” At best, we may assume that calculations liberally seasoned with criminal naiveté and incompetent stupidity were at fault—something about as well proportioned to reality as Gabby Giffords’ open-air event without security in one of the nation’s most dangerous cities: some lunacy in that proportion, but raised by the power of ten or twelve.

Agent Terry himself could be said to have fallen victim to the same gross incompetence. There was certainly nothing personal in his being “set up to die” by the minions of Attorney General Holder. Yet someone was indeed supposed to die. Several someones, or several hundred nobodies—ordinary Mexican and U.S. citizens who would become nameless statistics, and whose sheer number would cause a public outcry against the easy availability of legal firearms. The result was to be an abrogation of the Second Amendment. Those of us who no longer believe in the Easter Bunny and Obama’s Stash know that perfectly well. Holder needed bodies, and Terry was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So what about Stevens? Things haven’t been going particularly well for Campaign Obama, whatever you hear from Scott Pelley and Wolf Blitzer. Currently, the uproar from the few credible journalists that remain in our crumbling culture concerns why the Administration failed to respond to numerous warnings about imminent trouble on the 9/11 anniversary. But what if the trouble had been fully, accurately anticipated and the response planned long in advance? What if the response we saw was the one planned?

Administration spokes-zombies have certainly been reiterating the “Islamaphobe Christian fundamentalist hate-speech video” as the culprit just as if they were repeating the rehearsed line of a play in which a fellow actor had forgotten his part. Maybe he would remember his words if they kept mouthing theirs. What if the forgotten line was supposed to run something like, “Romney… Romney did it. Romney’s people… they do things like this, all the time!”

What if American embassies in Arab countries had to go up in smoke so that American voters could see how dangerous the First Amendment is with so many crazed, venom-spitting Christians on the loose? What if the embassies and their personnel had to be left unguarded so as to create the maximum detonation to draw the maximum of attention from the American electorate?

In that case, Christopher Stevens was collateral damage, just like Brian Terry. The engineers of occasions like these, recall, are ideological descendents of that luminary who famously informed posterity that you need to break some eggs to make an omelet.

May both of these young men find eternal peace in the embrace of a loving God.
Can We Please Stop Paying Them to Kill Us?
While I’m on the subject of the Middle East… Rand Paul has desperately been trying to terminate our billion-and-a-half bucks of aid to Egypt, opposed first by senate Democrats but lately, and more stubbornly, by his own party. Why should we pay them to kill us? Why should we pay any of them? Why are we giving guns, instruction, and money to people in Iraq, Pakistan, and now Egypt and Libya who will end up using our munificence to murder our sons and daughters? We romped through this suicidal dance with the Zetas in Mexico, assuming that they were an elite force loyal to their government rather than a bunch of unmoored young men with no conscience and empty pockets. For that matter, we did the same thing with Mao’s Communist rebels throughout World War Two—arming them to the teeth, that is (and pouring goods and money into Stalin’s lap), over Chiang Kai-shek’s frail cries for prudence and restraint. How many Americans did we lose in Korea and Vietnam? How many tens of millions of innocent bystanders were destroyed as they tried to till their native soil?

Two counter-arguments always float to the surface like the wormy debris of a sunken ship. One is that our enemies will descend into whatever vacuum of influence is left by our withdrawal. Bob Beckel always invokes the Chinese for this villainous role (in patent contradiction of his side’s railing against xenophobia and in support, apparently, of colonialism). Would the Chinese really like to have Central Asia and North Africa? I say we put a shiny red bow on both of them. These “nations” need to hammer out their own millennial problems until they tire of braining each other and of inviting foreign adventurism through their gross ineptitude. I feel for their women and children… but you don’t make an abused wife’s life easier by smacking her husband for beating her. You’ll probably get her killed. As for the oil that, I presume, represents the football not to be fumbled to China under any circumstances… maybe we should just concentrate on keeping China out of oil fields in the Western Hemisphere, and go full-speed-ahead with fracking.

Of course, Objection Two is Israel. If we pull out of the Arab world and leave it to grow up or self-destruct, what will become of our Israeli allies? This is a very strange protest to be hearing in 2012, when the winner of a recent Nobel Peace Prize is smoking Muslim bad guys from the stratosphere like Bill Cody picking off buffalo. Why do we need boots on the ground when we have drones in the air? The one piece of real estate that truly needs pedestrian patrolling for our national security is our southern border. Israel has enough nukes to stare down all of her rude neighbors at once, Arab Muslims have never been so united against Jews that they can long abstain from killing each other, and our own high-tech defense systems can be operated from a concrete bunker in Kentucky as long as we don’t sell all of our secrets to the Chinese and defund all of our programs to buy El Supremo a life-membership in the Oval Office.

We need to bring our troops and citizens home, withdraw from the U.N., form a new series of alliances based on our interests and our values, and then invite other nations into the game when and if they decide to behave like adults. We need to stop paying dysfunctional societies to kill our children.

Bring on the Polls—Make My Day
If I could ask Santa for one early Christmas present, it would be the continuation of these ridiculous polls that show Barack Obama enjoying an insuperable lead. The designers of these Willie Wonka phone-a-thons think that conservatives will grow demoralized and stay home on Election Day… but the result stands in polar opposition to the intent. Conservatives, instead, are pouring their hard-earned money into closely contested races, including Romney’s (which would otherwise be a very tough sell to them). They will also crawl to their polling places in November even if Black Panthers break both their legs. The other side, meanwhile, is already temperamentally disinclined to alight from its collective gluteus maximus for any sort of public commitment. They belong to the 47%, remember, who have grown accustomed to having life delivered to their doorstep. (I said “belong to”—I didn’t say that the 47% consists solely of their ilk.) The polls are giving them a comfortable, rational excuse just to stay home and play on Facebook.

PLEASE continue this, ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate (and you, too, NBC employees). You’re making my day, and maybe saving our century.

No comments: