LET ME TELL YOU WHAT IT’S LIKE…(Memory Lane: 1979–1989 and now)

The latest immigration “humanitarian crisis” probably came to a head today, with Peter Fonda tweeting that Baron Trump should be put in a cage and gang raped (I won’t link…you can find it easily enough if you’re interested) and Donald Trump promising to end the wailing and gnashing of teeth and sign an executive order overturning the laws passed by Bill Clinton with the understanding, previously adhered to by Bush the Younger and Barack Obama, that they would be selectively, rather than faithfully, enforced.

I was going to let it all go, but Fonda’s additional insistence that mobs target the children of Border Patrol agents by “scaring” them (which I assume need not stop at caging and raping them), put me in mind of what it’s really like to be anywhere near the front lines of human suffering.

My parents were appointed home missionaries for the Florida Panhandle by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1979. My mother was 60 at the time, already in terrible health. She passed away in 1987. My father was 59. He retired in 1989.

Perhaps things have changed since (I doubt it but I haven’t checked), but, in those days, the Panhandle was the dumping ground for Florida’s refuse population, home to most of the major state and federal prisons, the state mental hospital and the state’s largest and most notorious reform school.

The latter is where my father began his road to mission work by volunteering while he was still attending the nearby bible school. He was led to volunteer by a good friend of ours, a minister in training, like my father, who was already witnessing there.

His name was Joe.

What Joe and my father and, health permitting, my mother (whose biography convinced the Mission Board to take a chance on an oddball fifty-nine-year-old man and his ailing wife) did was minister to the lost: prisoners, inmates, mental patients, people abandoned in jails or nursing homes (often by their families), kids in reform school for rapes and murders.

My father once asked a twelve-year-old why he had killed his brother–Because he beat me up. How often? Every day. Was there no one to stop it? I did.

It’s a hard school, helping the forgotten.

Encountering, in the abstract, a tiny fraction of what Joe and my parents, and thousands like them who dedicate their entire lives to missions or social work, see in the flesh every day, broke Peter Fonda’s admittedly feeble mind. And made him feel good about himself.

Those who do the hard work never get to feel good.

They enter each day knowing that they will minister to a thousand in hopes of saving one. That they’ll be mocked or ignored or patted on the head when they fail and get “certificates of achievement” when they succeed. (A dear friend’s mother volunteered at a battered women’s shelter for three years, got such a certificate and a handshake from the Governor of Florida…and promptly split for California to run a pot farm. Did I mention it’s a hard school?)

One of my father’s best achievements was getting local tomato farmers to allow anyone who wished to come on designated days and claim the “culls” (perfectly edible tomatoes with small imperfections which are left to rot because they don’t look pretty on grocery store shelves). The chief beneficiaries were the migrants who picked the best tomatoes in the first place. That such an action has to be fought and bargained for tells you a lot about the world–and a lot of what you have to deal with if, by chance, you don’t get to sit in a Hollywood mansion and cherry pick your fights because you don’t like the guy in the White House.

When it’s your life, you don’t get to ignore sex trafficking and slave labor–as nearly every sobbing Hollywood celebrity managed to do for decades when the office they now deem responsible was held by people they voted for.

When it’s your life, you don’t get to ignore any of it–because it’s your life, the one you chose.

Your work is never done, or even ameliorated, and the “help” offered by those who are fueled by the grievance of the moment is worse than useless.

But one thing you (and those you live with) learn in such work, is that fighting fire with fire is never an option.

You are not permitted to hate. You are not permitted to scream back: Not at the people who swear in your face for trying to help them; not at the endless stream of bureaucrats (be they religious, corporate or government) who threaten your pension if you fail to sign a requisition for funds in triplicate; not at the likes of Peter Fonda, who ride in when there’s a movie to promote, a headline to be made, an emotion to be fed, and disappear whenever there’s real trouble. No one. No hatred. Ever.

Only forbearance.

And what do you get?

My father–healthy as a forty-year-old and uniquely suited by both temperament and experience to weather the emotional maelstrom–was forced into retirement at sixty-nine (he only made ten years because the people at the top of the chain, who remembered my mother’s biography–and her sacrifice–insisted that he be allowed to work until he could qualify for his hundred-and-twenty-a-month pension). The nonprofit clothes closet and food bank he had operated for years, so successfully that the honchos who had laughed at such an idea would have been forced to call it a miracle if they had believed in such things, closed in a matter of months. These days, such centers–many run by religious organizations, including my fellow Southern Baptists, specialize in “helping” immigrants. For profit, of course.

My mother spent the last three years of her life breaking down into uncontrollable, wailing sobs when an abused child appeared on a television screen or was even mentioned in a conversation.

Our friend Joe blew his brains out.

That’s what’s waiting for you when you decide to care in the manner that does not allow you to escape or forget or pretend your righteous anger has solved anything.

That and forever wondering if enough of you, who are trained to stand against the wind, will be left to make a difference when Peter Fonda and the like, who call for gang-raping children in the name of righteousness today with perfect confidence that the wind is at their backs, are running for the hills, wondering when the weather vane turned, and why the mob in which they placed so much misbegotten faith wants to set them on fire.

INTERESTING TIMES…

No really. Here’s the latest column from Alfred McCoy, author of The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, the definitive book on CIA involvement in drug smuggling across the years and the miles. (I recommend the original edition: the update, titled The Politics of Heroin, is padded with many newer details which merely restate the thesis and provide ample proof of the axiom that less is more….I do look forward to his new book which is plugged at the link.)

Please note that, in other recent columns, McCoy has seemed to express support for the Security State in its incarnation as the support structure for Barack Obama’s bid to become the third American Grand Master (after Elihu Root and Zbigniew Brzezenski) of the Great Game and its subsequent appeal as the one force capable of keeping Donald Trump from abandoning the Empire Obama (in McCoy’s estimation) so skillfully preserved.

People are strange, but his current piece is still well worth reading–back to basics so to speak.

After you’ve had a chance to read it, be sure to check back

I promise Gene will still be here….

So will Eddie…

MY TWO CENTS…

On the G-20 summit.

First, ignore the AP reports (or CNN, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah).

A month from now, they’ll be as credible as last month’s “all 17 American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia hacked the election” stories.

Today’s official stories, too, will soon be “clarified.”

My sense is that, in the last two weeks, the Trump Fever broke. On the evening of the day he punked the G-20 summit that was the latest in a long line of Security State backstops which, assuming the key operatives (in this case various heads of state) could get the stars out of their eyes and quit staring at Ivanka’s ass or keep their knees from buckling when Melania flashed that fragile smile, were supposed to humiliate him beyond all hope of recovery, it became pretty clear that–barring some drastic, pyrrhic action like an assassination–he’ll now march from victory to victory.

You know, just like he’s been doing since June, 2015. Back when “the Republican Establishment” was going to put paid to him–by driving him not only from political life, but society itself…remember?–in the impossible event he became a problem.

Oh. there will be speed bumps along the way, and, just like the obstacles now fading in the rear view mirror (faster and faster, I might add), they’ll be celebrated as mortal wounds by whatever’s left of that creaky old Establishment (and breathlessly Re-Tweeted by those who are still certain–certain I say!–that this time, we’ve got him).

Those who put their faith in such folks, needn’t worry. There’s probably a month or two of real entertainment value left before your champions do what they were always going to do and kick you to the curb, the better to curry favor with the new boss.

My puny, unsolicited advice is to kick them out of the tent before they get the chance.

Why let them co-opt you one last time and destroy even your one-in-a-million hope of igniting a grass roots movement with real teeth in it? The fake ones you’ve been relying on aren’t getting it done. If you’re looking for a leader to emerge from the current crop, you’re trading in fool’s gold. (To wit, there’s real talk Bernie Sanders will carry the flag in 2020. God help us. But, believe me, Kamala Harris won’t be any less chumped and compromised by then, even if you buy the sketchy assumption that she is now.)

As we sit here tonight, Trump has a conservative majority entrenched on the Supreme Court, with more to come. His trial-balloon travel ban (sorry, did you think it was something else?), is now, with a few negotiating ploy caveats, in place. Contracts for the border wall are proceeding apace. The regulatory wall, built from used tissue by the Bi-partisan Consensus over the last thirty-five years for the express purpose of enriching themselves at everybody’s-but-their-own expense, is being torn to shreds. He’s tied the “Russian thing” tin can to Obama’s tail, and, by extension, Hillary Clinton’s. (Rhetorically, conspiratorially, theatrically, that is–i.e., the ways that matter in a land where concepts like the Rule of Law were reduced to laughless-punchlines by the very folks who now insist they are Never Trumpers long before Forever Donald Trump happened along.)

And, oh by the way, while you weren’t looking, the Alt-Right has seized the language and the messaging.

And oh by the way….

They view Trump as a loss leader.

Albeit in blind-squirrel fashion, Kathy Griffin–one of many useful-idiot celebrities whose brains apparently function as test patterns–had it right.

If Trump’s head isn’t on a platter by the end of the summer, there’s gonna be some deep and lasting changes around here–and perhaps more than a few.

Up to now, the main question since election night has been whether Trump understood that he was in a war with the Security State that would end in his utter defeat or theirs.

Tonight, for the first time, the question has changed.

Do they understand?

Bet they do…

Which means it must finally be time for Trump to ditch “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and keep what’s left of his opposition really confused, by switching up his theme song…

Or would be, if playing in a rock and roll band was still masquerading as something more than a chance to meet the kind of fabulous women Donald J. Trump and Michael Jagger are prone to marrying.

It’s not that Trump is a genius (he sort of is, but it’s not that). It’s that he’s opposed–up and down the line–by idiots.

Idiots who have had their masks ripped off….and their Consensus destroyed.

It took two years.

Or fifty.

So, as ever….Goodbye us.

But really, it was fun while it lasted.

C’mon Mick…Are you sure you don’t want to play the Ballroom in 2021?

[Note: Yes, I know. There were protests. To call them meaningless would be to debase the word. Somebody cue “American Woman” and dedicate it to Angela Merkel.]

TO BAD TIMES….(Late Night Dedication #8)

….and the Betrayed: Suffer them for they are with you always.

As of this morning, the strongest voices–virtually the only voices–pushing back against the war drums beating in the Near and Far East, are Tulsi Gabbard and the Paleo-Right (Jones, Savage, Rockwell, Coulter).

The crazies, in other words. Business as usual.

The Responsible Democracts (now led by HIllary Clinton, with Obama, having served faithfully and well, conveniently in absentia, she spent the morning of Trump’s strike against a single airbase calling for the destruction of all Syrian airbases…of course she did) joined by Responsible Republicans (led always by Ms. Clinton’s erstwhile ally, John McCain, who, behind his death-mask grin, assures us that order has been restored) are working hard to get Donald Trump (who ran against all of them and, for the first time, seems politically, as opposed to morally or intellectually, confused) on their side.

In other words, they’re warming up to him.

If Trump keeps going along, expect confusion on Twitter, Facebook and CNN, as Lefties try to adjust….We’ll hear a lot of “Well he’s a horrible human being of course, but….”

What comes after “but” won’t matter.

I’m not saying it will go this way. Just that if the first step–Trump’s public capitulation to business-as-usual Security Statism–isn’t reversed by concrete action, and soon, the rest will follow as naturally as water running downhill. Even having gone no further than this, Howard Dean and other reliable bellwethers of Elite Opinion are already calling for Gabbard’s removal. It’s unclear whether they think the “people of Hawaii” should wait for one of those silly old elections.

Get your bets down now on how long it is before they’re calling her a Russian Agent.

I’m laying six-fifty-and-even on a week from Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Trump’s actions are only surprising in that they constitute his first serious misreading of his base. Bringing back jobs and Build That Wall won’t matter much if he goes all Slim Pickens and brings us “toe to toe with the Russkies.”

And he won’t dodge the matrix of fates he turned into serious possibilities by opposing the Security State in the first place.

Playing nice won’t help him avoid the Standard Options: assassination (the Kennedy Option), impeachment/removal (the Nixon Option) or political humiliation, up to and including possible sabotage of military operations (the Carter Option).

The Intelligence Community won’t stop hating him if he becomes their puppet.

And they won’t start trusting him, no matter how hemmed in or subservient he becomes.

They’ll just stop fearing him.

Until last week, he seemed smart enough to understand this–that losing the fight he picked will mean death or disgrace. Now, it’s anyone’s guess. Since I place no faith in him (nor, per Isaiah, any Prince), I won’t be surprised if he turns out to be less cunning than he has so far seemed.

Unless, of course, this was what he intended all along, which would make him very cunning indeed.

And how different will this sound, closing those rallies, if it turns out he had a deal in place all along….If it was always pointed at his supporters, rather than his enemies.

SEGUE OF THE DAY (01/26/13)

Hall and Oates/Barack Obama/The Impressions

The Impressions “We’re a Winner” (Re-synced television performance)

I never quite give up on the radio. Every time I think I’m about to, something happens. For instance, maybe it’s Saturday night and time for a quick trip to the grocery store. Maybe I get in my car and punch buttons and come across “Sara Smile,” and immediately think it must be one of the mish-mash oldies formats that dominate the dial around here. And usually it is. (Doesn’t really matter at this point–“Sara Smile” will always make me stop and remember. Maybe do more than remember–as singers go, me and Daryl Hall are very tight. Not as tight as me and Elton John or me and Diana Ross or me and Joe Strummer, but tight nonetheless.)

But this time–just this once–it turns out that Hall and Oates are actually playing on an R&B station, something I’ve never actually encountered in reality, though I’ve heard about it happening routinely in the abstract. And this particular R&B station is having an Old School Saturday night sort of thing going on.

Fair enough. Kind of a neat thing to run into just as the sun has gone down.

But then–and here’s why I keep listening to the radio–things get weird.

Next thing I know, they’re playing a long clip from Barry O’s first inaugural. And I sit through that, mostly because I’m really interested in what they’re gonna play next. Will it be uplift? Will it be something ironic? Will it be somebody’s version of “Fight the Power?” Will somebody be there afterwards to explain it?

It turned out to be uplift and no explanation needed. And that was okay, because it was the Impressions and “We’re a Winner” doing the lifting. You’ll never, ever hear me complain about that.

But the whole thing did make me wonder if somebody–a dee-jay, a computer programmer, a marketing specialist, a computer chip (are they “somebody’s” yet, or are they still letting us think we run things?…and if it is their time, have they simply not bothered to let us know?)–was trying to make some sort of comment on just how the Land of Opportunity became the Land of Lost Opportunity. And how, if change really is going to come, culture will have to once again beat a path for politics, rather than the other way around. And how, not so long ago, culture seemed to be on the verge of doing just that. And how, now that the culture is collapsing, the politics just doesn’t seem to matter much.

Boy was I in a heavy mood!

Anyway, I got to the grocery store, went inside. By the time I got back it was all Bootsy Collins and Brick and the Gap Band. Awesome in it’s own way but nothing you wouldn’t expect on a Saturday night trip to the grocery store.

So now I’m back home, thinking me and LL Cool J have at least one thing in common.

Can’t live without my radio?

Evidently not.

SEGUE OF THE DAY (10/3/12)

Presidential Debate/John Mellencamp

John Mellencamp “Pink Houses” (Live, 1987)

John Mellencamp “Pink Houses” (Live, 2001)

I work for a living, albeit mostly at home, which allows for a certain freedom regarding the nightly soundtrack.

Tonight I decided to listen to the debate between Obama and Romney while I typed.

As usual with these things, however they are experienced, I could feel the nation’s collective IQ dipping by the minute as the words alternately gushed (I think that was the Challenger Pod) and murmured (I think that was the Incumbent Pod).

Then it ended and the truest exemplars of the national Dead Brain Cell Count–the mass media–took over–dedicated, as always, to the proposition of maintaining their own champion DBCC status at all costs.

I’m a sucker for punishment so, as usual, I took a short break and went in and surfed the usual suspect channels (cable, public and broadcast in about equal measure) seeking signs of intelligent life.

Shockingly, none appeared.

Nor did anyone who could explain the concept of “Wolf Blitzer,” a continuing cosmic quest of mine stymied yet once more.

So, as usual, I shut the darn box off and put on some music.

I didn’t feel like casting about and needed to get back to work anyhow, so I just went with what was in the CD player, which turned out to be John Mellencamp’s Words and Music collection, which I fell asleep to last night (not because it makes me feel sleepy, incidentally, but just because I was plain exhausted).

First track happens to be “Walk Tall,” which is an undistinguished cut from some time after Mellencamp’s eighties’ prime.

And almost the first words out of his mouth were, “people believe what they want to believe when it makes no sense at all.”

I mean, it didn’t explain Wolf Blitzer or anything, but, in context, that line actually sounded quite profound, an effect it certainly never had on me before.

That’s a rock and roll world view for you–making sense of things even on an off day.

Or maybe I just knew “Pink Houses” was coming up next and–pushing through my vague dueling memories of its past abuse by the campaigns of those moral stalwarts John Edwards and John McCain–I would soon be healing.

Ah, election years. Nothing like ‘em.