Torrential Rains… for days and days. working on Web Sites…
Soon some new updates for Earthrites.org. New look, new features. I will let ya know. Anyway, the music is on, and really, we are close to putting up the Spoken Word Channel; 24 hours of Poetry, Talks, Interviews, and Story Telling. I may even figure out how to put out a schedule…
Feedback always appreciated.
Anyway, we have some wonderful items…
In the Links: please check out “Who enjoying fragrant monkey tail now?/ America Ha Ha Ha” takes a bit to download, but worth it.
Article: Gore Vidal on President Jonah…
Poetry: 4 Sonnets, by Willy the Shake.
May take a minute to load, but it is very worth it!
Who enjoying fragrant monkey tail now? Ha Ha Ha America…
Church of Bob….
The wonderful world of: Science!!!!
Zero Gravity (almost) Water…
Makes one wonder…
Al-Qaeda Propagandizes For Bush On Eve Of State of the Union
A very large Thanks to Will Penna for pointing this article out…
by Gore Vidal
While contemplating the ill-starred presidency of G.W. Bush, I looked
about for some sort of divine analogy. As usual, when in need of
enlightenment, I fell upon the Holy Bible, authorized King James
version of 1611; turning by chance to the Book of Jonah, I read that
Jonah, who, like Bush, chats with God, had suffered a falling out
with the Almighty and thus became a jinx dogged by luck so bad that a
cruise liner, thanks to his presence aboard, was about to sink in a
storm at sea. Once the crew had determined that Jonah, a passenger,
was the jinx, they threw him overboard andLo!the storm abated. The
three days and nights he subsequently spent in the belly of a
nauseous whale must have seemed like a serious jinx to the digestion –
challenged whale who extruded him much as the decent opinion of
mankind has done to Bush.
Originally, God wanted Jonah to give hell to Nineveh, whose people,
God noted disdainfully, “cannot discern between their right hand and
their left hand,” so like the people of Baghdad who cannot fathom
what democracy has to do with their destruction by the Cheney-Bush
cabal. But the analogy becomes eerily precise when it comes to the
hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico at a time when a president is not
only incompetent but plainly jinxed by whatever faith he cringes
before. Witness the ongoing screw-up of prescription drugs. Who knows
what other disasters are in store for us thanks to the curse he is
under? As the sailors fed the original Jonah to a whale, thus lifting
the storm that was about to drown them, perhaps we the people can
persuade President Jonah to retire to his other Eden in Crawford,
Texas, taking his jinx with him. We deserve a rest. Plainly, so does
he. Look at Nixon¹s radiant features after his resignation! One can
see former President Jonah in his sumptuous library happily catering
to faith-based fans with animated scriptures rooted in “The Simpsons.”
Not since the glory days of Watergate and Nixon’s Luciferian fall
has there been so much written about the dogged deceits and creative
criminalities of our rulers. We have also come to a point in this
dark age where there is not only no hero in view but no alternative
road unblocked. We are trapped terribly in a now that few foresaw and
even fewer can define despite a swarm of books and pamphlets like the
vast cloud of locusts which dined on China in that ¹30s movie “The
I have read many of these descriptions of our fallen estate,
looking for one that best describes in plain English how we got to
this now and where we appear to be headed once our good Earth has
been consumed and only Rapture is left to whisk aloft the Faithful.
Meanwhile, the rest of us can learn quite a lot from “Dark Ages
America: The Final Phase of Empire” by Morris Berman, a professor of
sociology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
I must confess that I have a proprietary interest in anyone who
refers to the United States as an empire since I am credited with
first putting forward this heretical view in the early ’70s. In fact,
so disgusted with me was a book reviewer at Time magazine that as
proof of my madness he wrote: “He actually refers to the United
States as an empire!” It should be noted that at about the same time
Henry Luce, proprietor of Time, was booming on and on about “The
American Century.” What a difference a word makes!
Berman sets his scene briskly in recent history. “We were already
in our twilight phase when Ronald Reagan, with all the insight of an
ostrich, declared it to be ‘morning in America’; twenty-odd years
later, under the ‘boy emperor’ George W. Bush (as Chalmers Johnson
refers to him), we have entered the Dark Ages in earnest, pursuing a
short-sighted path that can only accelerate our decline. For what we
are now seeing are the obvious characteristics of the West after the
fall of Rome: the triumph of religion over reason; the atrophy of
education and critical thinking; the integration of religion, the
state, and the apparatus of torturea troika that was for Voltaire
the central horror of the pre-Enlightenment world; and the political
and economic marginalization of our culture.” The British historian
Charles Freeman published an extended discussion of the transition
that took place during the late Roman empire, the title of which
could serve as a capsule summary of our current president: “The
Closing of the Western Mind.”
Mr. Bush, God knows, is no Augustine; but Freeman points to the
latter as the epitome of a more general process that was underway in
the fourth century: namely, ‘the gradual subjection of reason to
faith and authority.’ This is what we are seeing today, and it is a
process that no society can undergo and still remain free. Yet it is
a process of which administration officials, along with much of the
American population, are aggressively proud. In fact, close observers
of this odd presidency note that Bush, like his evangelical base,
believes he is on a mission from God and that faith trumps empirical
evidence. Berman quotes a senior White House adviser who disdains
what he calls the “reality-based” community, to which Berman sensibly
responds: “If a nation is unable to perceive reality correctly, and
persists in operating on the basis of faith-based delusions, its
ability to hold its own in the world is pretty much foreclosed.”
Berman does a brief tour of the American horizon, revealing a
cultural death valley. In secondary schools where evolution can still
be taught too many teachers are afraid to bring up the subject to
their so often un-evolved students. “Add to this the pervasive
hostility toward science on the part of the current administration
(e.g. stem-cell research) and we get a clear picture of the
Enlightenment being steadily rolled back. Religion is used to explain
terror attacks as part of a cosmic conflict between Good and Evil
rather than in terms of political processes…. Manichaeanism rules
across the United States. According to a poll taken by Time magazine
fifty-nine percent of Americans believe that John¹s apocalyptic
prophecies in the Book of Revelation will be fulfilled, and nearly
all of these believe that the faithful will be taken up into heaven
in the ‘Rapture.'”
“Finally, we shouldn’t be surprised at the antipathy toward
democracy displayed by the Bush administration. As already noted,
fundamentalism and democracy are completely antithetical. The
opposite of the Enlightenment, of course, is tribalism, groupthink;
and more and more, this is the direction in which the United States
is going. Anthony Lewis who worked as a columnist for the New York
Times for thirty-two years, observes that what has happened in the
wake of 9/11 is not just the threatening of the rights of a few
detainees, but the undermining of the very foundation of democracy.
Detention without trial, denial of access to attorneys, years of
interrogation in isolationthese are now standard American practice,
and most Americans don¹t care. Nor did they care about the revelation
in July 2004 (reported in Newsweek), that for several months the
White House and the Department of Justice had been discussing the
feasibility of canceling the upcoming presidential election in the
event of a possible terrorist attack. I suspect that the
technologically inclined prevailed against that extreme measure on
the ground that the newly installed electronic ballot machines could
be so calibrated that Bush would win handily no matter what (read
Rep. Conyers¹ report (.pdf file) on the rigging of Ohio¹s vote).
Meanwhile, the indoctrination of the people merrily continues. “In
a ‘State of the First Amendment Survey’ conducted by the University
of Connecticut in 2003, 34 percent of Americans polled said the First
Amendment ‘goes too far’; 46 percent said there was too much freedom
of the press; 28 percent felt that newspapers should not be able to
publish articles without prior approval of the government; 31 percent
wanted public protest of a war to be outlawed during that war; and 50
percent thought the government should have the right to infringe on
the religious freedom of ‘certain religious groups’ in the name of
the war on terror.”
It is usual in sad reports like Professor Berman¹s to stop abruptly
the litany of what has gone wrong and then declare, hand on heart,
that once the people have been informed of what is happening, the
truth will set them free and a quarter-billion candles will be lit
and the darkness will flee in the presence of so much spontaneous light.
But Berman is much too serious for the easy platitude. Instead he
tells us that those who might have struck at least a match can no
longer do so because shared information about our situation is meager
to nonexistent. Would better schools help? Of course, but, according
to that joyous bearer of ill tidings, the New York Times, many school
districts are now making sobriety tests a regular feature of the
school day: apparently opium derivatives are the opiate of our stoned
youth. Meanwhile, millions of adult Americans, presumably undrugged,
have no idea who our enemies were in World War II. Many college
graduates don¹t know the difference between an argument and an
assertion (did their teachers also fail to solve this knotty
question?). A travel agent in Arizona is often asked whether or not
it is cheaper to take the train rather than fly to Hawaii. Only 12%
of Americans own a passport. At the time of the 2004 presidential
election 42% of voters believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in
9/11. One high school boy, when asked who won the Civil War, replied
wearily, ‘I don¹t know and I don¹t care,” echoing a busy neocon who
confessed proudly: “The American Civil War is as remote to me as the
War of the Roses.”
We are assured daily by advertisers and/or politicians that we are
the richest, most envied people on Earth and, apparently, that is why
so many awful, ill-groomed people want to blow us up. We live in an
impermeable bubble without the sort of information that people living
in real countries have access to when it comes to their own reality.
But we are not actually people in the eyes of the national ownership:
we are simply unreliable consumers comprising an overworked,
underpaid labor force not in the best of health: The World Health
Organization rates our healthcare system (sicor sick?) as 37th-best
in the world, far behind even Saudi Arabia, role model for the
Texans. Our infant mortality rate is satisfyingly high, precluding a
First World educational system.
Also, it has not gone unremarked even in our usually information-free
media that despite the boost to the profits of such companies as
Halliburton, Bush¹s wars of aggression against small countries of no
danger to us have left us well and truly broke. Our annual trade
deficit is a half-trillion dollars, which means that we don’t produce
much of anything the world wants except those wan reports on how
popular our Entertainment is overseas. Unfortunately the foreign
gross of “King Kong,” the Edsel of that assembly line, is not yet known.
It is rumored that Bollywoodthe Indian film businessmay soon
surpass us! Berman writes, “We have lost our edge in science to
Europe…The US economy is being kept afloat by huge foreign loans
($4 billion a day during 2003). What do you think will happen when
America’s creditors decide to pull the plug, or when OPEC members
begin selling oil in euros instead of dollars?…An International
Monetary Fund report of 2004 concluded that the United States was
‘careening toward insolvency.”” Meanwhile, China, our favorite big –
time future enemy, is the number one for worldwide foreign
investments, with France, the bete noire of our apish neocons, in
Well, we still have Kraft cheese and, of course, the death penalty.
Berman makes the case that the Bretton-Woods agreement of 1944
institutionalized a system geared toward full employment and the
maintenance of a social safety net for society¹s less fortunatethe
so-called welfare or interventionist state. It did this by
establishing fixed but flexible exchange rates among world
currencies, which were pegged to the U.S. dollar while the dollar,
for its part, was pegged to gold. In a word, Bretton-Woods saved
capitalism by making it more human. Nixon abandoned the agreement in
1971, which started, according to Berman, huge amounts of capital
moving upward from the poor and the middle class to the rich and
Mr. Berman spares us the happy ending, as, apparently, has history.
When the admirable Tiberius (he has had an undeserved bad press),
upon becoming emperor, received a message from the Senate in which
the conscript fathers assured him that whatever legislation he wanted
would be automatically passed by them, he sent back word that this
was outrageous. “Suppose the emperor is ill or mad or incompetent?”
He returned their message.
They sent it again. His response: “How eager you are to be slaves.” I
often think of that wise emperor when I hear Republican members of
Congress extolling the wisdom of Bush. Now that he has been caught
illegally wiretapping fellow citizens he has taken to snarling about
his powers as “a wartime president,” and so, in his own mind, he is
above each and every law of the land. Oddly, no one in Congress has
pointed out that he may well be a lunatic dreaming that he is another
Lincoln but whatever he is or is not he is no wartime president.
There is no war with any other nation…yet. There is no state called
terror, an abstract noun like liar. Certainly his illegal unilateral
ravaging of Iraq may well seem like a real war for those on both
sides unlucky enough to be killed or wounded, but that does not make
it a war any more than the appearance of having been elected twice to
the presidency does not mean that in due course the people will
demand an investigation of those two irregular processes. Although he
has done a number of things that under the old republic might have
got him impeached, our current system protects him: incumbency-for-
life seats have made it possible for a Republican majority in the
House not to do its duty and impeach him for his incompetence in
handling, say, the natural disaster that befell Louisiana.
The founders thought two-year terms for members of the House was as
much democracy as we¹d ever need. Therefore, there was no great
movement to have some sort of recall legislation in the event that a
president wasn¹t up to his job and so had lost the people¹s
confidence between elections. But in time, as Ecclesiastes would say,
all things shall come to pass and so, in a kindly way, a majority of
the citizens must persuade him that he will be happier back in
Crawford pruning Bushes of the leafy sort while the troops not killed
or maimed will settle for simply being alive and in one piece. We may
be slaves but we are not unreasonable.
One way that a majority of citizens can help open the road back to
Crawford is by heeding the call of a group called the World Can¹t
Wait (see their website, www.worldcantwait.org). They believe that
the agenda for 2006 must not be set by the Bush gang but by the
people taking independent mass political action.
On Jan. 31, the night of Bush¹s next State of the Union address, they
have called for people in large cities and small towns all across the
country to join in noisy rallies to make the demand that “Bush Step
Down” the message of the day. At 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, just
as Bush starts to speak, people can make a joyful noise and
figuratively drown out his address. Then on the following Saturday,
Feb. 4, converge in front of the White House with the same message:
Please step down and take your program with you.
Poetry: Sonnets of William Shakespeare
FROM fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’st flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content
And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.
When forty winters shall beseige thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery, so gazed on now,
Will be a tatter’d weed, of small worth held:
Then being ask’d where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer ‘This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count and make my old excuse,’
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.
Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest
Now is the time that face should form another;
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
For where is she so fair whose unear’d womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
Of his self-love, to stop posterity?
Thou art thy mother’s glass, and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime:
So thou through windows of thine age shall see
Despite of wrinkles this thy golden time.
But if thou live, remember’d not to be,
Die single, and thine image dies with thee.
Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thyself thy beauty’s legacy?
Nature’s bequest gives nothing but doth lend,
And being frank she lends to those are free.
Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse
The bounteous largess given thee to give?
Profitless usurer, why dost thou use
So great a sum of sums, yet canst not live?
For having traffic with thyself alone,
Thou of thyself thy sweet self dost deceive.
Then how, when nature calls thee to be gone,
What acceptable audit canst thou leave?
Thy unused beauty must be tomb’d with thee,
Which, used, lives th’ executor to be.