Archive for August, 2008

Elks Club

The factotums of Bomb McCain sound exceedingly silly in vowing that their man could not possibly have seized the opportunity to listen in on the questions that would be asked of him at Saturday’s Saddleback “faith forum.”

According to the New York Times, faith-forum ringmaster Rick Warren “seemed surprised to learn that Mr. McCain was not in the building” when Warren posed the same questions to Barack Obama that he would later pose to McCain. Warren intended that during Obama’s oratorio McCain would be sequestered in some Saddleback cell, there shrouded in “a cone of silence.”

But McCain—no doubt “running late”—was not yet in the building: instead, he was en route, ensconced in his motorcade. Though the vehicle bearing the Bomb was certainly equipped with radio, television, computer, and all manner of texting devices, McCain spokesmouth Nicolle Wallace told the Times he “had not heard the broadcast of the event while in his motorcade and heard none of the questions.”

Of course not. Monomaniacally pursuing the presidency, nursing an eight-year losing streak, desperate to reverse his luck, why would McCain take advantage of an opportunity to furtively peek at the cards . . . especially when no one but his own people would ever know?

If we know anything about the people who have recently attained the presidency, we know that, in all the important ways, they are at one with Chinatown‘s Noah Cross. Who, when speaking of the child he sired upon his own daughter, observed: “I don’t blame myself.

“You see,” Cross explained, “most people never have to face the fact that, at the right time, the right place, they’re capable of anything.”



The arguments of ignorance tend to recur. It will always be so: ignorance is by nature a limited beast. Originality and creativity are not required, to persist in seeing through a glass darkly.

If you live long enough, you will witness the marshaling of the same arguments at different instances of space and time. If the arguments prove ignorant on the first go-round, you can generally expect that they will likewise wobble wrongly in succeeding revolutions. This is part of what Arthur Schopenhauer meant when he wrote:

Whoever lives two or three generations, feels like the spectator who, during the fair, sees the performances of all kinds of jugglers and, if he remains seated in the booth, sees them repeated two or three times. As the tricks were meant only for one performance, they no longer make any impression after the illusion and novelty have vanished.

The cohorts of George II at present instruct that we must pursue all over the planet a War On Terra because “if we don’t fight them over there, we’ll have to fight them over here.” If you slip in a disc of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, you can watch one of the first known invocations of this same mantra, as a band of ur-men brandishing bones crushes the skulls of a rival band at a strategically important watering hole. Fast-forward the planet some several million years, and you may observe hundreds of thousands of Americans and Australians, awash in the same shibboleth, floating over to Europe for WWI, there to ensure Germans do not occupy Topeka, and Turks do not site a mosque on Ayers Rock.

In my youth, the United States transformed Southeast Asia into a charnel house in order to “there” put a stop to Communism, so that “here” we would not be forced to burn all our money and construct refrigerators out of cement. The US lost that war, but there don’t now seem to be any more Communists here where I live than there were before the defeat. Just the same one guy, an economics professor at the university, ready soon to retire. The US will lose the War on Terra, too, but I don’t expect that as a result my daughter will be immured in a burka, or that I will be impressed into service as a dervish.


And So It Begins

“When Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower of London, he occupied himself with writing a history of the world. He had finished the first volume and was at work on the second when there was a scuffle between some workmen beneath the window of his cell, and one of the men was killed. In spite of diligent enquiries, and in spite of the fact that he had actually seen the thing happen, Sir Walter was never able to discover what the quarrel was about: whereupon, so it is said—and if the story is not true it certainly ought to be—he burned what he had written and abandoned his project.”

—George Orwell

When I Worked

August 2008