Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pope Saint Sylvester

Sylvester died and was buried on 31 December 335, after being pope for over twenty years. During his pontificate two important events in the history of the Church occurred. The first, was the legalisation and official toleration.

His death came by natural means, this was still novel. Up till this time, not only, was the election, to the papacy, bishophric of Rome, a lifetime appointment, it was a death sentence. But, Constantine saw the cross, before the battle of Milvian bridge in 312, “In hoc signo vinces”, in the sky. Things had changed. Constantine defeated Maxentius. He and Licinius granted the Edict of Toleration at Milan, the next year. Constantine favored the formerly reviled religion, meddled in its affairs, but he awaited a death bed conversion in 337. Churches and worship became public and building projects began.

Little documentation has survived. Speculation does not end. Rubbish spouting a constantinian church replacing the Christian Church continues. The Church was catholic before, and catholic now. It was a new age for the church. In the next generation, Julian the Apostate, became emperor and the church was not favored. The relation between church and state has still not been permanently resolved.

The second was, the Council of Nicaea, which, took place in 325, in Asia Minor. Sylvester sent three delegates (Osius, Vitus and Vincentius) there, and certainly discussions were made afore time. Arianism was the chief and powerful heresy of the day. In these early centuries Rome was generally free from heresy, but the greek-speaking and african provinces were often rife.

In much of Europe, the last day of the year is known as Saint Sylvester’s. Traditionally in France, this night’s celebration is le Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre, pop the champagne! In several countries a long foot race is held, the most celebrated one is São Paulo, Brasil’s, Corrida Internacional de São Silvestre. It began in 1925 and is the premier long distance race in latin america; in the US, of similar importance would be the longer Boston Marathon. There are other such races in Madrid, Barcelona and Angola.

I once worked with a Joseph Wolff, if I remember right, he was born on Saint Sylvester’s. Well, in Ohio, your car registration expires on your birthday. Joe drove a hell of a junker, a chevrolet land yacht of some kind. The sticker, on the bottom right of the car plate, was a 12. A cop stops him on the 30th, solely to ask, for his registration. He had Joe in his sights, he was severely disappointed that Joe was a Sylvester child. Cop had an attitude, but he could not issue the ticket, just vented some lip.

I’ve planted tulips on this day before, I think, the year before that, after being nagged and ridiculed for my tarrying. Recently, I have planted on Saint Sylvester’s day, itself; as long as the ground can be worked, the soil will accept. Flowers bloomed fine. In some cultures, unmarried girls think of a future husband on this latest of days. There is time.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holy Family and Holy Innocents

To-day is both, the Feast of the Holy Family and the day of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents. Jesus, Mary and Joseph first in Bethlehem, and then the flight to Egypt, and then Nazareth; but before a normal, happy settled family life, they had to escape Herod; the male infants and toddlers did not. It is well, for us, to remember all those whom have died, and continue to die, as the military propagandists would christen as ‘collateral damage’, those casually destroyed, either as unintended objects, whom are impediments or anonymous bystanders, or just unimportant trivialities to some greater end.

Currently both, National Geographic and Biblical Archaeology Review, had stories on Herod.* His tomb was found in the spring of 2007. Herod the ruler, builder, tyrant and child killer. He will be always be remembered for his extra-ordinary wickedness. In theatrical acting, it is in portraying extremes of character, that the temptation to an over abundance of exuberance may fall in play; this does not always make for a good performance. Shakespeare has Hamlet coach actors not to overdo a part to excess, it causes ridiculousness.
...I would have such
a fellow whipped for o’erdoing Termagant. It out-Herods
Herod. Pray you, avoid it.
Now, Shakespeare was a recusant, some of his relatives were more public. He was born at a time, when the old religion was in eclipse, but not without hope and prospects of full return. All the old customs were not, yet, extinguished in the whole of England. As a child, he still was able to see some of the mediæval, mystery plays performed in cathedral and market towns. He would have seen an overzealous Herod perform.

Herod, the king of the jews, was very jealous of his position, and very unconcerned with the lives of others. He killed even some of his own children. It could be perilous for any judaen subject, at any time. Now contrast this with the sweet and peaceful condition of the Holy Family. In this world there is great variation from one extreme to another.
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* In 2002, the University of Maryland’s Clinical Pathologic Conference diagnosed the cause of death of a famous, but anonymous to the participants, historical individual. The symptoms led to a call of “chronic kidney disease complicated by Fournier’s gangrene ”. Now, this extremely, gruesome and repulsive condition was caused by venereal disease. The blood thirsty Herod was also a lecher.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

John, the beloved apostle

Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος. Saint John. after 1603. Madrid.
Two days after ☧mas is Saint John the apostle and evangelist’s day is 27 December, at one time it was shared with his brother, James. Could it be, that, its proximity is due to his closeness to Jesus?

Jesus chose 12 men as His apostles, of these, three were closer still. The two sons of Zebedee and
Simon Peter. There were some important moments of Christ’s ministry (e.g. the Transfiguration, the Agony in Gethsemani), that, these three were the sole witnesses. For some things only Peter and John. These two were sent to make preparation for the Last Supper, they very timidly watched some of the events after the arrest of Jesus, the Magdalene brought, these two, to the empty tomb.

Of the two, Peter loved Jesus the most, and Jesus loved John the most. Jesus gave the Church to Peter to foster and steward. On the cross, Jesus gave the care of his Mother to John.

John and Mary, after a time, went to Ephesus, where John was bishop and metropolitan. He wrote a Gospel, and three Epistles there. Under Domitian, he was exiled to the island Patmos, where he wrote an Apocalypse. After the death of Domitian, John returned to Ephesus. Of the Twelve, he alone died a natural death, though he had, miraculously, survived attempted execution and martyrdom. He was an aged man, who may have, seen the second century.

Now, El Greco, Domenikos Theotokopoulos, *1541,†1614, painted from 1603 on, at least five series of Apostolados, a group of thirteen portraits, of Jesus Christ and twelve apostles. Now, Jesus was the Messias, and these men brought the good news to the world. The Iscariot was not a subject, instead the Greek, always, painted Paul. A complete series is in Toledo’s Cathedral of Mary.

Of course, the faces (John, the youngest, is beardless) are of importance in the paintings, but also the hands. The paintings, of each subject, shared the same presentation of that subject. Now, why did El Greco do this? He began as an iconographer, and an iconographer paints the same subject, in the same manner. And, perhaps, the attention given to the hands, by El Greco, is that his hand painted. Domenikos Theotokopoulos was proud of his work, and of himself. When he did sign his work, he signed in greek, sometimes just initials ― ΔΘ.

Saint John is sometimes identified with an eagle, sometimes with a book, and sometimes with a chalice. A portrait of John, without such dark shadows about his eyes, is in the cathedral, but one with better hands, and not associated with a known series, is in Madrid’s Prado. There is a legend that a poisoned chalice of wine was given to John, and the poison left the chalice, in the form of a serpent or dragon.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Saint Stephen - Protomartyr




Saint Stephen was the first martyr of the risen Christ. He was one of seven deacons, that ministered to the greek speaking, jews of Jerusalem. He had been learned, and eloquent, and bested the authorities in debate. He was brought to the Sanhedrin and condemned. Saint Stephen is often portrayed holding rocks, for his death came by stoning. Saul of Tarsus held some of the cloaks of the stoners. Was his head bashed in or did a flurry of rock kill him? Well, the artistic portrayal would be grizzly, this is one reason, that, a graphic, iconic substitute is shown.

For this early witness and proximity to Christ, he is placed on the day after ☧mas. In many countries his day is also a legal holiday. In some de-catholicised, anglophone lands the day is called Boxing Day, in which, gifts are given to some employees, and service workers, of daily contact.

To-day, for the first time in many years, a solemn high mass in the tridentine rite, will be offered on this patronal feast, of the parish of Saint Stephen, Cleveland, Ohio. This particular parish is a beautiful, national landmark edifice; yet it is in peril of consolidation or suppression (closure), not on account of it sustaining nature, nor its viability, but as a victim of an episcopal mandated, negative, restructuring. The ways of american business have entered the Church, another scandal.top photo: from Saint James, Lakewood, O.
middle photo: from Saint
Stephen, Cleveland, O.
bottom photo: altar before mass

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Michael Connell

Michael Connell died, while pilot of his small plane, in northeastern Ohio. The Akron Beacon Journal, on 21 December, wrote and described him as a family man, and a very, impressively, involved, catholic parishioner.

But, there is far more. He was a Republican party operative. His ability in computer information technology made him a rich man, but ominously is reminiscent of a character in The Great Gatsby, the man who fixed the 1919 Series. He owned and ran the computers that, are alleged to have, changed the election results for Ohio in 2004. If this is true, Michael Connell fixed the election for Rove and the Bushes, his frequent customers. From the bushcheney ’04 campaign, he is reported to have, received in the excess of $800,000. He had been involved in Republican campaigns for more than twenty years, including the first george bush, and Rove’s electronic mail system.

If this is true he co-operated with great evil. This has not been reported by the american corporate media*. Independent individuals and internet journalist bloggers have: Velvet Revolution, Larisa Alexandrovna, ePluribus Media, RAW STORY, Brad Friedman, Clifford Arnebeck, Bob Fitrakis.

On the 22nd of September he was subpoenaed, on the 31st of  October he gave a deposition, in federal court concerning rigging the ’04 Ohio election. On the 19th of December he flew to Washington, on the 20th he was dead.

His great, deep and intense involvement with Republican party tactics, has been suggested, to have been, centered on his beliefs concerning abortion. Did he ever realise that the Republicans did not end abortion? Did he wonder about the subversion of government, popular sovereignty, democracy, law, and justice?
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*It is often easier to find, and read stories, concerning US political news in the english papers. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/3885913/George-Bush-aide-dies-in-plane-crash.html

Thursday, December 18, 2008

God, man and hound


The hound has meaning in himself, and in relation to men and God. ‘Que me amat, amet et canem meum.’ This was a latin proverb, we know Saint Bernard of Clairvaux † 1153, the Cistercian used.* Saint Thomas More †1535, used it in english ― Whosoever loveth me loveth my hound.‡ The word ‘dog’ was a scandinavian import, hound was the anglo-saxon, it is the german word ‘Hund’. Now, this proverb implies a real friend will like, not just me, but in addition, that which is mine, is associated with me, and dear to me. Anyone who is not kind to my dog, is not my friend, and above all, this proverb says ― my dog is, my dog is my friend.

The Cynics were that school of greek philosophers, who, wanted to pursue the truth and held virtue as the highest good, and held them so tightly in their jaws, that, it could never be taken away. Kynikos = houndish, (canine), kyon is greek for dog. People often dismiss a person or comment with “that’s cynical”, or “you’re a cynic ”. They do not know what the word means, whence it came, they have relied on a misleading, and often false connotation. Other times they do know what they mean, they are annoyed with the truth, and prefer something else. Some people who were disappointed with people were cynics. They also were perceptive and right. They weighed man and dog, and the dog was superior. Diogenes was the Cynic carrying a lit lantern, in daytime, searching for an honest man.
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principle difference between a dog and a man. ― Mark Twain

The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs. ― Charles De Gaulle
The stereotypical name for a dog was ‘Fido’. Fido comes from fides, fides = faith, fidelis = faithful. Odysseus (Ulysses) was gone twenty years from Ithaca. He returned dressed as a beggar, and only his dog, Argos, recognised him, after seeing his master, he died. There are many good names for hounds, though I have difficulty with people, whom, give dogs christian names, and people whom name children with names, that are beneath, the names proper to dogs. The symbol for the Dominicans is a dog with a torch in his mouth, from The Golden Legend. The pun on the name of the Dominicans, Domini canes’, is Domini = Lord (God), and canis = hound, therefore, the hounds of God. Francis Thompson has the poem, The Hound of Heaven, in which the hunted is you.

There has been several saints, who are associated with dogs. Saint Bernard of Menthon †1008, the Benedictine, had a breed named after him (indirectly, from St. Bernard Pass in the alps), and a huge friend they are, carrying a small cask of brandy for you. The ancient bloodhound, had been, called Saint Hubert’s hound, Hubert had been an hunter, whom found the Lord. Saint Francis of Assisi tamed the wolf of Gubbio, a great poem by Ruben Dario§ tells this, in addition to the Fioretti. Saint John Bosco had his great protector, Grigio. Saint Roch was trapped in a pit and a dog brought bread to him.

Roch is the Italian, Rocco. There is in the church of Saint Rocco, Cleveland, a statue of Rocco and his dog. Rocco is shown with his dog, the dog has bread in his mouth. Rocco carries a pilgrim staff, and points to his wounded leg. One of the funniest moments of my life, funny in a joyously poignant way, was in this church. Saint Rocco’s had several alcove rooms. In these rooms there were prie-Dieus, and candles along with the statues. Someone had put a dog biscuit there for Rocco’s friend, in the place where candles would be set.

Well, I can go on ..., but, I will diverge to this last path. Dogs are with us. They are social animals, and they have accepted us as their own. They are confused why we stand so much taller than they. Now, we are to treat them well, as we are to treat all creation, but there should be a warm, soft spot for the hound. The persian poet, Nizami †1203, tells us the tale|| that Christ found beauty in, even, a dead dog.
__________________
*Sermo Primus
First Sermon on the Lord's Prayer
§Los motivos del lobo
||The Eye Of Charity
paintings by John Emms.*1843,
†1912. The faith of Saint Bernard, and Saint Bernard rescue dogs.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

O Antiphons


The opening words of the seven antiphons, of the Roman Breviary, to the Magnificat, for vespers, of the seven days preceding the vigil of Christmas are:
O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
O Adonai (O Adonai)
O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
O Clavis David (O Key of David)
O Oriens (O Morning Star)
O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
O Emmanuel (O Emmanuel)
Boëthius, fl.c. 500 a.D., makes a reference to the O antiphons. The Benedictines, are required to, sing or recite the breviary daily. These seven antiphons are sung at the end of the Advent season. From time to time and place to place, the antiphons were added to or substituted, but classically, the above are the seven.
The last antiphon complete is:
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, our King and our Lawgiver, the Expected of the nations, and their Savior:
come to save us, O Lord, our God.
Now, the antiphons all refer back to Scripture. The last one to the 1st half of Jeremias x. 7:
Quis non timebit te, o Rex gentium ? tuum est enim decus :
Who shall fear thee, O king of nations? for thine is the glory:
There are several references, for each, to both Testaments, more from Isaias than any other book. Isaias is the prophet of Advent. Each are addressed to the Messias, by an equivalent title as a name. These antiphons congeal easily to an hymn, O Come, O Come, Immanuel (Veni, veni, Emmanuel). In the mid 19th century, John Mason Neale made an english translation.

These antiphons may have entered ☧ian usage through jewish ☧ians. To further speculate [bear with me and entertain me]: these seven antiphons may be related to a Hannukah service. Hannukah is celebrated over eight days, and its celebration moves about December, for it does not follow the solar calendar. The Hannukah story is found in the Old Testament books of the Maccabees, but is not canonical among the jews. It is possible, that, part of that celebration migrated from jewish to christian worship.

Now, for those who do not acknowledge, the canonicity of the books of the Maccabees, they refer to an intertestamentary period , wherein, those events occurred. The temples of Solomon, and the babylonian return [and later Herod] contained a menorah of seven branches. A miracle of the Maccabees was, that, a one day supply of lamp oil lasted eight. Now menorahs for Hannukah contain eight candles, plus one smaller lighting candle as a ninth branch.
O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Dayspring, splendor of Light eternal, and Sun of Justice:
come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness, and the shadow of death.
We see Jesus as the Messias, the☧, the True Light. The light of the menorah symbolises this, as do the candles lit during the dark of vespers.
__________________
Glossary: Antiphon = an anthem, verse sung responsively
Breviary = a book containing the divine office, the daily canonical hours of prayer
Magnificat = the canticle, song, of Mary in Luke i. 46-55.
Vespers = the 6th of 7 hours of prayer, the evening hour, or vespertina synaxis
Vigil = the night before a feast, a period of watch and prayerful preparation
Maccabees = a family of 2nd century b. C. Jud
a, Seven martyrs commemorated on 1 August, 2 books of the Old Testament
Hannukah = dedication, consecration; the festival commemorating the events of 165 b.C.:
And they kept the dedication of the altar eight days, and they offered holocausts with joy, and sacrifices of salvation, and of praise. ― 1Maccabees iv. 56.
And Judas, and his brethren, and all the church of Israel decreed, that the day of the dedication of the altar should be kept in its season from year to year for eight days, from the five and twentieth day of the month of Casleu, with joy and gladness. ― 1Maccabees ⅳ. 59.
Menorah = candelabrum used in jewish worship

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Flying shoes and clueless legacy

I always thought the word ‘shoe’ delightfully fun to say. It has only two sounds, each funny in itself ― the consonant š or ʃ and the long vowel ― u.

Sunday, in Baghdad an angry reporter let fly his shoes. His target dodged the shoes easier and quicker, than he dodged questions and Viet Nam. Muntadhar al-Zeidi yelled, “This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!” with the first toss, and “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!” with the second.

Now, it looks funny in an hostile, ridiculous manner to an american viewing, while it looks severly hostile, and extremely contemptuous, to an arab. bushjr did not seem to gather that. The words of al-Zeidi should be noted, he clearly, and defiantly tells all.

bushjr and his defenders falsely claim, that, this is a fruit of the freedom of the new democracy, that was absent before american intervention. Even under the worst tyranny, a man is free to act once. Now, a second time would speak to freedom, not the first. Where is al-Zeidi now?* and what sort of physical shape is he in? can he walk? can he stand? can he talk?

bushjr was there on a victory strut, though a secret, unannounced one. In all, he spent not much more than minutes in Irak, just long enough to mark the territory.

The last historical funny concerning a shoe was, when, Nikita Sergejevič Khruščev pounded a table with his shoe. In Baghdad it was with joyous contempt, when, several people beat the head of the statue of Saddam Hussein, that was torn down by members of the US military. Now, humorists and comedians are being given a parting gift. It is easy to have people guffaw over this. A sketch could be pantomimed, wherein, after the first two shoes are thrown, there is a pause, then a wild flurry of shoes fill the air, and then a few stragglers. Or will there be a security confiscation of all footwear, so that,only, the unshod can be in the presence? No cavalry units in any military review, george does not like horses or burros, anyway. Well, if the shoe fits...

Martha Raddatz had a conversation, and interview, with bush after the shoe incident. She remarks to him, that, the shoe throwing is ‘a huge insult’. his response: “I guess... I don't know what his beef is...” Soon he takes credit for securing america and the world against al Qaeda:
bush: Clearly, one of the most important parts of my job because of 9/11 was to defend the security of the American people. There have been no attacks since I have been president, since 9/11. One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take ...

Raddatz: But not until after the U.S. invaded.

bush: Yeah, that's right. So what?
These words, are the words, of a spoiled teenager: ‘I guess’ = dismissive, (perhaps feigned) disinterest, uncomprehending. ‘I don't know what his beef is’ = incomprehension and obliviousness, that, anyone would have a problem with him is narcissistic idiocy, where idiocy is that form of self-centered egotism, where, nothing outside of the self is recognised. Then the numbing effect of the response to his parried falsity: ‘Yeah, that's right. So what?’ = surly defiance and anger with no appreciation for truth and reality. He presents an argument and its conclusion, and she shows that the the entire premise of his argument is false, and therefore the argument is non credible, it is worthless, because it is false; and he admits it is false, and dismisses that the falsity matters not at all.
____________________
*Since I have written this, earlier to-day, I have read a Reuters article, that states, that, a judge has seen
al-Zeidi, and al-Zeidi is currently in hospital with injuries. He faces imprisonment of 7 - 15 years. An Associated Press article says, that, al-Zeidi will be in court Wednesday facing 2 years in prison, and is some what doubtful about injuries. Many reports say injuries from severe beating.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Republic Windows & Doors

A peaceful, and non-violent six day sit-in, at Republic Windows and Doors, Goose Island plant, Chicago, Illinois has ended. In the afternoon, Tuesday, 2nd December the workers,who are members of the United Electrical Workers, Local 1110 were told, that, the factory would close Friday, 5th December, and the Bank of America would not allow management to pay them, what their contract, and the law promised. So, just go ...

They did not go; they stayed. The 240 workers acted as determined brothers. They were unanimous. They acted as americans had acted in the mid to late 1930s; they would not be moved. They wanted their jobs, though they believed them gone, but they were owed a few thousand dollars, and medical care. They wanted their legal remuneration. Wednesday, 10th December, an agreement was so reached. It could have come a bit earlier, but Richard Gillman, the chief executive, wanted the leases of several luxury cars picked up and eight weeks of salary. He backed down.

The Bank of America was given money in the bail-out. The bail-out was supposed to have banks extend credit, so as to, move commerce along. The Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch instead.

Republic Windows & Doors was going to close the unionised, Illinois’ Goose Island plant. They were buying a scab (non-union) plant in Iowa, they had already sent equipment there.

Now, this is in the same vein as the auto crisis. German, and japanese companies, have unionised plants in their countries, when they move to the american south, they open scab plants, with state, and local government, financial inducements.

See, labor-management contracts are binding. Laws of the federal government are binding.* Treaties made with indian tribes were binding. Moneyed power believes itself above the law, or outside of the law. Government, especially Republican controlled government, is of the same mind. Now, in this case, many community leaders†, including the mayor, Richard Daley, President Obama and others spoke in behalf of the workers.
______________________________
*Some applicable provisions: The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) was enacted on August 4, 1988 and became effective on February 4, 1989.

Plant Closing: A covered employer must give notice if an employment site (or one or more facilities or operating units within an employment site) will be shut down, and the shutdown will result in an employment loss (as defined later) for 50 or more employees during any 30-day period.

Penalties: An employer who violates the WARN provisions by ordering a plant closing or mass layoff without providing appropriate notice is liable to each aggrieved employee for an amount including back pay and benefits for the period of violation, up to 60 days. The employer's liability may be reduced by such items as wages paid by the employer to the employee during the period of the violation and voluntary and unconditional payments made by the employer to the employee.

An employer who fails to provide notice as required to a unit of local government is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500 for each day of violation. This penalty may be avoided if the employer satisfies the liability to each aggrieved employee within 3 weeks after the closing or layoff is ordered by the employer.

Enforcement: Enforcement of WARN requirements is through the United States district courts. Workers, representatives of employees and units of local government may bring individual or class action suits. In any suit, the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs.

†The city had given over $10 million to the company in development funds.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cars and competition

“The effects of the Industrial Revolution prove that free competition may produce wealth without producing well-being. We all know the horrors that ensued in England before it was restrained by legislation and combination.” ― Arnold Toynbee, †1883.

“The stronger side will dictate its own terms; and as a matter of fact, in the early days of competition the capitalists used all their power to oppress the labourers, and drove down wages to starvation point.” ― Arnold Toynbee, †1883.
We may be in an early phase of georgebushjunior’s depression. Now, the Senate has not allowed a vote on the car company loan. Sixty percent is needed, 52 to 35 does not meet the threshold. The House voted passage.

Now, four Republican senators: Bob Corker of Tennessee, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Jim DeMint of South Carolina have publicly announced their displeasure for the bill.* What do they share in common? Southern Republicans with heavily, subsidised, foreign, car, plants in their states, who all despise labor unions and the rights of laboring men.
“... unions, but they appear to be an antiquated concept in today's economy, and if a company cannot be competitive with the union structure that they have, then we have to recognize that. The taxpayers should not be obligated to prop up these union bosses who have put the American car companies against a wall, with these contracts and the threat of strikes over the last several decades, that have essentially put them out of business. And they want the taxpayers to pay for that ... barnacles of unionism wrapped around their necks.” ― DeMint, All Things Considered, 10 December
This financial and economic depression has been with us a year, and it has been denied, by the executive branch and their party, for most of that year. Henry Merritt Paulson, Junior has been Treasury Secretary since the middle of 2006. Before that, he was with Goldman Sachs, since 1974. His compensation for his last full year was, in the neighborhood of, $37 millions. Before that, he was assistant to John Ehrlichman, during Watergate. Now, his public announcements swiveled on a dime. First, all was fine, then $700 billions were needed RIGHT NOW, NO QUESTIONS. He had to expand on that, a first House vote failed, and then the bill was larded up to pass.

The credit and money situation has not freed up. The american car companies are in trouble. The United Auto Workers are being defamed and slandered. At the negotiating table, by management, and then, the shills of capitalism, the Wall Street Journal editorial staff, and zealous, delusional and dishonest Republicans. Sometimes this nonsense is called out:
“We’ve heard this garbage about 73 bucks an hour. It’s a total lie. I think some people have perpetrated that deliberately, in a calculated way, to mislead the American people about what we’re doing here.” ― Senator Bob Casey
This is how that figure is calculated: pay + insurance + pension + retirees’ benefits (legacy cost of a century doing business, are there any american retirees at all from the foreign companies’ scab labor?) Adding all that together, it is about 10% of a car’s cost.

Well, the highest car management (it was reported, that one of the three had a $21 million a year pay) flew in on private aeroplanes to ask for money, pretty much without oversight. They were surprised to be rebuffed, by the House. They regrouped and tried a second time, with some humility. bushjr did not want to use a portion of the Wall Street bail-out, but rather money already allocated for development of new fueled cars. Now, bushjr may have to use the big bank bail-out.

____________________________
*We certainly know, that, it is not laissez-faire liberalism of pure capitalism. Eighteen Republican senators (Corker and
McConnell, chief among them), and two Democratic, voted for the money socialising the banks and the failures of Wall Street, while voting Detroit to get lost.
noto bene: add to the roll call of despicables:
Bob Corker
Richard Shelby
Mitch McConnell
Jim DeMint

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Job 1 for President Obama

Mister Luckovich created supra, and he often demonstrates, that, there are some great and succinct editorial cartoons, that, tell so much more, and with actuality sometimes remiss from the standard, talking head ‘expert commentators ’.* Eight years of the treasonous misrule of usurpation are nearly over. Still, the reprobates can do great damage, in addition to the lingering damage already done. Six more weeks to wait.

It is not so much that they were wrong in programme, but that they knew no law and despised those whom did. Virtually nothing appeared in the campaign on this most important issue. The press was timid. Many people were interested, only, in their pet issue. The bishops had been co-opted by the Republican party, and were devoted only on abortion, and ignored their pastoral and prophetic duties to speak on other issues. After Obama won the election, in this period of deep, economic recession, the gun enthusiasts, quickly, purchased more weapons.

Mister Obama has been left a country with far more problems, and far less resources, than, that of which, Mister Clinton left when he relinquished the presidency. This interregnum has been a disaster.

Mister Obama has quickly been assembling a new administration. In the forefront of his planning is that of the economy and ‘national security’, but, perhaps, the greatest damage that the busheviks have committed was that done to justice and law. The justice department was whorred out. Intensive repair, recovery and rehabilitation, there, is needed. Those responsible should be found out, and made to bear their guilt and responsibility.

I am sure, that, after the 20th of January there shall be more than a dribble, but not the torrent, of information on the depth and breadth of illegality and corruption, that has been the last eight years. I remember Ronnie Reagan wore dress morning clothes for his inauguration. There are horizontal, black and white, striped suits a waiting for the out-going Republicans.
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*Instead of presenting the blowhards, and propagandists that network and cable television foist upon us, it may be better just to have the camera linger on good cartoons, when they appear.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saint Nicholas


Ilja Jefimovič Repin. Saint Nicholas of Myra saves three innocents from death. 1888. Saint Petersburg.

Now, Saint Nicholas is well known and beloved, even though his presentation to the secular public is befogged. Nicholas is not a fictive holiday character of folklore and commerce. He lived in that age, when, the Church was at first persecuted, and then permitted. He suffered under Diocletian and prospered under Constantine. He saw the last, commanding, violent gasp of the pagan empire against christianity.

He lived a charism of charity. Charity is love. The stories and legends that survive, about him, abound with this christian consideration. He saved the poor, the abandoned, the condemned, the floundering, the lost, the imprisoned and perhaps beyond.

In, what is roughly called, the west, he is the great guardian, and benefactor of children. One of his iconic symbols, is a group of three gold balls or bags, alludes to the instance, where, he provided dowries for three sisters, to avoid lives of prostitution.

There is more than one instance where he saved the unjustly condemned from imprisonment and, or, execution. Supra, is a portrait of psychological and dramatic intensity, that illustrates. Top center is Nicholas, clearly robed in his office, intervening to halt unjust, judicial murder. He was man who felt deeply for justice, and acted.

He was also known as a miracle and wonder worker, perhaps this is the guise, in which, he is most revered in the russian lands. Amongst the greeks, he is the special benefactor of sailors. “May St. Nicholas hold the tiller.” Really, amongst all the catholics, latin and orthodox he is loved.

He was from Patara, in Lycia, of Asia Minor (Anatolia). He became a monk, and eventually, the archbishop of Myra. In 1087 his remains were transferred (after being stolen) from Myra to Bari, in Italy. Turks had taken the area, and Myra had been a place of pilgrimage, which would not be hospitable under the mohammedans.

For the Feast of the Translation, May 9, in 2003, the russians gave the city of Bari, a bronze statue of Saint Nicholas Wonder-Worker. They, also, gave a statue to Demre, Turkey in 2000. Demre is the town, where, Myra had been. The mayor took that statue down, and replaced it with a plastic Santa Claus. The turks are not friendly to christianity, but are to commerce.

Catholic european folkways have had Saint Nicholas Day or Eve as the day of gifts, and child celebration. The sainted bishop arrives, sometimes with cart, wagon or sleigh and a companion. This companion is variable. Sometimes he is more of a page or servant; sometimes he is a converted sinner; sometimes he is a pagan demon or the devil, himself. This casted rogue may be: Knecht Ruprecht, Black Peter, Krampus, Parkel, Le Père Fouettard, Čert.

KONTAKION of Saint Nicholas
You were truly a priestly worker in Myra, for zealously living the Gospel of Christ, you dedicated your life to your people; you saved the innocent from death. Therefore you have been sanctified as one who has entered the mystery of God's grace.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Carlyle and a theory of history

Thomas Carlyle, *4 December 1795, †1881, was a calvinist, who lost his christianity, but retained a moralism and certain prejudices. He studied at the University of Edinburgh, first for mathematics, and later german philosophy. After this, he is of interest, to me at least, as a passionate historian. Carlyle valued the importance of the spirit, individually and communally, over material values.

One of his arguments: The history of the world is but the biography of great men, is the point of my interest here. Many of us, especially in grade school, were taught of the great accomplishments of the american inventors — Bell, Edison, Ford the Wright Brothers, et alia. It was taught to us in such a way, that, as these men alone gave the world these devices, with an implied, though not stated, suggestion, that, without them nothing. And they were all americans. So the syllogism was implicated. A mixture of national triumphalism and inevitability; after all the space race was going to be won. Well, not all the men, who, garnered the credit, and the profit, were the real, or sole, or first inventor; and furthermore, such technology was being explored and worked with by many others. So if individual A was not there, an individual B, or C, or even Z would place the feather in his cap. Sometimes the circumstances necessitate the event.

Well, there are other instances, where, the actor involved does create a different history than another individual. Certainly, Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt were greater than their predecessors and successors. The unique qualities of these men shaped american history, as de Gaulle or Bismarck did their countries. Now, could another such contemporaneous individual have had the same effects? Or even if they did not, would that country’s history and society’s form be virtually the same an hundred years hence? Is there a sort of inevitable determinism of progression? Perhaps, the great man alters history, as in delaying something for a time, and not course. Well, all that involves a great deal of wild speculation.

Are significant
(good or bad) individuals, heroes to Carlyle, akin to turning points in history? Were their particular presence enough to alter the course of mankind onto a different path? Or was their struggle with time and events historic in of itself?

Either way there are other historical contentions that are still true. I will refer to a few of the ancients.
Aristotle stated that poetry spoke in universals, while history in particulars. History has many lessons, if people are willing to learn.
The principle office of history I take to be this: to prevent virtuous actions from being forgotten, and that evil words and deeds should fear an infamous reputation with posterity.—Tacitus

Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.— Cicero

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Saint Francis Xavier


Francis Xavier *1506, †1552. Italian holy card.

Francisco de Jaso y Azpilicueta was one of the first seven Jesuits. He joined Ignatius at the University of Paris, and went on to Italy. A trip to Palestine did not materialise. He was sent to Portugal; and that opened up the Indies. The places that Christopher Columbus wanted to get to, and thought that he did some, were the places that Francis did get to.

In his missionary career, Francis converted more people to christianity than anyone. This means, more than Paul in his journeys. Paul needed to know greek, for greek was the common language in the eastern Mediterranean. Francis was basque, he had to know french, spanish and latin in his upbringing and schooling; yet he was not facile in languages. He had to, repeatedly, rely on interpreters. Some sort of charisma had to be in effect, he did convert hundreds of thousands of souls.

Francis was the Apostle of the Indies. He missioned in the Portuguese colony of Goa. He went on to South India and Ceylon, Malacca and the Moluccas (parts of to-day’s Malaysia and Indonesia), perhaps the Philippines. He was the first christian missionary in Japan. He came to Kagoshima first, and he attempted to see the emperor in Kyoto. He had success, and he had opposition, in all the places he went. There are many miracles, that, are associated with his missioning.


He learned of China’s influence on Japan. He wanted to go to the chinese. He went back to Goa. Francis went east again. While waiting on the chinese island of Sanchón, he died waiting for permission to come to the mainland. His incorrupt body was taken back to Goa.
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postscriptum: It is not always possible to find everything, on the internet, all the time. Some time ago, I noted to myself this site/page: http://www.stolaf.edu/depts/asian-studies/projects/kakurekirishitan/index.html. I was given some no such page available rubbish. I tried again and found some great stuff, with many fine photographs, but only after getting a page with “The site you're looking for is unavailable.” Trying a bit about the site, I got to: http://www.stolaf.edu/depts/asian-studies/projects/kakurekirishitan/nagasakipics.html. There was this picture taken, by Brendan Eagan, of an exhibit item in Nagasaki’s 26 Martyrs Museum. Once traveling through the Mollucan islands, near Ceram, Francis calmed the waters with a crucifix, which was then lost. Next day ashore, a crab came out of the sea, with it in his pincers, as Francis and his companions were walking the beach. This is quite striking, and this story ought be more familiar, and the image more common.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mother Jones

Mary Jones née Harris is known to those who read history, as Mother Jones. Her ancient grey visage, clothed in black, spoke in a fiery, yet measured, golden tongue. She became a celebrated figure in her late age, and she cultivated that image. She died 30 November 1930, after having a hundredth year birthday party on the first of May. That day was promotional, May Day, being traditionally, Labor Day.

Mary led an eventful life. She was a corker, born (1837) in that irish town before the starving time. Her family crossed the ocean to North America. This laboring catholic family eventually settled, in Toronto, amidst waspish bigotry. A brother became a priest. She taught school, for a short time, emigrated again and became a seamstress and married a union man. In her early life as an émigré, she was well acquainted with purposeful rebels: catholics under oppression in their own land and the new world, working people against robber barons and their thugs, fenians, and trade unionists. She was a poor female, but one with spirit and determination and understood cameraderie.

There is a story, that, she sewed Mrs. Lincoln’s inaugural dress in 1860, Chicago. In 1867, her husband and four children die in the yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1871, her dress shop burns in the Great Chicago Fire.

After this, she becomes a labor activist and organiser, especially for the workers on the railroad and the mines. In this capacity she is both beloved and hated. To the workers, she cut a very motherly and inspiring figure. She was with them, chancing death and imprisonment. Being spotted stepping off a train was cause enough for arrest. She ministered to the impoverished and the wounded.

In 1903, she led a march of mill children from Kensington, Pennsylvania to Coney Island. Their destination was to have been Oyster Bay, the home of, then, president Theodore Roosevelt. That was not to be allowed. The United States had very little concern about child labor and social injustice.
We want President Roosevelt to hear the wail of the children who never have a chance to go to school but work eleven and twelve hours a day in the textile mills of Pennsylvania; who weave the carpets that he and you walk upon; and the lace curtains in your windows, and the clothes of the people. Fifty years ago there was a cry against slavery and men gave up their lives to stop the selling of black children on the block. Today the child is sold for two dollars a week to the manufacturers. Fifty years ago the black babies were sold C.O.D. today the white baby on the installment plan. ... I shall ask the president in the name of the aching hearts of these little ones the he emancipate them from slavery. I will tell the president that the prosperity he boasts of is the prosperity of the rich wrung from the poor and the helpless.*
Perhaps, in words like those, she showed her power. She was an orator, of and, for the working class. Her tongue was very sharp and her voice fearless. She was an irish, and catholic peasant thrown into industrial America. Her cultural past, and self awareness, formed her uncompromised views. Oratory was respected and feared. To-day there are several mediums of communication, these media have actually de-emphasised speech. Currently, the sitting incumbent to the presidency is a blithering idiot, and he has millions of supporters who denounce eloquence.
I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator.*
She had her programme and was not concerned with the programmes of others, whom may have wanted her to ally with theirs. She believed for the betterment of the human condition in easily demonstrable benefits. Her method was free speech.
I spoke to a great mass meeting in Cooper Union ... Five hundred women got up at dinner and asked me to speak. Most of the women were crazy about women suffrage they thought that Kingdom-come would follow the enfranchisement of women.

"You must stand for free speech in the streets," I told them.

"How can we," piped a women, "when we haven't a vote?"

"I have never had a vote," said I, "and I have raised hell all over this country! You don't need a vote to raise hell! You need convictions and a voice!"*
She was right. The suffragettes were social dilettantes, who were interested in themselves. The vote was trivial in comparison to justice, sometimes it was inimical to justice. At times voting and the government are just forms. Justice is to do right by, and in, all forms.
_____________________
*selections from her Autobiography

Addendum: by happenstance, the first reading for mass, two Sundays ago, was about the
valiant pearl of a woman, who, makes a good wife; well, the Scripture line, immediately, before is:
Open thy mouth, decree that which is just, and do justice to the needy and poor. ― Proverbs xxxi.9.
This is not just the job of Lamuel the king, but us all, Mother Jones lived it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

G. K. Chesterton, in his essay, William Penn and the Puritans of January 24, 1931, in the Illustrated London News begins:
The Americans have established a Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the fact that the Pilgrim Fathers reached America. The English might very well establish another Thanksgiving Day, to celebrate the happy fact that the Pilgrim Fathers left England.
Chesterton speaks of the miserableness of the calvinists, and of the accident of people’s imaginations that a holiday refers to them. Fanciful, fictionalised and sanitised retelling of history, into a shared folklore has benefited, their legacy.

It is good to give thanks, and celebrate a feast. And one can chart good reasons, to do so, and for right rational purpose.

The calvinist attempt, in this celebration, was to replace Christmas and its inherent catholicism. Many americans, christian or no, celebrate this day, and many non-christians are very comfortable in its effective non-religiousness, and especially its adaptability as a non-christian festivity. Thanksgiving is an american, national holiday; it has religious overtones to some, but, essentially, it is not a religious day. It is a civic substitute.

Monday, November 24, 2008

MacGyver and the anti-MacGyver

Action adventure is a television genre. They are part of culture of the time. In the 1960s there were many horse opera westerns. There was a good deal of social commentary in many of them. Watch episodes of Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Maverick or Big Valley. See how many moral issues are addressed. How many of those issues, were really pointing to the then current America. And how many advanced progressive views and answers. Espionage shows, such as: I Spy, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E, also pointed this way, and so did the space opera, Star Trek.

Now, in the years preceding the Clinton presidency, there was the action, adventure series, MacGyver. In 1984 Reagan trounced Mondale (and Dukakis did little better in ’88). Most of the country seemed more attuned to the political views of Mondale, but still more voted for Reagan. Reagan’s initial bellicosity (before perestroika, and the Iran-contra and Beirut disasters), and carte blanche to the moneyed interests, was much challenged. Reagan’s Hollywood did not applaud and propagandise for him. MacGyver was a socially conscious [some read preachy], intelligent, action hero, who was remarkable in his calmness, and especially, his resourceful ingenuity, but he realised, that, sometimes he needed at least a ‘Plan B ’.

An identifying, and memorable feature, was his inventiveness. With barely more than a swiss army knife, and nearby flotsam and jetsam [junk at hand and occasionally duct tape], MacGyver rigs a workable, mechanical solution. ‘MacGyver’ has become a verb. A couple of times, at work, people have used the term. Sometimes, merely humorously, others admiringly: “You’ve macgyvered that! ”, “What now MacGyver? ”, “You watch MacGyver, dontcha?”.

Overall, MacGyver was a peaceable, and anti-violent hero. He strongly avoided guns. This plot device has been rarely used in the US. Now, there was the wonderful Andy Taylor of the idyllic Mayberry, the sheriff without a gun. Well occasionally he did get one out, but he did not walk around armed. He permitted, his deputy to carry a gun, but the lone bullet would be in Barney’s pocket. But those were comic devices, MacGyver was earnest.

In contrast, to the ending, of the current mini-epoch, of this country’s usurpation, we have the show ‘24’. A hideous modus operandi of a programme (including the preposterous ‘real time’ one day gimmick), that flourished under georgebushjr’s US, and, probably, could never have been written (and, almost, certainly not aired) outside the atmosphere of such a regime. A fictive, secretive, security agency*, that, has no qualms in using evil means to achieve their ends. All is permitted to fight ‘terrorism’, in order to ‘defend’ the country. Human and civil rights are thoroughly ignored. Torture is legitimate and necessary. Invented dilemmas, where there must be victims sacrificed. This show will not last long under a return to democracy.
________________

*MacGyver
had the Phoenix Foundation, 24 has the Counter Terrorist Unit, Get Smart had CONTROL and KAOS and so on.
postscriptum: There is a humor in the choice of the character name ‘MacGyver’. Obviously scottish, the scots have had a stereotype of being very canny, and frugal, about managing resources and being mechanically clever. There is the old joke, about the scotsman at the guillotine, where Scotty turns to look at the falling blade and says, “Aye, laddie! I ken yourr prroblem.”
[further digression: the chief engineer on Star Trek was “Scotty”] Finally, in a late programme, it is revealed that his name was the archetypal ‘Angus’. But, this also is the socially aware, near bleeding heart hero. MacGyver is an alternative spelling of MacGiver, both of which can be read mac--giver, pronounced with a short vowel.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christ the King

Christ Pantocrator mosaic. Duomo, Monreale, Sicily. c. 1180.
Now, in the iconography of Christ, one image of Jesus blends into another. Jesus was priest, prophet, king, sacrifice, Redeemer and Savior. There is an image of Jesus, in priestly robes projected, in front of the cross, both crucified and glorified.

To-day, in the new calendar, celebrated on the last Sunday of ordinary time, the feast of Christ the King. This was instituted by Pius XI for the Sunday, prior to All Saints, beginning in 1926. So that, the whole world could acknowledge the rôle of Christ.

In the Cristeros rebellion of Mexico in 1927, the cry was Viva Cristo Rey! The governments of many lands were contrary and hostile to Christ and his followers. Atheism and persecution was the worldly response in the twentieth century. The new mass readings are apocalyptic, and reminds, that Jesus will be judge, at the end of the world.

Christ Pantocrator, Ruler of All, is an earlier representation, and is still popular in the byzantine world. Jesus is seen, half figure, blessing with His right hand, holding the book or globe in His left. In churches, this image would be on the central dome or on the ceiling, over the nave. Christ in Majesty, Majestas Domini, has Jesus seated, as on a throne, as ruler of the world. Salvator Mundi, Savior of the World, Jesus’s right hand is in blessing, whilst His left hand holds a, crossed orb, a globus cruciger.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saint Cecilia


A parish window in the Austrian Tyrol.

Saint Cecilia is one, of the seven female (all martyred), Saints of this Second Intercession in the Roman canon. The other six are: Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Anastasia. All these saints come from the period before the toleration and legalisation of the Church. A time when the Roman state would actively, though not continuously, persecute the Church, sometimes with the utmost of intensity and theatrical cruelty. These saints are remembered and celebrated during mass, for their love of Christ and constancy of faith.

She has been continuously venerated since her martyrdom. She was buried on the Appian Way in the Catacomb of Callistus. There are a few pious legends abut her life, that, the skeptical have little confidence in. Even her chronology is not settled. One thread says her martyrdom occurred in 177, after her husband, and his brother. She was of a senatorial family, and therefore, was granted dignity a plebian or slave would not have. Her death sentence was to be suffocation, which failed, then a botched decapitation by sword, which she survived, after the third blow, for a time.

At some time, at least before the modern age, she became a patron of music. During her marriage ceremony, while disinterested in the festivities and earthly music, she was enraptured with heavenly song. There are representations of Cecilia in churches with an organ or bowed stringed instruments, which certainly did not exist in those forms in ancient times. Reni, Raphaël, Rubens, Poussin, Orazio Gentileschi, and Saraceni painted her, and Donatello and Stefano Maderno sculpted her. Her tomb in the church of St. Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome was opened in 1599, and her body was incorrupt. At the base of the statue,
Maderno carved, “Behold the body of the most holy virgin Cecilia whom I myself saw lying incorrupt in her tomb. I have in this marble expressed for thee the same saint in the very same posture of body.”

There are in parishes, around the world, Saint Cecilia singing or music societies. The Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, of Rome, Italy was founded in 1585 as a grandiose institution is but one such, even though it has had some impressive members. e.g. Palestrina, Corelli and the Scarlattis. Alessandro Scarlatti and Charles Gounod composed masses for Cecelia. Her association with music lasted in England even amongst certain of the heretics, and public concerts took place on her day.


Tangentially, in 1940 a swedish song, The Shrine of Saint Cecilia, was written and was translated into english. The next year, The Andrews Sisters and others recorded it thereafter; in 1953, an R&B group, The Royals made it to the charts. The sound of ‘
Cecilia’ is pleasant and musical to the year, while Cecil’, either the british or the american pronounciation, is not.
... The bells in the chapel never ring anymore
The clock in the steeple can't tell time as before
But up on the hillside, stands a place heaven blest
The shrine of Saint Cecilia

Each day at eventide
When I seek haven from my daily care
You'll find me by her side
It seems so peaceful there

I kneel in my solitude and silently pray
That heaven will protect you, dear, and there'll come a day
The storm will be over and that we'll meet again
At the shrine of Saint Cecilia ...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

post election buffoons

I have had an irregular series, I labeled, outrageous Republicans. I believe in the Republic, and the term ‘Republican’ should apply to something better. Another name would be more à propos — the American Fascists, or digging out a predecessor party — the Know-Nothings. Certainly they would not accept this modest suggestion for an accurate appellation. Well, God willing, their grasp on power may loosen. Their thought [sic] is still there. Some crosses the border past insanity, yet, though, by every logical thought, it ought be deemed thoroughly irrelevant — it is still there. Nationally, any idiot or miscreant with an (R) after his name will gather 40% of the electorate, and garner over an hundred electoral votes.

They have no real thought. They are frondeurs, the pawns of malevolent demons that possess Atwaters and Roves. They are parrots of raunch, radio rabble.

Now, I have two candidates to mention:

#1 U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia on 10 November said, "That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist." This man has a medical degree. Did not an anatomy professor, in some medical school, ever mention in class, that, one way to prevent foot and mouth disease is not to put your foot in your mouth? The trouble with this inane insanity is that it is malignant and enduring.

#2 Sarah Palin, has anointed herself queen in waiting. Nothing she says is believable, little of it makes sense. It is a great wonder, that, she can string together so many words, in a passable grammatical order, with acceptable diction, when necessary, without saying anything , that, reflects reality or imparts information. Yes, she has some sort of degree in communication. Will these schools force undergraduates to pass courses in history and logic, before granting degrees?

Will the american public ever relegate obnoxious stupidity to oblivion?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Restore the Constitution

Barack Obama is the first man to win the presidency since 1996. This eight year period of usurpation, seems to be ending. The standing of this country has suffered in the interval. The populace is gripped in economic trepidation and financial crisis. The rest of the world is rejoicing in the upcoming transition, with near unanimity, that, is far beyond the national evaluation.

Barack Obama has shown calm calculation and poise. He is speaking of conciliation. What he has given barely a public clue to is — restoring and defending the Constitution.

The interloper is shameless. He has been accountable to nothing. The current economic troubles were created by his incompetent policies, and now he tells the world, that, capitalism, his term – free markets, have no cause to be blamed.

The man who practises pre-emptive war is without remorse. The man who knows no law, but his own will, is unbowed. There is still two more months until the return to democracy. In those two months great mischief can be made.

Will Barack Obama undo and, even prevent, some of bush junior’s unique concoction of evil, malevolence, arrogance and incompetence? Perhaps verbal reticence is a shrewd tactic. And of course, though weakened, his political party still exists, and it too, is unrepentant. Obama is speaking only of unity.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The last remembrance

Papaver rhoeas

As of this writing, there are about a dozen survivors, of those who wore the uniform, in the war to end all wars: the great war, the european war, world war one. These men are well into their eleventh decade of life, some the twelfth. Throughout much of the british commonwealth and France, Armistice Day is remembered and observed on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” It was then in 1918, that, hostilities ceased on the western front between the allies and the germans. The armistice, the agreement, was signed, a few hours earlier, in Compiègne, France. The word spread immediately; the shooting and killing did not stop
immediately. Joseph Persico* has calculated 11,000 casualties that day. Officially, all the french, who, died that day, had died the day before.

In some of these countries, the day is informally called “Poppy Day”. Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a canadian physician, penned a rondeau early on in the war, May 3, 1915.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Now, the corn pop
py is scarlet and grows as a weed, in agricultural fields, in Belgium and northeastern France. These were also the fields of war, death and burial of millions. Both, Moina Michael of Athens, Georgia and Mme. Anna Guérin of Paris, found the poppy as appropriate for remembrance of the war dead. Mme. Guérin started to produce and sell artificial poppies, in order to raise funds, for the war victims. This became a charitable exercise in Britain, Canada and the US, also..

There was much brilliant and poignant war poetry, often by soldiers, whom, did not survive the war; McCrae did not. In the 1970s, Eric Bogle wrote two songs about the surviving veterans and the war dead. After visiting a military cemetery in France, Bogle eulogised, one of several, Willie McBrides (No Man's Land, The Green Fields of France). The other song, And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, refers to successive ANZAC parades, where fewer and fewer veterans march.
And so now every April, I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march,
Reviving old dreams of past glory,
And the old men march slowly, all bones stiff and sore,
They’re tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask “What are they marching for?”
And I ask meself the same question.

But the band plays “Waltzing Matilda,”
And the old men still answer the call,
But as year follows year, more old men disappear
Someday, no one will march there at all.
_____________________
*
Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918, World War I and Its Violent Climax. 2004.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (*11 October 1884, † 7 November 1962) was Mrs. Roosevelt. First Lady is an informal office, currently it is irrelevant, but, from 1933 to 1945, it was of great importance. Mrs. Roosevelt was United States ambassador to humanity.

In a television comedy show, All in the Family, the misunderstood, frustrated lead character, Archie Bunker, says, something to the effect of: “Until Eleanor Roosevelt discovered 'em, we didn't know the colored folks existed.” Yes, Mrs. Roosevelt found them, and introduced them, and their lives, and troubles to many fellow americans, to whom they were disinterested towards. Mrs. Roosevelt was a deeply, concerned humanitarian, who struggled to increase social and legal justice.

In 1933 there were unemployed war veterans about the capital city, they wanted promised bonuses. The difference between the Republicans and the New Deal was, that,“Hoover sent the Army, Roosevelt sent his wife.” Again, and again, she would go. She was the most admired, and beloved person in the nation, and also, the most vilified by the moneyed interests, and the malicious and malignant members of the Republican party, and the Klan.

She was a friend to labor, and their ambitious programme: a 48 hour week, the abolition of child labor and the creation of a minimum wage. Such extreme demands angered the defenders of unrestrained, unregulated, unfettered capitalism.

She supported Marian Anderson, when the Daughters of the American Revolution denied Miss Anderson to perform at Constitution Hall. Mrs. Roosevelt quit the DAR, and the concert was sung, by Miss Anderson, in front of the Lincoln memorial. In 1943 she went to the South Pacific to visit hospitalised servicemen. She was dauntless and heart filled. Her patriotism was beyond the imaginings of her detractors.

She was born to high privilege and wealth, she did not act in that manner. Her personal life was often painful. She strove with great energy to do good, and did so. She was embarrassed about her looks, and her voice would break into a falsetto soprano. She worked, and wrote, and investigated, and traveled. She was a beautiful and wonderful woman.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A new president for a troubled country

Fernando Lugo, on the Feast of the Assumption, became president of Paraguay in Asunción. This was historic: from 1954 to 1989 General Alfredo Stroessner was dictator, his party lost the latest election, and allowed Lugo to be inaugurated. That was a first in Paraguay. Lugo is a recently laïcised bishop, Rome consented, though not easily or quickly. The bishop for the poor is now the president of the poor. Paraguay has been a highly, visible example of fascist corruption. The new president has much work to do. He has refused a salary. He appears in native shirt and sandals, and speaks Guarani. His presidency will be different than his predecessors.

Members of Fernando Lugo’s family were often imprisoned, and or, exiled by Stroessner’s dictatorship. As a young man, Lugo became a rural teacher, and found his calling when the people had no priest. He joined the Society of the Divine Word, was ordained on the Feast of the Assumption 1977, and went as a missionary to Ecuador for five years. After a year back in Paraguay, he was exiled. He went to Rome. He came back in 1987, and in in 1994 became bishop of the poorest diocese, San Pedro. He resigned in 2005 and began campaigning.

Bishop, now President, Lugo has not come easily to office; already two former presidents have tried to form a coup. Centuries ago, in and about, the same country the jesuits administered reductions (reducciones de indios). These Jesuit Reductions produced a self-sustaining community of christianised, and civilised, but not europeanised indians. In the movie, The Mission, the story was told. The Guarani were the chief indian nation, then in Paraguay, and are that now. They wanted to hold their land in peace and freedom. That is still the problem now. Many indians and mestizos have little, or no, property and rights. With the violent end of the reductions, and the expulsion of the jesuits, the indians were robbed, killed and enslaved.

To-day the ruling families run smuggling operations that enrichen themselves, of course; now smuggling is supposedly illegal. It is done matter-of-factly. Much of the farmland is owned by brasilians. The use of toxic pesticides and deforestation is rampant. The landless native peasantry is powerless, but they have elected a man to champion their interests, and of course, he is in danger.

Now, Paraguay has a great river that runs through it, with many tributaries and falls. Paraguay’s water power generates electricity for Brasil, and Mr. Lugo wants a renegotiated deal. Paraguay is landlocked and has two powerful neighbors in Brasil and Argentina. Foreign relations will be very important.

Recently, he was in New York City, at the United Nations. He was offered a meeting with Sarah Palin, he declined, he found it laughable. She did speak to Kissinger, and the client presidents of Colombia, Georgia, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was not going to be a tool or prop of that campaign.

Mister Lugo has much to deal with. Many in his country have great confidence in him, and great hope for him. He came to power, legally, ending the world’s, longest, current period of one party rule. He is very familiar with liberation theology, so the corporate press will always call him a leftist. So far, the background information available has found him unassailable.