Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mind of Mansel: Could it be?


"What looks like politics, and imagines itself to be political, will one day unmask itself as a religious movement."

- Kierkegaard

Could it be that the choice of Joe Biden for VP, could turn out to be as bad a choice as Eagleton in 1972 for McGovern? Could it be that the polls running neck and neck could have been demolished for good by a different choice, and not Hillary Clinton? Could the Democratic party finally move to the left? Do the footsteps of gravediggers really fill convention halls after the chairs have been put up?

- Chris Mansel

Mind of Mansel: Insubordination


leaving the way, returning to the burning
found in nature, cited here as turning
what you gonna do when your dialectic
has gone the death of animals, a waste
of strength

when you envisage a region scattered
of revolt, the only obstinacy crumpled pages
mercy on the projection of terrifying innocence
my wounds run deeper, they animate an
antisocial expenditure not separated by loss

degradation is the common convulsion shredding
in three colors: red, white, and blue.

- Chris Mansel

Mind of Mansel: Right Down To Hell

(for Jack Random)

they were carving up the meat the other day
trying to get the bread to look the other way
they divested the spreads to fit the knives
but appetites could never keep up with their eyes
and just now before you go and condemn the tray
the salads and forks will get involved or so they say

dancing men grow impaled
split right down to hell
on the eye of the needle
right down to hell

I can't find humanity though I looked in the mirror today
It was a brick wall against where I used to pray
there was gnashing of teeth as they led me by flashlight
stepping over the bodies that had washed up overnight
laughing dying eyes always implies I'm going insane
I'm looking for the obscuriity of Zarathustra in
a presidential campaign

dancing men grow impaled
split right down to hell
on the eye of the needle
right down to hell

- Chris Mansel

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jake's Word: No Country!

The following lines are from the narration of the opening scenes of No Country For Old Men I think they speak powerfully as a metaphor for the current state of the union:

The crime you see now, it's hard to even
take its measure. It's not that I'm afraid
of it.

I always knew you had to be willing to
die to even do this job - not to be
glorious. But I don't want to push my
chips forward and go out and meet some-
thing I don't understand.

You can say it's my job to fight it but
I don't know what it is anymore.

...More than that, I don't want to know. A
man would have to put his soul at hazard.

... He would have to say, okay, I'll be
part of this world.

The question before us is, do we want to be a part of this world? A world where enormous sums are squandered, tossed around like plastic chips, cast to the wind, along with the savings, homes and hopes of hard working, honest people. A world where violence, manipulation and double-dealing are the means most often used to get the country the resources it needs to continue at it's present rate of consumption.

I don't want to be a part of a world like that. Not because I'm a righteous man, but because I'm as evil as any other man and as susceptible to greed and selfishness. At some point you have to say, "Enough. I won't be a part of this. This is not my country and these are not my people."

I will live here because I was born here, but I will not participate in a spectacle that is a bald-faced lie, a bold charade the opposite of what it is supposed to be. This is the last election. Democracy's last chance in these states for as far as the eye can see. Should the people shirk democracy I do not want to bear witness to the consequences. I have seen enough already. There must be more to do with my time, my mind, my soul than engage this malevolence day in and day out. I'll make it my business to attend to my business and may God damn the poor m*therf*cker that stands in my way. That is the American way, right?

Election Day. See you there. Bring a torch.

Jake Berry (author of Brambu Drezi and Liminal Blue)

Jake's Word: How much does it take?

Today two more banks crash and burn. How much does it take?

Obama is no savior, you don't get saviors out of elections. I'm not sure you get them at all. But his election at the very least would signify to the world that the voters in the U.S. have not gone completely insane. Polls outside the U.S. show a vast majority worldwide in favor of Obama, in favor of anything but a continuation of the last eight years, or worse. McCain's election would be yet another message to the rest of the world that the majority of registered voters in the U.S. are unconcerned about them. Not a good message to send when so few are consuming so much of the world's resources while many starve or die from disease or war that are a direct result of this nation's selfishness. How's that for family values?

I'm truly concerned that the only alternative come next year may be the outright rejection of all political institutions. The result may be a global revolt against all governments. The big problem with that is that revolutions are invariably followed by a reign of terror, tyrants, dictators and political homicide in the thousands or millions.

It's either that or a new dark age. One authority over all.

It's sad to think that a handful of people who normally pay little or no attention to politics will make a decision that seems casual to them, but will have such far reaching consequences.

In Alabama and California the race is over. It's like waiting to see the end. Or as Wayne says in his song "Old Pompey," "which day does Judgement Day fall on this year."

Jake Berry (author of Brambu Drezi and Liminal Blue)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jake's Word re: McCain 4 Change!

(Response to a Jazzman Chronicle: Notes from The Inner Circle - reprinted below.)

There is an old maxim among conservatives - kill the beast. The idea being, as Reagan said in his first inaugural address, that government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem. Most Americans did, and still do, agree with that. But the statement does not go nearly far enough. It is in fact a ruse. Most of those that heard Reagan utter those words believed him to be saying that he would lower taxes and remove the government's meddling in their lives - which were two of the campaign promises he had made. But that is only part of the story and therein lies the ruse. If you deprive the government of its powers and excesses you must also delete the other powers in the land. Namely, large corporations and other large concentrations of wealth. If you fail to do this then the people are left with no recourse at all, no means by which to express the redress of grievances that the Constitution guarantees. That is the open secret. Dismantle government, but leave the other powers in tact to act without restraint – the neoconservative doctrine.

Indeed, they are "closer now than ever to realizing [their] agenda." Even the military is being sold. As much as half of the foreign military presence in Iraq is in the hands of private companies. From the meals soldiers are being served to "security" forces like Blackwater, it's paid for by the U.S. taxpayer, but responsible to private companies and stockholders.

On the other hand when the banks that hold almost two-thirds of the mortgages in the country squander their resources through unscrupulous business practices and very nearly collapse, who saves them? Why, the government of course. This means that anyone who holds a mortgage with Fanny Mae or Freddy Mac faces the prospect of losing their home to the government should they have to default on loans that were tricky to navigate from the start and only became more so as interest rates rose and the economy continued to falter. Does a government with a lien on two-thirds of the mortgages in the U.S. sound like less government? Well, it's hard to say at a time when there is so little distinction between government and private corporations. Who owns what and who owes what to who and what happens if the payments can't be made?

The plot thickens. Take a look at the 401k you've been depositing money in since the heady 1990s. Your returns haven't been returns at all over the past seven years, they've been liabilities. You keep sending a portion of your hard earned dollars to a broad range of corporations that are taking your money and giving you less than nothing in return. Less than nothing. Take a look at the companies guilty of unscrupulous business and then take a look at the companies you are financing. You'll see many of the same names in both places. Let me make this as clear as mud. You send your money to companies who then steal the homes of their customers through subprime loans (to use the most reported issue as an an example). When the customers, and you may be one of them, are unable to pay, the companies grab the properties. But when enough homes go into foreclosure the company collapses and the government using taxpayers dollars picks up the tab. Do you see what is happening? We are paying thieves to rob us blind. Money keeps going out of your pocket into the pockets of people who are far richer than you. And this happens precisely because those people are unethical, even criminal.

Is there a solution? Can the tide be turned? What happens if you drop your 401k and therefore stop sending your hard earned dollars to these large corporations? The stocks will slip, the economy will continue to slide. What happens if you stop buying gasoline? The oil companies lose profit and begin to crumble. Will they adapt and offer a form of sustainable fuel? They say they would be unable to do that in the short term (meaning between now and 2020).

Did you believe in the American dream, the one they taught us about in school? Work hard, apply yourself and you will succeed. Make honesty, loyalty and fidelity your creed and you will be rewarded. How has that worked out for us? Look around. Look at the for sale signs in front of homes. Look at how much you are paying for health insurance compared to the service you are receiving. The money keeps flowing up, up, up.

Welcome to America. A brand name for a global corporation whose substance is as thin as the phony money and sub rosa contracts it is printed on. This is the world we all invested in. We paid to create these very conditions and we are still paying. Every time we buy anything, pay our mortgage, fill up our tanks we are investing in a con game that is raping the world, devouring resources faster than they can be produced, and making a small handful of people so powerful that not even they know the limits of that power.

Welcome to America. Welcome to twilight. It's difficult to discern one thing from another. Something is happening here, but we don't know what it is.

Is it too late already? I don't know. But two months into next year we'll be living with a new executive in charge of brand America and we'll find out if this is the twilight before dawn or descent into a long cold night.

Perhaps 2000 was the last election – the point at which representative government slipped away from us forever. Perhaps 2008 is the last election. One day soon we will know. I for one would like to be able to look back and say that at least I cried out against the night.

Jake Berry (Author of Brambu Drezi and Liminal Blue.)



By Jack Random

On the occasion of a successful Republican National Convention, it is an appropriate time to take stock of our progress as Americans dedicated to real and systemic change.

It is with cautious optimism that I declare: We are closer now than we ever have been to realizing the objectives for which we have worked so hard over the course of the last fifteen years.

When we set out on this venture, few could have imagined success would come so soon and with so little resistance. Indeed, we could not have anticipated the ease with which we have moved our hidden agenda along on its path to fruition.

After the utterly predictable failure of President Bill Clinton’s first one hundred days (universal health care and gays in the military – who were they kidding?), we sent in Dick Morris to turn the liberal Democrat around. To our astonishment, we found a chief executive not only willing but eager to sell out. Clinton’s sudden embrace of all things conservative was so convincing we did not have to worry about a second term. We made him a millionaire overnight and the president cherished his new role as a darling of the corporate elite.

Clinton became the perfect setup man on both the domestic and foreign policy fronts but we still needed a break to prevent Al Gore with his progressive economic and environmental agenda from delivering a setback (how great we will never know) in 2000. Monica Gate, lame politics (don’t campaign in Tennessee and don’t send Bill to Arkansas), Joe Lieberman (the fox in the hen house), a butterfly ballot, Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris and Warren Christopher in Florida sealed the deal.

The United States Supreme Court handed us our greatest victory. We knew we could count on George to steer the ship of state straight into the rocks: Corporate deregulation, unprecedented tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, runaway Free Trade, pimping the principle of home ownership, dismantling federal agencies: What could go wrong?

We knew our president would never change course no matter how disastrous his policies would prove. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

We had the vaunted Neocons in place (a brain trust so radical and out of touch that even Reagan would have nothing to do with them) and a compliant corporate media to paint them as the Knights of the Last Order – wise and infallible beyond reason.

Still, we needed a trigger – a catastrophic event that would ignite a chain of endless war to swallow our resources and bury us in insurmountable debt. Along came September 11, 2001.

Let the world know we were not the moving force behind that tragedy nor do we know who was yet it cannot be denied that it was the accelerator that pushed our mission into hyper drive. Thanks to the 9-11 Commission that like the Warren Commission in another time and space, we may never be able to determine the full extent of the crime or those complicit in its perpetration. What we know we can only surmise from a cost-benefit analysis: Like the old gumshoe detective said: Follow the money. It is however neither in our interest nor in the interest of our government to uncover the sordid truth.

It is ironic that our detractors so often accuse us of being godless and without faith. If there is a divinity overseeing human events, it is clearly on our side.

The feckless John Kerry was never truly a threat in 2004. With the Rove-Bush voter fraud and disenfranchisement machine fully operational, only a landslide would have put the result in question. The Massachusetts senator did everything he could to throw the election to his opponent. Was he working for us? We’ll never tell!

Of course, not everything has gone as we planned. We did not intend for the Democrats to gain control of Congress in the midterm elections. With a strong mandate to end the war and redirect our economic policies, we faced a potential threat. However, once Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that impeachment was off the table we realized that the Democrats would fall into line. They would settle for symbolic opposition and make an appeal for an even larger majority in the next election.

As long as we can keep forty-one members of the United States Senate in Republican hands (with Lieberman as a buffer), Congress will remain stymied and will ultimately go along with whatever the White House wants.

Everything now depends on the presidential race.

Six months ago none would have speculated that a Republican would stand the slightest chance of gaining four more years of the same policies that have brought the new American empire to the very brink of economic and military collapse.

But here we are: Less than two months before election day, the old warrior (whom rumor has it once displayed alarming bouts of independence) has pulled out every card in the Karl Rove deck and stands one tantalizing step away from realizing the ultimate ambition. Even better, if the old warrior should fall midterm, the young lady from Alaska (who knows less about economics and foreign policy than her mentor has forgotten) would rise to the highest power in all the land.

Either way, we can rest assured that all current trends will continue unabated. There will be wars and more wars. Military expenditures will double and quadruple even as the national infrastructure continues to crumble. Jobs will be exported at an accelerated rate, wages will continue to decline, prices will rise and home foreclosures will reach epidemic proportions.

As bank after bank fails and people line up on the streets for shelter and food, panic will take hold. Common working people with families to feed and care for will be living in public parks and police will bang heads. Soldiers will abandon their posts and angry mobs will surround the institutions of government.

Congress will finally act but it will be too late: A worldwide depression, global economic collapse, institutional failure and mass chaos.

The ultimate and final victory, that eternal blank slate that allows the world to begin again:

One hundred years of anarchy.

Dream it and make it so!