3% unemployment, 6% growth, world peace & gay guys Monday, Sep 22 2014 

I find it astonishing that anyone in the United States thinks that the subject of gay men is an American issue. It’s not. It’s worldwide. There is not one country on earth that is not contending with the age old question of “what do we do with the homosexuals?” – We wish you’d do nothing but get over it – but well, it’s a constant source of discussion. But let us play “Imagine” – a game where the world is wondrous and unemployment is a bare 3% and the growth of the economy zooms along at 6% and the world is at peace – and I’m talking about Palestinian-Israeli peace – I’m talking about no more war – I’m talking about a world where everyone is well off and there’s no more “poor” (though, perhaps some will be less rich than others.) I’m speaking of an imaginary world where there’s no more environmental degradation and every single problem one could imagine is solved. No more homelessness. No more starving children in the Third World. No more insurgents intent on destroying their current government because there blossoms a great comity amongst mankind and across humanity. I’m speaking of a unicorn world where there’s no divorce, no child left behind, no source of perfect energy not perfected – indeed, the sort of world which has never existed, save for the imaginations of mankind and the lovey-dovey pronouncements of pastors at the pulpit, in the immortal words of Rodney King: “Can’t we all just get along?” – and we do. What then? In this imaginary world do people think there’d be no gay guys?

Well, perhaps some would think so – but, still, the reality is – gayness is a part of the human species, as Bruce Bagemihl describes among the animal kingdom (of which we are part) in his book “Biological Exuberance. Well, you could solve every single problem in this world, and have everyone on the same page in glorious harmony as Jesus himself commanded we attain. I’m speaking of a world where the biggest problem is perhaps a car wreck – though every disease is cured and no one suffers and everyone lives no less than three score and 10 – I’m speaking of an imaginary world, yes – but one that is bandied about by Left and Right both … and that division too would be cured, solved, resolved and removed from contention. What then?

Well, then there’d be the gay thing – we are an ineluctable portion of mankind. We’re not the product of broken homes, or broken personalities, nor broken anything. We just are. We are by the grace of God – maybe not your “god” – but ours. Then, even then, after every single issue that has long faced this world – there’d still be gayness and gay men – and the age old question would remain: “What do we do with the homosexuals” – and aye, there’s the rub – we exist – and we are told we don’t. We say we’re born this way, and others demur. We are. Simple “Are” in every portent of the word. And then what? What is the world to do with the most despised group of people? What would the world argue about? Well, they would argue about gayness – that would be the only thing remaining to discuss. Like I posit – a perfect world – and still, us pesky gay men.

Oh, sure, say we’re “sick” or “insane,” “demented” or “stunted” or whatever pseudo-psychological things you think exists … but still – here we would be – and all over the world too. Which is perhaps the oddest thing about the many “causes” for our existence bandied about, tossed cavalierly – “your parents made you gay, that’s why it’s your fault, and you had a predisposition and you were molested and you choose to be gay” – a logical mishmash that no one – not even gay guys – truly examines. No, it’s pie-d out – one slice to this one, one slice to that … and yet, there’d we be – here we are – what to do with us.

The idea that we’re harming anyone is preposterous – yet uttered with alarming frequency. We are rock solid about who we are – and you heterosexuals worry that you people are so flimsy of mind that at the drop of a hat you might be induced, or forced, or enjoined to change. We don’t care who you are – we don’t want you to change. But, we are here.

And if every single problem in this world is, as I said, resolved to complete satisfaction by everyone – we’d still be here.

Volokh Conspiracy & The United States of Mexico, Brazil, America … Sunday, Sep 14 2014 

I ran across this interesting thing on “America” and who is “American” and where the word might be used and by whom – and as I usually see in this debate, it is framed entirely wrong. The issue is not where and who can use the word “America” – but “United States.”

Here’s the link to the article I found: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/09/10/on-america-american-and-americans/

Here’s the key phrase that I latched on to, which the author writes:
“I apologize, in advance, for my use of the term “American” throughout to refer to the United States. It’s unpleasantly chauvinistic, and I know that it drives Mexicans and Canadians and Brazilians and Peruvians and other “Americans” to distraction”

However, I have had this debate too – and the writer misses astonishing salient points – which drive me to distraction!

The names of these countries are: “The United States of Mexico” “The United States of Brazil” “The United States of America” – (I’ll get to Peru and Canada in a moment) – but look at this – three countries with the same name – “The United States of …” and then some place. Well, then we are all “estadounidodienses” as the Mexicans say – yes? Ooh noo – they are “Mexican” and we remain the vague. In Brazil they are Brazilians – they don’t go around saying “Eo desde o estados” (I’m from the states – in Portuguese.) These people are by their name – Mexico, Brazil – and we? We must, for THEIR happiness – avoid the name of our nation … and be the vague US. But they are US’s too.

Mexico goes so far as to call us “Norteamericanos” – North Americans – but they too are Norteamericanos – Mexico is indeed in North America – which is where I segue to Canada … In Mexico they remain either Canadienses (Canadians) to the authorities – even though clearly they are the largest nation in North American – or they are ‘gringos’ to the people – which enrages Canadians – or “Americanos” which is slightly less insulting to the Polar Bear Club – I have lived in Mexico – this I can vouch for!

Meanwhile, Venezuela is in South America – and has States – but I’m not sure if it’s officially “the United States of Venezuela” certainly they are “united states” while Argentina and Peru have “provinces” like Canada does.

And so we call Argentina, Peru and Canada those names – and ignore their “’provinces”
And we call Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico those names – and ignore their “states”

– and then when we get to the United States of America – the FIRST independent nation in the hemisphere – everyone goes through gyrations about what we may call ourselves!

Indeed – all the names, forms of government, constitutions – that everyone else in the place uses are from “America” – meaning the USA – we were FIRST – now we must kowtow to their desires and never call ourselves America! Nor Americans! Astonishing!

Meanwhile, Canadians in Mexico – to my personal knowledge – do NOT like to be called Americans – – but back home in Toronto they’ve got a bee in their bonnet, eh?

Then too – no one in the rest of the world – you know – Angola, Bangladesh, Philippines, China, France, Russia, Zimbabwe (did I miss any? Hmm) – etc – who says they are going to “America” – remotely thinks for a moment they are going to Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Canada or Guatemala … indeed – outside of the “The Americas” – America is the United States of America, Old Glory Red White and Blue where’s the swimming pool, cheeseburgers and indoor plumping? … yet to the politically craven (aka, correct) “America” means anywhere between Tierra Del Fuego and Baffin Island.

It’s a bit of hubris I can’t get around.

I’ve had this discussion multiple-times – and when faced with this “United States of Mexico” as the prime example I say:

Somos de los EEUU – we are from the United States
Somos norteamericanos – we are North Americans
pero tu eres de Mexico – y soy de America – but you are from Mexico – and I’m from America
y nadie en todos el mundo cuando dicen ‘yo me voy a America!’ es pensando ‘Guadalajara.’
and no one in all the world, when they say ‘I’m going to America!’ is thinking ‘Guadalajara.’

– and you know – no one can disagree with me on this –

But that Washington Post and Volokh lawyers – smart people – can’t see this, don’t know it, don’t mention it – avoid it? Ignore it? What? Are they unaware of the names of these other nations who are riled up by our use of our name? Hmm … well, in their pictures they look young – and you know the youth of the world to today – they all want to be American – not Brazilian, Canadian, Mexican, Peruvian, or anything else – and no one is unsure what they mean. Even the Mexicans I know down there say: “But I want to go to America.”

Destroy ISIS: next up, Islamic Regime II Saturday, Sep 13 2014 

Just what does the president or any warhawk think where going to get out of this bombing mission, with a few hundred advisors and arms shipping to people we don’t know in the “syria” “iraq” “conflict”? I mean, is there a Victory we can point to? Some point in a year or two or 10 as some have said we may have to be there? And what is that “victory”? Do we think we shall create the Iowa Caucuses and a few New Hampshire Town Hall Meetings? Perhaps a Kiwanis club. Will we “pacify” the region, that word from Vietnam as I recall – we were going to Pacify the Viet Cong – yeah, sure. Will we kill all the militants, or are they rebels? Insurgents or warlords? What or who is ISIS? Or ISIL or (i)SilSis – who the hell knows – it goes by several names already – the president said they weren’t Islamic – perhaps they’re Balsamic, more vinegary – with a dash of spice. But what is the goal?

Is the goal to construct some “iraqi” state that’s at peace within and with-out? – Ah, I can’t even capitalize the place anymore – it’s not a “country” – it’s lines in the sand drawn by a drunk Englishman in 1917 – we’re fighting for Lord Balfour’s creation? What on earth for?

Are we trying now to save the murderous Assad Regime in Syria? So that we can help them fight their “insurgents” “rebels” “freedom fighters” – what else are they called by numb-skulls? Or are we trying to overthrow the Assad regime in “syria” – won’t capitalize that anymore – I mean, ¼ of the nation or so are Kurds – others Allawi, Druse, Palestinian, Jordanian – hell, the lines are in the wrong place, folks. The lines are Euro-weenie lines from barely 100 years ago – and we’re to spend billions of bucks and thousands of American lives to keep people together in fictitious countries who hate each other – because of a British Lord on a power trip? This is rational? This is insanity.

Are we there to avenge the deaths of a few moronic Americans who wish to Extreme-Travel? Look, OK, so we rescue you from the sides of Kilimanjaro because you wanted to see the rooftop of Africa – OK I get it – it’s there. But really, to go wander into these places for photo-ops? And now you want the entire US population to come to your rescue because they behead you or may do so tomorrow if they haven’t already done so? Really? I mean, sure, go where you wish – but take responsibility – know your likelihood of dying a horrific death and having our body dragged through the mud is a high probability.

Are we going to clear up the schism between Shiite and Sunni? Hell, we don’t even understand it. Oh, sure, in an esoteric academic way I understand that some 1200 or 1300 years ago in the desert near Basra the 11th Imam, Ali, the Son-in-Law of Mohammy himself was killed in battle and the Sunni-Shiite schism was a-born right then – but does anybody truly “understand” in an intrinsic way, what these people are fighting about? No – don’t pretend you do. You read about it – now you think you are expert. The Sunni-Shiite divide is not something we can solve, and shouldn’t even try – at most separate them – not try to conjoin them like twins and chastise them at democracy meetings on how to behave and have reasonable debate over what is in the schools. These people think the others aren’t people. We’re not going to influence them.

So what are we doing? The president already has gone from “we’re doing anti-terrorism activities” – egad – how friggin’ vague – to “war with ISIS” – in a week’s time the man has changed his tune. This is the guy who for 5 or 6 years should have spent an hour or two a day reading about it, talking to people – I dare say – this information is not out on the friggin’ golf course. Nor at a fund raiser. If his job is to bomb places into submission, at least study the place daily for a few years to know what you’re doing and not wing it in the last 6 or 8 days before the missiles fly.

Is it to appease our “saudi” allies? Well, at least the Brits didn’t quite create that place – it’s geographically distinct for sure – but the Saud are a family – a damn absolute monarchy – with 5,000 princes – we should worry whether these hypocritical fat cat Saudi family princes get to keep their oil wealth? Really? Some poor schnook from Peoria, USA should die so Prince Ali-ibn-Suadi can go off to Monaco and play golf before a night at the casino with a few million in oil revenues on the VISA card? You can’t be serious.

Are we trying to prevent the creation of a Kurdish state – because those poor people were never liked by anyone – who are they, after all? They are an Indo-European speaking people, closer ethnically to Azeris, Farsi-speaking Persians, Armenians, Georgians than they are to Arabs – ah, but the rub is that while most of them are in “iraq” there’s big millions-strong chunks of them in “iran” and “turkey” and “syria” – none of these places are “countries” really – and if Scotland can split off from the UK, and Catalonia and the Basque can leave Spain perhaps, why can’t the Kurds of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria all get together in one big happy Kurdistan? Well, it seems British foreign policy of King George V (VI? Eh, 1910-1918, who cares the number) against his cousin Czar Nicholas II (Looked like twins for heaven’s sake, their mothers could barely tell them apart) said a Kurdistan was not good for the power-politics of the early 1900s – so those people had the mighty pen of mapping drawn right through them.

So now, Kurds in Turkey have to get translators to talk to their own government in Ankara – which wishes to outlaw Kurd anything – to the point of outlawing their language and banning the use of Kurdish first names – get a load of that – a country outlawing first names because of ethnicity?! I had thought Barack Obama was all about the name-ethnic nonsense – but no, he’s joined King George/Czar Nicholas in making sure that Kurds are kept separate. Hell, I recall that even Henry Kissinger was against an independent Kurdistan because of the Real-politik of the Bundesreich again the East Germans and Russians in the Cold War.

Surely peeling off a few million Kurds out of “iran” couldn’t hurt – after all – that might well disrupt some atom-bomb building fun of the ayatollahs for awhile – yes? Hell, I’d stir up the Baluchis in southeast Iran to revolt and join their Baluchi brethren in “pakistan” – I’m all for dividing up these fakes countries and putting the lines where they ought to go – and not where English and French, German and Russian politicians of 1910 thought they ought to be. To be guided by the foreign policy ideas of those guys is utterly ridiculous – but, that’s what we’re doing, apparently. Without a seeming clue by anyone currently involved that this is so.

To hear John “ketchup head” Kerry talk – we’re at war with Webloes against Boy Scouts over marshmallows … I don’t think that man knows a damn thing about this place, but that Raytheon probably makes missile guidance systems along the 1-95 corridor outside of Boston … and his good friend just happens to own the industrial park where the stuff is made.

To listen to John McCain is painful – pitiful – not a lesson in Vietnam did he learn. Except maybe hostage taking. And he’s taking the country hostage so he can re-fight his glory. Why, he wanted to be president – now he pretends to be one – while the one we got could be bothered to interrupt his leisure schedule to think a problem through.

Meanwhile, the poor schooks on the ground, or in the air, or wherever they maybe at land or sea – are stuck trying to “Implement” a policy of puff-powder – implement what? One implements a plan, with a set goal, measurable result points – you know, on December 1st we want to have our new store open. But no – we’ll just give guns and butter too, I suppose, to people we don’t know, so they can fight their wars over things we don’t understand, that were created by people who weren’t us, didn’t understand and had other objectives 100 years ago. This is idiocy. There’s no other word for it.

Well, one could go on for quite some time about it all. But to me, it’s pointless and terrible – and the politicians are guilty of stupidity unfathomable.

when a gay guy is part of a 9/11 family … Friday, Sep 12 2014 

This is a comment I wrote on one of my favorite blogs this evening — https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=8993108951931633758&postID=7757454213272233609&page=1&token=1410510430139

The long link right there … http://hopenchangecartoons.blogspot.com/
The man I refer to right here …
A man I knew since he was 14 years old, and me, oh, 17? yah —  or so …

In honor of this man: David M Weiss

I say:!>>>>

Well, as the brother-in-law of a NYFD man — himself Hero of the Year several times — who died in the murderous attack – last seen on the 31st Floor going UP – and in every documentary — as the brother of the sister-widow (even I cannot call her this day, but only her and their children are together) — as the uncle of the nephew who now runs the South Street Seaport Museum in Lower Manhattan, his job forever in view of the place his father died … as the uncle to the niece who stays hidden in the woods you will know not where, herself but 13 that year …

As the nephew of the uncle, and his own godson’s too, of the man who walked down 58 flights back in 1993 –
As the guy myself who used to work right where that second plane hit – the 78th Floor and on up to the 105th — do you know the views? astonishing — I knew them well …
As the guy who knows dozens killed, wounded, maimed, survived, grieved, of the countless others — of my friends, and their friends and families –
of someone who is so intimately involved in this horror upon our country — in ways, frankly, none of you can ever imagine …

And, not so unaware of our corrupt nutjobs in DC and their drunken wanderings around the Mideast … and the obnoxious press …

I dare say — it is my strongly held Religious belief – To be sure my religion — Hussism — (600 years the family is Hussites, jezi smaria jozef) …

That I get to bop in the nose anyone creep or crud comes to this entire discussion with crappy information, or bizarre conspiracy theories …

Or say: “Homosexuals are anti … [fill in the blank]” and “deserve no rights to pursue happiness” — well, you get a cranky sissy right away — a sissy smasher instead of smoocher — I prefer the later, trust me — but, I’m not adverse at all to the former, and have freely exercised my rights with wild abandon for decades — and my family, friends, children, and on and on through that list of people above who are on my side are well aware … Let My People Go — and stop this anti-gay nonsense in this nation. It is abominable as ISIS and Obama, Senator Ted Cruz and Cardinal George of Chicago.

Frankly, the Catholic Cardinal Of Chicago this very day called for “Homosexuals” (so moron is the nut that he doesn’t know an ancient-modern English word – but uses a Greco-Roamn hybrid invented by a German) says to Obey his religion — as much as ISIS demands people obey theirs as frankly as I’m concerned — asking me and my family to trash myself forever is as abhorrent as cutting off my head – worse even — at least one I wouldn’t have to listen to the man in the dress protecting child molesters bitch about drag queens … egads. Ooooh!

For as Goldwater, my state senator of long ago said, sort of, “a sissy smoocher smashing vice in the pursuit of Liberty is not that bad, you know.”

Well, that’s my quick take this eve … 9/12/2012, 1:10 AM my time, a time, 13 years ago, when I was holding together my sister, her kids and many other relatives in some semblance of order as the chaos whirled about “where’s David” continued for the first hours of what became hundreds.

Do Not Tread On My People – as I say. And who shall question me and my strongly held beliefs by My Creator — who did endow me with certain inalienable rights?

Cute how I tie that all together, yes? :)

details of the picture at an exhibition Tuesday, Sep 9 2014 

 

 

details of the photos of the painting i just did –

as you can see — I was busy … :) Jim

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pictures at an exhibition Tuesday, Sep 9 2014 

here’s pictures of the 4 x 4 foot painting I just did — these are the ones in progress from the beginning and probably out of order — due to the “new and improved” idiocy of wordpress … anyway — that’s what here …
That’s why I’ve posted nothing else — I was busy — :) Jim.

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I’ve been busy … Ferguson, ISIS and other Crisis must wait … Thursday, Aug 21 2014 

You know — I’ve been busy with a self-set deadline for some paintings — so I haven’t commented for a week or more and that’s the way it goes … anyway 

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So anyway that’s what I’m doing — the rest of the world will just have to suffer without serious ministrations on my part on the issues of our day.

Evolution of Two Paintings Wednesday, Aug 13 2014 

Well, I’ve been working on two new big paintings —

While WordPress has apparently hired children to “upgrade” their site which I use making it infuriatingly obtuse and difficult to work — they are morons! Leave stuff alone! Egad.

Anyway — this are various versions of the paintings from line drawings to colors coming – much more to come …

Anyway, I’ve had no time to do other stuff … and because I’ve been painting. Enjoy

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Between Iraq and a hard place Sunday, Aug 10 2014 

Well, the horrors are being racked up in Iraq – destruction of people, buildings, society, antiquities, and pretty much everyone else the ISIS can get their hands on. It’s not like destruction of this kind has not been visited upon the region before, you know. For millennia the armies of empires have swept hither and yon across the vast flatness and destroyed everything in their path. That’s one reason there’s ruins dotting the place now, those places were destroyed 100s and even 1000s of years ago as religion, leader and credos marshaled what forces they could and went on the rampages – how many millions of people have been slaughtered in the process would be hard to calculate. Entire peoples were certainly eradicated – the Hittites, Ammonites, Ur, Babylonia, Turkic peoples moved further west into the nub of Asia sticking out to Europe … Persians, Arabians, Mamelukes, who knows? It takes in a broad sweep of people, places and beliefs. Alexander the Great swept through, wrecking as he went, so did Cyrus of Persia, and Darius, and Xerxes, and certainly the Romans were no slouches in the destruction department. Even the Catholic Crusaders were in on the act, why in Northern Iraq – or the broad Kurdistani area – a kingdom called “Edessa” survived off and on for a few centuries. Now supposedly our president, Obama, is supposed to do something about the place. I doubt anyone really knows what. ½ the nation probably says “bomb” and the other half says “who cares” if they even know a thing about the place. We’re not going to solve it, though, that’s for sure. Certainly not by any commonly accepted means like “Peace Corp” or “Marines” or endless cruise missiles and bombing raids.

Meanwhile, the place has a history – and it did not start with the “Bush War” nor with Saddam Hussein, nor even the creation of “modern Iraq” in 1917 at the behest of Lord Balfour in a drunken moment of line drawing. What else could it have been? He and the Frenchmen, the less famous one, Poincarre or somebody – no difference, the French foreign minister of the time – decided to divvy up the Levant without speaking to any of the people who actually lived there. And what a people they are! – well, actually, several peoples. None of who have ever liked each other: the Kurds, and Sunni and Shiite Muslims, who were either Arabs or Persians, and a dozen or more smaller sects, peoples, ethnicities and even tribal affiliates … and now most Americans think of them as “Iraqis” and the place as “Iraq” as if there was this one place and people with whom we are contending. And that is not the case at all. The lines having been recently drawn, not even a 100 years ago – I suppose they could be redrawn – and perhaps they should be. For the fake construct of “Iraq” is not helping anyone. That would be the bold foreign policy initiative to push – let the president set up an international commission to divide the place up, redraw some lines around the people, and not right through the middle of them. Such bold thinking is unlikely, especially from our current president.

The Kurds are an easy group to deal with – at least in discussion – for they are a people. That is, they speak Kurdish – which is an Indo-European Language at the fringe of the Farsi branch – or Persian. That’s what they speak in Iran. Though, the Kurds of Iran do not speak Farsi, but Kurdish. Sort of the way French and Portuguese are both Romance languages – but surely a grand conversation could not be had. Perhaps a few words in common at most. And there’s Kurds in northwestern Syria and southeastern Turkey. One big chunk of Kurds spread over four “nations” – all of which are lines drawn in the sand by Europeans. The Kurds of Turkey can no more speak to their Turkish government without a translator than can Syria Kurds speak to their “government” in Arabic. So, linguistically, and geographically, the Kurds are a 25,000,000 or so strong clear ethnic people group – who are fairly rational, actually – certainly businessmen, with smuggling (aka, commerce) being a high paying job. It would be rational on a human level to separate the Kurdish provinces of the four countries and put them into a new Kurdistan with whom we could cooperate. They’re Muslims, but without the Koran-thumping. They also have their own oil and farm enough food for them to make a go of it … why, they might well become a prosperous nation.

The rub is, of course, that Turkey, Syria and Iran and Iraq would all have to lose a chunk of population that isn’t really theirs, and the land, wealth and tax dollars that might exist there. So the four nation’s majorities suppress the Kurds in one way or the other in order to hold onto the fake borders that Lord Balfour drew up one night after a few toddies. He perhaps didn’t know that there were Kurds, or perhaps he did and didn’t care. So, the four nations spend endless money on keeping the Kurds subdued and the Kurds seethe and revolt to some degree and in Northern Iraq they have a semi-autonomous region akin to a nation already. And it is now asking for weapons – and has the cash to pay – to stave of something called ISIS. To get the weapons to Kurds would, of course, entail getting them through Turkey, Syria and Iran, and the rump of Iraq left – and well, those four don’t like the idea of well armed Kurdistan with its own foreign policy – which might well include using the new found weapons to reunite all the Kurds in one big happy family.

Ah, ISIS – some “Islam State in Iraq System” or something – I’ve seen several names and permutations of the acronym – which is in English, apparently – for nothing says your ethnic heritage more clearly than using a foreign language for your own group’s name. They are crazed, certainly – destructive of all that stands, apparently including 800 and 1200 year old buildings which now offend them. They are Sunni, of course – and they hate Shiites as much as anything .. or more. They should be cordoned off, and the Shiites should go their way. They are pretty much in different parts of the country – the more south and east, the more Shiite, westward are the Sunni – separate them.

I’m not sure we’re going to do anything by bombing ISIS or something. They are part of the population – that hates the other parts – separate the peoples. Maybe arrange to take out the antiquities – I’m sure they can be bribed to give up the ancient stuff. Cash speaks wonders.

Still, there are people who are upset that Obama is doing nothing, or the wrong thing, or worked to bring ISIS to power or some other nefarious thing – I don’t know – maybe – the man is a clod, is as clueless as most people about the region, as steeped in modern Iraqi politics and it’s American-branch which is the aid and then war we had with Saddam Hussein, and then there’s our Iranian problem – in which case we could help foment troubles there by helping Kurds revolt and leave – and push the Baluchis in southeast Iran to leave their Persian masters and join the Baluchis of Pakistan, another fake country at war with itself – perhaps a complete redrawing of the maps from oh, Libya to India would be worthwhile – it’s happened before – barely a 100 years ago – it could happen again.

But I doubt it with Obama in office and the current Republican-Democrat fight over “Bush’s war” and “weapons of mass destruction” and our Iranian issues – in a way – the fight over there is dependent on our own domestic politics – and each side here gets to fling flatulence at each other over who did what when with who where over there … and that’s the whole problem with our thinking on the matter. Everyone in here has painted themselves into a corner over what happens there.

Well, it’s only a quick blog post, not a book – which to truly give this subject some required thinking might be necessary – but whatever we do in the short term – none of it is good. Enjoy the morass. That’s the best we can do.

The First Few Pages of “Stalin Giggled” (a novel) Wednesday, Aug 6 2014 

These are the opening pages of my novel, “Stalin Giggled” – a “novel of political apocalypse as America moves forward.” It’s where I lay out the two titanic forces that are facing each other in this country – and assign to each of them a character who will run with that idea throughout the book. Enjoy. >>>

In the Beginning
In modern times, long after kings mostly were gone, men were born in times and places that did not predict their future. Then events overtook them and they were thrust forward into the public eye. How such men rose to the top was through ambition and work, to some degree. But also what happened in the society around them while they were rising to the top affected how far they would rise. That was Eric Robinson. There was also a whole cohort of these public figures who really didn’t want to rise to prominence, but were put there by forces beyond their control. Chris Tomas was such a man. There were, of course, hundreds of thousands, even millions of other people who were born about the same time into the social milieu known as Modern America who could have stepped into the positions these two men would step. They could have come from any of the different regions of the country, from different sorts of families, with different histories, with different outlooks. They were all part and parcel of the diversity of America. But on closer examination the country wasn’t nearly as diverse as many people pretended it was. For there was a uniformity of conformity that everyone agreed to disagree with.
Exactly when Modern Times began no one could say for sure. There were always convenient cutoff dates for those arguing a different viewpoint. There was the big idea of the Renaissance for sure. There was also the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. Of course the French thought Versailles was a pretty good start to the Modern Era, or was it their Revolution? Both had its proponents. And many other times and periods, post war or pre-war, and which war it was didn’t matter. Though no one could be certain when they began, the dates being roughly from this year to that year, whichever was convenient. But one thing for certain was that man had entered the Modern Era. Things would be different because times were different, it was said. Each group living in those times and places thought surely they were in modern times. But so did the people who passed the first millennium in fervent hope that Jesus would finally come back among them. He did not and modern times had to be reconfigured with each new century.
Some people thought it was wars themselves that were the markers. The American Civil War, the First World War, World War II, the little wars of the post war era. Each group of people on earth could use their favorite war as the beginning of the modern era. The time when things would truly be different. It was because they won that they thought the world would now operate according to the benevolent ideas that they had to run the world. Who ‘they’ were was a bit confusing. To some it was the political leader of the nation, whether he be called prime minister or president, or still some as king and sultan. Still others took names like “Dear Leader,” and “Guiding Light of the Nation.” Still, they all behaved fairly much like kings of old, even if they did have to listen to a few more people. But while there was always the idea of absolute power in the hands of kings in fact they always ruled with advisers and councilors and opposing interests. About the only people who did not were the Americans, though this was not a popular theory at any time. To just let people do what they want without much interference by government was never a popular idea.
Which is why revolutions could serve as markers. There was the English Revolution, then the American and French Revolutions, and those of 1848 that raged across Europe. Each of these was considered the harbinger of modern times. They were to a degree, for they were rampages of violence. With some a bit more violent than others, but continuing mankind’s propensity to slaughter those who disagreed with them. The last great revolution was the Russian Revolution. Or was it the Chinese? It all depended on who was doing the reckoning. These were Communist Revolutions, so soon they began to be seen as the harbingers of the New World. Not the New World that Columbus discovered, but the new world of social harmony and peace and prosperity. Those were vague things. Some took it to mean that religious leaders would bring about the heaven on earth promised by all religions if only everyone would have complete faith, mostly in the leaders of those religions. Though other revolutions brought about other faiths that were just as strong. Such was the Chinese Revolution of 1949. Then there was the American idea of individual liberty. It worked well enough to be a magnet to all the world and led to the country being the most powerful on earth and an example to all. Though few would follow it.
The French revolution showed monarchs that the time of divine right was over. A bit lopsided towards violence in the application of the new principle of representative government, it served as a model for all other monarchs to begin to consider parliaments, constitutions and the trappings of democracy. Along came monarchs who were very reasonably disposed to stay quietly in their palaces and castles and accept the multi-million dollar civil lists which kept them in the lap of luxury. More than a few kings were very willing to give up the messiness of governance for the good life. And who could blame them? No one was plotting anymore to steal their throne. They gave up their divine right but not their privileges. These people were not stupid.
Other people used reason and philosophy as their markers for the beginning of the glory of the modern era. There were the first like Bacon and Occam, and the genius of Michaelangelo and Da Vinci. Then it was Locke and Hume, and Rousseau and others of the 1600s and 1700s. Some thought it was Adam Smith, who everyone said invented Capitalism, when he did no such thing. He never even used the word. He merely described the reality of England in a mercantile system of ever shifting royal decrees. He pointed out that the less rules and regulations there were the more likely the wealth of the nation would increase. Where the line between the proper amount of regulation and over regulation was he was not at all sure. Nor did he even begin to hazard a guess. Then Marx came along and really threw the world a bone. His social and economic theory was seen as revolutionary different.
It was not. What it was was boiled over Cromwellian puritanism coupled with royalist mercantilism and divine right of the state to rule. That it was divine could only be deduced if you thought that the inevitable condition of mankind was ordained by a higher power. This higher power for people of faith was God. For the Marxist it was History. That it comes with a heavy dose of religiously inspired peace and happiness if only everyone would think alike was inscrutable to nearly everyone. After all, it was “Scientific,” which was the antithesis of “Faith.” Yet Europe was bedeviled since the Dawn of the Modern Era with Christian Socialist parties in a variety of hues and with a variety of names. By 1900 every political party in Europe was on the Socialist to Communist spectrum, which dovetailed neatly with the Christian ethos of charity and living together and believing together. Individualism never got a stronghold in Europe. That all the individualists were leaving for America did not help the situation.
Still others thought that the great age of invention, starting with the steam engine, going through the steam boat, then the train, then electricity and then the computer was the bringer of modernity. Any number of inventions were said to have brought the modern era of peace and prosperity to mankind. Why, these ideas were said to be newer and better than sliced bread, though itself of recent vintage. There were partisans for any industrial thing. The assembly line and mass production worked well as harbingers. The light bulb was incandescent in its position in the pantheon of harbingers of the modern world. And too the automobile zoomed in as the harbinger of modern times. Drinkable water was a distant runner up. The petroleum era was the modern era, too. Yet, surely no major innovation could possibly compete with the computer as the start of the modern era. That it was merely a very fancy abacus was lost in the discussion.
Others looked at the religious Reformation as the font of modern ideas for the organization of society. Yet others thought that the Reformation that brought the world from the paganism of the Romans to the Catholicism of Rome as a ripe date for the modern era, and they had the calendar on their side. The Muslims thought Mohamed had brought in the modern era as was clearly said right there in the Koran. Each religion had a creation time when it became the start of the modern era. Even such rather small groups as the Pilgrims, the Quakers and the Shakers thought that they were the start of the modern era. They, like every other proponent of modernism, thought that if only everyone was on the same page then everything would work just fine. It was always said that those people who did not want to believe that the modern time was here were mucking things up. They were expendable to some degree. Either in mind, or if need be, in body, they could be eliminated. But what distinguished all these fond thinkers was that they had a theory. It was people who didn’t quite conform to it, and that had to change. The theory was paramount, the people secondary.
That’s what all the theorists of modernism have in common. The belief that if only everyone would act in concert then the modern era could really come into full swing. Until that happened, they could not bring peace and harmony and prosperity and good health and living through application of the theory. If they had to eliminate a few people, a few bad eggs as it were, along the way, then so be it. It was Lenin who famously coined the phrase “you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.” In fact, another thing these believers in the faith of theory had in common was the idea that society was very malleable, controllable and directable. It was, to them, exactly just like making an omelet. Social engineering might not have been the term used by 12th century popes, but they had the idea that they could work miracles if only people would give up on the sin and heresy. Which, amazingly, was yet another thing that theorists had in common. To not believe in the faith that was promulgated as the modern thing was to be sinful and heretical. Even if the words used were “against the people,” and “certain criminal elements,” which didn’t sound too religious. Theorists always got bogged down in words. With new words they thought they had created new systems. But the system didn’t change, the words did, and who uttered them. What every believer in a given faith had was the certainty that they were the ideal leaders to bring the people into the modern world. Even if they, the people, didn’t want to go there. The leaders knew best, and providence, by whatever name, brought them to the forefront of their people. Finally things were going to be alright. But now, truly in modern times, since they were the times we lived in, there were so many beliefs that the world was a very mixed up place. At least it seemed so on the surface.
But underneath it was all astoundingly the same. What each believer in religious faith had in mind was to return to, or go forward to, that ideal time of peace and harmony. The problem was that they all had a different date in time as their reference point. Religionists looked back to the future. Somewhere back when people were innocent, before the excess of too much modernism crept in, was the modern world they wanted to take us to. Some thought it was the Garden of Eden, others the coming of Mohamed, or Christ, or some other Messiah. What they did know was that there was not enough adherence to the faith that was true and pure and exactly what God or the Goddesses wanted.
Scientifically minded people looked forward to the past. This group thought that whether it was the science of economics, or the science of political theory, or the science of social-enviro-peace living they would bring us to the same place that the religionists wanted to go. They didn’t think they did, though. Indeed, they could be quite adamant that they could return to Nature and live like so many Adams and Eves just like religionists wanted to return to the perfection of the first couple. Surely these are the same places, gotten to by different means? Each said the other was taking the wrong bus to the shining city on the hill. Each said the other was on the bus to hell. Each worked on the road of good intentions. In the way were the road blocks of anyone who didn’t think like them. Yes, astoundingly similar beliefs hidden in a blizzard of words, theories and ideas. Even worse were those who maintained that there was a teleological, etiological and dialectical analysis that could enlighten the unenlightened. Not that the not-so-bright would ever understand those words. It was a good thing, therefore, that the leaders all had vast shelves of texts backing up their central core scripture. Some scripture was more literal than others, but still they were mere words to be interpreted by the leaders of the faithful as they led us into the land of milk and honey. Make no mistake about it, every faith and theory had its scripture, no matter what they called it, or how much they likened it to anything other than the received words of a higher power.
In the midst of this froth of similarity bobbled the small ship of liberty. An idea that had been around for millenia, too. But it was a weak theory. For it could have no scripture. It could have no received texts for interpretation. It didn’t even want a leader. What liberty was was the absence of all that preceded it. There was no divine right, there was no order of belief. Nor was there anything like a plan or a theory. What there was was what everyone actually did. Liberty was simply the actions of men and women doing what they thought best at any given moment. Systems had power and a plan, a leader and a mission. Liberty was defined by the system as anything that did not conform to the system. Liberty was not about systems as a general whole. It was about how you could survive as comfortably as you could within the technological means at your disposal. Liberty was the ideal for some people, but far fewer than were needed to bring about such a true time of peace and happiness. For liberty always tended to create wealth, which allowed people to pursue their interests. Which kept them peaceful. Liberty had had a rough time in the five millenia of human history.
At least until the United States was born. Until then, not one country on earth, not one inch of the landmass of the planet, was ever set up on the basis of liberty. That the United States was not a perfect example of the ideal was a simple matter of history. The anti-liberty forces had come first. They left behind powerful vestiges of their system; things like slavery and excessive laws and religious institutions. But finally in one place and time there were enough people who were liberty minded and constrained by the limitations of technology to have to be for liberty. They had no choice, for they were in a literal wilderness. They had to cooperate within the dictates of liberty. They had to operate without a system, for there was no system present. So the country was born. For the next nearly 150 years the idea of liberty spread. The nation went through wrenching periods of bloodletting like the Civil War and civil protests, but liberty spread. Yet, the ideas of systems lurked underneath it all, for systems had 5000 years of human history on their side. Plus, typically, system planners lurked in the corners of society plotting their come back. For systems gave power, and power over other men was a powerful aphrodisiac.
Planners were helped along by the confusion of words. They were helped along by their own failed plans, which lead other self-proclaimed founders of the true faith to rise up to solve the problems of this world. Slowly the forces of the system reasserted itself. By the Second World War they were in control of the mechanisms of the press, the government and more importantly, the language. For their mush words began to be the received wisdom. Soon the language went further and further afield, to such things as the disappearance of the tax cut. Now it was a revenue expenditure. Actually letting people keep their own money was now considered more properly described as the government not taking it. And systems people always thought all the wealth belonged to society, as they had for five thousand years.
There were tens of thousands of other examples of the debasement of the language. There was even a word to describe it, Orwellian. As the post war years of the modern era rolled along, the incremental increase in the power of the state, of the system and the planners, continued. The belief that there was one and only one best way to do something came creeping back. It was an ancient idea, writ large in the pyramids of Egypt. It was insidious, and seemingly unstoppable. The world was caught up in it. To a degree, the United States caught the disease because of two infections. One was the influx of people who never completely lost their faith in systems. The other was our close involvement with the systems of Europe and Asia. The biggest problem, though, was that liberty has virtually no defenses against word confusion and planners. People with liberty were too busy doing whatever it was they thought they should be doing to pay attention to those who were seizing the power of the state.
That’s what everything really boiled down to. The power of the state was overwhelming. The majesty of a leader with men with weapons at their side is a nearly unstoppable force. People of liberty merely wanted to be left alone. And because they were alone it was them against the state. Organizing liberty minded people was like nailing jelly to a wall. The power of the state was what theorists wanted. It was what great and grand men, and women too, wanted. They knew what was best for the people. Their faith told them so. The faith was true, it was unquestionable. It was the received wisdom of the ages. All else had been tried and found wanting, said the new planners of our generation. “We have the way,” they said, “follow us.” They said it after each failed system brought about an angry mob to listen to the next promiser of a perfect world at peace and harmony. “Follow me, do what I say, and we shall arrive at the promised land,” they said, in one way or another. It didn’t make a difference what the actual words were, it was the sentiment that counted. As it had for millenia, it all sounded so believable. So these new leaders were followed, and those who did not want to follow were taken care of according to the precepts of the leaders. Some were nastier than others, true, but all had to practice and perfect oppression to create their Nirvana.
The forces of liberty, however, wanted to be left alone. Alas, they were hemmed in tighter with each passing year. As always, it came almost to the point that to argue for liberty of action and thought, deed and ideal, was suspected as being against the people. Our modern times were no different. That’s where we were in the early part of the second millennium reckoned by Christ, and the 5th reckoned by writing and the umpteenth reckoned by archeology. So said the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. So said the security forces and the peace officers. Their line went something like “Liberty thinkers are dangerous to society for they are against togetherness.” It was nigh unto sin and heresy to think of liberty as a goal. “People of liberty did not have society in mind,” the powers that be said over and over again. Though never saying it as clearly, succinctly or as eloquently as that. Thus the people of liberty could be, and were, construed to be against society. It seemed obvious to the system promoters that society had the interests of the people at heart. What was their proof after so many examples of failure? The promoters of society clearly said it was true. They had a theory. What more did they need?
Now, here, in supposedly the most modern time in world history, and things were not so much different than they were when Hammurabi was writing the first code of law. It only seemed different because of the technology and the words used. The forces of planning according to theory were in power in even the most liberty minded place on earth, the United States. The cost of liberty is not eternal vigilance during times of war. It is eternal vigilance in times of peace that is more necessary. For it is in times of peace and prosperity that the demigods of planning could claim to know what to do with all the resources so that everyone got enough. The goal of every religion is for everyone to have an equal share and cooperate in getting it. The goal of every social engineer, socialist and communist, and fascist and authoritarian is for everyone to have an equal share and cooperate in getting it. Astoundingly alike goals that are presented as different because of the words used in their self-created and self-appointed jargon that proclaimed themselves different. Each purveyor of these vials of snake oil was like any other salesman. He had a better deal for you and don’t listen to the false claims of the other snake oil salesmen.
These were the times we were in when the final descent of the nation began. It was a long and tortuous process, but one that was clear to those who would see. The sounds of it were available to those with ears to hear. It was plain to those who watched the geometric crescendo of laws and plans and rules and regulations. Only the words had been changed to the American vernacular. So it confused the same purposes of the European religio-socialist powers that ruled there. And they were different than the communist words of the last dictatorships of the proletariat. The words could have been uttered by Eastern potentates at any point in history, too. But it was the same siren call of planning, working together for the common good, and fed with calls for “let’s all get on the same page in a non-partisan manner.” That was the mantra of the era. It was the post-World War II era and the need to all cooperate together was expressed in countless fashions. Not least of which was the United Nations, and the European Union, and the World Health Organization and the forces of Global Warming. Yes, we were all in it together. And we were heading for hell in a hand basket that we ourselves were carrying.
From among the people born in these times came the future leaders of the country. It was no different than another generation of America. It was Ronald Reagan who had pointed out to his Modern America the ever renewing nature of America. But even he too was part of the renewal, for as far long ago as De Tocqueville’s travels the constant renewal of America was obvious. As were the contradictions between the religiosity of so many and the secular nature of the government. Of course, this tension, so difficult to understand, was the very essence of what made Modern America the most important nation on earth. For it is the tension born of liberty that feeds the creative and productive juices of a people. Conversely, the more alike everyone is and the more alike what they are allowed to do, the more stultifying was the culture and the more poor the economy. It was obvious, but most people refused to look at the reality. They wanted the myths and the hopes, and the theory and the plan that would enable their dreams to become reality.
So too, when you thought about it, were all the generations that had come before this one. For from such tension and renewal came such men as all the presidents of the United States since Truman took office. Franklin Roosevelt was patrician enough that one could think he was groomed for the presidency since the day he was born. He was part of that peculiar institution called American Royalty. Many people thought it was a continuous group of families since before the Revolution. But that was not the case in America. People rose up from humble beginnings and took the public by storm. Then they would have children who were said to be the new generation of American Royalty. Then those children would fall flat and the family would disappear as the wealth of the first generation was dissipated by the profligacy of the second and third generations. So powerful people, and their families, came and went in the dynamic society that was America.
There were, however, large numbers of people who held the idea that there was some indeterminate number of rich families in America controlling the country since its inception. These families were said to be a constant fixture in America. Somehow, they were keeping everyone else down. It was bandied about that these families were in control and no matter what anyone else did they would never rise to the top of the heap. This was not the case, of course. But it sounded good. And in modern times just sounding good was enough. Logic and reason, facts and figures, reality and rational thought had long been tossed away. What was left was emotion. The residue was mere hormonal impulses. “Knee jerk response” was another phrase that was applicable. After all, how exactly anyone was kept down was a mystery, for more and more rich people came along. How anyone was prevented from climbing up the social ladder was never exactly defined. It was merely said to be happening. There was no evidence. But what was evidence anymore? Why bother with it, when emotions could be stirred? Still, with each generation or two a completely new cast of characters came along in the public and political scenes. No one could ever predict who would rise to the top of the stew. For America was not a deterministic society, it was a dynamic society. Not everyone liked that dynamism. Certainly less people truly understood it, and it is hard to explain. These people longed for a return to the stability and constancy of royalty and theology, and their modern counterparts, socialism, and determinism. For dynamism scared them.
“People can just do what they want?” That’s what the deterministic asked themselves, and everyone else they encountered, too. “That’s just too dangerous for me to contemplate,” was their response to their own question, for they were afraid. Just as kings of old were afraid when people did their own thing. “That’s dangerous to society, and we can’t have that.” Of course, the question was asked in a thousand different ways, and the answers were legion. But these sentiments summed it up: Freedom to do what you want? What? And be against society? And thus systems got their supporters. And supporters got their presidents. Though, few people actually referred anymore to those old words of royalty, theology and socialism and their theory of determinism. They were freighted with the baggage of the past. Instead, things were couched in new words. People were now commanding, and progressive, and socially responsible, and a host of even more innocuously seeming labels that hid the true philosophical underpinnings of their thoughts. And that underpinning was determinism as determined by a leader, as had been the case for millenia.
The fact that Chris Tomas was born in 1974 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was not that noticeable. Only later was it considered an event of note. That Eric Robinson was born in Baton Rouge ten years before Chris was another unimportant fact at the moment when it occurred. When Eric was a 10 year old boy running around in shorts on a summertime lawn it could not possibly be foreseen that he would have a major impact on the country. When Chris came along, he, too, was considered to be just another child born into the freest, richest, most complex dynamic society that the world had ever seen. And yet people said they were not part of American Royalty, so they could never rise to the top. The playing field was not level. Life was unfair, and perilous and filled with vagary. And it was said by more and more supporters of each succeeding president that this was not good for America.
The United States hummed along quite slowly, despite seeming to be a land of action and change. But in fact, the nation was two separate entities. One was the dynamic of the people. The society was rich and complex because of what people did and were not prevented from doing. It was the government that moved along at a snail’s pace. There was no rushing the machine that was the federal government. It was such a lumbering giant that all the people who called for change with each new president were sorely disappointed when they realized that it was impossible to ever really affect change as it is commonly understood. The country wasn’t revolutionary, it was evolutionary. Things that in the private world would take days and weeks, or at most months, in the public world of the nation took months and years, if not decades. Thus Eric and Chris grew up in a complacent society. No one expected real change, except of the most incremental sort. It was also apparent to anyone who bothered to look that the majority of the people in the nation didn’t want change. They wanted the stasis and security of the status quo. The few people who were always calling for radical change were always just humored, if not shunted aside, because they didn’t seem to grasp that the nation was a lumbering giant. It was not a quick moving beast at all. The nation did not move at the word of the president. It was sloth-like in its slowness and people just did what they wanted. This made some people clamor for more power for the president. “For real change,” they argued. “Change we can see and feel. Change for the better.” They were mantras, though for exactly what sort of change no one could say. Or worse, they would not say.
Change was a vague institution in America. Everyone wanted it, but no one could define it. Plus, each thing that could be subject to change had a lot of people behind it wanting to keep it exactly like it was. So any change clamored for had to be vetted and approved by people who simply did not want change. Thus there were far more sweeping proposals made while far fewer actual incremental tinkering with the laws and the rules and the programs occurred. This, too, made the people clamoring for change angry. They were, however, hopeless to affect the changes that they wanted. They lulled themselves into a stupor thinking that one day their man would become president and then things would really change. They were delusional, pretty much, for that hadn’t happened since the Civil War. The whole system was rigged to make sure there were no real big changes, which did not satisfy reformers of any stripe.
Young Eric grew up and got his influences from the church he belonged to and the evangelical milieu in which he traveled. It was a world that called for change. Radical change if necessary, to bring the country to the moral values which this group of people thought had been decaying for a century or more. This group of Christian Evangelicals thought that the country was on the road to ruin if major changes were not affected. They had supported Republican presidents for decades in the hope of change that they wanted. What they got was the incrementalism that was the hallmark of the American political system. They were always disappointed. Yet, the only thing they could do was rally behind the next Republican who said he would bring about the moral reawakening of the nation. Instead, the courts kept expanding rights and bringing more people into the fold of the American Republic and spreading liberty. And the people got richer. This was opposite to what the evangelists wanted.
It was the gay issue that really set the Evangelicals on edge. For with this issue they thought they had the clear word of God on their side. They thought that history had shown that empires always fell when gays achieved any rights or acceptance. They pointed knowingly to the Roman Empire. They were wrong, of course, for history showed no such thing. What history showed was that the Roman Empire rotted out from within because of ever increasing taxes and an ever more powerful central government that trampled people’s rights. While at the same time the Empire was beset by hordes of invaders that were simply far more numerous and dedicated to winning than the Romans were. Anything gay that went on in the Empire was pretty much hidden and non-existent. It was later historians who dwelt on this, especially since it was the early Catholic Church which wrote the history of the Roman Empire and laid her demise to decadence. They did this so that they could convince people to be Catholics. Especially when in fact the Empire fell not that much after it adopted Christianity. In a sense it could be said that Catholicism is what destroyed the Empire. It was perhaps even prim and proper rectitude that wrecked the dynamic society. In any event, it was very ancient history. So ancient that no one could really say for sure what happened. That was because there were no records, no documentation and no evidence beyond the later writings of people with a political ax to grind.
Chris, 10 years behind in everything, grew up with the free thinking anti-government ideas that his Eastern European heritage brought to the table. Eric was from the law and order side of listening to the rules set down by elders. Chris was from a far more libertine environment. One that revolved around the free ideals of individual rights. Thus these two men saw the world in different ways. There was little they would ever have agreed on if they ever had the chance to meet and discuss things. Except perhaps they could agree that the sky was blue and the grass was green. But they never met. Why would they? They were 10 years apart in age; they traveled in different social circles and they had completely different life experiences. In fact, Eric was from the sort of family that thought that immigration was not good for the country. They had long thought that. And Eric learned it from his grandfather and his father, and his uncles and other relatives and family friends. Chris grew up not only thinking that immigration was good, but knew it was because he was part of it. He was the direct product of his grandparents moving to America. In his family it was impossible to be anti-immigrant. Eric’s family were immigrants once, of course. As all American families were. But it was such a long time ago that it was impossible to know for sure when any member of his ancestry ever arrived. It was like the Robinson family had simply been created in the United States and there was no need for further discussion on the issue. This produced two very different men. Two men who would come to clash in a way that history would be made. A history that was not part of the usual America experience, and yet something which the nation seemed destined to get to even before either of them were born.
Chris’s family had been fighting theologists for centuries. The whole tradition of Central Europe was to fight the Catholic Church. The Reformation started in Prague, not Wittenburg. Chris was only dimly aware of the history of his heritage. He knew he had to explain his last name often enough, but that was the extent of it. He knew something of the teachings of Jan Hus if only because his grandparents had spoken of it. But there was no Hus Church in Baton Rouge, so the family fell back on the Freethinking religious traditions. They did not attend a physical church. Their church was where they were. Their deeds were more important than the protestations of faith that the Robinson family set forth each Sunday. While Chris was taught to help his fellow man, Eric was taught that the other people, however defined, were somehow inimical to the existence of the Republic and good God-fearing people. While Chris learned tolerance and a live and let live attitude, Eric was imbued in a sort of undercurrent of hatred. Hatred for those who were not Evangelical Christians to begin with, and hatred for the system that allowed such apostasy to reign across the nation. Eric and his family saw cities like San Francisco, Miami and New York as hotbeds of heathenism. Chris and his family saw the same cities as the font of much of the wonderful things that technology and the culture gave to the nation. These were two very different world views. They were bound to clash. If the two men would have have met each other perhaps it could have been avoided. Eric was a determinist who determined that change was needed. Chris was for liberty and didn’t really care what people did so long as they left him alone.
That two such different men, from two such different backgrounds could be born in the same city and know the same place was part of the American miracle. It was the envy of the world. Yet there were nefarious forces at work to destroy it. Both of these men would play their part in the sweep of history. Yet, then, as kids in the heat of summertime, they were unaware as to whether they would play a part in the process at all. They were just two kids growing up in a mid-sized American city. They were oblivious to nearly everything except what was going on around them. Yet, both showed that spark of intelligence and drive that was not part of so called normal kids. That set them on the paths they were to follow, and that would bring them to their monumental clash.

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And that’s the opening pages of Stalin Giggled:

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