Jan 28, 2011

Who am I to say, but I would explain it this way: The leadership model among Arabs has always been the charismatic strongman. Beginning with the Prophet. Who you will remember brought together the warring tribes around Mecca and for a moment kept the peace. As soon as he died, the tribes returned to their feuding. Without someone to hypnotize them, they are at the mercy of their nature.

And so Arab history is filled with good and bad charismatics. Saddam Hussein on the one hand; KIng Hussein on the other. Although don't forget Black September if you remember him only as the monarch with the kindly smile.

And why this obsession with the dictator. Because, as a Moroccan history professor explained it to me, Arab know themselves. "They have always sensed that they need to be 'ruled' and they have been convinced by religion and circumstance that chaos is their true enemy."

But now, you could say, the Arab Awakening is over. Now, it's time to get up and do something.

From Rabat to Riyadh there is a drive to write a new history. What they are saying is, "we have endured this self-imprisonment long enough. We're sick of our ghosts. Now we want to try something else."

Of course, the incendiary for all this is poverty and the incredible distance between rich and poor, the lack of strong middle classes. The false promise that education would be an elevator. The dangling images of wealth and freedom, and sexuality, that they have access to.

So now we are asked to watch whether they can solve this riddle of their nature. Can they find a way out of their fear and ignorance, their addiction to the past, and form a new image of themselves. Can they accept freedom? Can they trust themselves in a way they never have before. Can they find a new way to imagine 'the tribe'.

As for Mubarak, he's finished. The only question is how long it will take him to accept that. His son has fled to London. His son had been the reason to hold on to power.The mob has taken over the central government buildings. But their argument is not with technocrats, which is why Mubarak turning out the whole government is not a solution. The people in the street want the end of a regime. Which is also to say they want a new regime. But what does that mean?

The danger from a Western perspective is that the Muslim Brotherhood, whose party has 10 percent of the power, can somehow take more than their share. They are the medical doctors and Islamic intellectuals who ended up in prison, whose offspring is al qaeda, who murdered Anwar Sadat, who are a fifth column, to be sure....

But they are not the authors of this. They may instigate, they may take advantage. But this turmoil is much more widespread. Much deeper.

Remember this is a country of 80 million people. There are a couple hundred thousand people in the streets. It's not like in Tunisia with a much higher proportion of the population in the streets. That's a true turn of events. This is not that. Yet.

Jan 21, 2011

This solicitation appeared today — for a ghost writer to tell a man's story. Here's the assignment: weave these threads into a story that anyone would wish to read:

I have written a 45,000 word account for my daughter (9) of my experience of trying to maintain contact with her since her first birthday. The aim of this project is to publicise the extraordinary family court process and in particular the fecklessness of the senior judges. Although a harrowing tale, it needs to be presented with lightness and humour. The story has several threads:
1. My pioneering struggle to build a successful organic dairy farm and business from scratch.
2. My health problems a) infertility leading to successful embryo donation, b) colon cancer.
3. Mother's history -- finding her "dead" father after her mother disowned her for marrying me
4. Being marginalised from my daughter at birth, then separated by broken contact orders, eventual
5. Divorce and allegations of cruelty to animals, physical, mental and sexual abuse, domestic
violence, 2 arrests: all cleared in courts.
6. I lose my home, farm, company and my daughter
7. 50+ hearings, over £200,000 wasted, 18 different judges, LIP.
8. Constant assurances from judges and Cafcass to support contact and keep a link with my
daughter, even residence change. Last order from high court judge denying my parental right to
even know my daughter's school.
I cannot identify my family so ghost can be named author

Jan 13, 2011

As great as the president's speech, as moving and unifying as it may have felt to so many, it will make no difference to the tone of political debate. Nor will it lead to a general civility. Which is not to dismiss the speech or mock its idealism, or to say that it will not initiate a subtle but profound change in this country. Nevertheless, for the moment, through 2012, this speech will make no difference.

Indeed, the voice of fear and ignorance will only become more shrill. Why? Because of bad economic times, of course, but more because hatred is now commerce. It's now become a sophisticated product, and bought the same way you might buy gold to protect against inflation or buy an accountant's help against the IRS, or buy a posturpedic mattress to fight sleeplessness.

It is finally a remedy and although sold under another name, another label — knowledge, for example — cynicism and skepticism are the natural ingredients.

Earlier this week Mark Lavin excoriated Chris Matthews, as he often does, adding, "Is he still drinking?" Lavin is more vitriolic than ever.

And you understand, it's not just a matter of personal animosity, it's not just an ideological difference, much as the haters hide behind that conceit, it's knowing the taste of the crowd in the coliseum, how and when to bring on the lions and the gladiators.

Or think of it this way: What is the best entertainment? The mystery, the thriller, the disaster movie, the horror movie... The Hills Have Eyes.

We pay to be frightened, because that's the way to get out of the doze. It's the only way we know, have ever known as a specie. We have to be reduced to fight or flight to find ourselves. We need to be at the most dangerous point to be saved...

Meanwhile, gun sales are up, and in one state or another it has been reported that gun owners have been coming in droves to shooting ranges with their Glock 19s to see for themselves how it is that this man had such a problem putting in a new magazine.

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh goes right on with his mantra, this morning looking for insincerities in Obama's speech, finding solace in David Gergen's criticism of the "pep rally" atmosphere during the President's address.

In the end, I don't believe Limbaugh really believes his shtik. He simply found a way of political being that fits with his personality. He has discovered his nature in an ideology and a culture that has increasing value these days.

Jan 9, 2011

On the morning after Jared Lee Loughne’s attack his political identity remains unclear. A classmate describes him as a liberal; his writings, to the extent they makes sense at all, reflect both libertarian and conservative themes.

Whatever his politics, I was struck by how much both language and views reflect what you hear on say, The Mark Levin Show.

For example, listen to the Lavin show on December 15, 2010 the same day Loughne posted his youtube ramble, which touched on immigration, the Constitution and “property.”

Lavin’s own ramble that day touched on those three issues as well. Here’s a rough transcript of one excerpt.

“The way they (Democrats) see it, ‘we’re importing Democrats’… The more the entitlements, the bigger the welfare state, (and) the more they’re going to win elections… The Democrat party and the government are intertwined… We conservatives don’t believe that. We believe that the federal government has certain responsibilities. The constitution gives us the guidelines, and that’s how we want our society to function… Democrats are about evading the constitution. They use the federal government to improve their own political situation. Ours is legitimate; theirs is lawless."

Lavin, who often points out that few people except his listeners have ever read the Constitution, continues his rant saying to one caller, “That’s what I said in Men in Black and Liberty And Tyranny: What have we become? If we’re not a constitutional republic, a representative republic, a federal republic, what the hell are we? Well, we’re a country that is spiraling into this soft tyranny. That’s why I say what I say. I wish I could give you a more comforting answer, but there is no more comforting answer.”

Loughne writes,

The majority of citizens in the United States of America have never read the United States of America's Constitution. You don't have to accept the federalist laws. Nonetheless, read the United States of America's Constitution to apprehend all of the current treasonous laws.

In conclusion, reading the second United States constitution I can't trust the current government because of the ratifications: the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar

But it was on the issue of property that there was the strongest resonance with something Loughne wrote:

If the property owners and government officials are no longer in ownership of their land and laws from a revolution, then the revolutionary’s from the revolution are in control of the land and laws.

The property owners and government officials are no longer in ownership of their land and laws from a revolution.

Thus the revolutionary’s from the revolution are in control of the land and laws.

Toward the end of his show that day, Lavin interviewed Walter E. Williams a black professor of economics at George Mason University and a well known conservative. Williams has been a substitute guest on the Rush Limbaugh radio show since the early 1990s. He was on the Lavin show to publicize his newest book, Up From The Projects: An Autobiography.

Williams' website includes various conservative links and references and this: Wisdom of the Month: "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush [September 23, 1800]

Williams made this comment to Lavin. Again this a very rough transcript:

“I am my own private property and I belong to Walter E. Williams and you belong to Mark Lavin... if we accept self-ownership… the reason murder, rape, and assault is immoral is because it violates private proerty. It violates me, it uses me in a way I choose not to be used…. When the government takes my money and gives it to a farmer or a poor person, or to Haiti, they are forcibly using me for the purpose of another…. We’re becoming totalitarian. We live not by law but by orders… ordering us to buy health care and wear seat belts… The founders would be disappointed at how we’ve allowed people (to take our rights away)”

Lavin adds, “They would also think we’ve been pretty quiet… They would take to the streets.”

To which Williams says, “The reasons they gave us the second amendment...(was) the right to protect ourselves not against criminals, but against the United States congress…

“We’ve been pretty quiet,” says Lavin. “we haven’t gone to the streets. Am I allowed to say that?"

Jan 5, 2011

I told you about the man who'd lost his mind. Who had a stroke, fell into a depression, then disuse and finally now has become Mr. Unwanted. Recently, he was thrown out of a care facility up in Bolinas. He was too abrasive, always insulting the staff, always wanting to see the breasts of the volunteers and nurses.

Ten years ago, fifteen maybe, he was a bon vivant. He was on top of the world. He would come to your house and assume the role of raconteur, tell you about old French movies, tell you about his travels around Europe. Tell you about his fabulous adventures. He was loud and funny and kind. He dyed his hair black. He dressed elegantly, and always with a flourish. He wore berets and Australian outback hats. Sometimes he wore very long scarves. He drove exotic cars: an old Ferrari for example. He seemed to have an endless amount of money but he didn't do anything.

Actually, that wasn't true. He designed les objects d'art. He made furniture and drew up plans for extraordinary gardens. He had studied landscape architecture but never finished. He never finished anything.

Then a little less than five years ago he had this attack. It followed a car crash on the Golden Gate Bridge. And right near the spot where a close friend of his had committed suicide.

After the attack one side of his mouth had an avalanche. His brown eyes turned white. He decided he wasn't going to walk. He had people running around like crazy. He started drinking. I told you all this. He had women come over and undress, just so he could watch. He would invited people over and while his wife was making dinner he would talk about women he had had affairs with years ago. Or maybe not years ago. There was always an ambiguity. But he would go on and on, about this woman and that. And all the while his wife would be cutting the onions into ever small slices.

They were living in Marin at the time. They had a huge indoor pond with the most exotic ferns. Orginally the idea had been to make it into a hot tub but after the accident they gave that idea up.

And then when his daughter wouldn't bring him wine, he would call the police and try to have her arrested.

Eventually, he went up to Bolinas, but now he's been thrown out of there. He's back in his little room at the bottom of the house: Mr. Unwanted at a dead end. No one wants to see him. His daughter won't take his food down. His wife has stopped cooking. He himself refuses to get out of bed make his way up some stairs and prepare his own dinner.

It's as though he's on strike and now his wife has all but left him. His friends are reluctant to come by. He tells them strange stories, how his family is trying to kill him, how he has millions of dollars hidden away under the seats of his sports car.

But the car was sold several years ago. There's nothing in the garage now. His tools are long gone.