Sunday, November 29, 2009

RINO's For Obama-Ed Rollins Cries To CNN

Ed Rollins is going off the deep end over the dinner-crashing incident involving the Salahis, pictured above talking with President Obama, while the vaguely remembered Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stands off in the background.

Rollins is incensed at the couple's actions, and wants them prosecuted, and he wants people fired, even intimating that it would not be going too far to expect Mark Sullivan, the Director of the Secret Service, to resign. Like he was directly responsible for this fiasco, you see. Going by that criterion, which is legitimate only in the eyes of the mentally retarded, or ass-kissers like Rollins, why stop with Director Sullivan? Why not go on all the way up to his superior-Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, who is, after all, the Secret Service Director's boss? Shouldn't she be held accountable for this breach as well as Sullivan?

Why is Rollins so incensed about this anyway? The first state dinner given by the Obama Administration has turned into fare for late-night comedians? Oh, cry me a fucking river. Why is he so concerned about how this looks bad for Obama? How is this an insult to the Indian Prime Minister? To be honest, every time I saw this guy he looked to me like he would prefer to be just about anywhere in the world but at the Obama White House, which might to him be just one or two degrees of preference above Tora Bora or Waziristan-or maybe downtown Calcutta on a Saturday morning at the stroke of midnight.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for prosecuting these people if they did break the law, but a little perspective here would be nice. Look around the room at all the people there who actually had legitimate invitations to be at the dinner. The Salahis might well be the most outstanding citizens of that whole sorry, motley crew of jackals and hyenas.

Also, by God, I'll tell you something else. The Salahis might have actually done this sorry fucking White House a favor by showing just what kind of shape their security apparatus is in.

Not that you can expect any different, or not that you should really give a fuck. This country has gone security crazy, and you can thank liberal Democrats for the sorry shape it's in. Which party is it again that has been coddling criminals for the last forty years at least? Thank you. That's right, it was liberal judges, appointed by liberal politicians-mostly Democrats, but also in many cases fucking RINO's like Ed Rollins-who set in place the policies that would make it possible to let John Hinckley out of the mental institution he was sent to (as supposed to the grave he should have been dumped in at least twenty years ago) after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the attempted assassination of President Reagan.

Now Rollins, that disgusting old RINO who used to work with Reagan, has the gall to bring up the specter of the attempt on Reagan's life as a reason to go ballistic over this fiasco. Give him time and this genius will be figuring out a way to blame Sarah Palin for the lax security.

Nothing but liberal politicians-like Edward Kennedy, ironically-could have set in motion such a set of events which now make it impossible to move in Washington, or to so much as breathe in Washington, without a major security lock-down taking effect if you just look like you might be slightly irritated, or anxious, in the presence of a fucking politician. All because a long, long time ago we got way too timid to get as tough as we should with the garbage and dregs of society, who after all, do tend to vote Democratic.

And mind you, it's not merely because you yourself might be a physical threat. If that was all it was, this probably wouldn't be half the big deal it is right now. You might, if you are not prevented from doing so by a crack, elite cadre of trained, killer government agents-make the President the butt of jokes on late night television. Rollins even says that in the CNN article. He talks about the embarrassment at least as much as he talks about any potential legitimate threat.

And of course, this piece of shit just has to go that extra mile by insisting that the Salahis should be prosecuted for-yes, of course, "for the chiiiiiil-drennnnnn"! It would just set a bad example for our nations blessed, innocent youth to see these people get away with something like this-assuming they take the time to peek up from World of Warcraft or Guitar Hero long enough to see there's actually a real fucking world going on around them.

Prosecute the Salahis? Fuck that, I changed my mind. Give these people a fucking award. They probably made a more positive contribution to the cause of America's security, on balance, than most if not all the other worthless cunts who attended the dinner will make in their whole sorry fucking careers.

As for Ed Rollins, somebody please piss in this old fool's Cheerios tomorrow morning so he'll have something legitimate to cry about on CNN.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Breach Of Trust

There is something about this story that concerns me much more than the fact that Michaele and Tareq Salahi, a couple of limelight seekers and would-be reality tv stars, crashed a presidential state dinner. They actually, as citizens, had as much right to be there as any so-called "real" socialites, and in fact, they might have had more right to be there than many that were there. As far as I'm concerned, that is actually true, at least theoretically, of any American citizen without a questionable criminal record.

Fine, the woman crasher, it turns out, might be a bit of a phony. No, evidently, she was never really a Washington Redskins Cheerleader. No, she was never, really, a model for Victoria's Secret. Yes, she, as well as her husband, are publicity mongers.

On the other hand, the gentleman in question is the owner of a Virginia based vineyard, and has been described as a world-class polo player, and in fact has been instrumental in founding two different charity polo events. He formed the one after losing control of the other, true, and his running of the events has raised questions as to his financial management, and his vineyard has fallen on hard times, due to a family feud between he and his mother over ownership of his late father's holdings, and his-but hell, nobody's perfect, right?

Granted then, the Secret Service is correct to be mortified and concerned owing to this obvious breach of security, but having said all that, this is really, in the grand scheme of things, a minor issue in comparison to what should be of the most paramount concern to the American people.

What in the hell was Brian Williams doing there? This is a man who is allegedly a journalist, and who has been given the duty-some would go so far as to call it a sacred trust-to be a watchdog over those in power, and exercising power, over our country and the formation and execution of it's laws and treaties.

So did he attend this much-lauded first Obama state dinner by way of flashing his press credentials? Was he there in his capacity as a reporter?

No, he was there as an honored guest. He all but brags about that in the preceding interview. It gets worse. He noticed the couple, early on, and noted the strangeness of their actions and their demeanor, even going so far as to note that the SUV which had carried them to the opening gates-WAS TURNED AWAY! Despite this, he saw them get out and make a spectacle out of themselves on their way back to the front gate on foot.

Yet, even after making note of all of this bizarre behavior, even to the point that it was a matter of some conversation between he and his wife, this veteran newsman did not even bother to make inquiries to the people in charge of the dinner, which he certainly could have done. How could anybody be expected to know, unless you knew them personally, who they were and what they were or might have been up to as they suddenly appeared at the dinner, hobnobbing with Joe Biden, Rahm Emmaanuel, and even speaking briefly to the President himself?

Granted, it would seem unlikely that the couple would be a threat, given the manner in which they so haphazardly and openly approached the gate in the company of a make-up artist and cameraman. They didn't exactly act like they were anxious to hide anything. Still, I would have been very curious as to why they turned up at the dinner, after the vehicle in which they first arrived-I can't stress this enough-was turned away.

Then again, this is exactly the kind of thing that got Williams his invitation to the state dinner in question to begin with. Just don't ask any questions that you don't clear with us first. Just take it for granted that we know what's best, and that everything happens for a reason. We should not be expected to explain everything, or for that matter, anything, but if you show us in a good light, we'll let you be our unofficial spokesman, under the guise of "journalist". When you're finished, bow politely and leave.

Williams was in such a rush to make sure we all knew how he had been honored to appear as a guest at this dinner, he didn't take the time to realize how it looks. The sad thing is, neither do most other people, I'm afraid. All they know is there was a breach in security, but they have Williams to assure them that this kind of breach is a rarity, and that, really, folks, security at these things is really state-of-the-art. He should know, he was subjected to it himself. So once again, he becomes an unofficial apologist for this administration.

The dinner-crashing couple are only would-be elitists, while Williams, give him his due, by God, is the real thing. Doesn't that just mean that he is a more accomplished phony? Unofficially, of course.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Twilight New Moon-Romanticizing The Monster

It's pretty easy to see why the Twilight movie series, including the current installment, New Moon, is so popular to the point that it is a bona fide phenomenon. It's obviously not because the premise is so exciting and original, nor is it because it is, artistically, anything approaching a cinematic tour de force. It's because it deals with a subject matter in a way that can only be described as pure escapist, romantic fantasy, and does so unabashedly.

This is a different kind of vampire flick. It comes closest to Lost Boys than to any other, but only on the barest of surface resemblances. Twilight's Edward Cullen, played by Robert Pattinson, is Dracula wearing a promise ring. He has never, nor presumably will he ever, consummate his desire for Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), but he will protect her from any other vampire, even those among his own clan, who might lust after her, such as when one of his vampire clan almost jumps her veins when she, accidentally cutting herself, flashes a bit of blood.

After this, he abandons her, breaking up with her on the grounds that, in some strange way, this is the only way he can protect her. He goes off to Italy, whereupon Bella is promptly threatened by the vengeful vampiress who wants revenge for the death of her undead lover, killed by Edward (in defense of Bella, of course) at the end of the first Twilight movie.

Since Edward is now away, Bella must turn to the mysterious brooding werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), setting up what is meant to be the ultimate romantic triangle, only we already know how that will end up. Bella loves her werewolf friend, but evidently more in the way one would love a loyal dog. Soon enough, Edward will return, and the two will be together again, and you'll have to wait until June of 2010 to see where it goes from there.

On the other hand, since the movie series has been faithful to the novels-to a fault, I dare say-it's really no big mystery.

The series has been condemned from many different perspectives, ranging from the Vatican to Miley Cyrus, and almost every movie critic in the world. In the case of Miley, who has described devotion to the franchise as a cult, it would seem to obviously be a case of sour grapes. But is the Pope's condemnation much different? His Vatican spokesman have described the film as "a moral vacuum with a deviant message", yet the movies, like the books on which they are based, seems to promote much the same values, at least insofar as concerning sexual morality, that the Pope seems to find laudable. In fact, Stephanie Meiers, who wrote the novels on which the movies are based, is a devout Mormon, and while she claims she has not written these books from a Mormon perspective, she readily admits she was influenced by her values, which she describes as life-affirming and positive, with an emphasis on light, as opposed to darkness.

True, the characters are, at least technically speaking, supernatural monsters, but they are for the most part not your father's vampires and werewolves. This is not Dracula, or Barnabas Collins, nor even is it Keifer Sutherlan from Lost Boys.

And herein is really my problem with the series. I don't begrudge the romantic fantasies of the young girls and some boys, along with an unexpectedly high number of middle-aged moms. Like I said, it's pure romantic escapist fantasy.

My main problem, in fact my only problem with it, is it represents an evolution of the vampire story in a way that is far removed from the original premise. That in itself would not be so bad, but where it gets to be troublesome is in the way it dominates the market. These things take on a life of their own, and much like the vampires they portray (or rather in this case unlike them) they suck the oxygen out of the air, and the very life-force out of any other possibilities.

Dracula, the original vampire, was never conceived as a romantic hero. He was a violent, blood-thirsty beast who presented the thinnest surface veneers of civilization. He was a predator of the most cruel, heinous variety. He was perhaps one of the oldest recurring characters in cinema to be described as "the villain you love to hate". Only, as is often the case with such descriptions, movie-makers caught on to the reality that nobody really hated Dracula. He spawned countless imitators over the years, many of them progressively watered down and romanticized.

Thus you had Barnabas Collins of Dark Shadows, who more than any other character is a perfect representative of the evolution of the vampire myth. When first introduced in the ABC sixties soap which had been struggling in the ratings, he was a cruel, savage, and yet strangely charming beast bent on murder and revenge, yet over the course of months, he was revealed to be haunted by a lost love, which inspired his vampiric curse from the wiles of a hateful, jealous witch. He soon became a tragic anti-hero, engaging in two different time traveling escapades in order to save the haunted Collins family from first one unsavory supernatural menace after another. Once he realized he had always loved the witch after all, the curse was over-and the series folded.

Now, there have been rumors the Dark Shadows saga might get a reworking, with Johnny Depp playing the role of Barnabas Collins.

In the meantime, lost is the original premise of the predatory monster who steals blood, lives, and souls in order to maintain an existence of ephemeral immortality. Maybe it's easy to see why the Pope finds the Twilight premise so disturbing after all. Evil takes a holiday in these films, in the sense that there are no clearly defined boundaries. A vampire of Twilight is not necessarily a villain. He has the same free will as any normal human. The supernatural aspects are mere window dressing for the selling of what is in reality a simple romantic saga.

Quentin Tarantino lost out early on the opportunity to strike a gold mine beyond his wildest dreams at the time he directed his 1996 film, From Dusk Till Dawn. In it, George Clooney spent the entirety of the second half of the movie fighting a Mexican strip-club full of vicious vampires that were coincidentally closer to the spirit of the original vampire premise than the vast majority of other film offerings either before then or since. Clooney's character destroyed all the vampires in the film, and managed to do so without ever being afflicted with the curse himself. Had Tarantino used his head, he might have originated a franchise that might still be on-going to this day. After all, the magic of computer generated graphics can probably do wonders for the appearance of an aging sex symbol.

And that is really what this all boils down to-sex appeal. It's so obvious it's almost embarrassing to have to remind people that there's some very serious sexual repression and maybe even rape fantasy going on here with a lot of vampire fans. I feel I might even be insulting the reader's intelligence by pointing this out, but really, I would be remiss if I did not give some lip service to the idea that women, and men, are taken by the idea of the strong and noble but savage predator taking total control of a person's very essence, controlling his victim utterly while ushering her, or him, into a state of ecstasy that is so obviously tinged with sexual overtones.

After all, how can one be blamed for such a passionate encounter when it is beyond your control? Women want to be controlled by such a creature, while men want to be that creature. That is the obvious appeal and origin of the evolution of the vampire myth.

Now we have the next step, a vampire who is willing to wait. One might ask, what's the point? Well, a vampire, theoretically immortal, can wait as long as he wants. A year would be like a day, or maybe even a second. Why not wait?

Well, the fact that he doesn't really have to says it all. Edward Cullen can have Bella any time he wants her. He knows that, and she knows that, but he chooses to wait, because he can do that too. She loves him from her heart, and her love for him is real, not coerced.

And that's just the thing that's guaranteed, at the hands of the right actor (with just the right looks, of course) to send millions of teenage girls (and middle-aged moms) into an escapist fantasy land that has probably moistened millions of panties over the last weekend, and will probably moisten millions of more in the months ahead.

And you can bet your bazookas there will be many millions of young teenage Goth boys playing the role of the angst-ridden teen vampire, or werewolf, with varying degrees of success, with young girls of all ages.

One fairly disturbing story relates how a Twilight fan was bitten on the neck, following repeated verbal abuse, by a middle-aged patron who sat behind her. I say fairly disturbing, because the story is, on the face of it, laughable, especially since the teeth marks she insisted the alleged predator inflicted on her seem to have vanished by the time she reported the incident. Was her story entirely made up? Was it just exaggerated? Was she really accosted in the way she describes? We may never know for sure, but I have my doubts.

One thing I don't doubt for a second is the potential here for mass hysteria that approaches anything the Beatles or Elvis ever dished out, and with the third highest opening of any movie (behind only Spider-Man 3 and The Dark Knight) it shows no sign of abating anytime soon.

(Putting on Asshole Hat)

Guys, make the most of this phenomenon. A good rule of thumb for things like this is, if you go about it the right way, you won't have to wait too long.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pan-A God For All Nature's Children (Part Two)

(Continued from Part One here)

When Pan became the devil, it was an easy transition for him to make, when you consider it in the context of how the early Christians viewed the decadence and depravity in which Rome had slid. To their way of thinking, the image of the beast found its form in the personage and image of the hard-partying, lustful, amorous half-man, half-goat that was his image. Over time, the newly-acquired image of Satan lost the goat fur, while retaining the beard, horns, and sometimes even the tail.

Pan had the last laugh, however, for as time progressed, the image of the bawdy, raucous god was hardly taken seriously as an appropriate view of someone who, after all, was supposed to be the personification of pure evil.

So who, or what, in reality, was Pan? Depends on which myth you prefer, I guess you could say. Many, perhaps most, came to view him as the son of Hermes by the nymph Dryope, who ran from him in fear when he was first born, after which Hermes took him up into Olympus, where he delighted the gods, particularly Dionysius, with whom he became more closely associated with than even Hermes.

Although, to be fair, Hermes did give him one other gift. He taught to Pan the "art" of masturbation. It was a gift that would serve him in good stead, seeing as to how the nymphs of the forest constantly spurned his advances, and as to how desperate became the god's on-going search for sex, with-well, seemingly anything and everything.

There is another version of his origins that would seem to predate those of the major gods. According to this one, Pan was the son of the goat Amalthea, who may be a symbol of the mythical "Great Mother". This female deity, whose origins are in fact obscure, was charged with the care of the infant Zeus, when the latter's mother, Rhea, hid the newborn infant from his father, the ragingly suspicious Cronus, who sought to swallow all his children as soon as they were born.

Amalthea cared for the future Father of Gods and Men as though he were her own, though in fact she had a son of her own-Goat Pan, who would later assist Zeus and his brethren in their ultimately successful war against Cronus and the Titans.

In fact, though Pan is not known primarily as a God of War, it is in this context that he is associated with Dionysius-as a general during the God's wars against the Indians.

Chiefly, though, Pan seems to have originally been a God of the Aracadian forests, where he was worshiped as a god of shepherds, which may have been the chief reason he became identified throughout Greece as a "son of Hermes". Additionally, there may have been a desire to subordinate the popular, well loved God below those of the major pantheon. What better way to do this than to name him as the son of one of these pantheon members?

The Arcadians were relatively uncivilized, and may have led not only a mere pastoral existence, but one of subsistence farming. They may have even been hunter-gatherers to a large degree, though they were certainly goat herds, and may have operated small, subsistence level farms such as what one might find in the hills of southeastern Kentucky.

Though they were hunters and shepherds, and Pan was chiefly their god in these regards, he would have by virtue of these attributes also been seen as a fertility god. And, since the Greeks came to see the Arcadians as backwards, rough, and unsophisticated louts, with low morals if any, and of a lustful disposition, then naturally one of their major deities would easily be seen in this light as well.

Thus we see Pan in myths chasing after first one nymph, then another, constantly undergoing rejection after rejection. He was said to have even created the Panpipes from the wood of a nymph who was so terrified of his advances, she turned herself into a tree. Pan did not give up easily, however, nor did he limit his advances to mere nymphs. In the following photo, we see him trying not too subtly to seduce Aphrodite herself, while her son Eros looks on in seeming amusement.

And of course, as homosexuality was common in Greece, especially among the upper classes, it would come as no surprise to see that Pan is depicted as unrestrained in his sexual passions, as depicted in the photo below.

In reality, of course, the true meaning of the god Pan is obvious from his appearance. He is a fertility god, and represents the very natural urge towards procreation that exists within all living things. We humans like to see ourselves as so far above the animal world, but a person with a true sense of discernment can easily see that we have more in common with them than just eyes and ears. The sex drive, in fact, is perhaps the more uneasily restrained, the hardest tamed, of all the animal urges that all living things share, including humans.

One way in which humans relieve themselves is through masturbation, which would have been indulged heartily and unabashedly so by the Arcadian shepherds as they spent weeks on end tending their flocks. Indeed, this is an "art" that does not need to be taught. Rather, it is picked up quite naturally, with no need for instruction or encouragement. Yet, it too is something of which we are taught we should be ashamed. In fact, if you have ever been caught doing it, say by a parent, you might remember that shame came about quite naturally as well. You might have felt it before the unfortunately intruding parent ever opened his or her mouth.

But, if there is anything to learn from Pan, it should be the realization that, while the sexual urges should be restrained, controlled, and channeled, they are in and of themselves nothing to be ashamed of. They are the natural urge by which through procreation all species of life survive through multiple succeeding generations.

The irony is, no one needs to be taught that fact any more than they need to be taught the act of masturbation, or the instinct of shame when they are caught doing it. Sexuality, and the need for it as a form of release and as a means of procreation, and even the need to keep it within definable boundaries, are all so instinctual, any attempts to keep it under further restraints are doomed to failure, at best. At worse, it can lead to a repressed individual, or even a repressed society.

Then, when the lid blows off the kettle, so to speak, you eventually have the same degree of decadence and sexual promiscuity that plagued the ancient Romans, as things once again go full circle. An example of such is seen below in the painting, by the excellent French artist Nicholas Poussin, titled The Triumph of Pan.

It is easy enough to answer the question, why a half man half goat? After all, there was more than one fertility god. Zeus himself was a fertility god. So was Demeter, and Dionysius, and of course Aphrodite. There were others, such as Priapus, who, as the short, fat, hideously ugly god with the monstrously huge penis, stood more for the dangers of unrestrained lust that recognized no boundaries, not even the boundaries of matrimony.

Pan, however, was unique in his own way as possibly the most ancient God who pointed out the common urge and need to procreate that existed within all living things, an urge shared by humans and animals alike.

In Greece, it so happened that goats were the most important form of livestock. Few people raised cattle. It was either too expensive, or the land was for the most part unsuited to raising them. As such, most people very seldom ate beef, unless it was during times of communal festivals in honor of one God or another. Almost no one aside from the rich elites of some areas consumed cattle.

The most common meat eaten by common Greeks of the day would have been either goat or sheep, and as such, this was probably the most common livestock. Therefore, it would make sense that a God of fertility, one who celebrated the instinct of procreation, would be seen in the form of a goat.

This in fact is why I prefer the myths pointing to Amalthea as his mother over the rather whimsical one of Hermes as his father. Pan might in fact be a much older God than we realize, and at one time might have been far more important, during the days of the Mycenaeans, than the myths concurrent with the times of Classical Greece would attest. There is just no way of knowing. We don't really know for sure where his worship originated, beyond Arcady. The Mount Ida mentioned as the place where Zeus was raised by Amalthea seems not to exist, but it could point to an origin in the Carpathians, or maybe even the Caucasus or Urals.

All we know is, thanks to Pan, the poor old goat has gotten a bad rap. How many times have you heard an older, allegedly lecherous man referred to as an "old goat"? You can thank Pan for that. Of course, goats are no more lecherous than any other living creature, including many humans. The point is, we all have that basic, instinctual drive, and perhaps the fact that we do, and that it is such a powerful drive, even an overwhelming one at times, is what makes us so ashamed. It makes is realize we are animals after all, doesn't it?

One way to attune with this instinct, and with Pan, might well be through the ritual act of masturbation. It is certainly an intense way of raising and sending magical energy. The utilization of visualization while doing so might well bring beneficial results. At the very least, it could help you to see your place within the universal "All". Many pagans, especially Wiccans, advise against visualizing a specific person, something I never agreed with, nor could I ever comprehend it, for the simple reason you can not control another person magically. You can, however, get in touch with your true feelings, and maybe, by allowing yourself to see clearly just what it is that is driving your feelings towards the "nymph" of your dreams, you can-er, "come to grips" with it in a positive way. When you masturbate, and you fantasize about someone in particular, note the setting you see yourself in, how you see the person dressed, how he or she acts, how you act as you lead up to engaging in sexual activity, and what exactly you do, and how you-and the other person-reacts in your dreams.

More importantly, how do you see yourself in your visualizations? Or do you even see yourself at all? Do you actually consummate the act of fornication, or are you thrilled merely by the chase, by the making out, the lead-in? What is it that is thrilling you about this person, and why?

You might want to keep a journal. Call it what you will. "My Jackoff Book", I guess.

It might also be a way of reigniting a relationship that seems to be withering away, a way of restoring the magic. Remember, Pan is the patron of those who are beleaguered by feelings of love and lust that are not reciprocated. He understands, so pour him a libation, of wine or milk, or anything handy. Even if you don't believe in the literal existence of this or any God, the ritual act itself, and the symbolic importance of acknowledgment of the personification of the universal sex drive is what is important for the successful conduction of any such magical endeavor as this one.

In the meantime, look for all the ways the God might manifest himself to you in your life. If you find yourself getting a sudden, unexpected, and inconvenient erection at the sight of a good looking woman as she smiles at you while flashing her legs in your direction in an obviously suggestive manner, or if your pet dog suddenly starts humping your girlfriends leg in front of the whole family, thank Pan for the laughs-even if you do feel they are at your expense. Somebody might be trying to tell you something.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Story of Pan

At the risk of making it seem like the name of this blog should be The Temple Of Pan, here is a YouTube video recently sent to me by Farmer John, or FJ, who has the excellent blog FJ's Blog (Farmer's Letters on my blogroll), where he keeps track of events in Venezuela and other places south of the border.

This is a Greek video which tells a version of the story of Pan to the accompaniment of a charming piece of music I can imagine would have fit right in during the hey day of Pan's cult.

Hymn To Pan-by Aleister Crowley

Until I get around to posting part two of my Pan article, this will serve as a pretty good example of how Pan is seen today by some of his followers. He always had a cult following as a fertility god that probably-though we don't really know for sure-engaged in ritual sex, but mainly he was a hunting god, chiefly of the region of Arcady, which Crowley mentions in this poem. He was also a god of shepherds and their flocks. As a god of what was basically a backward region made up of shepherds, hard scrabble farmers, and hunters-gatherers, it would be only natural that he would be invoked as a fertility god, and while he was probably invoked for (and by way of) sexual methods, I personally feel this was a minor aspect in the early days of his worship, certainly within his home region of Arcady. His reputation as a god of animal lust spread throughout the rest of Greece, and it was that aspect that obviously served as the inspiration for Crowley's following poem.

Hymn To Pan (Crowley)

Thrill with lissome lust of the light,
O man ! My man !
Come careering out of the night
Of Pan ! Io Pan .
Io Pan ! Io Pan ! Come over the sea
From Sicily and from Arcady !
Roaming as Bacchus, with fauns and pards
And nymphs and styrs for thy guards,
On a milk-white ass, come over the sea
To me, to me,
Coem with Apollo in bridal dress
(Spheperdess and pythoness)
Come with Artemis, silken shod,
And wash thy white thigh, beautiful God,
In the moon, of the woods, on the marble mount,
The dimpled dawn of of the amber fount !
Dip the purple of passionate prayer
In the crimson shrine, the scarlet snare,
The soul that startles in eyes of blue
To watch thy wantoness weeping through
The tangled grove, the gnarled bole
Of the living tree that is spirit and soul
And body and brain -come over the sea,
(Io Pan ! Io Pan !)
Devil or god, to me, to me,
My man ! my man !
Come with trumpets sounding shrill
Over the hill !
Come with drums low muttering
From the spring !
Come with flute and come with pipe !
Am I not ripe ?
I, who wait and writhe and wrestle
With air that hath no boughs to nestle
My body, weary of empty clasp,
Strong as a lion, and sharp as an asp-
Come, O come !
I am numb
With the lonely lust of devildom.
Thrust the sword through the galling fetter,
All devourer, all begetter;
Give me the sign of the Open Eye
And the token erect of thorny thigh
And the word of madness and mystery,
O pan ! Io Pan !
Io Pan ! Io Pan ! Pan Pan ! Pan,
I am a man:
Do as thou wilt, as a great god can,
O Pan ! Io Pan !
Io pan ! Io Pan Pan ! Iam awake
In the grip of the snake.
The eagle slashes with beak and claw;
The gods withdraw:
The great beasts come, Io Pan ! I am borne
To death on the horn
Of the Unicorn.
I am Pan ! Io Pan ! Io Pan Pan ! Pan !
I am thy mate, I am thy man,
Goat of thy flock, I am gold , I am god,
Flesh to thy bone, flower to thy rod.
With hoofs of steel I race on the rocks
Through solstice stubborn to equinox.
And I rave; and I rape and I rip and I rend
Everlasting, world without end.
Mannikin, maiden, maenad, man,
In the might of Pan.
Io Pan ! Io Pan Pan ! Pan ! Io Pan !

Aleister Crowley

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pan-A God For All Nature's Children (Part One)

In the comments of a previous post, a commenter with the blogger profile name Tragedy 101 asked me the rhetorical question, "isn't Pan the devil?" I thought I would address that, because, of course, like all Pagan gods, he very easily can be seen as such, and in, fact, can be a devil.

One of the most common divides between Pagan religions and most others, especially in regarding the Abrahamic faiths, is the concept of divine perfection. Within the confines of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, there exists only one God (or in the case of most Christian denominations, the "Godhead", seen as "three persons in one God"), and while practitioners hold that mankind can never even approach perfection, God can be nothing but perfect. Therefore, we worship him who is perfect and strive toward acceptance by him. Christians do this by trusting in Christ to forgive them their sins through the blood their Savior shed on the cross, saying that he sacrificed himself willingly to atone for our sins. Thus, when Gods looks down upon the Christian, he sees a person covered in the shed blood of Christ, and accepts that person, whereupon when he looks upon an unsaved human, all he sees is the myriads of sins by which the human race is afflicted. and presumably turns in disgust. Such a person can never enter into the presence of a perfect God, we are warned.

Jews and Muslims see it differently, of course, and devote their lives to prayer, ritual observances, and good works in order to placate their God's expectations of them, which I assume they must know they can never hope to meet, however hard they try.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of significant differences between them and the practitioners of the other major world religions, though of course there are some that exist on the surface, and some pretty significant ones as well involving expectations of the afterlife. Whereas Hindus want to escape the cycle of rebirth and achieve spiritual perfection, and Buddhists just hope to fade away into some extract nirvana, they, like the monotheist faiths, all adhere to the notion that mankind is at best a flawed creation.

The one thing they all seem to have in common is the ideal of perfection, and the goal of attaining it, one way or another. For those who are successful, they stand to spend the rest of eternity in some blissful paradise. For those who fail, they face an eternity of torments (or in some cases a very brief but intense time of torment before they are destroyed forever), or they might come back as some vile, loathsome creature with the prospect of undergoing countless eons of progressions before they even approach their former relatively advanced state-in fact, the danger of such descents is given by most Hindus and Buddhists as the major reason one should strive to escape the circle of rebirth. No matter how good and worthwhile a life you incarnate into, you always run the risk of going backwards to a significant degree.

The old pagan deities, of course, were not perfect, not by a long shot, and this is including even the best of them such as Athene. Others, of course, such as Ares, were a little less perfect than others-or significantly so. Pan is perhaps the greatest example of an imperfect God.

So then then the question becomes, does Pan even deserve the appellation of Godhood? How can any reasonable person worship such a loathsome creature as this half-man, half-goat lecherous satyr who seems to spend his time chasing after fauns with the intention of seducing them (or outright raping them), more often than not unsuccessfully at that, and in fact seems devoted to the prospect of having sex with everything that moves?

And that's where the great conflict comes in, really, in the concept of "worship". I never did particularly like the word, as it involves more than merely the idea of bowing down and acknowledging a superior power. What it really means to worship something is to hand over your life to this entity. In reality, you no longer are the captain of your own life, but must of necessity devote your life, time, and energies to pleasing the deity in question.

It becomes obvious from the start where this can lead to problems. It has led to problems within the parameters of all religions, including the major ones, and including even the Abrahamic followers of the ideal of perfection. It actually comes with a very high price, this ideal of perfection, which I personally hold never existed-anywhere. You can see this for yourself. Just consider the ideal of perfection. What is perfection? No one really knows what perfection is, and really, how could you? You have to look beyond your expectations of what is perfect.

A bear is perfect. They are extremely difficult to kill, they can handle any other predator that comes their way, as long as they themselves are at their peak, and they can sleep throughout the winter so long as they have eaten enough before the winter sets in. In other words, they have evolved to the point that they have PERFECTED the skills necessary to survive within their environment. Take them out of their environment, suddenly, and they are as weak and helpless, in the grand scheme of things, as a rabbit surrounded by a den of coyotes.

Of course, a rabbit, and a coyote, is also a perfect creature, after their own natures, as they too have evolved in specific manners in order to best live and thrive in a particular set of environmental conditions. It's the natural cycle, then, the balance of nature itself, which is the closest we can ever come to understanding the nature of perfection.

And make no mistake-we are all nature worshipers, of one stripe or another. I know that many of you might respond by saying, "well I don't worship nature, I worship the All-Mighty God that created nature."

That doesn't change the fact that you put on your coat in the winter, bath to cleanse away the daily dirt and sweat, heat your house or cool it according to the demands of the temperature and your own particular needs, and you eat, in most cases meat, but in all cases, you eat, or you starve. At the end of the day, you sleep. You are attracted to a man or woman whose chemical composition is just such that it sets in motion those chemical components that cause you to be desirous of him or her.

Everything you do, and even those things you don't do, revolves around nature. Is it any wonder ancient man reached for an ideal of perfection, in a world in which failure to acquire sustenance means a certain death? Nature may not be a God or a Goddess, but He/She/It is certainly a harsh, cruel, and demanding Master/Mistress.

The desire for perfection, then, is nothing more nor less than a natural progression rooted in the tendency to seek to improve one's lot in life. A perfect being, of course, would not only be all-powerful and immortal, He or She would have no constraints of limitations, no inclinations to veer towards folly, or to engage in demeaning or degrading activities. He or She would experience no heartaches, sadness, disappointments in life. There would be no death, no misery. There would only be peace, contentment, happiness, and bliss.

Of course, if such a loving and all-powerful being created us, and the universe, then arises the quite natural question-what went wrong? That of course inspired yet another explanation that doesn't quite pass the smell test. We were once created as perfect beings, but due to the gift of free will, we chose sin, and fell from grace. We have suffered ever since, so the story goes.

In reality, of course, we were never created at all, let alone perfectly, and we have spent eons evolving ourselves. Perfecting ourselves, you might say. We don't always succeed, and in fact, we don't always progress. Many times, after taking a few steps forward, we take a few more back. We learn from that, as a species at least, and evolve some more, and move on.

One of the things we used as a tool to understand the world, and our places in it, was the creation of Gods, many if not most of whom mankind looked to for guidance alone specific lines, others of whom we sought to placate in order to achieve at least some degree of compassion.

Pan was one such God, and in the following post, I will try to explain what I consider to be his meaning and purpose.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It Looks Like The Attic For Dollhouse

It never fails. A good way to gauge the likelihood of a television show lasting more than a season or two is-do I like it? Thanks to a few notable exceptions, such as House, I can't exactly say it's the mark of death, but it does seem to portend a strike or two against it. This is especially true in the rare instances that somebody comes up with a sci-fi show I actually like enough, and care enough about to make sure I watch it on an on-going basis.

Watch the season one recap, at the end of this post, and you might well understand why I consider Joss Whedon's Dollhouse (Fox, Friday 9pm), starring Eliza Dushku, to be such a show. Admittedly though, in looking over the troubled, all too brief history of this series, which Fox just recently announced will indeed be canceled following the end of it's thirteen episode current season, it's easy to see how it didn't really have too much of a chance. Sometimes I think Fox actually wants it's shows to fail.

That might sound contradictory, and I'm sure it sounds like a crazed conspiracy theory worthy of the most die-hard Joss Whedon fans, but it makes sense when seen in the context of current economic factors. Shows like Dollhouse and Prison Break costs a lot of money to film and produce. That Fox has some of the best shows on the air-while they last-are a testament to the production values the network seems to demand. And while they draw in their target demographic, it doesn't seem to last. Scriptwriting by committee, that fabled studio executive's curse that plagued even Prison Break at the end, causes problems in continuity and even in overall quality.

Ah, but while they are there, watching, the network makes damn sure they know when American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance will be on. And that's the key. I am almost positive that Fox would, if it had it's way, scrap all of it's prime time drama series in a heartbeat in favor of reality television, which costs much less to produce. Even a stinker of a show like Jay Leno's bomb makes money for NBC, so how much more true then that American Idol makes a killing for Fox?

When Fox contracted Joss Whedon to produce Dollhouse, it's hard to believe that it did so with the intention of creating a true contender in the ratings. To begin with, they put it on Friday nights, where all network television series are sent to die, while yet on the life support of the few devoted fans who remain with a series to the end. It's almost a service to those fans, a thank you for your support, as a means of giving them closure by wrapping up all the loose ends.

Yet, Dollhouse started it's run on Friday nights, a night when most people are beginning to enjoy their weekend. They just got paid, they want to go out, to a game, a movie, to dinner. Not many of them want to sit around watching television. So Dollhouse was screwed from the get go. As if to insure that it's fate was sealed, Fox yanked it from it's Friday Night lineup during the all-important November sweeps period, prior to announcing it's cancellation, while promising to show the remainder of the season's thirteen episodes.

Not that the series didn't have it's flaws that contributed to its poor ratings. The first few episodes played more like a procedural, somewhat along the lines of Fantasy Island on cocaine. If you stuck around after the premiere episode, you could almost imagine Adelle DeWitt walking around the Dollhouse, looking down at the Actives, saying "smiles, everyone, smiles", alongside geeky, amoral mad scientist Topher Brink excitedly waving his arms saying "the plane, the plane".

It didn't take too long though to establish that The Dollhouse was so much more than that. Unfortunately, it's potential will probably never be realized, or recognized, or even approached.

It concerns itself with an international corporation by the name of Rossum who has developed a technique for wiping a person's mind, leaving them a blank slate, onto which any personality can be imprinted, in addition to all the prerequisite skills required for the assignments the Dolls, or "Actives" are required to perform for the benefit of wealthy clients. As for the Actives, they are people who, for whatever reason, have signed a five year contract. In the case of Caroline, or Echo as she is called, she was an animal rights activist who, breaking into the laboratory of the Rossum Corporation, along with her boyfriend, discovered that there was something far more sinister afoot than mere animal scientific experimentation. They discovered a human fetus being monitored. They were discovered, Caroline's boyfriend was presumably killed by a guard, and Caroline found herself with the dilemna of how best to extricate herself from a serious legal situation. She reluctantly signed up to be an Active, whereupon she became one of the most successful of the Dolls.

In the meantime an FBI agent, Paul Ballard, has been assigned the task of investigating the Dollhouse, which is presumed by most to be an urban legend. Unbeknownst to him, he does so with the aid of Alpha, a roque Active, accidentally imprinted with multiple murderous personalities, who murdered almost all of the then current Actives, while inexplicably sparing Echo. He also killed the original Doctor Saunders, who was replaced by the personality of a second Doctor Saunders in the body of the former Active named Whiskey, who had been at the time the most popular and successful of the Dolls, but whom Alpha had disfigured during the course of his violent onslaught.

Ballard has also been relieved of his duties in the FBI, which means he has nothing to lose. He can bring the Dollhouse down, or he can die trying. Or, he can concentrate his efforts on bringing down the Rossum Corporation, which owns and operates multiple Dollhouses in major cities throughout the world. You just fucking know there has to be one in Abu Dhai, to say nothing of London, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, etc.

The key to the series is the question, what does it all mean? What is the true purpose of the Dollhouse? It doesn't after all merely exist to indulge the whims of a few wealthy clients. This, my friends, is only a test.

So Paul Ballard, after saving Echo from Alpha, who nevertheless manages to escape to cause more trouble on another day that will probably never come, agrees to become Echoes new handler, replacing her old one, who was recently named the new Chief of Security Operations for the LA Dollhouse. That is because Mr. Dominic, the original Head of Security, who viewed the Actives with contempt (more like pets than people) turned out to be a security mole. As such, Mr. Dominic's own mind was wiped, and he was placed in "The Attic", where broken dolls are sent to live out the remainder of their existence in a state of helplessness, the nature of which as of yet has not been disclosed. In return, Adelle DeWitt, the woman who operates the Dollhouse, agrees to release from her contract the Active named November, who had been a "sleeper Doll" assigned to spy on Ballard while Ballard was still with the FBI and actively investigating the Dollhouse. They also had one of their Actives, named Victor, programmed to spy on Ballard while imprinted with the personality of a Russian Mafia member, pretending to be Ballard's informant in a ruse that almost cost Ballard his life.

Nevertheless, Ballard is now officially a member of the Dollhouse staff, albeit viewed with some degree of suspicion, where he now works as Echoes handler, overseeing her assignments, almost all of which turn out to contain great degrees of risk (admittedly, this is one of the major flaws in the series). More importantly than the standard "assignment of the week" format, Echo is slowly but steadily regaining a sense of self, retaining small fragments of memories from all her past assignments-a hostage negotiator here, a rock music background singer there, even one time a murder victim who was brought back to help identify her killer. More importantly, Echo is slowly but surely recovering fragments of her true personality, and is consciously working with Ballard to bring down the Dollhouse, and more importantly, the Rossum Corporation-whoever and whatever they are.

The grave danger to the both of them is that, if they are discovered, they too could end up permanently in "The Attic". This is a very real danger, as there has been some notice of a trend toward grouping and forming cliques within the Dollhouse among the Actives, particularly with Echo, Sierra, and Victor. Topher, the geeky scientist responsible for the Dollhouse technology, noted that they were displaying the survival instincts of a herd mentality.

"They're a little bit bison", he explains.

Following is a recap of season one. Some of the segments here are not exactly the ones I would have included, while some I would have put in are left out, but it will suffice. Before that though, I have just one thing to say to all the Joss Whedon fans who are upset at the latest cancellation news. Take heart, you might yet save this show. I have one pertinent phrase for you that might just catch on-


Failing that, let's hope they wrap this show up with a bang. Hopefully, they will air the much discussed ending to season one, which was actually filmed as a series finale. It's killer stuff, and a perfect ending, which I won't spoil here. But enough of that.

And now, in lieu of your standard series trailer, here is the aforementioned Dollhouse season one recap, although bear in mind the ending presented here was actually resolved during the season one finale with Echoe's rescue from Alpha by Ballard, and with Ballard's decision to ostensibly work for the Dollhouse as Echoe's handler.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Magickal Childe Molesters

The potential for child abuse is endemic within any organized, or even not-so-organized religion, and unfortunately Wicca and other branches of Paganism are no exception, it would seem. It's easy to understand how this can happen. Pedophiles and ephebophiles are easily drawn to such areas of endeavor as children or youth ministries, where they can all too often ply their trade-well, unmolested. It is an area where, once they gain the trust of the religious community, and of parents, and their children, they have ample opportunity to engage in conduct which can easily be described as sexual grooming, oftentimes with horrendous results.

As I said, this happens within all religions, and this is including Christianity. And no, I am not talking only, or even mainly about the Catholic Priest Pedophile scandal of recent years. There are multitudes of examples of this happening within other denominations, including among such fundamentalist groups as the Baptists.

And, it happens among pagans, as recently pointed out by Rob Taylor of the blog Red Alerts, who passed the information on to Jason of The Wild Hunt Blog, which engendered a rather lengthy and intense comments section devoted to the topic.

In this particular case, a man by the name of James Douglas Ray advertised on Witchvox, in a listing the site (or perhaps Ray himself) has since removed, that he was in search of a coven in the Arkansas area. An investigation conducted by an anti-pedophile website revealed that this man may have been active on several pedophile message boards, where he has promoted open advocacy of pedophile rights, and stressed that a child as young as ten might be able to handle sexual penetration by an adult.

This man, it was revealed, lives in Arkansas, where he owns and runs an RV Park, and is a volunteer firefighter. Now, frankly, I find that hard to believe, as this person is reported to weight in the neighborhood of 384 pounds, but I suppose he could work as a dispatcher, or perhaps in some maintenance or equipment manager capacity.

(Oh, and just as an aside-to my way of thinking, the notion of this man sexually penetrating a young child, as disgusting and revolting as that would be, it literally pales in comparison with the idea of this 384 pound sack of shit just being on top of a child pressing down and humping with all that obesity. I would even go so far as to say the very thought of this whale being on top of a child makes the sexual aspects seem almost trivial. I doubt this fat ass tub of lard has seen his own dick in over a decade, and when you get right down to it, I doubt anybody else has).

Is he just one of a relative few, or is he representative of a larger sub-culture within the pagan population? I fear the worst. I am very much afraid that, like all religions, there are many of these people who have found a home, and more importantly, a cover to disguise their heinous activities under the cloak of spirituality and by fostering the illusion that here might well be an adept spiritual guide and mentor. It is a situation that is rife with the potential for abuse-and for tragedy.

As such, people, particularly parents, need to be aware of this, but I am very much afraid that all too many of them have blinders on, and would prefer to keep them in place. Let somebody else watch out for their kids for them. That's what the law is for, right? The law exists to protect us from these kinds of people.

And true, there are myriads of laws meant to do just that. At the Federal level, there are laws involving use of the mail, wire services, phone, internet, etc., as well as interstate travel for the purpose of transporting minors across state lines, or crossing state lines for the purpose of meeting underage children for sexual or other illegitimate purposes.

We don't need any more laws at the federal level, and there should be more than adequate laws at the state level to take up the slack. Be familiar with them. If you don't like your particular state's laws, work to change them. If you don't particularly like the laws of a neighboring or other state-don't go there. There's no need in making this an excuse for a greater federal government power grab.

However-and this is key-both federal and state laws, no matter how well-written or adequately enforced, are worthless when parents refuse, or for whatever reason are unable (ie, in all too many cases unfit) to be proactive in raising and guiding their own children. After all, there would be no need for these laws if there was no danger of anything untoward happening to children at the hands of predators. Severe punishment after the fact, while it is appropriate, does little good to heal the pain of abuse-it damn sure isn't going to raise the dead.

As such, it has come to my attention that there may be-and I stress, MAY BE-pagan festivals where children are allowed, and maybe even encouraged, to wander around skyclad. That happens to mean naked, for the uninitiated. I should point out here that the alleged pedophile mentioned above stated that he liked to attend such festivals primarily for this reason.

All right, I don't know what the fuck is wrong with people. Let me make this as clear as I know how, to parents, and to event organizers, that allow this to go on, if indeed it does-

A, no normal person wants to see this shit, B, no responsible adult would sanction or encourage it, and for damn sure C, no sane parent would fucking allow it.

I hate to break it to all the skyclad aficionados, but there is nothing normal about nudity. It is natural for human beings to want to clothe themselves in attire appropriate to the environment, and about the only time nudity comes into play in this regard is during the course of bathing.

Yes, I know, we are born naked, and it is natural for toddlers to get out of their clothes whenever they can in a great many cases. This might well be because of a buildup of body heat due to child-play activity. You just might have the damn heat up too much. Whatever the case, the child will outgrow this inclination in time.

Bottom line, we are apes, apes who lost their fur, and we've been stealing other animal's fur ever since we lost our own, which was probably due to some genetic mutation facilitated by a bottleneck in the human population, which in turn was probably caused by a drastic change in environmental factors.

Walk outside without any clothes and tell me how natural it feels, regardless of the weather. The vast majority of people even wear something, however slight, when they go to bed at night. In other words, if you think otherwise, then you're just full of shit, aren't you?

So when you go to these things, act like you have some fucking sense. Dress appropriately, and dress your kids likewise. In the meantime, if you insist on involving your kids in these kinds of things, make sure there is adequate supervision run by qualified adults who have passed all the appropriate background checks. A good rule of thumb is-infants and toddlers in one group, after which separate groups for ages of every four years. Once your child reaches about the age of fifteen, on average, he or she can probably be trusted with a greater degree of freedom of movement. Which means of course not that you cut them loose to run wild, just that you give them a bit of a longer rope, and make sure they understand they are expected to act with appropriate sense of responsibility. You know, that's that thing you should be teaching them.

Better still, keep your kids with you. Don't expect "the law" or "the government" or for "society" to babysit your brats so you can indulge your own past times. We all have lives too. Sorry, but the most I can do for you, if I see something is wrong, would involve an anonymous call to Child Protective Services. So get over yourselves and raise your damn kids.

Don't think for one minute it's going to cut any slack with society that "it happens in other religions too". Nobody cares about that irrelevant point. Way too many Christians, and others as well, still see you as groups of (maybe unwitting) devil worshipers who are putting your kids at risk by placing them in proximity to a group of people who worship deities such as Pan, who all too many Christians see as the devil incarnate.

Yes, it happens to them too. You can find a multitude of examples of that here, just for starters. That's just too bad. If your own child ends up raped, or maybe even murdered, or you have him or her yanked from your care because you are perceived-maybe with good reason-as an unfit parent, wouldn't you feel really stupid using that as an excuse?

See, a truly benevolent group will see the problem in their midst and they will do something about it. There are those in the Christian community who are trying to address their own problems. One such example of that is Boundaries For Effective Ministries.

There is no reason that pagans can't take the time and effort to make sure their children are safe from predators, and they can do this in large part by knowing who they are associating with, and by becoming aware of their surroundings.

A good first step might be to check out a group known as Pagans Against Child Abuse, an on-line support and advocacy group which is open to Pagans and non-Pagans alike.

Perhaps most important of all-and it almost pains me to say this, seeing as to how obvious it is, or should be-get involved in your children's lives. And stay involved.

One group you might want to check out is Spiral Scouts. It is a group for children and young teens of both genders, fashioned somewhat after the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, that encourages parents to become more involved in their children's lives. It is not a place where you take your kids to get away from them for awhile. You are encouraged to be a part of the group, which is run by responsible adults who have passed all the necessary and appropriate background checks.

Some people, including many Pagans, might not like them because they are a Wiccan group, founded by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. Honestly, I'm not sure I would like them. I'm just putting the information out there for your perusal. If you think it might be of value, look into it. You can start by reading their FAQs.

They don't proselytize, and they are open to any children of any religious background, or to those who profess no religion. It's supposed to be just an organization for children and young teens, to have fun in a safe environment and form friendships while learning pretty much the same kinds of things the Scouts do about nature and the environment. Hopefully, there is not a political agenda, but I don't know. Like I said, I don't necessarily recommend or endorse them, I just offer them as a potential outlet you might want to look into.

In other words, don't take my word. Look into it yourselves.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Seed Of The Jackass

The liberal branch of the Democratic Party has of late seemingly followed the path of its Stalinist roots-take two steps forward, one step back. Although the narrow passage of the House version of the current medical reform bill is seen as a big victory, it came at a huge cost for the liberal Democrats. Thanks in large measure to the input of the Catholic Church, federal funding of abortions under the new plan would be off the table.

Step back and chew on that for a minute, then digest it fully, because it is more comprehensive than it sounds at first glance. Not only can a patient not use the government option to invest in abortion coverage, but-and here's where it really gets sticky, and seems ripe for a court challenge-they also can not use any tax credits they might receive in order to purchase abortion coverage, not even from a private plan. If I understand it right, if they purchase abortion coverage, they lose their tax credit. Period, end of story, no ifs, ands, or buts. No exceptions, in other words, for rape, incest, or life and/or health of the mother.

That is remarkable. It is a sure sign that the current Howard Dean strategy of attracting conservative candidates in order to make the Democratic Party more competitive in red states, while it has met with more success than any might have imagined, seems to have had unforeseen consequences.

Here's the part where it really gets complicated. No one is surprised in the least that conservative Democrats would use their clout in such ways as to limit if not outright end abortion on demand, but no one saw this coming. They should have, but they didn't. I should have too, but I didn't see it coming either.

In this case, the Catholic Church has sided with the more conservative, Blue-Dog Democratic constituency and it's congressional coalition. Talk about strange bedfellows. The Catholic Church voters within the Democratic Party, after all, make up one of its more liberal, progressive wings.

They are adamantly for peace, for environmental protections, for minimum wage, for all kinds of liberal social programs, they are steadfastly against the death penalty-and, if all that is not enough, they are even for a liberalized immigration policy, for God's sake. If it weren't for their positions in staunch opposition to abortion and euthanasia, you would fully expect to see them raising their voices in support of a single-payer universal health care system. Wait, come to think of it, I think they did that, though as luck would have it, even the clout of the Catholic Church has its limits. There is no denying, however, that it is considerable.

Remember when Joseph Stalin sneeringly asked how many divisions the Pope has? What foolish old Joe never realized was-he did not have a chance in hell of being elected Pope, whereas the Pope-well, he doesn't exactly need a battalion, does he?

Does this mean abortion is on the way out? No, of course not. There can never be too many conservative judges in a country as divided as ours. And I mean that quite literally. There can just never be enough, let alone too many. There are far too many moderate judges to swing either way, and when it comes to the abortion issue, they tend to swing left, be it ever so slightly. It just doesn't look good for such a prospect for now. But the times-well, they are a changing.

The way the wind is blowing lately harbors a lot of sentiment in the direction of a constitutional amendment, whereas the growing strength of the Blue Dog coalition, and the ever-growing clout of the Catholic Church in both mainstream political parties, makes that scenario sound not quite so far-fetched.

It's gotten to the point where even an influential member of the Kennedy clan-none other than Representative Patrick Kennedy, son of Ted-is openly criticized by the Church for his support of abortion rights. It has gotten so bad between he and the Bishop of Rhode Island, the Bishop canceled a scheduled meeting between himself and the Rhode Island Congressman, ostensibly arranged to try to work things out between the two of them.

Now, I sure didn't see that one coming. Is this by any chance a portent of things to come? Could this be a harbinger of the glad tidings of a coming split within the Democratic caucus? Could this in time lead to yet another Democratic Party exodus to the ranks of Republicans? Or could the Democratic Party itself possibly be in the process of undergoing a change in social philosophy, if in no other area than in the contentious area of abortion rights? Could that actually lead to a migration of liberal voters to some other political entity, such as the Greens?

Probably no, on all fronts. It bears repeating that abortion rights gets the short end of the stick for no other reason than the influence of the Catholic Church, which, again, tends to be very liberal on most other social, political, and economic policies. They might carry the day on a major piece of legislation such as this one, where it is pertinent, but this is unlikely to amount to much in the way of a major ideological shift within the Democratic Party beyond this issue. In fact, it has not amounted to such a shift now. It is nothing more than a single-issue defection, but it is a defection which threatened to torpedo a much desired and agonized over body of work-such as it is.

I guess not all Democrats are taken with the idea of butchering baby Democrats, even if those babies parents are, in great measure, from the more liberal wing of the party. For now, those that look upon abortion rights as a sacred humanitarian duty to uphold, and upon Roe v Wade as the closest thing to sacred writ they could ever imagine, don't seem quite to know how to deal with the unseemly dilemna. The Catholic Church, the oldest predominantly liberal (of late) organization in the world, has in effect committed what they must look upon as a heresy of the worse magnitude. And they have done so, hand in hand with a coalition of politicians who are the closest thing the Democratic Party could possibly produce that could hope to pass for conservative.

The moral of this story-whether you are a liberal Democrat, or a Blue Dog Democrat, you are, politically and culturally speaking, just one more suicidal ass.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Berlin Wall 20th Anniversary-The Big Picture

World leaders from across the globe have recently attended ceremonies in Berlin to mark the occasion when the Berlin Wall fell twenty years ago.

It was an historic event, to be sure, and certainly one which is worthy of world recognition. For more than twenty-five years, the wall stood as a symbol of oppression, and when it finally fell, it marked the beginning of a new era, a day when, at last, citizens of the all-but-extinct communist Soviet satellite state known as the German Democratic Republic-better known by most as East Germany-could finally travel freely past the border that had previously marked the east and west boundary of the German nation, bringing with them their hopes, dreams, and plans for the future.

Now, once again, we have a united Germany, by God. And don't you forget it.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

V Is For Vacuous

Sorry, I just don't see what all the fuss is about. It's not that V is a terrible show. In the great scheme of television programming, it's just ordinary, and all the references to the Obama Administration in what has to be seen as an obvious attempt to appear topical and relevant, is not going to change that.

So buying into the advertising hype and the concomitant critical appraisals, I watched the opening premiere episode. It started off with a series of ever more ominous, threatening, and intensifying earth tremors, all leading to the revelation of an approaching group of interplanetary vessels, of huge size and of obviously advanced design, all eventually hovering over the major cities of the earth.

The leaders of the Visitors, played by Morena Bacarrin, pictured above, formerly of Firefly (as well as the spin-off feature film Serenity) somehow managed to address the entirety of the earth's population at once, in each of earth's major languages, simultaneously, assuring a worldwide captive audience of their peaceful intent and promises of sharing their advanced technology.

Now, if you're stupid enough to buy this premise, I have no doubt that you were probably inclined to go out and mindlessly purchase every item presented to you in the first round of advertisements. As it happens, by the time that first set of commercials was over and the next segment of this premiere episode aired, most of earth's population seemed ready to embrace the visitors and their line of smooth talking bullshit-just like that.

If you hadn't been paying attention up to this point, you might well have assumed the "aliens" were little more than a group of Mexican smugglers who just raced their marijuana or cocaine-laden van past a border checkpoint.

Actually, most of the earth's inhabitants as portrayed in this series don't even seem to display as much concern over the more fantastic scenario actually portrayed as most folks would betray over such a group of illegal earth style aliens. By the time the episode was half over, the Vatican has even issued a statement to the effect that the Visitors, as everyone calls them, are also God's creatures and should be treated with trust and understanding. Seeing as how everybody already seems collectively enthralled by the aliens by now, the Vatican's position seems to be somewhat unnecessary-even pointless.

But of course, there are a few characters who distrust the visitors. One of them is a Priest who tells his superior that "rattlesnakes are God's creatures too". There are others as well who are determined to resist the Visitors and the snake oil they are selling. In fact, few people seem to be aware that the Visitors are, in fact, snakes, come to earth for the sole purpose of first enslaving man, and then devouring him (assuming this pointless remake adheres to the plot of the original nineteen eighties series).

Even the FBI seems more determined to hunt down a terrorist cell than to concern itself with the fact that an interplanetary race of highly advanced beings of humanoid appearance has just appeared over all the major cities of earth and promised the inhabitants, in effect, the moon and the stars, in exchange for seemingly nothing but the right to grace us with their presence.

But of course, as fate would have it, this terrorist cell is actually a small group of people who are determined to resist the alien incursion. Some of these people include: a female FBI agent who is worried about her son's infatuation with the Visitors, which he has entertained to such an extent that he has, along with his best friend, signed up as a youth ambassador at the behest of an attractive blond visitor; a television news anchor, played by Scott Wolf (who bears a striking resemblance to Michael J. Fox), who is concerned about the Visitor's insistence that any interviews granted him must not ever portray the Visitors in a negative light; the priest; and finally, a black man, who in reality happens to be one of the "good Visitors", and, having fallen in love with an earth woman, is determined to save mankind from itself and it's fatal infatuation.

What do all these seemingly disparate characters have in common, other than the urge to fight to save humanity? Unfortunately, that would be the fact that they are all precisely the cliche' ridden, cardboard characters they sound like they are. The dialogue of this show is also standard hackneyed claptrap. Frankly, I could toss a bunch of Scrabble letters around and probably end up with better dialogue than was written for this episode.

What is worse, there was absolutely nothing that happened that made me care about what I just saw, or inspire me to wonder what was going to happen next. In a series where the laws of human nature are ignored, and where the accepted standards of natural reaction and common sense behavior seem to have eloped off together to parts unknown, it becomes obvious that as time goes on, no one else is much going to care. The truth is just too far out there, and not in a good way.

The series will air for four episodes during November sweeps, after which it will return for the remainder of its run in March of next year under new management. If it doesn't change drastically by that time, I have an idea most viewers will have lost their ill-founded infatuation with this series long before the fictional earthlings of this vapid program have recovered from their delusions about the Visitors.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Islamic Terrorism? Let's Call It What It Really Was-Treason

That is what I would designate the recent attacks at the Fort Hood Texas Army base committed by recently promoted Major Nidal Malik Hassan, an Army psychiatrist, of all things, apparently due to be stationed in either Iraq or Afghanistan, a future deployment which may have in fact been the major motivation behind the psychotic onslaught against his fellow American soldiers.

And make no mistake, Hassan was an American, born and raised in this country, though a son of Palestinian immigrants and a lifelong Muslim.

Yet, a perusal of his records is enough to make one wonder why he was promoted, and for that matter why he was not given a general discharge. That in fact would have been a kindness. He was obviously unfit for duty. I am not so quick as some others to ascribe political correctness for the reasons many of his antics were overlooked. Frankly, there is a heavy shortage of Arabic speaking soldiers and translators, and he filled a need he had no desire to fill.

But that is just the beginning. This is a man noted to engage in pro-Islamic diatribes against Americans and against his fellow soldiers, a man who applauded the actions of a recent Islamic convert in the shooting deaths of two Arkansas Army recruiters. This was a man who expressly stated at a public meeting that non-Muslims deserved to be beheaded, or set on fire. This was a man who stated that Muslims should strap suicide belts on and pay a visit to Times Square in New York.

This was a very seriously disturbed individual, and claims that he was harassed by his fellow soldiers due to his Islamic faith, even if true to some extent, does not by any stretch of the imagination begin to excuse his actions.

In fact, this attack might have been in the planning stages as far back as May or this year, when a blog entry was written by a man who used as his screen name Nidal Malik Hassan. In it, Hassan compared the recent heroism of an American soldier who jumped on a grenade to save the lives of his fellow American soldiers as an act of heroism akin to the actions of a suicide bomber who kills American soldiers in order to save Muslim lives.

Although the journal is currently being investigated, there has yet been no definitive proof offered that it is the same Nidal Malik Hassan. Still, it is a chilling document. As for Major Hassan, he is now paralyzed as the result of the bullets which put an end to his rampage, and he languishes now on a ventilator. He might well possibly spend the rest of his life in that condition, which will make any trial of him problematic at best.

That is too bad, as there needs to be a trial, a trial on charges of treason. Whether the death penalty is implemented, although it is certainly warranted, is not of major concern. It is actually a lesser issue in comparison to the need to set the example that this type of activity should not be allowed to stand, or be excused, or explained away. It should be designated exactly for what it is-the actions of a demented, depraved individual who abused the rights and privileges of his position of power and responsibility, and dishonored his country and his uniform, all for the insane tenets of a barbarous seventh century Middle Eastern style Orthodoxy that is best left to the confines of a museum, or for that matter, a zoo, albeit one not fit for any of nature's nobler beasts.

I do not fault any of the major news medias, at first glance, for failing to report the facts of Hassan's Islamic faith, even though the mere reporting of his name made it seem painfully obvious as to what was going on. I would assert that it would have been quite legitimate for the question to be raised. Having said that, I can certainly understand why they would feel compelled to not jump the gun or, as the saying goes "rush to judgment", even if the judgment was in fact staring us in the face with fingers flapping about the ears while a big long tongue stuck out at all of us. Obvious assumptions are not facts until they are confirmed as such. I get that. I just wish they would be consistent about it. For example, I would wish they would be willing to report the facts when they are confirmed as such, as opposed to filing them away when it is convenient to do so. These are what you call crimes of omission, and you can include among their numbers the crime I alluded to earlier which occurred in Arkansas, when a Muslim convert gunned down two Army recruiting officers. You never heard this story reported in the mainstream media. If not for the blogs, it would have been all but unknown. Thanks to the dereliction of the media, it is still a relatively obscure story.

This of course was a story that was not so easy to ignore, and so now the people of CAIR and other Islamic American organizations are worried about a potential backlash, expressing shock and condemnation of Hassan's crime while at the same time insisting we should not be so quick to judge this as a case of Islamic terrorism.

Other Muslims have followed suit on individual levels-here, for example-expressing disapproval and dismay at Hassan's actions, while one even went so far as to assert a potential correlation with Guy Fawkes Day, pointing out the crime at Fort Hood coincided with the anniversary of that British holiday.

As one might expect, there are numerous military blogs, official as well as privately owned, and run the gamut of personal opinions dealing with what potentially might have been Hassan's motivations.

As for me, like I said, whatever the facts or theories of the case, I'm fine with treason. Let's go with that, and set an example with this piece of shit, and any others who might be tempted to follow his path, of whatever faith they try to wrap around their useless, meaningless lives.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Living With Death

It is beyond belief that someone could get away with the acts that Anthony Sowell committed for so many years, from the time he was released from prison in 2003 after serving the entirety of a fifteen year prison sentence for a very violent attempted rape, which from the description sounds like it was probably also an attempted murder, on until the time he was finally apprehended-on Halloween of this year, appropriately.

Eerily enough, the crime for which he was initially arrested, and which lead to the gruesome discovery of six decomposing bodies in his home-along with the skeletal remains of four others and the skull of yet one more past victim-was yet another attempted rape committed near the Autumn Equinox.

Nevertheless, he was finally apprehended, and later denied bond by a judge who described the crimes for which Sowell is being accused as beyond anything he had ever faced.

Indeed, you have to wonder what kind of individual could live alone with the stinking, rotting, and decomposing bodies of six human corpses. The stench was so overpowering, the neighbors assumed it must have either been coming from the sewers or from the neighboring pork store, which was next door to Sowell's residence.

In fact, Sowell was described by one of the employees of the store, which he patronized, as a nice man who made him cringe due to the bad smell that emanated from the man, which the employee in question was ashamed to ask him about.

Despite assurances that the smells did not come from the store, and despite countless man hours of work done on the sewers in the neighborhood, there was no respite from the stench.

Nor did it even arouse any undue suspicions when a nude woman was seen either falling or jumping out of Sowell's window one time, which he explained away as the accidental result of a cocaine and alcohol binge. The woman in question said nothing to contradict this statement, to be fair, but still, this seemed to also set off no alarm bells for the Cleveland cops who, after all, were well aware that Sowell was a registered sex offender, one who in this instance openly admitted to illegal drug use at the very least.

It took all of six weeks for the last surviving victim to tell her story to the police, and for them to finally act on the information. But, after all, this was a drug addict and possibly a prostitute, like so many of the other missing women who have fallen through the cracks in the general vicinity of this East Cleveland neighborhood, many of whom are potentially past victims of Anthony Sowell.

Here is the link to another story told by a woman who claims to be yet another of Sowell's victims, a woman who survived, if the story is to be believed, merely by keeping her head and wits about her and appealing to whatever sense of humanity and reason Sowell, a former Marine, still had at his disposal.

The system let down a lot of people in this story, including even Sowell, a seriously disturbed individual who, while yet in prison, requested sex offender therapy which he never received. The women are another story. They have gone down the road they traveled for the most part of their own volition, in some cases never to return. This is not the fault of the system. By the same token, unfortunately, the system found it far too easy to disregard reports of their disappearance. They were drug addicts, alcoholics, and prostitutes. They were, simply put, not a priority.

Now the only thing it can possibly do to make restitution is tie up the loose ends that are the remnants of tragic, wasted lives.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

No More Tears

Have a blessed and happy Samhain.

Attuning With The Dead

You can't really communicate with them, of course. If the dead exist at all in a spiritual realm, it is in the form of the pure energy which is the culmination of all their past hopes, fears, and other emotions. They are little more than creatures of instinct, reacting to familiar stimuli, yet incapable of progressing through the acquisition of new knowledge. Duh, like that would require a brain with brain cells, which they no longer have, right? As such, they can not carry on a conversation beyond what they knew in life. Forget about turning to them for advice or for the wisdom of the ages. Again, they no longer have the capacity to process new information, so any such attempt would be lost on them, even in the unlikely event they understood exactly where they were in relation to you.

Spirits exist on a plane of existence similar to a dream state, with about that much self-control, so learning anything from them is pretty much limited to what they knew in life, which may not be reliable. After all, memories fade. Try it some time. Rent a DVD of an old television series from ten, twenty, thirty or more years back, one you used to watch and enjoyed as a child. You will be amazed at how much you've forgotten and how much your memory changed in your mind. Some plot lines will now be seen as not nearly so important as you remembered them, while some lines will be totally different than you remembered them.

This is why any such information gained from so-called "spirit contact" is by it's nature unreliable, as is any alleged "past life" memories. People's memories change day to day, imagine what it must be like life to life. Only those things of vital importance will be carried over into a new life, a new body, and a new brain. Seemingly important matters in one life will become trivial matters at best with no place in even the deepest recesses of an unconscious memory.

How then does one attune with the spirits of the dead, and why?

You do it in honor of them and their impact on your life. Speaking to the spirits of departed loved ones, family members, and ancestors, is merely a matter of reaching down into the depths of that which made you what you are. And make no mistake, for good or for bad, no matter how many generations ago they might have lived, regardless of how trivial and unimportant their lives might have been or seemed, your ancestors did contribute in at least some small fashion in making you what you are today.

How much more true then is that of those with whom we have been close to in our lives who have now moved on, have passed away from this mortal veil.

In attuning with ancestors, and those dearly departed from our lives, that is what we are truly recognizing, honoring, and respecting and it is surely worthy endeavor for that reason alone.

Thanks for the picture goes to Danielle