Wednesday, July 30, 2014

This impeachment thing

I hate writing about this stuff, honestly. As I've said before to the point of tedium, I wish I could ignore politics and concentrate on spirituality, arts, and social commentary. 

But as a citizen of this rapidly devolving country, I can't fail to speak up about the decay of our constitutional republic, however sententious that may sound. Let's hope I can get this subject out of the way and not have to return to it.

Is anyone serious about impeaching the overreaching nitwit in the White House? Among those of the professional political class, probably not. For them the idea is just rhetorical -- verbal chess. But from what I can gather in the blogosphere, many of the American people are steamed enough to want to go full speed ahead removing Obama from office.

Let's try to analyze the situation.

There is one overwhelming reason for impeaching and convicting Obama: he deserves it. He has been at the center of so many outrages, so many violations of the Constitution, that even his opponents have a hard time keeping up with the scandal du jour.

Those who favor the impeachment and trial argue that failing to do so is as much as admitting defeat, and announcing that from now on the executive branch cannot be curbed. The American republic will be over, despite whatever moldering symbolism remains, every bit as much as the ancient Roman counterpart dissolved under Julius Caesar and Augustus.

At the same time I can see reasons why attempting to unseat the president is dangerous, no matter how much he is feared and despised.

1. Unless the Republicans have a huge majority in both houses after this year's election, there is no chance for conviction. Even then it would be no sure thing. Republicans can be bribed and threatened, or honestly believe impeachment would be a mistake.

2. The mass media, naturally, will be with Obama all the way. They'll slant all the news about the proceedings.

3. The standard reflex will be triggered: Racism! Racism! Racism! Racism! Racism! Racism! Racism!

4. It will be easy for the Left to position their official leader as a martyr.

5. Understandably, some people will feel that impeachment is an act of bullying, that the country's founders sensibly made it difficult because they believed that a president should not be scuppered because he is unpopular. There's a natural tendency to want abuses to be dealt with through the normal give-and-take of politics and voting -- even though Obama doesn't observe such niceties.

6. Obama is as much a symptom as a cause of our national disease. Unfortunately he represents the mindset that has gained the ascendency in academia, the judiciary, the media, the social work bureaucracy, and just about every institution of power, including those of the states. Just look at the flap over the federal government's plans to house the Latino illegal insurgency in towns around the country. The opposition is not about the insanity of open borders but about money -- we can't afford to keep them here! Nimbyism at its finest.

We have to focus on the big picture. Obama may think he's the life and soul of the party, but in fact he's just a small figure in the corner. Those who invited him and enable him are the ones who need to be led off.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Generation gap

Pro-Palestinian demonstration,
France, July 2014

Fourth Generation war is the greatest change since the Peace of Westphalia, because it marks the end of the state's monopoly on war. Once again, as before 1648, many different entities, not states, are fighting war. They use many different means, including "terrorism" and immigration, not just formal armies. Differences between cultures, not just states, become paramount, and other cultures will not fight the way we fight. All over the world, state militaries are fighting non-state opponents, and almost always, the state is losing. State militaries were designed to fight other state militaries like themselves, and against non-state enemies most of their equipment, tactics and training are useless or counterproductive.

--William S. Lind
The Four Generations of Modern Warfare
[Tip of the hat: Sipsey Street Irregulars]

Multi-culturalism is a form of fourth generation (4G) war, and its overall strategy is immigration. The strategy is nearly perfection itself, because it is "invisible" to most of the indigenous population at any one moment. Undermining the existing political and social culture by importing vast colonies of foreigners who have utterly different backgrounds and values -- and whom the politicians believe can be easily led to support them -- only becomes evident when it reaches a certain tipping point.

The State-controlled educational institutions and mass media are tasked with anesthetizing the indigenous population to the changes taking place. It is a rare occasion, such as the Latino Children's Crusade across the U.S. southern border, that they become dramatic enough to produce overt resistance. Even then, bigfoot politicians see the changes (or pretend to see them) as either progress or, if a problem, an economic or "humanitarian" one, not a 4G War maneuver.

They are voluntarily, through open borders, bringing about a state of balkanization at best, war among the people at worst.


War amongst the people is both a graphic description of modern warlike situations, and also a conceptual framework: it reflects the hard fact that there is no secluded battlefield upon which armies engage, nor are there necessarily armies, definitely not on all sides.  ... War amongst the people is different: it is the reality in which the people in the streets and houses and fields -- all the people, anywhere -- are the battlefield.  Military engagements can take place anywhere : in the presence of civilians, against civilians, in defense of civilians.

Gen. Rupert Smith
The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World 

Friday, July 18, 2014


Towards the end of the nineteenth century there were many intellectuals in England who felt the futility of the prevailing world-view very keenly. Among them was a small group of scholars and scientists who ... sought to 'put the final question to the Universe'.

Dissatisfied and depressed by the view of man as a mere machine, they set to work to investigate all sorts of phenomena which had been neglected by orthodox science, and which promised to throw more light on the true nature of man. The problem which occupied them more than any other, the 'final question', was: does any part of the human personality survive after the death of the body?

John L. Randall
Parapsychology and the Nature of Life


In my Father's house are many mansions, in my philosophy many levels of Being, and our normal existence trivial compared with spiritual truth. Even so, frightening events unfold worldwide seemingly at gathering speed; a star-struck, golfing Lenin occupies the highest office in U.S. politics; and various brands of dictators and terrorists use their window of opportunity to raise hell. It seems a little escapist to write a post about a conference on communication with spirits who have passed out of this life.

But despite our daily crises, we need -- perhaps more than ever before in our  time -- to consider the larger picture, one not limited to a materialistic, immediate understanding of reality.

I recently attended the conference sponsored by the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies (ASCS), "New Developments in Afterlife Communications." The setting was an Embassy Suites in Paradise Valley, part of the attractive northeast area of Phoenix.

Methods presented by speakers for contacting spirits (former inmates of this world) on the Other Side included the old tried-and-sometimes-true standby, mediumship; pendulum communication in which a spirit affects the path of a swinging pendulum when questions are put to it; meditation; dreams; mirror gazing (a form of scrying, in which images appear in a featureless surface like a polished crystal ball or water contained in a bowl); automatic writing; hypnotic recall of spirits encountered between incarnations; and various forms of electronic speech and images from the afterlife, today known as instrumental transcommunication (ITC).

As you might expect, ITC is the most recently developed in a society becoming ever-more dependent on electronic connections such as video, computers, smartphones, etc. Several speakers focused on ITC, and I was surprised how much progress seems to have been made since I attended another conference, sponsored by Association TransCommunication, a few years ago. That, if my memory serves, largely centered around recorded voices of the "dead," but while I found a few convincing, others were faint or distorted enough to leave too much room for interpretation -- auditory Rorschach blots.

A lot of the voices this time seemed quite a bit clearer and unambiguous. That isn't to say they sound like ordinary speech: spirits do not have physical vocal cords, so they must create sounds analogous to talking. How they do it nobody knows for sure, and it is apparently tough to learn, but some master it -- usually after a few tentative tries.

The sentences they speak, such as those we heard on the recordings, are almost always brief. The average duration is about a second and a half. But they are grammatically correct and seem to convey some meaning.

And the anomalous photographs of people who had passed on -- often children of grieving parents, some of whom were present to vouch for the resemblance -- generally looked more real than the ridiculous "ghost photographs" of a hundred years ago.

Rosemary Ellen Guiley had the unenviable task of explaining both dream and black-mirror gazing communication with afterlife inhabitants (plus leading a brief guided meditation) in a single hour. I had a chance to chat with her at the ITC conference and also heard her speak at the IANDS meeting last year. She rose to the occasion once again at ASCS with a clear and focused presentation. Author of dozens of books on all sorts of paranormal phenomena, she is a dedicated researcher and I believe one of the most intelligent people I've met.

Victor Zammit, whose A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife has attracted a great deal of attention and respect in paranormal circles, described his experiences with David Thompson -- one of the rare physical mediums around today. A physical medium is said to release a mysterious substance called ectoplasm that builds up into a sort of living replica of a spirit. While the idea almost passes my own "boggle threshold," Zammit (and many others) have seen it done, with all kinds of precautions against the phony exhibitions once performed and which did so much to discredit mediumship in the past century.

In some ways I was as impressed by the group of attendees as by the speakers. I'm not good at striking up conversations with strangers, but those I talked to and overheard showed no evidence of naiveté or New Age shallowness. Actually, the only bit of New Age twaddle (in my view) came from one of the presenters. A question-and-answer session got onto the subject of how to get acquainted with one's spirit guides. The gentleman of whom I speak said, "Just listen to your body." Oh, climb off it, mate. Maybe he connects with his guides through headaches and indigestion, but if it were that simple for the rest of us we wouldn't need speakers like him or conferences like the ASCS's.

There was much more of interest to learn about, but I'll stop here because I know you have other things to do. But congratulations to ASCS for a successful event.

I'm not wild about Phoenix in general, but the rich habitats of Paradise Valley and next-door Scottsdale haven't overwhelmed the magic of the Sonoran Desert; in some cases the houses and even commercial buildings reflect it. Contrary to what many people who've never been there imagine, it isn't bone-dry. It's even called the Green Desert because the summer afternoon rains of the "monsoon season," much looked-forward-to around this time of the year, give plants plenty to drink and people some relief from the intense heat.

The monsoons hadn't quite started yet, but clouds cast white and gray backdrops to the scenery as the days drew toward sunset. There is more variety to plant life in the Sonoran desert than in Virginia or Oregon. Some is native desert flora like the Saguaro cacti, found nowhere else on earth; palo verde trees (yes, they have green trunks); ocotillo. Others are exotic imports from the Middle East or tropics -- date palms, royal palms, bougainvillea. The total effect is enchanting.

On our last evening before returning home, we made our latest visit to T. Cook's, the restaurant at the Royal Palms resort. We've never stayed at the Royal Palms -- I think it's jolly expensive -- but I love the old-fashioned Spanish/Mediterranean atmosphere, with a courtyard and fountain, painted tiles and that. T. Cook's is not only the best restaurant I know in Phoenix, but among the best I've experienced anywhere.

My wife, Christy, is an adventurous eater. Antelope was on the menu. (You think that's something? In an authentic art nouveau styled Paris restaurant called Le Vagenande, she tried ox cheeks, which I don't even want to think of.) She asked our waiter about the antelope. He explained that they came from a 50,000 acre range in Texas. They are killed by expert riflemen who are like the army's sniper team ("one shot ... one kill!"). Yes, we were out West right enough. I don't like picturing such things. But I eat fish, and killing a beast with a single well-placed round is probably more humane than pulling a living fish out of the water. Anyway, Christy enjoyed the antelope, prepared with artistic ingredients. My sea bass was outstanding.

The Sonoran Desert is insanely hot in summer. You step outside or even walk onto the hotel balcony and it's like opening an oven door. It seems impossible even a swimming pool would be refreshing. Only mad dogs and Americans go out in the noonday sun -- actually, even mad dogs were nowhere seen. The lizards must have dozed in a (relatively) cool spot. One crazy jackrabbit did a 50-yard dash.


Some birds seem to tolerate the solar blast. White-winged doves, for instance. I remembered them from Tucson, where they filled our back yard, giving the cats who could see them through the glass sliding doors a fit. They look like the doves you see anywhere else, but when they lift their wings, the wings' undersides are angelic white. Then there are what Christy identified as boat-tailed grackles (she knows her birds much better than I do). Why boat-tailed? I guess because when they spread their tail feathers, they extend in a fan shape, like the wake of a boat.

I'd been looking forward to seeing hummingbirds resting in mid-air, their wings a blur, but none were hanging about. Christy saw a hummingbird from the balcony while I was at a conference session. I resigned myself to missing their company on this visit.

Just as we were leaving the Embassy Suites to head for Sky Harbor Airport (perhaps the only poetically named airport in the world), I was standing next to a palo verde waiting for Christy to drive the car around to the loop in front of the hotel, when I clapped eyes on a hummer standing on a branch. Its tiny body with a curved needle beak seemed like a wonderful omen.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014


I'm off today to attend a conference that should be extremely interesting. I'll tell you about it after I return Monday.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The cat report

If you haven't already guessed, this post will be of interest primarily to "cat" people.

Both Cosette and Matisse are adults now. We think Cosette was about three when we adopted her in 2008, so she is nine or 10 years old. Matisse joined us shortly afterward, but he was a kitten just a few weeks old, so he's five or so.

Cosette isn't quite a pure Siamese -- she has a little white fur on her belly -- but otherwise could easily pass for one. She has the temperament Meezers are supposed to have, talkative, very attached to people, demanding.

She has a "language." Her voice isn't limited to a single sound or "meow," but has a whole range of notes and effects. They range from a quick burst almost like a quack, to higher- and lower-pitched tones, held for longer or shorter periods. Cosette usually greets me with the same mwaah, which I've come to recognize as her version of hello.

But at other times different notes follow in close succession. It's almost like a sort of Morse code.

She is extremely sensitive to touch and almost always reacts instantly with the quack sound. Unlike most cats, she loves to have her tummy tickled.

Matisse is black and white (what is called a "tuxedo cat") in a nearly symmetrical pattern. He is quiet and undemonstrative, very sweet. Although he's calmed down since his madly running and jumping kittenhood, he still makes the rounds of the whole house several times a day. Anything new demands his immediate close inspection.

Matisse is also the psychic one. He often stares up at something invisible to me. I've followed his gaze, looking for a small insect, but usually spot nothing. He probably sees spirits. Cosette doesn't, or is too self-centered to care, never having been petted or fed by a discarnate.

It's interesting that once they've become grown-ups, cats (and most other animals, I think) don't show obvious signs of aging unless they develop an illness of senescence. Why can't we people be like that?

One of the fascinating things about cats is that they are unlike humans in so many ways -- but not to the point that you can't relate to them. Based on years of observation of our present pets and others I've lived with, I'd guess that about 95 percent of their behavior is instinctive. A stimulus brings an automatic reaction. But they're not entirely programmed. They obviously learn simple tasks, they're aware of the time of day (at least when feeding time arrives). They develop affections for certain people.

Cats spend half or more of their lives sleeping. For house cats it is just a built-in part of their nervous system, but their ancestors lived by hunting which could require furious bursts of speed. Presumably they were often unsuccessful and their prey escaped, so they had to rest and recover their energy quickly to be ready for the next opportunity.

When they're not sleeping, they sometimes just sit quietly doing nothing for hours at a time. What's going through their minds? They surely are not "thinking" or remembering in any sense that we would recognize. My guess is that they become semi-conscious, but can awaken instantly, like a computer that goes to "sleep" when on but unused. 

Happy Fourth, Dominion Day, Ramadan (provided you behave yourself) to you and your pets, if any.