On the Massive Difference between Leftist Sounding Rhetoric and Real Leftist Ideals

This morning, I posted a comment on an op-ed article in RT News entitled “America’s most anxious city revealed by data. It should have been painfully obvious” to the effect that “Conflating … Democrats with the left is a mistake. Showboating, virtue signaling, hypocritical and inept idiots do not represent the real left, which is about solving problems rather than exacerbating them”. Two negative responses to that observation led to the following expression of my perspectives on point.  The responses, and I quote, were: “Dream on. Nice attempt to strip the Left of all of its natural stink and decay in order to leave nothing but a fictitious sweet smelling rose. It’s like an abused wife telling someone about only the good aspects of her abusive husband”; and, “Should I believe my eyes or you?”

Sooo, this is my answer which I believe to be important:

People who claim to share leftist values include many who consider themselves liberal or progressives and articulate goals shared by “real leftists” but way too many, including almost all of the ones who call the Democratic Party their home, differ drastically in their conduct and methodology from those of us on the “real left”, most of whom owe allegiance to no political party at present.  Too many of the former seem to be involved in political and civic activities for show, to demonstrate their virtue rather than to get anything done.  To them demonstrations and ridicule and comradery seem the real goals.  They are extremely counterproductive.  Indeed, it seems their only use is to polarize and divide us for the benefit of the elites who run the Deep State and who are the primary obstacles to attaining the world real leftists strive to achieve. 

The real left is not about using rhetorical devices to win arguments, or to win arguments at all.  We are about laying the groundwork to lead by example, to educate by example, to keep our minds open to the views of others and to thereby both continue to grow and learn and to thereby understand the views of those who oppose our goals even when such opposition is against their best interests. The real left, including real democratic socialists, understand that the manner in which the tensions between our individual and collective natures are perceived is what separates us from other honestly held philosophies, most specifically libertarians with whom we probably share many values.  We believe that conflicts between the individual and the collectives of which the individual is a part should, whenever possible and to the extent possible, be reconciled, but that when reconciliation is not possible, as Star Trek’s Spock lectured us, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”.  Libertarians hold the opposite perspective.  But we true leftist are not out to destroy individuality and individual rights any more than libertarians are anarchists, and we can usually work things out because we both resort to reason and persuasion rather than ridicule and government imposed compulsions which almost always pave the way to authoritarianism at best and totalitarianism at worst.  Neither of us believes that the two major parties have our interests at heart thus we both tend to be populist, i.e., we reject governmental institutions and traditions that provide only the illusion of democracy, or of liberty, or of equality, or of equity or of justice, and would prefer to do away with political parties altogether and instead concentrate on the qualities and nature of candidates, to vote in favor of that in which we believe rather than against “greater evils”.  We share with libertarians much more than that which divides us.

Real leftists despise the United States Democratic Party because of its dishonesty and hypocrisy in espousing our views while doing everything possible to obstruct their realization.  Republican policies all too frequently oppose the policies we espouse, but do so honestly, so that we both know where we stand.  However, lately, traditionalist Republicans like the Bush Family and their followers, have, like the Democratic Party, become tools of the Deep State’s anti-Kantian philosophy espousing the economic benefits of perpetual war.  Real leftists and libertarians are non-interventionist-pacifists but if legitimate defense is required, we expect to engage on the front lines ourselves rather than sending other people’s fathers and sons and mothers and daughters off to do the dirty work.

Unfortunately, the faux-woke, self-aggrandizing, attention seeking, unproductive but very loud and very active people who claim to be leftist and liberal and progressive, apparently having a great deal of free time in which to riot and loot and burn and ridicule and put others down, are likely to succeed in preventing implementation adoption and popular acceptance of the goals they claim are theirs, and only theirs.  Goals which real leftists really treasure such as a real end to racism and xenophobia and misogyny because we have convinced people, in their hearts and in their souls, that we are all brothers and sisters and that, as Martin Luther King, Jr., frequently and passionately expressed “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.  Goals such as real equity, equality of opportunity and justice, where impunity and corruption are anathema.  The real left seeks to persuade through example and illustration and realizes that a great deal of patience is required, we know that actions, for good or ill, speak louder than words or pictures or slogans.  We understand that real change is not attained without popular support and certainly that it is not attained through abuse of the government monopoly on the use of force through imposition of coercive sanctions that only alienate and divide.

Thus, the worst enemies of real leftist are not those who do not share our goals and values but those who claim that they do but who by their conduct make them impossible to attain.

Something to consider.

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com

Wither Go We: A diatribe

Identity politics, the purportedly “woke”, the destruction of historical monuments, the illusory #MeToo movement, all addressing real problems but apparently making them worse, continue unabated and uncontrolled.  Reality seems illusory and illusions reality as slogans by those most responsible for the ills of which they complain flood our senses.  Authoritarianism in the name of liberty and censorship in the name of freedom of expression are as omnipresent as are demands to eliminate safeguards against electoral fraud in the name of free elections.  It’s as though all that is required of great poetry is rhythmic sounds without meaning or context and all that is required of transcendental philosophy is that it be confusing.  That seems to be world in which we find ourselves, one where cognitively dissonant entertainment (some labeled news) seeks to mold us into something, but perhaps no one is sure just what.

Perhaps we need some articulate parables and metaphors to clear our minds.  Perhaps a contrast of opposites can bring us together, at least briefly, at least for an instant.  Perhaps something as negatively perceived as cancer can help.  Cancer is not necessarily a negative concept, rather, it involves an anomaly growing in an uncontrollable manner within an incompatible host.  As with so many processes that we as humans denominate “diseases”, cancer is merely an independent biochemical process seeking its own destiny, although when it attains victory over its hosts, its own self-destruction is assured.  In that sense, a metaphorical cancer seems to have evolved in our species.

Or perhaps it’s not really metaphorical.  Perhaps it’s been growing for a long time.  Perhaps it’s always been among us but is now making itself much more manifest, secure in the conviction that its time has come.  Perhaps a societal cancer, one composed of memes rather than genes, has reached the point in its growth where it is impelled to destroy that which we’ve been without concern for what we’ll become.  Its goals would seem subject to differing interpretations depending on whether one viewed as malign or benign.  In one sense, one might perceive it as a lemming-like compulsion to species suicide but in another, as a necessary evolutive climax; back towards nature’s testing, questing formulae of trial and error and perhaps, back towards survival of the fittest; or else towards extinction, which is what happens to evolution’s failures. 

The cancer within our society manifests as a complex of chaotically contrarian groups, each furiously seeking change but unable to agree as to who or what we should become.  It feels like an instinctive compulsion away from something but not necessarily towards anything.  Perhaps, many within its vocal subgroups (where clamor and uproar seem to amplify their numbers and their impact) don’t really care about consequences, the urge towards species suicide being much too strong among them; their self-hate as strong as their disdain for tradition.  And perhaps such self-hate is justified. 

Some such subgroups have a clear perspective of the aberrations we desperately need to discard in our societal and social makeup in order to attain the ideals we’ve created, aberrations such as elitism, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, inequity, inequality, injustice.  Some even have cogent ideas about how to attain such goal but too few have the talent necessary to attain the better world for which they aspire through voluntary means and instead, seek to use the purported monopoly the legal use of force enjoyed (but all too often abused) by government to force compliance with their perspectives, rendering them as destructive to popular welfare as are the concepts they believe that they oppose.  Thus, much of the evolutionary cancer that infects us, for good or ill, seems delusional and generates popular resistance. A sort of counterrevolution led by our societal white cells under multicolored populist banners.

The metaphor of cancer is relevant because cancer, as a medical malady, may be misunderstood.  Perhaps it is nature’s way of forcing us to return to an evolutionary process that we’ve insisted on stalling (if not abandoning), misdirecting it through artificial means which our cognitive breakthroughs have made possible; an aberration accomplished through invention of counterintuitive (at least to nature) ethics and morals that reject the fundamental premises involved in survival of the fittest and which place our human wisdom above that of nature.  It would seem an abomination for those who insist on protecting the environment to eventually come to the conclusion that those deemed most evil among us, villains such as Hitler and his Nazis, agreed with them, but we’re protected against such heresy by a beneficent logical incoherence.  One to which we turn as we struggle with concepts such as good and evil, concepts as alien to nature and perhaps even to nature’s god (if one exists) as they were to those members of our species whose values and conclusions we’ve purportedly rejected, at least superficially, albeit perhaps hypocritically.  A beneficent logical incoherence whose postulates have become so powerful a part of who we claim to be that failing to abide by them is anathema.  Postulates such as the sanctity of life, the importance of honesty, the inhumanity of brutality, and of course, concepts such as equity and equality and justice.

As a species, we are an amalgam of incoherently complex contradictions and perceptions, inconsistency, inconstancy and hypocrisy being the rule rather than the exception.  It’s a wonder we’ve survived, at least until now.  In the future, the forces of evolutionary and social entropy may impose a convergence of our most treasured spiritual values with those of nature and render us once again no more but no less than animals, mere cogs in nature’s unplanned plans, reacting rather than planning, thinking and aspiring.  Herded rather than herding.  Perhaps that’s why so many within the metaphorical societal cancer with which I began this diatribe only sense the need to destroy who and what we’ve been without a firm and coherent idea of who or what we should or will become.  And perhaps its nature’s will that they prevail. 

Perhaps trying to make sense of and alleviate our current polarization is a counterproductive exercise and we should just sit back and let the experience flow over us, slumbering into the future while forgetting the past until neither is relevant and only a brief now exists.  Perhaps that’s the most logical way to face our own extinction, letting bygones be bygones, releasing our inhibitions as we fade away in shades of gray.  The favorite color of the stones we’re destined to join in our planet’s journey towards eternity and humanity’s demise.  It’s been an interesting ride but perhaps all things really must end and who are we to think otherwise. 

On the other hand, perhaps as a species we really are special, and unique, and perhaps there’s a purpose to our lives, and perhaps values are real and truth exists, and perhaps there’s a reason for what we experience, and perhaps its’s even a benevolent reason.  After all, at the crossroads of infinity and eternity, anything and everything is possible.

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Only Beans Count

The 2021 Yankees made clear to me what many others already knew, and which I certainly suspected.  Most winners in sports have soul, it’s more than a mere business, and leadership starts, … well; that’s a good question.  Since the end of the Georgian era in Yankees baseball the Yankees have been led through a lowest common denominator leadership style, one where rather than use subjective factors to make decisions (instincts, hunches, a sense of fairness), only objective criteria matter, objective in the sense that decisions are pretty much automatic.  No extensions, self-imposed spending caps, and analytics, even if those charged with using them don’t really understand them. 

While the Yankees in the post Georgian era have been full of stars on the field, or at least former stars, management has sought to shift the spotlight unto its own, principally onto near-do-well general manager Brian Cashman, a man who apparently seeks to steal the spotlight while micromanaging Yankees coaches, Yankees coaches top to bottom whose primary attribute is obedience; yes men for the most part.  And it renders on the field talent less than potent, it ruins intriguing talent arriving from the minor leagues.  The mania for waiting out opposing pitchers by taking pitches is maddening, disheartening, depressing and de-energizing. 

Cashman’s strategy, supported whole heartedly by a managing general partner too timid to do anything but count beans, seems to be to field a team almost good enough to succeed, one that can be defended in the media so that memorabilia and brand products continue to sell, but not one with real heart.  Not that another World Series pennant wouldn’t be welcome, only that notwithstanding the slogans, it is not really the ultimate goal, at least for the team’s administrators.  And that attitude breaks and demoralizes the players, who, frustrated by the absence of real leadership, underperform. 

Cashman is the antithesis of George Steinbrenner and Derek Jeter and Paul O’Neil and David Cone and Jorge Posada and Andy Pettit and Mariano River, etc., the men Gorge led to championship after championship.  And son Hal, who deprecates his father’s style, is the poster boy for happy mediocrity.  Failure doesn’t really bother him and it certainly doesn’t bother Brian.  Aaron Boone is their ideal manager.  But the Yankees, to many of us, are much more than this team, much more than the mediocre product of the Hal and Brian era.  They are a long chain akin to the long grey lines at the Citadel and VMI and West Point, where pride and tradition and a special ethic keep generating a very special product.

They represent a spirit we love where Ruth and Gehrig and DiMaggio and Mantle and Berra and Ford and so many, many others watch over their successors demanding that once pinstripes are donned, the best the players wearing ever had becomes the norm.  But Hal and Brian and now Aaron Boone have managed to dampen that energy for every year in this millennium but one.  And apparently, given Hal’s indifference, there’s nothing to be done. 

What a shame!!!  But then, shame has no impact on them, only beans count.

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Ilk

America’s proclivity for constant belligerency is sold to those who, from our perspective, have to pay the price; all too frequently the ultimate price, through the maxim “freedom is not free”.  It is a potent slogan, charged with emotion, especially to those willing to sacrifice everything for a cause.  Unfortunately, it is a slogan used by the worst among us to justify profiteering at any price, whether paid for by us or by our victims, others who also believe that “freedom is not free” and that the defense of their countries from invaders is the highest duty, the “Red Dawn” warriors of other cultures.

We also have another maxim, a moral maxim, one that also requires great discipline, forethought and foresight, one essential for long term solutions rather than emotional reactions, and that is “the ends do not justify the means”.  Something to which we give lip service domestically, but not in our relationships with “others”.  We pay lip service to it within our military services with rules of engagement and penal codes for violations, but they apply only to those doing the fighting, those in harm’s way with life and death decisions a split second away.  But they do not apply with respect to the villains who so cavalierly waste their lives and those of their grieving families, nor, of course, to the lives of the enemies they create and dehumanize and their grieving families.  Think of Bush and Clinton and Bush and Obama and Trump and Biden and their “intelligence” services and senior military advisors.  Think of the leaders of our military industrial complex, think of the leaders of our corporate media, and finally, think of the depraved purported leaders of our cultural offerings, Hollywood’s hypocrites and their ilk.

Ilk certainly seems like the operative word, its onomatopoeic resonance sticky with slime and dishonesty, the perfectly descriptive term.

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution. Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Ignominy

Once again the final call is played and American troops withdraw in ignominy from a conflict they should never have been sent to fight.  Wasted lives and wasted treasure, hundreds of thousands of civilians converted into collateral damage and the same villains, the cowardly politicians back home, still in play.  The ones who deceived the stalwart American public into conflicts not their own, and then, symbolized by one man, first a Senator and now a president, assured that an orderly withdrawal would turn into a rout.  As perhaps it should, were there a possibility it would teach us to mistrust them.

Never having been a proper time to enter Afghanistan it was far too late for the predestined departure, and seemingly, as always, no one to be held to account.  The Nuremberg trials will once again be shown to be nothing more meaningful than the revenge of victors in too many ways as evil as the vanquished, indeed, in many ways they have become the residue and reincarnation of those they once sent the bravest and best among us to die in vain.  Vietnam, where I lost so many friends seems to echo, sending regards from the shadows to the tune of Pete Seeger’s 1955 ballad “Where have all the flowers gone”.  Has it already been sixty-six years and a few million lives ago?

There is despair in Washington, D.C. tonight, and angst and anger, and premature jubilation in Kabul as those initially vanquished and exiled have returned as victors.  One wonders what will happen now to those long imprisoned without trials in Guantanamo.  But there are, as of yet, no winners.  Nor will there be.  The putrid purveyors of misused power sit comfortable in their mansions while their tools in the media and academia are busy spinning deceptive narratives which they are sure will be the history our descendants learn.  Seemingly always the case, which is why we rarely if ever learn from our mistakes and thus keep repeating them.  But for some they were not mistakes, not mistakes at all; not for the vultures perpetually circling like Valkyries and enjoying the spoils derived from no-lose situations, more loans to make and armaments to sell now that so many have been used or wasted.  Taxes and printing presses provide apparently never ending resources, at least for now, and as Luis XV purportedly said, “Après moi, le déluge“.  Future generations can pay.  They’ll just have to find a way, in the meantime, “let’s all eat cake”.

“Saving face” is important to most cultures but some, like the Japanese, have the decency to face their errors with honor in a manner that assures that they, at least, will never personally repeat them.  Here, in the United States, tonight, the political and military leadership riding on the shoulders of their stooges just smile and look away, sure that soon everything will be forgotten by feckless voters in a dysfunctional parody of democracy, and that soon, it will once again be their day.  They’ve planned for this contingency circulating fantasies involving recycled villains like Russia and China and new foes like Iran and Venezuela that have to be addressed, regardless of the price to be paid, albeit by others.  The price to be paid by new generations of cannon fodder and by new “unavoidable” instances of collateral damage; new collaborators to be used and then discarded, as perhaps those willing to betray their own deserve to be.  And when needed, there are plenty of scapegoats available in the middle ranks, those bothersome creatures who demand that those responsible be held accountable.

Of course, ultimately, the fault lies in the voters whose lack of courage or dignity, makes it impossible for them to ever vote their consciences in favor of something in which they believe instead of against a purported lesser evil.  With a voting populace such as we have almost everywhere, democracy will work only for those who most efficiently use and delude them; use and delude us.  Us; whose taxes fund the slaughter of friend and foe alike for the profit of the sophic vampires who, from behind the veils of their Deep State, rule us all as though possessed of the One Ring and we, of obedient trinkets.

Such is our world on this late August eve in 2021, as it has been as far back as we can remember, as it will seemingly continue to be, as Cassandra, the princess and seeress of Troy warned so very long ago.

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at www.guillermocalvo.com.

On the Incoherent Magnocide in Haiti

An interesting article in RT News this morning may have resulted in a political epiphany (Haiti requested US troops & UN peacekeepers to secure ‘key infrastructure’ after president’s assassination – reports; July 10, 2021).  Whatever was “rotten in Denmark” has moved to Haiti.  Although truth is no longer relevant and hypocrisy is the rule in creative narration, the bastard child of corrupt pseudo-journalism, the current situation in Haiti takes the cake, and not in a good way, say, the suggestion of Marie Antoinette to the Parisian poor.

The President of Haiti, albeit not recently elected, Jovenel Moïse, who had just issued an order to replace Prime Minister Claude Joseph, was murdered by a group of Colombian mercenaries who were quickly captured.  The prime minister, who until that moment had been about to be replaced, immediately assumed presidential powers, while his would be replacement, Ariel Henry, impotently sought to call attention to the fact that political power should have devolved on him.  The United States quickly sided with Monsieur Joseph.

A question:  How often does a magnocide (a civil version of regicide) occur in the absence of a coup d’état and just how stupid were Colombian mercenaries to have participated in the absence of such a coup, or even of an unsuccessful putsch?  Follow the money, follow the power play, or follow the modus operendi.  Or follow all three.

Under the leadership of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and Israeli Mossad, veterans of Colombia’s decades’ old civil insurgency (or perhaps civil war) have been organized into mercenary units contracted to provide their “services” in diverse parts of the world, primarily the Middle East, at least until now.  They are, in essence, fodder to save money and avoid negative publicity in diverse illicit ventures orchestrated by their mentors.  Indeed, both the Central Intelligence Agency and Israeli Mossad have used surrogate mercenaries in Syria and Libya and Afghanistan and, well, all too many places, places where, if the clandestine activities were successful, we would hardly be in a position to identify.  Places perhaps like Bolivia and Ecuador and Brazil and Argentina and Chile and Peru, and, … Colombia.  There are many who believe that the infamous events of September 11, 2001 may have been among them as, not infrequently, the mercenaries used are not aware of who contracted them or who planned the missions they were charged with executing.  Money has not always been the motivating factor used by Machiavellian provocateurs.  While nothing is beyond the daring of the Central Intelligence Agency and its siblings and progeny in the United States intelligence community, the situation in Haiti seems a bit beyond their ken, a bit too artful, a bit too sophisticated, despite appearances; a bit too well orchestrated, not really blunt enough despite appearances.  Enter the masters, enter Mossad.

It would seem obvious that the mercenaries involved were not a suicide cult and thus, that they obviously thought they were the vanguard of a concurrent coup.  Instead, they were left holding the bag, the sacrificial scapegoats.  And the beneficiary, the hero of the day, soaked in crocodile tears, appealing to the world for justice and vindication for the heinous murder of the late United States backed Haitian dictator Jovenel Moïse (an illegitimate president embroiled in a nascent civil war, assuming civil war in Haiti is ever out of style)?   Hmm, why, lo and behold, the about to be sacked prime minister, Claude Joseph, now apparently firmly entrenched in power, backed by the United States, the United Nations, backed by the Colombian government and apparently by most if not all governments who have made pronouncements with respect to the odd situation.  And his would be replacement, Ariel Henry?  Bad luck or bad timing or both.  Nary a peep other than a formal claim to the post, largely ignored, and expressions of willingness to work things out.

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, patron saint of the Mossad, would be proud.

Of course, the foregoing is speculative, based only on a fairly decent knowledge of recent history and the use of deductive logic, but perhaps what gives it most credibility is the failure of the Western intelligence agencies-controlled media to be anything but baffled.

What do you suppose happened and why?  Do you really care?  Does it make a difference in your own life.  Was John Donne correct in supposing that “no man is an Island”?

Haiti is, or is at least part of an Island.

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

A Superciliously Silly Soliloquy

Dedicated to Bezos and Gates and Zuckerman, et. al.

T’was a morning, dark and dreary, saturnine reflections amidst fetid ponds, or so it seemed. 

That he was walking on the sandy shore of a sunny beach instead might have been a statement as to his mood, and he couldn’t tell why.  There was no reason for it that he could think of.  Everything seemed well, but still, a morosely dark, almost tangibly thick sensation of imminent unpleasantness seemed to permeate the air he breathed, although, admittedly, …  with a salty savor.

Boredom, that’s all it was, seemingly worse than terror or danger, much worse than strain or overwork. 

What a strange reward for tasks successfully completed, for financial and even social security attained, for goals met.  No tang, …other than that the astronauts of old now peddled in cloying television commercials.  No zest, … other than the brand of soap he’d once used.  The ocean water wasn’t even cold, just pleasantly warm.  Who’d have thought, not long ago, that pleasant could be pejorative.

He recalled the opening line of a song from an ancient television show, “Hee Haw” it’d been called:

“Gloom despair and agony on me” but the rest of the song, giving substance and meaning to the refrain certainly did not apply to him, “…if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all”.  No such luck for him, only positive things had happened, albeit after a long and sometimes fierce struggle during which he’d not infrequently suffered from depression.  But this seemed worse.

Boredom was the pits, even for too young a billionaire!!! 

Of course, he could have given everything away and traded places with a desperately poor slob somewhere, but …

Naw!!!

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution. Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Grumbles from the Grave and Cats that Walk through Walls

Robert Heinlein was one of the most famous artists in the genre we call science fiction, fading at times into the realm of fantasy, but also a somewhat avant guard social philosopher with a taboo busting Freudian perspective.  His principle characters tended to be cantankerous and overly affectionate but perpetually bickering libertarians.  One of his novels, “Stranger in a Strange Land” spawned a religion, albeit an extremely liberal religion.

I enjoyed him a great deal before I started to write myself and then, well I came to find his dialogue (my weak point I’ll admit), stifling and petty and suffocatingly cloying, like drowning in molasses.  Still, conceptually on a number of levels he was brilliant and from time to time, spewed out real gems.  Actually, not just from time to time but frequently.  He is gone but, as one expects of masters in their fields, if not always in their crafts, his legacy lives on.

In “The Cat Who Walks through Walls”, one of his final novels, he gathers together most of the more famous characters in his adult novels (as well as those of some of his most famous predecessors) and, on page 359 of its first (1985) edition, he defines an “intellectual” as “a highly educated man [I think today he would also stipulate woman, or transgender person, or non-gender person or optional gender person] who can’t do arithmetic with his shoes on, and is proud of his lack”.  Obviously not a flattering caricature but one that seems all too accurate in today’s world.

“Purported” intellectuals are not in high regard nowadays given the current irrelevancy of truth or facts, the inflation in academic titles and the disdain with which “purported” intellectuals treat others.  While many “purported” intellectuals are certainly superficially adept in their fields (and may well handle arithmetic adequately), the spirit of Heinlein’s description certainly seems apt.  Indeed, it applies not only to “purported” intellectuals but to the new purportedly savant class of internet educated “experts”, purported experts without any real experience in living, in real work or in struggling to raise a family on limited resources and with limited time.  Too often, people meeting that description stare back at us from our own mirrors as we, the easily manipulated and totally polarized modern men, women (and transitionally-gendered), ride the current whirlpool of social suicide into seas of apparent perdition.  Authors of dystopian novels certainly seem prescient and while Heinlein’s work are much too optimistic to fall into that literary genus, he seems prescient and depressingly wise as well.

The author of “Grumbles from the Grave” clearly saw where we were heading but was perhaps exaggeratedly positive concerning the ability of some among us to save our bacon.  Of course, that may have been the fantasy side of his vision speaking.  None of his heroes though would seem to derive from our current self-anointed “intelligentsia”.  And we are desperately in need of real heroes, real role models rather than the pretentious crop of cartoonish would be leaders with which we are cursed.

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Fathers’ Day Blues

Holidays.  Strange things. 

Generalizing, many are supposed to be festive occasions although all too many deal with profound tragedies.  Like Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  Or celebrate mass murders, like so many Hebrew feast days.  Or, bastardize religious events, like the Easter Bunny and candy and egg hunts.

Fathers’ Day is a strange holiday, like an onion in a sense, with layers of meaning.  For functional families it is a happy occasion with a touch of gratitude for sacrifices joyfully made, but functional families are becoming more and more rare.  Dysfunction, i.e., functioning in pain, and non-function, are becoming more and more the norm, or perhaps it just seems that way.  Perhaps that’s always been the case.  And for many, many, too many fathers and their progeny, Fathers’ Day is not joyous.  The same is of course true of Mothers’ Day under similar circumstances, but I write this on Fathers’ Day’s Eve, so I’ll be a bit more focused on “dads”.

Like the holidays at the end of the year, Fathers’ Day can be a deeply depressing day.  Not a day filled with gratitude but with recriminations and regrets, one where the worst in relationships is highlighted and criticism rather than praise prevails.  That is especially true in those all too frequent cases where families have been torn asunder by parental separation, separation where one parent wins custody and the other is cast aside (except with respect to noncustodial responsibilities like alimony and child support).  In many such cases, the custodial parent creates a false narrative, implanting false memories in order to justify their own serious shortcomings and, in many such cases, the parent scorned disappears and is castigated as uncaring and irresponsible.  And sometimes that’s true.  But at other times, the loss of a family, especially of one’s children, especially when distortion and calumny become prevalent, are just too much to bear, and the only apparent survival mechanism is destructive withdrawal.

That, of course, is a gender neutral tragedy impacting mothers as well as fathers. Still, our purportedly paternalistic society idolizes motherhood and to a large extent disdains the paternal role.  Fatherhood is characterized by responsibility, its sacrifices largely ignored.  In general (albeit certainly not always), mothers deserve the credit society showers on them but perhaps fathers deserve understanding rather than disdain, even when they’ve not fully succeeded in their assigned role.  There is of course a huge difference between fathers who refuse to acknowledge their role, who enjoy their sexual partners and then discard them and absconded.  But what about the millions of fathers who accept their role, try, to varying degrees, to meet their responsibilities, but who, for one reason or another, failed?  Or even sadder perhaps, those who succeeded in their role but were cast out and disenfranchised through our blatantly one sided judicial system?

What does Fathers’ Day mean to them?  What does it mean to their children?

Perhaps the saddest day of the year.

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Reformed, Recalled or Illusory Memories in the Post-Truth Era: A family affair

Continuing my rereading excursion, last week I started with Tom Robbins’ awesome “Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates” but Amazon, which I loathe and ought not to patronize (as I ought not to patronize Facebook), facilitated my recuperation of a bunch of Robert Heinlein philosophical novels (they really are more philosophical than science fiction) which had been lost to me many decades ago when a former friend’s now ex-wife decided they were demon inspired and confined them to the pit.  And so I’ve ordered duplicates, mostly used (for some reason I like them more when they’re used) and they’ve started arriving. 

I really wanted to delve back into Lazarus Long (as I approach the three quarter of a century mark) but somehow, I got confused and “I will Fear No Evil” came first.  I hope Heinlein`s writing style is not catching.  What was a delight in my youth frequently seems lacking polish and seems tedious now as I too have embarked in the writers’ art, but the themes remain challenging and fascinating and daring, and every once in a while, … a relevant pearl of wisdom drops.  In this case (excuse the long prelude; … I hate long preludes), in the middle of page 174 of an extremely well worn, possibly fifth hand paperback copy, Ace Edition, 1987, the phrase:

“Nobody knows how memory works

except that everyone is sure he knows

and thinks all others are fools.”

That seems so relevant today, perhaps more than ever. 

I know the memories my children and my ex-wife share keep getting more and more strange until they’ve become completely divorced from those I recall.  To some extent, I believe that is based on the deliberate falsification of memory (see “Purportedly Recovered Memories”), now a science engaged in by former spouses (male and female) with the assistance of purported therapists, and of course, on a societal level, by the corporate media.  Political differences translate from the civic into the personal and into irreconcilable pasts that break up families, something I’ve experienced. 

My kids blame me and Trump, I opposed but did not hate him, at least, not enough for their “awoke” tastes.  So now I too am (and apparently always have been) a horrible human being. 

I don’t blame them, or hold it against them, but the consequences are the same.  And since we no longer communicate, the consequences seem unlikely to change.  The truth is not something to be explored lest it not agree with what they or I recall, or what they’ve been told over and over and over and over again. 

Something to think about as everyone around us, including those once most dear to us, morphs into very different beings.

Or is it us?

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution. Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.