Delusive Illusions – Freedoms of Expression and of the Press

On May 19, 2022, Consortium News published an important article dealing with the dwindling light of truth available to us as another dark age seemingly approaches (see Consortium News, Volume 27, Number 138 — Thursday, May 19, 2022 “West’s Free Speech Threatened by Ukraine War”).  Please read it, … and please share it.

It’s probably worth noting that in the United States, freedom of the “press” has never been about accurate information.  The two major legal decisions that underlie United States journalism are the Peter Zenger case in the Crown colony of New York in 1735 and the 1964 United States Supreme Court decision in Sullivan v. The New York Times.  Both cases dealt with the inalienable right to slander with impunity.  While that sounds terrible, and perhaps it is, the idea was that the interchange of ideas, whether right or wrong, was essential to functioning democracy, and that no one should be trusted as an arbiter of the truth, other than the citizenry itself.  The ill-named Democratic Party in the United States has destroyed that concept in its efforts to attain and retain political power in the name of the Deep State and its conflict-based empire.  Conflict internally through racial, gender, ethnic and religious polarization, and externally through the antithesis of Kant’s perpetual peace, our history of perpetual war.  Only a few brave souls, real journalists like Julian Assange, the late Bob Parry, Chris Hedges, Joe Luria, Caitlin Johnstone, etc., stand in the way, and they are being bled to death with a thousand small cuts, not all tiny.  Among us, Julian Assange’s martyrdom at the hands of the United Kingdom and the United States stands out as the most egregious symbol of perfidy, but every citizen who votes for Deep State candidates, those villains or dupes who keep us in the dark, who have always kept us in the dark, … is an accomplice.

It is impossible to be an accurate historian in this context and I now question everything I’ve been taught and which I in turn once taught, other than those things I experienced in real time.  Things which, notwithstanding such experience, the corporate media and corporate historians, both nothing more than narrative managers specializing in destructive (as opposed to creative) fiction, assure us are too complex for you and I to deal with, so we should just trust them in the manner ridiculed by the old joke, “who are you going to trust, me or your lying eyes”? 

Real historians would leave nothing untouched, regardless of how vile and horrible it may have been presented as being, and regardless of the purported “facts” we have been “ordered” to believe.  The times in which we are living have taught me, as George Orwell once suggested, that yesterday’s monsters may be today’s saints, and tomorrow, who knows?

I find myself wondering what the real truth was about the two world wars in the first half of the twentieth century.  Even superficial history discloses that the United States Civil War was not fought to free the slaves (as is now taught as irrefutable dogma), and that the American Revolution was not fought to guarantee the right to democratic representation in legislative decisions.  It turns out that the sacred texts of the Abrahamic religions in which most of the world places its faith are largely based on falsehoods as well.  So what is left of those professions which purport to exist to glean truth from the chaff of the elitist propaganda which keeps the vast majority of us in a state of velvet lined slavery?

Well, at the very least, if nothing else, to support those who oppose censorship of any kind, and oppose with all our might those who seek to silence dissident voices.  And to do it now before it’s too late, although that Rubicon may already have been crossed.

Something on which to ponder and deliberate, but most of all, on which to act.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; 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 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 https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

“Do as I say, not as I do”, an old parental refrain we kids hated.  I assume kids still do although they seem so much different than we were.  Of course, Plato made the same refrain two and a half millennia ago.

It’s a pretty day high in the central range of the Colombian Andes from which I view ugly developments far way, but which may all too soon impact us all.  The situation today is not the result of sudden, unpredictable events.  Rather, it’s as though the Trojan seeress Cassandra had returned to once again prophecy while no one cared or listened.  The mad leading the mad to our mutual perdition.  Kind of like what Simon and Garfunkel described when they recorded Ian Campbell’s desperately beautiful but horribly sad song, “The Sun is Burning”:

The sun is burning in the sky; strands of clouds go slowly drifting by; in the park the lazy bees are joining in the flowers among the trees; and the sun burns in the sky. 

Now the sun is in the West; little kids go home to take their rest; and the couples in the park are holding hands and waiting for the dark.  And the sun is in the West. 

Now the sun is sinking low; children playing know it’s time to go.  High above a spot appears, a little blossom blooms and then draws near.  And the sun is sinking low.

Now the sun has come to earth.  Shrouded in a mushroom cloud of death.  Death comes in a blinding flash of hellish heat and leaves a smear of ash.  And the sun has come to earth.

Now the sun has disappeared.  All is darkness, anger, pain and fear. Twisted sightless wrecks of men go groping on their knees and cry in pain.  And the sun has disappeared

Since the overthrow of progressives and liberals in the Democratic Party as a result of the Clinton coup of 1992, and the resulting consolidation of the neoconservative-neoliberal Deep State in the United States, the European Union and NATO (now spread substantially outside of its original borders and actively engaged in offensive rather than defensive operations), a number of countries have been dismembered by that unholy alliance.  They include Palestine, Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria, while others have been invaded and conquered totally (Iraq and Afghanistan), at least temporarily.  In the case of both Iraq and Afghanistan, involuntary dismemberment were seriously considered.  In addition, the Soviet Union was, of course, dismembered, but with a promise that NATO would not move in to fill the vacuum, a vacuous promise.  Each such disaster involved serious violations of international law, which was shown to be little more than an aspiration and the United Nations Charter just an illusion. 

The shoe now seems snuggly ensconced on the other foot, something totally predictable based on the “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” school of geopolitics.

One wonders why it is almost always the Democratic Party in the United States that leads us into major wars (major characterized by tens of thousands of United States casualties):  World War I, World War II, the Cold War, Korea and Vietnam?  And also into other wars, wars that while to us may not seem major, to the countries we’ve destroyed are devastating, wars like the “interventions into Libya and Syria.  Not that they’re not backed by the GOP (although it is frequently the GOP that inherits the aftermath).  And that of course does not include countless coups throughout the Western Hemisphere, Middle East and Africa orchestrated by the boys from the “Company” (as some call the Central Intelligence Agency and its myriad progeny).  Today, it seems that we in what we call “the West” are being led by two stooges the Keystone Cops would not accept, the United States’ Joe Biden and the United Kingdom’s Boris Johnson, but there are plenty of bit players in the European Union as well.  And of course, there’s the Ukraine’s own autocrat, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.  On the other side sits Vladimir Putin, apparently holding all the cards and playing chess while Biden, Johnson et. al., play checkers.  And on the other side of the world, with another deck of cards at the ready, sits Xi Jinping.

This morning a close and admired friend and Citadel classmate posted a message on Facebook comparing the Russian recognition of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics to Hitler’s forays into formerly German territories lost as a result of the Entente’s victory in World War I, a resemblance which, as a very loyal member of the United States’ Democratic Party, he has not noted with respect to the comparable, earlier situations described above.  Of course, not all actions that bear some aspects in common are analogous.  Hmmm, unless maybe they are.

A bit of context:

The situation in the Ukraine did not start yesterday but rather in 2014 when the United States, the European Union and NATO orchestrate a coup d’état in the Ukraine, overthrowing a democratically elected pro-Russian president and installing a puppet government tied to their interests, ironically, in the name of democracy and the elimination of corruption.  If that was the goal, it’s been an utter failure.  Autocracy rather than democracy remains the rule in the Ukraine with opposition media shut down and opposition leaders imprisoned.  On the other hand (think sleight of hand) corruption, always endemic in the Ukraine, is at least now shared with the families of Western leaders (think Hunter Biden).  The 2014 Ukrainian coup d’état was rejected in the Crimea and in the eastern parts of the Ukraine bordering the Russian federation.  There, two regions declared independence, the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics.  After a plebiscite overwhelmingly in favor of union with the Russian Federation, the Crimea returned to the status it held prior to its administrative separation from Russia during the middle of the last century.  The situations in the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics, however, were not so easily resolved.

Until yesterday, the declarations of independence by the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics were not formally recognized anywhere.  One wonders what the United States’ founding fathers would think of that, especially Thomas Jefferson, author of the former British colonies’ declaration of independence.  The Russian Federation, until yesterday, insisted that the controversy be settled through negotiation and implementation of settlement proposals agreed to by the Ukraine and the leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics in 2015 under the mediation of France, Germany and the Russian Federation, the so called Minsk Agreements.  However, rather than implementing such agreements (which called for a Ukrainian federation with autonomy for the Donetsk and Lugansk regions), Ukrainian government forces, supplemented by highly armed semi-independent anti-Russian militias, have occupied a majority of the disputed territories from which constant low key attacks have been continuously launched against the separatist forces and their civilian populations.  No military forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics have engaged in military activities outside the borders of such regions although they frequently exchange fire with occupying Ukrainian and militia forces.

During the current domestic political crisis being suffered by the administrations in power in the United States and the United Kingdom, Ukrainian forces and the related semi-independent anti-Russian militias have been reinforced with substantial military armaments through NATO, the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom, and such armaments have been supplemented by a constant barrage of anti-Russian propaganda to the effect that the Russian Federation was about to invade and conquer the Ukraine and murder and imprison its anti-Russian leaders.  Apparently it was hoped that an international crisis could ameliorate the tenuous domestic political climate in both countries, and it certainly would not hurt Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron’s prospects in the pending French presidential election.  In the Ukraine itself, the situation was mare tenuous and confusing.  On the one hand, the Ukrainian government sought to distance itself from such propaganda, while on the other, the semi-independent anti-Russian militias fully bought into it and this past week dramatically increased their military activities against the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics. 

The consequences have proven completely predictable.  Baiting the bear on a consistent basis and crying wolf incessantly led to a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The Russian Federation has, following in a very limited manner the example set by the United States and NATO in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics and entered into related mutual defense treaties.  Unlike NATO in the former Yugoslavia however, it is not bombarding Kiev and the other parts of the Ukraine, but that may occur in the not too distant future, depending on how carefully reactions are measured.  While the world’s financial markets are generally down, armament industry stocks and gold are flying high, as are oil futures.

The echoes of the summer of 2014 sound all too clearly and things may quickly spiral out of hand, especially given the stupidity and cupidity of the current power mad United States administration and its puppets in Europe.  There is a worst case scenario that I hope is improbable.  But as in the tumbling dominos of the myriad military alliances that characterized Europe at the beginning of the First World War (some secret and some open), our world presents a bizarre mirror image of that sad season.  One mostly orchestrated by the United States which continuously forms alliances and understanding with a large number of countries (against the wishes of most of their citizens) seeking to contain the Russian Federation and the Peoples’ Republic of China, such alliances now supplemented by de facto economic warfare through “economic sanctions” against a host of countries deemed “enemies”.  In addition to the two super powers referenced above, such “enemies” include the Islamic Republic of Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.  It reminds me of a clumsy waiter trying to bring a huge pile of dishes to the kitchen, while snickering customers stretch their legs to try and trip her.  Only we’re the plates.

Prospects for another world war, to some extent, depend on a mirror image situation on the other side of the planet, the unresolved issue of the estranged Chinese province of Taiwan.  That issue is always threatening to blossom into an inferno, more so now that the United States deems the Peoples’ Republic as serious a threat to its economic primacy as the Russian Federation poses to hegemony in Europe, but it is only simmering at present.  That could change very quickly and that, in my opinion, depends on whether or not the Peoples’ Republic of China, the Russian Federation’s de facto ally, recognizes the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics and then, whether in retaliation, the United States and its allies recognize the independence of Taiwan.  That would almost certainly lead to an invasion of Taiwan by the Peoples’ Republic forcefully reintegrating Taiwan into the Chinese state, somewhat the opposite of what is occurring in the Ukraine.

One would assume Western leaders would not be so abysmally stupid as to make that scenario possible but the hubris of current leaders may be worse than that of Kaiser Wilhelm, Tsar Nicholas, H. H. Asquith, Raymond Poincaré and, of course, the duplicitous Woodrow Wilson. 

The situation in the Ukraine is regretful on many fronts, all instigated by the unholy alliance of the governments of the United States, the European Union and NATO (much to the detriment of their people and to the people of the Ukraine).  These include the 2014 Maiden Coup, the refusal of the Ukraine to implement the Minsk Agreements, the abuse of economic sanctions against the Russia Federation and other countries outlawed under the Charter of the United Nations, their constant penchant for foreign intervention and NATO’s disregard for promises made to the Soviet Union with respect to German unification and NATO expansion when the Warsaw Pact was dissolved.  They have brought us to the brink of disaster.  That is as obvious today as the then pending disaster should have been in the summer of 2014, but perhaps nothing was really learned from the War to End all Wars and its sequel, the Second World War, and its sequel, the Cold War, and its sequel, the War on Terror, and its sequel, the Second Cold War, other than perhaps, how to utterly and constantly distort the truth and to pervert journalism, and how to make trillions of dollars for the military industrial complex against which Ike warned us almost sixty-two years ago.

So, here we are, nervously listening to shoes dropping, geese berating ganders and immature adults crying wolf, as the world turns.  Not a very comfortable place in which to find ourselves.  “The Sun is Burning” is a beautiful song with horrifying lyrics.  The same year that it was recorded by Simon and Garfunkel, 1964, the Democratic Party’s National Committee, on behalf of the Lyndon Johnson presidential campaign, produced and played, on one occasion, a political advertisement perhaps inspired by that song, the so called daisy girl ad[1].  It featured a little girl playing with a daisy in a field, then suddenly consumed in a nuclear explosion.  The ad was massively successful and changed advertising history.  Unfortunately, it was utterly hypocritical as the Johnson administration shortly thereafter orchestrated the infamous Vietnam War. 

Perhaps it’s time to take Pete Seeger’s anthem, “When Will they ever Learn” (also known as “Where Have all the Flowers Gone) and Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” seriously.  Perhaps it’s time to change the bellicose world order before we, as humans, are unable to change anything again.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; 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.


[1] See the following Wikipedia article on point at Daisy (advertisement) – Wikipedia.

Confused Reflections as another Solstice Passes By

“Poignant with loss”.

The phrase resonates. 

Not in the sense of self-pity but perhaps a bit melodramatic.  Can one just as easily be poignant with joy?

Birth is the beginning of death and every gain is also the beginning of a corresponding loss.  A full life, one worth living, one where one has truly plumbed the depths and heights of feeling, one full of useful errors, is full of both loss and joy.  With vulnerability, dominion and confusion in equal measures.  With un-chainable emotions carefully balanced, control lost and regained and lost again.

For a very long time, most of my life really, the twin solstices have been poignant.  More so since I became estranged from my sons.  They are flying on their own, free to make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons.  To be deceived and perhaps enlightened as well.  To make their own joys and suffer their own sorrows.  To betray and be betrayed.  To accumulate and share experiences with their own, unique families.  The permanence for which I hoped proved transitory but in my life, transition has been the only constant.

Perhaps the poignancy I feel so often but more strongly during the solstices has to do with how often I’ve moved, starting when I was around two.  Back then, the constant change of situs was not yet impactful, at least not consciously so, but as I started school at five and changed schools at least once every year until I was fifteen, the changes become more and more difficult.  Friends were made each year only to be quickly lost.  That taught me how to make friends easily but also not to count on them.  Sadly, separations became easier and easier to bear until the seemed almost inconsequential, regardless of how strong bonds had once seemed.

That changed for a while when at the age of fifteen I became a “cadet”, first at the Eastern Military Academy in Huntington, New York, and then at the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina.  Seven solid years of building bonds with schoolmates, ties which have persevered for decade after decade.  Then a return to Eastern as a faculty member; nine more years during which the nature of evolving bonds changed.  Bonding was no longer, for the most part, with peers, but rather, with my own pupils, young off-white tabulas almost rasas whom I sought to mentor.  Apparently I’d grown and passed through several rites of passage.  Some of those students have remained in my life, albeit at a distance, for more than half a century.

Fifteen was memorable for other reasons too.  I’d always had a crush on some girl or other but before I attained that lofty age, they rarely knew (I wonder though whether any suspected what I felt).  That changed.  I started developing intimate ties with young ladies, ties I rarely handled well.  Relationships seemed a game then.  I had so much to learn and they had so much to teach, all too frequently bittersweet.  Especially at this time of year.  Julia Iglesias (my favorite singer) singing “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” has come to have a special meaning for me, but one more often than not tinged with regrets.  Seemingly, perhaps I stayed fifteen for way too long.  I’m still in touch with some lost loves, but not many.  However, looking back, many more of them have stayed in my heart. 

As it is for all of us eventually, as time slipped by, I lost precious family members and then classmates and students and friends and perhaps former lovers as well.  The other side of the veil becomes more and more crowded so much faster now.  Losses of places and people accumulate in profound pools of nostalgia weaving melancholy tapestries in shades of gray and the colors in rainbows fade.  Melancholy becomes a place, one I visit as accumulated memories croon siren songs and I brood on things I’d change.  Things that once seemed so right but now seem as though they might have been mistakes.  Mistakes I’d correct, … if only I could.

So many people have touched my life.  So many have shared sadness and happiness, ecstasy and despair.  Others have merely crossed my path for an instant.  I recall people I should have met, people who I saw in passing without a shared word and who immediately moved on but who I’ve never forgotten and wish I’d gotten to know.  Roads not taken are always more plentiful than the paths we’ve trod and who knows where they might have led.

Hopefully I’ve grown wiser but wisdom is strange.  It’s an imperfect mirror with distorted reflections and more and more unanswered, perhaps unanswerable, questions.  Time alone doesn’t make one wise but perhaps it makes us more sage than we once were.  Mistakes overcome bring wisdom, and mistakes, I’ve had my share.  And not too few to mention.  My way was not always the best.

This season is not only about gift giving and festivities but more importantly, it has always also been a time for reflection and introspection.  A time to ponder how we’ve become who we are.  As we age, some of us become less egocentric and our contemplation expands to the collectives of which we’re a part, to our future as a species.  Those of us who study history professionally but by some miracle at least try to do so objectively, at some point realize that truth is more than just elusive.  We come to realize that our own memories are at best an imperfect motley, an indecipherable collage, and that our collective memory tends to be even worse.  What we call history, what we pass on to our progeny, is not only usually inaccurate but all too often cynically scored, liveried in beautiful music and soaring rhetoric designed to mold us into sated sheep and lyrical lemmings easily misled.  To our collective detriment.  Apparently, as we age, we become cynics, although the wise among us may attain that status sooner.

Things seemed so much easier to understand when I was very young, so many things seemed so clear, so obvious.  Faith made belief easy.  God was in his Heaven with Père Noel at his side taking notes.  Fantasy seemed as likely to be true as what passed for reality.  Truth and justice were tangible rather than imagined.  One once among us, a Prince of Peace, had ascended to sit at the right hand of his father and certainly would never take sides in wars where we slaughtered each other in his Holy name.  But then faith became more and more elusive and harsh “realities” slowly took its place, purported sanity replacing benevolent chaos.

Like so many others, I wonder: “do we lose cognitive capacity as we pass from the magic era of early childhood into the realm of knowledge acquired”?  Is accumulated wisdom the antithesis of infancy’s faith or are we each a unique melding of instinct and pain, knowledge and joy, deception and rejection, unable to really communicate with anyone or anything else, even with the people we were and those we’ll become?

What a depressing thought!

Can’t we be both unreservedly alone and completely connected with everyone and everything that’s ever been?  Quantically linked since before eternity was conceived, when everything was part of the primordial proto quark?  After all, once upon a time, every part of what we are was joined together at the starting gate of a Big Bang, before we became Magellanic Clouds and then stars and rays of light.  And isn’t light both an isolated particle and a collective wave?

Confused reflections as another solstice passes by.
_______

© 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.

Marina and Teddy and Mom and Pop: a Christmas Carol of Our Own

The aroma of melancholy and nostalgia subtly scent the air and echoes faintly sing as memories flow.

I remember Thanksgiving and Christmas when it was Teddy, Marina and me (in inverse chronological order), and, of course, Mom and Pop.  “Pop” was my stepfather with whom I lived from ages six through fifteen (when he and my mother separated).  Nonetheless, he remained in our lives until he passed away suddenly when I was a few months shy of twenty-six.  He was about to turn sixty I think.

I remember Thanksgiving and Christmas especially in New York; especially during the morning watching the Macy’s Christmas Parade on our small black and white television set with Santa bringing up the rear and sometimes, if it had snowed, I remember making angels’ wings on a common lawn in our small apartment in Queens Village (overlooking Hillside Boulevard).  It was on 215th street as I recall.  I was happy there, at least for a bit; good friends quickly made, especially Bobby, the Italian kid from across the street, then all too quickly gone, as usual.  We moved a lot.  But back then there was always my sister Marina and my brother Teddy, and my Mom and Pop and me.

I remember Thanksgiving as the start of a special season, one featuring various festivals of light, a season which was, then, for me, flavored with introspection and speculation on the nature of the Prince of Peace, the one I so loved and admired way back then.  Then, when I was so blissfully innocent (at least some of the time).  And I remember optimism and hope, and a general feeling of delightful wellbeing, not realizing that we were not all that well off but feeling that we were.  We were all together then; but not for long. 

Those days, like so much else, lasted until about 1961 when the world changed.  The Pope, Pius X I think, purportedly read the last Fatima prophecy and I went off to boarding school (I don’t think the two events were connected, although, who knows), a military prep school, a wonderful place in its own light, and many new adventures began, not all happy but rarely sad.  I remember the gloomy thanksgiving in 1963, when for a second, the world was united in shock, but then, a few months later, the 1964 World’s Fair, and the 20th anniversary of D Day, and then, college, but a very different college experience than most.

And of course, the “police action in Vietnam.  Wars are bad so we didn’t have them after World War II, just like we’ve had a Defense Department rather than a Department of War since 1947.  I recall Simon and Garfunkel’s devastating version of Silent Night; actually, devastation was everywhere but so was change and optimism, even in the face of the Democratic Party’s display of fascism, American style in 1968.  Flower power, and love-ins, and miniskirts and long, long legs slowly fading into the same old us.

Months have merged into years and years into decades.  I’ve met so many people and been so many places.  Made so many mistakes but learned from most.  It’s been a very full and very complex life, one with numerous starts after barely realized ends, as though I’ve been at least five or six very different people, each living in different epochs, in different contexts with different settings and different casts.  Social changes accelerated at a dizzying pace in some aspects but not at all in others.  Some changes were essential and positive but too many now seem just illusory, ugly, even malign.  Right became wrong and then right again, and then, … who knows.  I’ve seen a country that adopted me as I did it dissolve into bickering, polarized factions with the wealthiest, even more that usually, astronomically increasing what they have at the expense of the impoverished many.  I’ve seen our bravest and most noble destroyed in useless foreign adventures and then, all too often, cast aside when some managed to return home.  I’ve seen hope replaced by resignation, but with all that and through it all, I’ve seen a beautiful People still prepared to give thanks for whatever they have.  In fact, those with the least are often the ones who most sincerely continue to believe in the magic season at the end of the year.

Today, I think of a marriage once so bright gone bad and miss Billy and Alex and Edward, now living lives of their own without me but at least together.  And I think of all the wonderful women I’ve known intimately but who just didn’t work out, and as always, I wish most of them the best.  I recall a dazzlingly beautiful young woman who once introduced herself to me as “Diana, as in the goddess, not Diane” and I remember the lyrics “all day, all night Marianne, down by the seashore, sifting sand” and I’m grateful and amazed that some of us are, from a distance, somehow still in touch and every once in a while, still speculating about might have beens.

Places as well as people have treasured places in my heart.  I think of Miami and Miami Beach and of Central Beach Elementary and Biscayne Elementary and of Hellen Mansfield and Maryanne Bass.  I think of Charlotte and Wesley Heights Elementary, an awesome place with great friends, albeit, as usual, only for a season or two.  And then I think of New York and Charleston and then, New York again; and of Fort Lauderdale and Hendersonville and Ocala.  All among the too many places I’ve called home.  I miss them all, now back in Manizales where I began, but I sometimes wonder for how long.  This holiday season marks the start of my 15th year here.

I’ve attended almost too many schools to count, usually briefly, until that fateful 1961 when I enrolled in the Eastern Military Academy college preparatory school, a fabulous castle where I’d spend almost twelve years, first as a student but eventually as a faculty member too.  And of course, the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, is emblazoned in my soul, I think of it daily and even after more than half a century, interact with beloved former classmates and friends, and fellow alumni.

Even before those halcyon days in New York though, before the good old USA, I remember how once upon a time, in another continent to the South, one I now once again call home, my grandmother and my two aunts, and an all too interesting uncle remained, at least for a while. 

What a ride life’s been and it still has such a long way to go.  A seventh version of me now cohabits with Natalia and sometimes with Dalia and Maia, her teenage daughters, and with Maria Elena her mother, and with Caro her sister and Jose Jesus her father and Edwin and Odair, her brothers, and with all my Mahe cousins and with all the friends and colleagues and students I’ve made during the past fourteen years. 

During this season I nostalgically recall Jimmy Stewart at Christmas reevaluating his values and Ingrid Bergman as a Christmas story nun, and Bing Crosby and Bob Hope on the road, and Abbot and Costello, and the Three Stooges with Officer Joe Bolton (before police officers were perceived of as swine) and I recall meeting Perry Cuomo at Eddie Kowalski’s house where his pretty cousin Bonnie, now gone, enthralled us all. 

But I come back to Marina and Teddy, and Pop and Mom. And a very young and optimistic version of me delighting in white Christmases and decorations and Christmas carols, and even in ghosts of Christmases past and present and future, and of Tiny Tim (the original one, not the one tripping through the tulips with a ukulele) wishing us a Merry Christmas,

One and all.
_______

© 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.

_______

© 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.

_______

© 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.

_______

© 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.

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.

_______

© 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?

_______

© 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.

Some Days Are Just Hell, or, My Least Favorite Sabbath

Soooo, ….

It had been a lousy Friday. The worst of my somewhat brief physical sojourn what with being whipped, forced to carry a heavy piece of wood all over town, being whipped again, then nailed to a cross, then, as if that hadn’t been enough, stabbed in the ribs with a spear to see whether or not I’d enjoyed the experience.  I hadn’t but Dad had refused to give me a hand.  Then I’d been taken down from the cross, sprinkled with herbs, wrapped in linen and sealed in a damp, cold cave.  At least it was fairly dry.  Hell of a place to wake up in but in fact, Hell was where I awoke very early the next day, I think it was just after midnight.  For some reason they like midnight there.  It was hot!  Not the ideal place for a rest after a harrowing day.  Interesting people there though, in fact, almost everyone who had ever lived, except for the few Dad had teleported to the penthouse was there.

Lucifer, the old Roman god of light and truth was there complaining that he was being transmogrified into Dad’s prosecutor, Shaitan.  A bunch of Dad’s old, discarded servants were there as well asking me just how long eternity was going to last.  I did my best to ignore them (which wasn’t easy).  Adam and Eve were there of course, with all of their progeny, which, well, included everyone.  Cain and Abel had made up, it had all been a misunderstanding, no one knowing about death and all.  Dad had sort of forgotten to explain just what and how final it was.  Bummer.  For some reason, everyone felt I was there to save them but I really had no intention of sticking around.  I wasn’t too excited to return topside either, not after the week I’d had, but evidently, before Dad would let me return home, I had to finish off a forty day sentence, make a bunch of vague promises, etc.  But after that, I was definitely not coming back, no matter what they expected.

I was thirsty as, pardon the pun, Hell, but no wine was to be had there at any price, just filthy boiling water mixed with Sulphur, and the omnipresent smell of rotting eggs.  For some reason I have to stick around until after the Sabbath is completed.  It’ll feel like more than one day let me tell you!  At least three.

Who can understand Dad’s inscrutable ways?  I confess that I can’t.  He loves being mysterious and never says things straight out.  Hard to know what he wants, which causes a lot of problems because he hates it when he doesn’t get his way!  I remember when he blew up this city, then turned one of his followers to stone for turning around, and then, a while later, flooded the whole place for forty days and forty nights.  He seems to like the number forty.  He stuck me in the desert once for forty days and forty nights to see if I’d break, but after a while, I just kind of blanked out.

Anyway, I’ve got a while to kill here before I’m let out so I think I’ll circulate, maybe chat with Lucifer to find our his side of the story.  That ought to take a while.

Ouch!!!  That smarts.
_______

I was going to write this using a fake name, popular way back then, I had Don Rickles in mind (he was no fan of the protagonist), but, what the heck, he has Santa working for him so he already knows everything.  Here goes nothing.  © Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.  I hope “Dad” has developed a sense of humor.

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.