The Fuliginous Plight of Midas

I really don’t understand the conflict between the factions of climate change when the major contentious point of debate is the veracity of whether or not carbon-based energy is creating conditions that will ultimately be the demise of the human race. This debate is not dichotomous; it has more than two arguments.

Why, exactly, is this debate so divisive to a point that many are emotionally affected by its outcome? Why do many of us feel it necessary to choose only one of the proffered solutions? How is the general public affected and to what degree? Why do we get so emotionally involved in details that are irrelevant? It’s not like there are no alternatives to the problem. Energy is not exclusively generated through processes that use carbon-based resources, so why are some proponents of carbon-based energy so ardent, especially when they are not directly rewarded and when the coveted energy is easily available from other sources that more effectively and efficiently provide the same energy?

Energy is an important social concern that nearly everyone should consider, yet most Americans don’t work for fossil-fuel corporations, and they are not compensated by them, so why such loyalty? Energy is provided by many methodologies that are renewable (carbon-based energy is finite); energy created from wind and solar technology do not add deleterious miasma into the atmosphere; even if the level of pollution spilled into the atmosphere from burning carbon is within acceptable levels of human tolerance, it is still pollution—why support the possibility of damaging effects when it is so unnecessary? The answer lies within the heart.

Emotion seems to be, terrestrially speaking, a human quality. (We, as a species, might anthropomorphize (accent on the fourth syllable) some other animals, but that is kindling for another fireside chat to be conflagrated at another time.) Emotions are ambivalent; they are neither right nor wrong; they simply exist within the human condition. How we react to our emotions is what we perceive as either malevolent or beneficent. Conflict quickens when we falsely interpret these feelings into factual proof of veracity for debating. For whatever reason, we grasp onto the notion that we are right when being right or wrong is not the objective. The only desirous outcome in this particular debate is having abundant, inexpensive energy so that we may maximize our abilities to work and to recreate. Carbon-based energy is not the only resource that will accomplish these objectives; in fact, carbon-based energy is not a very good resolution when cheaper, more efficient technologies exist, technologies that, if researched with necessary enthusiasm—the same alacrity exploited by the status quo—would make the planet smile like a pharmaceutically enhanced Cheshire Cat supplemented with industrial strength catnip.

The answer to many of the questions asked at the beginning of this essay is very easy… and most children instinctively understand, especially if they have ever sullied their hands with a greasy piece of coal: The people who are making irrational, monarchical amounts of money through carbon manipulation do not want to negatively affect their ludicrous incomes because, as you know, it is very difficult to maintain a staff of servants who are manageable—servants who have adequate enough skills to perform their duties with the deference due to one’s employer. Very few of our nation’s populace—only one percent of one percent—really understand the cost of the resources exploited to maintain a palatial house with a fleet of luxurious automobiles; to possess more than one estate—because living in one locale throughout a calendar year is so mundane; to maintain a yacht and crew to cruise the Caribbean or Mediterranean seas; to even plan a major party that effectively displays Sardanapalian luxury, which, obviously, denotes directing the help with an acceptable hubris and feigned concern about their particularly pedestrian lives. When one is wealthy and has the accompanying responsibilities, the health of the planet is a really low priority concerning daily modus operandi.

Peace Through Music

 

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Democrats Should Not Be Complacent, But…

It is no news: Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee for president of the United States. She is, in mid-August, three months before Election Day, trending in the social media, totally humiliating Donald Trump in current polls, but instead of praising her as the most qualified politician, the media has portrayed her as, at best, a lucky dilettante even though her history as activist, First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State illustrates her qualifications demonstratively. Hillary is progressive in her views on abortion, drug policy, education policy, environmental issues, gun control, health care, immigration reform, LGBTQ rights, social security, and tax reform. If Hillary Clinton were a man, she’d be praised as the greatest politician ever instead of the serendipitous woman who happened to run against a political opponent who is an unqualified megalomaniacal, bigoted, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, nationalistic supremacist.

The Donald is steadily losing the support of loyal voters traditionally guaranteed, nearly gratis, to the GOP, but his unjustified celebrity harbors sanctuary to the dregs of society, attracting the darker side of Ignorance. There is, however, real hope for progressives; an unintended consequence of Trump’s popularity with extreme radical groups is that his overt supremacy puts a mirror to a traditional GOP voting-base and reveals for all to see a willfully blind acceptance of the unchristian disparaging bigotry that accompanies ideologies of the ostensive hatred that had previously been obscured by ambiguous yet falsely patriotic, anti-Christian rhetoric, which began with Nixon’s Southern Strategy that took steroids and morphed into a powerful plan of action under Ronald Reagan. The curtain has been pulled, and now some of the blind can clearly see. Red states are turning blue.

In defense of his political thumping, by a woman, Donald Trump claims that the media is malfeasant in its objective coverage of the presidential campaign, the same media that gave him, according to CNN, an estimated two billion dollars of free advertisement, allowing him coverage usually reserved for the highest political figures of both parties, even allowing him to call in interviews. Donald’s current rhetoric suggests that the news media has shifted and is now favoring Hillary, further insinuating that any other Republican candidate would be slaughtering her, which is ironically funny to me. The GOP’s top politicians—Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Scott Walker—couldn’t even defeat the supercilious man who claims to be really rich and smart… prodigal and perspicacious even though he probably doesn’t know what it means.

Hillary is not a perfect presidential candidate for me, but who is? I do like her wanting to make higher education more accessible for everyone. I like her social programs, but I worry about her hawkish past. I do not approve of our nation’s using drones and inadvertently murdering civilians in its fight against ISIS; however, I can think of no alternative. I’m unqualified to even guess. Congress won’t declare war, and ISIS is a serious threat to the planet. I’m also not a fan of Hillary’s association with big business, but I hope she’s been swayed by Bernie Sanders and her constituency to regulate big banks and businesses and to reduce the chasm between the salaries of CEOs and the workforce. Basically, regardless of her opponent, Hillary is a formidable politician, and we, as U.S. citizens, need to prepare for her inevitable national leadership.

Peace Through Music
August 15, 2016
@SSTJazzVocalist
#GroovicusMaximus
#progressive
#paralyzed
#MercerAlum
#Green

Venus Versus Mars

Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren are currently campaigning together, and so, in the United States, the debate involving women and their genetic abilities to hold positions of power has intensified and has sadly morphed into a plangent shouting match between distaff eloquence and the testosterone aggression of atavistic barbarity; of course, many other nations on our planet have already evolved beyond such a puerile debate, but the truth is that women make better leaders then men because they can not only take a life as effectively as any male—it’s not physically challenging to push a button that launches and then guides a drone to destroy a target or to pull a trigger of a weapon whose only reason for existence is the mass murder of humanity—but women can also manifest life from within, which man cannot. One may argue, ineffectively, that the male’s production of sperm is needed to create another human and is thereby as important to the process of biological creation as his female counterpart. Gallant effort… but pointless.

There is already so much sperm saved within encrypted vaults of cryobanks throughout the world that the population of China could easily be matched—cryobanks are specialized places for storage that use very low temperatures to preserve semen or transplantable tissue. This ready availability of semen along with the scientific process of biogenetics make male participation in the creation of human biology literally unnecessary. (A man will willingly donate his seed to most any project and therein help with the continual supple of the biological commodity.) And test tube babies are no longer science fiction. Maybe that is why, in the Catholic tradition, God only needs the virgin Mary to actually gestate the couple’s demigod son Jesus… and Joseph is merely a silent witness. Not even God needs a man to create life, but Mary, a woman, is indispensable.

To quote Alice Cooper, “Only women bleed.”

I’m not trying to shock and awe my readers by employing crass rhetoric. The reference to menstruation is not pejorative; menstruation is a uterine-cleansing purge of sanguine nutrition, a prenatal recipe for a possible embryo after a reproductive egg goes unfertilized. It’s really the cycle of life that the male only understands as… well, ineffable and thereby worthy of total expunging from his thought process. Menstruation can be messy and a bit embarrassing; however, menstruation is also a source of humility for the female, an uncomfortable, mood-altering, uncontrollable biological response to Life, and as such, it becomes an accepted badge of courage and strength. Men are uncomfortable with the feminine discharge of blood and tissue and thereby mock it, unconsciously turning it into a misguided source of masculine pride simply because men errantly believe that they’ve been blessed by unknown forces to NOT have to deal with it, and they don’t… happily. Women can also endure more pain than man. If the male of our species could give birth, abortion would not only be legal, it would become another testosterone-encouraged game, a Y-chromosome bonding yet superfluous sign of masculinity akin to belching and farting with effective vociferous abrasiveness.

I’ve heard more than one male callously comment that even bad sex is good sex. Some of these automatons believe that, during a rape, a woman should merely relax and enjoy the sex. This, unconscionably, connotes that, to a man who casually jokes about such a sensitive subject, sex is merely a very pleasurable act with little emotional commitment; obviously, this is male privilege… some men primarily focus on egocentric gratification even when it can bring irreparable emotional damage to someone else. I’m pretty sure that these puerile thoughts about rape’s being a serendipitous opportunity for unexpected yet very pleasurable explosive orgasmic climax would transmogrify into the true horror that rape is if the roles were reversed. Imagine one of these single-minded rape-sanctioning fools finding himself in a smelly abandoned warehouse with an overweight, pungent octogenarian male, possibly of eastern origin or of a misunderstood non-Christian religion or of a race that possesses melanitic epidermal pigments and who is in possession of a case of Viagra, a bucket full of viscous petroleum-based unguent, and a six-pack of 5-hour energy drinks. Suddenly, the aesthetically impaired, throbbing mutant stands erect and ready to penetrate the cowering egocentric’s personal space with violent, thrusting aggression. Any woman on the planet would lovingly advise the victim to merely relax and enjoy the sex. Doesn’t seem nearly as desirous when masculine privilege is so violently violated; does it?

Women nurture and discipline, looking for the best in others but then effectively dealing with adversity when confronted whereas men look for an advantage and manipulate accordingly. This can be effectively corroborated by visual verification when a very wealthy although emaciated, doddering and edentulous, pasty-white, balding, corpulent, octogenarian codger marries a twenty-eight year-old supermodel from eastern Europe. Of course, many middle-aged yet far less ludicrously wealthy men act in similar fashion when they purchase that lustrous red Corvette and manipulate ingenues and nuptial prostitutes into meaningless carnal affairs. (A nuptial prostitute is any women who enters into a contractually-bound monogamous relationship for the monetary rewards… a trophy wife.) I know of a very shallow man, militant and morally annoying, a brazen hypocrite who abandoned a goddess for a pulchritudinous yet empty, giggling, jiggly biological receptacle for his seminal disinterest, simply put, this insecure man abandoned a beautiful, mature, intellectual, and funny woman with glowing patina for a warmblooded cavity into which he could insert his misguided tumescent energy. Although a man can be noble, it is easier for him to acquiesce to his egocentric urges, to struggle in an intimate relationship, fail, then sequaciously request pardon from his victim… uh, I mean from his partner… it is much easier to request forgiveness from his professed lover than to act responsibly even though duty and responsibility should never be temporary.

I am not suggesting that women are completely nurturing; there are always polar extremes within any debate. One need only google Susan Smith to find an example of emotionally stagnant motherhood. I am, however, connoting that a vast majority of women are biologically equipped with nurturing instincts whereas men were innately armed with protective, militant, reactive aggression. Men wonder, awestruck, at creation. They can only take lives and have proven to be very good at it. Men are quick to war, yet, in recent history, the men who declare war send their warriors, with whom they share no emotional connection, to fight their battles while they cower in deep mountain bunkers. Some have even lied to their constituency not only to pursue the direct murder of a tyrant falsely accused of the 9/11 tragedies but to proffer their clan members an opportunity to amass mass quantities of wealth… blood money.

I do not think that the USA would have gone to war with Iraq had Al Gore been president during the horrific attacks on the Trade Centers and the Pentagon; I doubt that he’d have made such an illogical yet megalomaniacal connection between Iraq and those horrific acts of terrorism, but I’m really sure that Hillary Clinton would have made war the last possible option for national security. She’d have seen her daughter in every female warrior and would have reluctantly put her into harms way; Mrs. Clinton wouldn’t, probably couldn’t, think of any warrior as an expendable but necessary casualty of war.

Personally, I prefer Venus to Mars when it comes to national leadership, especially when the United States of America possess THE most effective weapons of mass destruction. We don’t need another petulant boy as the Commander and Chief supervising such an effective and efficient tool for planetary annihilation.

I can only ineffectively imagine the total deflation and anger of a warrior who learns in retrospect that she committed murder simply because her leader, one insecure man, was looking to ensure the romanticized, mythological, militarily decorated legacy of a beloved historical war hero instead of the doddering, privileged knight’s errant who callously demanded the lives of thousands of troops and then silently evanesced with his tail between his legs into a background of obscurity cluttered with depressing self-portraits of incompetence. As a woman, Hillary Clinton will make a great president simply because she has not only given life but has developed and positively influenced her lovely daughter. She is also reluctantly capable of taking the lives of people with whom she shares no emotional connection save the bonds of human connectivity; she’ll make nation-nurturing decisions deliberately because she understands the interweaving relationship, the weft and warp, between Life and Death.

Peace Through Music
Rusty Taylor
June 29, 2016

Superfluous Conservative Rhetoric

[Adapted from an essay written July 15, 2015]

There is an economic divide between the extremely wealthy and the poorest citizens of the contemporary, disconnected United States of America that has been stimulating thoughts of rebellion that will make the decollated violence of Bastille Day seem like the celebration of a minor Christian festival by octogenarian nuns in a third-world country. Our political manifestation is experiencing the late beginnings of a cultural revolution, the low rumblings of sizable seismic energy ready to extravasate its molten pyroclastic contents onto our nation’s heartland with Vesuvian fury, and this droning defiance against austerity is the focal point of current conservative rhetoric that calls for the destruction or weakening of any governmental agency that might hinder corporate profits while insidiously murdering the middle class and our planet.

Our nation’s exclusive two-party political system is a skein of emotional twine that is as convoluted as advanced Calculus is to me! Some blame Republicans, some Democrats, some the business sector, and some the judicial branch of the government. I think that it’s mainly a conflict between conservatism and progressivism. Let’s face it, the two major political parties have blurred boundaries over which any member from either party can cross with impunity; although, the ubiquitous 24-hour news media has helped stir me to believe that the majority of the GOP is struggling for its very survival now that the subtle racism of the past thirty years has become so overt; the inappropriately misnamed “Tea Party” is ultra-conservative to the point of racial intolerance. With that acknowledged, it is very interesting, to me as a progressive, to watch the GOP as it helplessly recoils into a vortex of self-destruction.

What does one expect from a party that claims that government is the evil of our society then does everything in its power to undermine it by rejecting any legislation, especially legislation for which President Obama may receive positive response? Yet, they run for the very governmental positions that they vocally oppose. To think that any member of the GOP wants to eliminate abortion, Obamacare, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, et al. is either willfully imperceptive or hopelessly ignorant. Conservative politicians don’t care about morality. They merely use these themes as diversions to direct public attention away from their true agenda: tax cuts for the very wealthy; elimination of the EPA so that big businesses can pollute the environment with impunity; privatization of Healthcare; the availability of weapons for anyone regardless of mental acuity; and any other potential legislation that will enable them to increase their wealth at the cost of practically everything. This has been the GOP’s rhetoric for the past thirty years, yet Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee have currently put this ilk of rhetoric on steroids, using brash racism instead of subtlety in order to procure votes from their egocentric constituency.

In 2008 after President Obama won his first election, the GOP held a meeting wherein they vowed to do whatever they could to make sure that his presidency was for just a single term, and the racial baiting of our society took on a more collective urgency. This is why Donald Trump, the racist bully with a prepubescent proclivity to revert to puerile diatribe when he feels threatened, is currently the leading GOP candidate for the presidency, and to convince one’s self that the blatant racial undertones of his entire campaigning has no relevance to the more conservative political party is either ignorance or an unrecognized hate and fear within the deepest recesses of one’s hidden, and thereby unrecognized, racist psyche. If you think that Donald Trump isn’t speaking for the GOP, you’ve not been paying attention or you get your news exclusively from Fox News, the preferred entertainment media for the new Confederacy.

Our nation’s corrupt political system is entirely too influenced by sound bites and a montage of incoherent images ambiguously adumbrating superficial conservative values disguised as falsely but morally sanctioned rhetoric that has become a discursive, histrionic skein of hate- and fear-mongering fueled by overt racism. In reality, these mirages of superficial morality, among other effects, exploit war as a ludicrously profitable business venture at the cost of beneficent social programs as well as the deaths of too many troops composed of warriors who do not constitute the daughters and sons of wealth-hording families that have the power to declare war; the superficial images that deny or obfuscate climate-change against overwhelming scientific verification; anti-gun control even for people who are mentally challenged and the vast majority of all U.S. citizens approve of regulation for the distribution of weapons forged exclusively for mass bloody human sacrifice (…for what other reason does one need a weapon that shoots hundreds of rounds of bullets per second?); the superficial rhetoric that negates the positive attributes of planned parenthood by focusing almost exclusively on abortion, which is less than 10% of its modus operandi; specious rhetoric from religious-freedom advocates claiming sacrosanct motives to justify social discrimination; misconstrued conservative values that laud subjugation of women; caricaturing the poor as a way to facilitate making them the enemy of the state; egregious tax exemptions for the very wealthy; ambiguous values that support war by granting nearly exclusive media airtime to minor retired generals who support military aggression while simultaneously working for manufacturers of weapons of mass destruction; and undeserved freedom from litigation for major industries that destroy planetary resources.

The climax of the simmering, organized resistance of our nation’s current constituted government will be the draconian result of failed Reaganomics, more specifically, the ancient actor-president’s “trickle-down” economic fiasco that has given ridiculous tax breaks to the very wealthy while strongly encouraging the divestment of poverty, making the poor a much larger target for vitriol and facilitating the ever-widening chasm that has separated sybaritism from the most penurious at the destructive cost of the Bourgeois.

Reaganommics has also weakened governmental agencies by defunding them to the point of impotence, virtually eliminating the powers of the CDC, FDA, USDA, the U.S. Postal Service, etc., by overseeing the destruction of ecologic regulation as well as the deregulation of banking, housing industries, and big businesses (including privatization of education, health facilities, prisons, Medicare, pharmaceutical companies, and the incessant attempt to privatize social security), which resulted in the major economic crisis of 2008 and is the continued unguent that lubricates any friction circumventing access to profitability by the richest of the rich.
Unions are also vulnerable to the conservative agenda. Unions have been the equalizer between major corporations and the blue-collar worker for more than a century, eliminating child labor and promoting a minimum wage, among other major societal beneficence. By eliminating the strength of our unions, the corporations, which are by definition a group of people combined into or acting as one, have much more political influence than a single voice, especially if that singular voice comes from a minority: she who selects “other” as her race, the sexually ostracized, women in general, the handicapped, the mentally impaired, people who have been unjustly incarcerated—no wonder conservatives embrace voter suppression and “religious-freedom” hypocrisies without which the conservatives would possess an insignificant amount of political power.

Conservatives, by definition, are people who favor traditional views and values, tending to oppose change regardless of the bleakness of the status quo. This is why no progressive act has been initiated by a conservative majority. Keep in mind that I’m not calling out any specific party. The Republican Party during Eisenhower’s administration was much different than the current GOP. The same for the Democratic Party. Both parties have conservative constituents, but all conservatives are stubbornly loyal to the status quo regardless of time or party affiliation. During the American Revolution, conservatives were called Tories… they were totally against signing the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.

I’m not sure if it’s always been, but current conservatives on both sides have come to embrace war. For the past year-and-a-half to two years, Secretary of State John Kerry has worked with nuclear experts and leaders of six other nations to agree on policies that will stop Iran’s abilities to build nuclear weapons in exchange for revoking economic sanctions. The U.S., Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany, and England are involved with the negotiations and agree that it is an effective plan to not only stop Iran’s nuclear proliferation but to slowly reintroduce Iran back into the world’s economy. Members of the UN will have 24/7 access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and if any transgression is uncovered, the sanctions will be swiftly replaced, yet conservatives in Washington are spewing negative rhetoric against the treaty. I can think of two reasons: 1) to scuttlebutt anything positive for which President Obama may receive credit or 2) conservative politicians want war so the CEOs of the war industry can make millions or billions of dollars in which the obliging politician can share.

Clinging stubbornly to the status quo is disconcerting to folks like me who want to see a political ideology that embraces a more progressive focus: the continued separation of church and state, ecological planetary stewardship, terrestrial peace, universal health care, the pursuit of happiness for everyone even when one’s happiness doesn’t align with that of the majority’s, and equality for all in the eyes of the law. Current conservative rhetoric is bullying, hate- and fear-mongering vitriol that seems to embrace egoistic superiority, which has recently been overtly manifested by the Confederate flag and its defense as a “traditional” symbol of heritage instead of the racially pejorative epithet it has become after Dixiecrats and the Ku Klux Klan adopted it as its standard for racial supremacy during the social volatility of the 1950s. The southern and mid-western contingency of the conservative network has somehow convinced itself that the Confederate flag is exclusively a symbol for positive Southern heritage instead of the conscious metaphor for white supremacy.

Because of last year’s overtly racist and terroristic murder of nine black members of an AME congregation in South Carolina, one victim the pastor and a state representative, the Confederate flag has been taken down from in front of the capital’s Capitol. This has fanned the flame of ignorance by conservative people who avail the flag as a positive symbol of heritage. To me, the Confederate flag is a metaphor for the word “nigger”; it allows anyone to cowardly communicate the word without saying it aloud, yet there is no obfuscation in its intended malice. Why would anyone want to laud four years of Southern disgrace, such an insignificant amount of time concerning the vast history of the South? Even if one ignorantly claims a positive interpretation of the controversial symbol, it is just mean and bullying to continue its encomiastic exaltation when supernumerary people of melanotic physiology are so negatively affected by it. It’s just a meaningless piece of cloth… and it costs nothing to replace it with a much more positive, inclusive symbol of unifying peace. The South is, after all, a hodgepodge of harmonic social ingredients mixed together into a savory stew of culturally amalgamated nutrition with both physically and emotionally salubrious results.

There are so many other Southern traditions that could be embraced by every Southerner, not just plantation owners: Peach cobbler; sweet iced tea; magnolia blossoms; vividly colored azaleas; Southern belles with dulcet accents; the Southern gentleman; gazebos adorned with honeysuckle; mellifluent, grape-like wisteria; swinging Dixieland music; bluegrass; jazz; square dancing; river rafting; cat fishing; hunting dogs; old pickup trucks; and moonlight through the pines. Of course, if a southerner wants an insensitive standard to represent a proud militant strength and defiance to a strong national government, may I suggest a confederate son’s mother at her bachelorette, nubile age of twenty-one dressed as a sensuously barefooted, mammary exploiting, wet t-shirt enhanced, Daisy Duke shorts-wearing, mud wrestler having sex with a black Pegasus on top of the Robert E. Lee auto from “Dukes of Hazzard” lore. Not so “traditional” when your sensibilities are affected, eh? (A similar sentiment can be delineated about the pejorative appellation of the NFL mascot for the District of Columbia, the Redskins, but that’s fuel for another fireside chat.)

I suppose this is what happens when one’s pursuit of happiness involves fervently chasing shiny materialistic speciosity instead of pursuing unadorned enlightenment. Like the holocaust, the Confederate flag should be memorialized in museums where one can somberly reflect how somatically unlike any deity and atavistically violent we humans have been throughout our terrestrial existence… and still are.

Peace Through Music
July 15, 2015

You Would Not Believe The Day I Had

You Wouldn᾿t Believe the Day I᾿ve Had


Had you not been their father, these white flakes
did challenge pity of them. Was this a face
to be oppos’d against the warring winds?
to stand against the deep dread-bolted thunder?
in the most terrible and nimble stroke
of quick cross lightning? to watch—poor perdu!—
with this thin helm? Mine enemy’s dog,
though he had bit me, should have stood that night
against my fire, and wast thou fain, poor father,
to hovel thee with swine and rogues forlorn
in short and musty straw? Alack, alack,
’tis wonder that thy life and wits at once
had not concluded all.

King Lear
IV.vii.29-41

One fact about being a spinal cord injury that I still have trouble with, even after three decades, is that I need help moving my bowels and cleaning up afterwards. It is, literally, a shitty job, and I am beyond grateful to the many who have helped me throughout the years and who have treated me with dignity. Occasionally, as with every other person I᾿
I᾿ve ever met, my bowels become inconveniently soft. My family and I call the really embarrassing mishap an involuntary, but you call it what you want: diarrhea, Montezuma᾿s revenge, the Hershey squirts, liquid draino, a mess! the connotations are the same; it is humiliating on the most primordial level, especially when it happens at work. Imagine a 220+ pound man as his stomach starts to rumble, creating enough noise to make him start voluntarily coughing, uttering barbaric guttural sounds in an attempt to conceal the involuntary churning of his visceral discontent, then hearing the unmistakable sounds of liquid fecal matter effusively exiting with the grace of a pubescent acne-ridden ballerina—not pleasing auricularly, ocularly, or aromatically.

I was at work when the incident so wonderfully described in the previous paragraph happened to me. It was just after lunch and the skin around my stomach was so tight that if anyone would᾿ve thumped my abdominal dome it would have sounded like the singular chirp of a baby chick, so maybe it was my gorging that caused the mishap. At that time, I had had innumerable problems with our city᾿s para-transit division (the people within the Transportation Department involved with transporting patrons who are wheelchair bound), so I knew that I wouldn᾿t be able to count on this service to carry me home. (The head of Metra’s para-transit department (Dail-A-Ride) ungracefully strutted around on her two incongruously large feet in full possession of an infinitesimally small IQ and an inversely proportional gargantuan self-esteem that tended to inflate for no other reason than to take up more gaseous space in her otherwise vacuous skull… but I digress.)

I asked a friend of mine at work to assist me out the door so that I could ride my electric wheelchair back home. My parents had just moved out to Hamilton, a hamlet about thirty minutes north of Columbus, the Fountain City, and they didn᾿t have a phone yet; my uncle and aunt, who worked at a local high school, weren᾿t available; another aunt had just changed jobs and I didn᾿t have her new number; I only had my attendant᾿s number at my house, not at work; it was a cool spring day, and I figured I could make it to my grandmother᾿s house (she lived right behind me) and she could open the door at my house so that I could call my attendant who would help me change my soiled attire. It was a good plan, a plan I had used before, but this time pernicious powers prevailed.

Back at work, I told my friend Jeff the plan and asked him to inform those he thought needed to know about my special dilemma. I started off from work feeling confident as the cool breeze reminded me how lucky I was that it was not later in the season when I᾿d be suffering from the asphyxiating heat. As I passed what used to be Ballastini᾿s Cleaners on the corner of Fifth avenue and Eleventh street, I remembered an earlier incident when I was making the same trip from work to my house, but on this particular occasion, my wheelchair had stopped on that very corner, and I didn᾿t know what had happened. I had been sitting there for about five minutes when a policeman drove up to the stop sign across the street. I flagged him down; actually, I flailed my arms like a hyperactive epileptic, and the officer noticed, so he pulled up beside me. As I was explaining my situation to him, a maintenance man from TSYS, where I worked at the time, pulled up behind the police car, got out, and approached me. He took a look at the situation and said he could easily fix it. I᾿d like to be more detailed in describing the mechanical failure, but I don’t know nothin’ ’bout no ‘chinery! All I can honestly tell you is that I thanked the officer, and David, the maintenance man who (along with the rest of the guys in maintenance who helped me more times than you can shake a stick at) made my chair work when it wasn᾿t working just moments before. Needless to say, but I᾿ll say it anyway, on that particular excursion, I made it safely home after David fixed my chair; however, this trip would be more adventurous.

Jeff opened the security doors for me to leave my work place, and the sun was shining brightly as the breeze played a lovely serenade through the leaves of the trees while branches waved bon voyage. Since my accident, I really don᾿t get much time by myself, so I enjoyed the quasi-voluntary solitude; however, just after I passed Weracobra Park, aka Lake Bottom, I realized that my wheelchair was slowing and that it probably wouldn᾿t complete the trip. I was wheeling through one of the more affluent neighborhoods, so my chief concern was that my chair was going to die and the citizens of that particular section of town would be so involved with their lives that I᾿d go unnoticed until the stench of my carrion would cause enough communal concern to warrant an investigation into the effluvium caused by a week-old dead man with shitty drawers.

I altered my course to head down one of the busier streets of the Fountain City. Hilton Avenue has many costly architecturally impressive homes that stand a good 200 feet from the road, but it is widely traveled and it was my hope that if my wheelchair stopped, a policeman might come to my aid after a phone call from someone worrying that I might be casing the joint for a future burglary. I knew that on the corner of Hilton and Warm Springs Road was a Chevron gas station, and it was my hope, nay, my determined ambition, to pamper the wheelchair to that location and see if the petrol guardians would hook me up to a battery charger and thereby enable me and my trusty chair to complete the journey home. It was about 1:30 p.m., and I was a little concerned that I wasn᾿t even going to make my newly chosen destination.

Luckily, when I got on Hilton at the Country Club Drive junction, there was only a small grade hill that inched its practically straight course upward for about a hundred yards, then it indiscernibly sloped downward towards its intersection with Edgewood Drive, an intersection that looks infinitely more perilous when viewed from an electric wheelchair that was now making a top speed even slower than a pregnant ant or constipated turtle.

I know next to nothing about batteries, be they the small batteries that fit in one᾿s portable cassette player, the nine volt rectangular batteries that fit so easily in the palm of one᾿s hand that facilitates the action of throwing it a hefty distance, or the two twelve-volt deep cycle batteries that power my wheelchair. To me they᾿re all just tangible examples of magic. Things work just because batteries are used; however, in the thirty years I᾿ve placed my fat butt into one of these battery powered wheelchairs, I have noticed something for which I can give no explanation: if the batteries from my wheelchair completely die, and I turn off the power and wait for about five minutes, then turn the power back on, I will go forward for a good six to twelve inches! It also works similarly if my batteries are just about dead, crawling ever so painfully along until I turn off the power, and when I turn the power supply back on, I can race forward at a blinding centimeter per hour! I think I shall call this phenomenon the Rigor Mortis Interruptus!

When I reached the nefarious Edgewood intersection, I was indeed crawling with the celerity of an octogenarian snail with arthritis. So, I turned off my machine (to employ the thaumaturgical syndrome Rigor Mortis Interruptus) and watched the occupants of the various automobiles that went by as they looked at me curiously, debating the immediacy of my situation in a nanosecond and determining that I needed no assistance without looking in the rear-view mirror for verification. I let the light change about five times before I decided to turn my machine back on and chance crossing the thirty feet of asphalt. I pushed the control lever forward and felt the surge of power that almost made a wisp of my hair jerk back from the force, and I inched across the intersection wondering how many drivers I was seriously angering because I may have held up their progress for the paltry fifteen seconds that must have seemed a lifetime to them. I did make it to the other side and kept the throttle determinedly forward because I was going down a slightly steeper hill and I was cruising twice as fast; that᾿s right! I was traveling two centimeters per hour!

I had enough power to cross the railroad tracks, barely, but I was still a good football field length away from the gas station that was my destination, and it was on the other side of a four-lane road. I could see it before me, the chevron pointing to the exact point for which I was heading, but the road leveled as I approached the tri-colored traffic signal that taunted me, gaily swinging like a pendulum of a clock, reminding me that my time was almost up, and the gravitational momentum that I was experiencing just seconds beforehand slowed to a more rusty gait. Again, at the intersection of Warm Springs and Hilton, I clicked off my machine and waited, anxious to test once again the powers held within Rigor Mortis Interruptus.

It took about twenty seconds to cross Warm Springs then twenty more to cross over Hilton, which seemed an eternity as glaring eyes darted ominously from tinted car windows masking Corinthian leather seats that supported the well-fed bulk of a driver intensely striving to save every possible second used in operating his automobile so that the actual time he accumulated through his frugal saving᾿s plan could be used in a more pragmatic pleasure, like watching television; but I made it! Not even pausing to savor the victory, I ever so slowly pulled into the garage, and to my delight, the petrol guardian had a battery charger to which I was quickly hooked. As I sat there, with my trousers full of waste and a dead battery, the owner of the car on the rack beside me approached. He was 83 years old, about five-eleven, one hundred and seventy pounds, and his short cropped gray hair was covered with a hat that had on its front the logo of a local bank.

“You wouldn᾿t believe the day I’ve had,” he softly said walking so spryly towards my defunct wheelchair.

He was an affable man with marble gray eyes that sort of sparkled as he explained his rough day, shaking his head every now and then in disbelief at his seeming lack of luck. He had pulled out of his driveway, apparently one of the palatial architectural structures that line Hilton Avenue or populate the surrounding suburbs, when his car had a flat. He had to use his car phone to call the wrecker to tow his Lincoln Townscar to the service station we both now employed, a few blocks from his abode. Then he had to wait an excruciating thirty minutes until the serviceman returned from a warehouse with the size and style of tire he needed. That was it! That was his rough day!

He asked me if I were waiting on someone to which I solemnly nodded; I had no desire to explain my situation, which made his rough day seem as intolerable as having sex while using a condom. After a few minutes, his car was ready, and with the agility of a teenager on his first date, he swept into his ride, rolled down his tinted window, and called back to the mechanics, “Next time I need tires, I᾿m coming here.” He put the car in drive, waved amiably at his new friends, and said, “Thanks!” as he drove out of the station.

The rest of the time I spent at the garage was relatively uneventful. I perused the calendars that adorned much of the available wall space, eyeing a particular treasure who seductively smiled, a voluptuous brunette with large, inviting… uh, eyes! yes, eyes… and dressed in a bikini that covered very minimally the parts of her divine body that people who are morally annoying or grossly overweight find offensive, and I was wondering if men bought tools from the company whose name was written in bold type above the smiling minx just because she was endorsing products from which they earn their living or if they actually purchased tools because of their usefulness and quality. Logic makes me assume that people who earn their living by using tools buy the best tools for their trade, but if this is so, what pragmatic reason would the company have for exploiting this really attractive woman᾿s body? Not that it bothers me in the least, mind you; it᾿s just that I think it would make more business sense if the company spent its earnings promoting its own merchandise instead of furthering stereotypes.

I had been eyeing the clock rather anxiously because my mother was supposed to go to where I work to help me at around three p.m., which was quickly approaching, but sit and wait was all I could do; having no other options made the choice that much easier. After about forty-five minutes, my battery was re-charged.

I drove through the Rosemont Shopping Center onto Rosemont Drive, which is actually the street on which I live but on the other side of Manchester Expressway, an eight-lane road that, oddly enough, takes one to the city of Manchester, but it has a grassy medium down its middle that is as inaccessible to me and my wheelchair as the eyebrow of Teddy Roosevelt on Mount Rushmore. Once I got to Manchester Expressway, it was my plan to turn right (heading east) until I reached Armour Road, cross at the light, head back down Manchester Expressway (heading west) and cruise the rest of the way to my beautiful front door and wait for my mother, who I knew would have come from my work place after finding out from Jeff my dilemma. But, oh how even the third revision of a master plan can still have hidden areas of foreboding.

I was now out of sight of the petrol distribution area when my wheelchair, once again, began to slow. The nigh elation I felt as I burst from the garage quickly metamorphosed into that area of concern one feels as a child at the realization that the Easter Bunny is just a symbolic rodent used to commercialize a religious celebration. My mind began, once again, to reel: Could this be happening again? Maybe that yokel attendant with the rag flaccidly dangling from his back pocket didn᾿t know what he was doing. Were those sparks I heard as he was applying the charger to the nodes? It᾿s a wonder he didn᾿t blow me up. How many brain cells does it take? I᾿m going back there and bleed all over his knuckles… or… maybe my batteries are truly dead. They are over three years old. How stupid can I be? Maybe I should᾿ve called someone!

I made it to the Manchester Expressway intersection, using Rigor Mortis Interruptus four more times. Automobiles, trucks, step vans, conversion vans, even a bus slowly pulled around me, yielding at the red triangular sign that silently commanded every one of the drivers to YIELD, to slow down and observe their immediate surroundings. I then watched the myriad vehicles as they sped past me, engulfing me oftentimes in the waste of their effluvial exhaust. I saw rosaries dangling from mirrors, the star of David, Vishnu, Brahma, Siva, bumper stickers that praised Jesus, another that designated that the driver was a clergyman, yet another that exalted a gospel singing group, but no one assisted me—an immobile wheelchair occupant just off the road, not even on the sidewalk, didn᾿t connote to anyone that something might be askew. Then, across the street, maybe 400 yards down Rosemont Drive on the other side of the bustling eight lanes of vehicular chaos, I saw my mother᾿s white van pull into my driveway. I whistled as loudly as I could, almost hyperventilating from the effort, but there was no way possible for her to hear me from that distance and all the accompanying traffic noise.

I concluded that my only course of action was to remain where I was and hope that when my mother left my house, she᾿d come towards me instead of turning a block from my pad to head toward Armour Road where she wouldn᾿t see me. Of course, my decision was based on conclusions derived from the extensive analytical thought process using logic and reasoning to arrive at the most efficient and pragmatic plan of action: I could do nothing else but sit and hope; however, not long after I had accepted the plan, a deep burgundy Accra pulled up beside me and the large woman driver asked me if I needed assistance. She was driving five others of various ages, and I assumed it was her family. I excitedly tried to point to the white van and explain that I wanted her to drive down Manchester and hang a U-turn at the Armour Road intersection, take a right on Rosemont, which was on the other side of the grassy medium straight in front of me, drive to the white van that was as obvious as a pimple on a teenage model, and tell my mother where I was. I must have done a halfway decent job of explaining myself because she did exactly as I had planned it in my head, regardless of how inadequately I actually expressed it.

I watched the benevolent woman drive her burgundy life-saving chariot back towards me, and I waved at her as she turned right. About ten minutes later, I saw my parents walking towards me. My father obviously accompanied my mother to my work, and they were both coming to help out their poor, innocent crippled boy. You may find this hard to believe, but the closer that my parents got, the bigger they got! and as they approached I couldn᾿t help but ruminate upon the words of the amiable octogenarian I had met earlier at the service station: You wouldn’t believe the day I’ve had!

Russell (Rusty) Allen Taylor
April 13, 2013
#GroovicusMaximus
@SSTJazzVocalist
http://www.Southern-Standard-Time.com

Happy Anniversary, Maim!

Today is a momentous day of celebration—my thirtieth anniversary!—the thirtieth anniversary of the automobile accident that left me a quadriplegic unable to perform even the most rudimentary acts of daily living. I was twenty-two years old at the time, a young buck, strong, gregarious, undisciplined, eager for fun, trillions of hormones electrifying undeniable impulses as encouragement to explore my immediate surroundings at the cost of almost everything, trying almost without effort to inspire coquettish distaff responses from anyone to whom I was attracted, and I was attracted to everything beautiful… not pulchritudinous but beautiful with emphasis on innocence and sincerity. Yes, my head was in the clouds, dreaming of peace and trying my best not to conform to conformity mostly by observing the mundane from different angles of a prism’s refracting kaleidoscopic rainbows that had been reborn from pellucid light.

Then an automobile accident took away my physicality and stored its latent energy in an immobile body, sedentary, a gelatinous lump of organic matter, a still life portrait of unrequited potential. Still and all, today is a very special, positive celebration.

Yes, it has affected me… my paralysis. Let’s face it; my young adulthood was nourished by the late seventies and early eighties. Led Zeppelin rocked and disco sucked even though I secretly marveled at the harmonies of the Bee Gees. I was introduced to the weed, and everything was groovy as we cruised down the highway listening to our favorite tunes on FM radio. Being young and healthy was sexy; television corroborated; so did the cinema, the music industry, even the most kitsch bric-a-brac emphasized an unbounded suspension in any realization to the temporal nature of youth, attraction, life.

My life’s transition from an athletic, constantly mobile, seemingly tireless energy into one of a stationary observer, a tacit poet, a stoic comic… was relatively easy. I surrendered myself to the nearly immediate acceptance of my permanent paralysis—hell, I couldn’t feel my genitals! It was very obvious that walking, for me, was never going to be a reality. It was too easy to perceive that I was destined to live the life of bachelor for the remainder of my terrestrial existence, and this compliance was based on the fact that I was no longer a healthy male specimen. I was young… immature. I not only believed but I tightly embraced as divine Truth the fact that I was now a human blemish that deserved not only ignoring but ridicule by all women. My soi-disant physical repugnance unofficially decreed intentional lack of attention from the kind of woman that mostly attracted me: women for whom physical activity was a major part of their existence. Why would a woman who enjoyed camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, or participating in team sports, why would she want to enjoy these activities without me? Why should she? I had convinced myself that I could never have fallen in love with anyone with whom I couldn’t share these same activities?

It was easy to convince myself that I couldn’t… that I wouldn’t allow myself to fall in love with anyone who was as crippled as I. I know… it’s sad, but one must consider my youth, my inexperience in Life. During the incipience of my life of paralysis, I was just barely an adult. My expectations of romance was still marred by expectations of perfection, a perfection wrapped in enchantment, made more dazzling with the acceptance of fairy tale expectations, a perfect mate forming a perfect union within a perfect kingdom, yet as I lay crying on the cold, calloused, sterile hospital bed, supine, staring desperately at the ceiling from which I could not shield my eyes, my neck secured with screws drilled into my skull making it impossible to turn my head and further damage the spinal cord around my fourth vertebrae, I realized all too well that I would never tempt a lover. Subconsciously, I took steps to ensure a lifetime of solitude.

To my support group, the acceptance of my paralysis seemed quick and decisive, and it was. For all intents and purposes, I appeared to have accepted my paralysis with certain aplomb. And I did come to the realization fairly quickly. I had not gotten very many visits from friends of whom I thought I had many. I then got a call from a girl acquaintance of mine from Americus, Georgia, a girl who attended Georgia Southwestern University and with whom I had shared intimacy… when she called me at the rehabilitation clinic and told me that she loved me, I heard the hollowness of the words she spoke, and I new immediately that I would never see her again. I softly replied, “I love you, too,” and hung up the phone.

Four months of rehab went by quickly. Admittedly, after three months I had no desire to leave the rehab center, but after four I was really anxious to try my paralysis on the world… that’s when I was thrown my first curve: Jill.

She had been one of the terrestrial angels I met that summer, a goddess, my nurse in brilliant white too luminous to look at directly, a golden-haired princess from Disney’s studios who cared with too much intensity that I mistook for love. When I left rehab, I was certain that my relationship with Jill would be an occasional phone call and annual birthday wishes, but she made arrangements to visit me and, more amazingly, for me to visit her. I was blissfully absentminded for an entire year, blindly fantasizing that I had been the luckiest man to have ever been blessed with terrestrial opportunity… to breathe with the easiness of silent tranquility. Then, from nowhere… or everywhere… she cut me to the core, her arms draped over my shoulders as she leaned into my ear from behind… her confession of casual infidelity exculpated by the innocuous admission she hadn’t climaxed.

I actually felt a tiny rip in my heart. As far as physiological, it was an almost imperceptible tear, so small one might’ve only disclosed the actual cleavage of my heart’s muscle with powerful enough microscopic technology and enough interest to look for something so conspicuously insignificant. It was little more than a pinprick, but the pain was as intense as anything I have ever felt, an electrifying jolt of bone-shattering emptiness that instantly sated my soul with the frigid indifference of Satan’s most delicious malice.

 

Gilded Butterfly

“So we’ll live, and pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh at gilded butterflies”
King Lear
V.iii.11-13

Before the glass she sits and brushes her long
yellow corn silk strands of perfumed hair,
searching for minute signs of time. She longs
for when she didn’t slave so hard to be so fair,
back to when her total worth was visual
and her thoughts accessorized what she seemed.
She reflects but tries not to notice that her nocturnal ritual
takes longer, a false fact that belies her fast-fading dream.

Safe within her cocoon, she prepares to cloud
her subconscious with empty promises of gold,
but her dream doesn’t so easily conceal the lie.
From her chrysalis, a gilded butterfly springs out,
exploding in vibrant colors. She’ll unfold,
shake off all loose gold dust and try to fly.

Rusty Taylor
Mid 1990s

 

My anger was intense but brief… instantaneous, followed immediately by the fulgurous realization of my own unworthiness. I knew after she told me… almost just before she told me… her hands clasped on my chest, her breath in my ear, her tears on my shoulders, I knew that even though I may have a few positive qualities as a man, I didn’t have enough to ameliorate the cold hard fact that I need help with everything and that ultimately, in time, I would irritate anyone who was around me. I am as needy as an infant but have neither the umbilical connection nor the potential to be anything else but needy until I turn to dust… and, so far, I’ve been an exclusive “taker” of good intentions with negative zero reciprocation. It has been no mystery to me why I am a bachelor. I had a couple other relationships that were brief but ended as only they could; it has been apparent from the day I fully understood that I was paralyzed for life: I am not worthy of anybody’s intimacy. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

I think that the main reason for my life of relative solitude is that I have done everything in my power to assure it. From the beginning of my paralysis, I’ve focused my energies on making people forget my paralysis as much as possible, so I’ve given myself challenges. Graduating from college was an interesting challenge, and without it I wouldn’t be the dude I am now. It was at Mercer University that Dr. Stephen Bluestone taught me how to enjoy the writing of the Bard. From there my interest in writing gained momentum. Reading, too, but I still don’t make enough time for it; although, I am jonsin’ to reread “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Becoming employed was another challenge that distracted my focus, and on January 8, 1992, not quite six years after I broke my neck, I was working full-time as a computer programmer using Assembler for the IBM mainframe. This, obviously, was a challenge primarily because programming was just a job, not my vocation. I was also engulfed in the suffocating atmosphere of social ideologies that embraced individual privilege at the expense of communal support. I did meet a few people whom I consider friends and for whom I am grateful; granted, most everyone I met and with whom I became acquainted dug me and my intentions, and most everyone seemed to be trying her best to follow a path of life that was for the collective good of society, but her rhetoric sometimes belied her obvious support for the status quo. Hopefully, that egocentric philosophy is slowly dying out for a more progressive social nurturing, but humanity is fickle and this change will soon change as well.

Throughout my incarceration in the corporate world, I watched the flock of indifferent mechanized humanity as they performed sundry lives of expectation. The constant challenges of couples seemed, to me, unendurable: divorce, child rearing, mortgage paying, teenage tolerating, and spousal compromise belied incessant myths of experiencing a “wonderful family life.” Couple that with a company policy of following impossible guidelines of moral compass, and I knew that my paralysis was incompatible with this kind of social expectation. There is no way I could afford alimony and attendant care.

I was fired after sixteen years of corporate servitude; it was a mutual severance. I won’t make too much of it. The fact is that it was time for me to go, and I’m really glad for it. Corporate life was sucking me into a vortex of indifference. There is beauty in the fact that I did experience corporate life, and that is the few relationships I’ve maintained. If I hadn’t met coworker Jeff Smith, I might not have developed a love for jazz, and since my departure from the corporate anvil of Capitalistic Idolatry, I have been able to pursue performing jazz. In retrospect, it’s easy to see now that some of the choices I made in the past were more for other people than myself, but I am now pursuing jazz and its challenges, and I’m doing it for me… I really dig how it’s affecting me… positively. What makes my current passion possible is that I don’t have the responsibility of a family, no children’s college to worry about, no wife to disappoint, and that makes me happy.

I recently watched a movie wherein the protagonist was given the following advice about chasing a dream instead of being directed by responsibility: “It’s OK to think about what you want to do until it’s time to start thinking about what you are meant to do.” Seems to me that I have lived the reverse of this quote. I spent sixteen years doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing. A small-minded person in Human Resources encouraged my more liberal nature to discontinue the work relation with my corporate overlord. Fortunately, I met Jeff when I first started working, and he encouraged—tolerated—my slow learning and consequent dilatory development of jazz techniques and traditions. After I was sprung from indentured servitude, I was confident enough to take a bold step. I recorded a CD of jazz vocals with Jeff and a few other musician friends, and I am now doing what I wish I could’ve begun when I was much younger.

I now perform jazz when I can, and I have a small, loyal group of admirers who seem to root for my success. I figure I’ve got about ten years of decent voice left. I get a gig about every three or four months at The Loft in Columbus, and I participate in the weekly jazz jam in Opelika, Alabama at the Eighth and Rail and once a month at the Unified Jazz Jam in Columbus, Georgia. Although I’m fifty-two years old, I have a passion that seems to jive with an audience (or they pity me… time will tell and I’m not above using my paralysis for sympathy). I’ve been honing my skills since ’92, and I am motivated. Things for me are currently loaded with possibility, and I am more determined to make my singing a major success. “It’s OK to think about what you want to do until it’s time to start thinking about what you are meant to do.” It’s obvious to me, and I hope it becomes obvious to everyone else: I was meant to pursue jazz. I ain’t braggin’, but it’s been a wonderful thirty years; I wonder what successes the next three decades may disclose.

Peace Through Music
#GroovicusMaximus
@SSTJazzVocalist
http://www.Southern-Standard-Time.com

Eugenics Shapes A Southern Strategy

A Contemporary Tragedy

For the too many nativists who currently embrace the ignorant and racially divisive rhetoric of Donald J. Trump as he grandstands his way toward the GOPʼs nomination for the 2016 presidency—and who erroneously believe that the U.S. is not only the greatest nation on the planet but who also believe that it is the singular, exclusively infallible government that has ever existed—arenʼt really paying attention or havenʼt studied our nationʼs history very thoroughly, and Iʼm not going to mention the way we, as a nation, destroyed almost entirely the aboriginal population that Christopher Columbus “discovered” on his failed journey to find a western oceanic passage to India; the unconscionable institution of slavery; the subjugation of women, including unequal pay for equal work; the emetic acceptance that the Japanese internment camps of WWII are a verity of our nationʼs history; the failure of Reaganomic hubris; and the equally embarrassing wars on drugs and poverty. These are but a few examples of what may go awry when groups of people become clans of chaos.

In the early 20th century, a popular Eugenics program emerging from Great Britain infiltrated into the U.S. political scene. Eugenics is a social philosophy advocating the improvement of human genetic traits through the promotion of breeding couples with superior genetic traits while reducing reproduction in couples with inferior genetic traits via sterilization, marriage restriction, or forced abstinence. Unfortunately, since there was no unified, codified test for negative genetic inferiority, many groups were exploited. People with mental and physical disabilities, people who scored negatively on various IQ tests, criminals, deviants; and members of minority groups: Jews, homosexuals, Muslims, Romani, and the homeless were targeted by supporters of what was, and is, in reality, justified genocide.

The various IQ tests that were given to the social outcasts were laughable. They were very primitive tests of the time which included insipid questions that were irrelevant to whether or not one was deemed an imbecile, idiot, or moron, yet this was the formal hierarchy established by conventions of the time, a hierarchy established by the psychological profession and was actually written in government pamphlets. The state of Virginia used these tests as a way to promote Eugenics that resulted in the sterilization of a young woman named Carrie Buck.

In 1927, the United States Supreme Court case of Buck vs Bell upheld a statute that enabled the state of Virginia to sterilize people who had been deemed mentally defective even if their diagnosis wasnʼt conducted by objective scientific methodology. Carrie Buck had been confined to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded even though she was neither mentally disabled nor epileptic; she was merely poor, and as a result of her penury, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state of Virginia had the right to sterilize her. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., one of our nationʼs most celebrated justices, wrote the majority opinion stating with authoritarian confidence that “Three generations of imbeciles is enough… [The nation must sterilize those who] sap the strength of the state [to] prevent our being swamped with incompetence… It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.” The chief justice of the Supreme Court at the time was William Howard Taft, the former President of the U.S. as well as former president of Yale Law School.

This embarrassing decision, considered unconscionable now, resulted in 60,000 to 70,000 sterilizations of American citizens deemed “unfit” to reproduce under questionable guidelines. The Supreme Court decision was not only accepted by a significant number of our nationʼs citizenry, it became justification to pursue Eugenics. Sadly, there are some who even today, with all the scientific evidence to the contrary, embrace Eugenics as a way to justify racial supremacy and stereotypes that are simply ignorant.

During this time period, the “Roaring Twenties” with its flappers, bootleg whiskey, and sensual jazz music, there was major international support for eugenics. Among its proponents were such notable historical icons as Teddy Roosevelt (who wrote in the January 1914 edition of The Outlook magazine, “I wish very much that the wrong people could be prevented entirely from breeding… Feeble-minded persons [should be] forbidden to leave offspring behind them”), FDR (who thought that the Japanese were inherently inferior, which facilitated the internment camps during WWII), Alexander Graham Bell, H. G. Wells (who later rescinded), Winston Churchill, Herbert Hoover, George Bernard Shaw, John Maynard Keynes, W. E. B. Du Bois even Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. Eugenics was taught in major universities. It was popular in the press and in best-selling books, all part of a major movement.

People throughout the world honestly believed that their respective nations needed to uplift racial profiles by manipulating their gene pools. This very sad example of U.S. jurisprudence was also cited by lawyers for Nazi scientists in defense of their WWII war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials. In 1925, Adolf Hitler praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in his book “Mein Kampf” and emulated eugenic legislation for the sterilization of “defectives” that had been pioneered in the United States. The state of Indiana, in 1907, passed a eugenics sterilization law, well before the rise of the Nazi party. In fact, Harry Laughlin, a U.S. citizen who ran the Eugenic Records Office of Long Island and who was granted an honorary degree from the University of Heidelberg in 1936—the same year that the university purged all Jews from its faculty—was in correspondence with the Nazi scientists throughout the whole period. In his eugenics-based magazine, he often wrote how the Nazi Partyʼs eugenics program was based on his.

Contrarily, the Labor Party and the Catholic church each opposed eugenics. In the Buck vs Bell decision, eight of the nine judges voted in favor of the state of Virginiaʼs sterilization of human beings deemed somehow inferior even through questionable processes of determination. The only vote against it was the Catholic judge Pierce Butler. However, the American Eugenics Society initially gained some Catholic support, but it quickly waned after Pope Pius XIʼs 1930 encyclical that stated “Public magistrates have no direct political power over the bodies of their subjects, therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason.” (I reckon that even though public magistrates have “no direct political power over the bodies of their subjects,” religious magistrates, probably exclusive to the papacy and, by extension, the Catholic community, can and do have power over oneʼs body when considering the right to abort unwanted pregnancies.)

A more negative reaction to eugenics nourished after it became associated with Nazi Germany and its holocaust movement wherein the German state murdered approximately 11 million people deemed inferior to the fabled Aryan myth. Many of the defendants at the Nuremberg trials decried that there was little difference between Nazi eugenics and the eugenics espoused by, among others, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. One of the many things of which the Naziʼs were accused was their setting up a eugenics program in which they sterilized over 375,000 people. The Nazis argued that the U.S. Supreme Court declared eugenic sterilization Constitutional and thereby beneficent to society. Our own revered Oliver Wendell Holmes agreed. Why then was it a bane in Germany?

After WWII and the emergence of the concept of human rights, many nations abandoned their overt associations with Eugenics, criticizing a vulnerability towards abuse due to a criteria of selection that is determined by whoever holds political power at any given time. The fact that Eugenics directly violates basic human rights, including the right to reproduction, along with the possible loss of genetic diversity and interbreeding depression, also led to the movementʼs decline.

During the early twentieth century, Eugenics dealt more with sterilization and enforced reproduction laws (no inter-racial marriage and marriage restrictions based on land ownership). Modern Eugenics has unprecedented capabilities to map genomes; embryos can be tested for life-altering diseases, and vitro fertilization is increasingly more common. Eugenics no longer has much to do with living adults and their biological relationships but, instead, now mainly deals with preemptive action on the unborn. Still and all, Eugenics can lead to loss of genetic diversity—the ability to manipulate the fetus and determine who the child will be is something questioned by both opponents and proponents of eugenics. Most of the ethical concerns over Eugenics involve issues of morality and power. Obviously, Eugenics controls racial determination within the fetus as well as other measurable aspects of the human condition that can be manipulated by the powerful and, as such, must be debated assiduously before something possibly cataclysmic results. In this particular instance, objective scientific methodology should be considered before subjective political prowess.

Although Eugenics declined shortly after its association with Nazi Germany and its abominable holocaust, its connection with racial supremacy helped develop the Southern Strategy. In U.S. politics, the Southern Strategy refers to a strategy used by Republican Party candidates to gain Southern support by appealing to racism against African-Americans, mostly as a reaction against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which pushed to dismantle the restrictive Jim Crow laws that had enforced legal segregation in the South since the Reconstruction Era. President Nixon used it very effectively, attracting white Southern voters who had traditionally voted Democratic to vote Republican instead by consciously appealing to southern votersʼ racial resentments to gain support. In 2005, Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman formerly apologized to the NAACP for exploiting racial polarization to win elections and ignoring the black vote.

One of the more overt strategies was for the GOP to express support for state rights, which was, and is, a covert way to associate their support for a pre-Civil War opposition to the federal government that ended slavery. It became a code-word to represent opposition to federal enforcement of Civil Rights. The Southern Strategy moved from national politics and soon incorporated local government, and as the GOP gained power, minority voters, including the poor, began experiencing difficulty in voting. Voter suppression, gerrymandering, and making voter registration increasingly more difficult helped suppress minority votes. Richard Milhouse Nixon and his staff took the Southern Strategy that had its humble origins in the late nineteenth century and developed a more detailed plan beginning with appealing directly to issues of white supremacy without overtly expressing it. Obfuscation, i.e. plausible denial, became the popular strategy to appeal to racially motivated voters. The key was to devise a system that recognized white supremacy while not appearing so. Key phrases such as “state rights,” “law and order,” “food stamps,” “forced busing,” “welfare state,” resentment against “affirmative action,” “welfare queen,” and “young fellow” to refer to fictional healthy, black welfare recipients, became ubiquitous in GOP campaigning, and it was dividing the nation along racial lines.

The covert white supremacy of the Southern Strategy has now transmogrified into the overt, racially divisive, nativist rhetoric of Donald J. Trump, the self-indulgent monster that the GOP itself not only created but nourished into the formidable behemoth heʼs become—recall how practically the GOP candidates sequaciously exposed their underbellies, spreading their legs to expose their semiprecious family jewels to Trumpʼs scrutiny for the billionaireʼs endorsement throughout the 2012 presidential campaign against President Obama. Trump now seems to have the support of a constituency dedicated to blaming the African-American president for each national failure while raising the Confederate flag to honor its Caucasian supremacy.

For nearly four decades, the GOP has maliciously morphed from a business-centered, small town, pasty-white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant set of beliefs into quite possibly America’s primary proponent of bigotry, ignorance, war- and fear-mongering and the calloused exploitation of the vulnerable and powerless, but Donald Trump isnʼt the exclusive destructive element of the GOP; he is the fulfillment of everything the party has been ambiguously stating for two score or more. He is merely proffering hatred much more plangently and with a concise clarity that is unequivocal even for prepubescent comprehension. Times are as tense now as they were in 1927 when the Supreme Court, with nationalistic support, constitutionalized the legal sterilization of U.S. citizens deemed unfit by questionable criteria. What happens next is unknown, but it is my hope that the ignorant, nihilistic flock that endorses social chaos will ultimately see the light and start ignoring such base ignorance.

Adam Cohen is a journalist and lawyer, previously a member of The New York Times editorial board and senior writer for Time magazine. In his book Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck, Adam writes about Buck vs Bell in detail. On March 18, 2016, Amy Goodman, reporter for Democracy Now! interviews Adam, He talks about Carrie Buck:

[Carrie Buck] a young woman who is growing up in Charlottesville, Virginia, being raised by a single mother. Back then, there was a belief that it was better often to take poor children away from their parents and put them in middle-class homes. So she was put in a foster family that treated her very badly. She wasn’t allowed to call the parents “mother” and “father.” She did a lot of housekeeping for them and was rented out to the neighbors. And then, one summer, she was raped by the nephew of her foster mother. She becomes pregnant out of wedlock. And rather than help her with this pregnancy, they decide to get her declared epileptic and feebleminded, though she was neither, and she’s shipped off to the Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded outside of Lynchburg, Virginia… she gets there at just the wrong time. Virginia has just passed an eugenics sterilization law, and they want to test it in the courts. So they seize on Carrie Buck as the perfect plaintiff in this lawsuit. So they decide to make her the first person in Virginia who will be eugenically sterilized, and suddenly she’s in the middle of a case that’s headed to the U.S. Supreme Court… they decide to put her in the middle of this test case to see if the Virginia law is constitutional. And they give her a lawyer who’s actually not on her side. It’s a former chairman of the Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded’s own board of directors. He clearly wants to see her sterilized. He does a terrible job writing short briefs that don’t cite the relevant cases. It goes up to the Supreme Court, and the court rules eight to one that, yes, the Virginia law is constitutional, and, yes, Carrie, who there’s nothing wrong with, should be sterilized against her will.

Adam Cohen continues the interview suggesting that the early twentieth century in the U.S. was rife with anxiety; the establishment of the U.S. saw the threat of mass immigration from, among others, Jews and Italians:

Yes. [The eugenics movement] came over in the early ’10s and ’20s, 1910s and 1920s. This was actually a very nervous time. You know, you see movies now about the 1920s, you see flappers and Prohibition and parties. But America was actually at a time of quiet turmoil. There were the highest rates of immigration that there had been in American history, so the nation’s cities were flooded with new immigrants, often with different religions, different nationalities from the people who were already here. Also, people were leaving the farms and moving to the cities. So it was a time of instability. And historians suggest that in this time of instability, the upper classes, the Anglo-Saxons in the United States, wanted to somehow control a changing country. And the way they saw of controlling it was eugenics: “We need to firm up our gene pool.” So it was that anxiety that got moved into this eugenics movement. And they combined it with the new science of genetics that was emerging, and they came up with these crazy sterilization laws.

Eugenics and its mass appeal led to the 1924 Immigration Act. Cohen responds:

Yes, it was largely, in large part, motivated by eugenics. So, … Harry Laughlin, he was actually appointed expert eugenics agent to Congress. There’s letterhead from the U.S. House Committee on Immigration that says “expert eugenics agent.” He testified about the eugenic advantages and disadvantages of various nationalities, and he persuaded Congress that Eastern European Jews, Italians, Asians were genetically inferior and we had to keep them out. That ends up being translated into the 1924 law, which puts in place for the first time national quotas. So you can no longer just show up at Ellis Island. If you’re coming from some countries, we don’t want you. If you’re coming from England and northern Europe, we do want you. So, this ended up completely changing the national composition of immigration, and it was because certain people were deemed to be inferior.

And one thing that I thought about when I wrote the book is, when we read The Diary of Anne Frank and we realize that she died in a concentration camp, we think about how the Nazis thought the Jews were a lesser race, and that’s why they were put in concentration camps. What we don’t think about it is, Anne Frank’s father was actually trying to get her and the family to America. He was writing repeatedly to the State Department for visas. He was turned down. He was turned down because of this 1924 act. So when we hear that Anne Frank died in a concentration camp, it’s also because the U.S. Congress, like the Nazis, thought the Jews were an inferior race.

Cohen also describes the sterilization operation:

It’s kind of barbaric to think about. And actually, before, in the early stage of eugenics, it started out with castration. And the eugenicists were having trouble getting legislatures to adopt eugenic sterilization laws, because people didn’t like the idea of actually castrating people. And it was actually the medical advances—the rise of the vasectomy and the salpingectomy, which is what was done to women, the cauterizing of the Fallopian tubes—that made it a little bit more palatable. But these were still terrible operations, and you can imagine what surgery was like in the 1920s. So someone like Carrie Buck was sterilized at the Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded by the man, the doctor, who was the superintendent of the colony, and it was a terribly invasive operation. She had to recover for two weeks. They cut her open. And, you know, all kinds of anesthesia and medical procedures were rather primitive then.

So this is what the government was doing. I mean, you think about governmental invasion of your rights. Now we’re concerned, as we should be, about the government, you know, reading our emails and listening in to our phone calls. They are operating on women and men in this most barbaric way. And, I mean, it’s really shocking. And as we’ve seen, the Supreme Court, eight to one, said not only that this is fine, but the Supreme Court encouraged the nation to do more. It said, you know, not only is the Virginia law constitutional, not only is it OK to sterilize Carrie Buck, we need more of these operations.

Unfortunately, Buck vs Bell is still the law of the land. In 2001, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Missouri, which is one step below the U.S. Supreme Court, cited Buck vs Bell in a case involving sterilization of a mildly mentally retarded woman. It is still the law of the land. There are cases where women in prisons are sterilized against their wills. There is currently a lot of fear in this land, and no one knows how far this fear will grow. This fear seems to parallel the Southern Strategy in its hate- and fear-mongering as well as our nationʼs current xenophobia.

In conclusion, Cohen then talks about a final couple of very sad notes about Carrie Buck. First, Carrie was not mentally impaired:

People who knew her later in life said she absolutely was not feebleminded. When she was at a retirement home, she loved getting the newspaper every day, and she used to work on the crossword puzzle.

And one other sad—there are so many sad parts of the story, but she had a sister, Doris, who was also at the colony. Doris was sterilized shortly after she was. Years later, when she was an old woman, she wanted to get Social Security, and she wrote to the colony to find out how old she was, because she didn’t know. And the colony director came and visited her and told her that she was old enough for Social Security. He also told her that she had been sterilized. She and her husband began crying, because they had been trying their whole lives to have children. No one had ever told her that the government had sterilized her. She had been told that she had an appendectomy. And when she went to the doctor, he said, “You have this scar.” And she said, “Yeah, it’s because they did an appendectomy on me.” They had actually sterilized her, and her whole life, she never knew.

It amazes me on a personal level how there are still too many people who vote for incapable public servants because of their belief that the government somehow knows whatʼs best for someone elseʼs body, especially women… as long as the governmental encroachment doesnʼt concern them or their bodies. Voters continually fail to realize that politicians, especially male politicians, are merely employing divisive rhetoric to get votes… and vasts amounts of money. If men actually gave birth, abortion would not only be legal but strongly encouraged. “You want me to pass something the size of a bowling ball through THAT small hole?” Bring on the test tubes!

Earlier this year, one of my favorite kin capriciously shocked me when she admitted, proudly, that she not only watched Fox “Entertainment” as her exclusive source for news but that she voted an exclusive Republican ticket in the last election cycle without investigating any candidates. What surprised me the most, other than her overt ignorance, was the anger and fear in her voice, an unjustified vitriol that propelled from her aura like the pyroclastic explosion of Krakatoa. Sadly, she is not the only of my kin—our kith, for that matter—who has this myopic and lackluster political agenda. But that shouldnʼt surprise me. She grew up in the cult of Catholicism, a powerful religious institution that promotes a superiority to the rest of mankind by offering an idyllic post-terrestrial paradise for anyone who strictly adheres to the dogmatic doctrines as professed by its faithful congregation. This promise by Catholicism, and Christianity as well, encourages a deep, irrevocable acceptance in its membersʼ of their superiority to all other humans, but the hubris is wrapped in more palatable pious rhetoric that belies the underlying reality of social malfeasance, a universally acceptable faith that their “humble” superiority is of divine origin.

It threw me for a loop that my favorite kin unintentionally admitted that she was a racist, which, to me, was an awkward, possibly subconscious admission of white supremacy; her admission was ambiguous, admittedly, but she, like the aforementioned metaphoric lost sheep who collectively jumped on the band wagon of Eugenics… she justifies—or simply ignores—her racially motivated voting proclivities by claiming allegiance to the fabled fight against abortion. She has convinced herself that the GOP is serious about ending the legality of abortion even though the GOP never has… even when theyʼve controlled all the branches of government; the topic of abortion does make them a bunch of money in outrageous speaking fees. It is, however, this kind of herd mentality that encouraged many U.S. citizens to embrace Eugenics in the early twentieth century, the same kind of social pressure that currently directs many U.S. citizens to vote along racial criteria. If, only somehow, we could associate white supremacy with Nazism and the Holocaust, maybe we could end racism and finally unite our country in a national co-existence of peaceful, ethnic diversity.

Peace Through Music
March 19, 2016

NOTICE – This article is a commentary based on an interview as seen on television’s Democracy Now! when Amy Goodman interviewed Adam Cohen on March 18, 2016. It is also inspired by articles I read on wikipedia.com.

Crossroads: The Sixth Mass Extinction

Does anything positive ever evolve when one questions the social traditions, habits, or patterns of a Life widely considered typical within her personal communal microcosm, which prepares her to think more independently? Is it propitious energy to wonder if the unconscious repeated actions of a community are salubrious to an individual or to the community itself, or if they are even necessary? Is it socially responsible to question authority, especially when it is so obviously detrimental to individual existence or the existence of groups of people who are different and are thereby considered unworthy by them who have somehow acquired the usurped authority? In a Democracy, is one a traitor to question a nefarious elected leader especially when the leader lies to his constituency in order to execute illegal activities like, let’s just say, preemptively attacking a sovereign nation without justifiable cause?

I’ve often heard the aphorism, “Individuals can be intelligent; it’s groups of people who are dangerous.” An easy example of this adage is the cult, and as I sit back and view the contemporary terrestrial milieu by which I’m surrounded, I see very easily that the majority of individuals I observe, including myself, are, in fact, automatons unconsciously reacting to the ubiquitous stimuli of daily existence, blindly following myriad examples of questionable human behavior that propagate mass appeal through uncensored social media overseeing the childish proclivity of granting the immediate egocentric satisfaction of acquiring specious baubles and trinkets, depleting planetary resources without replenishing them while desperately seeking immediate solutions to complex problems without exploring the possible pernicious results that may not be recognized until a time in the future when the casual decisions will have been forgotten or irrelevant to the desperate immediacy at that expected although ambiguous time of cataclysmic result—the metaphoric sheep blindingly following an assumed beneficent shepherd, the group of liberal dilettantes who decide not to immunize their children for measles and who inadvertently create pockets of infection when the disease was thought to have been eradicated, the cult of Christian Conservatism that distracts its victims away from community and towards the coddling of the soi disant intellectual and moral superiority of the individual.

I recall my first questioning of what was, in retrospect, the dogmatic pursuit of cultic influence. In third grade, I, as a Catholic, was preparing for the sacrament of Communion. In the Catholic tradition it is believed that the bread and wine served in the ecclesiastic ceremony celebrating Jesus’ last supper with his disciples actually turns into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and there’s even a word for it: transubstantiation. The nun conducting the lessons asked a small group of us if the transformation would cause the bread and wine to taste differently. As I was but a child, I naturally thought that if wine actually turned into blood and a thin, bread-like wafer actually turned into the body of a man, then they would both taste significantly different. Forget about the horrors of cannibalism, which I too easily ignored because of the magic of faith, I figured that a hamburger, which, to me, was meat—or what I considered would be similar to the body of a human—would taste significantly different than a rather tasteless wafer. The same with the wine and blood. In my defense, at the time, my mind was filled with childlike bewilderment, so instead of worrying about the veracity of what was lectured to me, I probably began wondering immediately about something else, like whether or not a fly loops or flips over when landing upside-down on the ceiling.

Obviously, the question of transubstantiation made a lasting impression on my young mind, lingering in a remote address of my inner psyche, patiently waiting to tickle my curiosity once again in futuristic cogitation along with supernumerary other flash-thoughts that are even now still eagerly awaiting the flood of thought-thaw, desperate for rumination.

Albert Einstein is reputed to have said that Evil succeeds when good people do nothing to stop it, and as I slowly trudge through my allotted four-score life span, I fully understand how apathy or disinterest can lead to this conclusion, how turning a blind eye from reality can bring about the downfall of an empire; it’s happened throughout human history but can be best exemplified by the acceptance of Hitler’s atrocities by a majority of the German population who had no desire to get involved. Like a hapless ovine flock, black and brown sheep are led to the abattoir while the remaining white flock blindly ruminate… or daydream in sunny pastures about how beneficent their shepherd is by preserving their lives while destroying the others who are inferred to be somehow less superior—the survivors (unaffected) choose to believe that they are the shepherd’s chosen and thereby deserve absolution. Whether or not this blind, unjustifiable, egocentric attitude is arrogance or childish innocence, it is still unconscionable asocial behavior that reeks with the pungent hubris of a televangelist’s asking his followers to refrain from buying prescription drugs or food so that they may tithe to his multi-million dollar institution.

Ignoring obvious hypocrisies has been around for millennia, but today’s blinding indifference even branches out to negatively affect politically salient groups who ignore scientifically predicted mass social destruction. As I write this, the government of the nation to which I am geographically bound, the most powerful nation on the planet, the only country to use nuclear weapons of mass destruction against a perceived enemy, is fighting internally about Climate Control, which isn’t inherently insipid, but approaching the conflict from a bipartisan aspect is the most puerile thing I can think of. The very saddest aspect of this debate is that each side is approaching the problem from a woefully inefficient prospective: they are debating whether or not climate change is caused by humanity. The fact that climate change is occurring is not debated. Let me repeat: the fact that climate change is occurring is NOT debated! Our planet is turning into a medium-sized star-orbiting rock that is slowly becoming uninhabitable for our species! And instead of guiding our national directive toward a solution to the problem, we are debating its origin. That seems insane to me. May I suggest that we solve the problem first, then look back to uncover where and how it began?

Humanity is not powerful enough to destroy the planet, only itself. Regardless of the events that have brought into motion the symptoms of climate change, the planet is dramatically transforming. Scientists world-wide agree that the planet is going through a process of warming never experienced in human history, but the planet has been extant for about 4.6 billion years (give or take a few months), modern human is estimated at only 20,000 years. This means that the planet Earth lived 4,599,980,000 years before Homo sapiens ever climbed down from the trees! Within that time frame, the planet went through many changes: from a molten rock surface to a surface completely covered with ice and every variant in-between. The Earth is still changing, evolving. Again, the planet’s morphing is not disputed; instead of investigating what has caused these life-threatening changes, the question should be what are we going to do about it?

Seems to me that there are only three answers: We can change some habits of energy acquisition that scientists strongly suggest will counter the effects of global warming, a.k.a. go green! We can attempt to build hermetically sealed biospheres within which we can maintain a fabricated terrestrial environment conducive to our species’ salubrity; or we can do nothing and try to survive the predicted cataclysm.

What it then boils down to is the arrogance of the terrestrial citizens of the planet. If we do nothing, then the planet will change, evolve, becoming uninhabitable for the human organism. Ultimately, insidiously, these changes will cause the planet to no longer support our species in its current manifestation, which will either become extinct or will evolve, along with the planet, into a new species or subspecies of humanity. That’s pretty straight forward, but it directly contradicts the fantasies of millions who irrationally believe that the human being has already developed its potential, that humanity is created in the image of an omniscient, omnipotent puissance, that, in fact, humanity is the nexus between “God Almighty” and the rest of the vast Universe. Unmalleable. Perfect?

Let’s move on.

I imagine that we may have the technology available to create hermetically sealed biospheres that could continue to support humanity in its current organic manifestation without evolutionary change, but biospheres are artificially terrestrial, and if the planet’s predicted chaotic atmospheric violence doesn’t destroy these fabricated environments, our species will begin to errantly believe that our organic evolution is unnecessary; it’s easy to believe that en masse arrogance will encourage a feeling of invulnerability. We, as a species, would then have to maintain mobile hermetically sealed environments in order to explore the very vast Universe, as we do now with rockets and the International Space Station, but that seems to encourage a lack of humility that nourishes the egocentric
feeling that humanity is the center of all creation, which is ridiculous.

Homo sapiens is a species of modern man that has evolved symbiotically with the planet Earth but within a very insignificant timeframe considering how very long the planet has been extant and with regards to the dramatic changes undergone by the planet before the terrestrial introduction of the human element. Seems to me that our human organic bodies have evolved to exist exclusively on this planet or on other celestial bodies with atmospheric properties almost exactly complimentary with our planet’s current conditions. How much less than one percent of the vast Universe is that? Even within the comparably insignificant solar system in which we reside, Earth is the only planet upon which humanity can exist naked… Earth, one of, arguably, eight planets, the fourth smallest existing within an orbit around our sun with four additional “Super Giant” planets much more massively significant and with many moons that are also more interesting.

The most effective course to take against Global Warming is, of course, to change our social habits, but I don’t see that happening unless dramatic changes evolve in planetary collective thinking… and by collective thinking, I’m strongly suggesting that we begin to think globally instead of regionally, a utilitarian, terrestrial emphasis instead of along national, man-made boundaries. We need to stop razing the planet of its carbon-based resources that make an insignificant number of folks ludicrously wealthy while enslaving the majority into lifestyles that sustain the status quo. We need to embrace renewable energy before we become an extinct side note in some extraterrestrial archeological investigation.

Unfortunately, we are not ready to sacrifice our perceived individual rights for the good of humanity; that would, correctly, be called social but would be errantly labeled socialism… and we are brainwashed against socialism, plus our current world leaders exclusively attempt to make the world safer for the protection of their treasures instead of seeking solutions to terrestrial concerns, so our species’ ultimate destiny is extinction. We will all be gone in 1,000 years. In 10,000 years we will either be totally forgotten or will be a fable taught to younger extraterrestrial generations about the follies of avarice.

I’d like to think that humanity is smart enough to realize that we terrestrial citizenry are doomed unless we make major changes, but Einstein was right. Duh? Evil succeeds when good people do nothing to stop it. And the noted aphorism still rings, supplementing Pythagorean Universal Harmony: Individuals can be intelligent; it’s groups of people who are dangerous. In this moment in the history of mankind, as insignificant as it is, our terrestrial interests are deliberately obfuscated for the interests of oligarchic megalomaniacal comfort, which may be the event horizon of our species’ existence, the point of no return.

Russell (Rusty) Allen Taylor
March 18, 2015

Unintentional Subterfuge

Crippledom. The word is a noun that sadly connotes, promotes, and strongly encourages insignificant, ultra-provincial, minutely microcosmic, and chronically monochromatic negative imagery, but this ignorant connection of paralysis to lugubrious expectations is not, for me, a reality understood by my personal experience. My paralysis is almost always surrounded by ineffable thaumaturgy as that witnessed during every seasonal change. Life is merely the opportunity to react positively to the unexpected. And the choice is… everyone’s. Every now and then, I try to challenge a perceived veracity. Why can’t crippledom be fun?

Crippledom is rarely laughed at but is rife with comic possibilities. What if somebody confined to a wheelchair falls out of it? Depends on whether it’s a drama or comedy. My college professor, Dr. Steve Bluestone, once told me that the difference between a drama and a comedy can be demonstrated by a man’s tripping and falling to the ground. If the scene is a closeup, the pain in the man’s visage creates a dramatic event; the audience empathizes with the man. If the scene is envisioned from afar, the scene becomes more comic; the audience is purposely separated from the emotional connections; laughing is then easier.

It would be so groovy to watch a sitcom with the setting of a bustling city sidewalk: two characters are discussing the sundry aspects of their lives when a paraplegic navigates her wheelchair too close to the edge of a curb on the other side of the street, tips over, and falls (unnoticed by everything but the camera) into water that has stagnated in the gutter on the side of the street―the two characters continue their discourse without ever acknowledging the incident that in reality would cause as much commotion as two epileptic lizards dancing to Glenn Miller’s In The Mood. Now that’s funny! but you’ll never see it because of a fear quickened by demagogic pedagogy used to obfuscate unfounded christian and social dogma to sterilize our society, a herded skein of sycophantic ovine supplicants who graze hypnotically in pastureland programmed in life-like detail on electronic games that desensitizes the flock to graphic violence but a society that must, ironically, revert to calling a crippled boy physically challenged because the former appellation might offend moral sensitivities.

Yes, I have thus far in my life of paralysis fallen out of my wheelchair on two occasions and have fallen out of my Hoyer Lift twice. A Hoyer Lift (pictured on the left) is a tool hoyerLiftwith a hydraulic pump that uses chains connected to an extended arm and to a net that is placed underneath my fleshy hind end; the pump is then used to raise me up so that I may transfer from my bed to my wheelchair and visa-verse without causing permanent back damage to whomever is helping me. It’s really like a lift on the docks that transfers cargo to a ship but instead of bananas from Guam, the Hoyer transfers my fat ass.

The first time I fell from my Hoyer lift was when I was living in the infamous Columbia Apartments in Decatur, Georgia. I was getting ready for bed while, ironically, the Slam Dunk Competition for the NBA’s All-Star Weekend was on television. The person who was helping me was a really effeminate dude, but I knew him from my days at Shepherd Spinal Center, where he still worked; he was very personable, affable, congenial, and smartly dressed; most importantly, he was very concerned with my well being. He had come to me at a time when I was not having much luck with my attendant care, and we got along really well. Obviously, I was very fond of him.

After he pumped me up in the Hoyer lift so high in the stratosphere that I grew dizzy from the lack of oxygen, something happened and I came crashing down to the ground with the force comparable to the energy created by flatulent expulsion from an exceedingly corpulent man after his rapid mass consumption of a recipe that includes NoFartingvolatile chili peppers of varying sizes, colors, and heat intensity; greasy pork renderings; a five-day old burrito; and semi-chunky milk from the carton with a very questionable expiration date. It happened so quickly that there was no pain (the fact that I have no sensation in over 90% of my body is irrelevant!), but what was really unbelievable was that my friend was determined to try to pick me up without assistance―this really tiny effeminate man was carrying on like a hysterical woman trying to overcome what he had given his lifetime to proliferate, i.e. excessive feminine emotions. From the ground, I calmed him down and had him go get help from some neighbors, which he did. This was when Dominique Wilkins unjustly lost to Michael Jordan in the NBA dunking competition, and I can sympathize with Dominique; I didn’t receive appropriate recognition for my slam dunk either!

The second time I fell from the lift was when my father and I went, ironically, to Panacea, Florida. We enjoyed a little bar on Alligator Point that had an incredible ramp up to the front entrance that was ten or more feet from the sandy ground. Unfortunately, this bar no longer exists due to a hurricane; however, it had a beautiful back deck that faced the oftimes placid Gulf of Mexico from which I witnessed many breathtaking nocturnal vistas. It was the July fourth weekend, and this is where we decided to spend the three days; however, there were no hotel vacancies anywhere around to accommodate us. We ended up bedding down in Tallahassee then driving the thirty or so miles to spend our days nearer the ocean.

Luckily, we found a motel in Florida’s capital city, and it provided beds under which the Hoyer’s base could fit; many beds I’ve used in various motels have a solid base which forbids the use of my Hoyer Lift. When this happens, a two-man transfer must be employed for me to get into bed. Since my father was the only person from whom I was to receive assistance at this time, it was rather fortunate that the Hoyer could be used. My father pumped me up and swung the Hoyer around so that I was floating above the bed, but something happened and I felt the effects of gravity as I started free-falling toward the bed. In those few infinite seconds neither of us got excited; I was, after all, falling toward the soft bed, but when I hit the mattress, I bounced back upward… towards the oncoming Hoyer Lift, and it came crashing down on my head with the force comparable to the energy created by an exceedingly corpulent man… wait… I’ve already used that metaphor… let’s see… the Hoyer came crashing down on my head with the force comparable to the aromatic energy created by underwater flatulence the morning following an evening of late-night, hasty Krystal hamburger consumption after hours of excessive imbibing. (Now that was a bit too detailed!) Anyway, after my liberal use of a more vitriolic nature, we started laughing. It was, after all, funny… well, after the pain subsided.

The two times I fell out of my wheelchair involved my next door neighbors when I lived near Lake Bottom Park in Columbus, Georgia, the Fountain City. I rented a house from a simoniac Baptist preacher who coveted the greenback and used his interpretation of Christianity to buy many houses that he could rent out at exorbitant fees… but I digress. My friend Tom Perry, with whom I attended high school, was cooking out in his backyard, and I strolled over in my wheelchair to experience the elevated testosterone that accompanies my gender and barbecues. As I came through his gate, I noticed holes in the yard that his dogs had excavated for reasons known only to the canine species but probably deriving from some instinctual preservation for prehistoric mating rituals used by the ancestral male to attract his potential bitch-mate by showing her what a nice hole he could dig, or maybe Tom’s dogs just liked moving dirt. I pulled back on my control lever so that my wheelchair would reverse direction, but the ground was sandy and my wheels lost traction, spinning ineffectively and almost pleading with my chair to back-up out of danger, but my front left wheel found the hole, and I, once again, felt the effects of gravity as it pulled me toward the earth.

“Here I go!”

It was all I could say, and I said it with such insouciance that the crash must’ve shocked Tom, but he quickly put down his cooking instruments and made me more comfortable on the ground, then he got his wife Diana to help. The really wonderful thing about the whole experience was that they got me back into my chair, arranged my clothes to help me appear less disheveled, and Tom never burned the meat! Tom shall remain evermore in my mind the consummate outdoor gastronome.

The second time I fell out of my chair was at the house that I rented from the cupidinous Baptist preacher, but this time only Tom’s wife Diana was with me. My high school coach and his brothers had built me a long straight ramp that led to the front porch, a front porch I really enjoyed. I was talking to Diana as we approached the ramp, but I missed it with my left wheel, and the wheelchair careened off the lip of the sidewalk, sending me like Icarus to the soft carpet of grass. I remember reading that the definition of flying is to throw oneself at the ground but to miss it. I didn’t miss the ground, so I guess I wasn’t flying.

“Here I go again.”

Diana straightened out my body so that I’d be more comfortable on the ground then phoned my uncle for help. It was a beautiful early spring day, and the sun was graciously warm. Diana went inside and got a blanket and a pillow to make me more comfortable. So there I was, laying supine on the blanket with a pillow under my head, and I was absorbing the sun’s warm embrace, talking amiably with the wife of my good friend. After about twenty minutes, Gary Gotterby and a friend of his pulled into my driveway. Gary and my uncle had coached together at a local high school, and it was through my uncle that I had met him. My uncle was tied up with work when Diana had called him, so he called Gary and asked him to check on me. Gary and I affably embarked on the casual conversation that spontaneously quickens on almost perfect days such as we were experiencing when Diana asked what method Gary and his friend were going to use to get me back into my chair.

Gary was taken aback because he wasn’t informed that I had fallen; he merely thought I was sunbathing. After the laughter died down, Gary and his friend lifted me into my chair and life was again chary (pun intended). It was then that I realized there are times I don’t look crippled.

Peace Through Music

legalize
Legalize the weed, man.

Template for 2016 Uber Conservative Presidential Candidates

I’m a man. I’m white, educated, and I believe that I have already earned a post-terrestrial invitation to a sybaritic Heaven simply because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and it has been revealed to me by God’s celestial guidance, the singular omniscient and omnipotent being who looks an awful lot like Charlton Heston and who has directly directed me to understand which biblical texts are his true words and which words can be ignored without affecting my promised post-terrestrial salvation. It should be obvious then to everyone else who also seeks a similar post-terrestrial eternity of hedonism that what I think is important regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or universal address.

Ironically, the prodigal and carnal pleasures that I proudly and loudly (although not truthfully) proclaim to shun within my current sublunary life cycle are the very rewards I will receive for an eternity after I shuffle off this mortal coil that currently incarcerates my spiritual manifestation, which is a bit difficult to explain because I can only experience these bodily pleasures on Earth. My physical body is a miracle that can only be sensuously understood within an environment that is exactly like the atmospheric conditions on Earth within the very limited span of time between extreme terrestrial conditions that is the human epoch, which is solely conducive for human life. When we leave the planet, Earth’s atmosphere must be simulated in spacesuits or spacecrafts; this leaves the vast remaining Universe uninhabitable, totally useless for all human intents and purposes. Fortunately, my Faith will (and does) overcome my Ignorance, and it is with this Faith that I submit my volition always. This lack of energy to pursue the Truth may come across to the heathen as lassitude or apathy, but it is, in real reality, God’s will.

I am the id of our nation, the most base, bigoted, nationalistic, and religious extremist who knows better than anyone else, and since the current trend in our nation’s politics have shifted left and made same-sex marriage not only tolerated but acceptable, I’ve decided that abortion should be our nation’s current moral benchmark, mostly because I will never have to make a decision about any baby’s future, a miniature human that is extant exclusively because some obscure woman is the undeveloped organism’s life source, even if I were the masculine partner that inseminated the egg that quickened Life. I have not only the right but responsibility to make moral decisions for the female gender of our national community not only because no other opinion matters but, more importantly, women couldn’t possible be responsible enough to make decisions concerning their own bodies. Read the Bible! Woman are subordinate to the dominant male. God has written the Truth! Obviously, I should be the exclusive deciding factor in fetal life or death, but I should also determine how I can maintain a ludicrous lifestyle while others about whom I could care less remain not only obligated but honored to work tirelessly and with minimal remuneration for me to maintain the wealth I so apparently deserve.

Women, rightfully, believe that I, as a male, could never understand the concerns of an impregnated woman. True. I agree totally; I couldn’t possibly understand the ineffable grace of understanding that a separate human life is insidiously developing within my very corporeal existence, that I have been granted a miracle by unknowable biological puissance, the power to, like a goddess, create Life. In the same way, I am also totally ignorant about poverty, about being hungry, not ready-to-eat, mind you, but hungry for any significant amount of time, so how can I possibly be a spokesperson for or against abortion? But I submit the same point of contention for women who aren’t poor. How could they possibly understand the impossible decision to terminate a life prematurely when the only other option is to bring a child into a world with zero positive opportunities. Neither of us could understand the heart-rending torture about even considering the possibility that killing off a part of myself can be the least destructive decision I could make. However, abortion doesn’t directly affect me or my passions, so it is only I who can make this decision for all women… at least it won’t affect my wealthy constituency, and no one really cares about the dregs of society, even if I’ve done everything in my political power to keep the dregs in the mire that controls their lack of upward mobility.

It tickles me that anyone can espouse a pro-life advocacy yet still deny food stamps to an infant that is carried to full term (or, for that matter, how can one be pro-life and simultaneously support preemptive war or the death penalty?) Abortion will never adversely affect me nor any of my wealthy colleagues; it will exclusively affect the poor, which is as it should be. Women of means who are confronted with unwanted gestation can easily take a leisurely vacation to a country whose moral compass doesn’t include abortion as an abomination. If one were truly pro-life, she’d do everything in her power to help the woman who is contemplating termination of a significant part of her very self so that she’d be able to choose to bring the fetus to birth by giving her the things that would make it easier—bring the pregnant woman into her home and feed, clothe, and shelter her until she can get back on her feet. Of course that would be difficult, but if living a moral life were easy, we’d all be saints.

Great wealth is proof of a superior moral compass, and I am rich… very rich, a tyrant… uh, I mean a tycoon, which is irrefutable proof of divine sanction to even the most cerebrally impaired vagabond who tirelessly sucks at the economic dug of compassion as created through the empathetic “trickle down” social program that almost unfairly aids certain lazy welfare thugs who deserve far less. The beauty of this economic program is that it is quid pro quo; the poor get the help they need and we, the really, really rich, get tax breaks that allow us to keep millions of dollars even as our country’s infrastructure decays. This is the main reason I am against the proposed Iran Nuclear deal. Plus its potential success would be credited to Barack Obama, who, if you haven’t noticed, is a black man who is, quite probably, a Muslim… or, at least, a Muslim sympathizer.

The United States of America has the weapons of mass destruction, enough to totally annihilate humanity a few times over, but we are also the only nation to use nuclear weapons, twice, against another nation! Yet we still develop ever more powerful weapons merely because we can. We don’t need any more weapons when we can already destroy our species. And what do we do with weapons that are obsolete? We sell them to other nations. Why? The answer is simple: the CEOs of our national war machine corporations want to horde ever more wealth. We can sell fighter jets to Saudi Arabia knowing full well that we can take out those same jets with unmanned drones… but does that make our planet any safer? Luckily we have the NRA to assure that our society truly believes that more weapons will make us safer despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The NRA helps disseminate the mantra that the only way to get rid of a bad man with a gun is with a good man with a gun. Propaganda works.

I am smart… very smart. I’m not religious, per se; it gets in the way of some of my other interests; however, I use religion and implied racism to get rubes to vote for me. I don’t give a rat’s ass about abortion, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, immigration, but my voting constituents do. Think about it: how many times since 1973 (Roe vs Wade) has Congress been controlled by our party? And why wasn’t any legislation enacted to put an end to these abominations? We divert our voters’ attentions with threats of war, Ebola, terrorism, false reports about Benghazi, errant email scams, sanguine security threats determined by varying shades of red as a warning for imminent danger, whatever it takes. Obviously, the government can’t eradicate abortion if we are under attack from imaginary threats or real threats we create ourselves. The irony of it is that my party claims to espouse less governmental interference except when dealing with abortion, corporate bailouts, or bankruptcy. Nobody wants the government unless its involvement benefits her interests.

As an uber conservative politician, I strongly support unchecked Capitalism as a political aspiration, profits over people. A corporation’s main responsibility should be to its stockholders and CEOs not to its employees, the country, or to the planet. Socialism is a bane; all business should be privatized, not so much because government is evil but because my party has done everything in its power to defund many governmental agencies so that they are impotent, which almost backfired on us when we shut down the government, which weakened the CDC and the Ebola virus crossed into Texas.

Theoretically, we would love to become a nation of healthy people who never break the law, but if this were true, both prisons and hospitals would lose money; they’d be unnecessary. Making them for-profit institutions is unconscionable. In order for these corporations to make money, they need patients and prisoners regardless of their health or malfeasance. That’s currently why our prisons are overpopulated with nonviolent prisoners and it costs an arm and a leg for one aspirin at Our Lady of Chronic Perpetuity Memorial Hospital. Education and pharmaceutical developers should also be nonprofit. Socialism? Maybe, but humanity is a social animal. Even a troglodyte needs occasional human contact; it does take a community to raise a healthy child.

We put the fun in fundamentalism, overstating our support for the Constitution and Christianity in order to obscure our proclivity to relentlessly pursue income inequality, planet destroying industrial pollution, and corporate greed. It requires so little effort that I am, at times but very briefly, ashamed to dupe my voting constituency, but when they make it so easy, it almost becomes obligatory, like the televangelist’s scolding a supporter for buying medicine instead of tithing, and when the flock of ignorance watches Fox so-called news, the news for the new Confederacy, I have to exert negligible effort. It’s funny to me how we use Islam to turn our constituency against theocracy yet insidiously insinuate that theology based on Christianity is a boon. I seriously don’t know how we can motivate so many people by hate- and fear-mongering. Thank God, literally, that the millennials aren’t motivated to vote. It would surely mean our party’s death.

I am, admittedly, a bit concerned about the future of our conservative party. For decades, we’ve used racial ambiguity to attract bigoted voters, but now Donald Trump has entered the race, and his racial intolerance is far more brash than our more subtle insinuations. He plangently proclaims the bigotry we’ve worked so hard to disguise. I guess we’ll have to double down on the George W. Bush mastery of repetition: to repeat lies ad nauseam until they’re taken as truth. It’s sadly funny how many of our voters still believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks or that Obama is a Kenyan Muslim. Again, thank God, literally, that we have Fox Entertainment on our side. It’s a shame that it is no longer acceptable to hoist the Confederate flag.

Peace Through Music
September 21, 2015