Friday, July 06, 2007

The Human Condition/Hombre/Backyard

(P1) Philosophical

Months ago, when I was despairing about the human condition and the dimming prospects for world peace, I wrote Peace Planters and discovered at least some reason to hope in quietness, reflection and families. Then I read James Hillman's quote about there having been something like 15,000 wars in only 5000 years of "civilization."

Today, reading the following quotations in The Sun, I've considered that perhaps war and violence aren't so much the human "condition" as they are the collective human "unconsciousness." If the so-called "primitive savage" has figured it out, what about the rest of us "savages"?

1. "People hurt other people the most when they're trying to kill their own pain, real or imagined." - Frank J. Page

2. "In the Baemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and every man, woman and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused individual. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, about all the good things the person...has done in his lifetime. All his positive attributes, good deed, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length. The tribal ceremony often lasts several days. At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe." - Alice Walker

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(P2) Political

From Paul Begala in the Huffington Post July 3d:

One Tough Hombre

Tough enough to execute Karla Fay Tucker -- and then laugh about it. Tough enough to sign a death warrant for a man whose lawyer slept through the trial -- and then snicker when asked about it in a debate. Even tough enough to execute a great-grandmother who murdered her husband -- after he abused her. A friend of mine at the time asked Bush to commute her sentence, telling him, "Betty Lou ain't a threat to no one she ain't married to." No dice.

Mr. Bush is tough enough to invade a country that was no risk to America, causing tens of thousands of civilian deaths and shedding precious American blood in the process. Tough enough to sanction torture. Tough enough to order an American citizen arrested and held without trial.

But if you're rich and right-wing and Republican, George is a real softie. As George W. Bush demonstrated in giving Scooter Libby a Get Out of Jail Free Card, he is only compassionate to conservatives.

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(P3) Poetical

Backyard Appeal

Bluest sky moment,
I paint you as words
spring maple yellow.

Photinia bush
redden my flesh, be my sun,
rain memory has fled.

Mirror of sea,
sky unblemished blue,
sing your song.

Copper fields slip
green to cyan,
oxygen’s funny magic.

Black dog come to me.
Tell me what you fathom
beneath this our common ground.

(Ed Coletti in Blueline vol xxviii)


PK said...

Barbara Ehrenreich' Book Blood Rites examines the roots and rites of war. She presents some interesting hypotheses, such as that war should be dealt with as we might deal with a disease, an epidemic. That war has its own ends and "uses" humans to further those ends. Brings to mind Michael Pollen's claim that plants have their own agendas so to speak and use humans to accomplish them as much as humans use plants to meet their needs.

Anonymous said...

Does this system work in chess clubs?

Diane Rawicz said...

I spent the past hour reading your blog and was thoroughly impressed. I’ve spent much time lately gardening as a form of expression, world events leave me mute with rage and sorrow. Your work and works of others inspires me to again put fingers to keyboard, pen to paper to let my views pour forth. Thank you for keeping poetry alive with the readings at SoCoCo; schedule willing I’ll attend some time soon

Anonymous said...

Hi Ed!

I think it pays to be a friend of a President of either political party. This information was lifted from Wikipedia...


Paul S.

Clinton issued 140 pardons as well as several commutations on his last day of office (January 20, 2001).[11] When a sentence is commuted, the conviction remains intact, but the sentence can be altered in a number of ways. Some controversial actions include the following:

* Carlos A. Vignali had his sentence for cocaine trafficking commuted, after serving 6 of 15 years in federal prison.

* Almon Glenn Braswell was pardoned of his mail fraud and perjury convictions, even while a federal investigation was underway regarding additional money laundering and tax evasion charges.[12] Braswell and Carlos Vignali each paid approximately $200,000 to Hillary Clinton's brother, Hugh Rodham, to represent their respective cases for clemency. Hugh Rodham returned the payments after they were disclosed to the public.[citation needed] Braswell would later invoke the Fifth Amendment at a Senate Committee hearing in 2001, when questioned about allegations of his having systematically defrauded senior citizens of millions of dollars.[13]

* Marc Rich, a fugitive, was pardoned of tax evasion, after clemency pleas from Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, among many other international luminaries. Denise Rich, Marc's former wife, was a close friend of the Clintons and had made substantial donations to both Clinton's library and Hillary's Senate campaign. According to Paul Volcker's independent investigation of Iraqi Oil-for-Food kickback schemes, Marc Rich was a middleman for several suspect Iraqi oil deals involving over 4 million barrels of oil.[14]

* Susan McDougal, who had already completed her sentence, was pardoned for her role in the Whitewater scandal; McDougal had served 18 months on contempt charges for refusing to testify about Clinton's role.

* Dan Rostenkowski, a former Democratic Congressman convicted in the Congressional Post Office Scandal. Rostenkowski had served his entire sentence.

* Melvin J. Reynolds, a Democratic Congressman from Illinois, who was convicted of bank fraud, 12 counts of sexual assault, obstruction of justice, and solicitation of child pornography had his sentence commuted on the bank fraud charged and was allowed to serve the final months under the auspices of a half way house. He had served his entire sentence on child sex abuse charges before the commutation of the later convictions.

* Roger Clinton, the president's half-brother, on drug charges after having served the entire sentence more than a decade before. Roger Clinton would be charged with drunk driving and disorderly conduct in an unrelated incident within a year of the pardon.[15] He was also briefly alleged to have been utilized in lobbying for the Braswell pardon, among others.

Edward Coletti said...

Dear Paul S.,

But at least Bill Clinton didn't have the record Bush did in Texas. If you reread, you may better understand what the author was trying to say. I
am fully aware that the right has the right to bring up Clinton's sad record of cronyistic eleventh hour pardons. However, in the case of Bush, not only was there his U.S record for uncommuted executions in Texas, there is the fact that Scooter Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice or at least perjury for attempting to hide the role of Dick Cheney, etc in the treasonous outing of a covert CIA agent. Recall that Bush-The-First had said anyone doing such a thing was guilty of treason.

Anonymous said...

I see what you're saying Ed, but I'm trying to make a bigger picture kinda point; friends of people in power get breaks we ordinary (lowly?) citizens don't get. The author unwittingly emphasized that point.

Unequal treatment is wrong no matter which side of the political spectrum you hail from. Bush's snafu with Scooter, and Clinton's equally distasteful pardons merely underline an existing condition that we, and our pathetically mute media, should be screaming about. Equal. justice. under. the. law.


Paul S.

Duncan said...

Let me see if I get this system of so called democracy we have here.

A president of the USA can grant pardons, commute sentences, set free murderers, rapists, drug dealers, arms trafficers, crooks of all sorts, etc.

If that is indeed the law, then I portend we can easily have no rule of law at all.

Just suppose Dick Cheney is indicted of war crimes while still in office and the President merely pardons him before the trial. Ford pardoned Nixon before the impeachment ever got underway.

If the elected president can pardon anyone for any crime, say, torture and/or treason, what control do we the people have on the presidency?

Until 2000 I hadn't voted since 1968, when the president that I voted for got me drafted and then ran from the trouble he created. My friends berated me for not voting so I voted in 2000 and since. No one I've voted for has been elected, the ones who have are all crooks of one kind or another and the country has a president who is a potential runaway dictator with carte blanche powers.

Anyone seen the movie "Lord of War"? Based on actual events.

Are the inmates running the asylum yet?

God bless America....Please!

Duncan said...

Sorry, I made a little mistake. I hadn't voted since 1964.