Accusations Do Not Equal Proof: Remembering Horace de Vere Cole

September 20, 2018

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   After reading the recent words of many people who somehow have come to believe that a mere accusation constitutes proof of guilt – not to mention the truly bizarre statement from Prof. Anita Hill about the accused party bearing what she slyly calls “the burden of persuasion” – I find myself remembering one of the all-time great object lessons in justice.

   Horace de Vere Cole has gone down in history as the British “Master Pranksman” of his day. He famously pulled off many stunts, including the notorious Bunga Bunga/Dreadnaught hoax of 1910. In that caper, Cole managed to get himself and a group of friends aboard a British war ship while all wore preposterous “disguises” and claimed the status of foreign diplomats. Take a look at a picture from that incident: We see the very proper looking Cole, 29 years old, on the right in the top-hat:

   See that small bearded “guy” on the left? There we see Cole’s friend Virginia Stephen who would later achieve literary prominence as one of the most important of the modernist 20th-century authors: Virginia Woolf.

   Though Cole pulled off many stunts in his heyday – like winning a bet that he could shut down all traffic on Piccadilly (one of the widest streets in London) for a half hour – to me, Cole will live forever because of the creative way in which he gave a lesson in reality to a “law and order” crackpot. It happened in London in 1911…

   Cole had an old friend, at the time a newly minted 30 year-old conservative member of Parliament, named Oliver Locker-Lampson. Much to Cole’s annoyance, this man repeatedly barraged him with the inane, and frankly stupid, idea that people charged with a crime did not need a trial because… the police only arrest guilty people! So why, Locker-Lampson, believed, waste money and time on something as unnecessary as a trial? The police, Locker-Lampson simplistically insisted, just do not arrest innocent people. To Locker-Lampson, in a bravura feat of circular logic, the arrest itself constituted all the proof of guilt anyone needed. This attitude deeply rubbed Cole the wrong way, and no matter how Cole argued the point, Locker-Lampson would have none of it.

   So Cole hatched a plan… a plan the makes me think of this splendid quotation from Dr. Seuss: “Then he got an idea! An awful idea! THE GRINCH GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!” Across the gulf of time, I can almost see Cole smiling that lusciously wicked Grinch Grin…

   One afternoon, as Cole and Locker-Lampson completed a friendly luncheon date at a London restaurant, Cole “impulsively” challenged Locker-Lampson to a race on a London street; a short sprint outside the restaurant over to the next corner. To sweeten the deal, Cole agreed to give his friend a 10-yard head start. Locker-Lampson accepted the challenge and the two left the restaurant. Unknown to the MP, as the pair went outside, Cole slipped his gold pocket-watch into Locker-Lampson’s coat pocket.

   Once out on the street, the race began. Cole stood by in front of the restaurant as Locker-Lampson took his 10-yard head start, but rather than run at the appointed time, Cole began shouting at the top of his lungs: “Stop! Thief! That man stole my gold watch!”

   Before the flabbergasted MP knew what happened, a policeman grabbed him and placed him under arrest. Turning to Cole for aid provided Locker-Lampson scant comfort. Cole remained blissfully silent as his friend and he made the trip to the police station where the great champion of “law and order” vainly and loudly declared his innocence. Eventually, Cole ‘fesssed up and that settled the matter. In the minds of the police, they’d just endured yet another Horace de Vere Cole dido, such as London had so often experienced. And yet, this particular jaunt had meat on the bone. It imparted a strong lesson about rushing to judgment based on a simple allegation and one piece of possible “evidence”. One hopes that Cole’s friend learned that lesson.

  Today, sadly, many Americans – including the vaunted law Prof. Anita Hill and NYC Mayor de Blasio – have yet to learn this simple lesson in justice. And now we live in a nation clearly less James Madison and more Joe McCarthy; a world in which mere accusations – provided they fit one’s personal political prejudices – must be regarded as fact. If this travesty continues, America can look forward to a truly nasty ride over the next few years. History shows that in times such as this, a time of rampant fear, anger, and cowardice, things always get worse before they fade away. Until the next time. We always have a “next time” because of our national amnesia. The ghost of Joe McCarthy counts on it…


UPDATE: regarding the Kavanaugh claim, among the thousands of words I have read and heard, I note two words nobody utters: “unsubstantiated allegation.” The crux of our system consists of what you can prove, not what you believe. Faith-Based justice went out with the Salem witch trials. Liking a person and agreeing with that person’s politics, or not, has absolutely nothing to do with it.

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Laugh All You Will… Giuliani’s Right Again

August 20, 2018

    Remember the last time everyone laughed at Giuliani? It happened when he said that conflict of interest laws exempt the president. As it turned out, when the laughter and derision died down, that Giuliani stated the law correctly. The president, vice-president, members of congress, and federal judges do indeed enjoy exemption from these laws.

    And now, leaving the field of legalities, Giuliani has stirred the pot once again by making a statement that any freshman learns on the first day of Philosophy 101: there is no such thing as THE truth. That this seemingly controversial declaration comes as a shock to TV news media personalities does not surprise me. Over the years, I have spent a great deal of time with TV news media personalities and I assure you that these people will never get hounded by MENSA to join up (unless that elitist crowd needs publicity). Further, they have almost no awareness of the world outside of their studio and their insular community. In conversation, they display a glaring ignorance about the very events they purport to cover. On the whole, only one thing interests them: getting ahead in the TV news media personality business.

What Is Truth

    Did you ever play the party game of telephone? Then you know that the simple act of saying something and having people repeat it to others inevitably results in the message getting hopelessly garbled. Does that mean the people who change the message deliberately lied? And this happens at a party under stress-free conditions. Let us begin with the basics: Truth consists of that which people agree on as real. Any trial lawyer, such as Giuliani, can speak of the sheer unreliability of eyewitness testimony. As testimony goes, it always ranks as the least dependable evidence available.

CLICK IMAGE FOR STORY

     People who think they know “the truth” of any matter have closed minds. They comprise the fanatics of the world. Talk to somebody who… KNOWS and you will see what I mean. Such people confuse what they believe with truth.

     Four or five people can relate quite different accounts of the same incident without any of them lying. All can tell the truth as they see and understand. No two stories may match up. Yet the people do not lie, nor do they speak mistakenly. We all understand the world around us through the filter of our prior experience. We each determine truth based on what we know and bring to the event witnessed.

    “There is no such thing as the truth. The world does not exist independently of those who witness it. Because the world exists precisely between the world and its witnesses. Just as the sound of a drum is the relationship between a striking hand and the drum skin. If there is no skin on the drum it doesn’t make any sound.” Alan Watts, philosopher. Watts goes on to discuss the indisputable relationship between the seen and the one who does the seeing.

    I knew a person outraged by all the prostitutes parading brazenly in my neighborhood. He saw them everywhere. One evening, I took a walk with him. He grew more and more outraged with every block. And soon I saw clearly that he saw any young woman in a short skirt as a prostitute. This man knew the truth. No matter what the situation, he always knew. And he continued this way right up to the day of his suicide. He simply could not live in the world he saw. His truth killed him.

    Believing in the existence of an objective truth makes as little sense as believing that photographs show reality; that pictures don’t lie. Only a fool, a religious fanatic, or a lunatic will claim to have a perfect and completely objective memory combined with unerring skills of observation. People who know denounce all who remember things differently as liars. They know that only a liar will contradict THE truth. No other explanation can suffice for the absolutists who know THE one and only truth. Think… Capt. Queeg.

    Getting back to legalities and testimony, consider the courtroom oath. While the text will vary from state to state it includes, in almost all cases, a variation of an imposing question that asks if the witness will swear that “the testimony which you will give to the court, in the issue now trying, shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

    When asked if you will deliver such testimony, the correct answer is, of course, NO. Such an oath sets an impossible standard. Nobody knows the whole truth. We only know what we experienced and even then we color it to fit our own concepts and feelings. To reply to such a question properly, we can only promise the court to answer questions honestly and relate events as we recall them.

    Try this: Go to a party and then, a year later, ask everyone who attended to tell you what happened at party. See what you learn about the party… Now imagine asking the same people about more important events under the stressful conditions of a trial or an official interrogation or deposition.

    Giuliani makes a completely valid and time-honored point – and to deny it says way more about the people who laugh at him than they may wish to reveal.

 

 

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    Want to know more about the subjective nature of truth and reality? For instance, when a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is there to listen, does it make a sound? Amazingly, NO! It makes no sound at all. I delve into this seeming paradox, and much more, in: REV. ELIOT EXPLAINS IT ALL.

Available At Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Already Have A Space Force

August 10, 2018

Yes, we have a Space Force. It’s called NASA.

Look at JFK’s moon-shot. Does anyone think that was all about putting people on the moon? It was a military program run by a German nazi.

All that technology, from satellites to rocket boosters, were about developing missiles for nuclear warheads.

All the early astronauts were military people.

And if people think GPS was devised just to give them directions to the nearest IHOP, they need to have some strong coffee.

Were people angry and scared of NASA? No. We made heroes of all those people.
Give a nazi a Coke® and then he’s “A-OK.”

Wernher von Braun, director of the Marshall Space Flight Center

I knew – extremely personally – the man at General Electric who invented the lethal Satellite/Missile Guidance System that gave us the benign GPS in our car.

It was always about militarizing space.

While past presidents hid that, Trump once again shows the world exactly what kind of people we, as a nation, are.


Madness in the Method

August 5, 2018

Don’t mistake the method… for the goal. 

If you see your method as capitalism, go for it.
If you see your method as socialism, go for it.
I view methods as a boat used for getting us where we think we need to go.
But once we get there, we no longer need the boat. We leave the boat at the shore.
So why cling to the boat?
Why must people work at getting others use their method?
One must feel terribly insecure about a method if they need everyone else to use it.
Zealots and missionaries reek of insecurity.
Look:
If I stand in New York City and want to get to Nebraska, I go west.
If you stand in Los Angeles and want to get to Nebraska, you go east.
Two opposed directions, yet we both arrive at the same place. The place we both felt we had to reach.

Clinging to the method, after arrival, makes no sense.
We get to Nebraska and stop. We have arrived.
Fighting for one’s method as THE method leads to frustration, anger, and lunacy.
You will never get that, so why fight for it?
It takes a special ego-mania and arrogance for anyone to claim their method as THE method for everyone else in the world. By feeling this way, the cultural missionaries put themselves between a rock and a hard place – with nowhere to go.

The method serves you… you don’t serve the method.
USE a method. Then discard it.
Clinging to it and then demanding others use it leads to disaster and bigotry.
Don’t mistake the method… for the goal.
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People who cling to a method do so out of fear. Having grown accustomed to rowing their boat, they fear abandoning it and just LIVING. We see a perfect example of this in the millionaire who struggles to become a billionaire. Why? Fear of abandoning the method that led to millions when one can have billions. They arrived long ago but still paddle the boat endlessly.
Mass media promotes fear on a large scale.
They use fear to keep people on edge, so they will continue viewing and buying their products. Fear forms the basis of almost all advertising. Fear of failure… fear of unpopularity… fear of appearing “old-fashioned”… fear of looking old. Fear puts us at war with our own body. Did you know that the Weight Loss Industry is America’s only growth business with a 100% dissatisfied customer base? Fear does that.
Break the cycle of fear!

Click this Image To Read About The Book

The classic 1919 book now reissued with new introductions by me. There is no reason to live your life in fear! Wake up to the way orthodox religion & Other “Powers That Be” control the population THROUGH FEAR! An invaluable treatise, this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to lead a free, independent life. A life WITHOUT FEAR! While some people will no doubt be offended and shocked by this book’s stance against organized religion seeking to control our lives, while those who use fear themselves will attempt to squelch this book, by misrepresenting the contents and belittling it, this book bravely exposes the way the manipulators of fear seek to hold onto power by any means necessary. Beware of those who would mislead you about this! Fear is all they have and they will use fear to stop YOU from reading this liberating book. The new introduction puts the book in its historical context and shows why it is still relevant today.

Great Freudian Slips In History…

July 3, 2018

I have searched and searched for this for many years. It seems to have gotten scrubbed from history. 
In June of 1968 all hell broke lose in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention. When facing reporters, the mayor at the time, Richard Daley, tossed it off with one of the most revealing Freudian Slips of all time.

They Knew…

June 19, 2018

The ACLU has filed suit over border abuse by the government from 2009 through 2014, inclusive.
That’s 6 years of abuse.
To claim that nobody in any part of the government knew about this until a couple of weeks ago strains credulity, to say the least.
Nobody in all of Congress?
Not one Governor?
Nobody in the Justice Department?
Nobody in Homeland Security?
Right…
They knew.
Clearly, nobody gave this situation a second thought until they sensed the possibility of political gain by suddenly showing outrage.
Who among the outraged complainers in the government has ever said “I APOLOGIZE FOR MISSING THIS YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR”?
Instead, with elections coming up in November, they say “I’m shocked! Shocked! To hear of this terrible situation!”
If you believe that a government that spies on everyone in the nation somehow missed this, then go apply for disability checks.
They knew.
This had to have happened with consent of people in government.
The “tell” lies in the way all these politicians now act shocked and outraged instead of showing even the slightest hint of remorse and regret for having missed it year after year.
They didn’t miss it.
They knew.
They just didn’t care until caring turned profitable.
The only other explanation for their lack of remorse is equally as damning: They just don’t care at all. Even now. As an explanation, it is equally damning… and utterly believable. 
They knew.
They knew.
They knew.

 

Bill Clinton Elbows His Way Back Into The News

June 6, 2018

Old Bill Clinton has once again forced his way into the news, peddling another ghost-written book – a novel this time. Every washed-up politician has a book or two out. Who suspected we had such literary talent galumphing around in our sleazy politico pool? This output of books reminds me of these words from Tolstoy:  “If you asked someone, ‘Can you play the violin?’ and he says, ‘I don’t know, I have not tried, perhaps I can,’ you laugh at him. Whereas about writing, people always say: ‘I don’t know, I have not tried,’ as though one had only to try and one would become a writer.”

This time, in media interviews, the oafishly riggish Clinton fancies himself a champion of abused women – well why not? He created so many of them. Bill’s escapades with reluctant women landed him in court, forcing him to dip into Hillary’s bulging Cattle Futures investment fund so he could pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to his victim Paula Jones. Christopher Hitchens once wrote about how he’d have so loved to have heard that particular conversation between the Clinton Co-Presidents…

Ah, how I miss Hitchens. Although he fell out of favor with liberals (an extremely easy thing to do) he sure wielded a keen pen.

We can find some of the most shatteringly vitriolic words ever to come from the pointed pen of Christopher Hitchens in his writing about Bill Clinton’s fawning, obsequious, toadying, unctuous, arrogant, and flat out false words at the funeral for the execrable Richard Nixon.

Not only did Clinton refer to Nixon’s DREAM OF WORLD PEACE – tell that to the nations he carpet bombed – but Clinton demanded that we no longer criticize Nixon for anything that is merely a part of, and not the totality of, Nixon’s life. Meaning no more critical thinking about the only president so feculent and crooked that he had to resign.
So, talking about Nixon’s hatred of Black people and Jews, or mentioning his use of the IRS to, in his own words, “screw our enemies,” gets squelched because we’d be taking these foul, abhorrent incidents out of the context of Nixon’s whole life. We must, of course, remember that the man had a puppy…

To Clinton, Nixon stands tall as a brave seeker of truth and peace who played the role of a loving grandfather – meaning, presumably, that Nixon didn’t wire tap and slander his grandchildren.

Bill Clinton demands context? Okay. Try this for context: All the horrible things Nixon did in the course of his entire political career, from his Red-Baiting beginnings to his final yearnings to vaporize the people of Vietnam by dropping thermonuclear weapons on them, to his denouncing Peace Activists as “bums,” to his using bag-men to pay off his covert squad of thugs who committed burglaries at his behest, all this outweighs anything good Nixon may have done.
If you can stomach 6 minutes of verbal ipecac worthy of Uriah Heep, watch and listen as Bill Clinton mythologizes a severely mentally ill man who put the whole world at risk, a man who saw the presidency as a weapon with which to destroy all the people who had ever dared to cross him, a man who lived life in a toxic bubble of sycophants, paranoia, and rage in which the rule of law meant nothing but a minor inconvenience… and contorts him into a peace-loving adorable ol’ grampa – and then arrogantly claims to say all this on behalf of the whole nation. meaning you and me.
And as usual, Bill Clinton manages to find time to focus on himself…
Yuck.

I Must’ve Slept Through The Revolution…

May 20, 2018

Times Square NYC Post-Cold War


During the cold war, millions of Americans lived in fear of the USSR taking us over. 

Whenever I’d meet such frightened people I would ask: “And what exactly will Russia do with America once they take us over?” 
Here is what I was told: 
We will have masked police with machine guns in our streets… 
The government will tap all our phones and read our mail…
News will not report events, but will tell us just what government wants us to think…
Journalists who don’t fall in line will be prosecuted for telling the truth…
Our water will be poisoned…
Our votes won’t count…
An elite will control the economy…
Protest will be stifled or controlled by a handful of people…
Secret Police will infiltrate private groups…
We will live in a constant state of war overseas…
We’ll have no medical care…
People will be forced to work three jobs just to survive…
Government will ignore our complaints…
Millions of Americans will be in prison…
People will starve as those in power get richer and richer…
Government will be shrouded in secrecy for “security” reasons…
Hmmmm.
I guess Russia DID take over America after all.

A Tale For Our Times… From 35 Years Ago

May 12, 2018

I received the following anecdote from a person who, for reasons you will surely understand, wishes to remain anonymous. In case you missed it in the news, NY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman – a politician widely expected to win election as governor and then run for president – resigned after The New Yorker magazine made public the stories of several women who allege they had violent sexual encounters with Schneiderman.
Mr. Schneiderman, it must be noted, denies these allegations and has stated: “In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”
My correspondent relates the following:

   The recent Eric Schneiderman story immediately brought to my mind something that happened to me long ago.

   If you cringe at personal carnal details, you should stop reading now. I will present nothing crude, but it does get rather personal. I promise to present this in as tasteful a manner as I can.

   Back in the mid 1980s I attended a rent party held in a loft off 10th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen. A most fascinating woman friend of mine, an artist, lived in the enormous space with several other people and, as happens with young people starting out in New York City life, they’d fallen behind in the rent. Rent parties happened all the time in the city back then – and the few bucks required to gain entry provided plenty of fun (and drink) all night long.

   Within 30 minutes of the doors opening, the party started cooking. Over 200 people had already arrived and more kept coming. Wine and liquor flowed. Music filled the loft. We all had a blast. I’d call the atmosphere one of joyous fun. People made friends. Whether we’d see each other again or not made no difference.

   At one point during the party I found myself talking with a couple of interesting young ladies. I don’t recall the details of our conversation (for reasons you will soon find obvious), but during our chat we all started laughing. And then another young woman crossed the loft and came over to us. Till that moment, I had not known of her attendance at the party. Oh, I knew her all right. We’d had a rather odd “relationship” a year or so earlier. She fancied herself a “free spirit,” meaning she thought it amusing to say and do things that upset people. Things like shoplifting in bodegas…

   When our laughter died down, the “free spirit” looked at the two women, pointed a thumb at me like a hitchhiker, and said, with a sunny, cheerful smile, “He’s a very funny guy. But he’s no good at all in bed.”

   This, naturally, drew startled looks from the women. But I had expected something like this from the “free spirit,” so I nonchalantly turned to the other women and said, “Well, the concept of ‘good’ in bed depends on the compatibility of the people involved. For example, this young lady found me extremely disappointing because I flatly refused to tie her up, gag her, and then beat the hell out of her while raping her.”

   You have no doubt heard the expression, “her jaw dropped.” Well, the “free spirit’s” mouth opened into as wide an “O” as her lower jaw mechanism could handle as it dropped down. Then tears came to her eyes and she cried, “I can’t believe you told them that!”
   I said, “Hey, you brought it up. I just wanted to explain what you meant.”
   And with that, the “free spirit” ran off and the rest of us continued our discussion. To this day I have no idea what we talked about.

To understand what happened that night, and why the “free-spirit” said what she said, we need to go back a year or so before the party.

I always liked this woman, the “free spirit,” who I will not identify here. We’d run into each other now and then and we got along well. She once gave me a few dollars when I needed it. Probably no more than $10 as I recall. Some months later, she needed money, about $300. So I gave it to her and told her this makes us even. She initially rejected the money and the idea that it makes us even, saying she had given me far less.
“It only matters,” I said, “that you gave me what I needed at the time I needed it, and now I want to give you the same thing: what you need when you need it. The amount doesn’t matter. This balances us out perfectly.” 
I happen to look at things that way. She accepted the money and soon after that, we started seeing more of each other. And then, well, if you cringe at personal carnal details you should heed my warning at the top.

   One night as we engaged in an intimate physical act for the first time together, she began shaking violently and then started crying. I immediately stopped what I was doing and asked her what happened. She hissed out, “I can’t!” then started crying again. After a moment, she added “I can’t do this without thinking -” and the dam burst. I held her as she heaved and cried. This went on for maybe a half hour. Any “romantic” thoughts I had harbored vanished in the face of a clearly uncontrollable emotional crisis. I held her till it started to ease for her.

    When she had settled down a bit, but still through tears, she said her reaction had nothing to do with me. It involved her father and I will not relate any more than that. But when she finished explaining, I understood her reaction completely. After a few minutes laying quietly side by side, she said, with an air of resignation, “I guess we should start over now,” and squished her face and eyes shut looking like someone preparing for something akin to a firing squad.

   I told her no, we will definitely not start over.

   “You have to,” she said in a pleading way as if she found it important. “I understand why,” she added. “I can take it. Just go ahead and do it.”  She squished her face again.
   “Why do I have to do anything?” I asked. She told me that she knew that if I didn’t continue… then I would probably die.
   “WHAT?!?” I shouted in spite of trying to remain calm. “I will die? How?”
   She blushed and said, “You know…” I told her no, I did not know.
   She whispered (why she whispered I never knew since we had nobody else with us) and she said to me, as though speaking to a moron, “Your BALLS will explode.”
   Before I realized it, I shouted, “Where the hell did you hear that?” I vividly remember seeing myself as Dave the astronaut in 2001: A Space Odyssey after HAL said he knew of the plot to disconnect him (“Where the hell did you get that idea, HAL?”) and it occurred to me that some guy or guys had fed her the old “blue balls” malarkey as a way to force themselves on her. The sheer cruelty of their action showed in the scrunched up face she made as she prepared to sacrifice herself for the sake of my very life.

   So I said, “Oh shit,” told her not to believe that stuff, and suggested we get some sleep. Over the next weeks we grew closer and we had something of a physical relationship going when she hit me with her Big Idea: She told me that she could only really enjoy sex if she had no choice in the matter; she needed it to happen against her will. So she enthusiastically suggested that I tie her hands behind her back with my necktie, gag her, then pummel her (anywhere but the face) and rape her. Not act like I would rape her, but actually rape her. All this would happen with her consent, she assured me.

   As she described what she wanted me to do, I saw clearly that this went way beyond any consensual act of “bondage” or “role playing” with their pre-arranged safety checks. The whole thing went against my nature. I could not do it. I just cannot get into that. She kept telling me that she needed to submit to real force, that she could not act willingly, in order to enjoy herself. Knowing what I knew about her history, I could see why she felt that way. But I had no intention of taking any sort of advantage of that kind of misery.

   I told her no every damn way I could. She kept pleading, promising me a good time. Now, don’t think I present myself as Sir Galahad about this. My demurral had a practical side as well as a principled side. I knew that during the course of enacting this “game” I will have left behind all the criminal forensic calling cards of a whole portfolio of felonies. I pictured myself shuddering in a small cold room deep in the bowels of the local station-house, facing a glaring 1,000-watt light bulb as I endured the grilling of a horde of beefy, enraged cops, all of whom have young daughters at home:
“Just answer yes or no! Did you tie her up?”
   “Did you gag her?”
   “Did you beat her?”
   “Is this your tie?”
What could I say that wouldn’t have me digging my own grave?

   Aside from my personal revulsion at her suggested “game,” if this troubled woman later changed her mind about it, I knew I would have absolutely no way to prove it all happened consensually and upon her instigation. If I tried to explain what really happened, I would seem, at best, like a cad blaming the “victim.” And to back up my story I would have to reveal the horrific story the woman had told me about her past – with no way to prove a single word of it.

   Knowing what she had revealed to me about her childhood, I realized I could not take the chance that at some point in the future she won’t feel regret or disgust over this and use it as a weapon to hurt me. Hurt me with charges of Rape in the First Degree (Penal Code §130.35), Unlawful Imprisonment (§135.10), Menacing in the Third Degree (§120.15), Assault in the First Degree (§120.10). That right there added up to well over 100 years in prison and any competent Assistant District Attorney could find more charges, all of which I would have no power to convincingly deny. Here I had not yet reached the age of 30 and already I faced a life stretch up the river. And as I said, the whole charade struck me as repulsive anyway. I cannot do something like that either in reality or “in fun.” Violence just doesn’t turn me on.

   No matter how I looked at it, I did not consider that game worth the candle. The whole thing not only turned me off, it left me too vulnerable in the hands of a person with some serious and profound problems; problems that I did not wish to toy with. I had no intention of paying the price for what someone else had done to her. This boy had read too much James M. Caine not to see a potential set-up in the making. All “film noir” stories require a willing sap who falls into the machinations of an alluring but troubled dame. Not me, tootsie.

   So it never happened.

   Does this sound a touch paranoiac? We soon drifted apart and I didn’t see her again till that party, where she indeed used that proposed encounter as a weapon. For practical reasons, if not ethical reasons, I knew the moment she pulled that stunt at the rent party that my refusal may have disappointed a lady, but I had made the right choice.

HOPE and THE BIG CON

April 16, 2018

NOTE: This will likely be my longest blog post to date. It demands the space because the issue involves every aspect of our lives…

“It is not yours to finish the task, but neither are you free to set it aside.” – Rabbi Tarfon, Pirke Avot 2:21

“For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.” – T.S. Eliot

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In 2016, the presidential election day arrived at the culmination of a staggeringly lengthy 19-month election cycle. Exposure to this lengthy, drawn-out process, played out as a TV show every day, warped the minds of many people – people who now find them selves unable to accept the election results or let go of the process. They still argue over an election that the people decided well over 500 days ago. Corporate news media encourages this obsession, as newspapers and TV shows deliver a steady stream of excuses for the democrat losing the election: Russia, Fake News, The DNC, sexism, Comey, Anthony Weiner, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein and on and on ad nauseam. A new excuse pops up every few weeks, the latest (as of this writing) being that women were somehow bullied into voting for a particular candidate by their husbands.

This fixation with the past presents a stark deviation in the way our politics normally operate. With this essay, I will lay out, for all to see, the way in which our political system works to distract people… to con people.

Party politics has become the tool employed by the Powers That Be to divide The People and make sure that we dilute our deep power as we squabble endlessly about the next election.
By letting Party Politics take our attention away from the NOW and focusing instead on the next election, many people have permitted themselves to live in an imaginary future; a future created by advertising people and campaign professionals.
In Party Politics, nothing holds more importance than the next election. How many times have we been told, “Sure I believe in Third Party candidates. But… THIS TIME THE ELECTION IS TOO IMPORTANT!” No matter what the issue, the Party refrain is always “This is not the right time.”
With Party Politics, issues mean absolutely nothing. Democrats join Republicans to gut banking regulations and to wage war.  Only the FUTURE matters. We always hear promises for the future. By focusing our attention on the future instead of the present, we allow ourselves to get suckered into sheepishly accepting any current situation.
Well here’s a newsflash: The future never comes. The time is always NOW.

As Lewis Carrol wrote:
“The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.”
“It must come sometimes to ‘jam to-day’,” Alice objected.
“No, it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s jam every other day: to-day isn’t any other day, you know.”
“I don’t understand you,” said Alice. “It’s dreadfully confusing!”

And once we allow ourselves to get confused, we make ourselves like a prairie chicken to a circling hawk – ripe for the picking.

Hope and the Con Artist
Placing our focus on some future HOPE is the keystone of every con game. All con games rely on filling the scam’s “mark” with the hope of an imagined future payoff. Without this fake hope, nobody can con you. With it, anyone can – and will – con you.  Whether the payoff is 45% return on investment (Ponzi) or flipping congress (party politics) the surest sign of a con job is that it turns our heads away from now and aims us at an imagined future.

We have no power in the future. We only have power now.

So when we have our attention manipulated away from NOW, we willingly give up any power we have. When we see an unjust condition that outrages us, to shout “NEVER AGAIN” (meaning in the future) is meaningless compared to “IT STOPS NOW”. “Never again” means we accept it now.

Although it may sound counterintuitive, I believe that the worst advice we can possibly follow is KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE. Looking unwaveringly at some future result creates a distraction that takes our focus off the NOW. To combat this, we need to deal with WHAT IS and not that which we have been fooled into imagining will come sometime in the future. You see something you want to change? Work to change it NOW. Do what you need to do NOW and do it without the lust for future results. As T.S. Eliot noted: “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.” If you fail, you fail. Big deal. But you didn’t divert your attention to some nebulous time far away that never comes. You did your work to change things here, now. Where it counts. This will take some work on our part. Earlier this month, striking teachers in Oklahoma received this startling news: “PRESIDENT OF OKLAHOMA’S LARGEST TEACHERS UNION CALLS FOR END TO STRIKE; SAYS THE FOCUS SHOULD SHIFT TO MIDTERM ELECTION” (AP, Apr. 12, 2018). Just as the teachers started getting solid results, the union shifted them away from NOW to next November and some vague future.

Spotting A Con Artist
All con artists have one thing in common: The con artist will always, relentlessly talk of the future so that you will not examine what’s happening now. This holds especially true for the political bunko artist. Example: Remember Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign theme song? “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.”
And what did Franklin Roosevelt use as a campaign theme song? “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
FDR concentrated on NOW. Bill Clinton, who time has revealed as a con man (Remember “Slick Willie”?) clearly wanted voters to ignore what he does NOW and keep thinking about the future.
And what happened to that person in 2008 who ran on “HOPE AND CHANGE”? Remember how that turned out? It was all a whimsy, an illusion because HOPE AND CHANGE mean different things to each one of us. And that is what the con artist does; gets us each to see what we want to see instead of reality.

How We Limit Our Power
All scams, from the politics of “hope” to mega-lotteries, hinge on yanking us out of the present and into a future time that simply won’t ever come. I have known a great many people who really believed: “When I’m rich and famous then I will be happy!” It became the driving force in their lives. And some of them got their wish… only to discover that they are still the same damn person they always were – only now they have money and people know who they are. Several of these people killed themselves upon attaining their goal.

I knew a woman who wanted to be a writer. Not because she enjoyed writing. Not because she had something special to say. She wanted to be a writer because she saw a whole imagined future blossoming from her literary efforts. She had it all laid out, refined over years of dreaming: She would write a novel. Her book would get published (after a bidding war among the big publishers). The book would receive glowing, rave reviews. The press would herald the arrival of a new literary lion. The book’s movie rights would sell for a record-setting price. She would be rich and famous. And then… her family will finally respect her and envy her. She will be… somebody.
Does it come as a surprise to you that over the years this woman started several projects but never finished a single one? With such high stakes as she imagined hanging in the balance, with her imagined future-self depending upon the perceived success of her writing, she made the act of setting words to paper a task daunting beyond belief. Her “hope” limited her ability top do the one thing she claimed to want to do. She stymied herself by making the responsibility of writing into something overwhelming. She just could not do it. One of the last times she and I spoke to each other, I asked her a simple question: “Do you want to be a writer? Or do you want to be a rich and famous writer? Because those are two different things.”

The Lottery Con
Lotteries – especially the so-called “mega” lotteries – rely on people harboring outlandish hopes for their future. The state, through its unremitting lottery advertising campaigns, fill the mind with these future hopes, making them seem within reach. As noted, this focus on the future is the surest sign of a con job. And people buy the tickets knowing that the odds of winning are against them and despite the fact that stories of the ruined lives of lottery winners are legion. I knew one such person. He snagged a substantial amount of lottery money in the 1970s – it, as he hoped, it changed his whole life: Marriage. Home. Popularity. Everything he thought he wanted he got. And when the money ran out… so did his wife and his “friends”. Unable to maintain the house, he lost that too. The lottery – even though he’d won it –  just didn’t turn out the way he’d… hoped.

Hope and Fear
Along with stressing HOPE for the future, another sign of a con job is a morbid fear of the future:
“32 Million People Would Lose Coverage If Law Repealed!”
“Congress To Cut Social Security & Medicare After Passing Tax Plan!”
“Missile Test Shows North Korea Can Hit All Of U.S.A.!”
“U.S. Life Expectancy Declines For The First Time since 1993!”
“Sea Level Rise Will Flood Hundreds of Cities in Near Future!”
These actual headlines instill dread – and dread becomes the fertilizer required for the planting and growing of fake hopes. If you find yourself carrying this dread ask yourself who instilled it in you. Then ask what is in it for them.

A Lively Example
Consider the con artist in the Broadway musical “The Music Man.” In the early years of the 20th Century, “Professor” Harold Hill comes to River City, Iowa. He scouts the town for something, anything, to exploit for his own ends. He latches on to something new happening now – the town of River City has gotten its very first pool table. And he uses this pool table to turn the attention of the town away from now to the future. Hill gathers together some people and points out the pool table, asking them if they are aware of a great danger – “the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a pool table in your community.” He then relentlessly and with great energy paints a bleak and disastrous future for the town, all because of the pool table. Hill fills the townspeople with the fear of a total breakdown of the social structure in River City among… THE CHILDREN. Hill even invokes patriotism in the cause of protecting the town from the menacing, threatening, treacherous pool table. All to protect… the children.
Then, after letting the citizens of River City chew on this for a couple of days, letting their imaginations run wild, Hill conveniently offers them a solution to their imagined ills. A solution that paints a rosy future for the town and its precious children. A solution that will fill his pockets with money.
And there we see the Big Con’s trifecta of HOPE/FEAR/AN IMAGINED IDYLLIC FUTURE. The people of River City will… take back their town and their problems will be solved. For the con artist, the parlay of HOPE/FEAR/IDYLLIC FUTURE remains highly profitable to this very day.
Why do con artists bring up the children? Because (can you just hear it?) “The children are our hope for the future.” Which politician fails to use this scam? I always think of the Music Man and the devious Prof. Hill when I hear the endless yammering of today’s politicians who say we must elect them… for the children.

Planning
None of this is meant to knock normal planning and scheduling in life. That’s what we do to arrange an orderly and well-regulated existence. We make plans in the name of efficiency and, when dealing with others, to maintain common courtesy. This type of quotidian preparation is a far cry from basing life on imagined, desired events that we whip up into importance beyond all reality. Thinking “when I’m rich, then I’ll be happy” or “If I elect Candidate Floogleman, then the nation will be great again” is ridiculous. Normal planning is practical. The future planning of the con artist is just other fanciful. It’s the difference between being practical enough to catch a flight on time, and some chimera about a future which somebody deliberately planted in your head for his or her own purposes. The former gets YOU somewhere by your own efforts. The latter gets SOMEONE ELSE somewhere through your exploited efforts. Efforts that they planted in your mind.
Planning is about realistic goals. Saving money for a house, for instance. Not an illusion like “when I get that house then my life will be perfect.”
Politically, realism means voting for a candidate with whom you agree, instead of voting for a candidate who offers no more than fear-based slogans about the future. Beware silly promises for the future like things like “we’ll take the country back” or “no more crime in the streets”…
Don’t let promises for the future take your mind of life now. Labor organizer Joe Hill knew how easy it was to manipulate people with promises. As Hill wrote in the song THE PREACHER AND THE SLAVE:

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.

Joe Hill knew…

Practical Action
A few years back, on a hot July afternoon, I began shivering. I felt so cold! To remedy this, I went to the window to lower the AC and discovered it was not even on. Immediately I went to the medicine chest for the thermometer and took my temperature. To my horror, the mercury registered a tad above 103º and I went straight to the hospital. I didn’t allow myself to be distracted by somebody saying, “Someday we will have better thermometers!” Or “Next year we will take back your temperature!” I took direct action and that action saved my life. Yes, I spent eight days in the hospital mostly in intensive care – but I did what was needed NOW and did not piss away my life hoping for an imaginary future when things would somehow be better.
THAT is why I am alive today to write this…

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Say good bye to FEAR:

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