Thursday, May 31, 2018


Rain started in the night.  Some windows were still open, but it wasn’t that cold.  Nevertheless, when I woke at first light the covers, the cats, and myself were all in a big tangled mass in the middle of the bed.  Then some trash cat came in through the flap and Tuxie unraveled herself to go attack it.   

It was easy to sleep in, because the school traffic is gone, but then the big ag machines began to pass through town.  Most of the plowing and seeding is done, but acreage is now broken and scattered over locations, so some smaller and hired-out patches still need work.  The smallest ones are too small for the biggest ag machines, but there aren’t so many small tractors around so they must wait their turn.  Not so many farmers either.  Just owners and hired hands.  

Back to sleep.  Now I dream this video from Aeon that they call the “shimmering surreal” about comb jellyfish in surf near Bull Harbor on Hope Island, British Columbia.  Primal life, tiny but indestructible, barely separated from the water by transparent membrane that keeps the simple structures in one cell of “creature”.  is the website of the artist.   “For Lindsay, time is even more of an unknown unknown. When looking at his work, we experience a kind of space age nostalgia that isn’t nostalgic; an (un)certain future that isn’t futuristic and a gap where the present should be. Lindsay’s work layers time, confuses chronology and keeps us guessing at what we are looking at, how it’s communicating, and what kind of being made it happen.”  
   Denise Markonish, Curator, MassMoCA

When I wake this time the surf is the troubled breathing of Thimble, the gray kitten, who never overcomes her respiratory infection despite my ministrations, including a little bulb I use to pull mucus from his nose — which he hates.  Thread, the black sister, is healthy.  From the early days after her birth she has always rolled onto her back and presented four tiny but combative paws to the world.  But if you tickle her stomach, she surrenders.

Up.  Open cat food can.  Renew cat water.  Look at Twitter.  Where’d everyone go?  Why is my algorithm sending me right wing junk?  They never come anywhere near where I am in terms of thought.

But it’s inchoate, shimmering surf of many creatures.  No institutions.  No birth or death.  Not even formed enough to be named.  I took my big sketched-out painting off the wall so I could work on it.  Before I left the Methodist parsonage, which had a huge picture window looking at the Rockies, I taped up a piece of paper just under the mountains and copied the range onto it.  The intention was to find out the names of the peaks when I took that tracing with me.  Why do we only name the peaks rather than the valleys when it is the valleys that are habitable and even can be passages?

Anchored here years later, I still haven’t named the mountains but I’d added a big blue Chinook arch above the line of peaks, now glued onto a canvas.  There it was for more decades — mountains still nameless.  Then the newspaper printed a line of Rockies from further south, nearer where I am now.  Each peak had its name under it.  Finally I saw what to do and glued the second range lower than the first one.  It’s not logical.  Painting is not always logical.  It’s mixed media.  So now I’ll go back with paint and put things into relationship, better colors, and in the expanses of cloud two words: “chinook” and “catabatic.”  (An unromantic student said to me, if anyone says catabatic again, I’ll throw up.  So this is an unromantic painting after all.  That person would object to writing on a painting,  Their world is limited.)

In what seems like minutes, the kittens have become half-cats and the rain has made the grass higher higher higher.  Tuxie, the order-keeping mother cat wearing a patent-leather tuxedo, has washed her progeny from end-to-end.  They don’t know whether they like it or not, but it keeps them from roosting on my hands while I’m trying to keyboard.

My house has been sinking.  The floors dipped enough to cause a marble to roll across the room.  I began to worry about the floor furnace, which is heavy, deflecting down enough to pull the gas pipes apart.  Corky Evans came and in a few hours had stabilized and leveled everything.  Now that the land is wet again, the soil will expand and hold things steady for a day or so.  This is a place where the earth moves subtly all the time.  Hemingway would not like it.

Not far from the legislative buildings in Washington, D.C., the justice seekers are working methodically.  My mother always said, “The mills of the Gods work slowly, but they grind exceeding fine.”  A sifting of flour falls out now and then.  We are impatient.

Bob Scriver, city magistrate and Justice of the Peace, used to say, “People can do anything until someone stops them.”  And “If you do something outrageous enough, no one will believe you did it.”  We’ve stopped them.  They are outrageous but we have the documents, even the reassembled confetti from the shredder bin.  Will anyone bother to buy a shredder again?  How outrageous that modern technology can hear anything, reassemble anything, identify the voices of anyone even when they are the same person.

Once something outrageous has been established, the whole scheme is sketched out, the cloud concepts become words, and some people are likely throwing up quietly among the marble fixtures of a nouveau riche class who turned out to know nothing, nothing at all.  

The surf rocks against the volcanic shore, the water becoming a little higher all the time, bits of land sliding into the sea.  It’s all happened before.  It will all happen again.  Back to sleep now that the house won't explode.  When it stops raining, I’ll work on the yard.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


Class and money dominate the politics of the USA.  Sex, in my view, though significant is secondary — mostly attempts to justify the class and money. to show them off, to convince oneself if no one else that there is entitlement, a natural development.

This linked absorbing article suggests four new books.

“The 9.9% Is the New American Aristocracy” by Matthew
“Twilight of the Elites” by Chris Hayes
“White Working Class” by Joan Williams
The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution” by Ganesh

I don’t know why these folks have lit on 9.9% as a better number than just plain old ten percent, but I guess it’s precisely because “ten” is plain and old.  Or maybe it’s the top ten percent after the even more top 1% is removed.  Among the new additions are descriptions of how this less-than-ten bunch manages to guarantee that they remain among the elite in the same way that the old English landed gentry did.  The mechanisms of systems, academics, connections, heritage, match-making, all manage to reinstate a closed club of influential people who control the nation.

Another new thought is the complexification of the remaining ninety per cent who are neither de facto aristocrats nor the inevitable poor.  This context is about the rather more blurry boundary between the middle class and the working class.  Middle class people work in family-owned businesses or upper management or as successful entrepreneurs like professionals.  Working class people have wage jobs and less prestige.  They’re a little touchy about it.

This is pretty much as it’s always been.  But maybe we’ve never had so many gig workers before — computer itinerants, nomadic musicians, artists of many kinds, private therapists — but probably that’s naive.  Times of change and disorder have always made niches for the brave and resourceful, as well as the con artists.

But maybe not since the beginning of the Enlightenment in the 1600’s has there been such a powerful change in thinking as that brought on by the avalanche of new perceptions into ancient times, nano-processes in our bodies, interpenetrating DNA, and far-cosmic order.  Here we were, looking for the missing link, when there were layers and layers of hominin evidence all around us.  We’re more than a little bit overwhelmed.

David Brooks made me look at class first, by noting that Republicans with whom he tried to discuss the evidence of today’s scandals simply couldn’t hear him.  They looked away, put their fingers in their ears, changed the subject.  But there was another bunch who also made him aware of a divide between the classes that wasn’t about prestige or income — it was an intellectual divide.  People on one side simply couldn’t understand the people on the other side and each resented the other for being so unintelligible.  Partly it can be blamed on those wicked French et al who challenge everything and drive home truths as though they were stakes through the heart of society.  (Maybe they are.)

Brooks interests me because he tries so hard to overcome the distinctions of assigned class or status as though “virtue” might be a way to escape from that terrible division that creeps into everything, but especially politics.  In some ways “Bobos in Paradise” started the whole thing.

Alas, virtue is also framed differently according to class and status.  A praiseworthy person may be highly educated in one place but not considered that way in another.

Brooks doesn’t seem to attempt my own goal, which is a sort of universal wisdom that is irrelevant to wealth and fame, that isn’t self-conscious or intent on approval.  How do you get there?  I fall short by a mile.  Tribal rural people seem to do it better than urban people with media swarming all around, constantly holding up mirrors and cameras, always diagnosing and laying the odds.  Maybe the loner focused on some scientific or literary project manages to achieve it.  Brooks mentions “love,” whatever that is: maybe an invitation to deception.

But we are seeing a revival and rehabilitation of feeling, if only because it challenges the short-sighted idea that a brain is the essence of a person when it is in truth only an operating system for the rest of the body.  The body feels and acts -- the brain says "what about it?"   Beyond that, we begin to see how it is that a single person has to be a summation of interactions among many people.  Neither puppets nor lovers, we bring each other alive with our music, stories, antics, arguments, and love making.

People do tend to be shaped by class as much as ecology — I suppose class IS an ecology: what one eats and wears, the likely vocabulary, the knowledge of how to hail a cab or feed a cow.  People of different classes have as much to teach each other as people of different countries.  Whether one “way” is better or worse than any other way can only depend upon the circumstances.  You can’t eat a food that isn’t available, a fact that is lost on people with enough money to cause anything to be available regardless of season.

Among my English mystery series (subscribe on Acorn, it's snobbier than the others) is “George Gently” in which, like “Morse”, the running gag is that the lower echelon sergeant gets things wrong because of lack of fancy education.  (Tonight it was the sergeant thinking a photo of Che Guevara was of a boyfriend of the defiant young woman he was facing,)  People use this stuff against each other all the time, to the point that one can’t carelessly ask if someone has read a certain book, without the person asked blowing up, taking it as an insult if they haven't read it.  But the sergeant is always more cunning, more connected than the sophisticated Morse or Gently.  That’s the sort of thing the English have perfected, this class scarecrow.

Surely one of the elements that make intellectual difference or class blindness irrelevant is the enjoyment of the senses in a world we all share.  Recently Twitter posters have been showing super-closeups of “bee bums” as they guzzle their heads down into the hearts of blooms, drenching themselves in pollen.  Isn’t such appreciation of tiny things, often beautiful, a guard against taking babies from mothers simply because one can?  Unhappily, it is not.  Aesthetics and nature worship will not soften human authorities.  Pretty bugs don’t distract those who are revelling in power over the weak.  Plenty of Nazi officers loved sunsets and symphonies.

Bee on bergamot

Is this a class issue?  Does money or education create a better, more compassionate person ?  Evidence suggests not.  Sorry, David.  It makes me sad as well.  I’ll try some more.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


In a country where Stormy Daniels, glamorous “porn” star, makes more sense and has higher standards than our unelected president, it seems necessary to reflect on the nature of this “porn” classification.  I hear about food porn, jewelry porn, house porn and so on.  Evidently it has something to do with desire, wanting something but not being able to get it.  But the hard-core use of the word is usually about something humanly physical.  This time I’m going to reflect on it in terms of the human ability to echo in one’s own body what is happening in someone else’s, even if they aren’t there — only depicted.

Porn is not the reality of acting an imitation or actuality in order to give other people a pornographic reaction.  Actors “doing it” for the camera are not echoing.  If they are being forced to do it, either by threats or out of need, that’s the moral atrocity of it, the part that should offend us all.

But many people who are addicted to porn are not reacting to the sex, but rather to the context.  They’re getting off on the transgression of the standards of “nice people”, the cheap thrill of offending them.  If there is a law against what they are doing, breaking that law is what turns them on.  Consider the content of Trump’s perversions:  urination, which is meant to be confined for hygiene reasons; or having his bottom smacked with a magazine that features him on its cover, a child’s punishment mocking the imagined honor to say modestly it is “nothing.”

Many years ago I think it was Kozol who told us that when he taught in the ghettoes of Boston, the kids insulted each other with sexual or gender-assigned taunts:  sleeping with one’s sister, wearing combat boots, making money from sexwork.  But when they really got serious about inflicting pain, they spoke of nappy hair and fat lips, the emotional reality.

If desiring sex with the same gender as oneself were not defined as unnatural and bad, it would not be pornographic.  Everyone must eliminate unwanted materials from their bodies, but it is only pornographic when sanitation and culturally-imposed privacy are ignored.  Or the person imagines that others would be horrified, like that superintendent that pooped on his rivals’ athletic field.  Somewhere in the head is a little gizmo that acts as some offensive order-keeper so the thrill of defying authorities registers as pleasure.

This has been a hard time for people who were raised to stay fully clothed so emphatically that the simple human body of all ages and conformations becomes a source of arousal.  At first the commercial human body porn was mostly young beautiful females.  When young beautiful men began to show up in perfume ads and “realistic” romantic stories,  the public taste went to full-frontal het penile interaction — white, then black — or the thrill just wasn’t there.  

That’s about when violence showed up.  Because mirroring witnessed violence through our own bodies is pretty effective, esp, if the victim is innocent but aggravating, like a smart-aleck child or older woman.  When Chris Meloni pioneered rough sex with the same gender in “Oz”, it was not an accident that it was in a penitentiary.  I go back again and again to ask why in the US children are supposedly kept innocent about sex, but not about violence, while in France the cultural standard is to cloak violence while accepting sex as natural.

And I think about the problem of persecuting Tempest Storm for an act with big dogs since there was no law against bestiality on the books.  Of course, she could have been prosecuted in civil court as offending or damaging someone.  That’s what happened with O.J. Simpson’s murder case.  But today’s tolerance, or at least confusion, about sexual matters tends to be economic:  how much payoff is involved, esp. when the actions were seminal, creating a child who was then destroyed before birth.  Law and order in our times often seems to be mostly economic, no doubt because the amounts determine the percentage the lawyers get.

But there is a political angle.  If the society as a whole tends to disapprove of illegal immigrants, then the idea of offending proper behavior of “good people” by forcing small children out of the arms of their parents because they have broken a law will create a “frisson” of emotion.  When Trump stands at a loudspeaker and proclaims lies, racial abuse, revenge, mockery and other desires we normally keep quietly to ourselves, he is being pornographic.  He didn't really do anything himself.

He shadow-plays wealth and frames it in terms of gilt and sex, secrecy and illegality, an imitation of bogus law and order that is economically forbidden and excessive.  His secret is that he can never see himself, since he’s inside himself looking out, so he doesn’t know how obscene he appears except to those like him, who use him as an excuse.

But pornography doesn’t have to be about breaking laws that are held dear by the legislators whereever they are.  The pornography of self-righteousness is also potent, imagining the praise they will get from rescuing small fuzzy animals, virtuous old women, or small dying babies the way Mother Theresa did.  We go looking for the suffering, the damaged, the traumatized, but only as a pornography — not a reality where we are present and effective.  Check out YouTube.  As they warn, you will have emotional reactions but luckily they mostly emphasize the laughter, even when what’s portrayed has a dangerous edge to it.  The real tragedies headline the news.

Pornography works in chiarascuro, emotion in the extreme.  It’s Manichean, binary.  Extreme virtue has to be established so that the violation of it will be worse, but it’s all stereotypes: a giant gorilla carrying off a nearly naked blonde.  Unluckily, our recent history has offered many ghastly atrocities for use in pornography.  We sit down at our glass screens willingly to reflect on them.  I’m just as complicit, with my taste for stoic Scandinavian procedurals played out against a dark landscape full of gripping cold and unseen danger.

We never see depictions of quiet clerks sorting through the precedents and strategies of justice, but they are always there.  The abiding question is how to define justice for lives that are appalling for their choices and often, like Trumpists, living stories that don’t really exist except as emotional titillation.  Can we tolerate a just world?

Monday, May 28, 2018


As we struggle with the problem of two different cultures trying to dominate our single but multiple-lobed country, the ideas about white vs. “red” culture returns with renewed consciousness of the damage done in that struggle.  Someone claimed that the indigenous children were irreparably traumatized by the schools that tried to “kill the Indian but save the man,” a motto almost as destructive as the justification for killing children in cavalry attacks on camps:  “nits make lice.”  Off-hand comments can be deadly.

One target has been Carlisle Indian School, which is sometimes pictured as like the boarding schools for elementary students.  In fact, the government residential schools I know about like Carlisle are more like junior colleges.  James Welch Jr.’s parents met at one.  Eloise Cobell was educated at one.  I found this page which lists the Blackfeet (Piegan) who attended specifically Carlisle.  It closed in 1918.

This website adds whatever was in the files to the names of the 228 students.  The online file has some photos and most entries have notes.  Students came and went, going home for some reason (homesick, parents needed help, ranch work?) but then returned.  Sibs may have attended together.  The time period when these students were attending was Edwardian, just before WWI.  For comparison, Bob Scriver was born in 1914.

These family names are familiar on this rez, though the individuals listed were mostly gone.  Some were locally famous, like Brian or “Briney” Connelly, Richard Sanderville, or Francis X. Guardipee, who was a good example of what I call a “double-breed”, a person who lived two cultures since he was a major figure in the white Boy Scout movement.  When they got home, they tried to form an organization, a Young Man’s Literary Society, to use what they had learned, but the agent was afraid they would get too organized and powerful, so he banned it just as he had banned the indigenous ceremonies for the same reason.

The list on the site is more chronological.  I rearranged the names to be approximately alphabetical.  There may be some small mistakes.

Wilbur and Leo Anderson
Philip and Silas Arrowtop, 
Anthony Austin
Nellie and Maggie Abbott 
Alice Aubrey
Lafe and Wendell Allison
Rose Aubrey
Mary Bailey
James Bearchild
Joseph Bear Chief
Peter Bear Leggins
Fred Bigtop
Thomas Bogy
Oscar Boyd
Charles Buck (Brockey)
Nancy, Phoebe, Charles and Sampson Burd
Alice Cayton
Leona Cecil
Edward Clark
Alfonso Carnon
Mary and James Choate
Julia, George, Thomas and Joseph Cobell
Maggie Comes at Night
Brian Connelly
Charles Corson
James Crawford
Bryan Davis
Henry Burd Deguire
Fred and George Delaney
Spyna Devereaux
Eva, Alex and Gordon Dubray
Andrew, Frances, James and Esther Dunbar
Rose Edwards
George Ell
William Ellis
Joseph, Francis and Irene Evans
John Flatt
John Flattail
J. Webster Galbreath
Anthony and William Gilham
Richard, Carl, James C. and Dick Grant
Joseph Gogman
Irvin Leo Gobert
Carl Grant
J. Grover Ground
Thomas and Francis X Guardipee
Daisy, William and Thomas Hall
Joseph H. Hamilton
Clara Maria Henault
Eleanor Hawk
Willie, Stuart I. and George Hazlett
John and Vinnie Heavyrunner
George Horn
Annie and Henry Howard
Presley Houck
Thomas Hunsberger
Julia and Thomas Jackson
Leo M., Agnes, Bertrand, John, Esther and Perry Kennerly
Jerome Kennerly  (The Calf Takes a Seat)
Charles King
Henry Lahr
Josephine Langley
Mollie Little Plume
Peter Oscar
Eva Pablo
Francis Alexander Pambrun
Minnie, William and Florence Perrine
George J. Robinson
John Russell
Eddie Running Crane
Jesse J. Samples
Mary Sherman
Joseph and Carl Scheldt (sic) Schildt?
William Smith
Richard, Nellie, and Agnes Sanderville
Archie St. Godard 
Henry White Dog
Sallie Wright
Ella, Mary Jane, and Lizzie Wren

I had not known about Carlisle’s precursor, Hampton University which persists as a prestigious black university.  Originally founded (1868) by the American Missionary Association (Presbyterian, Congregational, Quaker) the mission was to educate freed slaves for participation in the democracy.  Native Americans were brought in to a special program until 1923.

This is from the Wikipedia entry, so the author is unknown.  It’s clear this is where Pratt, the organizer of Carlisle, got his ideas.  Note that these students were actual prisoners, but Carlisle students were voluntary.  Pratt’s group at Hampton devised “ledger art” which gets its name from the lined paper the prisoners used, sometimes right over the names and amounts recorded.  Today’s content is often humorous and ironic.

“In 1878, Hampton established a formal education program for Native Americans. In 1875 at the end of the American Indian Wars, the United States Army sent seventy-two warriors from the Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche and Caddo Nations, to imprisonment and exile in St. Augustine, Florida. Essentially they were considered hostages to persuade their peoples in the West to keep peace. Richard Henry Pratt supervised them at Fort Marion and began to arrange for their education in the English language and American culture. Numerous visitors to St. Augustine from the North became interested in their cases and volunteered as teachers. They also provided them with art supplies, and some of the resulting works (including by David Pendleton Oakerhater) are held by the Smithsonian Institution. At the end of the warriors' incarceration, Pratt convinced seventeen to enroll at Hampton Institute for a fuller education.  (Later Pratt founded the Carlisle Indian Industrial School based on the same philosophy of education and assimilation). 

"Altogether, seventy Native Americans, young men and women from various tribes, mostly from the Plains rather than the acculturated tribes that had occupied Virginia, joined that first class. Because Virginia's aristocrats sometimes boasted of their Native American heritage through Pocahontas, it was hoped that the Native American students would help locals to accept the university's black students. The black students were also supposed to "civilize" the Native American students to current American society, and the Native Americans to "uplift the Negro[es]."

“The program died in 1923, in the face of growing controversy over racial mingling.”  Today’s anxiety about pairing off is more about preserving blood quantum and mixing tribes.

But indigenous and African-origin cultures were an uneasy mix in the best of circumstances, as much because of ecology as anything else.  It’s pretty easy to change clothes and hair, but eating is a different matter.  High prairie peoples weren’t always happy in the school climate, which was so warm that the earliest “building” was simply under a big shady tree.  Even after the slaves were freed post Civil War, former owners would try to take their “property” so maybe the school liked having some warrior students.

Sunday, May 27, 2018


"Detained" children.  These have mats to sleep on.

“Theory of Mind” is the formal name of the ability to see that a creature has purposes and to be able to tell what they are about to do.  It’s an ability that arises through the predator/prey relationship so that the cat can guess where the mouse is about to run and the cougar can tell what choices a racing deer in the forest might make.  The same thing works from the other side, so that the mouse and the deer act as erratically as they can in order to evade the predator they know is in pursuit.  The dynamic gets complicated when the prey tries to mind-read the predator.  “What does that cat think I’m going to do?  I’ll do the opposite!”  But the choices aren’t that complex or multiple.

The next step up is Sympathy, meaning understanding what another creature shows it is feeling and “feeling with” it.  When another creature is sad, the sympathizing creature knows it and is sorry.  Likewise, when another creature is rejoicing, the sympathizing creature sees that and laughs, happy for them.  Still not complicated.  Apes and toddlers are sometimes full of sympathy and try to comfort or celebrate with others.

Empathy, which means that one creature actually knows what the other one is feeling inside or maybe even thinking, is a matter of imagination that can make some heavy demands.  For instance, it’s pretty tough for someone who has never had that experience to really feel what it’s like.  Maybe it would be too painful even when it’s possible.  Or maybe there hasn’t been enough similar experience in life, never having been there, never having had that happen to them.  

Who knows what the trapeze artist or the fighter pilot actually feels like in action?  Likely it is more a matter of focusing their attention and processing sensory information than the emotional reaction, though they might be electric with adrenaline.  Later they might shake and cry.  But we begin to realize that there are some humans who simply don’t ever empathize with others, always seeing them from outside, maybe not even trying to guess how they feel.  

The next step up is in the famous pre-frontal lobe of the brain and is unique to humans, maybe not all of them.  We know it’s there because damage to that place in the head will remove it.  The morality of what to do is more complex than sympathy or empathy and can control what is done, even if it is painful and difficult, maybe involving loss.  Most people get along on the knowledge of what their culture thinks is moral and are guided by the consensus.  Some people are aware of behavioural stands in books and movies and know what is generally considered good or even heroic.  They might try to be like these imagined people.  Or at least persuade others that they are like the stalwarts in novels, sensitive and effective.

“Who’s going to give back the young and beautiful lives (and others) that have been devastated and destroyed by the phony Russia Collusion Witch Hunt? They journeyed down to Washington, D.C., with stars in their eyes and wanting to help our nation...They went back home in tatters!”  Trump’s tweet this morning is his interpretation of the rats bailing from a sinking ship “to spend more time with my family” and taking their ill-gotten millions with them.  It’s fantasy.

So when Trump tries to get us to feel sorry for Washington DC players, whom he portrays as aspiring and noble, in spite of those faces that are so easy to caricature, he is so much in contrast with the corruption and compromising, secrecy and self-serving that has been revealed in the last year, that we can only laugh.  It would be easier to believe that he could understand the despair of destroyed families, much less the consequences that will come in the future, a firestorm of revenge.  

One can understand that he wants us to sympathize with him, but a few of us can “read his mind” empathically and know that it is all worms and serpents.  It is only our own morality, this idea called “rule of law”, that keeps us from storming the White House to tear him apart.  I’m sure this impulse would baffle him — not that we should want to hurt him (because in his life everyone who isn’t dazzled will hurt him, including his family) but that we should be offended by what he does.  To his mind the fact that everyone is so angry is inexplicable but inevitable.  Therefore, he is justified.

This limitation on Trump’s “theory of mind” also explains why he has such poor judgement about choosing his helper.  It’s obvious that many are senile, many are stupid, and all are traitorous to the nation and therefore willing to betray Trump to save themselves.  I don’t think he has even “theory of mind” for a man like Bannon or Giuliani, but can only accept their masks or why is he so easily misled?  

Imagination or lack thereof interferes in understanding these relationships from both positive and negative points of view.  Those of us who are white, prosperous, privileged enough to see into the world of politicians and law enforcement, simply can’t grasp the desperation of parents or — on the other side — those whose needed jobs require controlling row on row of pre-adolescent children on bare floors behind cyclone fencing, covered with tinfoil for lack of blankets.  This is plain in photos.  

To save their own sanity guards must act with armoured minds.  Again, years from now the stories will come out in clouds of regret.  The stories will be nothing like the patriotic old movies we see on television late at night, the remnants of a righteous war that has left obsolete armament shrapnel eating through our flesh and tainting our understanding of multi-national dilemmas.

Luckily, this is not a one-nation or even an American problem.  And even more luckily, internal to this nation and stretching into many others is a pre-existing network of indigenous people with a tradition of honouring families.  We have yet to hear much from the black “world,” now ever more powerful and thoughtful.  These are citizens who are not dominated by Washington, DC.  Indeed, the White House thinks of them as invisible people who serve and guard without personalities.  The day they become so outraged that they throw open the doors . . .   it’s happened before.  Don’t mislay those plans for a new White House.

Saturday, May 26, 2018


So how does a writer bring the reality of truly evil actions alive in the minds and hearts of Americans?

We seem to think of immigrant children as being something like puppies to be put here and there, but what Homeland Security is actually doing is what we saw earlier in those Central American states where children were seized and adopted out to the ruling people — or simply killed.  Use a search engine for a phrase like “Guatemalan stolen children.”  It was only in 2013 that the world was outraged by this.

What the USA is doing at the border is no different.  Officials have “lost” and warehoused infants and toddlers, subteens — not kids who made their way north on their own.  We can only hope they haven’t fallen into the hands of illegal adopters, traffickers, sex circles or killers.  As it is, their purported guardians (jailors) don’t know how to handle terrified and defiant children, so they resort to threats and abuse.

The repercussions are enormous.  Children are only in the process of becoming what they soon will be.  Everything that happens is indelible.  Without their parents they will always have a huge hole in their guts, a subversive suspicion of life, and some of them will combine their despair with revenge.  That’s leaving the parents out of the equation.

What about the effect on US citizens who see this happening?  The bitterness and rage are unmeasurable and will come down on the heads of those who are identifiable, though they may not be the same people as the guards and officers who are guilty.  My Twitter feed — which is very limited, mostly Western Canda — includes more expressions of outrage every day.

From Twitter:

"There are many ways to describe the @realDonaldTrump policy of ripping children away from their parents at the border.

-It violates human rights laws. 
-It is unAmerican. 
-It would shock Jesus.
But I think the most appropriate way to describe it is this:-The policy is evil."

“My son was crying as I put him in the seat. I did not even have a chance to try to comfort my son, because the officers slammed the door shut as soon as he was in his seat. I was cry, too. I cry even now when I think about…"

"Even if you’re not a parent, it isn’t hard to imagine the mind-bending horror of your child being ripped from your arms as she cries, screams, and begs the border guard to stop. 
"Please please don’t do this Mr. President. 

I predict that Trump will pretend he didn’t know, will orate about being shocked and horrified and will pretend he’s ending the practice heroically.  Then he’ll claim that all those bad people doing this to children must be Democrats.  One third of the nation will fall for this, because they always do.

But the parents of these children will neither forgive nor forget and neither will the children either.  The seeds of rebellion on an international scale are being planted all along the border — far more deadly than denying them sanctuary.  They have lived with death for a long time.  They know it when they see it.

More from Twitter:

PBS has confirmed that some of these children have been released to HUMAN TRAFFICKERS by the US government.

The retaliation for this will go on for a long time.  These toddlers will be voters.  Some of them will not have time for niceties like voting.  Today’s Congressmen (and women) are assuming they’ll retired and safe.  They shouldn’t count on it.

HHS Official Says Agency Lost Track of Nearly 1,500 Unaccompanied

"A top official from the Department of Health and Human Services came under fire in a congressional hearing on Thursday over how the agency tracks unaccompanied minors after they are released to . . . "


No threat of violence is going to touch anyone except the paranoid, and some of them need a million dollars of protection to feel safe.  No money can comfort the soul-eating knowledge that they have emotionally eviscerated the innocent, tortured their mothers with fear and loss, unjustly penalized toddlers.  It interests me to find out what child-raising practices in America produced adults like this, but I think I know. 

“A blistering report released this week alleges that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents neglected and abused more than 100 migrant children who were in their custody.

“The report, from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the University of Chicago Law School International Human Rights Clinic, is based on thousands of pages of records detailing accusations from 116 unaccompanied minors, many of whom were asylum-seekers, while in temporary detention centers.

“Migrant children long have reported varied mistreatment in CBP custody, including sexual, physical, and verbal abuse, and the deprivation of basic needs such as food, water, and emergency medical care,” the ACLU said in a summary of the report.

“Some children accused officers of punching or kicking them and running them over with vehicles. Others described being tased and verbally abused by officers.

“Children also described being deprived of edible food and water, held in freezing cells, touched inappropriately by officers and threatened with rape or death.

“The report accuses the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of violating federal law by not reporting the alleged abuses to the FBI.

“The ACLU obtained more than 30,000 pages of records for its report, all of which relate to alleged abuses taking place between 2009 and 2014, under the Obama administration.

“These records document a pattern of intimidation, harassment,  physical abuse, refusal of medical services, and improper deportation,” the report said. “These failures have allowed a culture of impunity to flourish within CBP, subjecting immigrant children to conditions that are too often neglectful at best and sadistic at worst.”\

“This is not the first time DHS has faced scrutiny for alleged abuse. 

“In 2014, DHS conducted an investigation into past allegations from the ACLU of abuse against unaccompanied minors, saying that they were “unable to substantiate any of the allegations.   But, in its report, the ACLU states that past DHS investigations “indicate systemic failures to meaningfully investigate the allegations” and have failed to take action to address the complaints.”

It's not a wall that our border needs -- it's a heart.  We are earning the contempt of countries that used to be our allies.