Category Archives: Liars

Philosophy by Limerick: * A Corncob and a Lie

“Bend over and spread your cheeks,”
Aristocrat smirks to the meeks,
“Believe you’ll inherit
By pachyderm merit
Or equine, earth’s limitless peaks.”

Old Jules

* Apologies to Archibald MacLeish when he was young.

Vice President Spiro T. Agnew – A Man Ahead of his Time

What can a person say about Spiro Agnew?  Most of you readers are too young to remember the most well-known, most popular Vice President in US history.  He served at a time when the US was torn apart by civil strife, an undeclared, unpopular foreign war, and a level of corruption in the Executive Branch few citizens allowed themselves to suspect.

Agnew.  Forced from office for accepting bribes before, “Everyone does it,” became a defense.

But, of course, that was long before Iran-Contra, Bush 1&2, Billary Clinton, Blackwater, and the current king.  Nowadays Spiro would seem clean, honest and soft-spoken.  A pristine choice for wannabe king for either of the parties:

In April 1973, when revelations about Watergate began to surface, Agnew was the choice of 35 percent of Republican voters to be the next Republican nominee for President, while then-California Governor Ronald Reagan was second on the Gallup Poll. [18]

Spiro Theodore Agnew (pronunciation: /ˈspɪr ˈæɡnj/; November 9, 1918 – September 17, 1996) was the 39th Vice President of the United States (1969–1973), serving under President Richard Nixon, and the 55th Governor of Maryland (1967–1969). He was the first Greek American to hold these offices.

During his fifth year as Vice President, in the late summer of 1973, Agnew was under investigation by the United States Attorney‘s office in Baltimore, Maryland, on charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery and conspiracy. In October, he was formally charged with having accepted bribes totaling more than $100,000 while holding office as Baltimore County Executive, Governor of Maryland, and Vice President of the United States. On October 10, 1973, Agnew was allowed to plead no contest to a single charge that he had failed to report $29,500 of income received in 1967, with the condition that he resign the office of Vice President. Nixon replaced him by appointing by then House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford to the office of Vice President.

Agnew is the only Vice President in United States history to resign because of criminal charges. Ten years after leaving office, in January 1983, Agnew paid the state of Maryland nearly $270,000 as a result of a civil suit that stemmed from the bribery allegations.

Agnew soon found his role as the voice of the so-called “silent majority“, and by late 1969 he was ranking high on national “Most Admired Men” polls. He also inspired a fashion craze when one entrepreneur introduced Spiro Agnew watches (a take off on the popular Mickey Mouse watch); conservatives wore them to show their support for Agnew, while many liberals wore them to signify their contempt.

Agnew was known for his scathing criticisms of political opponents, especially journalists and anti-war activists. He attacked his adversaries with relish, hurling unusual, often alliterative epithets—some of which were coined by White House speechwriters William Safire and Pat Buchanan—including “pusillanimous pussyfooters”, “nattering nabobs of negativism” (written by Safire), and “hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history”.[15] He once described a group of opponents as “an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiro_Agnew

Keeping the Sacrifices Hidden – Straw Men, Trojan Horses and Pick-Pockets

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I’ve been pondering this strange dearth of political bumper-stickers, which seems to me to be unprecedented for a year of national elections.  Particularly contests over who’s to be king.  Maybe it’s just the fact it doesn’t matter anymore.  The scrapings of US production so far gone what’s left isn’t worth stealing. 

But maybe there’s another factor at work.

One of the big let-downs of the post WWII era for kings, king-makers, wannabe kings and king-makers, war profiteers, and economic shell-game artists, was the citizenry.  They were stupid, but not as stupid as they needed to be to satisfy the hopes and expectations of those who needed their [preferably active, but at leat tacit] consent to be gang raped.

By the end of the Vietnam War it became obvious that, aside from a few mindless flag-wavers and a re-definition of the word ‘patriot’, most of the citizenry wouldn’t support long-duration undeclared wars, for instance.  Even when the body-bags only contained volunteers.  Even when the sacrifices were disguised in exponential growth of national debt.

Frustrating, tricky business.  Constantly having to dream up Wars on Poverty, Wars on Drugs, Wars on Terrorism to keep them from  noticing their pocketbooks and jobs were going away.  Convincing them  the reason was undocumented workers, non-Christian religious fanatics, and the folks who couldn’t find jobs.

Maybe there’s just a growing realization within the population that it’s already been robbed of everything of value, that it allowed itself to be surrounded with cops, mercenaries, a huge prison system, sophisticated weaponry, and personal debt it can never repay.

And not a single name they could put on a bumper sticker who isn’t a part of what did it, will continue doing it.

Maybe they’re finally just saying, “To hell with it.  They can kill me, but they can’t eat me.”  At least not until someone discovers a way for politicians, bankers, multi-national chief executives, and dynastic wealthy to live longer by ‘donated’ body parts of the citizenry as a means of collecting personal debts or paying off national ones.

Old Jules

A Military Man

Previously posted August 21, 2005:

The man in this picture is my old friend Richard Sturm.

[Note:  I’m going to edit this a bit before I post it to the So Far From Heaven blog, add and subtract a few hindsights and afterthoughts.  Jules]

Richard died in December, 2004, in Port Lavaca, Texas.

Richard was a 100% disabled veteran of the United States Army. From 1964, until his death he spent his entire adult life in and out of Veterans hospitals. When he wasn’t in a hospital he was usually in a café somewhere drinking coffee and being friendly with anyone who’d give him the time of day.

Or he was with me, camping, fishing, seeing the sights, singing, passing the time. That happened less than he’d have liked, probably more than I’d have preferred in a lot of instances. Richard wasn’t an easy man to be around.   

A while back [2011] his brother and I were discussing Richard, and Vic remarked, “You never really saw Richard when he was at his worst.”  I didn’t say so at the time, but I think I spent a lot more time with Richard over the years than Vic did, or than Vic was ever aware I did. 

Aside from Richard, all those Sturms were super-achievers, and although I spent a lot of years from 1965 onward considering Vic among my best friends, he was a busy man.  People sought him out.  If I wanted to talk to him, I called him.  Over all those decades I could count on one hand the times he initiated a contact between the two of us.  “People call me.  I don’t call them,” he explained to me once when I mentioned it to him.   I’d guess that applied to Richard, same as it did to me.

But that’s digression, edited in this May, 2012, with a lot of hindsight.

Before Richard volunteered for the Army he was a patriotic youth, intelligent, dynamic, from a family of super-achievers. He graduated from high school with honors, well liked and respected by his teachers and classmates. A young man with a future. Then he joined the US Army.

In 1964, he was stationed in Massachusetts with the Army Security Agency. Without his knowledge or consent, he was selected for an experiment by the career military men who were his superiors. He was given a massive dose of LSD. He sustained permanent brain damage as a result.

Richard spent several months in a mental ward of an Army hospital, presumably under observation by the powers-that-be, to see what they’d wrought. Then they gave him is medical discharge, released him from service and from the hospital, and sent him home without confiding to anyone what the problem was and why it happened.

Several years later after he’d been examined, had his thyroid removed, given electric shock treatments, everything the puzzled medicos could think of to try and improve this mysterious condition, his brother, an attorney, came to suspect something of what had happened. The stories of events of this sort had begun to creep out of hiding and into the press.

A formal demand was made for release of his records, and finally the story came out.

Richard wasn’t injured defending his country. He didn’t get his skull fractured on some battlefield by enemies. He was betrayed by the career military men of his own country, officers and enlisted men, whom he’d given an oath to obey and defend. He served in good faith, and he was betrayed by his country.

Some have noted on the threads that I don’t have an automatic high regard for career military men. They’re correct. Richard’s just an extreme example of thousands of men who’ve been killed, injured, disabled by irresponsible, insane, and idiotic decisions by men who make a career of blindly following orders without thinking, weighing consequences, not feeling any remorse so long as they were ordered to do it.

Like good little NAZIs, Japanese, Soviets, Israelies, Americans, Cambodians, British, Africans, Chinese, Cubans, Argentinans and military men everywhere.  Just following orders. 

Support our troops.

Old Jules

2012 note:  During a conversation with Vic in 2011, I mentioned the LSD experiment and Vic replied, “It’s a shame I could never prove it.  Richards records were all destroyed in a fire at the Army Records Holding Center in the late 1960s.”  Live and learn.  Somewhere back there, I must have heard it from Richard, I came to think the records had been uncovered and it was established, official fact.

Mel King

The hoopla about the dead cop in Tijeras got me thinking about my old friend, Mel King, and another dead cop just down the road from this one in Mountainair, New Mexico, in 1987. 

That one changed Mel’s life in a multitude of ways, for all the remainder of it.  I posted this on another blog December 21, 2005, the anniversary of his death:

If I ever write another book, Mel King will have to occupy a few chapters of it.  I’ve mentioned him a few times on this blog, but mostly, I’ve not been able to write much about him at all.  I’m still digesting what happened to him.

On one of the threads recently the discussion drifted to the War on Drugs.  I suppose if I’d never met Mel I probably wouldn’t have thought much about that issue, would never have bothered to form an opinion about it.

But in many ways, Mel was a product of that war, from the time it began during the Reagan Administration, he was one of the adversaries.  It changed him from a small-time marijuana growing woods-vet to a wealthy man.  When the ‘war’ drove the price of jade sky-high he was approached by a number of ranchers in the area, asked to teach them how to grow weed in quantity.  He became their broker, as well as a grower.

The War on Drugs involved Mel in a major felony arrest, confiscation of much of his property, caused the mysterious death of a police officer, got Mel targeted repeatedly on America’s Most Wanted television series, and constant harassment by the FBI, State Police and local police for the remainder of his life.

They wanted to believe he killed a Mountainair, NM, police officer because it was the only construction of the facts that didn’t expose the rotten core of the War on Drugs.  If Mel didn’t kill that cop, another cop, or cops, almost certainly did.

Unacceptable.

Shortly before he was murdered in December, 2004, he showed me an anonymous, hand-written letter accusing him of killing the policeman and threatening to come balance it all.  The undertone and nuances of the letter suggested it was written by another member of the ‘policeman brotherhood’ who wanted to even things out, not because he knew the dead cop, but because a person doesn’t get suspected of killing a cop and get by with it.

It’s time I began writing down a few things about Mel King anyway.

Mel King was a major, financially successful marijuana grower and large-scale broker in New Mexico for many years.  During that time he was also a long-term heroin addict.  (He first became addicted to morphine while in the hospital recovering from wounds he got in the Marine Corps in Vietnam).

The only way Mel got away with what he was doing for so many years was by being considered a complete maniac, and by making certain the authorities got their fair share of the proceeds.  He drove around in a VW van with bullet-holes in the windshield from the inside.

When he got busted in 1987, with 150 pounds in his house it was because he made himself too big a nuisance to be allowed to go on.  He was attracting too much attention.

But even so, he never came to trial.  That 150 pounds of high-grade vanished from the evidence lockers.  The empty bags with his evidence numbers on them were found in the home of the policeman who made the initial stop during his arrest.  But someone murdered that policeman, probably for the marijuana, which is how they happened to find the empty evidence bags.

While he was in jail awaiting bail, Mel resolved to turn his life around.  He freed himself from heroin and when he was released he started a successful furniture business, did his best to stay clean for the remainder of his life.  Succeeded in being a trustworthy, successful man and one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

During the years I knew him, Mel was a deeply spiritual man.  He was honest, guileless, hard-working, sincere, courageous, and in many ways, wise.  We prospected a lot of canyons together, talked of many things over campfires listening to the wind in the pines.  He was also my partner during Y2K.

Mel and I disagreed on many things, but he believed, as I do, that he knew what happens to a man when he dies.  He never feared death and he never believed he’d done anything in this life to give him any reason to fear it.

I believe he was right.

Old Jules

About Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms

From a previous post April 3, 2005

Okay.  What’s been on your mind this morning, the readership asks, me adroitly putting the words into the communal mouth.

In between working on other internet projects, I’ve been thinking about Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms.  What is it about those things?  What’s the appeal to us?  Why do they so frequently erode into acid exchanges between the users?  How do complete strangers come to have such a rancor for one another?  And how to otherwise, probably nice enough people (they have to be… someone would have taught them manners if they behaved that way offline) come to have such nasty streaks when they wear a mask of anonymity?

I’ve seen discussion boards and participated in a few previously.  In those days, a few people were still doing non-spectator things outdoors.  Enough were, at least, to keep sites of that sort in business selling metal detectors, gold pans, books, sluiceboxes, dry-washers and whatnot.  That’s when I first noticed this discussion board spinoff phenomenon I eventually came to think of as the snake pit.

People would come to the boards to learn about prospecting, about a particular lost mine, about some piece of equipment or other. But on any site there’d come a time when a specific group of individuals would just sort of hang out there.  They weren’t there to learn, and they obviously weren’t there to share information.  Mostly, they were just wasting time, disparaging people who asked questions, disparaging the attempts others made to answer.  The snake pit.

These weren’t just trolls.  They were men who knew the subjects the board was created to discuss.  But treasure hunters and prospectors have never been long on the information-sharing business.  So instead, these guys hung around blustering at one another, arguing which had the most skill with a metal detector, which detector brand was best.  Online acquaintances who frequently hated one another and everyone else, but still hung around.

Mid-1998, I became convinced Y2K was an actual threat.  That belief led me to another type of chat room.  A place where people who believed similarly hung around to talk about  TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) and exchange information about Y2K preparedness.  At least, that’s how it began.

Before too long we all discovered that, while we each believed Y2K was going to happen, to one degree or another, we had some serious rifts in the other aspects of our lives.  Some were born again Christians who wanted to ask one another and answer one another whether this was going to be the Rapture, and if so, when it would begin, and what it would be like, both for themselves, and for the non-believers who’d be left behind to suffer it out on the ground.

That sort of thing.  That, and just how bad would things get, post-Y2K.  And how much a person should bet that it would happen at all. Attempts at risk analysis, though most of us didn’t know a lot about computers.

From mid-’98 until I departed for my woods-retreat mid-’99, I watched the Y2K chat room with a measure of awe, disgust, concern and wonderment.  I watched those people who came to the chat room to learn become experts after a few visits (the fundamentals of preparedness were, after all, relatively simple).  I watched the competition among the new survival experts when `newbies’ came to the chat room. People who’d just heard about Y2K and wanted to know more.  The poor old newbies found themselves swarmed by all the old-timers who were, themselves, newbies a couple of weeks earlier.  Everyone wanted to demonstrate his knowledge by telling some newbie about it all.

Meanwhile, the rancor, the snapping and snarling, the pro-gun/anti-gun, born-again/non-religious wars raged among those folks who came there first to just learn, who all had the same reason for their original visits.  And, of course, the romances.

The snake pit.

So.  How do strangers who have no reason to give a hoot in hell what one another think come to such a pass?  What is it about discussion boards and chat rooms that draws people so closely into one another that they wish to apply pain, sarcasm, poison?  That they actually allow the poison being spewed by the malignant random stranger to pierce their feelings?

It’s a study.  I’ll swear it is.

Old Jules

When Bad Things Happen to Good Megafauna

Good morning readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Old Sol and I continued our conversation from the previous morning yesterday.

“So.  You’re saying you think I need more diversity in my art?”

“I’m sure as hell not saying you need more ego.  You’ve got more than enough of that, what with your astrophysicists, Hopi Witch Doctors and Mayan-bean-counter buddies.”

“That was a hurtful thing to say.  What are you so irritated about this morning?”

“I’m not irritated.  Sometimes your bluster’s a bit tedious though.  You’re forever trying to take credit for everything that happens, whether you had anything to do with it or not.  But the most cataclysmic event, for instance, that’s happened since man has been around, you had nothing to do with.”

“Um.  You’re referring to the megafauna?”

“Yeah.  Millions of rhino, mammoth, hippos, sabre-tooth tigers all killed in the space of a few days.  Lots of them frozen fast enough to keep them from decaying much.  Carcasses stacked up like cord wood over half the planet.  If you’re able to do that, big fella, I say go for it.”

“I never said I did.  That wasn’t me.  We stars are mostly uniformists, gradualists, except for a few rare renegade exceptions.  We don’t go in for drama.”

“Okay.  I’ll buy that.  I envy you, though, getting to see all those giant beasties wiped out.”

“Yeah.  It was a sight to behold.  Just out of curiosity, what do you think happened?”

“It’s obvious what happened.  All a person has to do is discount everything he believes he knows already that would keep it from happening.  Then allow himself  to look at whatever options are left on the plate.  There aren’t many.”

“I’m about out of time.  But you’re admitting the reason nobody looks at the obvious isn’t my fault?”

“No.  I guess it isn’t.  They’re all lap-dancing to their own agendas.  Sometimes you end up as part of the agenda, is all.  I reckons.”

Old Jules

Today on Ask Old Jules:  Adopting an Illusion?

Old Jules, if you act like something for long enough, will you become like the illusion?  If you acted as a good moral, rule-abiding citizen, could you eventually adopt those beliefs and habits?