A SPY IN CANAAN

Marc Perrusquia

This regrettable book on an important subject is not worth reading. It is about Ernest Withers, photographer for some of the Civil Rights Movement and an admitted FBI informant, a spy the book calls him. The prolix prose of long breezy sentence conveying little belabor the reader. It is difficult to learn what Ernest Withers actually did, other than take photographs and befriend everyone. 

The goal of the FBI was to find links to communists, investigate Black Power persons and to uncover criminal activities. For 120 pages the author describes none of Wither’s activities to any FBI goal. Indeed, most of the front end of the book recounts tales since 1970, beyond the 1950-1960s years. This volume is not a history at all.

No description of the Civil Rights movement from the perspective of  journalists and photographers is told. The author is incapable of setting the book within the Fifties and Sixties. Indeed the author notes Wither’s passed on a lot of gossip, some of it true, little of it embarrassing and most of it nonsense. No attempt is made to describe a journalist’s job – trials and tribulations – covering and within the Civil Rights Movement. It seems odd that a journalist [the author] writing about another journalist would completely avoid this issue. 

One is surprised to find Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, mentioned twice in the first 30 pages of the book. Fred Hampton’s death is also mentioned but it did not happen in an apartment but in a house. [Roy Wilkins, Ramsey Clarke, Search and Destroy.] Apparently Withers had nothing to with the map supplied by another FBI informant in Chicago. Most of Wither’s work and activities are around Memphis, his hometown, and along the Mississippi. Was there a difference between the Civil Rights Movement there and elsewhere? Did the FBI recognize the difference? Did Withers try to inform and correct the FBI? [Indeed, did any informant attempt to delineate and clarify theory and action for the FBI, or was the FBI so arrogant that it believed itself capable of doing so]. Finally, the “Northern” Civil Rights Movement had been affected by Black Power and city riots. Those occurred in late March 1968 during Doctor King’s first Memphis march in support of the Sanitation strike. The author of SPY neglects to give any history, background or casual references to Northern impulses invading or influencing Memphis where the Civil Rights Movement of the South had engaged.

Hope for a cogent story in SPY vanishes with each page, and each unnecessary sentence. It becomes unforgivable that within the writing, that the author uses I a first person pronoun. The author himself had nothing to do with the activities of the 1950-1960s Civil Rights Movement ,and he also fails to justify in the text why he feels privileged to use I.

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MORON

Whom do you think about when the word, moron, is used? A moron is one or all of the following,

A fat bulk weighing 400 pounds who must have suits altered monthly to accommodate his bulging heft.

An enormity who lies and complains when the press reports the lies, calling those reports fake news.

A creature who negotiates by threatening, and next reveals preliminary negotiations as glorious successes.

A woman attacking roach, groping because nothing else on his body works.

An animal unable to read gets his knowledge through osmosis like a one-cell bacterium.

A dork whose knowledge of cliches, adjectives and adverbs constitutes his intelligence.

A business man who does not know how to finish a deal, and make a purchase profitable without heavy debt and many times has gone into bankruptcy.

A cretan who likes chaos revealing his inability to manage his own affairs, let alone the affairs of others.

A creep so braggadocio, so self-inflated, so narcissistic that perception and reality are distorted.

An extremist who posits hate and urges sleazes to act out their urges, quirks and inanities.

A slob seeking instantaneous adulation, is charmed by flattery, and craves praise when none of it is warranted.

A twerp thinking twiddly, twitterly and thumbly to finger, phalange and paw.

A duffer who spends most of his time in the rough.

A very, very huge whimper who whines, pouts and bitches like a cry baby.

A decision maker who is fickle and variable like a shuttlecock.

A big empty in power and with power who accomplishes nothing.

A wonk whose fancy steers personal and professional histories from provable facts leading to truth.

A blob who never mans-up, who does not know what it means to man-up, and is devoid of manly courage.

A con man so wondering and mindless that he is persuaded to say anything by the last person he has spoken with.

Somebody old enough to have lived during the Sixties and does not know that an FBI informant is a spy.

An entity who does not know that Russian political leaders are enemies of the United States of America.

A glob who displays more disorder and mess as each day passes.

A grame so rude, gross, offensive and abashed that is should never be communicated.

A grubber so desperate for money that he would sell his mother, his children and his wife for a ruble. 

A klunk who does not know he has made mistakes and therefore does not learn from his own mistakes.

A joker so vain that image blinds all faults.

A claptrap flapping lips like Donald Duck.

A putz whose morals and ethics are simian.

A goon covering his present and past deeds with child lies, little boy acts and Mickey Mouse loyalties.

A savage accurately described as hopeless, feckless, faithless, uncompassionate, unforgiving and censorious.

A tweety-bird who flies around the world insulating peoples and their leaders, and gets no frequent flier miles. 

A geezer who lived during the Watergate Scandal who does not know that attorneys have Rules of Professional Responsibility and Canons of Ethics to abide by. 

A glop with no dignity, integrity or class who is an empty suit wearing extravagant cloth. As MarkTwain observed, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.” God be thanked.

A warm sensitive being who is easily frazzled  and discombobulated by cross-words, self doubts, no self-esteem and a complete lack of self efficacy, so he is inutile.

 

MARGOT AT THE WEDDING

Review

Nicole Kidman travels to her girlhood home along the seashore where her sister Jennifer Jason Leigh lives and is getting married to Jack Black. Black plays a former musician and a parlor nihilist who is emotional and has nothing smart to say though out the movie.

Nichol lives in New York City where she has a career as a writer. She has left home and made it.

Her life is set. Jennifer seems the younger and somewhat the bad girl who could never leave home.

The movie tells the growing experiences for Nicole and Jennifer, intensely during their reunion and handling issues arising before, apart and those now they are together. It seems Nicole is less settled than her status, prosperity and fame should make her; she seems to unravel, not from the setting but because she is around people she grew up with and have an intimacy with her. All the while Jennifer seems an adult, less than perfect, but stable in her surroundings, although marriage to Black will create problems.

Two better actresses could not have been found to fill these roles and tell this story.

AN AFFRONT TO ENGLISH

The “Russian” Civil Wars 1916-1926, Jonathan D. Smele, presents a fascinating subject. But it seems written in a language that has endings for specific congregations for its verbs and with many declensions for its nouns – languages like Russian, German or Latin.

The strength of English prose is verbs, actions directing nouns. Most well-written books and articles recognize this rule. Verbs are close to subjects; no one ever loses sight of that combination, or the purpose for which noun-verb was used. If a writer likes to discourse in a sentence, go on and on for 70 – 100 -120 words, an English sentence better have parallel structures. Logic dictates it. (It’s not the logic of the language, but logic – premise, minor premise, conclusion)

In Mein Kampf the translator observes,  

…mixed metaphors are just as mixed in one language as in the other

other. A lapse of grammatical logic can occur in any language. An

English language Title might be just a redundant as the German one;…

No non-German would write such labyrinthine sentences…I have

cut down the sentences only when the length made them unintelligible

in English…

The substantives are a different matter. Here it has been necessary

to make greater changes, because in many cases the use of verbal nouns

is singly incompatible with the English language…Hitler’s piling up of

substances is bad German, but the fact remains that numerous German

writers do the same thing, while this failing is almost non-existence in

English.

…much German prose, some not of thee worst quality, around in…

useless little words: wohl, ja, denn, schon, noch, eigentlich, etc. Hitler’s

sentences are …clogged with particles, not to mention such private

favorites as besonders and damals which he strews about…needlessly.

His particles have a certain political significance, for in the petit

bourgeois mind they are, like carved furniture, an embodiment of the

home-grown German virtues, while their avoidance is viewed with

suspicion as foreign and modernistic.

[Translator’s note, Mein Kampf, Boston, Mariner Books, 1999, p. xi-xii.]

Parenthetical words and terms at the beginning of an English sentence, or at the end, or sometimes the middle indicated by the use of parentheses indicate a lack of writing skills.

Let’s observe one demonstration: 

On the contrary, the events that took place in the period from

around  1989 to 1991 and their volcanic reverberations across

the former Soviet space have very greatly enriched, necessitated

and energized historical investigations, as they have made it

unchallengeably clear that any approach to the “Russian” Civil

War that places the Red and White struggle within the matrix too

starkly in its foreground is missing the point.

[Smele, The “Russian” Civil War 1916-1926, N.Y. Oxford, 2017, p. 6]

There’s a lot to chew on in that one sentence. The following sentences present a lot of gristle and fat, also. I noted this sentence was in the INTRODUCTION, and believed getting to Chapter One would break up and provide good sailing.

Alas, the first sentence of Chapter One reads, 

Despite what has already been noted above, the is also a very

strong case for the dating of outbreak of the “Russian” Civil War

on the extensive anti-Russian uprising in Central Asia during the

summer of 1916, as a large number of the tsar’s Muslim subjects,

in a rebellion that anticipated the Basmachi movement, resisted

the forced mobilization into labor battalions to serve the Russian

army and the armaments industry (although this was the most

overt assault on local sensibilities that had been repeatedly

affronted by the waves of non-Muslim settlers that had been moving

into the region for a half century.)

[IBID, p. 17.]

Note the hesitancy to tell anything in the text which is further emphasized by the third sentence of that same paragraph beginning with Moreover and goes on for 100 words or so; the last sentence begins with Thus. Blue pencil it all! Also note, the book defines the Busmachi movement as a term for Muslim bandits during Soviet times. This sentence attempts to expand and explain incidences in the nineteenth century as well as those occurring, perhaps at late as 1980.

The usual manner of writing history or even fiction is for a non-writer to write chronologically. This writer decides to put a flashback into parentheses while using Soviet terms indicating more recent events. The outcome is a whole series of unexplained events of one hundred fifty years.

I wanted to learn of the “Russian” Civil War, its battles, the philosophy, its politics, and how its effects might survive today. But reading such diversion makes the story overly complicated, suggests portions of that war arose from local circumstances, and demonstrates the historian does not have a the big picture in his head clearly. He could not communicate much. The writing reminded me of translator’s note from Mein Kampf.  

P.S. One way Hermann Boell was taught to write was editing Mein Kampf, editing to a third of its length. The text was readable. I believe The “Russian” Civil War could benefit from the same treatment and be vastly improved.

BOOMERANG

michael lewis

This gossipy book does not penetrate; it replies on and conveys surfacy impressions. It is told in a loose journalistic style to recount lives of various actors, none of whom have stayed as movers and shakers. As a book of the times (2008-2011 – setting, years, attitudes of people and countries), it keys the paint of subjects, but presents nothing unusual or memorable.

In one chapter Lewis visits Germany, and ends up on the Reeperbahn (Red Light District in Hamburg). Red lights affirm Lewis the luxury of citing Alan Dundes, venerable, cherished professor of folklore at Berkeley. Lewis talks about Dundes’ essay describing German impressions of s–t. 

Although writing a book about finances, apparently Lewis was unaware of the financial power house Hamburg was. After World War Two it was the largest city in West Germany. Frankfurt had the bourse, but Hamburg had the trade. Historically Hamburg was home to George Phillipp Telemann, who wrote music for five local churches and is a master beside Bach and Handel. Centuries before Telemann Hamburg was a city in the Hanseatic League. Boomerang would have been a much better book if Lewis had stuck to finance and history rather than whimsical escapees into s–t.

I found this book on a library-sales shelf, 25 cents, which is a lot better than the dust jacket price, $25.95. But no index, no footnotes, no bibliography, nothing to make it appear researched or authoritative, it’s a read to skip. 

THE SPANISH-AMERICAN FRONTIER; THE MISSISSIPPI QUESTION, 1783-1803

By Arthur Preston Whitaker

The historian, Arthur Whitaker, was an eminent fellow who wrote diplomatic and foreign relations history simply and well. He researched in Spain before the Spanish Civil War and next published these two volumes 80-90 years ago.

What are the stories? Governments of Spain, the United States, France and Britain all tried to exert influence and control west of the Appalachians. The targets were native Americans, who didn’t like any of the Europeans, and emigrants from the eastern States coming into the Ohio and the Tennessee Valleys. They wanted to use the Mississippi River to the sea. Movers and shakers were land spectators, commercial sharks and politicians, somewhat represented by John Wilkerson, US Army Brigadier General who negotiated with the Spanish to bring Kentucky under Spanish rule, had a Spanish pension (mostly unpaid), and had other intrigues with Spanish authorities in New Orleans. Wilkerson, of course, had been a friend of Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War.

Having no rules and less law and order west of the Appalachians between 1783-1803 was a boon to many, one being William Clark, brother of George Rogers Clark, Revolutionary War hero. Clark intrigued, tried to push the Spanish out, had a military unit, fought Native Americans in private wars, speculated in land and complained to the Spanish that the natives were restless. After the Louisiana Purchase (1803) he went west with Meriwether Lewis and came back to become governor of the Missouri Territory. Later he was Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Incidentally, having connived and intrigued for 20 years James Wilkerson survived the 1807 Treason Trial of Aaron Burr; with a few wrinkles he kept offices and rank.

The story begun in these books tell of New York interests, involving Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. They were good friends, having vibrant conversations, dining together and partying. Hamilton’s fingerprints are all over plans and intrigues involving British-American plots to diminish Spanish contacts and push Spain from North America. Hamilton and Burr likely talked much about west of the Appalachian intrigues and filibustering. After 1804 Burr continued those activities but not enough to constitute treason. Note, at some time Aaron Burr moved his personal papers to North Carolina, a staging area for a move west. Americans now know of these papers because Burr has few: They were lost at sea along with the ship and Burr’s daughter.

Whatever happened west of the Appalachians involving Burr and Hamilton, was further obscured by The Louisiana Purchase, Burr killing Hamilton in a dual (1804) and the Burr Treason Trial judged by John Marshall(1807).

More history needs researching, but these two volumes provide a solid foundation on which to begin. 

NEW MARTHA MITCHELL

Remember the old Martha Mitchell, wife of Attorney General John Mitchell? She not related to Margaret or to Andrea. She was nicknamed, Mouth of the South, and forcibly sedated by a shrink. While intoxicated on something himself, Nixon said she had a drinking problem. 

The new Martha Mitchell is Ginni Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court. 

Ginni believes she can scold persons who she disagrees with using Twitter-like words. It is Twitter when the writer writes “u” rather than “you,” and uses words that comprise incomplete sentences.

Ginni wrote: “To all the kids that walked out of school to protest guns. Those are the shoes of Jews that gave up their firearms to Hitler. They were led into gas chambers, murdered and buried in mass graves. Pick up a history book and you’ll realize what happens when u give up freedoms and why we have them.” (From The Hill website.)

Also from The Hill website Ginni rants, “I want the old regular America back,…MINUS left’s awful tactics.”

First Issue: Is this how Clarence Thomas wants to be represented? It detracts from the dignity and the serenity of the Supreme Court. It suggests on any Second Amendment issue, Clarence Thomas has already made up his mind and is forcibly influenced by an intimate voice. He should disqualify himself from those deliberations and any Court opinion. It supports the inference that if Clarence Thomas does not recuse himself, he has not fulfilled his oath of office: He is not servicing “in good behavior.”

Second Issue: Americans can expect anyone writing about Constitutional issues and politics to discuss the issues using rational means, unlike an angry Don Trump tweet. Perhaps Ginni Thomas knows her audience and apparently like herself, she knows the full extent of the attention span: State what is needed in 25 words or less. Framers of the Constitution, except Luther Martin, had longer attention spans than 25 words. No one arguing about the Bill of Rights in Congress in August, 1789, would listen to Ginni. 

Third Issue: Ginni urges gun protestors to read and learn history. That is commendable. But what of her history?

Ginni is ignorant. No one in Europe except the Swiss, had customs and statutory policies [not Constitutional Rules],  about owning and using firearms. Neither Jews nor anyone else had access to firearms. No one gave up firearms and next were marched into concentration camps. Where most of the Jewish victims of the camps came from – Central and Eastern Europe – there were no rights to bear arms.

Would the Holocaust have happened in a state where everyone could obtain firearms is a consideration which is off-point. It the German “left” had arms, would they have begun a Civil War to stave off Hitler? That’s a “what if” question. Note in Iraq Saddam Hussein let Iraqis bear arms, yet they lived under a “brutal” dictatorship.

What is the history in the old regular America of the 1960s. Eldridge Cleaver called for responses from “armed mad N—–s.” I don’t know how Ginni balances things because Cleaver was on the “left,” but he favored using firearms.

Also in the history of the old regular America were the right to bear arms and using them to kill political persons, “the left.” For instance within the life of Clarence Thomas, the Civil Rights Movement lost two notable figures Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King along with others trying to gain rights under the United States Constitution.   

Is is unfair to infer that the rant from Ginni Thomas suggests, Guys with guns have a right to kill everyone on “the left?” 

It is unlikely Ginni Thomas wants to leave that impression, but who knows? Her powers of communication must amplify beyond the 25 words-or-less audience.

Go back to Jim Crow days, does the old regular America include the times when some African Americans used guns to threaten whites and the KKK? Books have been written, but apparently unread and not considered.

“I want the old regular America back…MINUS the left’s awful tactics.” Does that support the America favored by Roy Moore, who believed everything in America was good and fine, when America had slavery, before the Thirteenth Amendment?

Fourth Issue: There is vehemence and hate in Ginni Thomas’s statements. During Bob Dole’s concession speech after the 1996 election results became public, he was interrupted by someone in the audience calling Bill Clinton “an enemy.” Dole corrected that voice: Bill Clinton was my opponent, not my enemy. Curiously, one can write derogatorily and humorously about an opponent, but that writing is very difficult against an enemy.

I grew up in a Conservative community and most of the people were ignorant and dull. I next went to Berkeley where the students and residents were ignorant, excitable and drugged. I learned along the way the all Americans must learn how to express themselves and support social and political positions beyond slogans, advertising or otherwise. (See Mein Kampf for political usefulness of slogans.) Americans are beyond Hitler and beyond the old regular America, unless they resort to homilies, slogans, chants, cheers, bromides, mottos and shibboleths. 

As Americans we must do better. Don’t wait for your opponents to steal a base or get a leg up. Do better now!   

JEFF VS. DON

 

  1. Jeff wears no makeup. Don is a painted man.

2.      Jeff has an imagination in business. Don is not a dreamer.

3.      Jeff looks ahead to the future. Don misunderstands the past.

4.     Jeff represents truth, justice and American business. Don is a Queenie.

5.     Jeff can write a check for a billion dollars. Don owes creditors a billion dollars.

6.    Jeff employs thousands of human beings. Don has fired scores of employees.

7.    Jeff is proposing a solution for health care. Don needs solutions for his health care.

8.    Jeff owns The Washington Post. Don is a source of fake news.

9.    Jeff has a retail site selling many products. Don’s imported trademarked products are found discounted at Ross, Marshalls, T.J. Max and Goodwill.

10.  Jeff can buy clothes off the rack. Don needs a bolt of material to make a suit.

11.  Mrs. Jeff sells books on the Internet. Mrs. Don has many free photographs on the Internet.

These reasons and more are why Don hates Jeff.

STORMY DANIELS PRIVACY

A confidentiality agreement is a promise to keep something private, or a pledge to keep something private.

Stormy Daniels signed a 2016 confidentiality agreement supposedly prepared by an attorney representing candidate Don Trump. Trump did not sign; the attorney, a non-party to the agreement, did not sign. The attorney advanced $130,000 of his own money to pay Daniels. Don Trump and his minions now claim the candidate did not know of the agreement with Stormy Daniels; Trump has not repaid the attorney for advancing the money. The reasons to disclaim knowledge of the agreement and of the money appears campaign finance law violations.

Under these facts a third party, the attorney, is trying to interpose a confidentiality agreement on Daniels (1) which has been disclaimed by the principal on other side, (2) which was never executed by the principal on the other side and (3) an executed fully enforceable agreement presents a prima facie case of a crime.

Stormy Daniels’ situation is like circumstances of victims, suspects, and law enforcement, on one hand, and internet companies and computer/telecommunication companies, on the other hand. The so-called electronic privacy agreements between the Internet/computer companies and suspects who commit crimes is the same as Stormy and the attorney. The Agreements drafted by Internet/Computer companies can be modified at will by the drafting parties e.g. Apple Computer routinely grants the Chinese government any access it wants. Consideration can be gone. Yet some Internet/Computer companies assert the right to keep secret the actions which may constitute an obstruction of justice; or they be aid the commission of the crime and be an ancillary after the fact; or they may interfere with an investigation, or they may lie to law enforcement. [When a person omits to disclose pertinent facts which are known or easily available to a person, individual or corporation, that is lying and may be a crime.] These omissions may arise in a number of circumstances: After a police shooting when the cops circle the wagons against investigators; when someone with foreign help (government or organization) commits a crime within this country; when an American kills another American and interposes an electronic privacy agreement.

Most Americans know what privacy is: home, family, talking. Benjamin Franklin warned (paraphrased) The only way a secret can be kept among three persons is for two of them to die. If something needs to be private don’t tell anyone. However, relying on agreements prepared by third parties which may not be executed, or is changed or violated at the whim of the drafting party, means there is no privacy at all.

IDIOTS, Jr.

Now that Pres Don has gotten rid of competent, intelligent white guys, individuals who have done something with life and prospered, unlike himself, he’s going for the retreads of the second string.

Larry Kudlow, new Director of the National Economic Council, is of CNBC fame where Don had his TV show. Larry wasn’t as big a person as Don; he’ll never be exposed to the elements on the Hollywood Walk of Fame i.e. the homeless. Both Larry and Don believe the homeless are using the tax cuts to bilk millions from the government from favorable programs handing out dough. How else, could the homeless live in such an exclusive neighborhood?

These attributes fit Larry’s behavior when giving advice on TV: Angry rich man complaining the United States government taxes him to give money to the poor. He sounds like and is as current as George Bush proposing economic prosperity, the lift of a driving dream. WRONG POLICIES! Larry’s a very retro guy: Let’s Make America Great Again Like It Was During The 1920s. That decade finished well, didn’t it?

John Bolton, new National Security Advisor, looks like a walrus, with a white lip. Give him a uniform, narrow his mustache and he looks like someone else. He also sounds like that person: Adamant, right and righteous, hard, and opinionated based upon faith and fibs.

Both men have had stints in government, and no one in government hired either of them later for any position of responsibility. But each stuck around getting whatever exposure was available – CNBC, Fox News, Fox Business and mail solicitations. Bolton had a petty foundation he was the face card for, and once a month, bi-weekly and sometimes weekly envelopes arrived with cant writings inside expounding political and social positions edging toward totalitarianism. The only benefit a right minded, red blooded American got from Bolton was observing in the photographs that Bolton was getting gray. (Kudlow is mostly bald.)

The big advantage that Don Trump has over Bolton and Kudlow – they are lower on the food chain. Neither has Don Trump’s girth, 400 pounds of flab. Each is relatively trim ready to wear second-hand, empty suits. They are names, sometimes recognizable, unrespected, timeless and each has fallen into Don’s event horizon. The best that can be said about each man: When Don fires them, no one will know they are gone.