Some unpublished political pieces

I should go easy on these. Politics brings out the ranter in nearly everybody, and I won't claim to be an exception. Right now there's only one draft on hand that really ought to see the light of day. (I'll post three, one of which is a bit of an emergency.)

This will change, I imagine, especially if the 2004 election becomes as filthy as everyone expects. The junta has always played a horrific form of hardball. Whoever takes them on is going to have to conduct at least part of the battle in the gutter. Double standards about this become even more indefensible than usual, considering what's at stake.

About that emergency: having joined a listserv about the dangerous Repugnican National Convention, seen some nonsense from Newsday there, and impulsively posted a few suggestions about a way to keep the Bush regime from making political hay out of RNC-related violence (probably instigated, as it usually has been historically, by rogue police and agents provocateurs, but easily blamed on dissenters), I ended up surprisingly getting cited in a Salon article on the subject on August 17, 2004. I'm no expert on political demos, just a citizen who doesn't want to see his neighborhood or his nation's civil liberties trashed. I'd like to make the whole brouhaha publicly accessible in case the story grows further legs in the media.

I wrote an impromptu piece on skepticism, fundamentalism, and memicide in the wake of September 11, 2001, in the white-hot rage of those wounded days. I shopped it around in a few directions, and it almost found a publisher a couple of times, but after several weeks its immediacy no longer seemed well-timed, so I stopped pitching it; it went into the 'might-have-been' file. Obviously, some points in it are dated: three days after the attack, for example, the U.S. hadn't yet retaliated against Afghanistan, let alone misdirected its attention and its might against "WMD-related program activities," or the suspicions/rumors/delusions thereof, in Iraq. Looking back at this piece, though, I think it's of at least historical interest. That horrible morning can have a huge range of meanings, but for me it confirmed something I've long believed: that fundamentalisms of any kind are becoming incompatible with the well-being, perhaps even the survival, of our species. They once served identifiable purposes, such as tribal cohesion -- that's why they've spread so far, and resisted reason for so long -- but cultures evolve just as species do, and the trait that protected you in certain circumstances can point you toward extinction in others. Are we approaching the point where utter conviction about theological matters changes from a survival-enhancing meme to a suicidal one, and where secular skepticism changes from the attitude of a small minority to an indispensable principle for the majority? I'd say we've already passed it, and I'd suggest that reasonable doubt on that score went up in two huge, dark, pungent clouds of, among other things, smoke.

General questions of long-range cultural evolution inevitably have immediate political implications. I've explored these, with an intemperate tone that I believe the times resoundingly call for, in an overtly partisan rant.

I'll add a blanket preface covering all this material, since some of it is likely to antagonize a few people: I'm writing as a commentator, speculator, and analyst, not a reporter, and I have to be my own ombudsman. I take full responsibility for the contents, but I'm open to factual correction if anything I mention here turns out to be demonstrably wrong. (By "demonstrably," I'm talking about rigorous documentation in generally reliable journalistic or scholarly sources. I don't consider anything owned by the likes of Rev. Moon or International ANSWER to fall into that category. In other words: no disinfo from nutjobs, please, either theofascists or Stalinoids, no matter who might consider their stuff respectable. It's just not.) If I've based any statements of opinion on reports or sources that don't withstand serious scrutiny, I'm willing to reconsider some of my analytic material as well, but life's way too short for correspondence that just flames me about opinions; it won't be answered. On the other hand, I'll gladly answer inquiries from anyone who sees anything here that strikes them as thought-provoking and/or infuriating enough to spark some suggestions about further writing. Infuriating is OK. Infuriating at least means it got someone's attention.