What put all these stories into focus for me was not something international, but a segment in the Monday morning news on public radio. It was announced by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections that women prisoners in Wisconsin would no longer be shackled during childbirth. WPR was repeating a story from the Appleton Post-Crescent, whose coverage of the practice embarrassed the D of C into changing its policy. In looking up material on the subject, I found the practice of shackling women inmates during labor and/or childbirth is policy in 23 states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
It is almost comical in its absurdity that any country, and least of all “the greatest country in the world,” would allow such a practice. Giving birth is one of the most sacred experiences in human life on this planet, if not the most. If the practice of shackling women during childbirth were an isolated incident, it could be understood as excessive zeal, the actions of one sadistic guard, or a mistake in implementing policy. But to have it be policy in almost half our states and at the Federal level tells us something much more.
We are a broken nation. We don’t know our collective asses from our collective elbows, or from our collective holes in the ground. We don’t know shit from Shinola, as a people. We don’t know a common crook from a statesman. We don’t know a hero from a mass murderer. We don’t know a proven pathological liar from an honorable man. We don’t know the Geneva Conventions from a torture manual. We don’t know Global Warming from an ice age.
Lesson 1 in knowing your ass from a hole in the ground: The major news media are part of the propaganda network of the criminal corporate elite that runs this country. In descending order of mendacity (lying) from Fox News on down, they bend, twist, shape, ignore, and invent whatever suits the “spin” needs of entrenched power. There are exceptions, of course, and there is for sure a lot of struggle going on in newsrooms around the country, but the rule is to please power.
Lesson 2: The Bush regime is first, last, and always a criminal operation, hence the name Bush crime family.
Lesson 3: Global Warming is an actual, real phenomenon, and you will be dealing with it for the rest of your life. The criminal infrastructure that controls this country cannot admit this phenomenon exists, because it would upset the very power structure that enables their criminal activities.
Lesson 4: As Ken Lay showed us this week, you can’t take it with you. Everyone dies eventually. Then it’s on to the next destination. The Divine is not subservient to the mundane. There's a lot of buzz on the Web and in talk shows that Lay is not dead, he has been whisked away to a resort somewhere, or that the Bush crime family had him killed with a heart attack drug to keep him quiet. It matters little. The message to the world is that everyone dies. Since the news media dictate what is true and what is not, because the medium is the message, Lay's mortality is the real message. Our stay here is only temporary. The grandiose plans of mice and men are all subservient to the passage of time. We're here, time passes, then we aren't here anymore. No exceptions.
Lesson 5: Fundamentalist Christianity is all hogwash, fake, false, and based on the need to control other people. The “End times” mythology is crap, made up by men to - guess - control other men (and women, and of course children).
Lesson 6: The rest of the world exists outside of American values and stupidity, and they are almost unanimous in their anger at the United States of America. They now realize that we don’t know our collective asses from our collective elbows, and the illusion that we do know has been the basis of our status as "the world’s only superpower." If you don't know your ass from your elbow, or a hole in the ground, your power is extremely limited.
Lesson 7: The Bush crime family has had a rough week in the propaganda department. They will have to come up with some fresh stories. They will.
Lesson 8: Our economic system is unsustainable. You can not convert the planet into nonrenewable products infinitely, because the planet is not infinite. We will grow at increasing costs to ourselves and our planetary ecosystem.
We don’t have a whole lot of time to distinguish our collective asses from a hole in the ground. We have an election coming up, and the Democratic Party as it now exists will stand idly by while the Republicans steal yet another exercise in democracy. For all the ethnocentrism here in regard to people from Mexico, they at least have the good sense and intestinal fortitude to contest a Bush crime family enabled election fraud (A team was sent to help rig the election. Read about it here and here.).
As this week's news should have clearly shown, we hold on to our illusions and falsehoods at our peril. An ass is not an elbow, and neither is it a hole in the ground. A sociopath is not a statesman. An addict is not a model of manliness and leadership. Global Warming is not balmier weather. While we still have time, to coin a phrase, we can learn to distinguish these phenomena, and how to apply the skills learned to other phenomena.
We can begin by realizing that we can no longer hide behind cookouts, picnics, parties, schmoozing, programmed entertainment, propaganda, or fake religion. Or fake politics. Or looking down on the rest of the world. Once we are free from the escapes, diversions, and falsehoods that shield us from reality, we can begin the learning process. Truth is its own reward. It also can be much more. It can set us free. And it might just save our lives, as well as life on this planet.