He was a Chazer

So, as I mentioned last time, not much has happened in Happy Meadows. Nevertheless, you all are deserving of whatever updates I can muster. You may recall that I reported in my last post (“He Lies” published 6/18/18) that Shayna Maidel went to visit the Extreme Vet. Well, darned if Mike and Judy didn’t grab her, stuff her into the carrier, and haul her back on Friday afternoon. And, they did it again yesterday. She has expressed her displeasure by throwing up on their bed. Twice. I don’t think she is sick, though. I would be able to tell. The other change in our routine is that Mike has put a new kind of litter in one of our boxes. It smells funny and, thus far, Shayna Maidel is the only one of us who has set foot in the weird sand. The litter is supposed to be dust-free, and Doctor Jeff told Mike that it is safe to use, so we will probably be switched over to it entirely unless the other 3 of us can hold out against it. I will keep you posted.

Sometime last week a new family moved into a house down the street from us. They have an all white cat that they let out to roam around and claim her territory in her little piece of Happy Meadows. I met her walking along some bushes in front of our house. She is a nice girl, friendly, and tutored, like myself. (See “The Other Cats”, published 12/18/16.) When I say she is all white, that is true as far as her God-given ghostly coat. But the first time I saw her, there was a bright red mark in the shape of human lips, planted right on top of her head. The next day I noticed that the lipstick-shaped impression was more of a plum color. Yesterday it was pink. I think her momma loves her. They call her Pookie. She calls herself Phantom, the Ghost Cat.

Those of you who are literary types may know that T.S. Eliot, that great American poet, wrote a whole opus about cats. Someone even was inspired to turn it into a Broadway Musical. Eliot’s father owned  a grocery store in St. Louis where I’m sure they had lots of cats to kill the mice and rats, and to cull the store’s left-overs. So, he was well-acquainted with cats from an early age. Anyway, Eliot relocated to England where he found people to be more suited to his intellectual taste. He spent the rest of his life, I think, as an expatriate. In writing about cats, he said that cats have three names: the ordinary name people give them, one shared by many other cats; a fancy name that is peculiar to them alone; and a name that only the cat himself/herself knows. He suggested that when cats meditate, they are contemplating their own ineffable name.

He was close. In fact, there are 3 names that go with each cat. First, the name that their person calls them; next, the name they call themselves; and last and most mysteriously, the name that nobody knows. This is in some ways similar to the psychological theory of human personality expressed by Dr. Carl Jung. He described 4 levels of personality, the first and closest to conscious awareness being the “persona”, the face that people present to others. Next is the “anima/animus”. These are the characteristics of each person which is more typical of the opposite sex. For men, it is their underlying feminine characteristics; for women, it is their underlying masculine characteristics. Still next is the “shadow”, that reservoir of instinctual energy, similar to Dr. Freud’s “id.” Last is the “self”, where the person connects with the Spiritual Essence as only he personally can. The “self” is the human equivalent of the feline “name that nobody knows.”  Every person seeks to find  the “self” through meditation and through what the Jewish philosopher Isaac Luria called “Tikkun Olam”, the repair of the World. (If you are interested, read about this Jewish mystic and his theory of cosmogeny.) All people are at some level unknowable, even to themselves. Cats get much closer to self-realization than people do as they meditate upon their inexpressible name. But I give people credit for trying; at least, I give credit to those that do make the effort. As Mike says, after enjoying the beautiful world in which he was born, and fixing it up a little bit, within his capacity (“Tikkun Olam”), the main purpose for which he was created is to have a relationship with the God of his understanding. This can only be achieved through honest contemplation of one’s feelings and thoughts, taking right actions, and through meditation. My suggestion to anyone who wants to learn good meditation practice is to watch a cat meditate.  We are dialed in.

Speaking of the anima and animus, this was Gay Pride weekend if I am not mistaken. Gay people have all struggled with who they are, and those who can accept and love themselves as they have been created have a right to be proud. I wonder when Straight Pride weekend is? Oh, that’s right, straight people have not faced this challenge, so in this department they have nothing to feel proud about.

New topic: So, 4 days ago Benazir Bhutto would have turned 65, if she were still alive. The eldest child of former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Ali Bhutto, she was educated in Pakistan, in the USA at Radcliff and at Harvard, and in the UK at Oxford. She was an outspoken and brave champion of the Pakistani people, and was the first woman ever elected as president of an Islamic Republic. Not surprisingly, her enemies were many and determined. She was assassinated after a campaign rally in 2007. She was a brilliant, strong, courageous, and by all accounts a very beautiful woman. She deserves to be remembered.

And it is worth noting that a few days ago marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, also after a campaign rally. I hate what happened to the Kennedy family, one tragedy after another. You couldn’t make it up. Mike was a great admirer of both JFK and Bobby Kennedy, and in time came to appreciate Teddy Kennedy as well. Ultimately, they did the right thing  and supported the little guy, the guy who worked hard for a living, trying to make a decent way of life for his family. Mike learned about democracy and equality from his grandfather, Carl Cowl. Carl had a laundry route in Minneapolis. He was a hard-working decent man. He followed politics closely, and had a name for the politicians who he considered to be supporting the interests of the rich, as opposed to the working class. Anyone he thought was dishonest or against the working man was a Chazer, Yiddish for pig. What could he call  a person that would be worse? I’ll probably tell you more about Carl Cowl another time. Actually, there were 2 Carl Cowls, first cousins. Stay tuned.

By the way, the name of T.S. Eliot’s book on cats was “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” Old Possum was a nickname given to Mr. Eliot by Ezra Pound. Pound was an expatriate intellectual poet, like Eliot. He was a prime example of how a person can be smarter than hell and dumber than shit at the same time. After the first world war he became a Fascist, eventually allying himself with Benito Mussolini. He wrote extensively about his political and economic theories that were thoroughly antisemitic. Starting in 1940, and during the entirety of the Second World War, he gave radio broadcasts from Italy promoting the cause of Fascism, criticizing Roosevelt, damning the Jews, and glorifying Hitler. In short, he was a Chazer. After the war he was arrested and charged with treason. He spent over 12 years in custody, mostly in psychiatric institutes where he was diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder. He was eventually released, and is said, in the end, to have believed that he had erred in his thinking, acknowledged his evil intentions, and especially, regretted his antisemitism. I hope this is true.

Well, that’s the news from Happy Meadows. But, one more thing. Let’s all wish Mike and Judy a happy wedding anniversary, #23. I think they are as much in love now as they ever have been. Please send them some good energy, and share the joy.

He Lies

So, it’s been a while, and a lot has happened, although not so much in Happy Meadows. I don’t know if you have been following the news, but if not, you missed the story of the adolescent raccoon accepting the dare from her peers to climb to the top of a skyscraper. The entire free world followed the progress of what became known as the NPR raccoon. I heard Judy and Mike talking about it. They thought the architectural specs for the building must have required that the exterior surface be raccoon grip-worthy. What foresight! I suppose there was a pack of coon hounds amassed at the base of the building barking, “Jump! Jump!”, but  this part of the story got very little coverage.

I mentioned the “free world” because I have been thinking about the recent Funny Hair Summit between the little guy from North Korea, and his chief admirer, Spoiled Donald. The Korean dictator has absolute power, and enforces it by a robust policy of murder, imprisonment, and otherwise terrorizing his own people. I heard Spoiled Donald call him a strong leader, saying that when he speaks his people come to attention. Then he said he wished “his people” would do that. (I’m not sure who he was referring to as “his people”, but if he was referring to Mike and Judy, I am going to be sick.) This kind of hyperawareness of the Supreme Leader can only result either from extreme fear or from great respect. Spoiled Donald has a long way to go on both counts. He quickly backtracked and said he was only kidding, but a joke wouldn’t be funny if there was no implication of truth in it. So, he lied about telling the truth.

The Washington Post has just published a story stating that he has told 3000 lies, or about 6.5 lies per day since his inauguration. (See my post, “An Auguration, January 15, 2017.) I didn’t read the story, of course, but it was reported yesterday morning on CNN. I was lounging in the family room when Mike came down and turned on the TV around 6. In addition to the 2 anchors, there were 2 other men on the show, one of whom said Spoiled Donald lies all the time, and the other essentially defending him (while not directly denying that he lies; and, he also tried to redirect  the discussion by blaming the Democrats for refusing to fund his Wall. I have heard Spoiled Donald’s supporters gleefully boast that he has done what he has said he was going to do. But, I thought he was going to make the Mexicans pay for that stupid wall.) I think it is fair to say that all politicians lie. Indeed, all people lie. One could argue that civility demands it at times. But I don’t think we are talking about small-time lying. We are talking about a systematic form of discourse designed to manipulate opinion, accomplish self-aggrandizement, and further one’s ambitious goals. In the political world it is referred to as propaganda. If you repeat a Big Lie often enough people will believe it, especially if you prevent the listeners from hearing alternative viewpoints. (No doubt the North Korean people think that America is an Evil Empire.) If you can’t prevent the people from hearing the alternative viewpoint you attack it by labeling it Fake News. You just say your enemies are liars, and you say it over and over and over and over and over again. At first the only people who believe you are the paranoiacs who buy into wacky ideas like a Deep State. But after a while, more normal people start to wonder whom to believe. Psychological research has proven this.

Let’s get back to counting lies. Let’s assume that the Washington Post has done good quality research to come up with the numbers, 3000 lies since inauguration and 6.5 lies per day. I heard Mike discussing this with his friends yesterday morning. You would have to assume that this only counts the lies Spoiled Donald has made in a public forum. Let’s make a few more assumptions. Let’s say that 20% of what he says is in a public forum. This is probably high, but let’s go with it. Then assume that he lies in private at the same rate that he does in public. You could quibble about this, but let’s just use that assumption. Then let’s assume that he sleeps 6 hours per day, leaving him 18 hours per day in which to lie. Let’s further assume that he can talk and eat at the same time, so we need not factor in a correction for mealtime. Even though some of his waking time is devoted to listening to other people lie, let’s not try to factor in how this affects his overall rate. For one thing, he uses his news shows as a source for some of his disinformation. So, if 6.5 lies per day is accomplished during only 20% of his waking hours, the projected number of lies per day is 32.5, not 6.5. And the total number of lies since inauguration, considering all this, is closer to 15,000. Now, I recall a political commentator saying during the election campaign in 2016 that Spoiled Donald told 1 lie every 3 minutes. Using the same assumptions, then he should have told 20 lies per hour, 360 lies per day, and approximately 166,000 lies since his inauguration. I’ll suggest that as in most things, the truth lies (so to speak) somewhere in between. However, I am certain that if 166,000 is the actual number, Spoiled Donald would be proud of the accomplishment.

Since I have gone head over heels into a political blog, I might as well continue. A few weeks ago Spoiled Donald jumped into another fray, this time the protest of a few National Football League players. The story goes something like this. Colin Kaepernick (an African-American man), who at the time was a player for the San Francisco 49ers, was very upset over the fact that some black men are unjustifiably brutalized and even killed by American policemen. As a symbolic protest, he decided one day to sit rather than stand and place his hand over his heart during the playing of the National Anthem prior to a football game. Subsequently, he was advised by a former player (a white man), that it was disrespectful to sit during the playing of the National Anthem, and that a respectful form of protest would be to kneel instead. So, in subsequent games, until he was fired, he knelt. Several other players subsequently joined in the protest by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. Many people took offense, saying that the only way to show respect during the playing of the National Anthem is to stand and place one’s hand over the heart.  Spoiled Donald, always quick to defend the elite and to play to the people he thinks like him, jumped in. He said that not only should the kneeling protesters (son’s of bitches, he called them, if I’m not mistaken) be fired from their teams, but they should not be allowed to remain in the country. The rich (mostly) white men who own the teams, fearing a loss of revenue if they came down on the side of freedom of speech, established monetary penalties for teams who allow their players to protest on the field. If the players don’t want to stand for the National Anthem, they have to stay in the locker room. Mike is licking his chops. He was something of a civil rights and war protester during the 60’s, and he can see that the league is goading the players into more protesting. Stay tuned.

A careful reading of the Constitution of the United States  reveals no mention of standing with one’s hand held over one’s heart during the playing of the National Anthem prior to  football games. However, the constitution does guarantee freedom of speech in the First Amendment which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Now, I agree that the football league has a right to establish policy, but not if such policy violates the First Amendment. I suppose some will say that no speech is involved in a symbolic gesture of respect, or disrespect, for the national anthem, and by extension, for the flag. But the courts have ruled that a form of free expression directly relating to the flag is covered in the concept of free speech. In 1989, the Supreme Court of the United States of America  upheld the right of an individual to burn an American flag as an expression of protest. So, as a little black cat, I strongly object to white men telling black men what form their political protest can take, and where they can express it. If that pisses some people off, I’m sorry. I love Happy Meadows, my little world, which by God’s grace lies within the USA. Our country has been a symbol of freedom and liberty for over 200 years. Mike says he never realized how much he loved his country until it came under attack from within by the enemies of the free press and free speech.

People are madly writing books and rushing them to press, dealing with various aspects of the Spoiled Donald phenomenon. Recently published is one by Amanda Carpenter, a woman who has worked as a Republican Party strategist.  Her book is called “Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us.” Mike and I heard her interviewed this past week on the radio. She is very smart and well-spoken. People should wake up about how they have been duped. If you elect a clown, you are going to get a circus. But I’m not one of those people who think Spoiled Donald should be impeached. I think it would be very bad for our country, not for the least of reasons that if he is impeached we get another whole kind of crazy in the White House, the religious right.

I will close with a small story about my little sister, Shayna Maidel. We have been getting e-mails from the Extreme Vet saying she is due for her annual well-cat exam and immunizations. Mike and Judy took her in a few days ago. She came home with attitude. Doctor Jeff said her teeth couldn’t be better, she was a slender 5.75 pounds, and she was a perfect little cat. She also had a little piece of jewelry, a tag with her name on it. But they spelled her name wrong. It was spelled “Rabies.”  Doctor Jeff told Mike and Judy that they needed a stool specimen, and sent home a small container with the word “prepaid” on it, along with Shayna Maidel and Judy’s names, both spelled correctly. By the time they left the Extreme Vet Shayna Maidel was totally over it because of the long wait, and all the poking and prodding in the strange environment which included barking dogs, distressed cat yowls, and antiseptic odors. The ride home is less than 5 minutes, but Shayna, feeling horrible (you go to the vet to get sick) started drooling and howling, and produced the required biological specimen right there in her carrier. But she quickly recovered, and is back to her marvelous little self. As I said, not much has happened recently in Happy Meadows, usually a good thing. I hope everyone had a happy Father’s Day. I will talk to you soon.