Monday, December 29, 2003

Would someone please warm up the bullpen?

Again I find myself pondering just how badly this country needs a patriotically minded, economically non-dogmatic, no-nonsense, smart, unassuming centrist whom everyone the world over could easily recognize to be a fair-minded and well-meaning leader.

We need a guy like Wesley Clark in the Oval Office. As in, immediately.

So be it even if he's a Republican masquerading as a Democrat just to save this country from a group of dumbasses known as Bush et al. and a bunch of never-could-wins known as the other Democrat candidates. That's a sane Republican, one who many might not consider to be so bad.

Many Americans sure could sleep a hell of a lot better with Clark running the show. In fact, it might cease to be a show and, instead, regain the dignity it lost so long ago.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Ancient detente

A real estate appraiser, the beautiful redheaded Heather often spends her entire day behind the wheel. This mitigates the underlying guilt she and I feel for recently purchasing a luxury car, a used 1994 Mercedes. Mercedes is also a durable car, after all, and this one, despite its age, is a wonderful car, most certainly a Benz.

I never fail to tell her that she looks great in her Benz. She does. Just for kicks, we like to say to each other every once in a while, "Want to take the Benz, baby?" For a fleeting moment, the question helps us feel important, like those people we see on television. This is juvenile and against everything we hold dear, which is pretty much why we say it.


It needs attention, this Benz. The engine and transmission are fine, but the front end has felt loose for a while. Heather doesn't notice it, but I do, and I've always been good at catching things on my cars before they become bigger problems. Heather doesn't believe so, even though I mention this knack of mine often.

I reflexively attempted to take charge of the front end alignment matter about a month ago. It was my duty, after all, as the guy, to take care it. Perhaps I learned the virtue from my father or grandfather, but Heather should never have to deal with car repair when a perfectly able man is around.

Heather didn't see it this way. In fact, she saw it quite differently. She told me I was paranoid. The car was fine. The early weekend morning appointment at the qualified service station that I spent the good part of my lunch at work to find and schedule was silly. I canceled it.


Of course, far from going away, the front end problem has progressed slightly. Heather now notices it. The problem is still a mole hill and not a mountain, and I have scheduled an appointment for this coming Tuesday. But Heather and I are now just beyond the 60-day bumper-to-bumper warranty, and she fears that it will cost "thousands of dollars to repair. Honey, if we hadn't procrastinated, this wouldn't have happened."

I stared at her. The irony screamed. Doing my best not to entertain my vindication, I responded, "It won't cost thousands of dollars."

Perhaps I raised my voice. Who knows? Her response said it all: "Why do we have to fight already? We just woke up!"

True, we had just fought the previous evening. That quarrell had been an extension of one that began on Wednesday out of a miscommunication that I have since relentlessly endeavored to set straight. I am officially blue in the face.
Her ensuing march to the bedroom and the slammed door's reverberation throughout the house completed the cycle that will probably repeat, and soon.


Certain things just scream, "That's the man's job." In the vast majority of instances, women are just as capable as men are of doing these things. Any man worth his salt, however, will undertake these tasks himself. He will commandeer these responsibilities, owning them as acts of devotion for the woman he loves.

His significant other can decide how to respond to her man's devotion. The best thing she can do is encourage him. It is not chauvinism in his eyes, and it hurts him to no end if she perceives his love to be a form of control. Most of the time, he is showing her how much he cares for her, is devoted to her, and wants to be there for her. In short, he is revealing, the best way he knows how, his love for her.

How does he prefer to go about showing how much he loves her? He takes charge, by displaying an admirable purpose of mind and carrying out a goal unwaveringly. She is his inspiration, and that inspiration frequently moves him spontaneously. This spontaneity with a purpose, together with an ability to persevere and achieve the goal, is a man's love, manifest, for the woman he adores.

Immeasurable good has come from women's liberation. We should never return to the mistaken Neanderthal days of old, when men pulled their women around by the hair and relegated "the fairer sex" to the kitchen. Women are right not to tolerate such rude notions and behavior.

But feminism has also exacted catastrophic consequences, and we are remiss to disregard the damage done. The ancient detente, the wisdom, that has mediated the sexes' coexistence for millennia is adrift.

A pall has descended over men's confidence, their belief in themselves. This uncertainty compels them to doubt their motives when only they wish to express devotion, the best way they know how, for the women they love.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Don't think; just write

Some days I thank God for this outlet, Brent's Polemics. Then I ask for more.


A dynamic, constantly pondering mind is often the writer’s defining characteristic. This mind has no place in a bland office building. My mind is surrounded by confining soundproof half walls. Did I mention that my cubicle is gray?

Here at Big Environmental Engineering Firm, where we prepare proposals that describe such palatable company services as “wastewater engineering,” the writing style calls for not much style at all. “Sell!” is the writer’s battle cry, and not much else.

How inspiring. It is inspiring for some, I suppose. For me, it is a weight on the spirit. “Earn a salary writing about someone else’s stuff or write for yourself and starve,” the vague yet ubiquitous voice of control tells me.

The facts of such a writer’s life are frustrating. They drive the creative mind in me batty.

The system is inefficient, I tell myself. I have ideas. I am passionate. My mind is always thinking. Couldn't the world benefit from me in some way better than this?


“Baby, why are you always thinking so much?!?” my beautiful redheaded Heather frequently asks me, exasperated with my constant ranting about politics, God, philosophy…you name it. “For just once, I’d like to relax and not think!”

She is right. If only I could earn my way by writing about the important things in this world, the things that inspire my mind, perhaps I could then relax and not think.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

"Give me liberty or give me death"

Those were the words of Patrick Henry, a founding father of this great nation, on March 23, 1775. His words ring true to this day. He spoke the truth.

We are living under a police state.

The police state's agents feign a belief in liberty. Yet they do not support liberty. For them actually to believe in liberty, given their actions, would be irrational. This does not stop them from repeating the lie. Their actions are quite rational and calculating. Their intentions reside elsewhere. Look, after all, at how they operate.

Fight the police state with your bare hands, and you commit physical suicide. This is not an option for the faint of heart, nor would the action likely succeed.

Embrace the police state, and you have bought it, hook, line, and sinker. This is not an option for anyone with a heart, nor would the action fulfill our real needs.

Neither is an enticing proposition. Take the middle road, which runs not down the middle but circumvents the entire dilemma.

It is spiritual suicide to sit idly by as the police state commandeers our lives. The soul and its confidant, the mind, after all, are the keys to spirituality. We must preserve our ability to think. Use it or lose it, as the saying goes.

Pay close attention to the police state and all its talking heads. With each passing day, the truth becomes more challenging to determine, ever exponentially requiring our rapt attention. The police state suppresses truth. Perfect thought is truth. Truth is a process, not an answer, a process that yields no ultimate answer but is continual, perfect in its eternal characteristics.

The masters think they have the answer, and this convinces them to stop thought. This is their conclusion. Whether members of the police state consciously know it, they wish to stop, dead in its tracks, eternal, perfect thought, which, by definition, has no ultimate conclusion.

Theirs is a tall, egregious order. Can they succeed?


The first casualty of the police state is the truth.

Actually, that is a bit misleading. Truth is in jeopardy, to be sure, but its perceived spot in this pecking order of casualties is just that: a perceived one.

People are nearly oblivious to the encroaching police state. To them, the casualty of truth seems like the first casualty, for it catches them off guard. It is a tried-and-true military strategy, this element of surprise. Yet the casualty of truth is, in fact, the final casualty of the police state.

Truth withers soon after the police state kills death, the penultimate casualty of the police state. And the police state then celebrates, for it believes it has finally guaranteed its own perpetuity.


What is this non sequitur, this idea of “killing death”?

Readers, too flummoxed to continue, might tune out here. Inhabitants of this great country, too bewildered now to focus on their civic duties, too baffled, finally, to resist the police state, might tune out in droves. As critical as these times are, the propensity to tune out is understandable. In both cases, the uncertainty of this New World Order and the fear it breeds persuade people to cease paying attention.

Let's pay attention for a moment, though, shall we? The words “kill” and “death” are close cousins but have separate meanings no matter how closely intertwined these meanings can sometimes be.

We can die of old age, for instance. Who has killed us when this happens? No one. Not even God. Death signifies not an end but one point in a succession of events that, together, comprise the cycle of life. When we die, we do our fair share in perpetuating this cycle of life, which is not an ending, but an eternal thing.

Those at the police state’s helm kill the sacred feelings associated with death. They render the perception of death to be an absolute ending. They do so by compelling us to fear death in the face of war.

Actually, it is not the death that we fear; it is the killing. The tricky word association leaves us confused and malleable.

This is how they convince us, falsely, to separate death from the cycle of life. No longer part of life's cycle but, instead, a mournful ending, death becomes scary, and killing necessary. No longer a natural thing but something that a vengeful God has imposed on us, death even becomes our liability, as if we had any say in the matter to begin with.

Believe the right thing, or you will go to hell, the machine tells us.


Does the reader still doubt her masters’ intentions? She should consider the following examples, just two of scores and scores that point to the police state’s crimes:

1) “We will make you immortal,” says the biotech industry PR machine, that most sinister of corporate fascists bent on changing the very basis of mankind in the name of making a dollar. Death’s proper place beside the throne of life is no longer sacred.

2) “Defense industry contract starts have done their part in helping to boost the economy this past quarter,” reads the business page of any major newspaper. The police state loves death. Death helps the bottom line.

How does the police state see to it that the masses acquiesce and fuel the machine? It at once makes them fear death and feel guilty about the fear of death.

The killing of death remains the police state sponsors’ number one priority. Its successful execution immediately precedes truth's death.

Look at what happens as they kill the sacred feelings humans have always associated with death. Imagine, now, what they'll do to us once they finish killing death and turn their attention to killing truth.


They'll try to kill the truth, anyway, but truth will put up a hell of a fight. Truth will win. The word is truth. It is God’s word. God is the truth.

Who is the police state? We are. Every single one of us is an active agent of the police state. True, some are merely enablers, while others are actors; we all play our supporting roles, however.

The police state is suicidal; we are suicidal. That is how we persevere all the while knowing we will lose. What does it matter to us? God will take responsibility for us. The Book of Revelations tells us so.


How does your desire for the truth stack up against our species' suicidal tendencies? Is your desire to witness the truth as strong a desire as our species' hedonism is in the face of certain death? We're pretty confident in our recalcitrance. It’s because we need no confidence, just the will to die. Our belief is strong that someone else will take responsibility for us.

Are we as confident in the truth? Of course we are.

To live liberty is to live the truth, of which death is a player. To live in fear of death is to kill, the rejection of life. Surely it pained Patrick Henry to have to choose between liberty and death, to be forced to make this decision. Still, he chose liberty. He chose the truth. Henry could not have lived with himself any other way.

Do we have the courage to speak the truth, to be emissaries for God? Let's hope so.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Double-checking Dubya's doublespeak

Yesterday the President of the United States, George W. Bush, delivered a speech announcing the capture of Saddam Hussein by U.S.-led special operations forces. "You will not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again," said the president at about 12:15 p.m., EST, seemingly addressing the Iraqi people.

Congratulations, Mr. President. It is a good thing Saddam Hussein has been captured. Is it not high time, now, for you, Mr. President, to end the war in Iraq as we know it? We, the people, implore you to hasten the United Nations’ involvement. What would anything short of this say about our country’s motives?

Yes, Mr. President, it is our country, not just yours. Please do what’s right for its owners. Notice that this does not mean you must end The War on Terrorism, Mr. President, lest you trip over your own doublespeak.

The president continued, "The United States will not relent until the war is won."

Mr. President, we were apparently quite presumptuous to instruct you in your own doublespeak. Obviously, you are quite proficient in it. We could learn a thing or two by paying closer attention to what you say. In fact, we have done so, and here is our response:

What war do you speak of, Mr. President? A war won by whom?

These are thoughtful and appropriate questions. We might learn the truth if we were to ask you, Mr. President, these appropriate, thoughtful questions pointedly and directly.

We might learn that this war has a great deal to do with cushy government contracts for vice presidents’ former employers. We might learn that this war is a no-holds-barred quest to control the world’s oil supplies.

We would surely learn that this war has precious little to do with putting an end to terrorism, but not one person with any real influence will give these questions their proper due, Mr. President.

Oh, many will pay lip service to these questions. Many will appease those who ask these questions. Then the fascists will skewer these questions’ merits. They will do so, for all to see and hear, on the corporate-sponsored cable news shows. Then these questions and those who ask them will fall by the wayside, the latest casualties of a tricky fascism with ostensibly good intentions.

The world has become a police state. Let me repeat, Mr. President. The capture of Saddam Hussein is a good thing. This world police state, however, Mr. President, is not a good thing.

We return to the aforementioned, thoughtful and appropriate questions. The answers to these questions we posed to you, Mr. President, are clear as day. Fortunately, to know these thoughtful, appropriate questions’ answers, we do not need the police state and its fascist apologizers to acknowledge the questions' merits. ...yet.

The president closed his speech with the following remarks: "We’ve come to this moment through patience and resolve and focused action. And that is our strategy moving forward. The war on terror is a different kind of war, waged capture by capture, cell by cell, and victory by victory. Our security is assured by our perseverance and by our sure belief in the success of liberty. And the United States of America will not relent until this war is won."

We see how it is, Mr. President. Perish the thought that a victory might pave the way to peace, that a victory would at least provide a light at the end of the tunnel.

Mr. President, you neither wish to end this war nor to provide a light at the end of the tunnel, do you? This police state that calls your shots cares not to win outright, does it?

The police state surely wishes for something, though. Its perpetual war surely stands for something, Mr. President. Does the police state stand only for itself, perhaps? Does the police state wish only to preserve its power by instilling the fear of perpetual war?

It sure does seem like it. Mr. President, this is a prospect that shares very little with liberty.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Junk world

Has anyone read "Fast Food Nation"? You really should.

No. Really.

After absorbing what that book has to communicate, disturbing as it is, most of you will change your opinions about government regulation, excessive meat eating, fast food, agribusiness, genetically engineered crops, and even Disneyland.


Did Brent just include "Disneyland" in that last sentence?

Yes. He did.

I am not a vegetarian, just so you know. I dated one and have to say vegetarianism, although it is a lofty principle, does not the ethical person make. Treating others as you would yourself also plays a role.

Hear that, Alexandra?

I digress.

I'm just a guy who cannot ignore his own two eyes and ears and the stimuli that infiltrate his mind and affect his psyche via these entryways. Our world is based on stuff. This stuff is fake stuff. It is a junk world.

We now return to Disneyland.

Disneyland is a symptom of our addiction to fake stuff. An obsession for creative junk gives us Disneyland, high art that it is. Yes. I deliver that last modifying phrase sarcastically. Disneyland commercializes and disrespects the imagination, something that should be sacred, by imploring us all to imagine the same things.

"What does this have to do with fast food and all that other stuff you wrote, Brent?" the confused blogger inquires.

Fast food commercializes and disrespects something sacred: food. It teaches us not to care about what we eat.

Join me, now, as I apply this logic to explain the attitude human society takes in the way we treat people:

The beef industry -- yes, the beef industry -- routinely treats its workers on par with the way it treats its cattle: like ca-ca. I don't know about you, but methinks the offense of treating people like ca-ca ought to be investigated and punished.

Then there's agribusiness. The industry for genetically modified food presumes it can do better what Mother Nature has done for millennia. You see, junk world is, ironically, not only full of junk but also arrogant.

"What's so tough to understand about that?" Brent asks his fellow blogger.

You'd be surprised and insulted by the myriad excuses and explanations junk peddlers will conjure for this junk world.

I'm not buying their junk, though. Guess what? That pun was intended.

But, hey, this is just lowly little me talking, Mr. Cubicle-constrained Consumer. Who do I think I am, saying these things?

I'm naive, right? I don't own and run a multibillion-dollar, multinational conglomerate. What the hell do I know?

Nothing. Apparently, the only people with valid opinions in this world are those who inhabit the top rung of the "corporate adventuring troupe."

It's too bad this troupe's show really sucks.