Monday, July 25, 2011


July 1941 letter from Göring to Heydrich conce...

Image via Wikipedia

A few days later, EAGLE both felt, and looked, much refreshed; and CUCKOO felt a sinking feeling in his stomach.

“I may just go for a walk,” he said. “Fresh air and all that. A sort of constitutional.”

EAGLE looked at him sternly. “CUCKOO,” he said. “Don’t you know eagles never forget.”

“I thought that was elephants,” said CUCKOO. “Or are they heffalumps? Good creatures, though it’s never a good idea to offend them. Or sit behind them. Or have water-pistol fights with them. Not enough creatures know that.”

“I need to know everything there is to know about the creatures that are trying to kill me,” said EAGLE. “It’s hard enough learning eagleomics without thinking about about a bunch of psychotic vultures and snakes. It’s distracting me academically. Besides, it’s normally a very good idea to hit them before they hit you. I think Caesar said that, or if he didn’t, he should have. Otherwise it’s normally that Chinese fellow.”

“Is that really a good idea?” said CUCKOO. “Do you really want to get to know these things. Vultures are nasty thugs with foul habits; and as for those snakes: Who knows what they get up to down South. And I hear they do such-and-such, and so-and-so, and duel with banjos a lot. Dubious behavior.”

“I couldn’t give a flying canoodle?” said EAGLE. “We’re talking about Warlock. Spill the beans. You said he wasn’t a vulture, but you weren’t very clear after that. Talk; or I’ll put the EIS on you. And they won’t laugh at your jokes.”

The EIS, as the reader will know, is the infamously humorless – but effective - Eagle Investigation Service. They were particularly tough on crows. EAGLE had no idea at all about how they felt about cuckoos. Anyway, he was only bluffing. But he was serious about finding out about Warlock. The creature had put a contract out on him and he took that personally. It was, as CUCKOO liked to say every now and then: “A diabolical liberty.”

“Um,” said CUCKOO. “Isn’t this a little soon to hear such a big secret?”

“You’re the one who mentioned him,” said EAGLE in a relentless tone of voice.

CUCKOO hung upside down from his perch for a full minute. He had the notion that it cleared his mind; all the dross dropped out. Then he swiveled upright. “Let’s get comfortable,” he said.

EAGLE set out the brandy, and they gazed out at a very beautiful evening in companionable silence. A security patrol flew by, and the air commandos saluted by waggling their wings. They did it with some brio. Aviators are like that.

Eastern Newt (Red Eft). Location: Durham Count...“Warlock,” said CUCKOO, “is a –”  he thought a pause for dramatic effect might be appropriate – “newt.”

The word sounded as if he had been merely clearing his throat. That would never do.

“You spell it: N – E – W – T. Nasty little word really.”

EAGLE’s head went back in absolute amazement, and his eyes widened. Moments passed, and then he burst out laughing. “You mean one of those disgusting tiny poisonous creatures you find wriggling in the swamps?” he said incredulously.

“I couldn’t have described him better myself,” said CUCKOO. “But this particular newt is mostly to be found in Washington DC. – still a swamp, as you know. And he is incredibly greedy and destructive. He also has the ability to morph into various forms, but he prefers that of a human. Well, a sort of human.”

EAGLE became serious. “Go on,” he said.

“Warlock can be killed,” said CUCKOO, “though it is not easy; but he is always reincarnated in some other form because evil never goes away. This time around, the Council of the Good – my people - tried very hard to prevent him re-appearing, but the best we could do was have him re-born as a newt. We thought that might cramp his style, but then he robbed some graves – a leg here, a skull there - threw some dinosaur bones into the pile of spare parts he ended up with; and used his evil powers to stitch together a human form, and became a politician. It was, when you think about it, the obvious occupation; and he was very good at it. More recently, I think he’s too busy making money to keep his political skills sharp. But, not so long ago, at one stage, he was third in line for the presidency of EAGLE-LAND. We stopped him, but it was a close run thing.”

EAGLE was goggle-eyed. He’d imaged Warlock as many things, but not this. This was a nightmare.

“Him,” he gasped. THAT Newt!”

“One and the same,” said CUCKOO. “The one who collects dinosaur bones. He uses them for black magic, and unspeakable sexual rites. And now he’s actually running for the presidency. And he’s not the only candidate from the Dark World. There are two witches in there as well – though fortunately both are nuts. One turns into a mosquito when not in human form, and buzzes around a lot putting her proboscis where it is not wanted. Clever disguise. Lot of mosquitos in Alaska.

“Not sure about the other one, but I hear she runs around muttering: ‘Bubble, bubble, boil and trouble;’ and complains that her cauldron gives her headaches. Personally, I think she drinks too much tea; probably with something in it.”

“THEM!” said EAGLE, his rising voice in pure unadulterated shock. “What’s this country coming to!”

“That’s rather why I’m here,” said CUCKOO. “Your friends are concerned. The state of the nation is –“ he thought for a moment – “deteriorating. Nasty, nasty, word. Pretty nasty condition.”

He topped  up their glasses again. “Drink up. This one’s medicinal.”

“Who or what was Warlock in his previous incarnation?” said EAGLE when he had recovered.

CUCKOO cocked his head to one side, and then closed his eyes. The he opened them. “Just checking the records,” he said. “Hope you’re up for this, EAGLE.”

“Who was he?” said EAGLE.

Herman GoeringReichsmarschall Herman Goering,” said CUCKOO. “Fat Herman. And you have to admit there’s a certain resemblance. But it means the bugger can fly.

“Goering was a Nazi, a war monger, and a mass murderer, but he was an ace in WW I. Won ‘The Blue Max.’

“Commanded Jagdeschwader 1 after The Red Baron was killed. But then you’re an ace too; and, frankly, you look fitter.”

EAGLE was speechless. “I’m going to look for flying pigs,” he said and went for a leisurely glide.

A few minutes later a flight of pigs flew by. They all wagged their tails in salute as they passed EAGLE.

He returned the salute, and then flew back to face CUCKOO, who was perched there grinning.

“Couldn’t resist,” said CUCKOO. 

“Who are you really, CUCKOO?” said EAGLE.

CUCKOO vanished just like that. However, his brandy glass, now unsupported, stayed just where it had been when CUCKOO was holding it. It was empty.

EAGLE ran a talon above it, below it and around it. There were no invisible wires.

He shook his head. “I’m dreaming,” he said; and promptly fell asleep.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, July 24, 2011


The following day EAGLE took CUCKOO to Thinking Rock. It seemed a good place to talk, and he was damned if he was going to let a bunch of killers restrict his movements. Nonetheless, he traveled with a full escort, and followed such a bizarre course that CUCKOO got quite dizzy.

They zigged and zagged, and climbed and dived, and twisted and turned using what EAGLE called “standard evasion techniques.”

Jumping tree-frogs. It was a gut wrenching experience.

Dolmen 1420827_Poulnabrone-Dolmen-Ancient-Irish-Stone-Structure_620CUCKOO felt much better when on the ground. He was vastly impressed by Thinking Rock. It made him downright nostalgic for an earlier time. “This place was built by the ancients,” he said thoughtfully. “It’s not a natural formation. Instead they took this base rock – they were perched on it – put up slabs to left and right, and – unusually in this case - one behind; and then put a roofing slab in place. And it has stood here for thousands of years protecting this wonderful valley. It has a very special quality. I’m honored to have been brought here, EAGLE.”

“It’s my honor,” said EAGLE. He was feeling a bit stiff and sore today; and strangely melancholy. It been a tough fight, short but intense; brutally violent. There were consequences.

“How did they lift these slabs? They must weigh tons?”

“They used ramps and rollers, we think,” said CUCKOO discretely. “We don’t really know.”

EAGLE was fascinated. “It’s amazing what you can do if you use your mind,” he remarked.

“It’s impressive what havoc you can create if you don’t bother to,” said CUCKOO. “Look at the state of this country right now; and weep. And it’s all self-inflicted.”

EAGLE felt the weight of the world on his shoulders for a moment, and sighed. He wasn’t sure he was ready for all this. But he was EAGLE; and duty called.

“Ready to get back to work?” said CUCKOO sympathetically.

EAGLE nodded. CUCKOO’s tone helped. He felt a little better.

“In a way I’m describing a sort of war,” said CUCKOO. “A civil war, in this case, because we’re talking Americans against Americans: The Rich and Corporate Interests against the rest. And the Rich are winning.

“We tend to think in terms of war in terms of physical violence, but economic violence is just as significant; sometimes more so. Stress and penury take longer to kill, but they are just as lethal as combat.

“Either way, we are talking about a contest of wills between two opposing forces; with rewards for the winners, and pain and death for the losers. And we’re also talking about the clash of the two forces which have been battling since the beginning of time: Good versus Evil. Right versus Wrong. Greed versus Decency. In the end, everything is reduced to such forces.

“In this case – EAGLE-LAND - what started off as a reasonable economic struggle soon became corrupted – and greed began to dominate; and greed is nothing less than a manifestation of evil. That doesn’t mean that the individuals concerned were, or are, totally good or totally bad – we’re all something of a mixture – but more that the original free market rationale became corrupted; and evil gained, and still retains, the upper hand. Warlock is nothing if not an opportunist.”

Eagle was puzzled. “Who is Warlock?” he said.

“Think of him as my opposite number,” said Cuckoo, annoyed with himself for mentioning the name so soon. “He’s the focal point of what we’re up against.”

“Is he a vulture?” said EAGLE.

CUCKOO laughed grimly. “Some have called him a great deal worse,” he said. “In fact, he can appear in many guises. But enough of Warlock, for the moment. Let’s get back to eagleomics. It’s vital you understand the history of all this, or else none of it will make sense.

“Preparation in the Seventies; Execution in the Eighties; Consolidation in the Nineties; Excess in the Tens,” said EAGLE. “We were talking about the power grab made by the Right Mugs; and how they used President Reagan.”

“Actually, the man wasn’t all bad,” said CUCKOO, “but bad things were done in his name. He was really best at helping to bring down the Soviet Union. On the other hand, he was clueless about eagleomics.”

“Wasn’t Supply Side Economics one of his things,” said EAGLE. “What was that all about?”

“Supply Side Economics was based on the idea that if you cut taxes, the government will end up taking in more money because everyone will be motivated to work harder and invest more; so the economy will grow faster,” said CUCKOO. “It’s an idea that is still in vogue.”

“Does it work?” said EAGLE.

“No,” said CUCKOO firmly. “It was such a disaster under Reagan that the very man who pioneered it for him, David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget, actually wrote a book condemning it. And where it has been tried elsewhere, the results have been similar. Nonetheless, it was highly successful as an excuse to cut taxes on the rich; and to give corporations a lot of tax breaks. In truth, it was a highly effective straw man. It was the first of a series of moves which made the Rich and Corporate Interests significantly richer; and forced the U.S. David Stockman 51de6Jx6AmL._SL500_AA300_Government to sink deeper into debt. It started the rot and led to the mess we’re in today.”

EAGLE had been doing some reading. “But didn’t the economy grow under Reagan?” he asked.

“It did,” said CUCKOO, “but not nearly enough to replace the missing taxes. And it grew because you guys had a mammoth arms buildup,” said CUCKOO, “and because of debt; not because you invested in the kind of things that improve the quality of life.

“That’s one of the key differences between here, and CUCKOO-LAND, which you’ve seen for yourself. You guys use borrowed money to invest in weapons, and wars, and you let your infrastructure crumble. Europe, though far from perfect, saves more, and invests it in more efficient energy use, improving its cities, further developing its rail system, decent medical care for all; and so on.

“Eagleomics is heavily about choices and for decades EAGLE-LAND has made the wrong choices. You only have to look around to see that. Most American cities are a disgrace; and you can say much the same about infrastructure, the state of the environment, the educational system, the quality of housing, and health care. Not only do you under-invest, but you invest in the wrong things. And have been so doing for decades.”

EAGLE reflected again on his trip to Europe. It was true. Those CUCKOO-LAND people seemed to have the touch somehow. EAGLE-LAND had Detroit. Something was very wrong.

“Back to the debt issue,” said CUCKOO. “Under Reagan public debt rose from $712 billion in 1980 to $2,052 billion in 1988. He pretty much tripled the National Debt. If that reminds you of President George W. Bush, you are absolutely right. Bush also cut taxes for the rich, spent lavishly on armaments and wars, increased the National Debt to around $10 trillion, and left the economy in the worst mess it has been in since the Great Depression. In fact, it may yet prove to have been worse again. It’s not over yet. Unemployment is only part of it. The direction of American wages and salaries for most of the working population – other than the elites - is not healthy; and that includes Small Business.”

“There’s been a pattern to Right Mug government since Reagan’s time with the most consistent themes being that the Rich get richer, and earnings for the rest of the population stagnate or decline. The Right Mugs are widely touted as pro-business, but actually, they’re really only pro Big Business. Small Business is widely praised, but treated badly. Small businesses are started in droves, in this country, and they fail in droves. The odds are stacked against them in a host of ways. Their cost of capital – if they can get it - is too high, taxes are excessive, health costs are criminal, imports undercut them, and BIG Business slaughters them. And the banks and lawyers pick up the pieces at a profit.”

“It’s quite odd, really. You think all those Small Business entrepreneurs would scream, but somehow they can’t seem to get their act together. The Chamber of Commerce pretends to represent them; but it doesn’t. That organization is funded by the Big Boys. Primarily, this country is about bigness where business is concerned. Big Money, Big Politics, Big Law, and Big Business are all in bed together; and it’s a tragedy.”

“I still can’t get used to the idea that Americans don’t know about this,” said EAGLE.

“It’s called the Big Lie,” said CUCKOO. “Propaganda works. Americans are not encouraged to be introspective about the American Way of Life. It’s a given that it’s the best in the world; and it looks that way on TV. To question it is damn near high treason. We’re talking about a brainwashed nation combined with a lousy education system compounded by ideology, confused by religion, and the fact that learning eagleomics takes time and work. Add in my previous observation that American humans are peculiarly reluctant to listen. Thus, they don’t hear; and if you don’t hear, you cannot learn.”

He smiled gently and bowed his head slightly. “Fortunately, American eagles seem more willing.”

EAGLE, though fascinated, was feeling tired. He thought it highly probable that combat was less exhausting than wrestling with CUCKOO’S relentless intellect. And he didn’t like hearing America criticized even though he knew what CUCKOO was saying was correct. Evidently, he too had been brainwashed sufficiently for his cognitive faculties to be impaired. And he’d been brought up without TV! Propaganda was a foul thing. It stole your mind. Yet it was everywhere in EAGLE-LAND. 

“Let’s go fishing and take it easy,” said CUCKOO, resting a wing gently and briefly on EAGLE’S massive, but bruised, shoulders..

And so they did. For a time.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Martial Eagle in Namibia

Image via Wikipedia

CUCKOO felt vast relief when he knew EAGLE was safe. In truth, he had seen the whole flight from the time EAGLE had left his eyrie; though how he was ever going to explain that was an interesting question. But it was clear he was going to have to; and probably sooner rather than later.

He had been faced with a dilemma right from the beginning. His task was to prepare EAGLE for a very special mission, yet to do so in such a way, it all seemed a natural progression. But, the more EAGLE was prepared for his vital role, the better equipped he was to notice that CUCKOO wasn’t your average CUCKOO. And there lay the risk and the potential tragedy it all. The simple fact was that that there were some things that one couldn’t explain too quickly.

CUCKOO had learned that over a millennium and a half. There were good reasons why he was slow to confide. Many couldn’t take it unless they were properly prepared; and that took a great deal of time. Years as a minimum; decades for preference. It was scarcely surprising. What was required of them was, after all – though different in detail in every case - fairly extraordinary. The average creature, human, eagle, or otherwise, was really only equipped to deal with what he or she knew. To step beyond that was inconceivable; yet it had to be done. And it would be done. But it was demanding work; and it was stressful. Yet experience helped, and CUCKOO was nothing if not experienced.

When EAGLE returned, the first thing CUCKOO noticed was that he was covered in vulture blood. He laughed with some embarrassment when CUCKOO pointed out this fact, and took off for the waterfall where he normally showered. He looked a great deal better when he returned. He cracked open a bottle of wine and perched across from CUCKOO.

He raised his glass. “CUCKOO,” he said. “I believe I owe you my life.”

CUCKOO made a dismissive gesture. “I’m just glad you survived.”

“I had the sense throughout the whole affair that someone – some force – was watching over us,” EAGLE said. “Something prompted me to circle back and see my attackers,” he declared. “Some force ensured that our communications were perfect, which has never been the case in the past. And some friendly soul overrode my orders and assembled my entire Air Commando to come to our rescue. They should have been scattered snake hunting but mysteriously received direct orders to assemble and high-tail it across to me. And conveniently they can’t remember who issued the orders – but they thought it was me. Which it wasn’t.”

“You are a remarkably fine aviator,” said CUCKOO with some feeling. His heart had been in his mouth while he had watched the fight. There were matters he could influence, and things he could not. EAGLE’S victories in the direct fight had been his alone.

“Yes I am,” said EAGLE, “but I know there was more at work today than my ability to get on an opponent’s tail in less than forty seconds. Don’t ask me how I know. I just know. And I know you, CUCKOO, are behind it.”

CUCKOO drank his wine. “Oh dear,” he said eventually.

“Thank you,” said EAGLE, “but if you don’t tell what’s going on, I am liable to get testy. And you never want to mess with a testy eagle.”

CUCKOO grinned. “I might surprise you,” he said. “I am of a certain age (something of an understatement) but I am not helpless.”

EAGLE laughed. “Dragon’s breath, it’s good to be alive. Nothing raises the spirits more than to be nearly killed. And now tell me who is trying to kill me – and why.”

So CUCKOO did.

EAGLE went as pale as an eagle can (which is not very). “So that’s why I’m learning eagleomics,” he said. “Good grief. This thing is huge.”

You don’t know the half of it, thought CUCKOO, or close; but he stayed silent. EAGLE had been through enough, and had learned enough, for one day. He was progressing extraordinarily well.

EAGLE was lost in thought. Up to know, all his combat had been physical. Now he was going to have to battle intellectually and psychologically as well. The cause was worthy, but was he up to it? He longed to be carefree, where winning the physical fight was really all that counted. Instead he was facing up to a vastly more complex world than he had ever had to deal with before. Was he up to the task? He truly did not know. Was he willing to give it his all? He rather thought he was. Eagles were nothing if not purposeful.

He was aware of CUCKOO looking at him intently with great concern, and more than a little compassion. Then a great feeling of peace and contentment swept over him; and soon he slept.

High in the sky, his bodyguards circled, maneuvered and watched. They changed altitude and direction and were as unpredictable as could be. This was for real. There would be another attack; and they would be ready.

Beside him, CUCKOO enjoyed his wine; and thought deep thoughts in a relaxed kind of way until he, too, was asleep.

Nearly three thousand miles away, the WARLOCK replayed the events of the day, and raged. Surely a miserable eagle could not be defying him? Or were there other factors at work?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, July 22, 2011

#18. “DEADLY IS THE SKY” THINKS EAGLE, AND PROVES HIS POINT (A Bird’s Eye Of The Mess We’re In; And What To Do About It)

For a brief moment EAGLE contemplated the kill team sent to destroy him.

It consisted of a large force of vultures, each carrying a snake in its talons. It was highly unusual to see vultures at all this far north, and similarly the snakes were of a species that normally spoke with a southern accent and chewed tobacco. They were copperheads. Notorious killers.

This was a classic out-of-state hit. His investigators would find him dead, and the killers would be long gone.

Whoever was behind this was deadly serious about his demise. Vultures had the mindset to be – and were - notorious assassins; and they didn’t come cheap. As for incorporating snakes into the team, this looked, on the face it, like an ingenious concept, because it allowed for simultaneous assaults both on land and from the air. 

Effective, if their target was grounded, meditating in Thinking Rock, thought EAGLE. Perhaps not so clever if he encountered them in the air.

Which he had; and it didn’t appear that they had seen him. The cloud had blocked their view as he had turned. They hadn’t needed to keep him in sight because they had surmised where he was going. Now, just because of feelings of unease, he had the advantages of height, and having the sun at his back. Nonetheless, he – ‘they’ if he factored in his four eagle escort - were definitely outnumbered.

There were twenty-four vultures lumbering along in three columns of eight; and twenty-four snakes. Somehow, he doubted that the snakes would be particularly experienced at aerial combat. But, though they couldn’t fly, they could certainly bite so he would have to attack from above and be very, very, fast. Then again, he was always very, very, fast. Speed is life, he breathed.

By the spirits, the vultures were ugly beasts. The hostility between eagles and vultures was legendary. Some thought there was a certain similarity in appearance though it was universally conceded that eagles were remarkably distinguished looking, whereas vultures looked as if they were put together out of spare parts; which, in a way, they were. But the real differences concerned their natures. Eagles were high-minded, loyal, and brave. Vultures were sneaky lowlifes. Nonetheless, they were very strong, and extremely dangerous.

The kill team didn’t seem concerned that he, EAGLE, was out of view. There didn’t seem to be any scouts out. Evidently, the plan was to attack him in massive strength at Thinking Rock, and the killers were fighting the plan, not the enemy.

“A plan is a common basis for change,” an Israeli general had once said, and EAGLE had never forgotten the implications of that remark. Planning was absolutely necessary, but once events started to move, you had to focus on the enemy, not the plan, because “he had a vote too.”

Senior U.S. Army officers loved to say things like that while sitting on their folding-stools in the Mojave Desert practicing war. If there wasn’t a convenient rock handy, his Screaming Eagles always set up a perch for him a couple of feet above stool height so he tended to tower over the assembled officers. The troopers rather liked that. He wasn’t just EAGLE. He was their EAGLE. He had learned a lot in the Mohave, including how to lead.

A vote? Hopefully not today, thought EAGLE. He wasn’t feeling in a particularly democratic mood.

EAGLE focused his mind. “EAGLE ESCORT,” he said. “Bandits ahead. State position.”

“Five hundred feet above you, and to the rear,” replied Escort One. “We have you and the bandits in plain sight; and we note the snakes.”

“Close in on me,” said EAGLE. “We’re going to attack. I’ll take the center file. You guys take the flanks. We’ll rake from the top. Watch out for those bloody snakes.”

“Roger that,” said Escort One, his calm voice still betraying a hint of the excitement that was pounding through him.

Seconds later, EAGLE had company. Five against twenty-four. For a brief moment he felt a pang of regret that hadn’t kept his Air Commando together instead of splitting them up to eliminate the local snake population. He put a call out just in case there were any in the vicinity.

A reply came back immediately, and the signal was very strong. But then there was no time to think about it, because one of the tail-end vultures looked around, screamed, and dropped his snake.

The wretched thing writhed and wriggled in desperation as it fell ever faster towards the rocks far, far,below. Never trust a vulture.

“Attack! Attack! Attack!” said EAGLE; and dived.

The five eagles screamed towards their target at astonishing speed.

EAGLE raked the center column of vultures with his talons; and decapitated three on his first pass. Two others were mortally wounded and spiraled towards the ground streaming blood, feathers and swearwords.

The air was filled with vulture heads, pieces of vulture flesh, large quantities of vulture blood, feathers from both eagles and vultures, the occasional vulture eye, and more very unhappy snakes. They didn’t writhe and wriggle at all after they had smashed into the ground. They lay there very still; leaking whatever snakes leaked; and agreeably dead.

And then EAGLE’S complete Air Commando showed up; and the remaining vultures, and their snakes, did not have a happy day.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, July 21, 2011

#17. EAGLE RECALLS “BEWARE OF A HUN IN THE SUN” AS HE FLIES BACK TO THINKING ROCK (A Birds Eye View Of The Mess We’re in; And What To Do About It)

sun behind clouds.

Image via Wikipedia

EAGLE was ambivalent about returning to THINKING ROCK. He had come within a fraction of a second of being killed there; and secondly, it was a known haunt of his.

Generally speaking, not a good idea to frequent a known haunt when someone is trying to kill you. Bad tradecraft.

There was another side to the argument. He felt fear at the prospect of returning. He hadn’t felt fear at the time of the assassination attempt, not even when it seemed certain he was going to die; but, a day or so later, his right talon was shaking. He was feeling the after-effects. He knew perfectly well that was quite natural, but he was EAGLE, and his code of leadership demanded that however he felt internally, he would always project calmness and confidence. His eagles deserved no less. He had an obligation to them, and he had no intention of letting them down.

He felt a great feeling of relief as he took flight and headed towards the stunningly beautiful box canyon that was home to Thinking Rock. The fear was still there, but it was contained. He knew it would vanish once he was perched inside the unusual clump of three rocks that together made up his special place, as he gazed over the lake down the valley, and thought great thoughts. He looked forward to the warmth emanating from the rocks, and the tranquility.

His small escort fell in beside them. He sent them high. If he was to be attacked in the air, he wanted his ambushers to believe he was alone. He could take care of himself, even against overwhelming odds, against any known aerial foe, for at least a minute or two. After that, only the spirits could save any attacker as his eagle flight counter-attacked at hyper-speed. You had to see the kinetic power of such a flight to appreciate the destructive forces involved. He had seen mountain lions reduced to bloody sheds in seconds. The power of eagles was, indeed, a terrible beauty.

As he flew on, he experienced a growing sense of impending danger. He could see nothing untoward; but, thought the day was sunny, there were enough clouds to conceal potential attackers. Any trace of fear vanished from his body. He was as sure as he could be that he was heading into harm’s way, and he exulted at the thought. He was a warrior and he would be true to the code.

He looked high. His four eagle escort was nowhere to be seen. That was as it should be. Nonetheless, a tingling sensation ran though him.

The sun was to his rear. That wasn’t ideal, but unless he wanted to change course, there wasn’t much he could do about it. His father had read flying stories to him when he was an eaglet. He had never forgotten “Beware of a hun in the sun.” He checked there, and all around, constantly. “Either you look and see, or you die” had been one of the mantras of his basic training. Seeing was more than visual. It was an extra sense – combat sense. You had to anticipate. It was something close to a psychic feeling.

Today, EAGLE was more concerned about clouds. They l0oked beautiful as they scudded across the sky in a brisk breeze, but they provided way too much cover. On the other hand two could play that game. He suddenly changed direction, circled back, and then climbed up into a rather large and gloomy looking cloud that he’d been about to pass. Never be predictable. The trick was to vary direction, speed, and altitude constantly. It was hard to surprise a target which was never quite where you expected.

Visibility inside the cloud was virtually zero. It was all white mist and condensation. He climbed higher, broke out into the sun above the cloud, soared, and then leveled off.

What the…!

He was looking at his death. There were too many.




Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


War and Peace (1956 film)

Image via Wikipedia

COOKOO continued pretty much where they had left off the previous evening.

He wasn’t entirely sure because his head felt vaguely muzzy. He didn’t think it was the wine; he could hold his liquor.

It was more that he had clouted his head on a rock after he had fallen off a ledge while trying to emulate Denisov dancing on a window ledge in the Hollywood version of War & Peace.

He’d always loved that scene. It expressed absolute joie de vivre. Denison was something of a villain in the movie, but he was a villain who knew how to live.

“I think we covered PREPARATION adequately yesterday,” he said. “This was the decade  - the Seventies - when the Right Mugs planned to take over government from the Left Mugs and to follow an entirely pro-rich and pro-business agenda. They also got tougher with their employees. 1973 was the last year when. apart from those at the top, pay went up in real terms. Inflation disguised this, because the dollar amount of pay increased, but it didn’t in purchasing power. The Middle Class were paid more dollars which bought less. It took most of them a very, very long time to notice.

“In fact, over the last forty odd years, pay for most Americans has actually declined. On the other hand, costs for items such as financial charges, medical bills, education, some foods and gas have increased substantially ahead of inflation; and so, for a while, did housing. The result is that the American Middle Class is slowly being squeezed out of existence. The U.S. – EAGLE-LAND - is rapidly assuming the economic profile of a banana republic; without the bananas. A pity; I like fresh bananas.”

“How about the rest of the developed world?” said EAGLE.

“Varies,” said CUCKOO. “Most of them are doing well; or they were up to the Great Recession. But where this country is concerned, the Rich and Corporate Interests have distinguished themselves by grabbing virtually all the increased profits resulting from increased productivity. Before 1973, gains were shared proportionately. After that date, it was one way traffic. The gains went  up; and did not trickle down.

“To give you a figure, if you took the year 2010, for example, and compared with the early Seventies, roughly $2 trillion a year - which used to go to average Americans – out of a $14 trillion economy, is now going to the Rich and Corporate Interests.”

Eagle was stunned. This sounded to him like the greatest heist in economic history – not that he considered himself an expert in either heists or economic history. On the other hand, while CUCKOO was around, he seemed to know more every day. It was quite remarkable.    

“Why did no one spot this and fight back,” said EAGLE.

“Some did,” said CUCKOO, “but an individual is powerless against a corporation in the U.S. He or she has virtually no protection under U.S. law and can, in effect, be fired at will – frequently without compensation. No income, no healthcare, no credit, no credibility. And corporations own the media. If you fight, you lose everything; including your dignity. That’s why they call it social control. If you are an American, you will be told constantly that you are free, but the reality is that you are a controlled number. And, primarily, it’s not the government that is controlling you. It’s that very particular flavor of capitalism that is practiced here in America. 

“And people who are controlled are not free. And I should add that having a gun doesn’t make you free either; though I’m told they’re a lot of fun to shoot.”

“What about the law?” queried EAGLE.

“Unlike EUROPE, workers have few rights under American law,” said CUCKOO. That is scarcely surprising given that the Rich and Corporate interests own both politicians and the legal system. Bought quite cheap, by the way. Best return on invested capital that there is.”

“Well, what about unions?” said EAGLE.

“Unions are the one force potentially capable of countering corporate power,” said CUCKOO. “As a consequence, they’ve been the focus of a sustained onslaught by corporations and their legal teams, and bought politicians, for decades. And they haven’t helped themselves by tolerating corruption, and by refusing to modernize. Perhaps most serious has been  a sustained propaganda campaign which has been successful in persuading most ordinary workers that unions are all corrupt, in bed with the Mafia, and operate against worker interests. subject to some over-hyped exceptions, neither accusation is true. In fact, virtually every worker benefit that has been gained by U.S.workers since industrialization, has been gained as a result of union action.”

EAGLE was profoundly shaken. What had Americans done to themselves? Why hadn’t he paid more attention to all this before? Why was there no public outrage?

“I guess we’re down to politicians,” he said. “If the Right Mugs are the party of the Rich and Corporate Interests – a distinct minority – who represents your typical American; the vast majority?”

“Err, no one,” said CUCKOO, “because the Left Mugs get much of their money from Big Business too – particularly the Big Banks. That’s the strange thing about the United States. There really isn’t a party representing progressive thinking – or what you might call the wellbeing of the average American. And boy does it show; or perhaps I should say ‘bird.’ ”

“NO ONE?” roared EAGLE, in the distinctive way that eagles do. His outrage echoed through the surrounding hills. “But they have elections and things.”

“Quite so,” said CUCKOO, ‘but they have nothing to do with democracy any more. They’re now entertainment; a sort of a horse race with humans.”

“If you want proof. Look who is competing to represent the Right Mugs and the Tea Mugs in 2012.

“No one, but no one, could consider a single one of them a credible candidate; and most are certifiable. It’s all Hollywood. In fact they may even be holograms. Who would know! Who would care – providing the show was good.”

“Which brings us back to Reagan,” said EAGLE.

“It’s just as well we’re covering him,” said CUCKOO, “because the RIGHT MUGS are turning him into a saint right now. But a saint who can sing and dance. Actually, I’m not sure he could sing and dance. But he was certainly an entertainer; and a pitchman for General Electric.”

“You’re joking,” said EAGLE. “A saint!”

“Metaphorically speaking,” said CUCKOO. “They are marketing him as the perfect Right Mug role model. The facts don’t support that, of course. Reagan was a tax cutter who put taxes up eleven times; and so on. And his Supply Side economics did not work. But Americans don’t care about facts. I suspect they think they’re socialist. The important things was that he looked presidential. I may now break for a soft shoe shuffle.”

“This is insane,” said EAGLE.

CUCKOO spread his wings and started to dance. “WANNA DANCE?” he shouted; or maybe he was singing.

“I always fancied being Gene Kelly,” said EAGLE, and joined in. The pair were really quite good.











Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

#15. EAGLE DECIDES HE PREFERS STORIES; & CUCKOO STARTS TELLING THEM (A Birds Eye View Of The Mess We’re In; & What To Do About It)

300px-Haliaeetus_leucocephalus2[1]CUCKOO greeted EAGLE with considerable warmth when he returned. EAGLE was quite taken aback.  It was almost as if CUCKOO had known about the assassination attempt; but how could that be possible?

He hadn’t yet told CUCKOO what had happened, and wasn’t sure he was going to. They were discussing major events. SNAKE’s abortive attack was a small matter in the scheme of things. CUCKOO didn’t need to be bothered.

Once prompted to get back on topic, CUCKOO returned to his professorial demeanor.

“Where the Right Mugs are concerned, think of the Seventies as PREPARATION; the Eighties as EXECUTION; the Nineties as as CONSOLIDATION; and the TENS as the period when the Right Mugs, and their backers, went too far; and delivered EXCESS.

“That adds up to the acronym PECE - pronounced ‘pecky,’ by the way. Very bird-like. And from the national point of view it spelled disaster, and uttered in the Great Recession – which, for most humans, is still going on. And whose effects look like being felt for decades.”

“Got it,” said EAGLE uncertainly. “I think.” He preferred stories to hang his history on. He liked heroes and villains and characters and things. He had to put up with enough acronyms when spending time with his beloved 101st Airborne, the Screaming Eagles. Along with the rest of the U.S. Army, they were on a mission to defeat the innate clarity of the English language; and clearly they were winning.

When they weren’t jumping out of perfectly good aircraft, or flying helicopters at tree-top height, the troopers breathed acronyms, and had reached such an advanced stage of that arcane art that they could work up a PowerPoint briefing on a fairly comprehensible topic, for, for instance, a bunch of visiting generals; and no one could understand anything. FUBAR as normal! HOOAH!

The generals would nod, nonetheless, because no general would ever admit that he didn’t understand. One wag had commented that their level of cognition stopped at recognizing the enlarged dots that indicated bullet points.

But, EAGLE wasn’t a human so retained some commonsense. “I do better with stories about birds and people,” he said frankly.

CUCKOO gave him a look of respect. “Ok, he said. “Well, think of it this way. In the early Seventies, a bunch of the Super Rich decided they were fed up paying high taxes and fighting unions  so determined they would fight back. And their weapons would be money and words. And they would put out propaganda based upon the ideas of a man called Edward Bernays.

“He is best known as the inventor of public relations and the man who persuaded American women to smoke. That single act alone killed millions of the fair sex in some considerable agony. But, to be fair, the medical profession, and Big Insurance – not to mention the lawyers – made billions. GDP went up. Where cancer grows, so does the economy.”

“Sick!” said EAGLE.

“But literally true,” said EAGLE. “But the point about Bernays and his techniques was that he learned how to lie scientifically. He did not just lie, and hope people would believe him.

“He evolved methods which he knew, with scientific certainty, would get his message believed. He had moved on from putting out a message, to blatantly manipulating people’s minds on a mass basis. He was much admired by Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Goebels, for very good reason. Bernay’s methods worked; and they still work, and are much used.

“Pretty damn evil,” said EAGLE. He quickly looked up the man on his iPad and thought that Bernays looked remarkably like SNAKE. Bernays had lived to be over a hundred. He had been born when Queen Victoria reigned and had died when Carter was president. That was a long time for a malign influence to flourish; and was seriously creepy.

“There have always been lies in politics,” said EAGLE, “but the application of the scientific method changed the game fundamentally. It took time, but it meant that people could be persuaded to vote for just about anything; even against their own interests. Mind you, the whole thing was made even easier if the candidate was likeable. So they went searching for a front man; a stooge, if you will. Better yet if he was an actor because then he could project any message with equal conviction.”

“Ronald Reagan,” said EAGLE.  

“Just so,” said CUCKOO. “Now, he stood for a lot of things that were against the interests of the average American, but he was an amiable type with a sense of humor, and he looked and acted like you you would want a president to look and act; and those facts, combined with Bernays type propaganda, got him elected.”

“All of this reminds me of that old movie, the one with Frank Sinatra and Laurence Harvey,” said EAGLE. “The Manchurian Candidate.”

“There are common themes,” said CUCKOO. “Greed, ambition, and manipulation. And screw the American people.”

“The rich Right Mugs were not just content to use propaganda and put up Right Mug candidates in the SEVENTIES,” said CUCKOO. “They also set up think tanks to write reports to support their policies, and they established an organization called ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council in 1973 – to write legislation that they could then submit to all the state governments. ”

“Pre-packaged government,” said EAGLE thoughtfully, “which favors the Rich and Big Business; and which is not prepared by elected officials. Call it ‘Corporate Law’ if you will. The so-and-sos write it, market it, and ram it through; and voters are not involved. Sounds remarkably efficient to me. Clearly, we should eliminate voters from the democratic process. They’re just clogging it up. They can’t even agree.”

“Absolutely right,” said CUCKOO, “but here is the cleverest trick of all. They also embarked on a plan to denigrate government. They argued that government was undermining Americans’ legendary rugged individualism; and was the cause of most people’s problems. It took away freedoms through regulations; it took away people’s income through taxes; it got their children killed in wars – and, above all – it was astoundingly inefficient. So, everything it did cost too much.”

“So who do I turn to if have a broken wing?” said EAGLE metaphorically.

“Business,” said CUCKOO. “And Big Business at that. Because the profit motive is all. And the people at the top are ruthless; and that word doesn’t mean they’re tough, or smart, or far-sighted, or patriotic. It means they are without pity. It means they don’t care. It means there is no such thing as the common good. It means every man for himself.”

“You mean the same people, and the same organizations who are fouling the air I breathe, the water I drink, the food I eat, and the ground I fly over?” said EAGLE.

“Well,” said CUCKOO, “those are details that they prefer we would not focus on. In eagleomics, they are known as ‘negative externalities.’ Costs of doing business that are not reflected in the transaction itself – which the business, needless to say, doesn’t pay for.”

“How can any sane human believe these kind of ideas to be right?” said EAGLE.   

“Excessively greedy ones,” said CUCKOO. “And they are not in short supply in a nation whose churches are run like businesses; and whose only God is money. This is hypocrisy on a continental scale. There are many exceptions, fortunately - there are some very fine corporations in EAGLE-LAND – but the prevailing ethos, particularly in the financial sector, is unadulterated greed; and, if anything, it’s getting worse.”.

EAGLE looked upset. “I know what you say is true,” he said, “but you know I like Americans – well, most of them.”

“So do I,” said CUCKOO. “But the fact remains that they’ve got this country into one hell of a mess. And they, themselves, don’t even know why. They think this is just another recession followed by a slow recovery. But, it isn’t. This is like finding the branches you’ve built your eyrie on are rotten; and you have caused the rot.”

EAGLE’S eyes widened. This was getting a little too close to home for comfort.

CUCKOO looked vaguely embarrassed and muttered something apologetic.

“Which is why they don’t know what to do,” said EAGLE.

“Egg-zakerly,” said CUCKOO

“Clearly, we need a drink,” said EAGLE,  and opened a bottle of wine, or two.

Later that evening, they did Russian dancing by the light of the moon; and had a high old time; in a bitter-sweet kind of way. They knew that time was running out.






Monday, July 18, 2011

#14. EAGLE TAKES PRECAUTIONS; AND COUNTERATTACKS (A Birds Eye View Of The Mess We’re In; And What To Do About It)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (novel)

Image via Wikipedia

As he flew back to continue his conversation with CUCKOO, EAGLE sent out a short message to activate some precautions. He wasn’t seriously concerned, but, from a professional point of view, an assassination attempt was not something to be ignored.

Eagle was not prone to introspection, though he had to admit that under CUCKOO’S influence, he was certainly thinking much more than he had been.

It was counter-intuitive, but his experience was leading him to the view that thinking was considerably more exhausting than flying.

Damned odd!

Perhaps the time had come for him to pay more attention to his Irks. Irks were useful eagles who read a lot, and were competent technically, but, all too often, were pretty indifferent Flyers. Normally, they weren’t big and strong like Flyers, but they thought a lot, and asked difficult questions. Generally speaking, the Flyers gave them a hard time and got the prettier girls. But over time, he had noticed that Irks had a tendency to catch up, and perhaps excel. 

He knew that certain eagles were granted special powers by the Spirits and had long thought little more of it. Now he wondered why he was so honored. He merely had to think a thought, and go into a certain mindset, and he could communicate to every eagle in existence for thousands of miles. Given a little fine tuning, and he could communicate to most other species.

Some were more difficult than others. Hawks and falcons were easy. Owls, the dumbest birds in the sky, were tedious. Snails, naively thinking their shells insulated them from the real world, would pretend  they had heard nothing. All could be persuaded to listen.

He received a message and looked up. A flight of eagles – four in number – was now flying top cover.

A similar team was keeping an eye on CUCKOO.

A full commando of eagles – forty-eight - was now at work eliminating the local snake population. It was really not a good idea to mess with an eagle; and it was a terminal idea to mess with EAGLE himself.

He switched his mind to EAGLE-LAND’s plight and ran through the points CUCKOO had made. Did he believe CUCKOO? Yes, he did. He had put his Irks to work checking and double-checking, and he’d been to Europe to see for himself. There was no doubt about it. The average European was significantly better educated, and better off, than the average American. And they spent half the amount on medical care that America did, yet Europeans lived longer. They ate better and took longer vacations so were less stressed. They had decent pensions so weren’t worried about retirement. Third level education was virtually free there.

The list of European advantages went on and on. This didn’t mean that Europe was perfect. Its banks were nearly as corrupt and stupid as American banks; its political leaders were slow to act; and the structures of the European Union were still in the process of being erected. Nonetheless, he was of the opinion that, on a day to day basis, most Europeans were significantly better off.

Then there was also the question of lifestyle. Here Americans seemed to be bent on mass suicide. Air, water and the very earth were polluted, the food chain was corrupted, almost no one took any exercise, and more than half the population – and practically all seniors – were dosing themselves on legal drugs. Hell, even the children weren’t immune.  Showing spirit meant you were diagnosed with ADD and pumped full of Ritalin. If you were an eagle, you got a cuff about the head.

He was glad he was an eagle, yet he was desperately concerned about his human people. He was their symbolic head. Duty commanded that he stop this rot.

He needed to find out more about the causes. America had ended WW II war powerful, and – as best he could recall – doing mostly good things. 

But then matters had gone drastically wrong from the Seventies onwards. 

He needed to know why and how in more detail.

All eagles had extraordinary eyesight, but EAGLE but was in league of his own. He was still some distance from his eyrie when he saw what looked like a man in long robes – the shape was more impression than substance - settle into where CUCKOO normally perched. But, when he looked again, it was CUCKOO.

A trick of the light. It had been a long day.









Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, July 17, 2011

#13 EAGLE GOES TO DO SOME THINKING, AND PUTS HIS YEARS OF STUDY TO GOOD USE (A birds eye view of the mess we’re in)

The following day, CUCKOO had to catch up with his CUCKOO-LAND responsibilities, so EAGLE left him with his iPad, and took off to do some serious thinking at Thinking Rock.

This was a trapezoid affair – with the long side open - that overlooked a waterfall-fed lake that was the visual climax of a long, lush, box canyon. On sunny days, the unusual rock formation, which faced south, would warm up and radiate a pleasant heat towards whoever was fortunate enough to be perched inside. EAGLE thought of it as his wing chair, and was very proprietorial about it.

Mountain GoatEAGLE knew, as he perched inside his rocky retreat, that he was most unlikely to be disturbed – or, if he was, he would have plenty of warning.

In addition, the drinking water was nicely chilled – it came from the snow pack – and the fishing was excellent.

Add in a flock of mountain goats and plenty of other game, and it all added up to  a pretty good place to hang out in.

Mountain goats were either nuts or fearless, and would climb to the most inaccessible places, but somehow hadn’t yet worked out that flying beat climbing every time.

At the right time of year, he would swoop, and there would be fresh kid for supper. Flying that close to a rocky surface that could snap a wing, or otherwise maim him, was not a trivial task, but flying with consummate skill was what eagles did.

Normally EAGLE was punctilious about checking to see that his Thinking Rock was free of intruders, but this time he was so preoccupied with mighty thoughts that he failed to see the intruder until he was already on his normal perch.

Disconcertingly, the voice came from his rear where there was a vee-shaped fissure in the rock, low down behind where he perched. It was only inched high but quite deep. It constituted a miniature cave.

The voice was sibilant.

“Hello EAGLE. You’re not normally so careless. Thought I’d tell you that it might be a good idea not to move. I can strike you, well before you can turn.”

“Not exactly the friendliest greeting I’ve ever had, SNAKE,” said EAGLE. “But, just so you know, I’d kill you anyway; even if I was dying.”

“Don’t think so,” said SNAKE. “The last eagle I killed was about your size and he was paralyzed in a flash. Took him some time to die though. Very painful. Bird had a scar over his eye.”

Snakes didn’t kill eagles very often. EAGLE knew exactly who he was talking about. The victim had been his uncle. He felt a rush of rage; and as suddenly suppressed it. One should fight calmly. One should accept death calmly. It was the natural order of things. Only the timing was uncertain. Emotion was a distraction.

“Normally, we could negotiate,” said SNAKE, “but this is a contract, you see, and I have my reputation to think of. Besides, I’ve never liked you, EAGLE. You’re too big for your claws.”

EAGLE had learned to eat first, fly second, and fight third. Walking had taken a little longer. As soon as he had learned to read he had studied the art of combat. The Japanese approach to sword fighting had influenced him profoundly. It was spiritual, elegant, extremely fast, and extraordinarily lethal.

Iaido  had been derived from iaijutsu. It was a very different set of skills than were required for the battlefield. It was essentially defensive, and factored in that one might be unarmored, and at rest, when attacked – albeit with katana to hand. One’s katana was always to hand.

EAGLE didn’t have a katana, but his talons were as lethal.

“Who ordered my death?” asked EAGLE politely.

“Can’t tell you,” said SNAKE. “Wouldn’t be professional. But you’re up against forces you cannot resist. They’re too rich, too powerful, too strong. And there are are plenty of killers like me to back them up. We’d like to be rich too – and we will be. Love of country is dead. The rich can, and do, live anywhere. Bye bye U.S.A. This country’s great days are behind it. Bye Bye EAGLE.”

SNAKE was enjoying himself. His bite was fully loaded with venom, and he knew EAGLE’S position was hopeless. It was a matter of physics. EAGLE was immensely fit and strong, but it was impossible for him to swivel and attack in time. SNAKE had planned well.

kATANA iaido_7EAGLE’S eyes were closed. He was listening with total intensity. He knew where SNAKE was, of course, but he was focused on where SNAKE’S head would be as he struck.

SNAKE attacked with astonishing speed and utter confidence. EAGLE’S death was certain.

Without looking, or even consciously thinking, EAGLE implemented a variation of the Ushiro Nuki-Uchi (Rearward nuki-uchi cut) with his left talon, and a claw flashed up into SNAKE’S throat and pierced his brain. He died instantly.

EAGLE turned and faced the would-be assassin. “A friend of mine who worked in Congress in Washington DC for many years once gave me a piece of advice I have never forgotten,” he said quietly. “He said, ‘Never threaten. Act.’”

SNAKE didn’t seem to be in a conversational mood. Eagle took his body to a patch of bog, far from the serenity of his box canyon, and dropped it in from a height. It sank without trace.

EAGLE  then flew back to continue his conversation with CUCKOO.










Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, July 16, 2011

#12 EAGLE & CUCKOO GO BACK IN TIME A LITTLE – BECAUSE CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING (A birds eye view of the mess we’re in)

“I’m puzzled,” said EAGLE. “Why is Europe treating its people better than we are? We’re the Land of The Free and the Home of the Brave. And we practically invented democracy.”

CUCKOO frowned. Sometimes EAGLE could be obtuse. Or maybe he was just being provocative. EAGLE could be very hard to very hard to read. CUCKOO thought he would look rather well if carved into Mount Rushmore.

“Don’t confuse the words of the National Anthem with reality,” said CUCKOO.

“And EAGLE-LAND did not invent democracy. I believe the Greeks got it going – though they too had slaves - and then it lurched forwards in fits and starts over more than two millennia. And you may recall the British played no small role in the development of parliamentary democracy. It included executing their king, Charles I.”

He smiled. “The evolution of democracy – which still continues - turned out imperfectly, but well enough. Perhaps not so well for King Charles.”

“You are an adroit debater,” CUCKOO,” said EAGLE, “ but my question awaits.”

“Europe has a long had a tradition of social concern and reform,” said CUCKOO, “which has taken a long time to mature – and is still evolving. I guess it started in the eighteenth century with thinkers like the Swiss, Johann Heinrich Pestalalozzi, and the French Encyclopedists.

“It developed in the 19th century through people like Bismark, who instituted old age pensions, accident insurance, medical care and unemployment insurance – oddly enough to try and counter the Social Democratic Party. And then came the shattering experience of two world wars.

eu“After that lot, Europeans decided that it might be a really good idea to develop both a political and an economic model which would allow them to live together without violence. That led to the European Union and a large number of policies which add up to the fact that if a government doesn’t look after its people, dissension and violence will inevitably follow.

“EAGLE-LAND played an important role in all this. Remember, in those days, the U.S. was an occupying power in Germany and was still acting very much in the spirit of FDR and the New Deal. So in a very real way, we helped to create their form of capitalism.”

EAGLE  had his head extended. He was fascinated. It all made sense.

“Why didn’t we head in the same direction?” said EAGLE.

“EAGLE-LAND had had won the war so why should Americans change?” said CUCKOO. “Call it hubris, if you will. In addition, Big Business was worried about the rise of union power and corporations began to fight back. And then there was the enduring power of myth.

“Real Americans were rugged individualists who didn’t need all this namby-pambying by the state. At best that was socialist and possibly communist and certainly liberal. And EAGLE-LAND was fighting a COLD WAR with communism at the time. By extension, that made a union organizer fighting for decent vacations, or paid maternity leave – to give but two examples – a communist, anti-American, and an enemy of the state.”

“So communism became an excuse for blocking any progress towards a welfare state,” said EAGLE. “And since communism and socialism are so often confused, socialism became regarded as a dirty word too.”

“It was done deliberately then, and it is being done deliberately now,” said CUCKOO. “And the Right Mugs are better at it than the Left Mugs. They have more money and they’ve had more practice. They’ve been brainwashing the American people for commercial reason for decades – with enormous success. They simply applied exactly the same techniques to politics. And over time this incessant propaganda has got entirely out of hand. It has crossed the line from legitimately fighting for your own interests – as Big Business is entirely entitled to do – to propaganda, mind manipulation, blatant bribery and corruption, and social control.

“And remember, the Rich and Corporate interests own virtually all the means of communication, all the major employment-creating corporation, much of the political and legal system; a great deal of property, and nearly all the money. They have virtually everything on their side except numbers. That is their one weakness. They have countered that – with considerable success – through the most sophisticated propaganda and bribery campaign the world has ever seen. The poor don’t even vote. The Middle Class don’t understand the issues. And whoever wins is bribed.”

EAGLE felt a chill. The weather had turned, and dark clouds had blotted out the sun. Put that bluntly, the situation seemed near hopeless.

“You’d think Americans would fight back,” he whispered.

“Henry Mencken, a highly regarded American writer once commented: ‘No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public,” said CUCKOO. “I don’t think he was referring to the politics of this Great Nation, but he might as well have been. Today, I think he would add the word ‘inertia’ to intelligence. Electronic entertainment has stupefied the land.”

EAGLE readjusted himself on his perch to hide his confusion. He was in shock. He felt as if he had been punched. Part of him wanted to deny CUCKOO’s every word, but his own sources – his special team of extraordinarily intelligent eagle researchers – was confirming exactly what he was being told.

“Do you know that we eagles invented e-mail?” said EAGLE. “That’s why there is an ‘e’ in front.”

CUCKOO rolled his eyes. “Perhaps Mencken was talking about eagles, “ he said.

EAGLE fell off his perch laughing, the words “dissension and violence” temporarily expunged from his mind.

But they returned.

















Enhanced by Zemanta