Sunday, June 30, 2013

I, Vitolini, Street Bum

Hey, do I look like a Wall Street trader down here?

When you're a bum in the eyes of society you see the worst of the worst, nobody fears you. People come along, disabuse you as if it's their God-given right, ripping into you how you are the source of all the worldly woes and that you can go to hell you worthless bum. They say things they'd never say to the true culprits. You can see their eyes light up when they see you: "Now here's someone I can treat like shit and no one will say anything!" They are no different than the people who abuse them.

Predators, each and everyone - but to whom can I complain? All the vampires and zombies stick up for one another. They have some sort of social standing but in their hearts they too are bums. So seeing us drives them crazy with fear and angst and a desire to destroy us like crime scene evidence. But if you tell anyone this they think you're imagining it or something and at most you'll get a polite nod of the head as they scramble to get away.

So you hang out with the people who don't need this explained to them - your fellow bums - and commiserate in that bond. But it gives you the feeling of walking in a permanent jail. You can be picked on anytime by the jailors and nobody will say a word. You know the abuser's mantra: STFU, you're lying about your pain, be happy with the abuse. Ah, just like home!

Still, even now with a humiliating crap job (since all jobs are humiliating) I feel no different now than when I was on the street and living in the homeless shelter. What am I doing with my life? I'm still just a bum. It amazes me anyone can build any sort of life on this cutthroat planet. They must either be Jesus or heaped with blessings from on high to have pulled off such a feat. Don't they know it's liars who run this world and life can only be built on the truth? Yes, it's a helluva thing to make a life.

Sometimes my world and the living world cross paths - and disaster ensues. I'm pretty rigid in keeping the living people out of my life. They are a danger for me. Still, the allure is irresistible. About four years ago a shelter volunteer named Amelia started to bond with me - and I her. It was obvious we lived in two different worlds but the more I talked with her the more I wanted to be in her forbidden world. It got to the point I allowed myself to become dependent on her visits which I knew one day would stop as a matter of natural course.

So I poisoned her visits and she stopped coming, sending me into a guilty tailspin from which I have yet to recover. Even had she said yes, no way could I allow my presence to trespass in her life. I couldn't let her present me as the "bum she knows", dripping shame all over her pristine carpet. No way could I live with soiling her home as precious as she. This whole disastrous affair is what happens when I let these two worlds collide. Dear God, what a holy nightmare.

So I went back to the frenemy street where I have heavily decayed. I was so anxious to appear and be respectable for Amelia I took a (soul killing) job and decided to do my best to pose as a successful member of society. I figured maybe then I could walk into her house with a clear conscience. I figured wrong. Having a goddam job that means nothing to you doesn't make you a true member of society. Now I feel both a bum and a liar, further away than ever.

I think of Amelia almost every day, wondering what I could have done differently. I can't sleep more than two hours at a time, waking up in a dripping sweat, forever cut off from those I love most. My health is deteriorating anxiously. Surely, not even my cursed life was meant to be this hellish. That's about all I can come up with as an answer. All roads lead to the cage of guilt as far as I can see. It was only the times I spent with Amelia I did not feel a bum.

So needless to say, after this monumental fiasco the idea of letting worlds collide ranks as That Which Most Needs To be Avoided in my life. But, boy, is it ever hard to fight the yearning to live! John Lennon once said that whoever it was who was posing in his life as his guru - whether it was the Maharishi or primal screamer Janov or anyone else - there came a time when they blew it and couldn't resist the urge to live and drop their mask. And sure enough, I too had something come along to blow my cover in irresistible fever.

I am a lifelong Yankee fan, enthralled since I was a kid. Lou Gehrig is my all time favorite player and I get a lump in my throat every time I hear his farewell speech. But I also have a strong affection and great admiration for the current Yankee captain, Derek Jeter. He always says the right thing, hits the right notes, a consummate professional on the field and a driving force to win in the clubhouse. The chance of meeting him caused me to blow my rules out the door.

Oh, dear.

"Don't do it. Don't do it." "Why not?? Why can't I? I want to soooo badly. Just a few moments in the sun!" After my behavior with Amelia, how can I ever trust me again? But mad desire brushed all that aside and I found myself talking myself into certain disaster once more. Something's got to give here, folks.

It was a bitter, boiling path. My little voice assured me all along that God would never allow this meeting to happen after they way I shit on the previous gift of Amelia. Not only that, the meeting was through my backstabbing sister from whom I had to cut off relations ("You're a bum! I have to run your life!" Everyone wants to rule the world.) It was to be at this (large) family's house and since I knew the time and place I could not help but to invite myself, sister's presence notwithstanding. Boy, talk about fighting a lot of headwinds!

I'd never been so uneasy in my life as when I walked in that door. Talk about feeling like a trespasser! It was like walking onto another planet. I feared the kids the most, they've least learned yet to lie. I was helpless like a fly caught in a spider's web of pain. I could barely see or talk. How could I explain my life or who I was or my plan for shameful me to steal a moment from Jete Man's life? Every instinct told me to run the hell out of there and get some oxygen quick. Still, I resisted.

In the huge front living area neither Jeter nor my sister were present. They were back in the kitchen concocting something. The house was warm and lived in and I feared my selfish presence a confusion for them. I tried not to make eye contact but that only made things worse not facing their true thoughts. Would anyone have the strength to be straight with me and tell me if I was not wanted? I just needed to fight the upstream current, make my way to the holy grail of the kitchen and then get the hell out of there.

But I knew God couldn't trust a sinner like me with such a blessed event. Like the vanishing elves in the Hobbit whose presence exists only in the corner of your eye, my sister and Jeter were perpetually in the place where I was not. I was stuck drowning in a foreign land where the kids popped up like land mines in the Afghan desert. Finally, I gave up, feeling the anti-Caesar: I came, I farted, I fled. Great, more people to loathe me on sight. Back to the hell of darkness for me.

I'm between every world now - and a traitor to each. My old street bums fall for the same illusions I did when I had nothing: anywhere out of the street you've got it made. But I certainly don't have it made. I must sacrifice myself to stay in this two bit apartment and lie my ass off on a daily basis.

Weirdest part is sometimes I (guiltily) enjoy the lie. It comes at the little moments, like when standing in line to get tickets at the movie theater. When I did that before, when I was destitute and rejected for employment, I felt an invisible sin shrouding me that no one in the world could possibly see or understand. It was the most isolated feeling you can imagine. But now when I'm in line, I secretly thank God I'm not that person anymore. I'm legit! At least in the eyes of society.

It's leaving the theater that now haunts me. I think, "I must get home." But where is home? The lying is eating me alive and I'm too tired to go back to the street. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

Friday, June 28, 2013

"The American Taliban": Home Invading Nightmare

I just saw Jeremy Scahill's Dirty Wars, an expose on the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), America's worldwide black ops terror campaign directed out of the White House. Described as a "hell of a hammer" that will always be "in search of a nail" by one former operative, JSOC reveals America's true face and motives: what she does when no one is looking.

Let's make one thing clear, when it comes to the Middle East, America is the bad guy (fracturing our own troops in the process). Thousands of night raids straight out of the Nazi handbook leave Afghan homes attacked without warning by what they call the "American Taliban". Even if we put aside the issue of justification, there is by the sheer weight of numbers a certain percentage of killings and kidnappings being committed upon completely innocent households. So even if 90% of the raids are accurate, it still leaves hundreds if not thousands of slain (sometimes pregnant) women, children and men.

You know, if we'd been truly outraged by 9/11 we'd be far more sensitive to the taking of civilian life.

Would we not have outrage were the state to inflict the death penalty on an innocent man here in the states? So why is it lethal force is shrugged off when it comes to foreign families? Is it because we look upon them as inferior? This is a war of choice, these are attacks of choice, not reactions of self-defense. Of course, when you invade a home in the middle of the night people tend to protect their home and then wallah, you have your justification for shooting!

But then, if one felt so justified in one's shoot one wouldn't bother to dig one's bullets out of the bodies as the American shooters did.

Somalian warlord who was our enemy until we bribed him.
MLK, eat your heart your heart out at our 21st century warrior for justice!

Scahill paints a portrait of a program escalating out of control. JSOC respects no national borders with operations in as many as 75 countries. Nothing is off the table, funding is in the billions. Nobody wants to know what they do, preferring to keep plausible deniability for the inevitable day when the undeniable can no longer be hidden. One can't help but wonder how much better the fate would have been for the German people had they been made to walk through the concentration camps before the war instead of after. They too didn't want to know. Just makes us safe, der Fuehrer.

Stalin is perhaps the best known case of unrestrained power and paranoia gone mad. Near his death when he needed a doctor's care, he ordered a purge of the doctors, seeing treason in his soup. What he saw in reality was his own face reflected back. Decisions based on fear are a self-fulfilling prophesy of baseless attacks creating the very enemies they are meant to stamp out. A nation without principle knows nothing but blind fear and when things inevitably fail to go its way the reaction is to continuously double down until one day it has no one left to turn on but itself.

"Where will it end?" Scahill asks over and over. For Stalin, it never did. The enemies list is an end unto itself, the definition ever expanding. And it has to expand - until we admit we are in the wrong our guilt will only grow. Who will next be declared the Great Enemy of the state? Whose opinions will be deemed too dangerous to live with? How many more people do we "need" to kill to ever be safe? Truth is, we have no intention of stopping. Stopping means admitting we've been openly lying, acting the bad guy all along.

"Americans will say anything."
- Afghan survivor

There are those who believe our President is a war criminal while some claim he is blamelessly making the world safe. Some call JSOC a weapon that saves us and some a destroyer of us. The legalities and moralities are discussed endlessly, signifying nothing. But one thing is clear: no matter what any of us believe or say or even know, there is one person who's fully convinced, without any doubt whatsoever, our President is in the wrong - and that is the covering-up President himself. I'd say, "God help us all" but it is only we who betray us.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

In The Belly Of The Beast

It's kind of fun poaching like this, camping inside this stone hut. Makes me feel like a boy scout again. You can tell someone used to live here but it's ours now. I love this outlaw feeling. Or maybe I'd better say we make our own laws. We have a mission, a purpose, and we got to see it out. Truth be told, that's about all I got anymore.

My name is Lance Corporal Mulroney, and I'm one scared motherfucker. The four of us got separated by a surprise attack and God only knows where the hell we are. Been dark the last four hours of walking when we saw this isolated place where we could hole up. Shit, we could wake up surrounded in the morning by either our guys or the enemy! Not sure where we've been, not sure where we are, not sure where home is. And, man, does that sum up the whole of my life.

I'm just barely hanging on. Nobody knows this. Nobody can. I got so much shit running through my head nonstop, knowing what's real just keeps getting farther and farther away like I'm drifting out to sea. Just like now, I got those same questions: am I in danger or not? Have I made good decisions or bad decisions? Jesus, it's driving me crazy!

Please get me home

It's weird how sometimes they can read your mind. I worked it so everything I'm scared of got pressed down into my belly out of my head. My head was starting to get cloudy and I knew the officers would spot that and have my hide. I was leaning towards saying what I wanted to say instead of what they wanted to hear. That right there is a bear trap, yes sir.

My belly hurts but my head is clear and I give off great answers that are totally convincing. I impressed even myself. But then there's sort of weird after effect, like my head is turning to stone and might get so brittle it's going to snap right off. I can't get that out of my nightmares! But that's when they promoted me up to lance corporal saying they see me taking responsibility. If this is responsibility, I can't take much more or I'll right well explode.

I'm tired as hell. I feel like I haven't slept in a year. But I'm adrenalized like an addict so I can keep functioning for the unit. I swear, if somebody told me I could die right now for my unit I'd do it. I'd die a hero and be free of these goddam questions poking me day and night. I'm so afraid. I'm so afraid I'm a coward. If that happens, no one will have me.

Hendrix, now that guy wasn't afraid of being a coward. He just up and said he was! Man, that guy really does make his own rules. He really does have no fear, not giving a damn what anybody thinks. He only thinks to get out of here alive. And by alive, I mean "whole". Takes a lot of guts to commit to that. Me, I'm too afraid of getting shouted down. Hendrix just shouts back, right there in that hot ass mess tent in front of everyone.

So what the fuck is real?

Am I an idiot coming here like some people write about? Man, I can't face that. We have to be doing some good. It can't all be a waste. It's so dark here. It's like we're in a forgotten hole and people come stick their head in every once in a while but rest of the time it's like we don't exist like a dirty secret. I can't even tell my family what's going on. All this lying, what's going to happen to me 'cause of it?

If I just even bring up stuff like this I get my head bit off. "Not your call, corporal!" But that just fucks me up more. I'd like to think I could simply turn over all my decisions and know I'd be good. That'd be paradise! No more carrying these weights around that are just killing me. I'm dying to tell someone about it but that's certain death if I do. Am I the only one? I must be, no one else got the doubt in their eyes like I do.

But then, we got so many messed up back home. Which ones are those guys? I can't pick them out. Is it me?

Morisson shot himself when he got back and I thought he had it made. Damn, it's a mind fuck here! Who's the real winners and who's the real losers? Morisson's wife was hot, he had money waiting for him, no problems at all. Scares the hell out of me someone like that offs himself. They said he lost interest in everything, had no more will to live. Isn't that what I'm doing now? Just willing myself harder and harder to live. Where's it going to end up?

I had a medic check out my stomach pains but he couldn't find anything direct. I couldn't tell him the real cause was all my worries were balled up in there. I was just hoping against hope he could find something physical to do. It's all this invisible stuff that fucks me the most. I got worried about my cursing the other day. I could hear my school teacher's old voice chiding me for "my language". I thought she was an idiot then but then I got this streak of fear if I cuss not a person alive would think me a moral person ever again. It's like I'm stuck in some sort of madhouse circus.

Why is dawn taking so friggin' long? I feel like I got ants crawling inside me. Get me out of this body! I know what I look like, I've practiced so much. I got my head detached, calm looking and even half smiling, but I'm screaming like hell inside! I'm getting ripped in two and no one can even see it. Stress. Stress. Stress.

I saw a monster man on TV. He said the President knew what he is doing and all we need do is blindly support him no matter what. It's like he was looking right at me when he said it, eyes full of blaming hate. He said the common man is too dumb to know better than any President. I've been trying to tell my self that, that I'm hurting because I don't know all the pieces. But it puts all sorts of miasmic fog in my head trying to figure out what I'm missing when this torment feels so real to me.

I have to say something out loud. "Do you think we're in danger?"

They think I mean about our position and being cut off. But I mean it about the other danger, of not knowing what's real. Am I just setting myself up to be screwed when I get back home? Am I going to have to keep lying like this for the rest of my life???? Why does Hendrix bold self preservation seem like the only moment of light I've had over here? Everyone badmouths the guy. Maybe they don't have his guts either. I feel, way way too guilty to ever get out of here alive.

Sometimes I dare think the unthinkable. It happens just like now, when the dawn won't come and the minutes are hours. I'm wasting my life. My heart soars when I think that. I want to keep on running down that road to freedom. But I'm too afraid to go there all alone. What if I'm wrong? How can I know before I go? I'm fading away, lost in this surreal toxic swirl of shadows and phantoms whispering in my ear, spinning me around in devious laughter, leaving "Yes, sir" the only safe answer I have left. But is it safe? Or am I leading me further into hell's clutches?

What is real in the belly of the beast? Dear God, please somebody tell me before it's too late. I don't want to die!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Suicide: The New Hip!

Defenders of the sick world unite! The monster's ball is in full swing, taking lives with gleeful abandon. Deceivers walk among us with invisible blood on their hands (though not invisible to them) emphatically urging others to fall into the same trap they have. God bless the day they are forever exposed.

In the meantime, we are left with the aftermath no one wants to face or hear about. We've botched this planet but good. And since it's only us here, who can we blame? Thus, we turn away from our victims' cries and leave them to die. Which is why, of course, that will be the final fate of this planet. Your time's a coming, smart ass!

The Dallas Observer cover article this week is about Becca Morrison, whose husband committed suicide upon returning from Iraq. Military deaths have been skyrocketing ever since the widespread abuse of soldiers' service began with the Iraqi invasion of 2003, reaching an all time high last year. Hey, this is America, we like to be number one in everything!

While military worship has a long and storied tradition on this planet, it's always resulted in the destruction of same said empire in the end. Are we really going to save the world by getting in people's faces and calling them "queer bait motherfucker"? Good luck wit dat. And while we proclaim often and loudly how much we appreciate our military personnel, our actions say otherwise. We just like using them for the most part.

First off, the military is ill equipped to handle their own. It's a sensitive subject - but they sure aren't. When Becca's husband reached out for help he was shunted aside at every turn, dumped on drugs by the one person who did halfway listen to him but in the end left twisting in the wind. I don't care what anybody says, mind altering drugs are a bad way to deal with emotional problems. Go without eating or sleeping for a couple of days and see how out of whack your perspective gets. Pile drugs and depression on top of that and suddenly suicide seems the only way out.

The answer to a hurting soul

The military is like an abused, dysfunctional family. Yes, there is bonding in the abuse but there's no room for those who cannot survive it. Mental health complaints are not considered a good career move. Better act happy, little Johnny, or we'll kick you out of the house! The article cites this case:

In 2010, a former Marine named Lazzaric Caldwell was given six months in the brig, dishonorably discharged and court-martialed after he attempted suicide by slitting his wrists while on a base in Okinawa. Although his conviction — for bringing "discredit on the armed forces" — was overturned, it was still an undeniable message to many active-duty service members and veterans.

Yup, those are the kind of fuckers I want to go to with a problem. The military myth is popular even off the base too:

Ruocco, too, is a suicide survivor. Her husband of 15 years was U.S. Marine Corps Major John Ruocco, a decorated Cobra helicopter pilot. He hanged himself in 2005, while awaiting redeployment to Iraq.

When Ruocco's husband died, she says, "I felt like my loss was different than anyone's." The first time she went to a TAPS event, before she joined the organization, a woman approached her. She was making a quilt of pictures of military personnel who'd been killed in action.

"How do I get my husband on there?" Kim asked her. The woman asked a couple questions about John's death. Then she looked Kim over and said, flatly, "This quilt is for heroes."

Like I always say, everyone's got a religion - and is ready to kill for it. Capitalism, of course, is by far the biggest religion of all. And Baby Boomers, being the original hipsters, are also chiming in on the suicide trend. But a blind eye has been turned to their plight as well. Being 50+ years old and having to start over competing for retail jobs at The Gap is truly a shattering fate worse than death. But can we admit this any more than the wrongs we've inflicted on military personnel? Who dare be labeled a heretic of our ways?

Despite the vehement protests and caustic wailing by vicious Pollyannas, we each know the truth of what we do. Mere mention of this subject strikes a sharp chord among the guilty. When Becca Morrison opens up and shares the story of her husband's suicide, when she's a beacon to other survivors that life can go on, there are those who feel they must attack her and tear her down.

Some people couldn't understand why she kept talking so openly about her husband. A few months after the equine therapy story came out, a woman who worked for the program left a nasty comment on Becca's Facebook page.

"Let your husband be dead and buried," she wrote. "Stop digging him up for publicity."

Better to die than live with you fuckers!

Sure, we hung Jesus out to dry so I guess we're going to keep on doing it until we're proven wrong. In ancient Japan, when a vassal felt powerless to change his lord's destructive behavior he would commit remonstration suicide as the ultimate statement of his feelings. These suicides today are also statements on us as a monstrous society. When will we start to listen?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Deep Into The Woods

"..and the meek shall inherit the Earth."
- Jesus Christ Superstar

It was the "clutching pain" I call it, and it drove me deep into the woods to hide my pain from the wolves of the world. They roam the streets with fangs dripping blood in broad daylight - yet no one thinks the more of it! When a wolf does get caught with a mangled body in its mouth the enemies of humans say, "I know it didn't mean to do that." In this way they think they appear "kind". I must make myself safe from their delusions of slander.

Where I ended up I did not know. With my arms holding my pain filled stomach I ran in a blind rush until I could run no more. I hated moments like these, wholly vulnerable, out of step with the world. Forced to face myself and my life, I looked up through the trees into the sky and wondered what sort of figure I must portray to the peering clouds. A miserable, sniveling figure lost in his heart, no doubt.

Sorry, folks, I'm just not in a position to be judged right now.

I slid down into a clump of waiting leaves listening to sounds of a vibrant Nature that answered only to Itself. How I longed to be part of that world! I wanted to rejoin with the lost secrets of yore, the infinity of life. I heard echoes of a contaminated man speak of many saviors: perfect science that bypasses the conscience, a perfect system that bypasses the human heart, the perfect religion that bypasses the soul and even of perfect love that separates the wheat from the chaff. But as I watched a three hundred million year old lady bug dance across a leaf I knew that when it comes to ultimate answers there can only be one.

It's very dangerous, I know, this falling into Nature, absorbing Her forbidden fruits in a world built on condemning Her. But Her yoke is easy and fruitful and made me realize dreams are not dreams after all but wishes of love yet to be - that must be. Even with the sorrow of pending departure these cool streams eased my pain and my eyes fluttered shut in universal embrace. But just before my eyes finally shut, I saw it.

I must tell you, I don't exactly know what "it" was but it's what I always imagined a magnetic pulse might look like if it braced the world. You don't so much see it as its distorting effects. There were bending waves in the sky and trees, best as I can describe it. But its effect on me inside was a thousand times of what I witnessed outside.

"Oh my God, it's finally happened."

Truth is, until that moment I didn't even know I had been waiting for it. But it seemed so very obvious afterwards! All the years of trials and tribulations, the rising contention of human voices, the struggle between Man and Nature had been leading up to this breaking point. Of course, something had to give. Just that nobody knew the form it would take - not even the Sta-Puft marshmallow man.

Everything changed but I didn't know how. Would I be left out once again having been stuck deep in the woods, a day late and a dollar short? Fuck! By the time I made it back to Wicked City everyone was gone - gone as if vanished into thin air. I almost had a heart attack. I mused aliens had come and whisked them away.

"Shit, everything's been abandoned - and looks somehow different. I don't understand it but I do."

Walking by the edge of town where the lowest of low lived, I noticed turned over soiled toys in the yard of a house long past repair. Rest of the neighborhood was no better. I thought to myself: "Why are there any houses like this when we can make them all fine and dandy? Are we insane?" But then it struck me: Why had I never had that realization before?

I passed a prison and recoiled at is pointless pain. The empty army base obviously a waste of space. Bank buildings longed to be art galleries. Nothing was as it was before!

"What in the fuck just happened?? Can no one tell me?"

Eventually I came across others as dazed and confused as I. That's when I first heard the phrase "a reversal of justice." Funny, but justice was a word I knew only to cover the injustices of men. Then I read the stories of reporters competing for now vaunted truth.

First I read of a bitter man who poisoned the town well - but no one died from drinking it! So the bitter man tried it himself and he died. Justice indeed! I heard of a greedy man plotting to swindle all the wealth for himself and enslave people for life. But the next morning it was he who'd lost his wealth for life. A politician laughed as he prepared to put on his phony mask of love to betray the necessary trust. But he was blind his mask was of ugly evil and no one trusted him ever again. All the old tricks were dead!

Then I figured it out: Nature had won! She had righted the sinking ship of this planet. Those still bent on destruction destroyed only themselves, removing themselves forever, not as dictated by the foolish laws of men but by the just and unerring laws of Nature. Tears steamed down my face at the beauty of it! "Goddam right the fucking meek shall inherit the earth. Good riddance, motherfuckers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Friday, June 14, 2013

Obamacare Dem: "Listen, this is simply not fair"

No fucking shit it's not fair! A tax on breathing enforced by the government to be distributed to private for-profit corporations! Who in their right mind thinks that's a good idea?? Only blind partisan political hacks and those who directly profit from the greatest corporate heist in history. This so-called Affordable Care Act is just like the Clean Air Act that allowed more pollution: a solution in name only.

Government employees demand a different set of rules for them:

Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking about retiring early or just quitting.

The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the year under a provision in the health care law that nudges aides and lawmakers onto the government health care exchanges, which could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive.

...The Affordable Care Act — signed into law in 2010 — contained a provision known as the Grassley Amendment, which said the government can only offer members of Congress and their staff plans that are “created” in the bill or “offered through an exchange” — unless the bill is amended.

...Currently, aides and lawmakers receive their health care under the generous Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. The government subsidizes upward of 75 percent of the premiums for the health insurance plans. In 2014, most Capitol Hill aides and lawmakers are expected to be put onto the exchanges, and there has been no guidance whether the government will subsidize those premiums. This is expected to cause a steep spike in health insurance costs.

...It could be politically difficult to change this provision. The provision was put in the bill in the first place on the theory that if Congress was going to make the country live under the provisions of Obamacare, the members and staff should have to as well.

...More than a dozen senior aides interviewed by POLITICO about the issue declined to be named out of fear for future job prospects. The problem is most acutely felt at the staff level, where aides make between $35,000 and roughly $170,000 and budgetary problems have all but stopped pay increases and bonuses. Lawmakers have questioned leadership aides about the future of their health care.

...[Rep. Tom] Cole added, “A lot of the staff stays on largely because of the benefit levels and particularly if you’ve got people with families and it’s extraordinarily important to them … it’s just not right.”

Outrageous those poor babies have to live under the laws they help pass for others! These are "Federal employees", you say? Big fucking deal. What makes their families more important than anyone else's? Takes a sick mind to think like that. 35% of U.S. households live on $35,000 or less. A full third of the population makes less than a congressional staffer but it's OK to stuff extra burdens on the poor and working poor?

Who's really gullible enough to believe that this historically lowest rated Congress is so overwhelmingly concerned with the greater good they passed some marvel of equability going against the grain of corporate interests? (Or the super gullible claiming, "Yes, they're fucking you now but they'll stop later on!") Sure, everybody's for the idea of affordable health care but because we're happy being led down the garden path we got sold a bill of goods.

Yes, I know what it's like to sleep in a car and hock the gold chain my grandmother gave me so I can eat. For tens of millions out there there's no excess cash to throw around. This isn't some joke or political game as all the disconnects claim it is. They have an answer for everything - except reality.

It's called the Affordable Care Act, but President Barack Obama's health care law may turn out to be unaffordable for many low-wage workers, including employees at big chain restaurants, retail stores and hotels.

That might seem strange since the law requires medium-sized and large employers to offer "affordable" coverage or face fines.

But what's reasonable? Because of a wrinkle in the law, companies can meet their legal obligations by offering policies that would be too expensive for many low-wage workers. For the employee, it's like a mirage — attractive but out of reach.

The company can get off the hook, say corporate consultants and policy experts, but the employee could still face a federal requirement to get health insurance.

Many are expected to remain uninsured, possibly risking fines. That's due to another provision: the law says workers with an offer of "affordable" workplace coverage aren't entitled to new tax credits for private insurance, which could be a better deal for those on the lower rungs of the middle class.

Ohhh, it's all about embracing personal responsibility, right? Because those who skyrocket health care costs cannot be held responsible. The government who could implement regulations to reverse skywriting costs cannot be held responsible. But the low man on the totem pole, by God we can make him responsible! I hear all these specious arguments every day on why it's good to stick it to the little guy. Fuck them and the horse they rode in on. Those people are nothing more than rapists.

The law is complicated, but essentially companies with 50 or more full-time workers are required to offer coverage that meets certain basic standards and costs no more than 9.5 percent of an employee's income. Failure to do so means fines for the employer. (Full-time work is defined as 30 or more hours a week, on average.)

But do the math from the worker's side: For an employee making $21,000 a year, 9.5 percent of their income could mean premiums as high as $1,995 and the insurance would still be considered affordable.Even a premium of $1,000 — close to the current average for employee-only coverage — could be unaffordable for someone stretching earnings in the low $20,000's.

With such a small income, "there is just not any left over for health insurance," said Shannon Demaree, head of actuarial services for the Lockton Benefit Group. "What the government is requiring employers to do isn't really something their low-paid employees want."

Another thing to keep in mind: premiums wouldn't be the only expense for employees. For a basic plan, they could also face an annual deductible amounting to $3,000 or so, before insurance starts paying.

"If you make $20,000, are you really going to buy that?" asked Tracy Watts, health care reform leader at Mercer, a major benefits consulting firm.

And low-wage workers making more than about $15,900 won't be eligible for the law's Medicaid expansion, shutting down another possibility for getting covered.

Insert own caption here

We all know why this nightmare law was railroaded into existence by appeasing the insurance industry and big pharma: for Democratic political power. It's not really a matter of helping anyone, it's just a matter of getting people to believe they are being helped. That's the ancient evil of politics. By the time the truth comes out there will be no options left, a fait accompli. I can hear it now: "Oh, I want to help you poor bastard constituents but there's nothing I can do!" Eh, you could off yourself and make the world a better place.

Every person - every living thing - and therefore every society has a direction. That direction is either towards life or death. As we more and more succumb to the cult of corporation we deepen our slavery and misery, arching towards death. The liars, the blasphemers, the predators, the soul-less will decry freedom as death a we spiral downward in delusion of a future. May God damn these false prophets.

The answer is simple and we all know it: if you want a society that succeeds, don't be fucking each other. Until we agree to do that, only the worst among us will continue to rise.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rosa Parks Would Applaud Pussy Riot

"We're not saying we're ethically flawless."
-Pussy Riot

Ah, but so many others do make such a claim - about themselves! The new documentary Pussy Riot, A Punk Prayer is out and making the rounds, an inspiration for civil rights supporters around the world. If you want to see a story of three shining lights in this world, see this film. The march to freedom is painful and never-ending. Those who fight for it will always be persecuted and maligned even though it's in the best interests of society and the only possible path to a positive future.

Many people claim to have issues with their protest being in a church, that that somehow makes it an offense against God and spirituality, against the so-called believers. But in the entirety of human history there has been no less godly an institution than the church. It's conceived of men, by men to serve men, nothing more. God resides in the truth and art is truth's conveyor, making artists the true priests (and priests true con artists). Pussy Riot represents true faith, they the true believers. There is no religion in heaven.

Two blasphemers, sitting in a tree

"No believer should say, 'This doesn't concern me' or, that this is none of my business."
Patriarch Kirill, head of Russian Orthodox church in regards to Pussy Riot protest

On that statement I most firmly agree. Anyone who professes to believe in freedom and democracy know that a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Ignore Pussy Riot's fate at your own peril, lest there be no one to stand for you when your time comes. Kirill, with his rumored KGB ties claims Putin to be a "miracle of God" as church and state merged in unholy matrimony. This, combined with Putin's power grab returning as head of state, is what inspired the protest to shine a light on this hypocrisy. That's when the world turned upside down.

If Jesus (the original church protester) hated the moneylenders in the temple, I'd love to see his reaction to former KGB thugs running an institution taking God's name in vain. In the trial, the state claimed to represent six "believers", literally over charges their feelings were hurt. Yes, the truth often does hurt (but always heals). So we end up with a trial of six Judases as the victims, the church elders who conspire against Jesus as the institution that must be protected, and the state as Pilate the persecutor defending lawlessness in the name of the law. Surreal.

Many people make the mistake of being politicians. "You need to sell your message!" Total, utter garbage. Saying that sets one up as the Enlightened One looking down upon so-called lesser souls. No, what one needs to do is express oneself. Purity of expression does not come at convenient times or have meaning after the fact. Calling witch burning evil now means nothing compared to the inflammatory times of the Dark Ages. The protest had to be in the desecrated church at the height of Putin's power for it to have meaning.

The three women speak so eloquently and from the heart I was moved to tears. Rarely do we hear such beautiful words in the cacophony of modern speech. To those with open hearts their sincerity cannot be doubted. They are not martyrs, they do not wish to be in jail. They show that true freedom fighters need only their words to strike fear into even the highest offices of the land. Thirty seconds with a shaky camera rocked the foundations of a country, exposing its bedrock of lies to the world and in that process, changed the world - all without firing a bullet. Can't we all see the beauty in that?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fatal Unattraction

"I'd kill him."

Deborah opened her eyes, frightened. She sat alone in the throne that was her home. The competition for San Francisco housing was fierce and status driven but she was an outward winner. Cold comfort farm.

She'd just read about the plot line of a movie where society allowed one day per year when no crime could be charged, a sort of ritual purging. Deborah asked her heart what she'd do if she had that sort of ultimate freedom and it was that moment she realized her true desire: the death of her husband.

Even the mere thought of it brought relief, lifting a heaviness from her heart. The skies would open, the day would dawn and fresh air would once more fill her lungs. Please, oh, please remove that man from the face of this earth! She lay one simple act away from freedom's delight.

What a mess she'd made of her life. One ugly truth after another had come parading out of the closet, tearing her down, making a nightmare of the mirror - in every sense. She'd struck a deal with the devil: the promise of security and a family if only she kept her hidden doubts forever tucked away. She loved being the golden child leading the perfect life. But bit by bit that precious dream had been chipped away until finally she lived an open nightmare.

Her husband flat our told her: "He who makes the gold makes the rules." Those initial nights of wild sex and bursting orgasms had wrenched themselves into a chore, fighting herself to deny the mounting self-loathing. But his needs he had not the option to deny. Finding her lacking he searched for satisfaction elsewhere.

At first she was secretly grateful. To keep getting that same high the sex turned more extreme and desperate. She obliged his every request keeping in her image of the "perfect wife". She even gave in to her desire to be used and objectified, hoping to own his love as he owned her. Deborah knew she could not stay on that road forever.

Then he dropped the bomb. He didn't care what she thought, he wanted other women. She was not enough. If she didn't like it she could leave. At first she said nothing. This was punishment for being inadequate, she wanted to stay faithful to her image of the perfect wife. And besides, she could always leave. She had that sort of strength.

But on a night similar to this one, she asked her heart if she truly could go back to living without money. No. No way in hell. That she could not survive. It was something you read about in books or saw in movies and she never thought it real but now she saw with her very own eyes what she'd come to need to have. When she tried to picture her life without money she was consumed by a horrifying blackness, drowning her in a perpetual free fall. Doomed.

She was nothing, after all.

Years of sacrifice, to be the good little girl her parents taught her to be, had turned her into a spiritual paraplegic. Now, at 48 years old, she rebelled against her parents, hating them for teaching her to put her God-given interests last. Hell of a time to start puberty, lamented Deborah. Facing these nightmarish truths broke her. Her husband had the hammer she could not fight. Life from that point forward would be nothing but dreading one hammering after another.

Day and night she wrestled with the agony. Deborah had always prided herself on her friends and friendships but the Ugly Truths spoiled even that. If she broke faith, if she exposed her life of luxury a lie, if she betrayed the Code of Success to which she had subscribed, she realized she'd be exposing her friends' fraudulent lives as well - and they'd abandon her in ruthless ex-communication. Decades of self-lies left her with no way out. "A happy wife does not make plans for life outside of marriage," she'd slyly scold.

She wanted to rage. Suddenly she understood the TV news gunmen blasting people to pieces of whom she'd always professed incomprehension. What else can you do when there's nowhere to turn and no one to help? Who would pay her rent after her divorce? Who'd want her body racked by years of stress, never to be beautiful again? To whom could she even confess? The bullet exploding from the chamber would be her confession.

Hear me roar

She indulged herself with the thought of her husband dead. Sweet freedom! She could start over with her eyes open this time. No more dying by inches, no more perfumes of strange women she imagined as beautiful as the sun, no more heavy chains strangling her every move. Did she not deserve a second chance? Had she committed so many crimes she was sentenced to life without parole?

"What's one life more or less in this world? We just pretend to care every life is precious. They want to keep that image up just like I wanted to keep up mine. Hypocrite cops investigate every illegality but what of crimes of the heart? Do they solve those true crimes? What blinded me all those years? If my life is so valued how come there's no way out? Was I too dumb to live? Is the whole world the same?"

Disconnected. Shattered. Alone on an island with no ears for her screams or dreams. Justice had been served. In the twinkling of an eye her life had reversed. All the "bad people" who'd been "inappropriately" expressing their true feelings were suddenly the good guys, the Honest Ones. And she who nobly labored under lies to appear Normal and Decent, the bad guy, one of the Dishonest Ones. Still, this was a sentence she could not serve out. Somebody has to die.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Reconsidering MLK: A Total Piece of S#!T


Disclaimer: Recent news of massive government infringement violating the Fourth Amendment is not news to me. I've been writing for years about Americans selling their souls and self-respect. They want a police state as all conservatives do (only 10-15% of the population is liberal) and that's why this story will blow over as some esoteric furor signifying nothing. America is a nation of cowards and her withering silence will condemn her just as the burning of the Reichstag pushed the German morons into the safe arms of der Fuhrer.

So for the vast majority cheerleading this news by either outright glee or smirking silence, I think it's high time for a little revisionist history! Civil rights? We don't need no stinking civil rights!!

Some extremists want to eliminate ALL lynching parties. Better to compromise!

So what was that Martin Luther King guy whining about all those years? Stirring up trouble for no reason. Civil rights threaten us all! Free at last? Shit, freedom is the enemy! If we're free we'll be blown to bits! Panic in the streets! The sky is falling!

Admit it: you'd feel safer seeing soldiers march in the streets than this

Don't you bleeding heart liberals get it? Real Americans don't want their rights! Government angels have only our best interests at heart. Christ himself would blush in the face of their purity. That leash put upon you is the leash of life! Remember: they are everything and you are nothing!

The anti-MLK will keep you safe, comrade.

I was once hailed as a genius for stepping out from underneath a falling piano. "Gee, mister, I'd have never done that. I'd have to let it fall on me to know it would hurt." I understand most do not possess that rare wisdom. They insist if they lie to themselves hard enough the falling piano will do no harm! So take hope, dear liberals, and know stupid folks such as this will defiantly and stubbornly maintain their willfully blind positions and therefore die accordingly. Sweet!

The Boy Who Cried Wolf (Modern Version)

The Good Farmer sat at the dinner table with his family, all but his oldest son present. He was determined to bless himself and his ways to escape his relentless inner critic.

"We have a good leader now. Everything will be fine. No more need for worry! No need to leave the table! Rest at last."

Suddenly, the oldest son came bursting in, shattering the self-proclaimed blessing.

"Wolf! Wolf! Hurry quick or we'll lose everything!"

The Good Farmer did not appreciate this sudden invalidation of his life.

"You lie, boy! We all know the story about the boy who cries wolf. You're just saying this to make me look bad. Don't bother us with your fantastic delusions!"

"But there really is a wolf! Come see for yourself! Why can't you trust me?"

"Why should I trust you when I already have everything figured out? You are not welcome in this house until you change your partisan story. Go now and sin no more!"

Thusly banished, Wolf Boy was very angry. "That sanctimonious shit! He won't face the facts until it's too late. He's more concerned about being right than being in the right."

As Wolf Boy walked into town the Good Farmer spread the story of his son's betrayal and for no one to trust him. "Otherwise I'd be a fool!" His friends assured him they had his back, vowing to support every fantastic delusion the farmer spewed forth.

On the outskirts of town was a casino where the boy stopped to rest. Inside, he was shocked, shocked by what he found.

"That's the town banker. He's gambling with our money and we'll all end up broke!"

Fearing further rejection of his appeals, Wolf Boy decided to directly confront this wolf. "Stop! This is insane! You'll ruin everything with your gambling. People will want to kill you!"

The banking predator laughed. "I am their god! I have free reign to ruin their lives as I see fit. Yeehaw! This is fun!"

"But what happens when all the money is gone?"

"How should I know? I'm no fortune teller."

"I'll tell you what happens. People starving, families thrown out into the street, desperate suicides and unspeakable suffering!"

"Don't be so gloomy doomy! Life is what you make it. And I'm making mine fine. You should do the same!"

Wolf Boy was frantic. He ran back outside forgetting all his fear. "Listen everyone! The banker's inside gambling away all our money. We must stop him before it's too late!"

"You mean he's gambling with other people's money??"


"And if he loses others have to pay??"

"Yes! Yes!"

"But if he wins he gets to keep the profits??"

"Yes! Outrageous, isn't it?"

"Yeehaw! That sounds like fun! What a deal! Let's get in on the fun before all the money's gone!"

"But wait, that will only make things worse..."

Not sure where to turn to next, Wolf Boy kept heading into the city, crossing the dam as he went. There he saw a boy with his finger plugging a leaking hole.

"Hey, is there something wrong with the dam?"

"Yes, it has a leak. But I'm here to save the day!"

"Did you tell anyone about the leak?"

"Oh, no. Only a bad child would upset grownups like that. I'm a good child!"

"But you have to tell someone about this!"

"What good would that do? I'm actually doing something, not just sitting around complaining."

"But there's a reason why that crack formed. Can't you see the foundation needs fixing?"

"I can't fix all that! That's for others to figure out."

"Exactly! That's why you need to tell someone."

"Shut up, you! I know I'm doing the right thing. I'm not listening to anything more you have to say! Neener, neener!"

Lost in a world of abused children seeking acceptance, Wolf Boy knew he must seek out the Great Leader to save the day. "He's always talking about what a grownup he is!'"

In the city, fear and anger ruled with an iron grip. Headlines asked with disingenuous ignorance: "WHY SO MUCH FEAR AND ANGER?" Wolf Boy shook his head. "Even the paper is in on it. Is this a conspiracy with no end??"

Masked police gangs roamed the streets, rounding up six-year-olds for speaking terroristic truths. Wolf Boy protested to the children's parents. "You're just going to let them take your kids away like that?"

"It makes us feel safe. We're willing to do our share for national security. Who are we to question anything? We don't want to make the government upset."

"But this doesn't make us any safer! You people are out of your minds! Is everyone just an abused child walking around?"

"You sound like one of those extremists demanding unicorns and rainbows. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good!"

"And you people wonder why there's so much anger and fear?? Unbelievable!"

"Unbelievable is what YOU are. Don't project yourself onto us. No wonder you're the black sheep of the family."

The Great Leader was Wolf Boy's last hope. "Great Leader, please help. Tell me you know the truth!"

The Great Leader was a man of the people, seeking to calm his constituent. "Why, of course, son. I know all the truth."

"So you know the wolf came and destroyed our farm?"

"Wolves are destroying every farm."

"And you know the banker is throwing away everyone's money?"

"Oh, yes indeed. He lost it a long time ago and is even playing on credit now."

"And you know the dam has to be rebuilt?"

"My engineers have all the figures."

"And you even know they arrest innocent people on the streets?"

"Of course. Our prisons are full of them."

"Thank goodness you know the truth! We are saved. Please tell me what you're doing!"

"I must seek out the truth! How else can I know what to deny?"

"Deny? What do you mean?"

"Why I can't think of anything more upsetting than for these good people to know the true state of our condition. Can you imagine the panic? No, I will not be horribly irresponsible like that! My job is to give reassurance so life can go on as it is."

"But that's exactly what will destroy us!"

"Only facts can destroy us and all facts are currently under dispute. I seek to bring both sides together! I shall rebuild half the dam. I'm the magic Christian compromiser, people trust me. As long as my poll numbers stay up we're saved!"

"Poll numbers will only save you!"

"Same diff. Now, do you want to continue this conversation or shall I declare you an illegal whistleblower??"

"The truth is always legal, shithead!"

"Watch your language, boy. What you say doesn't count, just how you say it. Better a polite liar than vulgar truth-teller if you want to get elected."

"What's polite about lying? This whole fucking world is insane, you death-tripping motherfuckers! Try giving a shit instead of perpetually whining about what the facts have got to say and maybe - just maybe - things will work out, you dumb fuck."

"I don't care what you say! You want reality? Reality is everyone is actually fighting for love. That's how we politicians get by: knowing you better than you know you. And more people love me than love you so that means I'm right. Neener, neener!"

"Laugh now, moron. History will hate your guts - yours and every hopeless idiot who supports you. Love cannot survive in the absence of truth. You should think more of yourself. I know I do."

Monday, June 03, 2013

Japonius Tyrannus, Oda Nobunaga Reconsidered (Book Review)

Note: This post will interest no one but me. Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) was the first great unifier of Japan. He was most of the way there when assassinated by one of his top generals. The Sengoku era was a time of open chaos with no central authority and sixty some odd provinces left to their own devices. It was a time of pure meritocracy, when a man with the greatest mind from one of the smallest domains could rise to the very top - and did.

For better or for worse, Sengoku era warlord Oda Nobunaga is the Japanese historical figure with whom I relate the most. I have posted fictionalized accounts with supposed insights into him and do believe he embodies both what is best and worst about Japan and Japanese character. Nobunaga is often condemned by historians and his contemporaries as someone "callous and brutal", while the author of "Japonius Tyrannus, Oda Nobunaga Reconsidered" surmises at the end he was instead "pragmatic and ruthless". I agree with the author's conclusion.

Oda is still a popular figure in Japanese pop culture and oftentimes is portrayed as a demonic, power-mad figure. This is understandable because Oda's ruthlessness was at a level not understood by lesser minds. Also, Oda's abilities were such as to arouse intense hatred and jealousy and as we all know it's easier to demonize than to recognize one's own shortcomings. It's easy to parse out certain aspects of Oda's personality and claim that's all he was but as the author of this (very expensive) book points out, he was a very complex man. One thing is for sure, he was the right man at the right place at the right time in Japanese history.

But while I do agree with the author's final assessment of Oda I do find this biography to be very lacking. First off, it was first written as an academic thesis for a doctorate and therefore is hamstrung by the idea that only that which has evidentiary support can be included to appease fellow academics who will wish to tear it apart. It was later adapted to be put in book form. It should also be noted one needs a good understanding of the Sengoku period before even attempting to read this book as the author takes that for granted of the reader.

As far as sheer volume of information it's hard to fault the author. But information alone does not a biography make! One needs context and insight if we are to get into the heart and mind of a subject. The author is mostly diligent at attempting to provide contemporary context of individual items but provides very little in the way of insight of how they all fit together. He fails to connect the dots of the "what" and "why" to give us the "who" of Nobunaga. Perhaps he did not feel that was his place as is often the misplaced concern of the false god of objectivity.

The most glaring omission is a complete lack of a breakdown of the Battle of Okehazama, which gave birth to Oda's rise to power. To analyze Nobunaga's thought process in fighting an army ten times his own, to review his tactics and strategy here would be to see a pattern that will be repeated for the rest of his life. Had he turned tail in the face of superior numbers or martyred himself in a suicidal last stand or made peace to become another warlord's vassal would have relegated Oda to the dustbin of history. It's the most illuminating moment of his short life.

I expected a special emphasis on this turning point that most of Oda's vassals considered a rash decision. There is, after all, this rousing speech Oda made to his men:

"Imagawa has 40,000 men marching toward this place? I don't believe that. He 'only' has 35,000 soldiers. Yes, that is still too many. So, Sado, you want me to surrender. What if we do surrender? Will you get content with losing your life that way? Or what if we hold on like Katsuie wants me to? What if we stay here in this castle, lock it up, and wait until the Imagawas lose appetite and stop the siege and go home? We will be able to prolong our lives for five or ten days, and what we cannot defend will still be undefendable. We are at the bottom of the pit, you know. And our fate is interesting. Of course the misery is too great, too. But this is how I see it: this is a chance in a lifetime. I can't afford to miss this. Do you really want to spend your entire lives praying for longevity? We were born in order to die! Whoever is with me, come to the battlefield tomorrow morning. Whoever is not, just stay wherever you are and watch me win it!"

That most certainly gives a certain psychological insight into the man. To understand Oda from the outside one must first understand how Oda thought of himself inside. From here we can see was at the very least an opportunist, a man of the times feeling his destiny - and this outlook surely colored his remaining decisions. (Click here to read my account of this historic decision).

Another important aspect of Nobunaga that often gets shrouded in his lust for conquest and ruthless intolerance for national factions is that Oda very much considered himself a builder. The book is quite detailed on reforms instituted by Oda, the creation of infrastructure, and his giving rise to the concept of castle cities as power bases. What is not pointed out is what gave Oda an edge was he had a goal larger than himself in mind, something more than simply attaining power but rather to build and create a new Japan, united at last.

Another point that cannot be overemphasized is the pioneering nature and burden of Oda's initial strides for national unification. There was no roadmap to follow or standards to go by in taking a country with an almost nonexistent central government and building from the ground up. One might have great military prowess but not political acumen. One might be an expert at logistics but not have the wherewithal to create an opportunity for implementation. Oda had it all: battlefield tactics, economic and administrative capabilities as well as the political acumen to hold his burgeoning domain together.

I thought the author was remiss in not fully providing that insight. Oda was in a position of constantly having to adapt as his powers changed. His assassination cut short the full extant of what he had in mind as final policies for the homeland he wished to both rule and serve. Both of Oda's successors in the final unification of Japan lacked his vision and his understanding of what could be the constructs of a nation. They instead receded into a conservative path bent on retaining seized power which led to a rotting of the country in the Tokugawa era of the next 250 years. (See my posting "To Whom Can I Answer" for my take on Oda's plight.)

One of the strengths of the book, however, is what the title implies: a reconsideration of the characterization of Oda in his behavior and policies. In these closer scenarios the book is most excellent in providing context and possible bias by the authors of the day. The best example of this is the Jesuit Frois who generally lauded Nobunaga throughout the course of his campaigns (mostly because Oda was ruthless in dealing with the Buddhist warrior monks who pestered him for ten years, which the Jesuit mistook as a fight for Christianity, which couldn't be farther from the truth) but when it came time to relay the news of Oda's death was in a quandary having previously explained Oda's victories as divine providence. Had God turned on his servant?

This caused the good Jesuit to concoct a story of Oda as a man who at the end had violated God by proclaiming himself a god, demanding worship and the promise of rewards in the afterlife. Oda had no use for heaven, hell, the afterlife or anything else that did not immediately concern his affairs of state and had always made that clear. You could believe as you wish so long as your interests did not cross his. The author did an outstanding job of exposing the Jesuit and his motives in a story not corroborated by any other documenters of the time.

My print of Oda's final moments

The greatest service the book yields is in that of the strongest case yet for the motives of Akechi Mitsuhide, Oda's assassin. Popular myth has it Oda's alleged mistreatment of this inner circle member had put Akechi in the mindset he had fallen out of favor and was in a kill or be killed situation, thus leading Akechi to strike first. But while there may have been some discontented politics of the day, looking back it's hard to see it reaching the level of inducing murder. (My account of his final day)

Rather, the author contends it was a case of simple Sengoku ambition, a time of promotion through betrayal. If Oda had one blind spot it was most likely that of believing his top generals at least shared and understood to some extant his goal of building Japan for the greater good - and that to betray that was to betray oneself. Instead, Mitsuhide saw Nobunaga as having reached a point of stability by 1582 that if he betrayed his overlord now he could easily step in to rule the nation. (He was fatally wrong, killed in less than two weeks by Hideyoshi, the second of the three unifiers of Japan.)

In conclusion I'd say the author did an excellent job parsing out some individual events and aspects of Oda's career but his final epilogue was more a recap than analysis. As a research volume I'd say it's quite valuable but as a biography it most certainly is not a stand alone piece: I know much about the man but I don't end up much knowing the man. I do believe if someone were to do a more complete portrait of Oda Nobunaga this book would be a good foundation from which to begin. The ultimate Oda book has yet to be written.