"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Filling The Last White House Diversity Slot - When A White Bass Boat Trucker Joined The Cabinet

It took Joe Biden almost the entire term of his presidency to finally round out the DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) bit of his agenda, but because the election was only a few months away and so many white, working class voters were abandoning him, he knew that he had to make a very visible statement of commitment, and so the search began for someone to be their representative in the White House. 

The position of Deputy Assistant, Labor Relations was to be filled by a man from this forgotten, aggrieved, and politically restive electoral group.  Biden had already made the gender issue the frontispiece of his administration.  He had originally intended to hire all women to his Cabinet, the kind of affirmative action program that would parallel the racial one, but was told by his inner circle that that would be too alienating and off-putting to male voters.  

 

It was one thing to consign men to the lower reaches as predatory animals without sense or sensibility in certain venues, position papers, and public utterances; another thing to remove them lock, stock, and barrel; and so it was that his cabinet had a smattering of men, window dressing, gender mannequins only. 

Second, the man had to be white, for the President had been increasingly seen as black-only.  He had so championed the black man and clearly intended to see him placed at the top of the human pyramid where he belonged. 

The recent paper, Race, Environment, And The Native Genius of the African written by a well-known Harvard professor, contended that because of the African's tribal, animist, and forest legacy, he was more integrated within the natural environment than the white man - 'a natural man' as the academic put it. 

Biden had made references to this paper every time a black man was appointed to a senior position in the White House. 'We're doing the right thing', the President said. 'The only thing'.

Needless to say there were many in the political opposition who disagreed with the President.  What had Africa ever accomplished, they asked? When compared to the great civilizations of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, it barely registered a blip.  What was this forest-based nonsense all about anyway?

White working class men took the President's words and appointments especially hard.  Not only were whites, white civilization, and white culture being derogated, dismissed, and forgotten; but the lower tiers of white society - the working classes - were especially slighted.

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There wasn't a day that went by without some prominent Democrat referring to them as bass-boat, gun-rack, pickup, tobacco chewing, toothless, sister-fucking cr--kers; and they were angry. 

So the election year decision to recruit at least one white, working class male to a senior White House position was taken, and so it was that Mayberry P. Lassiter joined the staff. 

How, out of all the millions of white, lower class, working men did the President find Lassiter?  It was one thing to pick potential appointments from a roster of high-achieving individuals - they fit well into familiar class, educational, professional, and academic categories and were easy to find; but someone from a Ford assembly line? What criteria would be used?  He would have no degrees to speak of, no accomplishments, and nowhere to be seen on the Internet. 

'I've got just the man', said one of the President's senior aides, and went on to explain how he had met Lassiter at a truck stop in Texas. The man was carrying a load of pig iron from Chillicothe to Galveston, and had stopped to fuel up and eat.  The Presidential aide would never have stopped in such a place, not his kind of people really, but had had car trouble which forced him off the road.

Lassiter he said, was exactly what he was looking for - an unshaven, tobacco-spitting, drawling, grit and oil stained specimen. As they sat next to each other eating steak and eggs, Lassiter told him about his day - overheating, shifting cargo, speed traps, rancid coffee, and fucking truck stop hookers.  Yet, through all this Lassiter was a mensch, a good hardworking American.  Why not him?

He had the right credentials.  Born and raised in red-dirt Alabama, one of seven, schooling limited, aspirations high but fulfillment low, trailer nomad, doper father and alcoholic mother but with the gumption to put that all behind him and make something of himself.  He started behind the wheel of a garbage truck, worked his way to short-haul scrap metal deliveries, and finally on to serious trucking.  When the aide asked him about his education, Lassiter said, 'I can read the road signs', and that sealed the deal. 

When asked if he wanted to meet the man, the President demurred.  Some things were best left to others, and so it was that Lassiter passed easily through the vetting process and was named. 

When he opened the official letter of invitation on embossed White House stationery, special delivery, he was sure it was a scam; but when a second, registered one was pushed through the mail slot along with coupons and bills, he paid some attention - not exactly top drawer attention, for by the time he got to it, the coffee rings and stuck-on cat hairs had made portions unreadable - but he got the drift, and via the post office, Veterans Affairs, the county clerk, he realized, as implausible as the suggestion was, that he was being considered for a Washington appointment.  The letter-writer reminded him of the truck stop meeting which had gotten the White House attention. 

'We've got to clean him up', said one recruitment deputy, a young gay black man who wanted to keep a COVID-era social distance from Lassiter, but who said, 'This simply won't do' and fussily arranged for a remake.   

Now, Lassiter for all his lack of sophistication was not stupid.  'We want a white working man to be represented in the President's color wheel', he was told, and quickly understood what was up.  He would get paid for just showing up, not unlike the rest of the diverse appointments made during the President's first term; and so he sold his beater pickup and his trailer, thanked J&B Trucking, bought a final round of drinks at his local bar, and waved goodbye to Lucinda. 

 

Needless to say Lassiter lasted only through the campaign and along with everyone else in the White House was let go after Biden's defeat at the polls. He had been hauled out and given a place beside the President in Detroit, Dearborn, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo.  'I am for the working man', said the President, 'just like this one', pointing to Lassiter and giving him an embrace. 

Lassiter went back to Alabama.  J&B took him back, wrote 'The Gentleman Trucker' on the door of his cab, and sent him off to Baltimore for gypsum.  He raised his salary thanks to Lassiter's newly minted credentials, and the whole episode turned out well for all concerned.  Not for Joe Biden, of course, who lost miserably to Donald Trump, but for just about everyone else. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

An African Big Man Comes To The Biden White House - 'Black Is Beautiful', Said The President

Charles M'bele was the longtime ruler of a central African country and had no intention of leaving.  Like Mobutu of the Congo a generation before, M'bele was the darling of the West because of the vast mineral wealth of his country. In Mobutu's day it was copper, today it is rare earths, those minerals without which cell phones and computers cannot operate.  American and European leaders overlooked his autocratic rule, or at least accepted it as the price for doing business and because he kept the insurrectionist factions always in their barracks.  

Life in the country was miserable, a sink hole of corruption, crime, and destitution.  M'bele had siphoned every last penny of foreign aid to his cousins, loyal supporters, and most of all to his Swiss bank account.  It was reported that he was worth over $10 billion and that, his critics noted, was a gross underestimate. 

He, like all big men in Africa was adept at keeping civil order, encouraging the West with promises of elections and judicial reform, building a bridge here and there, and speaking eloquently about world peace and cooperation at the United Nations.  He was a symbol of what Africa could be with decisive, forward-thinking leaders like him. 

Recently, as part of his strategy to secure more untied funding from the United States, he called national elections, rigged every last polling place, surrounded them with Tonton Macoute-type thugs, distributed free palm wine and trinkets, played the most popular high-life and reggae, brought in dancing girls from Kinshasa, and went on the stump with his retinue.  

The UN observers were a bit put off by the Tonton Macoute look-alikes, but they were a Central African Republic contingent, a kind of neo-blue helmet deployment more interested in the women provided by the President than the polls, and the UN wrote them off as 'civil disciplinarians'. 

The President won the election with nearly one hundred percent of the votes, but for propriety's sake and for his upcoming visit to the White House, he set the victory at a reasonable 60 percent margin.  The Biden White House bought all this lock, stock, and barrel so intent were they to secure M'bele's country's wealth and to fete and honor a real black African.  In Biden's introduction of the African President to the American public, the man could have no blemishes, no taint, and no scars.  He was to be a Black Athena. 

 

Now, M'bele was not alone in Africa with his autocratic rule.  The whole continent was ruled by big men who neutered and stifled any local enterprise that might have existed - observers have used the term 'might' because even during the European colonial period most of the continent was still tribal, barely Paleolithic, and populated by little more than hunter-gatherers.  

Any hopes of an economic miracle a la Japan, China, or Malaysia had always just been whistlin' geopolitical Dixie, and when topped off with dictatorships like those of Amin, Kagame, Deby, Mobutu, and M'bele, Africans were destined to remain boiling peanuts in the forest. 

M'bele was one of the worst big men on the continent.  At least the leader of Angola had let the Chinese build a modern rail, shipping, and air traffic system for a guaranteed long-term basement floor price for oil and as many diamonds and rare minerals they could carry; but M'bele didn't even do that.  He did contract a Chinese company to mine rare earths in the Eastern Provinces and an Israeli one to protect the mines from rebel attacks.  The minerals were sold to the highest bidder and the profits transferred to personal accounts in Switzerland, Macao, and Caribbean islands. 

The country festered in miserable poverty.  Social, economic, financial, educational, and health indicators were the worst in Africa, and that was saying something.  M'bele's country was the Mississippi of Africa; and like the American state, showed no signs whatsoever of improvement. The cities were rat-infested, malarial, crime-ridden miasmas.  The countryside was denuded, unproductive, and empty. 

M'bele - again like his autocratic neighbors - was indifferent to the plight of his countrymen.  He once explained to a visiting UN mission how Africa worked.  'I am sitting in this Presidential chair thanks to my family, my tribe, my community, and my nation; and I will repay them in exactly that order'. Allegiances or even concern for governance and people governed were last on the list to be given only desultory interest and little tangible support. 

So it was a surprise that M'bele had been invited to the White House; but maybe not that surprising when the diplomatic traffic between the two countries is read.  M'bele had, among all other African leaders, shown a compassionate concern for the fate of black Americans.  He more than anyone else had praised the American president for his unremitting efforts to raise the stock of the black man and to raise him to his rightful place atop the human pyramid.  M'bele might be politically suspect in his own country, but to Biden he was an African's African - a man deeply committed to race, Negritude (a concept borrowed of course from Senghor), and black racial superiority. 

Not only that, M'bele's country showed promise.  Biden and his foreign policy advisors knew that promise was just about all one could hope for in Africa, and they believed that if just a few corners were turned, a bit of adjustment here and there, the country would be on the road to progress and prosperity. 

Of course this was all fiction, imagination, and fantasy.  No sub-Saharan African country had made the least progress in their sixty plus years of independence.  In fact they were far better off under the French, the British, the Portuguese, and the Belgians.  Yet, without hope and promise, Africa would be consigned to perpetual misrule, penury, and tribalism; and this is why Biden was so anxious to have M'bele to the White House.  He was the great, black African hope. 

M'bele showed up at the White House in a caravan of Mercedes and Range Rovers, bedecked in military dress festooned with medals and honorary sashes, and accompanied by ten beautiful, lithe, graceful, and seductive young African women.  He brought his own honor guard with him, his own ceremonial garb, and his adoring legions. He took President Biden by the shoulders, looked him in the eye, and said, 'Brother, I am here'.

Nothing could be more endearing to the American president who had always wanted to be black, who had envied his boss Barack Obama for his African roots, and admired Bill Clinton, the self-proclaimed 'first black President'.  This invitation of M'bele was for mineral wealth, geopolitical security, and electoral influence; but more than anything it was because of Biden's lifelong desire to be other than white. 

Biden's briefing papers had given him fair warning about whom he was about to entertain in the Rose Garden and at a formal state dinner - the corruption, the undiluted greed, the venal, self-interest governance, and the universal kleptocracy of his government - but the President had firmly held on to 'hope and promise'.  His adage had always been, 'Never give up on the black man', and here was a prime example of policy put into action. 

 

The conservative press had a field day with the visit, but the liberal media outlets were overjoyed that finally a real African was to break bread at the highest level of the American government.  Biden's political supporters, the Squad, and the Congressional Black Caucus were overjoyed at the invitation and seated at places of honor at the banquet table.  Black leaders, pastors, and ordinary black Americans were to meet the African President.  He would see how black Americans were so important to Biden and his party. 

M'bele's speech to the banquet guests went on for an hour - a rambling, self-serving, biopic of the great man and his accomplishments, the salvational nature of the African, the spiritual contribution of the great black diaspora, and the future of the world's 'new Asia'.  'We will be there, my good friends', he assured the crowd. 'You can be assured of that'. 

And so it went from Washington Monument to the African American Museum where M'bele's photo was taken next to sports and entertainment greats.  Up and down the Mall, quick ins and outs of famous places, a farewell lunch, and a ceremonial sendoff. 

 

M'bele went home with a check for $100 million in untied aid in his pocket, a warm embrace by the President of the United States, and an open invitation to return.  The trip had been a success. 

M'bele of course changed not one bit, distributed the American aid money to family, relatives, and supporters and padded his Aruba account with the rest; lit a cigar and sipped a glass of Remy Martin fine champagne cognac and whispered to the lovely young thing on his lap, 'I'm home, sweetheart'. 

Monday, June 17, 2024

The Coming Sexual Revolution - Virtual Reality, Hope For Nerds, Dorks, And Losers

Everyone seems to be worried about Artificial Intelligence (AI) but the train has left the station and in a few generations no one will be able to tell the difference between fantasy and reality.  Much more importantly, they won't care.  Who would exchange the woman of their dreams for spotty, shaggy Louise from Accounting?  

When complete computer-brain interface has finally become seamless, we will be able to wander through the gardens of Versailles with the Duchess of Nantes, drink the finest wines in the vineyards of the Loire, sample the delights of a geisha from Kyoto, all without leaving home.  Brick and mortar will be things of the past, cloddy things left far behind. 

 

Scientists have already begun to decipher the complex electronic circuitry of the brain and link impulse and synapse to particular thought. Elon Musk has reported that his scientists have deciphered enough of the human brain's electrical code to enable a quadriplegic man to move a cursor with his brain only - to think its movements.  It is only a matter of time before the electronic language of the brain is understood, enabling a mind-computer communication and an opening a limitless virtual world. 

Once vocabulary, syntax, and grammar have been mastered and employed, the symbiosis will be complete. Our thoughts will be mediated by the computer thus enabling us to access the billions of bits of electronically-stored information in cyberspace, to manipulate it, and to create our own personal virtual realities. There will be no ‘mediation’ required by the computer. It will be the human brain and/or vice-versa.

These advances in Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality are particularly significant because once this symbiosis between mind and machine is complete, there will be no reason to simply rely on the ‘real’ world for stimulation or satisfaction. A virtual world which is indistinct from the ‘real’ one and of infinitely more possibilities for interaction will replace reality.

Much has changed over the last decades. Interactive virtual reality in the form of super-real video games is but the precursor to advanced games where there is no manipulation of a gadget, but a seamless interaction with the characters within one’s mind-environment.  More and more data are being digitized.  

Stimuli of the real world – the scent of jasmine, the taste of briny oysters – are being disaggregated into their component parts and then recreated. There is no mystery or some cosmic pleasure in eating an oyster.  Soon, thanks to this disassembly and virtual recreation, the gourmet diner will be able to ‘eat’ Olde Salt, Apalachicola, Hood Inlet, and Wellfleet oysters every day; or fresh foie gras; or the finest Sonoma Flowers pinot noir. 

Image result for images hood inlet oysters

It might take some getting used to, this replacement of the ‘real’ by the virtual; but soon enough the distinction will disappear altogether.  In fact, once we realize that virtual reality is better than the real thing, thanks to the infinite personal adaptations possible within a virtual world, the easier it will be for us to drop our archaic notions of what is.  In other words, if one cannot distinguish between the ‘real’ and the virtual, then they are both equal in value.

Herman Figgins was a slow thinker and could not have understood the first thing about such a metaphysical issue even if he tried.  For him fantasy and reality were already so indistinctly separated, that even if he had heard about the cybernetic revolution, it would have made no sense and made absolutely no difference. 

This is not to say that Herman was psychotic or schizophrenic.  He knew well enough when he transported the lovely Nancy Blythe into his daydreams, she was still in Virginia somewhere; but that made no difference.  He had no chance with her in reality, but every night before he shut his eyes, he travelled with her, dined with her, danced with her, and made love to her.  

A real life with her would have been impossible - he a stumbling dummy and she a beautiful, blonde thing who came across the river to work on the seventh floor, all bouncy and delightfully sweet - so daydreams would have to do; and the more time he spent with Nancy in his fantasy world, the less he wanted her in reality.  Fantasy was far better. 

Which of course was the whole point of virtual reality.  It trumps the real thing every day of the week.  The steaks in a virtual world will be juicier, the oysters more briny and succulent, the colors and fragrances of a rose garden more intense. 

 

As a child Herman loved fairy tales, and even then was able to completely immerse himself in fables.  He was the knight in shining armor, the hero who won the princess.  He was the boy in the meadow, the Prince Charming wooing his lady.  In his dreams he was always rescuing a maiden in distress, slipping into her bedchambers and placing a wreath of lilies-of-the-valley on her head. 

Now, in today's clinical, solve-all world, Herman would be thought emotionally retarded, a young man unable to adjust to life's demands and forced to retreat into a make-believe world to compensate for his inadequacies; but he was no such person.  In his own instinctive way he realized that not only was there really no difference between fantasy and reality but that he could manipulate one to enhance the other.  Virtual reality was made for him. 

This rather unattractive, clumsy young man was actually a metaphysical giant - someone who intuitively grasped the essential question of what is.  Without being able to articulate it, to explain it in Kantian terms or even to intimate what he knew, he was far ahead of the curve.  He got it.  Reality was not all it was cracked up to be. 

 

Of course the glitterati thought they had it all, and sniffed at the idea of a virtual replacement for their arm candy, yachts, and homes in Biarritz and Rimini.  Only dorks and nerds squirrelled themselves away reading girly magazines and watching sex tapes.  While they were right, their vision was myopic. In the arrogant assumption that they knew it all, that the actual blue waters of the Mediterranean and lovely Corsican women were the be-all and end-all of existence, they missed the point.  

Soon, with or without them, everyone would be able to enjoy not only the same pleasures but far more exciting, sensuous, and satisfying ones - personally crafted fantasies derived from the deepest reaches of childhood desire. 

And so it was that Herman Figgins, metaphysical giant, man well before his time, lay back in bed and dreamed of Nancy Blythe.  Where would they go tonight, and how many sweet, luscious kisses would she give him?