Theodore's World: Them Against Us ~ Penned by Rhod

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June 29, 2007

Them Against Us ~ Penned by Rhod

Almost fifty years ago, in November of 1959, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" aired an episode entitled "Special Delivery". It was adapted from Ray Bradbury's story "Come Into My Cellar", which also appeared in periodicals under the title "Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar!". I was fourteen when I saw it. It scared the hell out of me.

In this tale, eleven-year old Tommy Fortnum receives a package of mushroom seeds in the mail from an undisclosed source. He's responded to an advert in a boy's publication for the seeds. To the bemusement of his parents, Tommy then raises a particularly delicious variety of mushroom in his home cellar. He's protective of his crop and very secretive. At the same time, Tommy's father, Hugh, notices subtle changes in his neighbors. They're different from their usual selves in important ways. They're belligerent, detached and hostile.

Hugh knows something is wrong and so does the viewer. There's a connection between the mushrooms and the altered states of the neighbors, but Hugh figures it out much too late. Tommy is distributing the mushrooms. Whoever eats them vanishes, and their bodies become animated shells inhabited by aliens. Hugh tries to warn his neighbors, but they scoff at him. They're content with the temptations and comforts of a summer's day while being slowly, peacefully replaced.

The screenplay doesn't tell us how this story ends. In the last scene, Tommy is shown with a mushroom to his lips, in a darkened cellar, calling to his father, who peers into the darkness from the top of the cellar stairs. Hugh's final horror and indignity is to be betrayed by his own son. Betrayal is a central theme in this story. It isn't chiefly, or even mainly, about aliens and conquest. It's themes are lying, betrayal, weakness, comfortable indifference and the delusion that, if things look the same, they are the same.

It's also a yarn about the feebleness of our defenses when everything seems stable and permanent, and how easily power and dominance can be exchanged by weakness, by simply doing nothing. Doing nothing, and being seen doing nothing, in a competitive universe, is an invitation to be superseded or colonized by other powers and ideas. Competition goes on all the time; there is no peace, only stasis, and competition for power often has no other motive than perceived weakness in the passive party.

Conservatives are familiar with these themes. We sense a fraud and a threat early in the game. It's this acute awareness of dishonesty and ubiquitous danger that modern liberals view as the conservative paranoid personality, as the alienated right-winger. This idea stems entirely from the reality that liberalism today is establishment and conformist, risk-averse, and sickeningly repetitive with its tired, shabby and devitalizing theories. We're diligent, skeptical, anti-ideological and strength matters to us. Not the strength to dominate others, but the strength to avoid being dominated by others. We wouldn't have eaten the mushrooms, but I'm getting ahead of myself here.

As far as we know, the invading entities in "Special Delivery" never resort to violence or force. Their current circumstances might have weakened them in some way, so they seek habitation elsewhere. We never see their real form. They simply exploit a weaker state of mind in humans, and avail themselves of an opportunity on earth. We know nothing about their ideas, but we know that they will win. And this is where my little screed intersects with politics and government, and the Bush/Kennedy Immigration Bill, which as of Thursday, June 27th, appears to be dead. It's a continent-sized cave of mushrooms, my friend, and they expected us all to partake. They still do, and the meal will be back in some other form.

We might as why we elect and pay people like Bush and Kennedy, Lindsey Graham and Trent Lott to be stupid and offensive when we get enough of it for free every day. Well, we don't elect them for those qualities, but that's what we get. Compensatory arrogance and megalomania grow in sanctimonious buffoons like Graham and Lott and Reid and Pelosi when we place them in public office, because they can't abide the real existential weakness that elected office beholds. We can dump them back into the common swarm of humanity from whence they came, and this simply cannot stand. They seek office for power, permanence and self-projection, and they need to solidify the fantasy of their immovability by staking their terrain in noticeable ways, like tomcats and coyotes.

If they would just express their bone-deep mediocrity by bloviating and squandering money, we might leave them alone. Give them a trillion dollars and two-thousand microphones, put them behind the chain link fence and walk away. But some times, like now, they sail off through a fogbank into some mental Sargasso Sea. They end up mired and becalmed, yammering to each other from their rotting deck chairs about some Big Idea, like The Great Society or immigration bills, and cursing the rest of us for declaiming their navigation skills and attentions spans.

Their last Big Idea, The Great Society, planted a fetid jungle of despair for millions, and the immigration bill is just as bad in the same grandiose ways. It won't work, for starters. It's too complicated and its assumptions too spurious for it work. It's a replacement for other un-enforced immigration bills, and contains new laws to replace identical but currently ignored old laws, and it has the potential for real mischief. It's the product of the end state of a political class past its prime; those who compose it are shockingly unaware of how ridiculous they seem to the rest of us. And even though the bill might be dead, they're plotting revenge strategies as I write.

Forget, for a minute, the multiple idiocies of the bill itself. It has an ethical flaw, too. It's packed with economic charity of the kind that fills the empty hearts of power-hungry politicians with instant virtue. Bush and others are possessed of a bizarre kind of charity, they need to give away things they do not own. Things like American sovereignty, like rational citizenship standards, like social benefits and sensible wage standards, and even more important, the legitimacy and validity of a government matured over 250 years, held together by dried blood and torn web gear, and legitimized by the "consent of the governed".

The President and others don't see America in this way. Their America is an economy without an ethos, a friction-free collection of buyers and sellers who can be manipulated and tuned by immigrant labor supplies, productivity and business interests. When necessary, this cynical vision of America can be ornamented with crap about "family values" not stopping at the border, but the simplified mercenary vision is really all there is. It wouldn't pass the approval of a hung-over, semi-comatose college freshman in his first Political Science course, but it's enough for George W. Bush, most of our elected side-show performers, and the fearful big business class of America.

Whatever happens with this great mess we call illegal immigration, it's likely that something shattering and revolutionary has happened in American politics. For the first time in seventy-five years, not since Herbert Hoover and Smoot-Hawley, has American government seemed so counterfeit, so weak and remote from the interests of lawful immigrant and native-born citizens, and so bent upon forcing its vision of American on Americans who don't buy it.

It's a time of great danger. When there's mass awareness of the political class as truly sinister in its assertion of itself against the people, a struggle will ensue, and there's no guarantee of victory for us in the long term. We can never forget that "freedom" is a dull and lifeless word until we attach a preposition to it. Freedom from. Freedom to. Freedom for. Freedom against. Freedom with. Action. We need to do something with our freedom, and not just declare ourselves as free. We didn't eat their mushrooms today, but the political hacks responsible for the meal are still there, perched like gargoyles on our backs. Maybe it's time for a Conservative Party.

Posted by Rhod at June 29, 2007 03:55 AM


Excellent Rhod. good to see ya back friend.

We had a Conservative reign under Reagan. Like all mortals he made some errors. However, under Reagan we prospered morally. He encouraged optimism as well as economic prosperity. He gave us hope and vision for the future and reminded us of our great past. He brought us out of "malaise" to the vigor of enthusiasm and character growth.

Ronald Reagan was a leader. He inspired. None of this "just trust me" crap. Open, honest and an expressed and explained plan of action. He did not leave the Amercan public in the dark as to what he was going to do and why. He gave us a goal, reasons for that goal and a legitimate blueprint to reach that goal.

Reagan's conservatism exuded a power, inherent in America, that garnered us respect throughout the World. Some respected us for our freedom, others respected us for our power and all respected us for our determination.

Ronald Reagan also emphasised our culture, the unique American Culture that most of the world craves, but is too incompetant to achieve. Reagan would never trade that culture for any feel good, greedy, politically correct, diverse, destructive, divisive dilution with other cultures.

What has taken place this week is a groundswell of Reagan type Americanism. The Red State, Middle America populace has spoken loudly and clearly. America belongs to America. Not to political socialist elitists, not to multinational globalists, not to special interests and not to non assimilating foreign tresspassers.

I hope this groundswell continues and we have another conservative revolution like we had with the Contract with America. We are in dire need of representative leaders. There are some in Congress now, young dogs. Not the tired out old careerists. Most importantly, we need a true Conservative and leader in the White House. It will have been a long ardous 20 year decline since Ronald Reagan led us to the World's only super power.

I can see optimism in a few of our potential presidential candidates. My personal choice is Duncan Hunter, a Vietnam vet and Army Ranger. He shows appreciation for America, does not come from wealth and political influence and holds strong conservative beliefs. Fred Thompson has my attention, but I don't know about him yet.

Today's votes in Congress show that our frustration and anger have been heard. These were momentous votes on immigration and freedom of speech. The left will go crazy and snivel, whine, demand and conive. They may just crazy themselves out of any chance with the voters in '08.

Posted by: TomR at June 29, 2007 07:19 AM

Eternal vigilance is the morel to this story. You cannot be sold out by an enemy, only a perceived friend. Good post!

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck at June 29, 2007 07:30 AM

Outstanding Rhod!!

Posted by: BobF at June 29, 2007 10:10 AM

At North Carolina State College in 1952, as a sophomore, I took a bet with the manager of the Student Store. He offered to bet anyone ten dollars that Eisenhower would win the election. I had never seen a live Republican and knew as well as all my classmates knew that no Republican would ever again be President of the United States. Thanks to the losers who now pose as Republicans (the Chief of whom I voted for) this feeling returned of late. The events of this week have restored a little hope that all is not yet lost. The Democratic Party that my mother and father toiled religiously for all their lives has vanished into History and I had begun to think that there were also no Republicans left. But now Senators from little respected states have restored my hope by voting against a President I helped elect. Wishful voting got me as little as wishful thinking usually does. Hunter and Thompson and Tancredo and Sessions give me hope. As does this Blog. Please keep it up.

Posted by: Horace at June 29, 2007 11:09 AM

Thank you Rhod, this is fantastic! I have missed you.

"We need to do something with our freedom, and not just declare ourselves as free. We didn't eat their mushrooms today, but the political hacks responsible for the meal are still there, perched like gargoyles on our backs."

Just highlighing this at the end. I agree, you know these last few weeks with all the output from so many of us to the elected officials and the RNC etc. has in a very tiny way felt what it would be like in a battle on the field, the letters, faxes, and phone calls being the bullets with messages. We didn't eat the mushrooms they were offering and demanding we eat, and we won the battle but we have not won the war.............not yet. Because like you said they are still their waiting in the wings, hunched on our backs like gargoyles (great description).

Posted by: Wild Thing at June 29, 2007 11:34 AM

I can't add anything else that has already been said, except to say, that we are the mushrooms and congress is the custodian in charge of the mushrooms. And like mushrooms, we the people, are always kept in the dark and fed lots of Bullshit.

Posted by: Mark at June 29, 2007 02:15 PM

Where can one go to sort out the problems of this
Country?A long look in the mirror is a good place
to start.So called Apathy, Lazy to flat out don't
give a damn...Americans are showing it all now.As
Dennis Miller said a few weeks ago America has
become a Nation of Whiners and complainers that
don't know just how good they really have it...
Look at our work ethics I used to hire 5 try
them out for a week and end up firing 4 to get 1 good employee...That sucks...We don't vote in numbers big enough to get the politico's attention.A solid 75-85% turnout would do the job. We have to take big money out of our election process.Dump the smear adds I could go
on but folks that care know what I'm talking about...I'ts up to us to get it done.I doubt you
will see it this year but 10-15 years down the road you will see a solid 3rd Party win big...
The Immigration Bill was a good start and proved
you flood the switch board things happen,the thought is not to sit back on our dead ass. It's time to
turn up the heat...I saw a great bumper sticker
to day "I miss Ike, hell I even miss Harry"!!!!

Posted by: Tincan Sailor at June 29, 2007 03:51 PM

Outstanding, Rhod. Great to see you with the "room to roam" that you deserve in this great post.

A couple of thoughts ... I think the past few weeks should have shown us conservatives to be careful about putting our absolute faith in any party. There are a number of good Republicans, but there are some stinkers. Still, all the great leaders of the past few weeks that helped derail Comprehensive Mushroom Reform were Republicans. They deserve our support. A number of the bill's key supporters, not the least of which is the President, however, were and are Republicans, too. Demos were overwhelmingly behind it. We need to be smart.

We need to get our money and our efforts directly to the good candidates, and stay away from the party apparatus until the Lindsay Grahams and John McCains of the world aren't getting the dough. I think the best way to make the Republicans behave is to go over the head of the party. This business is tough, though, because we are going to continue to be faced with imperfect choices in elections going forward.

Where it's at for us in the future will be where it's been in the past: Building coalitions. Remember Reagan Democrats? A number of Demos were against this bill. I disagree with a lot of their reasoning, but we got to the same place.

True conservatives will likely always be in the minority. But we can forge winning coalitions.

The real battles will remain in the primaries and the campaigns like we've just participated in ... staying engaged with holding govt's feet to the fire by withering fax, email and phone fire of our own. And we've got to continue to win the battle of ideas.

Liberty, as you point out, Rhod, requires eternal vigilance.

Posted by: DC at June 29, 2007 07:03 PM

Excellent piece Rhod.

Posted by: raz0r at June 29, 2007 09:47 PM

That you, WT, for the forum and the room to get this off my chest. And thanks to everyone here in this warm place for the responses.

Just one more point, and I'll go. It seems to me that "governing" is what we get when we're unwilling or unable to cope with the range of liberties available to us. OR, when our potential masters think we're unwilling or unable, and need to be led. The second kind is what we see in the immigration bill.

The proponents of the immigration bill have one tactical advantage in their cynical claim that our objection is specifically about culture and race. It isn't about race, but it IS about culture. I've lived long enough now to know that the emotions that often pass for racial prejudices are almost entirely about culture and conduct and myth and manufactured resentments. Not skin color or origins.

The wellsprings of racial hatred are very shallow in America, no matter what liberals have been telling us for fifty years, and our differences are rubbed raw by radical departures from the norms we all understand to be essential to a cohesive society. (Not every expression of culture is valid or celebratory simply because it's a local "culture". Only a liberal could believe that.)

And these departures are usually celebrated and magnified by the entertainment industry and their parasites, pilot fish and suckers in elected office. The intent is to make America seem like a distribution of gangstas, pimps, skinheads, rednecks, and other asocial freaks.

The truth is otherwise, but not completely otherwise. It needs to be completely otherwise. No modern society can survive for long without a common culture, without a minimum of shared beliefs about the past, the present and the future, and a morality to accompany these beliefs. Anything else is chaos.

Of course the immigration bill is about culture. It isn't about anything else, but our opponents have lied once again about the facts, and lies are the chains of subjugation.

Posted by: Rhod at June 29, 2007 10:01 PM

Damn dad, great post. You sure can write.

Posted by: Rory Leslie at June 30, 2007 06:20 PM

So how come you never write? Fancy Shmansy paratrooper!

Posted by: Rhod at June 30, 2007 09:03 PM

Haha, maybe I will have to start writing.

Posted by: Rory Leslie at June 30, 2007 11:31 PM

Somebody told me that if I followed the Woodchuck's tunnel I'd find this here. Ever since my older brother tried to get me to eat them when I was in grade school, even the thought of mushrooms has gagged me...YUCK!
Thanks, Rhod...Eloquent, as per usual!

Posted by: Helen at July 2, 2007 09:27 AM