The Habits and Habitats of May

Spring Fundraiser 2016, Day Four
Well, thanks, y’all! Gratias plena! The pace of donations is picking up and we’re feeling much more encouraged and energized as a result.

It’s akin to the wonderful feeling I got when Tommy prevailed in court… there are not words sufficient to describe my sense of renewal. And all of you must know by now how seldom an Irishwoman is short on words.

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When you depend on the generosity of others, you must pay meticulous attention to your audience. In the beginning, we wrote for ourselves, as a way to maintain contact across the miles, so we answered only to one another.

Tip jarNow, with all of you, and the necessity to ask for money from you, the scope of our vision has long since changed: who we’re answerable to, and for what, and why. Thus each of these week-long events requires us to step back. We take the opportunity to look at our work and at our direction; we spend even more time than usual talking about both the content and the process of our child, this website.

Yes, really. Gates of Vienna has evolved into a something we cherish and nurture. The conversations we have about it are similar in process to the talks we used to have as our son was growing up. Imagine if parents got report cards four times a year! If real live kids got the attention we give this blog, the future of next generation would be less parlous than it seems now.

To put it in strategic terms, the Quarterlies function in a way to maintain our situational awareness and to remind one another why, after all this time, we’re still here doing this every day…

This is a question worth asking as long as you’re comfortable wandering in the cloud of confusion between the query itself and whatever answers show up. At the risk of being thought sentimental (not something I’m accused of very often), I can sum it up in one word: love. Love in all its permutations and emphases, but love nonetheless is the engine that drives Gates of Vienna.

Perhaps I can clarify this with one of my favorite poems. This is probably Richard Wilbur’s most famous and most studied work. In a deceptive simplicity he pulls together the components of — as he might say — a quotidian process: the way in which we come back to life each morning and so begin to pull the pieces of ourselves together, however scattered they may have been by sleep.

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.
                        Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.

     Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

     Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
                                                   The soul shrinks

     From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessèd day,
And cries,
                  “Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”

     Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world’s hunks and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,
     “Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
                         keeping their difficult balance.”

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If you read it slowly you’ll see not only the profoundly simple truth of his images, but the fun he is having juxtaposing those brilliant, quickly changing images on the page (and in the mind of his reader). For example, notice how he begins with the opening of his eyes, but then moves immediately not to what he sees, but to what he hears as a clothes line is sent squeaking down a pulley, its load of laundry flies into the morning. Not only sight and sound, but the unseen hands working the pulley and its accompanying joy… for many of us, that joy doesn’t arrive until we’re holding cup of coffee, ready to face the day’s offerings.

Opening Gates of Vienna each morning is much like that for me. I sit/lie on the chaise longue in the sunroom off the kitchen, listening to the Baron’s morning sounds as he makes coffee. I already have my own cup (espresso brewed in a Bialetti on the stove); with the comments page open I begin the ‘laundry’ of overnight comments while the steaming coffee revives my soul. It is most often in the morning, not quite awake, that those verboten words get past me, but then, I think y’all know that already.

The windows in my sunroom all face south. At this time of year I can see the lilac blooming by the porch steps. The fig, contorted into strange shapes, pushes against the window, reminding me it needs to be cut back. Two very busy phoebes are building a nest in the eaves… oops, I have to be stern: back to the work at hand.

I usually read the news feed after that, ready to face whatever horrors have been collected and sent to the Baron the day before.

All of this is part of a pattern: the interaction of commenters, the news tipsters, whatever essays I didn’t see the day before. Sometimes I turn to The Drudge Report to look at his headlines, but I seldom click on individual stories — a lot of them concern famous people I don’t know, or don’t know well enough to want to delve. By then I’m ready to face the rest of the day by looking at the weather forecast, wondering if the rain is going to grant a reprieve to let me work in the garden.

It is in the garden where I do my best thinking. I contemplate whatever shows up. Often it’s the many readers I “know” — in the virtual sense, anyway, and how their stories and outlooks have become woven with my own. To name them all would take too long. To single out a few would be discomfiting because of all those who weren’t mentioned.

The habit of Gates of Vienna is incremental. I’ve already experienced the sadness of a few readers’ deaths, and the happiness of a few new mothers who, of necessity, become less frequent readers. I know they drop in sometimes, but with the advent of real bambinos life is too crammed to enter the lists of comments anymore.

The Baron finishes up his coffee routines around the time I’ve finished reading the forecast so he comes into the sunroom to talk about his plans for the day, mostly and most often revolving around Gates of Vienna: which stories to put up, which ones simply don’t have enough information yet. Perhaps he’s waiting for a video from Vlad, or a translation from one of the team.

Sometimes we talk about what was on Drudge. Sometimes it’s politics, both European and American. Of late, the latter has figured much more prominently for everyone here, and the question looming larger each day: who will be running for President and what the chances are for each putative candidate.

The shoe thumped loudly onto the floor yesterday with Donald Trump’s victory in the Indiana primaries. He is now the presumptive Republican candidate if the Republican National Committee honors the rules for the convention and doesn’t do the back-room shuffle people are (more than) half expecting them to pull. There is a large contingent of nevertrumpers; some of them may still be in shock. Had I the time and/or inclination I’d get on the wayback machine and pull up their raucous ridicule at the idea of this buffoon running for anything, much less having the effrontery to campaign for the Oval Office. That laughter must be echoing in their ears by now — those that are still sober and upright.

Someone summed up this coming campaign as a choice between The Criminal (Hillary) and The Crazy (Trump, of course). It will be a most interesting show, the most compelling in memory. Not even Reagan’s win comes close to the fevered enthusiasm of Trump supporters. They see him as the last gasp for sovereignty, for a push-back on immigration, and a winding down of the socialist march through the permanent federal bureaucracy.

Despite the fervor of Hillary’s followers, she has lost much of the ground her husband paved before her. She was booed out of West Virginia, a place where they loved him, warts, crooked Willie, and all. But the day before she went to West Virginia to campaign, she talked about the need to close down the coal mines in order to save the environment. Or words to that effect. Thus, at least part of Trump’s support will come from those who loathe his opponent for the tribulations she plans to visit on them “for our own good”.

Trump has an unlikely bastion of support among black males. Yes, the ones that voted for Obama and sadly learned he wasn’t really concerned with raising the ships of any black people beyond his own little boat. To call them disappointed is putting it mildly.

You know why Trump succeeded? Because he refused to play by the politicians’ rules. He simply side-stepped the whole quagmire of Right-vs-Left by repeating his central message: stop/pause immigration, build a wall on our southern border, support and expand private businesses.

From his campaign website:

1.   A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.
2.   A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.
3.   A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

His opponents really howled with derision when he said we should make Mexico pay for the wall. What he said was, we should get Mexico to see the necessity for cooperation in building that edifice, and his plan makes so much sense I’ve wondered why no one thought of it before [I have left out some of the links and also the examples of egregious criminal behavior. You may want to go there to follow his links].

For many years, Mexico’s leaders have been taking advantage of the United States by using illegal immigration to export the crime and poverty in their own country (as well as in other Latin American countries). They have even published pamphlets on how to illegally immigrate to the United States. The costs for the United States have been extraordinary: U.S. taxpayers have been asked to pick up hundreds of billions in healthcare costs, housing costs, education costs, welfare costs, etc. Indeed, the annual cost of free tax credits alone paid to illegal immigrants quadrupled to $4.2 billion in 2011. The effects on jobseekers have also been disastrous, and black Americans have been particularly harmed.


In 2011, the Government Accountability Office found that there were a shocking 3 million arrests attached to the incarcerated alien population, including tens of thousands of violent beatings, rapes and murders.

Meanwhile, Mexico continues to make billions on not only our bad trade deals but also relies heavily on the billions of dollars in remittances sent from illegal immigrants in the United States back to Mexico ($22 billion in 2013 alone).

In short, the Mexican government has taken the United States to the cleaners. They are responsible for this problem, and they must help pay to clean it up.

The cost of building a permanent border wall pales mightily in comparison to what American taxpayers spend every single year on dealing with the fallout of illegal immigration on their communities, schools and unemployment offices.

Mexico must pay for the wall and, until they do, the United States will, among other things: impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages; increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats (and if necessary cancel them); increase fees on all border crossing cards — of which we issue about 1 million to Mexican nationals each year (a major source of visa overstays); increase fees on all NAFTA worker visas from Mexico (another major source of overstays); and increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico [Tariffs and foreign aid cuts are also options]. We will not be taken advantage of anymore.

There is lots more at that site, but I thought our readers would be most interested, at least initially, in his plans for halting immigration. They are revolutionary but this is a man with a strong record of wringing cooperation out of others. That’s a strength neither our current president or the presumptive Democrat contender possess.

As time goes on, we’ll report on the push-back from the angry and disappointed. I’ll be mirroring some ideas from other sites during this campaign. We all know America stands at a crossroads, one we’ve been dragged to by the inept, the corrupt, and the mendacious. After all they’ve put us through, I can tolerate Trump’s bombast and megalomania if it is served up with a lively program of genuine change and progress that moves us beyond our current dead-end policies.

Later on we can discuss why populism’s rise, both here in America and in Europe, scares the Powers That Be.

UPDATE: The walls are falling already. Mexico’s president has invited Donald Trump to meet with him. He’s not even waiting for the elections?!!? Sounds like he wants to school Mr. Trump on the ways of the world, but this will end better for Trump than it will for Presidente Fox. Jus’ saying’…

Meanwhile, dear readers, rejoice with us on the beginning of this fourth day of our Spring Quarterly. Bask in the warmth of your own generosity: you’ve earned it! Be like The Donald: brag on your own fine selves. For my part, I’ll do my best to avoid siccing another poem on you. Maybe.

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Yesterday, our donors came from

Stateside: California, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia

Near Abroad: Canada

Far Abroad: Australia, Israel, New Zealand, and the UK

The Baron will be checking in here with you tomorrow.

P.S.: The Soviet graphic at the top of this essay promotes one of the five-year plans. Do we have a five-year plan here? Goodness, no! I’m lucky to have a five-day plan. Or even a five-minute plan.

The tip jar in the text above is just for decoration. To donate, click the tin cup (or the donate button) on the sidebar of our main page. If you prefer a monthly subscription, click the “subscribe” button.

8 thoughts on “The Habits and Habitats of May

  1. Wow. Fantastic post! Love the “getting to know you,” phoebes and all. Great poem! “Profoundly simple truth.” Yes. I relished reading it twice. Discovered GofV only recently and it’s as vital now as the cuppa joe. Profoundly. Simple. Truth. What the West has lost.

  2. Loved the poem. Love your work.

    Thanks for all you do.

    New Hampshire

      • Baroness – you fibber, you! Nothing that good writes itself. We who also (try to) write know that most often it’s like sitting at the keyboard and opening a vein. Yes, it may be said to ‘flow,’ … but not without cost!

        When the muse visits, I too can ‘write,’ and it flows, … but pages and pages come out. Then the editing has to be done, so I don’t try the reader’s patience. Most often 80 per cent gets deleted, left on the ‘cutting room floor.’ That’s the harder, time-consuming part.

        You, however, appear to be intensely focussed and have an excellent recall for the facts you need to illustrate your points.

        But don’t let US off the hook by pretending ‘ c’est rien! ‘ You still had to dig out those quotes, embed those links, copy-edit, etc. etc. We know you WORK at it.

        So I WILL be sending a second donation from this province (sorry to hear that mine of the last quarterly fundraiser was the first you’d had from these parts), … but my budget isn’t quite sync’ed with your calendar [you know we have our own time-zone here, right?], so my shekels will arrive towards the end of next week.

        Really want you to be able to get your Kindle fixed (or a new one), and maybe even add another day with your home-helper-companion!

      • There’s something about your post, and that poem, that reminds me of St. Therese’s aphorism (roughly) : don’t worry about doing great things for God … do the little things, with great love. We can’t all do great things. But all of us CAN do the l’il stuff. Enough of us doing the l’il stuff, repeatedly, adds up. (Like the quarterly fund-raiser!)

        As to the rise of populism, here’s something that will stir your heart and lift your spirits, even if it is from across the pond: Royal Albert Hall, Remembrance Day, ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’ :

        A lot of toffs and nobs and aristocrats there … but don’t let that put you off. THEY (some of them) may only be paying lip-service, but look at all the uniforms … and ordinary folks. The likes of _Tommy Robinson_ take this kind of patriotism seriously (and the toffs snicker at him for being the gullible unsophisticated).

        If you’re interested, follow up and discover the politically-incorrect suppressed second verse of the ‘hymn’ :

  3. Baron I am not sure how to send my donation in and will have to wait when I’m in town with my laptop. I can only get a signal for my android phone out in the desert.

    • Out in the desert eating locusts and honey?

      You are fortunate to have cellphone connectivity out there. We are in a dead zone here. Not profitable to build ’em here in the Middle of Beyond. Go too far and you fall off the edge of the earth. We’ve lost a few that way…or maybe they just went to a real place where there be jobz.

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