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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Perished Assumptions

When I was 18, I thought that from then on I would always be 18, and for quite a long while that seemed to hold true.  

When I turned 40, I knew that I had left 18 some distance behind.   Still, I thought that henceforth I would always be 40 or thereabouts.

 But then more time passed.

Two decades later, when I reached age 60, I believe I thought that thereafter not much would change, and I would always be somewhere in the neighborhood of age 60.

But after that still more years passed, and this past summer I reached age 82.

Now, however, I have learned my lesson, and I am quite well aware that in every one of the days that wait ahead, I will be that much less of age 82, or any other age that I might reach,  than I was ithe day before.

I place the lion's share of  the blame for this new enlightenment on all thoughts of having to go up on my roof -- any of my several roofs -- though there are dozens of other culprits or "teachers" cllose at hand as wel, especially my increasingly wobbly feet -- or is it those all too comfortable crocs?.

I can happily live with that.

But of course, I have to, don't I?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Unposted Comment on Iran/Israel

Below is a comment for an article titled "Top Ten Ways the U.S. and Iran Could Prevent a Catastrophic War," by Professor Juan Cole on his "Informed Comment" site, though I don't think that such a war is likely, unless the Republicans are allowed to grab the White House.   But I finished it too late.  The article had been online for several days and new comments were no longer allowed.   This kind of thing quite often seems to be the story of my life, though usually I try to be early for things.

I notice that  the Israeli leaders seem to be absolved from any responsibility in this matter.   In Prof Cole's 10 steps Israel is not mentioned, while in the commenter Amir's alternate 10 steps it is only briefly lumped in with the U.S.  Yet Prof Cole has long shown that no one is more aware than he is of B. Netanyahu's perfidies and other pertinent aspects.   Even though this article was specifically about U.S. and Iranian efforts, this must mean that herein the Israeli leadership has been totally written off, when it comes to keeping the flames turned down low or even off in the Middle East.   Yet they are by far the main aggressors in the matter.

More than once Prof Cole has reminded us that for 20 years or so B. Netanyahu has been screaming into all available ears the "horrific" news that the Iranians are on the verge of developing a weapon within a year or so, but one decade and then another passes, and none ever appear.  Meanwhile no one seems to doubt that for a long time Israel itself has had at least 200 completed nuclear weapons sitting somewhere, ready for use.

Can one be blamed, then, for seeing something awry in the still weaponless Iranians being asked to do all the accommodating, while nothing at all is to be required from the armed to the teeth and always blustering B. Netanyahu?

This must mean that nowadays, after just a short time in office, the new Iranian president, Rouhani, along with Khameni, is already seen as being the reasonable and sane party in the matter, while the best that can be hoped of B. Netanyahu is that one day soon a pebble hurled from Heaven will conk him in the head and thereby put into a more sensible state his badly addled thought processes -- possibly making possible the most logical first step in the process, which Amir mentioned though only in his second step -- an international inspection of Netanyahu's, not Rouhani's, nuclear facilities, even if the Israeli PM would then be deluged with friendly suggestions from all his neighbors that, since his warheads don't seem to have been tested as yet, he try one out -- in the Negev Desert.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Keeping "Nigger" Nauseous

It is always interesting to see all the conniptions into which the use of what they are pleased to call the “n-word” (i.e. “nigger”) drives a great many people descended from all the European settlers in North America.   (And, by the way, it should never be forgotten that each and every one of these immigrants was decidedly illegal, from the point of view of the millions whose numerous groups had already been firmly established here for thousands of years and who had long since shown themselves to bave been wonderful custodians of the land, mainly by not doing much of anything with it – a system of land management that works perfectly every time.   Furthermore these Original Occupants had been quite happy with knowing absolutely nothing about the existence of all those cross-waving devils on the other side of the big seas to the east, and it didn’t matter how many Shakers of Spears, Mozarts, Newtons, Caesars, or Da Vincis they had produced, or even how much nonsense various shamans among the tribes’ own numbers,  having just smoked some bad peyote from somewhere, had cooked up  about the chance of “white gods” one day showing up from the east.)

Getting back to good ol’ “nigger,” the latest example of what I started out talking about is a woman of the lighter persuasion named Paula Deen, who, until recently, apparently was big on a TV food show of some sort.   For some reason she admitted to having said “nigger” in some context that she said was years ago, and for that she was promptly dropped from the show, and shortly afterward she was also disconnected from a couple of other lucrative enterprises as well, and the costs to her for her verbal indiscretion (or her revealing of it) seemed to keep climbing sharply.

   In response Bill Maher, another TV personality and well known for his acerbic attitude, which is often pointed in a good direction though sometimes not, came to her defense, asking plaintively – but quite rightly – why do people always have to “go away” when they use that word?    In other words, what’s happened to American freedom of speech?   And it’s just a word, isn’t it?  

But it wasn’t at all what Maher said that I found so interesting.  Nor was it the attitudes shown in the lengthy comment section that followed an Internet account of his involvement in this business, because there wasn’t anything novel about what those people spouted either.  They made the same sort of empty and not at all well-considered remarks that you hear or read after any such article or whatever on a racial subject, especially when use of the word “nigger” is the subject.  No, the interest arose from noting how, after all these years (I am now 82), nothing is changed in a great many Europeno (aka “white”) reactions.

Can it be that in the matter of those humans, that, in spite of everything, they have been raised to consider inferior to themselves, large numbers of Europenos are forever incapable of learning anything or giving any sort of constructive thought to it, generation after generation?  Instead, if the subject is racism in any context, they just grab the nearest empty cliche that comes to their minds and hang on to it for dear life, before going on and with great relief to another topic.

A few hardier souls among them, however, are not as quick to drop the subject, and their main thing is pretending to be incensed that the people that they call “blacks” (but which I call by the much more pleasant and apt term “rainbows” because they exist in all the hues of the human spectrum in a glorious display of inclusiveness, whereas the only thing that sets gay people off from the rest of humankind is their strong gender exclusivity, and I see nothing about that that merits their waving of prismatic flags) are allowed to call each other “niggers,” and even in an admiring way, while Europenos, though they’re the dominant group, strictly are not, in any manner.  These dominants consider it the worst kind of outrage and outright racial discrimination imaginable, that they, though superior to all others in all situations except basketball games, should be forbidden anything, and especially – especially! – something that those lowest of the low, “blacks,” are allowed to indulge in liberally.

  This indignation reaches such a bitter and ridiculous fever pitch that some even demand that if “whites” cannot be allowed to use the “n-word,” then “blacks” should never be permitted to use it either, simply because that kind of usage is blatantly discriminatory against “whites,” and also because “nigger” is such a godawfully terrible epithet, and it is time, they argue, that “blacks” smarten up enough to realize that fact and to recognize that every time they hear it used, they should feel inspired to hit, kick, and even kill.  

This is exactly where, in my expert and long-considered opinion, nearly everyone, of all pigmentations, completely misses the Big Point that should be involved with any use of the word “nigger” – a point so large that it is an enormous failure of collective eyesights to keep overlooking it so completely.   This point is not at all the horror of the word “nigger.”   Instead it is the idea that no effort should be spared to de-fang the word instead, to strip it as completely as possible of all its vitriol, the same as had long ago already happened with  “black.”  To me personally, on a scale of 1 to 10, achieving this would have merited a resounding 10, whereas being admitted to a fancy restaurant would have had trouble rating even as high as a 2.

So little is known of even the latest chapters of “black” history that few if any will believe me when I say that as recently as my younger days, from 1931 up to about 1965,  to the descendants of the slaves brought over from Africa “black” was a pejorative word and just as lethal to us as “nigger” (coming out of the wrong mouths), so much so that even today I am highly uncomfortable with being called “black” by anyone or on hearing people like me being referred to as “blacks,” as the most notorious member of the Supreme Court conspicuously did just the other day.

   But at the same time that Reverend King and his allies were doing all their good work in bringing about a number of civil rights, competitors of theirs in much the same cause, the “black militants,” accomplished a language miracle, by pushing the (at times overblown) concept of “black pride” so hard that in just a few years, some time in the mid 1960’s, the word “black” completely lost its sting and instead gained a usage status wherein today it is considered to be an always harmless if not always laudatory term – as short-fallen as I still see that idea as being.   And I’ve never seen any reason why it was that the “black” militants like Stokeley Carmichael, Huey Newton, H. Rap Brown, and the others were not able to do the same thing and more with “nigger” and why people of all kinds cannot unite in doing so today.

Correction.   Of course, I do see exactly why that is so hard to accomplish, and every time somebody – almost always a Europeno -- “slips” and uses the word “nigger” in any spirit at all, it is all too easy to see the cavalry and the infantry being instantly drawn up to make sure that  that term never loses one particle of its punch and poison, and to see that any attempts to sanitize it are stamped out without delay .  And you will see all that false fire and fury being raised hardly at all by rainbows but instead almost solely by members of the pale-visaged brethren.   It is all in the cause of “white” racism, unconscious or not.

Here we should always remind ourselves of two interesting things in this matter.   One is that there is no word denoting “white” people that is anywhere near as virulent as “nigger” is supposed (and hoped) to be, and Majority America couldn’t be happier with that circumstance – while disregarding the all too obvious fact that this suggests only that the “white” capacity for extreme hatred far outstrips “black” abilities in the same direction.   My question is, how can the dominants be happy with that?

 Another key aspect of all this is that usage of the word “nigger” by rainbows is part of their never-ending struggle against their much stronger and more numerous opponents, dating from slavery days, when, lacking any other means of defense and retaliation, those chained imports from Africa hit on ways to express themselves that would not be easily comprehensible to  their oppressors.   That was not hard to do, because, like the millions of George Zimmermans today, by their very nature,those oppressors were not the brightest bulbs in the world.  One way to do this was to stand language on its head and to give words meanings that were exactly opposite to how they were commonly understood

In my earliest days the most obvious instance of this was to say that something was “bad” when all the listeners of your color instantly understood that you were saying that the thing was actually “good,” and even more often it meant “great” and “fabulous.”   There were other such inversions of usage, but that is the one that pops quickest to my now ancient mind.

This standing language on its head is exactly the reason why, when applied by one rainbow to another, “nigger” can be an expression of great approval and friendship, instead of being a curse word.  It also serves the  purpose of reducing to a state of near apoplexy those who want to see that epithet having quite another effect, and this is why it is actually so laughable when someone in a comment section demands that rainbows stop using the word “nigger” altogether.   That critic has no claim to the word, especially if the bulk of his ancestors came from north of the Mediterranean.  He doesn’t own that word in any sense, because an epithet, once used, like a bullet from a gun, belongs ever afterward exclusively to the target of the fusillade, instead of to the shooter. 

This turning of things on their heads is not peculiar to rainbows, and you have to suspect the motives of those who are so outraged at any use of the word “nigger” when you have such an experience as I did, in coming from a largely rainbow world to the newly integrated Air Force in the early 1950’s, when I quickly noticed that guys of Italian descent were quite fond of referring to themselves as “dagoes.”  Before then I had been given the idea that calling somebody a “dago” was highly offensive, and I had no trouble sensing that those men didn’t accept anyone of a different ethnicity using that term in a playful or any other sense.

I didn’t run into enough Latinos or Jews to know whether they felt the same about terms like “spics” and “hebes,” but I suspect that they did, just as, if movies hold any truth, Irish guys, among each other, are not above calling themselves “micks.”  Yet, unlike the frequent cases of “the n-word,” you seldom if ever hear similar bursts of outrage on behalf of the “offended groups going up all over the media, with widespread suggestions instead of substitutes like “the d-word,”  “the s-word, “the h-word,” or “the m-word.” 

Funny, that – though not actually.  I suppose that we rainbows are supposed to feel gratified by such displays of indignation that appear to be on our behalf but actually amount to being quite the opposite.                                                  

Monday, September 09, 2013

Squandered in Syria

The following was written mostly as a diary to be posted on DKos, though I long ago saw that everything posted there has a shelf life of about five hours, before it disappears for good down what I've begun to call a "velvet rat hole," unless a diary happens to be"rescued" some time later because it happens to fit into some category in which a special interest has started to be taken.

You can tell that lately I've been waking up thinking about Syria, just as earlier it was Trayvon Martin.

If I can be permitted to set aside, just for this moment, the overpowering grip that temporizing has on him, never seen more clearly than in his first debate with Romney, I wonder if, by this time, whether B. Obama isn't deeply sorry that he didn't take my advice to go with his Syrian strike right after he revealed that it was in the wind, in whatever form that his military experts proposed it to him.   And they must've had something out of the ordinary and even brilliant in mind, otherwise what good are all those Pentagon types with all the scrambled egg stuff on the bills of their caps?   Instead he took the easy route in which much of the rest of the country appears to be sloshing and wallowing, and he decided to bring Congress in on it, with the all too predictable blah results that you always get whenever those 535 drags on the country are brought into anything.

Since then all there's been is a non-stop torrent of blather about all the dreadful things that will happen, should Obama give the order -- outcomes that not one of these doomsayers could possibly know, and that includes numerous diarists and commenters right here at DKos, even by that site's supposed highest authorities -- endlessly belching out fiddle-faddle that amounts to nothing except essentially saying what a bad idea it is to try to slow down and even stop the wholesale slaughter of Syrians that has been going on with hardly a pause for the past two and a half years, by a huge variety of means.

Bobby Fischer, the late and highly successful, Brooklyn-bred chess grandmaster (nowadays most American grandmasters seem to have been born and raised in Eastern Europe), said, "timing is everything," and one of the things he meant is that a player shouldn't hem and haw, once the idea for a sharp, hard-hitting combination takes shape in his head.  The sacrifice that can't be refused must be made while it's sitting there to be made and even when the ultimate success of that combination isn't quite clear as yet.

Now that opportunity, like all those lives, has been squandered in Syria, and if Congress likewise trumpets and brays "Nay," everybody will congratulate themselves on having been on the side of something that they were pleased to call "peace," and they will go back to scratching their butts, throwing back a few, and in general devoting their lives to being the same old slobs that they always were, while in Syria, unhindered by the international world and instead feeling themselves being cheered on by Russians, Chinese, and a host of "sometimey" American progressives, Syrians will keep on killing other Syrians en masse by a great variety of means, for no more reason than to keep the government in Damascus headed by an Assad.

"And after all," the non-thinking would continue, "all we're talking about here is a bunch of brown people (sometimes also called "sand niggers" in the better homes and churches) busy killing other brown people, right?  And everybody knows that situations like that have never been worth our making any kind of a sacrifice.  Besides, we're not talking about an American office tower being suddenly demolished by some of those same people, are we?  Because even if that were to result in just a tiny fraction of the number of Syrian casualties, in that case everything would be totally different, of course."

Having missed the boat on Iraq, everyone is determined not to commit that crime again.   But it was all too easy to see that pounding into Iraq was not a good thing to do.   Syria is more a mess than Iraq was, despite Saddam's constant misfires and the attentions Iraq had been shown by American sanctions and air power.   The water, electrical, and health systems were all still working, and for a long time Saddam had been spending most of his days huddled quietly in his palaces and doing much more stewing than brewing.

Some have tried to say, "All right.   If Syria is not like Iraq, then it's not like Libya either."  But I don't see that.  Wasn't Gaddafi on his way to an al-Assad slaughter of his own people,  until NATO air power stepped in?

It worked once, and the geography is as level in one place as it is in the other.  Who's to say it couldn't again?  And after all, we're talking about volunteers, who presumably stepped forward for this job, implying, "We can do this!"

Having been, a very long time ago, something of a military man myself, though only what in those days was called a "shotgun volunteer," I think I can say that true volunteers can never expect to be asked to take part only in made-to-order campaigns of their own choosing, such as on the beaches of Tahiti.  It's just bad luck for today's GI's that -- along with the vagaries of plate tectonics -- badly deluded refugees from Europe are still holding on tightly to land deeds in the Middle East that expired 2,000 years ago, and the easiest oil is found mostly in hot, arid, ungodly places where all the women are compelled to walk around dressed from topmost tress to toe in outright tents.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

How Long Should the Dying in Syria Go On?

How long should all the untimely deaths in Syria be allowed to continue to mount, through the use of whatever weapons, before someone is finally allowed to do something about it?  This is the Big Question that seems to be occurring to almost no one, and instead you just see people, mired in legalisms, doing the 21st century equivalent of the medieval urge to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Various strains of progressives, who -- in their zeal for having a third party that, however, they are too powerless or too slothful to form -- have been against Obama almost from the start, are overjoyed at how this latest White House Syria initiative has given them new excuses for their attacks on the President. Meanwhile the real and most virulent enemies of everything worthwhile, the Republicans, are most likely chortling with glee.  Rest in peace, forever stillborn Progressive Third Party!

 Meanwhile, in the widespread efforts to prevent Obama from directing the U.S. military to take a more active hand in affairs in Syria -- a move that can take many forms besides the "bombing" that most of today’s would-be peaceniks are so busily shouting to the rooftops -- the pseudo-peace drums are being pounded harder than any war beats that I've been able to hear so far.  And I keep wondering why Obama's initiative -- the most serious-sounding and substantial in response to the long-running slaughter in Syria -- that he's taken so far -- can't be seen above all as a humanitarian one, above discouraging the use of chemical weapons.  After all, if you're killed by sarin, you're no less dead than if you are taken out of here permanently by a bullet or bullets -- the fate of many thousands of Syrians long before the current big thing, Chemical Weapons, began to be mentioned.
Except for a few small changes, the rest of this post consists of a comment that I posted on Juan Cole’s “Informed Comment” a few days ago, in response to an article he wrote titled “Obama Goes to Congress on Syria as his International Support Collapses.”   

"As his international support collapses?"

I agree with the earlier commenter who said that if the British Parliament had not undercut the British Prime Minister, Obama would've begun his Syrian initiative by now, without the backing of the Arab League, Congress, or anyone else, but not without Britain and France. his two standbys (and stand-ins) in Libya.   All he really needed for his international support was that pair of the largest and most active European nations in trying to do something about al-Assad's slaughter of his own people for little more reason than to keep the rulership of Syria purely a family matter.  Meanwhile the rest of that "international support" mainly seems to have stood idly by while over a period of several years, many thousands of Syrian citizens have been killed. to the tune of as many as 100,000 by now.

And that is the whole point of why I think American military intervention is not a bad idea, and that's been true for some time..  It would be a truly humanitarian effort  to cut down and even end this bloodbath, as one was cut short in Libya, and meanwhile I don't think the number of operative crystal balls is anywhere near the number of dire predictions -- should Obama give the order -- that are being flung all over the place.   And what better use of that unbelievably expensive American military machinery that otherwise merely sits rusting and corroding away, on the seas, in the air, and in a great many countries all over the planet?

It's too bad that Obama let himself be spooked into consulting that body of do-nothing baboon-butts called the U.S. Congress.  While he wastes that time,  more Syrians will be fed into the Syrian death machine who otherwise had every right to live as long and as comfortably as anyone else in this largely indifferent world.  And that will also happen for sure if the U.S. merely resumes sitting in the bleachers – where the British Parliament is already perched, secure in its self-satisfaction. 

Daydreaming and Insomnia

Recently I happened to note a blurb for an article on the Internet stating that daydreamers have a high incidence of insomnia, because they are unable to stop thoughts from coming into their heads.

Is that all it's been?

Guilty of having always been a chronic daydreamer, as well as being unable to sleep these days for longer than four hours at a stretch, I have only one question to ask, and that is, how exactly does one stop thoughts from entering their minds?  I know that ever since I was born, every minute thoughts have been making non-stop arrivals and departures in my noggin and rarely, if ever, even slowing down, 24/7.

(Of course the broken sleep may be mostly a matter of my bladder and kidneys.)

Friday, August 02, 2013

With Liberty and Justice for Not Everybody

So what about those great and stirring words "with liberty and justice for all?"   Doesn't that phrase appear in some place that is so important that the words have been permanently etched on the American psyche from childhood?   Maybe it's a part of the Flag Salute, aka the Pledge of Allegiance.   My mind wavers, because I've had no occasion to stand in a classroom or anywhere else and put my hand to my chest and recite all that, since long before the words "under God" were so infelicitously added (which appears to have happened in the early 1950's.  By that  time I was in the military, where we did a lot of saluting but hardly any reciting, unless it was the 10 General Orders, and since I also long ago lost my "Airman's Handbook," I no longer can put my hands on what those were either.  Isn't it great to have grown so old and casual!)

The Incurious Sanford Jury that delivered that Zimmerman verdict sent the world a more modern message as to whether those words still pertained.   "With liberty and justice for all?   No, no way!   The long-standing view and policy that those words do not apply where nigras are concerned is still in effect."

Once more I am just as glad as I can be that I'm not part of that dominant, Europeno demographic in whose name so many racial injustices have been committed ever since they decided to bring in the first slaves from Africa, to do all that hot, dirty, difficult work clearing fields and tending the cotton and tobacco crops in Virginia, not to mention the myriad other atrocities that were involved in maintaining slavery.   And I don't see how anyone in that white superiority demographic with even as little as one drop of decency can sleep easily tonight or any other night, knowing how once again a great injustice has been done by them and in their name, in Sanford, Florida last month, on top of the billions of others that have been committed upon the slaves and their descendants for nearly 400 years.

In the wake of the Sanford verdict, the American rightwingers hoped against hope that, in protest of the verdict, "black" people would react in the style of Pavlov's dogs and repeat what some did in the mid-20th century, especially when Reverend King was shot, and pour out into the streets of all the big cities and start wrecking and burning things.  After Sanford all the millions of guns and the thousands of tons of ammunition that the dominants have been buying like crazy could -- this time -- be put to good use.   The conservatives looked forward, this time, to the good ol' race riots of yore -- New York 1863, Wilmington N.C. 1898, Tulsa 1919, and many other killing grounds participated in by "the people."   The "race riots" of the 1950's and 1960 were not really that at all, but instead could more properly have been called "property riots" and "vandalism and looting expeditions," because in those events ordinary "white" citizens stayed home in their comfortable suburbs, and they let their police do all the shooting and killing.   This time the conservatives looked forward, though in vain, to the prospect of ordinary citizens taking part in all the fun once more and causing the gutters in the inner cities to overflow with "black" blood.  In conservative eyes, that would've been truly the new "America the Beautiful," and because you would've been talking about the world's only superpower here, no one elsewhere would've had anything to say about it, at least nothing that need be respected.

"[The Negro] had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

      --So said the chief U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, Roger Taney, in the 1857 Dred Scott case, midway (so far) through the country's career.

I hope the renewed dread and dismay that I personally feel today can be understood.   The overwhelming majority of Americans have never had the experience of being, as I was many years ago, a black youth of 17 not all that different from a Trayvon Martin.  And added to that, I had a son who was also at one point a "black" youth of 17, who was also not much different from Trayvon Martin.   And it shouldn't be forgotten that the current President of the U.S., B. Obama, said right after the murder that he could've had a son like Trayvon Martin.

Having one's existence valued so cheaply by so much of the rest of the world, even by one's own contemporaries of the same physical description at far too many times, no matter how much that person may try to be benign and law-abiding, is a discomfort that I would never wish on anybody.   Still, today we have nearly half the country eager to keep my demographic (chiefly but not always a much younger sector of it) always and forever under the easy-to-use hammer of ever abundant firearms and the often irresistible urge to use them.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What Happened to My Blog Pics?

It looks as if this morning both the pics -- the thumbnail of my house and the photo of me when I was four years old -- that all the while have been running in the upper LH corner of the first page of this weblog have, for some reason unknown to me, been summarily dumped.

And I wonder if I'm really up to going through all that's necessary to get them -- or others -- back up there.   It was no picnic when I was presumably eight or nine years smarter.

--Oops!   Now they're back up.   Just another one of Blogger's occasional blips?

Oh, well.   Maybe I've been spared from having to mess with something like that for a while longer.

Courtrooms and the Truth

To me, though not to most others, when you consider what the contending parties push for, it seems odd and even laughable that when one is asked to testify in a trial, first he is required to swear that while on the stand he will always speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  And he must absolutely keep to this oath, lest he be accused later and convicted of committing that great crime of perjury.  Witnesses are taken through that even though it must've been obvious ever since trials first came into use that they are not about arriving at the truth of the matter.  Instead they're about selling juries -- or whoever has the power of forming the verdict -- on the theories of the contending parties.  And what's worse, attorneys and judges insist on holding witnesses' feet close to the fire, though they may consider themselves to be in no way under the same constraints.

In a courtroom, so distant in time, location, and intentions from the incident under discussion, there can be no hope of ever finding out for sure what really happened anyway, unless somehow the whole thing was irrefutably recorded beforehand by some modern technology.  And in those settings, few if any -- whether participants or spectators -- ever think of how, quite often, the only person in the courtroom that has any shot at being in full possession of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is not at all one of the high-flying attorneys, the even higher-flying judge, a witness, or even one of the arresting cops waiting outside to put in his two cents.   Instead it's the person sitting with all appropriate humility in the defendant's chair.  Yet seldom is that person asked to testify.  

Aside from the fears of what might then be revealed about a client that the defense counsel has come to know all too well, the reasons for this avoidance  probably center around recognition of another inconvenient fact about trials and getting at the truth: there's no way to know how much the defendant might color his version of things in such a way as to support his plea of Not Guilty.  And that in turn is linked to the certainty that even if the defendant and all the witnesses called themselves being truthful to a fault, not much time has to pass before their own biases and their views of how things ought to be permanently distort their versions of how things really transpired.

So what happens is that, no matter how much it is set up to look like an exhaustive search for the truth, the trial instead actually becomes an elaborate ballet dance or a gymnastic competition, orchestrated with numerous moves consisting of arcane precedents protected by the dust of thousands of law libraries filled with tomes of the most deadly kind of reading.   And the lawyers and the judges do their well-practiced pirouettes, leaps, and flips while always watching to see which way their performances are swaying the ultimate judges -- the juries -- even if at the start those groups have been carefully selected by them, the performers.

Still there are times when injecting the defendant into the exercise might have its uses.   There might be something about the person that might make a good impression, even through the appearance of having been totally crushed by a prosecutor's intimidations.  And I would also think that, by being the most important person in the courtroom, the defendant would have collected the largest amount of gazes by far, throughout the proceedings, as everyone wondered what could be revealed there, if only probes of some kind could be inserted into his head.  Generally the audience, if not all of the contending advocates, would like to hear from him, no matter what.

But in the recently concluded Sanford, Florida trial, as in so many others, the star of the show was carefully kept off the stage.

Near the end of the testimony the judge did try hard to break that pattern, or at least seemed to, by ordering G. Zimmerman, the defendant, to take the stand.   But she was savagely rebuffed by the main defense attorney.

Despite the many thoughtless views that it was an option, a possibility, there was never the slightest chance that George Zimmerman would testify, and the judge backed down.   So the one person who was the closest by far to being in a position to know, and hopefully relate, exactly what happened that rainy night that left a teenager named Trayvon Martin lying shot dead on a sidewalk in Sanford was spared from being revealed, through his testimony, as being the mush-brained person that he so clearly is.

"--What?  Him, George Zimmerman, testify?   Not on your life, and certainly not on Trayvon Martin's life!"

It turned out that Zimmerman wasn't the only one that got away with murder during that trial.   So did that defense attorney, when somehow he escaped being punished severely for what appeared to be highly blatant contempt of court in vetoing the judge's order.  And so also did more than one of the defense witnesses in that badly off-kilter trial, when, after having contributed several thousand dollars each to Zimmerman's cause, they then were allowed to testify, too, as if to protect their "investment," in the course of which they said things that had all the appearance of touching on perjury for sure.

Despite all that Zimmerman and no one else had so clearly contributed to making that night the last one that Trayvon Martin would ever see, Zimmerman soon enough was let off scot-free, with many good wishes for the future heaped on him by the usual scoundrels of our society. 

Meanwhile no justice whatsoever was rendered to the murdered child, Trayvon Martin -- except in the clearest parts of the Public Eye.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Three Cubed

Today it's been exactly 82 years since I drew my first breath in this life.

At the start, and in all the years since then, no fireworks were ever set off, no brass band ever came marching down the street, no whistles were ever blown, no crowd ever roared in wild rejoicing of that occasion.

The best I can say is that I have taken due note of that fact.

Yesterday an unusual number of large, pretty butterflies of various races kept swooping about, down in my garden where I was working.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

It's Always Racism, Stupid

The prevailing denial of the prevailing fact in the U.S. -- racism -- mainly on the part of a much too large segment of the controlling so-called "white" population, but also smaller but still noticeable slices of other ethnic groups, even including some among the very people who have had to bear the lion's share of all that long-running, kneejerk hatred -- so-called "black people" -- causes me to awaken each morning with extreme discomfort.   This is because, despite all the nitwit statements to the contrary, no end to the racism is anywhere in sight, and though I don't like to predict anything, absolutely nothing exists to suggest that any end or even a light amelioration of it is even possible.  Instead it seems there is a better chance of being able to journey to Mars on an escalator tomorrow than there is for any "black" person (other than the completely deluded and also unscrupulous ones) to see a day when their presence in this land, more than that of any other group, will not be resented, deeply and completely.  And somehow, some way, they will keep hearing about it forever and anon, now that the continuous resentment of "white" conservatives to the double elections of B. Obama has made open expressions of racism so fashionable, 

One reason the Trayvon Martin case is so important, is that it bears out this contention so starkly.

The killing of Trayvon Martin was clearly a racially motivated capital crime, and yet the judge seemed to be collaborating with the defense in trying to prevent any mention of racial motives from being considered.  At the very beginning she decreed that the prosecution could not even use the term "racial profiling."

Still the fact remains that George Zimmerman, the self-appointed and clearly mentally challenged spotter, stalker, and eventual executioner of Trayvon Martin, would not have been the least bit interested in the youth if Martin had not been clearly identifiable as being of the despised hue, and Zimmerman indicated that by using "black" as one of the identifying characteristics of his quarry during one of the calls he made to the police.  And the state of Florida, one of the least enlightened of the states, would not have downgraded this essentially premeditated murder to the status of a non-capital crime if Martin had been the color of Zimmerman's father.

But Zimmerman did stalk and eventually kill the unarmed teenager in cold blood, confident that the consequences would be light to non-existent because his father is not only a so-called “white” person but also is, or was, some kind of a judge, and in that arm of the crime industry called "the Law," all -- or nearly all -- of its participants stick together.

Zimmerman had reason to feel especially connected with the police because, as came out in trial testimony, he was encouraged to appoint himself watchman over the community by a policewoman, even though the local neighborhood association kept itself clear of that.   No  matter.   It’s still well-known that the police pretty much have carte blanche to kill young, "black," males, and that after varying periods of inconvenience they will eventually be let completely off the hook under the aegis of that traditional and infamous police alibi:"justifiable homicide."

And that state of Florida did downgrade the charge against Zimmerman to second-degree murder, and so, because that is not considered to be a capital crime, the case is being tried not even with a jury consisting of the regular 12 members that one would expect but only half that number.   And furthermore all six are of the same gender, female, and only one is not "white," being Hispanic instead, like the defendant's mother.   And none, not even any of the four alternates, is "black."  In this day and time this sort of jury cherry-picking would seem to be improper and even illegal.   Can the lack of an outcry be as good a sign as any that no one really expects justice to be done in this case?   Not, at least, in Florida.

 All in all, going by the standards prevalent in most of the rest of the U.S., this is a miniature jury, filled with women who professed to have no prior knowledge of the case, and so it has been dubbed by some as "the Incurious Jury."

Nevertheless one wonders how could they not have known about the Trayvon Martin case?  At the time of the shooting, it was all over the national news, and for a while, too.   And as women, as mothers or potential mothers, wouldn't they have been interested in the central fact of some mother's child having been killed on his way home after having invested at a convenience store in nothing more than some tea and a bag of Skittles, even if that mother wasn't the preferred color?

This leads one to wonder next why hopefully uninformed people like this are considered by attorneys, whether on the defense or on the attack, to be the most desirable jurors?   The excuse in this case is something notably weak, notably that women have many other concerns to take care of, and so they have no time to be up on current events.  But, unless I am badly mistaken, being well informed is still considered to be a sign of real intelligence, and in all trials of any importance, especially those involving the death of a human being (and Trayvon Martin WAS a human being), wouldn't it be best to have people of real intelligence deciding the outcome, instead of a collection of pleasant and nice-looking know-nothings (if that is how these ladies were thought to be)?

But no.  The law, or the Constitution, or the Magna Carta, or somebody has decreed that juries must consist of one's peers, which I assume means people in the defendant's general situation in life.   And so it must have been decided by both the defense and the prosecution that these six ladies approximate George Zimmerman's peers.   The news didn't say so, and it may be malicious, but, looking at the defendant, I can't help wondering if they asked all the potential jurors how much experience they had had in riding to school in the short buses?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Trayvon Martin Scream for Help

Someone who lived close to the spot where the deadly encounter between G. Zimmerman and T. Martin took place made a 911 call to the authorities, and in the background one of the combatants can be heard screaming for help -- then sudden silence ensues after the sound of gunfire.

On the grounds that their methods are questionable, the judge has ruled that testimony of two sound experts about this cry for help cannot be introduced into the trial proceedings.  One of these experts had concluded that this desperate entreaty was uttered by Martin, while the other had said that the matter was uncertain but that the screamer could not have been Zimmerman.  This ruling is considered to be a blow to the prosecution, and meanwhile the Zimmerman devotees are certain that the cry came from their guy, therefore the "self-defense" nonsense.

Let's see now.  Can't logic and total probability play any part here?

We note that one of the combatants is armed only with a bag of some munchies called "Skittles," a container of tea, and a cellphone.

We also note that the other one, the aggressor and the one who precipitated the whole thing by stalking the teenager, is armed with an operable handgun, and in its chambers are real and equally operable bullets.

So which person is by far the one most likely to have been afraid for his life and calling for help, especially given the only too obvious fact that armies of people have been killed by others wielding handguns, and in fact that is a daily occurrence in the U.S., in droves.  And while we're at it, we might also ask why so many people of Zimmerman's patrilineal pigmentation are so busy mobbing gun stores and gun shows to scoop up tools much like the one that Zimmerman carried, for the express but carefully unexpressed (in public) purpose of mass shootings of people of Trayvon Martin's persuasion, should they get the chance?  Yet there've been no reports of similar runs for the items that the teenager was carrying, and, as far as I know, history is notably light on recording cases of anyone being killed with a bottle of tea, a cellphone, or a bag of "Skittles."  That is, unless the ever avid firearms death industry has been adding its expertise to the design of cellphones, a development that has not yet made the news, though quite likely that point might be already close at hand.

The idea that a bulky, 207-pound guy with a loaded gun in his pocket is afraid of getting his brains bashed out or of otherwise being offed by an unarmed youth 50 pounds lighter seems totally ridiculous to me.  And this is especially confirmed by how visual sightings as well as noting Zimmerman’s actions during this whole thing combined with his uniformly nondescript career up to and including the present time suggest without any doubt that as much as 90 percent of his noggin is pure bone, making it clearly impervious to serious damage inflicted by anything short of a wrecking ball.

 Yet in his opening statement, one of the defense attorneys, who must share Zimmerman’s cranial bone excess, after beginning his spiel by telling a “knock-knock" joke that fell completely flat and was an insult to the jury, decided to go still farther into lala land by finding a weapon  after all for Trayvon Martin.   He argued that Martin had brought along a concealed weapon in the form of a concrete sidewalk, with which the back of Zimmerman’s head is thought to have come into contact, at the time if not later.

   But of course this “self-defense” flipdoodle is not at all ridiculous to those who are so committed to seeing Zimmerman literally getting away with murder.  Such people never ever let absurdity stand in their way.   It's a big part of the American Experience, and all the Trayvon Martin survivors with his kind of melanin count know that only too well.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Sex and Money

Maybe I've said this before, but lately it has seemed to me that the most dangerous thing in the world is not terrorism, war, undying bigotry, religion blindly pursued, drug addiction, global warming, urges to murder, or even right-wing political thinking.   Instead it must be sex.   A person can get into trouble from that, in a thousand ways, quicker and easier than from any other actions.

This is shown by all the strictures that are put on sexual activities -- something that is found nowhere else in the animal kingdom except in the part of it occupied by humans.  And it is also shown by the extreme punishments meted out in the name of sex by legal systems, especially in the U.S., against all perceived infractions of those strictures -- punishments that usually are out of all proportion to the harm done by the "infraction."

Speaking of those dangers of the world,  I've also been thinking that money is second only to sex among them.

I must've known this all along, because, just as I have never been sex-obsessed, I have also stayed as far away as I could from all possibilities of becoming rich.  It has always seemed best to have just enough to live on modestly and no more.

I only have one close friend that could be called truly rich, though he would probably deny being in that situation, vigorously.   One manifestation of my attitude toward wealth was shown when, a few years ago, he offered to give me a top grade telescope that he had sitting in his living room and had seldom if ever used.   I, however,  refused the offer.   I had always wanted just such an item, but I saw that telescope as being way too fine and useful an object, for him to be simply giving it away, and I figured that if I had really wanted and needed such an implement, by that time I would have contrived to save up and buy one on my own.

And besides, now that my eyesight is slowly growing less acute, for me the night skies are gradually emptying of stars, and there was never any chance of me going to one of those incredibly distant places in outer space anyway, or even to a destination as close as the Moon, so that those longings, too, have lost all their previous interest.

For that matter,  I haven't even stirred myself to get on a plane or a boat and go to Spain to see "Las Meninas" ("Ladies in Waiting") by Velasquez, or that other huge painting of a Spanish royal family done by Goya that made them look like such a fantastic row of cretins to be in charge of one of Europe's most important countries at the time.   Nor have I made it to Egypt to see the big stone piles, much as I would like to see such wonders.  The most I did in that area was to go to Japan, and such is my twisted nature and therefore also the experiences that Fate provides for me, that I went to that country that is so distant in so many ways, to the exclusion of all others except Canada, not once but three times, the first time involuntarily, at the behest of the U.S. Air Force.   But now I no longer see those ventures as having been the highlights of my life that they once were.

Now, seeing how the desire to be rich and the actions of those who are already rich are responsibile for so many of the really intractable evils of the world, I wonder how I came to be so lucky that I can keep on existing while avoiding having wealth weighing  on my conscience.

It can't be native genius, so it must instead have surely come from being born and raised during the Great Depression, when most people didn't have much money, yet -- far from being as deplorable as it is thought to be now -- being in such a state was even considered by many to be a virtue, because it meant that a person wasn't screwing anybody or one's self, the same as is also done by the pursuit of sex too far out of need and too deeply into mere desire.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Embarrassment of George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman, a predator of humans and clearly the stalker and by his own admission the subsequent slayer of a rainbow (my word for "black"-- the LGBT community doesn't have nearly as good a claim to the term) teenager named Trayvon Martin, was finally arrested a while ago, after a largely unexplained delay of several weeks.  After thereupon having been securely sequestered somewhere in the Florida justice system for a similar period, he was granted bail of $150,000, which seemed light when compared to the magnitude of his crime and its widespread notoriety, and now, after yet another long period, his trial on a charge of second degree murder has finally started, and this coming week, after an extended jury selection process, the first testimony is about to be heard.

Maybe some things that we didn't already read long ago will come out.

After Zimmerman came out on bail, his whereabouts again became unknown for a time.  Using a tactic calculated to help build up the sympathy that is sure to come in handy for him during this trial, his handlers, defenders, and apologists claimed that he was again in hiding, out of fear for his safety. But there can be no doubt that instead he was being carefully kept out of sight  because it had been realized that he is such a big embarrassment to all those on the conservative, hateful side of things that he is a big minus for everybody, no matter how one chooses to look at this.

After the incident in Sanford, Florida, there were numerous searches into the background of the murdered Trayvon Martin, in attempts to find anything at all of an unsavory nature that could even remotely be used to justify Zimmerman killing him, though at the time Martin was not committing any crime at all, short of indulging in the normal vacuousness of a 17-year-old teenager. He was merely noodling along that evening, strolling back to where he was staying in that gated community while packing nothing more than the inevitable cellphone and some tea and a bag of something called "skittles" (which to me denotes only chess games played purely for fun but these days seems to denote something that could be edible) that he had just bought. But the rightwingers could come up with nothing with a usefulness that didn't evaporate in about 10 seconds.  That's what happens when anything called "skittles" is involved.

Less effort was spent on Zimmerman's background, when it became obvious that his prior existence hadn't been anything that anyone, certainly not his Peruvian mother or his Euro father, could've been proud of.  He had no noticeable vocation or avocation, though I saw somewhere that some years ago he worked for a company that took care of yards and gardens, and he was fired for being too aggressive with the customers.  So what was that all about?

Otherwise, one looked in vain for any indication that Zimmerman, a supposedly grown man of 28 or 29, with a conservative judge for a father, had ever had anything resembling a program, that is, a set of worthwhile goals or interests that serve as consistent themes for a person's existence. Moreover, it should be noticed that very few statements from either his mouth or his keyboard have seen the light of day.

Some who studied the videos that were made of him during his first appearance in court on this matter described him as being "shifty-eyed," which suggested that he has marbles rolling around loose in his head.  That was verified when it came time to post that bail and, on the plea of indigence made by the latest of the several lawyers who had taken turns coming to his aid, the others having meanwhile seen fit to bail out on Zimmerman themselves, saying that he didn't seem to want to be bothered with staying in touch with them, his family had to put up the 10 percent of the 150 K that was required before he could leave the jailhouse and go back into unofficial hiding, and Zimmerman neglected to tell his new lawyer that via the weird website he had set up for donations, he had quickly raked in a cool $204,000 (which makes one wonder anew why hatred and bigotry is invariably so lucrative in this land that on one day of each year makes a big thing of celebrating peace on earth and good will to man.)

Aside from these indications of how mentally challenged this man gives so many signs of being, Zimmerman's numerous defenders and justifiers also cannot be happy with the way that he brought off his execution of Trayvon Martin, even if, in their eyes, that was an achievement of real merit.  ("One more of those subhumans off the street and a big warning to all those of his kind!" they would have happily mouthed to each other, over their martinis and beers.)  But the bad side for them was that he did it in a way and under circumstances that attracted far too many doubts and questions that prevented the killing from being swept under the rug in the usual expeditious manner. The fact that Zimmerman continued to follow the youth after being told by the police not to do that is damaging, big time, and it will be interesting to see how his lawyers will get around that, in this trial that, in Florida, is nevertheless sure to result in a sentence, if any, as light as his bail.

This will not be before his attorneys will have to sandbag their way over a host of other high hurdles as well, because their contentions will be based on self-defense and Zimmerman's statement that at the moment of the shooting he was on the ground under Martin and being pummeled badly.

His position on the ground, despite his big weight advantage of being 50 pounds heavier at the time than the 158-pound Trayvon Martin, might still have been actually the case, because Zimmerman had a gun and his prey didn't. If you have a gun, you feel that you're above having to use your fists, especially if you're weak on wits.   And Zimmerman had a gun while Martin's arsenal consisted only of some tea, the bag of "skittles," and the cellphone.  That stark disparity in weaponry bears no end of repeating.

  Ironically, however, this will be a defense with which Zimmerman, if he had a full set of wits, could not conceivably be otherwise happy, because it would say that by being the one that was flat on his back and under his much lighter adversary and getting the worst of it, as he claims, he was not nearly as much a man as the considerably slimmer teenager that he had accosted.

All indications are that G. Zimmerman's thought processes were too limited to permit him to expect that someone he was stalking would have the colossal effrontery to turn and ask him what he thought he was doing -- a question that Zimmerman would not have been equipped to readily answer, because he wasn't thinking.   That is, if indeed Martin did turn or circle around and challenge him.  The numerous media accounts of what happened say that while following Martin, Zimmerman lost sight of the youth, and then the next thing he knew Martin was jumping him.

The sound of that proposition, like most things about this case, doesn't sound right.  What?  Are Zimmerman's eyes and ears also severely impaired?  Well, his eyes do appear to be set so unusually close together that that might distort his perceptions of depth, position, and the like.

In any case it also appears that he didn't know that the gun he was carrying didn't automatically give him the power over others and the authority that he had expected.   Was this because he didn't quickly produce it?   But if he had, is it at all likely that his prey would have approached him in any manner? No. Instead we have the dead Martin already testifying himself, in the form of the cellphone call he made to his girl friend, complete with a photo, in which he is essentially pleading to  her or somebody, 'Get me outta here!"  Though, being a kid, and seeing Zimmerman's eyes, at first he could also have taken the whole thing as some kind of gag, and thus the photo.

 It could very well have been, then, that Zimmerman was trying to inform his quarry by struggling to get out the gun that he had no business having, there or anywhere else, only to find himself forced to fend off some blows first, in a furious melee that he had brought about but hadn't anticipated.

 All in all, carrying a gun into any situation that has a potential for being a whirlwind of happenstance and the unexpected is a recipe for disaster and a sign of a lack of intelligence.

I wonder how many of the above points will be discussed in the trial?

All these meanwhile are signs that G. Zimmerman is a dim bulb indeed, and therefore he even drops somewhat below the usually poor credibility for being cast as a hero of the conservatives.  Nevertheless they can be counted on to demand Zimmerman's complete  exoneration, for what to all intents and purposes amounts to being a clear case of premeditated murder, even while, because of the obvious scattering of his gray matter, they would also prefer to keep only the back of his head instead of the front turned to the world.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Israel and Gemany

Of the many things about the state of Israel that are beyond me, the biggest is the question of why the Israelis are so interminably vicious with the Palestinians, when you would think that, because of the enormous amount of suffering and genocide that a huge number of people of their persuasion suffered at the hands of the Germans in the 1930's and '40's, their unending bile would be directed entirely against the Germans instead.   After all, it is beyond all doubt that there wasn't one Palestinian guard at Auschwitz or policing the cattle cars on the railway routes to any of the other German concentration and extermination camps.   But isn't totally illogical thinking and acting of a piece with how the 9/ll airliner hijackers were largely from Egypt and especially Saudi Arabia, with none from Afghanistan or Iraq, yet it was those latter two countries and not at all the first two that the GWBush administration hit hard in reprisal?

A year or two ago I read that a lot of Israelis are taking out insurance policies in the form of getting passports and visas to Germany, against the event of things getting too hot in and around Israel.   I wasn't sure of the veracity or the reasoning behind that till on the BBC News site I saw an article saying that in the Berlin area, as many as 25,000 Israelis are now thought to be happily living.

So here you have Israelis moving back in with the Germans, while the Netanyahus and the Liebermans remaining behind in the Promised Land have, in dealing with the Palestinians, used  techniques perfected by the Nazis to eliminate Jews, especially  the Goebbels tactic of presenting lies as truths.

These Israelis settling back in Germany aren't your ordinary "common man" people.   They are instead artists, intellectuals, and others of that ilk, who paint a picture of Israel as being a gray, culturally deprived place that doesn't offer a good atmosphere for creative and benign activities, and they say that Germany, or at least the area in and around Berlin, offers much better opportunities for that kind of the good life.

That may be so.   Still, if I were them, I wouldn't trust the Germans too much in that respect.

Yet who am I to be saying that, when here I am, a person to whom many in their less guarded moments would apply the notorious "n-word," born and raised in strongly liberal D.C., yet now living not  overjoyously but at least reasonably contentedly enough in the heart of rural Virginia, the former capital and most important of the Confederate states and the first of the slave states?

Yet I don't fully trust Virginia either, and I'm not here because of that state's prevailing winds and philosophies, as reflected these days in factors like its fondness for executing people, for electing Republican regressives, and for allowing those idiots to put into place policies that include some of the deadliest anti-woman measures of any state in the Union.   I'm here mostly because I wanted to have a big garden and to build my own house -- amenities that, as I used to like to say, though invariably the responses would be a dead silence accompanied by frowns  of resentment, "weren't available in D.C. even to Ronald Reagan."
From all that I've been able to see, blind unreasoning bigotry doesn't die easily in the human soul.   In fact, it never dies at all.   Instead its practitioners, in the times when they've been subdued, merely keep their heads down while sharpening their knives and waiting for their chances to re-emerge and assert themselves once again, because enlightenment doesn't burn brightly forever, anywhere.

No one should know that better than Israelis.   Yet, whether in and around Tel Aviv, Berlin, or the halls of the U.S. Congress, they seem to have dumped all awareness of that perpetual truth.