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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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Case for Being Told

There are numerous times when I wish movie-makers could've moved themselves to have a character say aloud what he's thinking.   The main character in the British trilogy "The House of Cards," played by Ian Richardson, made doing that one of his big things, and it added greatly to the film's effect.   But that was a huge exception.   Otherwise, what used to be called "dramatic asides" are heard so rarely nowadays that it must mean that there's a hard and fast rule of movie-making to avoid them at all costs.  It must have been decided long ago that the inarticulate hero or heroine is superbly chic or cool or awesome, while the moviegoer cannot be expected to tolerate hearing anything even remotely approaching self-revelation.  A reflection of modern life?

Oh well.   I guess that does save the writing and the speaking of hundreds of extra lines, even it it does mean populating the average movie with animated lumps who seem to be indulging in endless sleepwalking and little else.

I just finished struggling through a Russian film that exhibited this glaring defect in painful profusion.   Titled "How I Ended My Summer," it could much more aptly have borne the title, "How I Spent the Whole Summer Looking Stupid and Acting Accordingly by Saying Not a Word."

It tells of two men maintaining a cold, bleak existence at a weather station somewhere on an island in the arctic wastes.    One day the older and more serious of the pair is out fishing, when  the younger man gets a radio message saying that his co-worker's beloved wife and child have just been killed in an auto accident.   The younger worker is told to pass this along to his co-worker, along with assurance that a ship is being sent to bring him back to the mainland in his bereavement.

Because this is a movie made by one of all your most clever people, when the older worker returns from his fishing trip, the younger man tells him absolutely nothing and instead keeps all that strictly to himself, for reasons that naturally we are left to figure out for ourselves -- necessarily unsatisfactorily, because that young guy's vocabulary doesn't extend past occasionally uttered four-letter expletives.  Of course it all eventually comes out anyway, but with consequences far, far worse that they would have been if the news had been conveyed as was requested.

But this is how by far most of your bad and even worse movie plots go.   Things are carefully kept concealed till it's too late, when real life keeps telling us that everything and even the very worse news is always best revealed RIGHT NOW, and in  language a little past the grunts of a bored polar bear.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

R. Perry, Lummox from Texas

If you do a Google search on 10 reasons why R. Perry should not be the President of the U.S., you will find a large number of such lists of various sizes ranging as high as 21, though many other reasons could also be added, because the more you learn about him, the more this man has all the appearance of a man carrying -- like an impossibly fertile opossum mother -- an unusually large number of such shortcomings clinging to his chest as much as to his back.   Yet he is still being seen by some as this large, noble knight who, mounted on his mighty Texas steed (snow white of course), finally charged out of the burning wastes a couple of months ago and came to the rescue not only of the pack of Republican aspirants for the Presidency, who, for all their efforts, were fast being seen as just a gang of mangy armadillos, aimlessly milling around.   Not only that but numbers of people who consider themselves as rational beyond all doubt also actually see this man as the one most qualified to lead the United States, ahead of all the country's other 300 million inhabitants, and never mind what that says about the country's inhabitants.

Not that Presidential elections have anything to do with picking the best person in the country for the job.   Far from it.  Oceans away from it.   But still....

I first became reasonably aware of Perry a couple of years ago, when he announced that he supported the idea of the secession of Texas from the rest of the United States.

I would think that in a world where a reasonable number of heads and necks are in the proper alignment with each other, that position alone would leave him completely out of anyone's conception of him as the U.S. President, and never mind all the rest of those other nine or however many other reasons, all of them also quite legitimate.   But maybe, just as Perry's party hungers to make the U.S. government smaller, which can only be done by chopping away many important parts of it and shoving them into the stove, similarly that party's ultimate aim in seeing him as being such a credible candidate would be to channel his secessionist tendencies into making the U.S. smaller, and that can also be done only by some serious demolition work, on the World Trade Center scale of things.   Therefore this man's  avid supporters are fighting to put into the Oval Office a man whose only purpose would be to total the country like a recklessly driven car, to reduce it to a state not of Texas but of a place where not enough would be left even to send to the crusher.

I can't put my finger on it right now but one list that I saw put forth another reason to forget about Perry that especially stuck in my mind, and that is that he is dumb.   But whether we are talking about his urge to imitate the state of things that brought on the Civil War, or about social security, medicare, climate change, short-changing education, force-innoculating young girls, or any other issue, and when we remember how at Texas A&M, a merely so-so college, he struggled through with a long series of C's and D's, his obvious obtuseness is an over-arching trait that colors everything else about him.   So it seems to me that by treasuring him, the G.O.P. is maligning not only the U.S. but the huge (though not necessarily great) state of Texas itself, by creating here a tradition of putting up for President Texas governors who were notably dense and are therefore seen by that party as being superbly qualified to lead the U.S.  For now it has been established beyond all doubt that GW Bush's boat was also none too swift.  Instead it was the absolute opposite, and now that party can only offer more of the same. 

All this is totally incredible . . .and pitiful. 

I wrote the first draft of this post a while ago, soon after Perry threw his hat into the ring, and since then I have noticed an interesting thing happening.   After having at first been quite happy with Perry, the media forces who consider it their job rather than the voters to determine the U.S. President, have now begun to reconsider and are slowly backing away from him, mainly on the grounds that he has turned out to be too slow-witted, especially in debates.   And so now he is being quietly dumped from contention, and the nod is being handed back to the original G.O.P. front runner, M. Romney.

I guess the insidious powers-that-be have started thinking that they need somebody who is more than just a men's wear clothing dummy, and also just a male version of Sarah Palin, but without her entertainment values.  To appear on the same podium with Obama, they would need someone who at least looks as if he might know what the question was.


Death of the Bull Dance

After the end of this year there is to be no more bullfighting in Catalonia, Spain's most important region, and the last corridas in Barcelona are about to be held.

Wow!  That is big news!

Of course, it doesn't rate with the sudden announcement that was also made today, by the Saudi Arabian king, that women will for the first time be allowed not only to vote but also to be candidates in municipal elections.   But still....

Many years ago, in my "Ernest Hemingway era," a phase that has been something of a curse to so many young, aspiring writers, or at least it used to be, I read his "documentary" on bullfighting, called "Death in the Afternoon."   I found it to be his best full length work, way ahead of his more famous "For Whom the Bells Toll" and the awkwardly named "The Sun Also Rises."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Ignored Afflicted

The situation in the U.N. today strongly puts me in mind of the several conventions held, in 1860, just before the Civil War, by the group that was then called the Democratic Party, though, as the party of preference for the slaveowners, it somehow morphed over the next hundred years into being the present-day Republican Party, the party of preference for bigots of all kinds, and you can tell just how ignorant people are of history when they blithely refer to the Republicans as being "the party of Lincoln," when in reality they stopped being that the day that Jacob Javits, an outstandingly liberal senator from New York, no longer ran for office, in the 1950's.

Seeing that the Republicans embraced various views unfriendly to slavery, and that they could win, even with a candidate as rough-hewn and  "homely" as Abraham Lincoln, the Democrats at their three conventions held within two months of each other, the first in Charleston, S.C., and the other two in Baltimore, tried to trick the American public into seeing things their way, and that included splitting apart, twice over, and presenting themselves in various guises.  But try as they might to conceal the irreconcilable and terrible plight of the slaves from Africa in the southern states, mainly by never mentioning it, though that was at the heart of what the subsequent Civil War was all about, no matter how much the apologists for the secessionists insisted otherwise, then and now, those "Democrats" of the mid-19th Century were unable to succeed in such political sleight of hand.

Today all the pressure is being put on the Palestinians, the counterparts of the American slaves, to desist from applying to the U.N. for statehood, while nothing at all is being asked of the Israelis. Instead only one word is being spoken, and that is "negotiation," as if that is the be-all and end-all and the solution to all the problems between the Israelis and the Palestinians, when anyone who has followed the situation in the Middle East for any number of years would know that if one were looking for sincere adversaries with whom one would want to negotiate, men like B. Netanyahu and that Lieberman bird wouldn't even rate as a last choice.   Negotiations, interminably drawn-out negotiations would  only give the Israelis time to take over more and more land with settlements, build higher and higher walls, and maintain more and more checkpoints -- all designed to drive some Palestinians out permanently, while confining all the rest eventually into tiny reservations, a la the Indians in the U.S., where those remaining Palestinians would likely find life so intolerable that they would soon leave for good, too, and the takeover of the West Bank would be complete, with the rationale being, "See?  the sand nig-  Oops!  I mean the Palestinians -- didn't even want to be there in the first place, and this proves it!"

So in a Haaretz article devoted to supposedly reasonable reactions to the speech that Obama gave in the U.N. and in which he responded to the Palestinians exactly as he had been instructed to do by His Masters' Voice, you will find no mention of the things most hurtful to the Palestinians -- the economic chokeoffs, the settlements, the walls, the checkpoints, the segregated roads, and the segregated everything else.   Instead everything is seen only from the point of view of advantages for Israel, though it is the stronger and more favored party in the matter by far.

Here is a typical paragraph from that article:
J Street rejected the Palestinian UN bid, but its President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement that Obama was right to say there is "no shortcut” to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (so what else is new?) and that Obama must turn this "crisis" into "an opportunity to jumpstart meaningful diplomacy that yields results."

But to jumpstart anything, at least in modern vehicles that don't have clutches that can be slammed while the car is rolling downhill, you need a jumper cable, and Obama's has long since fallen into shreds from disuse and dry rot.

 Not so long ago in the U.S., Jews, along with Rainbows, were the perpetual underdogs and scapegoats for almost everything imaginable.   But now they have left the Rainbows behind and have "graduated" into being among the overdogs.   If I were Jewish I would feel very uneasy about being given that status, and I am always much more comfortable with remaining among the underdogs.   I have found no reason not to continue thinking, as I always have, that to be an underdog is always the most moral, right, decent, just, and honorable position to be in.   And so it is now with the Palestinians, regardless of the badly aimed rockets of today and the suicide bombers of yesterday, to which a simple request for statehood ought to be lightyears more preferable.  But the Israel sympathizers seem to view every Palestinian initiative as worthy only of being thrown out of sight down the same desert well.

Of course the Israelis would instantly answer that they, not the Palestinians, are the true underdogs in this, pointing out all the hostile Arab countries close by with much larger populations.   We are asked to forget all the F-16 fighter planes, the several nuclear subs, the hundreds of nuclear bombs, and all the other modern weaponry that is not easily noticeable in Arab hands, plus the biggest deterrent of all, possession of one impossibly large and bodaciously mean pit bull of a country that is kept kenneled up overseas until needed to be sicced on someone such as the Iranians or the Palestinians.

 But you would think that nevertheless that would make the Israelis all the more disposed to showing how much benefit they can be to the small slice of the Arab population with whom they have the closest contact.   Instead they just keep pressing their booted foot down on the Palestinian neck with all the more force, using the excuse that that kind of unrelenting torture is all that the Arabs understand.

It may be exceedingly idealistic to say this, but I feel comfortable in saying it anyway: That is a very slippery premise on which to base the whole future of the Promised Land.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Getting into Blog Bigtime

Blogger has taken to greeting us during signon with a little ad saying, "Create killer content. Grow traffic. Monetize your blog. Learn from experts at BlogWorld, the world's largest blogging conference!" which will be held where else but in Los Angeles, a huge and outstandingly grubby city 3,000 long, hard miles away from here, in the first week of this coming November.

Is this something I would really want to do, or that in any way would be even possible for me to do?


I really like the current, complete austerity of this weblog, though I am well aware of how unglamorous it is.  It ties right in with everything else that I represent.

"Space Junk"

A 6-ton, 35-feet long, human-made contraption called "UARS," that had been up in orbit for 20 years, has been declared to be no longer useful for measuring climate stuff, though several of its components are still operating.   In recent weeks it has been  falling back to earth, and it is expected to enter the atmosphere tomorrow, its final day, in a flaming display of not quite total disintegration.

Because in these fascist times fear has to be injected wherever possible into each and every news item, a caveat is always inserted close to the beginning of every report, saying that the chances of anyone being hit by any of the debris are only about 1 in 3,200.

With 20 acres of land here for the debris to land, I am not paying the slightest attention to all those concerns about any of those fragments hitting me or anyone else. Instead I just think of that reassuring note as being laughable.  The odds are just not there.

Instead I keep thinking about how cool it would be have some fragment crashing through my generally thick canopy of trees and landing here, hopefully in plain sight and after having made enough noise that I would have noticed something.

If that happens we are instructed not to touch the object, and instead to notify the local law authorities at once.

I confess, I would be a trifle slow in doing that, not least because of the air of extreme self-importance that local law authorities always assume when they barge onto someone's property and take charge, with their yellow ribbons and all their other bullpoop.

But that's just me.   Or would it be?   Because I can assure you, I am not the only one in the sticks all over the world with a strong appreciation of their property rights.   But that wouldn't be the end of it either.  An even stronger factor would be the appeal of having such novel forbidden objects in one's secret possession, along with the possibilities of financial gain farther down the road.   For that or other reasons, what the authorities are disarmingly pleased to call "space junk" could very easily be an ordinary man's space treasure, to have and to hold, so to speak.

However, all these are almost certain to be completely moot points anyway.  The Earth has much more ocean than it has anything else, and through the eons all that water has been pretty greedy about gobbling up by far the lion's share of all the good stuff that daily zooms in from outer space.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

So Sad for Obama -- the U.N. Palestinian Crisis

So sad for Obama, because no matter what happens in this U.N. Palestinian thing, it's not going to do anything for his comfort zones.  So you would think he would grab the bull by the horns and do something for once in the foreign policy area that would justify that Nobel Prize and, more importantly, earn him a solid chapter in the "Profiles of Courage," even if it does put the final seal of doom on his chances for a second term.   But does a second term for Obama rate above all other considerations?   I don't see why it should.

That singular act of courage would consist of not exercising the U.S. veto when the Palestinians formerly submit their application for statehood to the Security Council.   But of course nothing like that has a ghost of a chance of happening with this man, although it's not certain that the results of doing that would be as dire as the predictions of the anti-Obamarites would have him and everybody else believe.

One reason is the large streak of principle that has always run through the Jewish character in the U.S. as well as through the Israeli people in Israel, and that streak could very well prevail over the hysteria being spread by the Netanyahu forces.   The recent special election in a usually strongly Democratic district in New York City's boroughs, in which the Republican won by a wide margin, greatly helped by a generous number of Jewish votes, is being cited by the Teapubs as a strong indicator of the fate that awaits Obama if he does not use that veto, or even if he does not persuade the Palestinians to cease and desist, while of course asking nothing of the Israelis, though they and not the Palestinians are the real villains in the piece by a country mile.    The Palestinians, after all, are not inexorably sprouting settlements deep inside Israeli territory and edging toward Tel Aviv.

But the mainstream news media in the U.S., which is 100% under the control of rightwing tycoons, is carefully keeping hidden the factors that a certain large if not prevailing percentage of Jewish people in the U.S. put the principles of being decent and right above all else, and especially because they see those principles as being behind what it means to be Jewish, and they do not at all buy the policies of the Israel leadership lock, stock, and barrel, just as not everyone does also in Israel itself.

Another thing about that New York election is that the previous holder of that seat, a man named Weiner, had been forced out of office because of some sort of sexual misstep, and the usual overwhelming stigma of that undoubtedly worked powerfully against the Democratic aspirant.   Absolutely nothing was said about that "Weiner" factor in the media reports, which instead were engrossed and delighted at how the results could be seen as being a nearly fatal blow against Obama.   But memories can't possibly be that short, even in Brooklyn and Queens. 

With only a couple of days left before the Palestinian leader, M. Abbas, submits the Palestinian bid for detachment from their Israeli slave overseers, B. Obama is due to have meetings with Netanyahu and with Abbas.   The meeting with Netanyahu means absolutely nothing, but then, no meeting with that bird ever does.  But Obama still probably nurses the hope that Abbas, by withdrawing his submission at the last moment, will save Obama's skin, though it really won't, which is the main thing that makes his situation in this so sad.

Obama will probably put his request on a personal level, telling Abbas that if he persists, he will help ensure that Obama will not be around to "help" him through all the next five years.   As if anything that Obama has done so far has really helped the Palestinians, and instead he has been in the Israeli camp all along, though that has not brought him support from the Jewish Teapubs any more than his numerous bendings and compromises with the Teapubs in general has brought him any respect from them either.   Instead it has brought him all the more vilificiation and opposition from them every step of the way, which would persist even if he proposed that the Sun rises in the east and sets down in the west.

If he has any mettle at all, Abbas is going to say "Thanks but no thanks," after which, if Obama does exercise the veto, only the Israelis and those over whose minds they hold sway will be happy.  But it will result in the U.S., a slave-holding country not so long ago, being seen more than ever as the leader of the New Confederacy of slaveholders, with the Palestinians forced to continue being the very unwilling chattels of the Israelis, even if over high, concrete walls -- a Confederacy that consists of, beside the U.S. and Israel, also Great Britain, Canada, and possibly Germany.

You would think that Obama would have foreseen all this from his earlier experiences with schoolyard intimidators years ago, and in consequence would, for instance, during the first visit that an Israeli leader made to the White House to give the new President his marching orders, he would have told that person to get lost then and there.

That would have saved him a lot of trouble from the start.   But, more than me, he's the one that seriously needs to have a cataract operation, and right away.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pitiful U.S. "Negotiations"

It's pitiful beyond the meaning of the word, to watch the U.S. diplomats fall all over themselves in their frenzied efforts to persuade, pressure, cajole, threaten, sweet-talk, bully, and otherwise try to stop the Palestinian Authority from applying to the U.N. Security Council for recognition of a Palestinian state, as if the Palestinians haven't noticed how the U.S. has been so strongly on the Israeli side and so weakly on the Palestinian.   This means that in effect the Americans have nothing to offer the Palestinians -- and especially not in regard to the most painful issue by far, and that is the constant encroaching on Palestinian soil by Israeli "settlements," about which no promises are being made, though it is a process that has been very aptly characterized by the Palestinians as their being asked to negotiate over a pizza when the other party is as busy as can be eating the pizza.

The obvious question is, "Why now?"   I seem to recall that months and maybe years have elapsed since attempts of any negotiations were attempted by the U.S. or by Israel.   They were essentially not even speaking to the Palestinians.   But now, all of a great sudden, before this coming Friday, it's being deemed absolutely essential that the Palestinians climb down "off their high horse" and agree to enter fresh peace negotiation with the Israelis, when nothing is more certain that if the Israelis enter such negotiations at all, it will be always be out of bad faith.   And meanwhile the Israelis aren't being asked to climb off a damn thing, least of all their determination to stop the establishment of more and more of the "settlements."

I don't know how much can be expected of this Abbas guy, the PA leader in this effort.   It seems to me that in the past he and the PA have been accused, and with apparently good reason, of being tools of the Israelis.   But, true or not, now he's on to a very good thing by going to the U.N. for this recognition.  I hope he doesn't let the Israeli and American threats or inviting promises divert him in any way.  And by doing so, he will accidentally do the United States a great favor, by demonstrating to its President the virtues of sticking to one's guns -- a trait that hasn't often been noticed in B. Obama's makeup.

Meanwhile another thing that I have noticed is how lacking the U.S. media coverage is on covering this Palestinian initiative, when it is by far the most dramatic and most morally important story that is unfolding in world affairs these days.   It shows how thoroughly the media, as well as the Executive Branch and most of the Legislative branch of the U.S. government, have been cowed by the supporters of the right wing Israeli leadership.   Instead, and strangely, you have to go straight to the horse's mouth, an Israeli newspaper called "Haaretz," in which so much time is bitterly spent on condemning the Netanyahu leadership that it's a wonder he hasn't ordered it to be closed down or at least for the Mossad to bomb it to bits.

Just the other day the leader of the Opposition Party in the Knesset, which I believe is called Kadima, a tough-as-nails woman named Tzipi Livni delivered a blistering attack on Netanyahu and his iron-assed coalition.   A rightwinger herself, ordinarily she isn't much to be admired, but simply because she is a female, she can't possibly be all bad, and in those statements she really outdid herself.  For a real treat in elegant and heartfelt polemics, check it out.

(The report in Haaretz on the speech is intriguingly titled, "Livni: Israel's Diplomatic Stupidity is Pushing the United States into a Corner.")

Friedman on Israel

One gets the distinct feeling that Angry Arab seized on the very first sentence of T. Friedman's article in the NYTimes titled "Israel: Adrift at Sea Alone,"  and felt no need to read any farther.   That sentence goes: "I've never been more worried about Israel''s future."  To which Angry responded along the lines of "What future?   Israel has no future," and that was all.

Too bad, because I thought that all in all the article was largely right on the money, save for a few small lapses, such as saying that the aid flotilla that the Israeli commandos boarded and killed 10 of the mostly Turkish aid-bringers, mostly by shooting them in the back, had to be stopped because they were attempting to make a "reckless landing."  So any acts that people perform in a good cause is reckless just because the wrongdoers make it dangerous?

Tell that to the Russians who at terrific cost to themselves stopped the German juggernaut during the Second World War and eventually pushed them back far enough to free the few that remained of the Jews and other prisoners in the Nazi death camps.  Or. to bring it much closer to home, meaning these days, the protesters in Syria and Yemen, who, striving to change their countries' ruling regimes peacefully, are being shot down in huge numbers by their own military.   To go out daily to demonstrate nevertheless may be reckless but also it's going down in the annals as almost incomparable in the pursuit of human betterment.

The American Middle East "Solution"

  • (Another) Carl says:

    The ambassador falls off the reasonable wagon with a big thud in his very last sentence, when he says: ". . .The PA should acknowledge the necessity of a two-state solution that can be achieved only with Israel’s willing participation . . .”

    I think it very likely that over decades of eyeball-to-eyeball contact with the Israelis, one thing is crystal clear to the PA, and that is that the Israelis under practically any leadership have no intention whatsoever of EVER being willing to take part in a two-state solution. The PA is in the best position of anybody to know that the Israelis seem to have bought whole hog into the original “American Solution,” which is to pull off a fait accompli by slowly and inexorably shoving the inhabitants of the most recent several thousands of years off their land, as was done wholesale in the “settling” of the Wild West. It all just takes time, and for that the Israeli policy has shaped up to be expressed with only one word: “stall.” Stall all day today, this month, this year, and for many years to come if need be.

    The above is a comment that I had the temerity to post about a week ago on Juan Cole's remarkably informative and civilized site, Informed Comment.   In it Cole had posted a guest column by a former ambassador to the U.N. on European Affairs, G.B Helman.  The title of the column, "The Palestinians Seek U.N. Recognition," as well as the first paragraph in my comment, give the general gist of the column.

    I noticed the column and posted my comment much too late, and there was only one subsequent comment, a reply that went as follows:
  • Dr. blc says:
    it’s not at all clear that the Israelis are unwilling to agree to a two-state solution. the record shows that it’s been the Palestinians and the Arabs that have been opposed to it far more than the Israelis.
    at present there’s little hope of it being realized and that’s not all on the Israelis. Hamas also opposes a peace-and-partition deal which means that the Palestinians can’t deliver their end of a deal.

    Though I never got around to answering the reply above, it was easy to see how severely flawed the reasoning in it was, besides being out of date.  Hamas, after originally saying it would not take part in the U.N. initiative by the PA, then seems to have changed its mind and had said that it would go along, and I guess that's the reason why next to nothing is being heard from Hamas during this current fully justified application by the Palestinians to be recognized as a state. 
     But even if Hamas hadn't done that, what they said in opposition to the PA would've been of small account, because the West Bank is the big prize, and not at all Gaza, the tiny strip of land presided over by Hamas and from which, just to give the appearance of doing something for the cause, Hamas stupidly permits the lobbing of  a few rockets now and then, which damage Israel hardly at all, though it does allow the Israelis to use Gaza as a sort of punching bag and gives them the excuse to scream "Murder!" to the high Heavens and to commit all sorts of injustices and get away with it, with the abject collusion of the U.S., including real murder on the high seas.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

He Never Promised the Rose Garden

As I have mentioned before, the noted historian Barbara W. Tuchman wrote a book called "The March of Folly," in which she dealt with the phenomenon of how national and other kinds of leaders consistently will do things that are against their countries' or other entities' own best interests.   But that deadly quirk is not at all confined to kings, presidents, prime ministers, popes, and what-not, and today we can see that threatening to happen with ordinary citizens in droves, in the runup to the elections next year, on all sides of the U.S. Racial Divides.

One case of this exists in how -- besides a number of others who had formerly professed to be on his side -- B. Obama seems to have run afoul of a certain number of his supposedly fellow Rainbows (i.e. "black people") who now are vowing to do him and by extension the Democratic Party some dirt by staying home during the voting next year and thereby they figure they will "get even" with the President and his party.

Why?  For not exactly following in Martin Luther King Jr.'s footsteps when it came to leading Rainbows to "the Promised Land," as King vowed to keep trying to do during his very last sermon, back in 1968.  (Even these Obama Antis could sense meanwhile that an industrial strength "Putney Swope" flip was completely out of the question.)

In that era when people all over the South and also in parts of the North were marching and getting beaten and arrested in droves and even dying in the struggle to obtain for Rainbows the right to vote for anything and anybody at all -- a right that was freely available to the worst so-called "white" hoodlum slobbering in the gutter, merely because of his melanin count -- this attitude of vowing to forgo voting purely out of spite of some kind would have been seen among the Rainbow educators in the institutions that I attended to be the height of ignorance and stupidity.   But alas I am not allowed to say that myself, openly and frankly.  It would make somebody mad, with a vow to get even once over.   So that Tuesday a year from now these misguided souls intend to sit at home on their fat behinds and not vote, and the Devil take the hindmost -- which that horned entity will surely do, to the great, oily gratitude of those eternal pre-Fascists, the Teapublicans.

It's very disheartening.   Such non-keepers of the faith, as the late Adam Clayton Powell would say (a 1950's in-your-face Harlem Rainbow Congressman, though if a person was to see his picture or hear about his many escapades, this man would appear to have been the twin brother of Erroll Flynn instead), such people thereby show their deep ignorance of what voting is all about.   They actually think that by voting they are doing the Democratic Party a favor, along the lines of giving a sweating marathon runner a drink at about the 18th mile, when the reality is that it is the Democratic Party that is doing them and their interests a favor by so much as existing and doing the hard and steady work that they do.   Disgruntled progressives and liberals may huff and puff all they want, but the Democratic Party, for all its faults, is still the only force with a chance of slowing down or halting the Republican leading of the American electorate down the primrose path to a condition so tawdry and hateful that the country would be lucky to get out of it by means of another civil war..

It's not easy to start or to maintain a viable political party.  At least in the U.S. it isn't.   If it were easy then there would long since have been a third and truly progressive party, and maybe not one but a number of them.  Even the Tea so-called Party over on the other, dark side of things, is not really a party.   They have no chairman, no presiding committee, no organization to speak of.  Instead they are merely a nasty attitude and little else.   They sneakily claim to be independent of a political party, but the truth is that they didn't just pop up out of nowhere.   Their faces would have been familiar among the same old, endlessly angry and resentful Republicans of all the past modern eras.  Therefore they are just some sort of excrescence on the G.O.P. -- a malignant growth on the rectum of the Republican body..

The fact is that if people had been looking instead of just assuming, they would have noticed that, as far as I know, Obama never promised to be King's spiritual successor, and for several reasons.

The first is that he probably knows his limitations, and he's been trying hard to keep them concealed, among them the fact that he is no sort of a real leader.   He isn't iron-jawed and resolute enough.  He is much more a constantly laidback professor given to saying, "Now, now, people."

Another is that Obama's familial legacy has no sort of tie-in with the American Rainbow's experience of all the injustices that they have sturdily endured.  He can rely on his physical appearance, and he can play basketball every Thursday and profess to be naturally and fully tuned in, but that kind of grounding in the rigors of the past is something that either you have in every one of your cells or you don't, and it's just impossible to fake. 

A third reason is that if he had promised to pick up where King left off, he would never have been elected President in the first place, and that only follows because U.S. Presidents are supposed to see to the interests of all the various groups in the country and not just one -- a principle that the G.O.P. has consistently ground underfoot whenever their turns came.  And though people may routinely keep referring to him as the nation's first "black" President, I think it was generally recognized but left carefully unsaid that B. Obama is very much his mother's child and hardly at all his father's, and for that reason he was considered acceptable.

One of the hard, cold, and enduring cruelties of American life is that whereas a person of European descent can enjoy the luxury of taking Tuesday election days off and staying home and scratching his butt and drinking beer with a clear conscience, because his rights are always going to be preserved despite all the vapid screaming to the contrary, a principled Rainbow always has the obligation to pick himself up from any normal sloth and go out and vote.  Essentially, unlike those in the dominant group, in at least this respect he is literally forced to do the right thing, and that's not all bad.

Similarly the drive to keep Rainbows as a group confined to the back of the bus is still so massive and ongoing that neither B. Obama nor any other President of color can  have the option of being another Martin  Luther King, for reasons already mentioned, and at least for the time being.   The best he or she can do is to try to block the eternally attempted rollbacks of the gains already made, while slipping in some new advance every now and again.  And when there are other very big issues, of which B. Obama has more than his share to face right now, that tends to be stretched out to being very now and again.

A big consolation is that it ties in with the John Henry folk verse that goes:

      I was born one morning about the break of day.

      I picked up my burden, and I walked away.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cataract Examination Postponed

The eye surgeon, Dr. S., postponed the appointment I had for him to examine my eyes yesterday for the cataract situation, and now that won't take place for several weeks, because in a couple of days my wife is leaving for Florida to check on her very aged stepfather, and she intends to stay there for about two weeks.  Her presence is necessary, because for both the examination and for the operation I would have to have somebody there with me.

Meanwhile yesterday, as I predicted, M., the gracious Southern belle who lives over on the Northern Neck, returned my call, and she gave me an even more complete rundown on how the operation went with her, four or five years ago, and with which she is extremely happy.

Her situation had been worse than mine, because while my eyesight only began to deteriorate seven or eight years ago, she, in her words, "hadn't been able to see across a room" for as long as she could remember, and she had always had to wear glasses or contacts.  But now it's amazing to her how the operation gave her the ability to see things as clear as can be, except only that, because the new lens can't correct for everything, she chose distance vision, while for reading she still uses dollar store reading glasses, but only of the lowest strength.   Meanwhile she spoke of how even the colors improved and became much more vivid -- an effect that especially interests me, though I wouldn't expect it to be as marked in my case, because colors are already  vivid enough to me.

In fact, despite having had my spirits greatly lifted by talking with M., I am starting to waver about having this operation right now, and I've been wondering if I wasn't over-reacting when I went to the eye doctor a few days ago.   I'm wondering if that business about not being able to read the road signs wasn't purely psychological, born out of not having been out on the main roads for several weeks previously.   When a person does that for weeks at a time, as I do, the outside world always looks like a very strange and dangerous place when you finally venture back out into it, and being genuinely old doesn't help.

In all my day to day activities, my vision isn't a big problem.   I can see everything that I need to see without glasses, though that could be a delusion, and it's true that I haven't read any books for several weeks now because of the newly oppressive small size of their print, and I really couldn't read the road signs.  

Right now I don't know what I'm going to do when my wife and the doctor return, though because I've been talking and thinking about the op so much, I'll probably go through with it, especially if it turns out that, as my wife has heard is the case with contacts, with this cataract operation I could have a close-up lens put in one eye and a distance one in the other.  M. didn't say anything about that.  And also there's the strong curiosity that I always have about how things will go.  It's going to be interesting to hear what the doctor will find to say.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Temptations of Sarah Palin

I've never been a fan of Sarah Palin, but I admit a certain inability to resist clicking on all  the latest internet mentions of what she is into and what others are into when it comes to her.  The very latest is that a guy named Joe McGinnis has written a book that is intended to reveal her darkest aspects, of which the most striking is the claim that when she was in her 20's and taking a fling at being a sportcaster just months before she married the T. Palin guy, she also had a brief fling with a Rainbow basketball star when he was in town for a tournament.  Now people who don't like her are gleefully saying that this revelation will suddenly sink her political career right now, without a bubble.

Though I can't see how anyone could choose her to be the President, to me this incident, far from being a fatal drawback, actually gives her some dimension, of a kind that's been largely absent from her story till now, save for the facts that she's been raising five children, and that one has Down's Syndrome, while another has been grappling with the rigors of being a teenage mother.    And I very much hope that those narrow minds who are the overwhelming majority of that political side that she has so mistakenly and resolutely embraced by the hindparts (or "hindpots" as that term was always pronounced in the surroundings of my early days) will not summarily toss her overboard just because once a long time ago she succumbed to a temptation regarding someone of the hated hue.

 I think that Palin's has been a very interesting story and maybe even the biggest political fable of these times, unfolding ever since J. McCain pulled a shocker on everyone by plucking her out of the Alaskan obscurity and placing her squarely front and center in the American attention, as his idea of one or the three or four persons best qualified to lead the nation, ahead of all the other 300 million plus people in the U.S., even though, just for starters, she hadn't even begun to pay the dues that had already been paid by thousands of others through the years.  But that was before she opened her mouth.

It has been a fable that will make great reading for future generations, when it will be long enough past the time when the stuff that does come out of her mouth will have lost all its present ability to raise the rabble.  At that point I think she will be seen as having been a woman of quite modest intellect whose career was a classic example of how one who is in possession of such a supposedly great asset as a striking physical appearance and with a 100-watt smile to go with it, both of which will probably not diminish much in their appeal, if any, no matter how old she gets, still has to be on constant guard, because of the way that her looks keep leading to temptations being offered up that are hard and at times impossible to resist.  That is the story of her life -- succumbing to temptation, not so much because she's weak but because there's been such an overwhelming number of enticements, and because in the days when the biggest stars visible to her were sports ones, she could never have dreamed that much larger siren calls would not only sound in her ears but would also actually come to pass, such as not only becoming the governor of a state, but, just a little later, landing her in a truly Alice in Wonderland manner in a position that was just one step away from becoming the second in command of all these United States -- just as if she had been born to be a favorite of God Himself.

That's why I never called Palin a "quitter" (at least I hope I didn't) for resigning midway through her term as Alaska governor.   Instead, after she had abruptly and unexpectedly tasted the big times in the "lower 48," I saw it as a case of her simply seeing no point in further confining herself to the Arctic Circle.   And besides, since she had come into such great demand, the prospect of constantly flying in and out of her home state had to have lost all attraction.   The geography of much of Alaska and western Canada is noticeably stingy in its offerings of nice, safe emergency landing strips, you know.

Then there were all the other temptations that kept dropping in her lap -- all the goodies she bought for herself and her family by using all that free campaign money, and the reality shows, the book about herself, and above all the thinking by so many that even after all her many verbal missteps she was still and forever a credible candidate to be the next U.S. Prez.

Therefore it can be no wonder that much earlier in life, Ms Palin could also have succumbed to a sexual temptation involving a renowned athlete from out of town.  This kind of thing happens with young people all the time.   Like hungry polar bear cubs ready to taste anything that looks even remotely edible, young people succumb to nearly any temptation that offers itself, secure in the certainty, as they are in their mortality, that they will never be called out for it.   To them, and rightly so, that's as ridiculous as a witness in a courtroom drama being called to task for not being able to remember where they were at some particular minute on some particular day in some particular month in some particular year, years earlier.

So if S. Palin does get pulled down completely by this escapade, and providing that that encounter with the ballplayer actually happened, it will only be because of that old color bugaboo that has long since permeated all of American life and keeps rearing its ugly head out of the fabric and the threads of the flag at every opportunity, no matter how much that nether side of American politics that puts it to so much use keeps trying to deny its presence.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Considerations of Cataracts

The other day I went for the regular checkup on my eyes.   I got a very good report on the glaucoma.   The pressure in both eyes is down to 10, and the doctor said it didn't need to go any lower than that.   But the cataracts are another matter.   He had been leaving it up to me to say how bad they were getting, and it just so happened that during the drive to his office that morning, I started taking special note of how I couldn't read any road signs until I was right up on them.   This is okay as long as I stay around here but if I ever had to drive to some strange place, I could be in trouble.  And I decided that since I'm getting tired of having everything looking as if there's a big brush fire burning just a couple of miles away, this time I would tell the doctor that maybe we should finally start thinking about it.

So day after tomorrow I have to go back so that the other doctor from Lynchburg can take a look.   He's the one that did the laser ops on my eyes for the glaucoma.

I am told that though it has to be done in a hospital, because of the need for a sterile environment, this cataract operation only takes about 20 minutes and has become pretty routine, and the results are such that afterward most people say that they are sorry they didn't have it sooner.   Still, I'm daunted by the idea of somebody slicing into both my eyeballs, taking out the lenses I was born with, and inserting new glass or plastic ones, even while I keep thinking how great it would be for my vision to be suddenly much clearer again.

Before I go to see Dr. S., I'm trying to get myself together enough to call M., a lady that I've known for a long time and who had this operation a while back, with great success.   She's already given me a full rundown on it, but that was three or more years ago, and I've forgotten the details.   I am sure she will be quite happy to go over it with me all over again.  She is that kind of a woman.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Big Anniversay Day

Today my wife and I celebrate, quietly, our wedding anniversary.  We were married exactly 46 years ago, in 1965.   She was 22 and I was 35.  It was the first marriage for both of us, and there things have stayed ever since.

But long before that, September 11 was also the birthday of my only sibling, my sister, Winifred.  Younger than me by little over a year, in her later years she was badly beset by several illnesses, and she didn't quite make it to age 70, leaving us in January of 2002.

That means, however, that she was around for several months right after the events in New York, D.C., and Pennsylvania of 9/11, and she was badly drugged out by the coincidence of the dates.

For that and a great many other larger reasons, other than noting it in passing, I do not observe the anniversary of that day of the deaths of so many innocent people, plus the still never satisfactorily explained instant demolitions of those towers that, in their out of control grandiosity and their nondescript design that took no mental effort to conceive -- they need only to have seen Stanley Kubrick's movie, "2002" -- I see no reason for those twin monstrosities to be missed.

But those are not the worst aspects of 9/11, for I also think that the dead and the destruction were vastly dishonored by the measures that were taken in response by the administration that was then in charge of the U.S. Government.   In very short order that administration's reactions, in which utter bile completely displaced any vestige of simple intelligence, severely damaged not only the U.S. but also several other countries, especially Iraq, in ways that dwarfed the immediate catastrophe wrought by those four airliners and their suicide hijackers.  And even worse, that damage, wrought not by Islamist foreigners but instead by home, supposed Christians, is still having gangrenous effects on the American psyche, brought about by people who claim to be acting in the best interests of the country but are actually doing just the opposite.  Yet they will be in the vanguard of those bringing flowers today in memory of the dead, when actually they should never have any business going anywhere near the sites of those several impacts of that day 10 years ago.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Political Reading

This morning while I was scrolling through Google News, the site briefly flashed a message that I assume was meant for me personally.   It said that at some unspecified time -- certainly not in this one morning! --  I had read 28 political articles, and that that was 3 times more than most readers.

Oh yeah.

It also said that therefore I should ask to have part of their site offered up in a political section.

They can forget that.   God knows what those devils would choose to put in it.

 I read through that site every day only at my own spiritual peril as it is.  Like that segment of the American electorate that spends so much time dancing under the elephant's tail, their hearts can get into some very idiotic places.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Empty Mouths

The media and the pundits have spent the last several days telling us what President Obama is saying to Congress even as I type these words.   Then, for the next several days, the media will tell us what he said, which will be just about the same thing, so that they need only change the tense of their verbs, while throwing in a few extra touches to try to cover themselves.  Then, for a couple of weeks after that they will go over each of those recommendations about job creation yet again, this time for the purpose of happily telling us just why each of those can't and won't be done.

The evil-doers and the slack-jawed sure are having their way.   Maybe, much as I never wanted to believe it, this country is in fact -- in the sense of why people attend college and take non-lucre-promising courses like the humanities -- already facing the bye-bye door.

Sadly Doomed Venture -- the President's Jobs Speech

This evening B. Obama is slated to give a speech that is supposed to be intended to enlist Congress' help in "creating jobs."   But that will be a futile exercise, on several fronts.

   One is that everything he will say seems to have been already reported, and also already dismissed,  so great has the racial hatred escalated over the mere idea of him being in office.

Furthermore I thought it had already been well established that chief executives by themselves can do little to create jobs, whether in a state or in the country as a whole.  At best he can only try to create a climate in which hopefully more jobs will be created, but the jobs will be created not by him but by businesses.  They are the ones that create jobs and hire people to fill them, while presidents and governors can only hire people to fill government posts that in large part have already been created long before they came into office.   A chief executive can and will take credit for any jobs added elsewhere during his time in office, or suffer for the lack of that having been done, and that is what is happening with the R. Perry guy right now, and with B. Obama.

Still another sign anticipating the ultimate futility of what the President is about to try to do tonight can be seen in the "clever" filip that has been added to so many of the media reports on this upcoming speech, and that is to say that Obama is trying to save jobs -- including his own.   This kind of thing is said so often and with such glee that it's easy to see how many in the country have come to think of the bad jobs situation not at all out of any consideration for the many unfortunates who so desperately need and are searching for a job.   No.  It's as if that large number of one's fellow Americans doesn't even exist.  Instead everything about the need for more jobs has come to be thought of purely in terms of the all-consuming desire to drive B. Obama out of the Oval Office as soon as possible, even though he's been a giant when compared, say, to the tiny but deadly succubus that immediately preceded him in the post.

Therefore it follows beyond any shadow of a doubt that for the next year or so, the Republican Congressmen will do everything in their power to prevent any climate from coming into being in which jobs can conceivably be created, because a new chapter has been added to their Holy Bible, saying  that the fewer jobs created, the less chance there will be of Obama being reelected.  Therefore, as the truest embodiments of that hatred of which I just spoke, of the Republican Congressmen -- who are the majority in the House and nearly so in the Senate -- some will not be physically present to hear Obama's speech, others who will be there will not listen to what he has to say, and absolutely none will go along with any of his requests.   But we can expect to hear a loud boo or two -- a formerly ungentlemanly and unprecedented thing to do whenever a President speaks to Congress, but now, since Obama took office, is permitted.

Monday, September 05, 2011

God and the Burning of Texas

A great deal of the state of Texas continues to burn, in the way of wild fires, excessive heat, and drought.   But right along its eastern border a rain-heavy weather disturbance called "Lee" (after the Confederate general, no doubt) is ambling by while "perversely" refusing to favor Texas with more than a few drops.   Meanwhile its governor, R. Perry, is in the thick of running for President, during which he misses no chance to glorify all the good things he claims to have done for his state.   One of those deeds was to make a big thing of praying for rain a few weeks ago, but that also came to naught.   Does this mean that God, whose close partners Perry and those on his side claim to be, conversely doesn't care for them at all, or does it mean that there is no God?   This is something that those guys have to decide, though they will settle for blaming it all on the so-called "black" fellow sitting in the Oval office.

The irony is that those guys refer so many of the ills of the world to this man that it suggests that they have in fact, without realizing it, started to confuse B. Obama with God. 

A Weather Log

One of my wife's friends said to their book club that the weather is the biggest thing, the most important thing, and I agree with that completely.   I especially like the way that the weather, so far, is beyond all human arrogances.   All we can do about it -- so far -- is to just deal with it as it comes, and I think that's great.

Weather Underground keeps trying to encourage people to start weather weblogs, I guess on their site, and if I knew more about the science of weather, I would give that some strong consideration.   But I have noticed how the weather aficianados just love to lace their jargon with all kinds of scientific terms.   Anyway, I have always loved weather, and I think it would be cool to try to figure out just where storms are going and what they're going to do.   I have a feeling that the computer up in my head would give me a good shot at being able to do that, and maybe even being good at it.

But so far it's only a thought ...because i only get real interested in the weather during the hurricane season, and that's less than half the year.   Real weather nuts are interested in the weather even in the long stretches when nothing much is happening.  But that's just what I would think and not at all something that I know.

The Case for a Large Government

The constant demands that the Government be reduced in size make no sense.  Pure mathematics say otherwise.   Do the rightwingers know that the current population of the U.S. is now over 300 million?   And that number is constantly growing, with most people coming from crabby, eternally discontented cultures, including this one.

It follows, then, that the more people a country has , the more demands they are likely to make, and therefore the need for an ever-enlarging government.  And even if they didn't make so many demands, still their numbers would create more chances for politicians to become the makers of more and more laws, as well as furnishing increased job opportunities for those who are only too happy to enforce those extra-added laws.   And between them these forces create more evils with which the government must deal, and so it has to keep growing in size to keep pace, not shrinking.  And meanwhile, the roads and bridges that the government built to everyone's approval don't stay in good condition forever, and the hurricanes, the floods, and other natural disasters don't stop coming, and the commotions in the rest of the world don't stop but instead keep growing in number with the same increasing population, and on and on.

If G. Washington had to face the same aggravations over a period of months that confront B. Obama every day, I think he would have thrown it all up right quick, and yet the Teagrubs keep screaming for a mini-government, the size, I assume, of General Washington's, and to be staffed only by one segment of a population that consists of numerous segments.   I don't get it!


Looking back, it's easy to see how my life has been a sequence of a number of different parts or phases, one after the other, and the lines between them were sharp, being as that each one usually ended with my removing my person elsewhere, seldom to look back or to return for more than a minute or two.  And though I don't get to make many new friends and acquaintances these days, in all those past places and phases I usually had a bunch of them.   So it's a jolting thing, in the times when I do look back, to realize that whereas in my head all those past scenes remain just as they were, with the same people inhabiting them, and all those people still at the same age that they were then and in the same circumstances, nothing can be farther from the truth.  And I have trouble facing the fact that because I am now so old, all those former friends and acquaintances and, yes, even the lunkheads, too, are all quite old, too, or nearly so, or even more, and a certain number of them can't be counted on to be still recognizable or even around, and that's the toughest thing of all to face.

I suspect that I'm less aware than most people my age are of how much any of this is the case, because it looks as if I deliberately exacerbated this state of a certain ignorance by permanently leaving the city where I spent the first 45 or so years of my life, half a lifetime ago.  Doing that really cut off any of the ordinary possibilities of chance encounters or of getting any information, because nothing and no one where I've been living since then had anything to do with all that earlier part of my life.   But even while I was in that former place, this process of falling away was going on, and I remember being struck by how, just a few years after I finished high school, though I got around quite a bit, believe it or not, still I hardly ever saw any of the legions of people that had swarmed those noisy halls all around me.   I didn't think D.C. was that big a place, but I must've been very wrong, plus I hadn't taken into account how much of a state of flux everything there was in, as every place these days must be, because another thing that's been happening is that more new people are always flooding in than are streaming out, plus those weirdest of beings, new babies, are constantly being born.

It could be that all those previous phases, places, and even the people that I started out talking about must have vanished from the planet the moment I stepped out of those scenes.  I wouldn't put it past whatever is responsible for anything.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Telling the Palestinians to Wait, for How Long?

The Obama administration is urging the Palestinians to hold off on applying to the U.N. for statehood this month.   It thinks they should wait for new peace talks with the Israelis to begin.

A lot of things have recently become badly unstitched for many people in the world today, and the reason is that they are suffering from a grievous lack of common sense and also the lessons that even recent history is supposed to have taught but obviously that teaching didn't take, and B. Obama is suffering from this disability no less than is the Republican Party, the Israelis, a large number of so-called "white" Americans, some erstwhile Progressives, and even too many Rainbows, as I think "black" Americans should be called.  Nowhere is this malady more clearly focused than in the person of Mr. Obama.

People blithely keep referring to him as the "first black President," when in reality he has only a quarter of the essence of his Kenyan father in him if even that much, and instead he is mostly so-called  "white," unless one is stupidly willing to totally ignore the huge importance of environment in shaping a person, though that actually counts for much more important than do genes, and in his case that factor was overwhelmingly "white."   He spent his formative years with his Euro mother and grandpatents way off across the great Pacific Ocean, in Indonesia and in Hawaii.   He wasn't raised anywhere near the American South, which has been the great battleground where the validity of the American "experiment" has been most often discussed and determined, in battles fought over and over again, most often in the form of how the European "white" majority has historically chosen to treat first the slaves brought over from Africa and later their descendants.   I would even say that that issue centering on the Rainbows  is the main measure of how much American virtue has always stood or fallen.

Unlike the great majority of Rainbows, B. Obama has no grounding in that struggle, even of the unconscious type, in the experiences of his forebears or in his own experience.  There is no slavery or Jim Crow in his background, so that what he got of those things is merely second or third-hand at best.   If he did have those experiences and the thoughts that they engender in what we might call his racial and political memory or resume, he would never have been elected President, so badly are the majority of American "whites" hobbled by fear and guilt when it comes to the people their forebears treated so badly while the country was being hammered into its present shape.   But also he would never have gone along with the advice given him by the Israelis and others who are as heedless of many things as he is, to blindly and callously ask the Palestinians to keep on waiting for their country to be recognized.

If Obama were better equipped and prepared to face this issue in a honest and forthright manner, he would understand a couple of things that are as clear as can be.  One is that the Palestinians have already been waiting for a very long time,  longer than he has even been alive.  Another is that as far as the Israelis, the stronger party and the oppressors in the matter, are concerned, the wait is open-ended, and their current leaders are fully prepared to let things go on as they are today, indefinitely.   They will speak of how their ancestors possessed the "Holy Lands" 2,000 years ago, and they have waited that long to regain this land that they deem to be theirs and theirs alone.  So Netanyahu, Lieberman, and the others are quite ready to have these constant attacks and reprisals sprinkled with occasional empty negotiations go on as they already have for more than 60 years.

History informs us that at a critical point in the Civil Rights struggle, during Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 Birmingham campaign, when a hardcore segregationist law officer named Bull Connor had thrown him into jail for the umpteenth time in an effort to end a determined civil rights protest in "his" city, King was asked by the noted evangelist Billy Graham and others in the clergy to hold off on his campaigns, in order to give the "white" majority more time to come to terms with the Rainbow desire to become full citizens in the American society -- or in short because he was starting to make "white" people mad.   But King, in his usual eloquent fashion, decisively rebuffed and refuted that pious suggestion, in his famous "Letter From the Birmingham Jail."

There, or elsewhere, King made the very true observation that usually in these cases, "waiting" means "never."

Telling the Palestinians to wait in this year of 2011 or in any of the others to come is just as obscene and unthinking as it was in the case of the descendants of the slaves in 1963, because among things it is demanded with complete disregard for older generations that these go-slowers, believing themselves to be the rational and reasonable ones, are ready to see die without ever seeing a better day, and I always want to ask, "What about them, damn it!"

I wonder if the Obama people know anything about Birmingham in '63, or that letter that had to be smuggled out of that city's jail in a tube of toothpaste.  I doubt it, though they cannot have missed seeing at least the fleeting images of the police dogs and the firehoses.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Capturing the Moment

Though it happened a couple of weeks ago, my mind keeps reflecting on the first seconds of the "Mineral Earthquake."   This is because it was such a distortion of reality and even a very rude imposition upon perception.

Except for the Arabs in their tents and the Mongolians in their yurts, we all expect our houses or any other building that we happen to be in to be rock solid and never to move.  This must come from all those eons of hustling the bears and other things out of caves, from South Africa to Lapland, and living in those places ourselves. and also it's because ordinarily things do conform with our expectations and our structures never do move.  But that was what happened, though in the first couple of seconds my mind actively resisted the notion, because in real life it just couldn't happen.   My wonderful house that I designed myself and for which I hustled up the materials myself and that I bolted and nailed together myself was doing just that.   For no good reason suddenly the whole thing was actually moving, especially up near the ceiling, and not just a little but a whole lot, by about a foot, it seemed, though that couldn't have been true, or else every window in the house might have been broken, a gigantic bummer that I've been having no trouble imagining.

And also there was the accompanying sound of a fast-approaching vehicle of some kind that was at least a hundred feet wide and was rolling louder and louder down the road and was about to crash into my house in just a few more seconds!

Going by numerous reports I've read on the experience of others who felt the shock, from Atlanta to Chicago and up into Canada, that "enormous truck" sound was heard only by those close to the epicenter, which in our case I calculate was only about 65 miles northeast of here. 

I'm glad that solid reality set in again, no more than 25 seconds after existence threatened to go somewhere else, where I definitely didn't want to be.

I never had time to worry about getting hurt or even killed.  All I could think about was what the quake might be doing to my precious house, though that turned out to be, as far as I've been able to see, precisely nothing -- unless the house is collaborating with the earth, in keeping secrets.  

Things were a little different, up there in li'l ol' Mineral.   A friend of ours happened to be in Mineral that day, doing some social work.   She was sitting on the back seat of her car, jotting down some notes, and she said the quake threw her completely out of the car.  And also there was a lot of damage in Mineral, with broken glass everywhere and things thrown off shelves and so forth.  And there the whole matter stood.

Being So Canada

In one of the first episodes of the TV series "Southland," the Los Angeles detectives use the term "Canada" in a derogatory way.   If someone is charged with being "Canada," it seems to mean being soft on crime, or maybe just soft in general, such as in lifestyle.  But as they are the ones openly wielding the guns, these characters can afford to be contemptuous or oblivious of the way that, long before its founding, Canada has been a place of refuge from wrongs committed in its much more unruly southern neighbor.

This summer that Canada thing has been showing itself in that country's biggest city in a unique and whimsical way that would probably have long since gone awry in most other places.

In the last three months one  man has been going around Toronto robbing banks at his leisure and all on his own.   So far he has been successful in hitting 15 banks without incident, even though the police know exactly what he looks like, for he wears no mask or disguise of any kind.   He simply goes up to a window, informs the teller that he has a gun, and asks for money.   In only one of those robberies has a gun ever been seen.   The teller hands over the cash, and the man walks out, and that's that.

There must be several reasons for his success so far.   One is the lack of noise and violence of any kind.   Just the brief mention of a gun and that's it.  Another is the fact that he's not greedy, aside from going to so many banks, because he only goes to one window in each place.   Another reason must be -- and the photos taken by the surveillance cameras show it -- his air of total relaxation and aplomb.   And still another is that the banks don't seem to get too worked up because they probably appreciate the way that he keeps everything in a very low key.   Also most likely he doesn't exactly clean up, though how much he's gotten is being kept a secret, with the statement only that serial bank robbers usually don't get big hauls.

But the main reason for his being able to pull this off without raising any great outcry must be the challenge.   I'm sure that the city police are hoping to be no less subtle and casual in nabbing him than he is while doing his thing, because after all, this is Canada.

The police claim to be certain they will get him.   I'm not so sure.   In fact, I would say that anybody that can carry this off is also savvy enough to call it a day and totally disappear, never to be seen again, no matter how much or how little he's gotten.

Let's see what happens.   We may never find out.   But in any case I think it would make a great episode in a TV crime series, though the people that make those things usually get too caught up in their formulas to appreciate something like this.

So Goes Vermont

After clipping North Carolina and Virginia along their eastern edges,Hurricane Irene kept whirling northward.   It didn't hit any of the big cities in the Northeast with the feared force, but as it covered a lot of area it dropped enough rain on the countryside to lift countless streams and rivers over their banks, and many rural occupants of those states are now dealing with the resulting floods.   President Obama has just designated New York and Connecticut as disaster areas and made them eligible for federal aid, though, going by the news reports, state for state, Vermont seems to have been the hardest hit, and it can't be far behind in needing Federal help.

Ordinarily FEMA, the government agency that takes care of these things, would have enough money to do the job,  but there have already been so many "natural" disasters across the U.S. this year that its resources have gotten badly stretched, and to help the deluged Northeast they will have to go back to Congress for more when it gets back in town, and it's possible that therein will lie a gigantic rub.

In light of the strong and continuing efforts being made by the Teapublican politicians to help no one except those who contribute to their re-election coffers and to hurt those who don't, several of the lawmakers in Congress have vowed to fight any efforts to give FEMA more money unless a matching amount is cut, not from the hides of the corporations, the military, or anyone else that they like, but from just about everybody else, especially those least able to fight back.   And furthermore they're likely to be especially hostile to little Vermont, because in many ways it is the country's most progressive state.   (Minnesota used to be my pick for that honor, but its inexplicable irresponsibility in having produced the likes of M. Bachmann was a spiritual betrayal too egregious and gross to be overlooked.)    

One of Vermont's U.S. Senators is Bernie Sanders, a man of very progressive and perceptive ideas and the only official Independent in the Senate (the Lieberman slopbucket, uncertainly classified as a Democrat or as an Independent, is actually a Republican, which means that everything cancels out and he can't actually be anything), and the other Vermont senator is Patrick Leahy, who usually is one of the first to react to things with the most decent noises though he isn't quite as famous for following that up with more substantial deeds.

  Vermont was also the main stomping grounds of the two most famous practicioners of the back-to-the-land movement that swept me down here to Virginia -- Helen and Scott Nearing.  And it is currently the home of the proprietor of the "Dohiyi Mir" weblog, N. Todd Pritsky, whose site helped inspire me to get started on this, my own site, those many (7) years ago, a true if very quirky progressive, who, however, so far has said nothing about Irene's rampaging waters there.

So it's eerie that among all the states, the fates chose the one that is probably least in tune with everything that these Teapublican politicians stand for to be the one on which the storm focused its attentions to the sharpest degree. and it's going to be interesting to see what happens when FEMA asks for that money, since little can  be expected of Congress even in the best of times.

Also oddly, speaking of here in Virginia, the chief Teapublican making this unholy demand is Eric Cantor, the Representative in the next district over from here to the west, but the Virginia Governor, a Repub who usually is so much of a total loss that I have avoided remembering his name, which is B. McDonnell, said quite clearly and sensibly  that he didn't think this was the right time to be demanding unrelated budget cuts.   It looks as if in his avidness to follow up on what he probably saw as his side's victory in the recent, fierce debt ceiling struggle, Cantor forgot that the eastern side of Virginia didn't go unscathed by the hurricane, or that he himself gladly asked for FEMA money just a few years ago.

How can the Teapubs be so certain of the rightness of their agenda when nothing they say ever holds any kind of water, and they have to resort to so much talking out of both sides of their mouths?  And why would any decent people vote for characters like these?

These are among the most baffling questions of modern times.